TAHS Renaissance program works to improve student achievement

The students and teachers of Tyrone Area High School are awarded for performance by the Tyrone Renaissance Education Foundation. This organization is governed by volunteer parents, faculty, students and business leaders of Tyrone that work with the administration to improve student performance at all levels. Renaissance rewards improvement, effort and individual responsibility in whatever classes each student is enrolled.
The program began at TAHS during the 1992-93 school year. When funds permit, it will be expanded to the elementary school.
“Renaissance supports a lot of programs, things I think that the community doesn’t even realize,” said Mary Domenick, vice president of the high school Renaissance program. “For example Crystal Ramsay has the teachers book club that they run, and I know that we give funds to help them with that, so they do a lot of things not only with students but with teachers and things that affect the students indirectly and directly.”
The Tyrone Renaissance Education Foundation programs include:
• Incentive cards that are awarded to students after each grading period and provide students with privileges in school, discounts in retail stores in Tyrone, or coupons for free products or services;
• Each grading period, two students from each grade are recognized and rewarded for outstanding attendance. At the end of the school year, students with exceptional attendance throughout the entire school year are eligible to win a grand prize;
• The recognition of two students from each grade who has excelled for some reason – such as an outstanding research report, an excellent grade on a test, extra effort, or a big improvement;
• Renaissance helps bring distinguished speakers, scholars, scientists and business leaders into the classrooms to share their expertise with students, staff and the community;
• Renaissance awards grants of up to $400 to teachers who want to provide new and exciting educational materials or innovative projects for their students.
The incentive cards are a popular Renaissance program with the students in which they get a photo-ID card to use for special privileges.
“My own two children get a lot of use out of it for things like OIP and places where the kids hang out,” said Domenick. “There are certain organizations that donate to that card that my kids take advantage of. They show them the card, and depending on whether you got gold, orange or black depends on what percentage off you get.”
The gold card allows students to receive 15 percent off of items, orange ten percent and black five percent.
In-school privileges with the incentive cards include shorter lunch lines and earlier dismissal from lunch, freedom to study/eat lunch outside on the deck and ice cream sundae parties after each grading period.
Also, Renaissance recognizes teachers and school personnel. It provides curriculum development grants for teachers who want to provide new and exciting educational materials or innovative projects for their students. An example is a grant that foreign language teacher, Ms. Marie Josee Smith received to promote French culture in the classroom through art in paintings, books, films and music.
Also, the Renaissance Foundation recently awarded a gift certificate to eleventh grader, Emily Fitzgerald for winning second place in the Pennsylvania Recycling Poster Contest. Her art is now in the poster-contest winner calendar.
“Emily Fitzgerald who is a junior at the high school, entered a drawing for this particular calendar, and she won second prize,” said Elaine Hershberger, president of the Renaissance Foundation. “So we just gave her a gift-certificate for her extra-effort for entering, and she went the extra mile to do that.”
Renaissance has students in homeroom perform organizational duties for the program. Some of the other activities that the students help with is to prepare candy bags for the student body at Halloween and to plan a teacher appreciation day.
“They’re the ones who usually do up the candy bags at Halloween or make the brownies for teachers and do a lot of organizational stuff for Renaissance,” said Domenick.
Information about the Renaissance Foundation is now posted on the school web site.
“We are now part of the TAHS web site, and the discounts and in-school incentives are posted on the web site,” said Hershberger.
The organization is always looking for new volunteers to help. Also, it accepts contributions for funding.
“It’s a great organization,” said Domenick. “I’m glad it’s there. I’d hate to see it go. It’s very dependent on funds from outside organizations.”