When Whitehall-Yearling High School parent Tiffanie Charles sought to resurrect a parent-teacher organization, she wanted it to include something it had lacked in the past: student participation.

When Whitehall-Yearling High School parent Tiffanie Charles sought to resurrect a parent-teacher organization, she wanted it to include something it had lacked in the past: student participation.

"I wanted students to feel they had a voice," said Charles, whose son, Chris, is a sophomore at Whitehall-Yearling.

The Whitehall Parent Teacher Student Association received its charter in September. Its membership includes all the classified and certified teachers at the high school -- about 70 in all, Charles said.

Now the focus is on getting more parents and students involved, said Charles, who began discussing the idea of a PTSA with then-Assistant Principal Paul Smathers last year when Chris, the oldest of her three sons, entered the high school as a freshman.

"I saw a need for other parents to become involved," said Charles, who noticed the parents of athletes were involved in the district, but those whose children were not involved in sports or other extracurricular activities often were not.

Charles said the PTSA has identified several opportunities to begin making parents aware of the organization and recruit more parents and students.

PTSA volunteers passed out water and hot dogs at the school's homecoming bonfire and support the district's Positive Behavior Intervention and Support, a state-mandated program.

Around 60 students will be recognized Friday morning, Nov. 4, at the school's Ram's Finest breakfast.

Each teacher at the high school nominates a student who has exhibited leadership, character or another positive attribute in the classroom, said Alisha Wilson, a 17-year educator in the district who this year became the college and career readiness coordinator at Whitehall-Yearling High School.

Wilson also has been assisting Charles with her efforts.

"I think there was a disconnection with parents, especially those without students involved in sports or other activities, and there is a need to have that same involvement for all our parents," Wilson said.

She said she could not clearly remember an active PTO or PTA at the high school, though she and Charles both recalled its existence at some point.

Wilson said such an organization existed at Rosemore Middle School more recently.

"Several students have expressed interest," said Charles, adding the organization needs more solid footing before they become involved.

Charles said she hopes to begin building it Nov. 4 during the Ram's Finest breakfast and other school functions.

"Parents and students first need to know we exist," said Charles, adding the breakfast is a good opportunity to begin spreading the word.

The organization has established a Facebook page -- Whitehall-Yearling High School PTSA -- and meets at 6:30 p.m. the fourth Wednesday of each month at the high school.

Though focused now on membership, the PTSA has several early initiatives, Charles said, including a review of the high school's student uniform policy and establishment of a school-resource night.

The latter event would entail identifying and making resources available for various forms of support, from academic scholarship information to providing for district families in need.

Smathers, now the high school's principal, said he looks forward to witnessing the benefits of the new association.

"This endeavor will help strengthen our relationships with parents (and) allows our parents to have a voice in decision-making processes and choices in programming and school events," Smathers said.

"Providing these opportunities for our parents, teachers and students will enhance educational experiences at Whitehall-Yearling."

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