Pleasant Valley
Community Schools
PVHS Wins Spirit of Inclusion Award from Varsity Brands

Pleasant Valley High School was chosen out of all the schools in the nation for the Varsity Brands Spirit of Inclusion Award.  On Friday, August 25, 2017, Varsity Brands, Herff Jones, Varsity Spirit and BSN Sports presented the award to the school.  Along with it comes a $10,000 check, which will be used to establish a $1000.00 annual “PVHS Spirit of Inclusion” scholarship. The first scholarship will be granted to a member of the 2018 graduating class. Click on the pictures below for larger images.

Principal Mike Zimmer accepted the award with the following words:

Words. Words can be used to hurt or they can be used to heal. So it is I find myself struggling with the word “tolerance”, is it used to heal or to hurt? I can tolerate loud music but if I could, I would get rid of it. Over 8 years ago, PV Alumna Sarah Cronk, Sarah Herr, Kamyrn Huffman, Jenna Lehman and Brenna O’Neill under the leadership of Cheer Coach Ms. Pam Cinadr challenged our general tolerance of students with disabilities. Students with special needs would often eat lunch by themselves, have segregated courses, and were by-standers throughout High School.

These girls viewed their new service learning requirement as a challenge to change a small part of the world. They asked themselves, “What if we changed our perspective from tolerating our classmates with disabilities to respecting our classmates with “different abilities”? And so began the creation of a new Spartan Cheerleading Squad, “the Sparkles”. Including their classmates with different abilities has grown from the PVCSD to a national and worldwide movement that includes students at hundreds of high schools.

Their willingness to change their perspective towards students standing right next to them in school has expanded to the creation of the PVHS Shining Stars Dance Team and beyond. Including your classmates with different abilities was just a first step. Today I stand before you and state, “PVHS will no longer tolerate classmates who are different from ourselves, we will respect them as the precious and valued human beings they are”. While we will not always agree or understand others viewpoints, we will respect them regardless of different ability, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, race, financial status or appearance.

Just as the founders of the Sparkles sought to change our attitudes so has the UNITE Club. The have worked tirelessly to share personal stories of those classmates who struggle everyday against degrading words told as “a joke” or those being tormented on social media for being different. Our cafeteria will soon display the flags of 43 different nations representing the birth place of PVHS students. We can take great pride in the fact that parents new to our area seek out PVHS to educate their children. But our work will never be complete as all it takes is an individual or small group of people to undermine all of our efforts.

So it is with great humility and knowing that our journey of inclusion is not complete, that our purpose of establishing respect for all students continues. It continues with each of you (teachers, custodians, bus drivers, administration, aides and students) standing up to injustice with not being a by-stander but an up-stander.

Below is a video of the Varsity Brands School Spirit Awards when PVHS was announced as the winner.


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