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Palmyra Area High School

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Phone  +1 717-838-1331
Mascot  Cougar
Palmyra Area High School
Address  1125 Park Dr, Palmyra, PA 17078, USA
District  Palmyra Area School District
Motto  "Excellence in Education, for ALL Students"

Palmyra area high school

Palmyra Area Senior High School (typically referred to as Palmyra High School or PHS) is a midsized public high school located in Palmyra, Pennsylvania, in the United States. It is part of the Palmyra Area School District. The school is located at 1125 Park Drive in North Londonderry Township serves students from the western part of Lebanon County, Pennsylvania and includes: Palmyra, North Londonderry Township, South Londonderry Township, the villages of Campbelltown, Lawn and Mount Gretna. The school was founded in 1962.


In 2010, Palmyra Area Senior High School had 1,015 students grades 9th through 12th with 133 students receiving the federal free lunch due to family poverty. By 2011-12 enrollment had declined to 932 pupils. The school reported employing 63 teachers yielding a student-teacher ratio of 14:1. According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.


Mrs. Lisa Brown is the Superintendent of Schools for the Palmyra Area School District. The High School's principal is Dr. Scott Richardson. Palmyra High School has two vice principals, Paul Steigerwald and Daryl Reisinger. There are four guidance counselors serving the school.


The Palmyra Area High School is an accredited school by most post-secondary institutions. Below is a list of the different academic departments in the school, and the respective department heads.

  • English Department - Abbie Mahaffey
  • Science Department - Amy Mateer
  • Math Department - Kathy Baum
  • History/Social Studies Department - Lisa Hollenbach / Brian Lynch
  • Foreign Languages - Cynthia Hitz
  • Related Arts - Adam Bunting
  • Business/Computer Department- Lisa Smith
  • Music Department- Andrew Spotts
  • Palmyra High School's academic day is part of Block Scheduling. Until the 2009-2010 school year, students participated in four classes a day for 85 minutes, resulting in eight credits per year (four 1st semester, four 2nd Semester), plus a 30-minute lunch and an additional remedial period or study hall, known as Flex Period. During this time, students would meet for clubs and were able to get extra help. At the end of the 2009 school year, it was announced that this schedule would be adjusted to add two more credits and eliminate the flex period, thereby shortening the classes.

    Graduation rate

    In 2013, Palmyra Area School District's graduation rate was 93%. In 2012, Palmyra Area School District graduation rate was 88%. In 2011, the graduation rate was 93%. In 2010, the Pennsylvania Department of Education issued a new, 4-year cohort graduation rate. Palmyra Area Senior High School's rate was 88% for 2010.

    According to traditional graduation rate calculations
  • 2010 - 91%
  • 2009 - 94%
  • 2008 - 93%
  • 2007 - 93%
  • 2006 - 93%
  • Academic Achievement

    2013 School Performance Profile

    Palmyra Area Senior High School achieved 90.8 out of 100. Reflects on grade level reading, mathematics and science achievement. In reading/literature - 83% were on grade level. In Algebra 1 - 80% demonstrated on grade level skills. In Biology, 67% showed on grade level science understanding.

    AYP History

    In 2012, the Palmyra Area Senior High School improved to achieving AYP status. In 2011, the Palmyra Area High School declined to Warning status due to lagging student achievement in both math and reading. In 2010, Palmyra Area High School achieved AYP status.

    PSSA Results: 11th Grade Reading:

  • 2012 - 82% on grade level, (7% below basic). State - 67% of 11th graders are on grade level.
  • 2011 - 65% (15% below basic). State - 69.1%
  • 2010 - 67% (16% below basic). State - 67%
  • 2009 - 76%, State - 65%.
  • 2008 - 65%, State - 65%
  • 2007 - 63%, State - 65%
  • 11th Grade Math:

  • 2012 - 71% on grade level (11% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 59% of 11th graders are on grade level.
  • 2011 - 64% (19% below basic). State - 60.3%
  • 2010 - 62% (23% below basic). State - 59%
  • 2009 - 61%, State - 56%
  • 2008 - 51%, State - 56%
  • 2007 - 54%, State - 53%
  • 11th Grade Science

  • 2012 - 57% on grade level (5% below basic). State - 42% of 11th graders were on grade level.
  • 2011 - 46% (9% below basic). State - 40%
  • 2010 - 48%, State - 39%
  • 2009 - 55%, State - 34%
  • 2008 - 40%, State - 39%
  • Science in Motion' Palmyra Area Senior High School did not take advantage of a state program called Science in Motion which brought college professors and sophisticated science equipment to the school to raise science awareness and to provide inquiry-based experiences for the students. The Science in Motion program was funded by a state appropriation and cost the school nothing to participate. Elizabethtown College provided the science enrichment experiences to schools in the region.

    College remediation

    According to a Pennsylvania Department of Education study released in January 2009, 31% of Palmyra Area School District graduates required remediation in mathematics and or reading before they were prepared to take college level courses in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education or community colleges. Less than 66% of Pennsylvania high school graduates, who enroll in a four-year college in Pennsylvania, will earn a bachelor's degree within six years. Among Pennsylvania high school graduates pursuing an associate degree, only one in three graduate in three years. Per the Pennsylvania Department of Education, one in three recent high school graduates who attend Pennsylvania's public universities and community colleges takes at least one remedial course in math, reading or English.

    Dual enrollment

    Palmyra Area High School offers a Dual Enrollment program. This state program permits high school students to take courses, at local higher education institutions, to earn college credits. Students remain enrolled at their high school. The courses count towards high school graduation requirements and towards earning a college degree. The students continue to have full access to activities and programs at their high school. The college credits are offered at a deeply discounted rate. The state offers a small grant to assist students in costs for tuition, fees and books. Under the Pennsylvania Transfer and Articulation Agreement, many Pennsylvania colleges and universities accept these credits for students who transfer to their institutions. For the 2009-10 funding year, the school district received a state grant of $9,016 for the program.

    SAT Scores

    In 2013, Palmyra Area School District students took the SAT exams. The District's Verbal Average Score was 503. The Math average score was 524. The Writing average score was 493. The College Board reported that statewide scores were: 494 in reading, 504 in math and 482 in writing. The nationwide SAT results were the same as in 2012.

    In 2012, 154 Palmyra Area School District students took the SAT exams. The District's Verbal Average Score was 497. The Math average score was 532. The Writing average score was 505. The statewide Verbal SAT exams results were: Verbal 491, Math 501, Writing 480. In the USA, 1.65 million students took the exams achieving scores: Verbal 496, Math 514, Writing 488. According to the College Board the maximum score on each section was 800, and 360 students nationwide scored a perfect 2,400.

    In 2011, 155 Palmyra Area High School students took the SAT exams. The district's Verbal Average Score was 493. The Math average score was 514. The Writing average score was 469. Pennsylvania ranked 40th among state with SAT scores: Verbal - 493, Math - 501, Writing - 479. In the United States 1.65 million students took the exam in 2011. They averaged 497 (out of 800) verbal, 514 math and 489 in writing.

    Graduation requirements

    The Palmyra Area School Board has determined that beginning in 2012, 35 credits will be required for graduation in 2015.

    By law, all Pennsylvania secondary school students were required to complete a project as a part of their eligibility to graduate from high school. The type of project, its rigor and its expectations are set by the individual school district. Effective with the graduating class of 2017, the Pennsylvania State Board of Education eliminated the state mandate that students complete a culminating project in order to graduate.

    By Pennsylvania School Board regulations, beginning with the class of 2016, public school students must demonstrate successful completion of secondary level course work in Algebra I, Biology, and English Literature by passing the Keystone Exams. The exam is given at the end of the course. Keystone Exams replace the PSSAs for 11th grade.

    Students have several opportunities to pass the exam. Those who do not pass after several attempts can perform a project in order to graduate. For the class of 2019, a Composition exam will be added. For the class of 2020, passing a civics and government exam will be added to the graduation requirements. In 2011, Pennsylvania high school students field tested the Algebra 1, Biology and English Lit exams. The statewide results were: Algebra 1 38% on grade level, Biology 35% on grade level and English Lit - 49% on grade level. Individual student, school or district reports were not made public, although they were reported to district officials by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Students identified as having special needs and qualifying for an Individual Educational Program (IEP) may graduate by meeting the requirements of their IEP.


    The Palmyra Area High School underwent a $35 million renovation to the existing school, as well as additions in 2007. Due to a population increase in the Palmyra area, school officials decided that the aging building could no longer support the projected increase in students. The School Board decided a renovation with additions was more sensible than building a new school.

    The first phase was the construction of a new 15 classroom, 2 story addition to the existing school. This was completed in December 2006, and held student occupation on January 2, 2007. Also, the new cafeteria was completed for January 23, 2007. Additions included; a new two story, 15-classroom wing, new weight training center, new art rooms, a new cafeteria and new communication and production technology classrooms.

    Despite the large amount of progress with the project, work was stopped suddenly both on renovations and in the classrooms. On Monday April 9, 2007 at about 8:50AM, a fire broke out on a Tar Roofing Machine on the north end of the campus, by the new wing. An immediate evacuation of nearby classrooms into the gymnasium was conducted for a short time, and nearby propane tanks which fueled the device were removed. Local fire services arrived shortly thereafter and extinguished the fire. Exhaust and smoke then moved into the school building and covered windows and vehicles. The event caused a minor delay in the school schedule.

    Phase III was completed at the end of summer 2007. It included the renovations of the Business Department Wing, which went under renovation on April 17, 2007. Also, the new Library opened, in the area of the old Kitchen and Production Technology Room. Additional miscellaneous classrooms opened in the old cafeteria location.

    Classrooms for the Future grant

    The Classroom for the Future state program provided districts with hundreds of thousands of extra state funding to buy laptop computers for each core curriculum high school class (English, Science, History, Math) and paid for teacher training to optimize the computers use. The program was funded from 2006-2009. Palmyra Area School District did not apply for funding in 2006-07. In 2007-08, the High School received $247,966. For the 2008-09, school year the high school received $45,413. Of the 501 public school districts in Pennsylvania, 447 of them received Classrooms for the Future grant awards.


    The schools offers a variety of clubs, activities and an extensive, costly sports program. Eligibility for participation is determined by school board policy and the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association. In accordance with Pennsylvania law, the Board has adopted a concussion management policy.

    By Pennsylvania law, all K-12 students in the district, including those who attend a private nonpublic school, cyber charter school, charter school and those homeschooled, are eligible to participate in the extracurricular programs including all athletics. They must meet the same eligibility rules as the students enrolled in the district's schools.

    The school colors of the district are Black, Orange, and White. The school mascot is the Cougar.

    The school board is weighing spending $650,000 to add artificial turf to Buck Swank Athletic Field. The community's reaction is mixed. The project would require costly borrowing. Several board members suggest raising the necessary funds through donation. There have also been calls to institute pay to play for all district athletics and extracurriculars, in order to ease the burden these programs create on local taxpayers.


    Palmyra competes in District III of the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA). Palmyra fields teams in the following Mid Penn Keystone Division of the Mid Penn Conference

  • Baseball - District III Champions (1999, 2002, 2003) PIAA State Champions (1999)
  • Field Hockey - District III Champions (1984, 1991, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2011, 2013, 2015) PIAA State Champions (2005, 2014)
  • Girls Basketball- District III Champions (2013)
  • Girls Cross Country- District III Champions (2012)
  • Boys Basketball- District III Champions (1949, 1957, 1996)
  • Boys Soccer- District III Champions (2008)
  • Boys Track and Field- District III Champions (1999)
  • Clubs and activities

    Student activities at Palmyra High School include:



    Palmyra Area High School Wikipedia

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