Canonsburg Middle School re-designated a School to Watch

Published Apr 27, 2014 at 6:06 pm (Updated May 5, 2014 at 2:50 pm)

“If you can't be excited, you're not alive today.”

- Canon-McMillan School Board President Paul Scarmazz

Middle school is often a trying time for adolescents when it comes to education and social acceptance, and Canonsburg Middle School in Canon-McMillan School District is meeting those challenges head-on.

For the second time since 2011, the middle school was recognized among Don Eichhorn Schools' “Schools to Watch” in Pennsylvania.

The redesignation was celebrated April 24 during an hour-long ceremony in the middle school auditorium attended by students, parents, faculty, administrators and elected officials.

The school on West College Street has an enrollment of 787 students for seventh and eighth grades. There are 51 teachers.

Now a national program, Schools to Watch recognizes schools based on several factors, including academics, development, social responsibility and organization.

There are 303 Schools to Watch in 13 states, said Ken Schrag, middle school assistant principal.

Of those, about 10 percent are in Pennsylvania.

U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy, R-18th, presented the school with a commendation and said he is proud there are two other Schools to Watch in his district – Fort Couch and Boyce middle schools, both in Upper St. Clair School District.

He congratulated the students, parents and teachers, but added the accomplishment should not be the end, but rather the beginning and the standard by which the students live their lives.

Always pushing to be better, “that is what makes this country great,” he said.

State Sen. Tim Solobay, D-Canonsburg, said he graduated from Canon-McMillan when “my hair was a little darker.” Solobay congratulated the middle school and also the school district for being awarded several Blue Ribbon designations for excellence.

Washington County Commissioners Larry Maggi and Harlan Shober presented the school with a proclamation, as did Canonsburg Mayor Dave Rhome.

Bruce Vosburgh is co-director of the Schools to Watch Committee. He gave a brief overview of the development of the middle school concept about 50 years ago under Don Eichhorn at the Fort Couch and Boyce middle schools in Upper St. Clair.

A middle school that is designated as a School to Watch retains that honor for three years and must reapply, as did Canonsburg Middle School.

The school will be recognized during a ceremony June 28 in Washington, D.C.

Canon-McMillan School Board President Paul Scarmazzi said, “If you can't be excited, you're not alive today.” He referred to the programs at the middle school as “life-changing education.”

Middle School Principal Greg Taranto said the redesignation was “a special day and beyond humbling.”

“Today lets us know we are on the right track,” Taranto said.

He asked the faculty to stand, then the parents and finally the students. Each group received applause.

District Superintendent Michael Daniels said the process for the designation is not mandated by the state and is done on a completely voluntary basis. He thanked not only the students and the teachers, but everyone at the school, including custodians, cafeteria workers, administrators and nurses.

“The 2014 redesignation further validates the success of Canonsburg Middle School and the Canon-McMillan School District,” Daniels said. “The students, parents, teachers and administrators need be proud.”

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