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PENSPRA Awards for Penn-Delco

Penn-Delco School District was recognized by the Pennsylvania School Public Relations Association (PensPRA) for its communication and public relations efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The Excellence in Education Communications Contest is an annual program that provides an opportunity for school district communication professionals to be recognized.  Entries are accepted in a number of categories to reflect the scope of work undertaken by communications professionals.  

Penn-Delco was recognized in two categories: The new category COVID-19 and/or Crisis Management and the Special Purpose Project categories.  Three designations are awarded to contestents: Awards of Excellence, Awards of Honor, and Awards of Merit.  Penn-Delco was awarded an Award of Honor for its COVID communication efforts and an Award of Excellence for its Special Projects to honor the Class of 2020. 

A pandemic creates a need for regular crisis communication

The COVID-19 communication efforts as directed by Amy Bell and her Health and Safety Team were honored with an Award of Honor for their timely, creative, and efficient communication during the pandemic.  From their Pathways to Reopening efforts through Health and Safety Guides and videos to their regular updates for families with a dashboard and social media reminders, Penn-Delco offered its families helpful and concise communication to guide them through a truly unusual year.  Teachers, nurses, administrators, and communications professionals all contributed to the effort to effectively and efficiently communicate the health and safety protocols and information necessary to keep everyone safe and learning. 

A graduation to remember

The Class of 2020 was blindsided by the appearance of the COVID-19 pandemic at the end of their senior year.  Everything from live classes, to proms, to athletics, to musicals, to graduation were cancelled and the Penn-Delco staff and administration, along with senior class officers and advisors were left to determine how to best honor their graduates.  

An excellent team of teachers, administrators and students,  headed up by Sun Valley Principal Patrick Sasse, created a meaningful and memorable graduation season that helped the Class of 2020 salvage their last months.  From the virtual Decision Day and Signing Day videos, to the in-person Clap Out and Diploma Distribution, the team worked with professionals across the district to honor and acknowledge senior accomplishments.  The prerecorded Awards Event and Graduation Ceremony were accessible via YouTube and offered families a way to collectively share important milestones.  From signage on the Sun Valley campus to the seniors self-produced memory video, Penn-Delco made sure their seniors experienced a graduation season to be proud of.  You can access many of the projects at pdsd.org/classof2020

A true team effort

While managing the ever-changing volumes of information coming from Health and Safety organizations like the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE), and Chester County Health Department (CCHD), the Health and Safety Committee Chair Amy Bell and the communications team headed by Communications Coordinator Lisa Palmarini, worked together to ensure communication was timely and accurate.

"Our leadership and nurses were regularly deciphering information and determining how it would ultimately impact educating our students," noted Mrs. Palmarini.  "From facilities to technology to health, we were responsible for informing our entire Penn-Delco community on how COVID would affect their school experience.  It had to be direct, easy to understand and engaging, too."

The graduation efforts required constant alignment with the Board of School Directors, High School Administrators, and the graduates and their families.  Collecting and considering input from all stakeholders was key to create a memorable march to graduation day.  Dropboxes and google documents collected well-wishes for and photographs of the graduates.  More than 1,000 slides were designed and dozens of hours of film recorded to create a graduation season to remember.  Everyone from the facilities team, to the athletics department, to the Counseling team, to administrative assistants supported the projects. 

"Excellent communication requires a solid team of professionals who work well together," said Mrs. Palmarini.   "This could not be more true of the administration and staff at Penn-Delco.  From our film professional Joey DiCamillo who absorbed countless new projects, to our many principals and administrators who regularly met to ensure we were developing creative, accurate, and relevant messaging, I could not be more proud of our Penn-Delco communications recognitions from PensPRA.  It is a testament to our respect and trust for one another during one of the most stressful times in education history.  I couldn't be more Penn-Delco Proud of our district!"