"Positive, Accountable, Well-Mannered and Safe" (P.A.W.S.) proved to be winning words to live by for , as it was one of just seven schools statewide this year.
These words were showcased on the sea of t-shirts worn by students, faculty and staff during the May 24 celebration of the New York State Education Department recognition.
Click the video to the right to view footage from the event.
Representatives from the Schools to Watch program were given free reign of the building for two days in January and spoke with students, teachers, administrators, parents and community members about the school before making a determination.
"They also spent many hours independently dropping in on your classrooms and chatting with you in the halls and the cafeteria," recalled Pleasantville Middle School Principal Vivian Ossowski.
She continued, "They praised the collaborative, caring spirit of our entire faculty and staff; and most significantly they told me that they found that our students were unbelievably polite, respectful and well-behaved."
"In other words," said Ossowski, echoed by the student body,—"Positive, accountable, well-mannered and safe."
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At Thursday's assembly, several students spoke about why they believe the school is deserving of the award.
"This achievement would not be possible without the dedicated teachers and staff who truly care about everyone in this school and view you, the students of Pleasantville Middle School," said Student Council President Karina Roye.
Sixth Grader Arthur Rogers asserted, "Everybody tries their best to make this school a safe and enjoyable learning environment."
"We are encouraged to treat others around us with respect and positivity," added Sophia Tome, a fifth grader.
"Pleasantville Middle School is a School to Watch because there is no bullying—only helping, sharing and caring," said Fifth Grader Kaylei Raefski, an idea that several other students reiterated.
Seventh Grader Kellie Allen said diverse offerings also enhance the middle school experience.
"The curriculum is well-rounded, exposing the students to sports, the arts, music and technology, as well as the regular classes," she said.
David Payton, director of the Essential Elements: STW Program, presented the school with a banner and congratulated the assembly's attendees.
"Only about 330 schools across the country have been recognized as schools to watch," he shared.
He also presented a plaque from the NYS Education Department to Ossowski.
Sean Cotter, an eighth grader, summed up a theme shared by many of the day's speakers: "The sense of community is one of the main reasons for Pleasantville Middle School being named a School to Watch."