QCHS grads have solid plans for the future

QCHS grads have solid plans for the future
Posted on 06/20/2021

Happy Fathers Day to all you Dads out there!  

Earlier today, my kiddos called in from Tennessee and Washington State. I spent most of today doing my honey-do’s around the house, but still feeling the love.  For me, being a Dad to my two children is my life’s most precious gift.  The next is the responsibility and love that I have had over the past 23 years for your student(s), and well over a hundred thousand others, as a middle and high school principal, and superintendent.  For those who don’t know my story of transitioning from the US Army into public education, it all began by helping out in my son’s Pre-K classroom three decades ago.  I would go into his class and help the teacher after I would get back from various military deployments. From that experience, I wanted to play a part in creating high performing schools and districts that would be worthy of my own children.  Working together, we have done that in Quakertown!

Last Friday night was our Commencement Ceremony for the Class of 2021, and tomorrow is our 180th and very last day of school!  Who would have thought it would be here so soon?   If you have not read our Special Commencement Edition by Gary Weckselblatt please do.  The Ceremony took place on Alumni Field, with amazing speeches by three members of the graduating class, one of their class sponsors, Principal V, and our Board President Kaylyn Mitchell.  If you watched graduation by our livestream you might have seen me asking every graduate, “What are you doing next?”  I learned a lot!  So, please let me share.

We have students going into amazing skill-based jobs such as welding and auto-body repair near home.  They will be immediately commanding impressive salaries because of the certifications they earned at Upper Bucks County Technical School.  A couple of our students planned to join a band.  We have college bound students going far away, overseas to England and Australia. Then we have a couple going to college across the country to California and Montana.  Some will be staying closer to home by going to college up and down the East Coast.  Most of our students will stay in Pennsylvania going to state-supported universities and private colleges, along with Bucks County Community College.  The Quakertown Panther flag will be waving heavily at Penn State, Kutztown, and West Chester, along with Dickinson and Moravian. We have our traditional 15 to 20 students going directly into the military, some coming back shortly to serve in the PA National Guard while going to college.  We have at least two who have earned ROTC scholarships and one going to West Point.  Of the 414 students who graduated, fewer than 10 said they did not have a plan for the future.  The Class of 2021 is off to a great start!

Many of our graduates shared what their major was going to be in college.  The most often mentioned fields of study were programs that led into healthcare - nursing and pre-medicine.  Next were engineering fields - architectural, bio-medical, chemical, and mechanical. Criminology was often mentioned. Many are smartly going to BCCC for their first two years of college.  There are several lessons we can glean from knowing their ambitions and stories.  One thing I do know is the preponderance of the Quakertown Class of 2021 who are going directly into vocational jobs that require a certification and college are all prepared to take the next step into their future and be predictively successful. Our K-12 teachers, support staff, and instructors at UBCTS have done a truly remarkable job.  Thank you!

It's been a challenging school year for all of us - professionally and personally!  After tomorrow, it will be in the books and only a memory.  But before we get there, I want to thank all of you for your encouragement and support throughout the year.  Your feedback, praises, and criticisms that you shared throughout the year, especially during the early part of reopening were important.  It helped us know your perspectives, along with your wants and needs.  

We spent the year balancing our core mission of educating ALL students, against the health and safety challenges, and fears brought on by a pandemic.  We sought counsel to inform our judgments from health directors at the local and state levels, physicians at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and legal counsel from firms that advise us for student services and employee relations.  The Board’s decision to reopen our schools at the beginning of the academic year, with health and safety systems in place was spot on.  Having seen end-of-year student performance data, I know our students did really well academically.  Next school year, we will continue to support them with extra mental health support and social-emotional learning opportunities.  Our students had an amazing year in the classroom, albeit in masks. I will bring you a summary of those results in August, but there is no plan to bring our students back in masks.

Again, Happy Fathers Day!

Bill Harner



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