PV students and staff are commended for their ability to power through adversity


Pleasant Valley Schools

In September, Pleasant Valley High School was recognized as one of the Nation’s Blue Ribbon Schools.

Chloe Isbell, Photo Manager

Pleasant Valley High School was recognized as a National Blue Ribbon School on Sept. 21.

The National Blue Ribbon School Award has been around since 1982. The purpose of this award is to acknowledge the success of schools academically as well as the progress they have made in closing the achievement gap in high school students. PV won the award one other time during the 1983 – 1984 school year. 

Deciding the winner of the award is a complex process. Initially, top education officials in each state submit nominees for the award. Then the award is presented based on two criteria: exemplary high-performing schools and exemplary achievement gap closing schools. When making a decision for the award, the U.S. Education Department looks cumulatively at the school’s overall successes. 

Last year, PV suffered a combination of hybrid, online and 100 percent in person learning. Parents and teachers expressed great concern for the academics of students. Without the face-to-face time that students usually receive, people assumed students would struggle to thrive in school. This became the biggest reason for returning to school 100 percent of the time.  

With the extra face to face time in comparison to last year, PV staff members made it a goal this year to better connect with their students on a social and emotional level. Teachers knew that time lost last year needed to be made up for, but they also knew they needed to continue to grow with their students on a social and emotional level.

I know schools across the country faced many of the same challenges, and I believe we did a great job considering the unchartered waters we were trying to navigate. I know it wasn’t perfect and look back to how much it evolved from August to March, but firmly believe we did our best and created an educational environment that benefited our students. ”

— Darren Erickson, Pleasant Valley High School Principal

This award is very important to PV for a number of reasons. Many people had been expecting a decline in progress after a year of chaos and divide. Through all of this, the teaching staff at PV remained optimistic. 

With that in mind, PV teacher Nikki Pitcher was more than delighted when PV received the award. “I was not surprised that PVHS received this award. Throughout the past 2 years, from administration to staff, we have committed ourselves to focusing on the students and giving them the best education possible,” she said.

Even in the midst of less time being spent at school, teachers were able to connect with their students and help them in a positive way. Teachers put great efforts into making sure students received the best education possible even when things were not normal. They offered opportunities for students through office hours and extra work for students to practice their skills. 

Teachers spent time making extra effort all across the board. “Last year was a challenge for all of us–teachers, administrators, parents, and students–but we didn’t give up. To be recognized for that achievement feels great!” shared PV teacher Janene Murphy. 

Being considered a National Blue Ribbon School is especially rewarding for teachers after a year where it felt like their efforts had gone unnoticed. Teacher Sara Russell is forever grateful for what this award stands for: “it is a reflection of our building as a whole. It is not just due to one part or one group, but instead shows how we have all worked together to make PVHS an amazing place.” PV students and staff could not be more honored to have been recognized as it reestablished PV’s theme to “strive for excellence”.