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Baldwin Park Living Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021 3 weeks ago

Winter Park PTSA earns National PTA School of Excellence recognition

Following an unprecedented year of trials and tribulations, one Winter Park High School entity is celebrating an unprecedented win.
by: Annabelle Sikes Staff Writer

Following an unprecedented year of trials and tribulations, one Winter Park High School entity is celebrating an unprecedented win.

The Winter Park PTSA in August earned National PTA School of Excellence recognition. The distinction lasts for a two-year span, and selected schools receive celebration tools and consideration for the top honors — the Phoebe Apperson Hearst Award and a $2,000 grant. Only 45 schools in the United States were awarded for the 2020-2022 span.

The WPHS PTSA also earned the distinction during the previous span, and this year’s honor marks the first time the school secured the award in successive terms.

The National PTA School of Excellence recognition program “supports and celebrates partnerships between local PTAs and schools to enrich the educational experience and overall well-being for all students,” according to the National PTA website.

Members of the WPHS PTSA executive board, which includes five Baldwin Park residents, say the distinction is particularly special given the challenges COVID-19 presented.

“Serving as WPHS’s PTSA president last year, during a pandemic, was not only rewarding but extremely humbling,” 2020-2021 PTSA President Anne Knapp says. “Through consistent communication and connection with our parents, our school community came together with valuable resources and time to provide for our teachers, students and staff. It was an important goal of our PTSA that they felt supported and taken care of during this unprecedented and challenging time.”

The WPHS PTSA works to keep the school updated with information and events through a weekly email newsletter and Facebook page; and organizes and plans events such as the Welcome Back Cats, Homecoming BBQ, Teacher Appreciation and Baccalaureate. The PTSA also provides resources to the College and Career Center, provides support through student scholarships and teacher grants, and helps to fund and support programs that aid students in need.

Tanya Veras, the 2021-2022 WPHS PTSA president, says the award is a win for everyone involved.

“This acknowledgment is super rewarding,” she says. “WPHS, as well as other schools, had to maneuver through many more difficult challenges this past year. It was such a pleasant surprise to receive this prestigious recognition. I am so proud to serve WPHS PTSA.”

The WPHS PTSA was forced to pivot multiple times and place resources toward new opportunities. Face-to-face meetings transitioned to Zoom, the food pantry was shut down, teacher appreciation events turned into “box lunches,” and larger events moved to socially distanced events such as a car parade to celebrate WPHS seniors.

“The award is a true testament to the support, dedication and commitment of our volunteers who strive to make Winter Park High School the best it can be,” Principal Matthew Arnold says.

This year, the PTSA recently finished supplying its pantry with items such as clothes, toiletry and school supplies. The program also has increased the number of times teacher grants are given and implemented new mentoring processes in its “Progress to Success” program.

“My first job out of college was teaching at WPHS,” Veras says. “My mom is a retired teacher from WPHS. Now that my twins attend here, I feel I have come back around full circle. The Veras crew bleeds orange and black!”


2021-2022 Winter Park High School PTSA Executive Board

President: Tanya Veras

Past president: Anne Knapp

First vice president: Iris Fernandez

Treasurer: Niki Tringas

Treasurer: Katie Maun

Recording secretary: Jill Ciambella

Corresponding secretary: Becky Junod


2021-2022 PTSA

Committee Chairs

Membership: Sara Cambron, Daneen Cross and Francee Williams

Homecoming BBQ: Miriam Garcia, Whitney Langholz and Johnny Miller

Staff appreciation: Mandy Borkman, Dawn Wehrum and Erin Wright

College and Career Center: Iris Fernandez, Amy Samelson

Baccalaureate: Elise Breth, Endsley Hewitt and Jen Sommer

Wildcat Outreach: Stacey Soll, Jamie Storey and Francesca Asher

Progress to Success: Dawn Young


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Annabelle Sikes is a staff writer at the West Orange Times & Observer, Southwest Orange Observer and She graduated in May 2021 from the University of Central Florida with a bachelor's degree in journalism and a minor in sociology.  Her past...

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