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Cambria Heights recognized

Middle school one of top schools in state

PATTON — The Cambria Heights Middle School has once again been recognized as one of the top schools in the state.

Cambria Heights received its third redesignation as a Don Eichhorn: Schools to Watch for its adaptation to COVID-19 and continued progress in the classroom.

“We were faced with unprecedented challenges over the last year,” Middle School Principal Jarrod Lewis said. “This was a whole new ball game for us this past year, and we saw a change of education that hadn’t been seen in our lifetime.”

Cambria Heights has been recognized as a School to Watch for the past nine years.

The school received its first designation in 2012, and it was subsequently honored in 2015 and 2018.

Cambria Heights was the only district in the region selected, and it is one of only 36 schools recognized statewide.

“It takes a lot for a school to be successful,” Lewis said. “What makes us successful all starts with our students. We have great kids that come from great families. Our teachers also do a fantastic job of going above and beyond. They put the students first. Our teachers have high expectations, and they challenge our kids to be the best individuals that they can be.”

The award is named after Eichhorn, a teacher from Upper St. Clair who developed the idea of a middle-level education system in the 1950s and created the first middle school.

To receive Schools to Watch status, middle schools are graded on criteria that includes academic excellence, social equity, developmental responsiveness and organizational structures and processes.

Lewis said one of the main reasons the district was redesignated was due to its ability to the COVID-19 climate.

Cambria Heights established a new learning platform through Google Classroom that provides the school a virtual learning tool, and Lewis said the middle school also received merits for its effectiveness in operating various learning models of in-person and virtual instruction.

“(Officials from Schools to Watch) were impressed with how we adapted and how we continued to improve,” Lewis said. “It’s really valuable to get some input and see we’re still where we need to be, but it also helped us identify some areas of weakness and find ways to better serve our students.”

Lewis said the district plans to hold a celebration at 1 p.m. May 28 in the middle school gymnasium.

Though the event will not be open to the public this year because of COVID-19 protocols, he said the event will be live-streamed on social media.

Mirror Staff Writer Calem Illig is at 814-946-7535.

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