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Ryan Gloyer Middle School receives national designation

Ryan Gloyer Middle School was recently named to a “Schools to Watch” list for the third time. Butler Eagle File Photo

JACKSON TWP — Fourth graders in the Seneca Valley School District can look forward to attending a top U.S. middle school in three years, if the district’s streak continues.

Ryan Gloyer Middle School, which educates students in seventh and eighth grades, has received the coveted “Schools to Watch” designation every three years since its first designation in 2011.

Tony Babusci, principal, and Trisha Butschle, assistant principal, were congratulated at Monday night’s school board meeting for receiving the designation for the fifth time.

Babusci was quick to deflect the kudos by board members and Tracy Vitale, superintendent.

“This is not an administrative award,” he said. “It really is reflective of every single person there.”

Schools to Watch is a nationwide initiative launched in 1999 by the National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform.

Babusci said the Schools to Watch committee that visited the school were particularly interested in the inclusion of information about the late Ryan Gloyer in social studies curriculum.

Gloyer, a 2000 Seneca Valley graduate, was killed in action in November 2016 in Kunduz, Afghanistan as a Sgt. 1st Class and Green Beret supporting Operation Freedom Sentinel.

“If we go back six years ago, that is one of the things we were committed to when renaming the school,” Babusci said of including Gloyer’s story in social studies lessons.

Butschle said the Schools to Watch designation is by no means an end point, as administrators, faculty and staff will continue to grow and develop so the school improves into the future.

A video on the district website includes students reacting to the Schools to Watch designation.

Among the students’ reactions are pride in their school, confidence in the material they are learning, appreciation for attending a top U.S. school, and the passion for education displayed by teachers each day.

Several school board members thanked Babusci and Butschle on the designation.

“Every grade level is important, but this transition period as they come into your building is such a critical time,” said board member Jim Nickel. “I’m really proud of Ryan Gloyer Middle School.”

Leslie Bredl said the Schools to Watch committee does a deep dive, and not a cursory assessment, of the schools they visit to determine which deserve the designation.

“Thank you for all you do for the kids and the school,” she said.

Kathy Whittle, board president, also expressed her pride in the designation and the school in general.

“That building is awesome,” Whittle said. “It’s not the first time (the school has won the designation), and it won’t be the last.”

Vitale, a former middle and high school English teacher, said the district is extremely invested in the middle school concept, as young students have specific needs as they transition from a child to a young adult.

“Thank you for your leadership and staff and for your commitment,” Vitale said.

Babusci agreed that educating middle school students can be both challenging and rewarding, and that students must be handled with care.

“It’s very much a niche,” he said.

Babusci said he is thrilled to receive Schools to Watch designation again, which is an honor she shares with custodians, secretaries, faculty administration and students.

“I feel extremely proud of the entire building,” he said.

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