Changing Perceptions of Palmyra High School

Palmyra High School Foundation for Educational Excellence is working to change the story about Palmyra High School.

For large schools, good public relations is a job for a communications person, but for smaller schools, word of mouth is often the image seared in residents’ minds. Riverton resident Jody Demas said when she and a group of fellow parents heard outdated word-of-mouth circulating about Palmyra High School two years ago, they knew it was time to set the record straight.

They formed the Palmyra High School Foundation for Educational Excellence, a non-profit charity to support Palmyra High School. The organization’s goal is to distribute accurate information about the high school and raise funds to ensure the school remains up-to-date.

Palmyra High School receives students from Palmyra, Riverton and Beverly. Approximately two years ago, parents in Riverton expressed interest in breaking away from Palmyra High School to send their students to other schools, Demas said. She felt a strong need to ensure those parents were getting the right information about Palmyra High School.

“We really wanted to change the whole dialogue,” Demas said.

Demas, as a founding trustee, and fellow PHS parents, alumni and teachers began educating parents with children in kindergarten through eighth grade. The group created flyers highlighting that students from Palmyra High School get into the same colleges as other students in the region.

Additionally, Demas said the group has been working to overcome other commonly held misconceptions. She said many parents have been operating on inaccurate information about SAT scores and AP classes at Palmyra High School. She said the high school students’ scores are competitive, and despite beliefs to the contrary, the school offers a range of AP classes.

Demas said by simply distributing flyers clearing up these misconceptions, the foundation hopes to encourage parents considering alternate schools to send their children to Palmyra High School.

Sean Toner, a Palmyra Board of Education member, said strictly speaking in his capacity as a parent that much of the school’s image boils down to perceptions about a big school versus a small school.

While larger schools often receive more funding that enables them to have more resources, smaller schools allow students to shine. With smaller class sizes, students receive more individualized attention in the classroom, and kids who may have been cut from sports teams at larger schools are able to participate at smaller schools.

Demas said the foundation is in the process of planning a series of fundraising events to raise money that will go toward purchasing resources to keep the school competitive. She said while the foundation is not affiliated with the school in an official capacity, the group has received tremendous support from Superintendent Brian McBride,who informed the group that if it were willing to raise money, the school would put it toward new science equipment.

At last Wednesday’s Board of Education meeting, foundation member Lisa Anne Muir announced it has received its first grant. Penn Medicine CAREs donated a $1,000 STEM investment grant to the organization in what organizers hope will be the first of many.