Welsh Valley Middle School
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|Welsh Valley Middle School|
|325 Tower Lane
Penn Valley, Narberth, in Lower Merion Township, Pennsylvania, 19072
|Motto||"Corpori Menti Moribus" ("Body, Mind, and Spirit")|
|Principal||Mr. Christopher Hall|
|Information||+1 610 664 3112|
Welsh Valley hosts grades 6, 7, and 8. Students filter to Welsh Valley primarily from Belmont Hills Elementary, Gladwyne Elementary and Penn Valley Elementary schools. It is one of two middle schools in the Lower Merion School District; the other is Bala Cynwyd Middle School on Bryn Mawr Avenue in Cynwyd. Most students who attend Welsh Valley continue their education at Harriton High School.
The Welsh Valley campus was carved out of Pencoyd Iron Works baron Percival Roberts's five-hundred-acre estate, "Penshurst", whose 75-room main mansion once stood on the land bounded by Tower Lane and Hagy's Ford, Conshohocken State, and Hollow Roads; vestiges of the estate's "hanging gardens" remain visible today through a gate at the bend of Conshohocken State Road north of Hagy's Ford. Until 1980 or so when it was condemned and torn down, the most visible edifice in the area was not the school itself but a 150-foot-tall, red brick water tower that had belonged to the estate's working dairy farm and that stood on the ridge overlooking the baseball and football fields where the spectator stands traditionally have been. It was this water tower that had given Tower Lane its name and that is not linked thematically to the school's "Waterbound" program.
The school's original address was 1320 Hagy's Ford Road, Penn Valley, Narberth, Pennsylvania. That address was changed to 325 Tower Lane in part to memorialize the time of day (3:25 p.m.) at which school had always closed at Welsh Valley.
When Welsh Valley opened in the fall of 1958, it consisted of five separate buildings, connected only by covered walkways and designed fashionably in what was then called "the California style" of school construction. Its three main classroom buildings, 7th, 8th, and 9th, had been designed so that each of the five major academic classes--English, mathematics, history, foreign language, and science, in that specific order—could be taught in two cohorts for each graduating class, one on each floor of a building from left to right. Each homeroom was labeled with one of the letters for the words "STUDY" (top floor) or "LEARN" (bottom floor). For example, the fourth room from the left on the top floor of the eighth grade building was 8D and its homeroom teacher taught eighth grade foreign language; the third room from the left on the bottom floor of the seventh grade building was homeroom 7A and its homeroom teacher taught seventh grade history. The "seventh grade building" was at the bottom of the hill across from the gym entrance facing Hagy's Ford Road; the "eighth grade building", next to the seventh, was up the hill from it; and the "ninth grade building" at the top of the hill was connected by hallway to the main office and overlooked Tower Lane. The gymnasium and dining hall/auditorium buildings rounded out the original plan.
During the first thirty or so years of its existence, students were "tracked" by intelligence and achievement across the STUDY and LEARN spectrum; that is, those students with the highest elementary school grades and scoring highest on IQ and achievement tests were grouped together in S and L classes; those with the lowest measures of intelligence and achievement were tracked into the Y and N classes. Although teaching such classes was widely thought by teachers to be more convenient than teaching classes characterized by inclusion, tracking was also accused of inadvertently causing de facto segregation and fomenting other ills, such as elitism and social ignorance.
Boys in this same era were required to wear ties and jackets to school every Wednesday, the day of a weekly all-school assembly held in the auditorium, and the school's dress code required girls to wear skirts or dresses at all times. The Parent-Teacher's Association (PTA) sponsored an annual series of five "canteen dances", held every other month in the gymnasium on Friday evenings from 7 until 10 p.m. For the privilege of attending these dances, at which local bands played rock standards, a student plunked down $5.00 for the year. Mother and father chaperons from the PTA served up soft drinks for a quarter apiece, and many a budding junior high romance blossomed at mid-court to the tunes of the Beach Boys, Beatles, and Rolling Stones. (There was a Wednesday dress code at these dances: ties and jackets were required for boys and dresses for girls.) At the final dance, held the first Friday of every May, the canteen's "king" and "queen" and their "court" of five girls and five boys were crowned, elected the previous March by a ballot of their dance-attending peers.<
Even though Welsh Valley was built well into the era of television—indeed, the late 1950s are considered network television's "golden age"—the school was remarkably slow to embrace technology; the televisions that had been installed in each classroom were rarely if ever used during the school's first decades and were never used for communication between administration and students. Mornings began with audio-only announcements over the loudspeaker system, delivered for the most part by the principal or assistant principal, with occasional announcements added by student leaders, such as officers of the student council and sports teams. There were, of course, no personal computers at Welsh Valley until the 1980s.
"Echoes" yearbooks from that earlier era were much like those available today, except that in addition to the usual random photos, portraits of students and faculty, and activities group photos, there was a section called "Boys of Sports" and "Girls of Sports" in which seven or so elite athletes of each gender were selected by the athletic director for oversized portraits on a separate page. Faux leather yearbook bindings gave way to spiral-bound paper in 1968.
In 1979, Welsh Valley was converted from a junior high school to a middle school. With its library historically inadequate and a pressing need for more classroom and computer space, the school was expanded and remodeled by the Lower Merion School District around the start of the 21st century and was rededicated in April 2001. The former seventh and eighth grade buildings were connected by a classroom addition, and a large library and technology addition to the former ninth grade building extended it in an "L" shape along the former walkway that had connected the ninth grade building to the gymnasium building. The color scheme of the school's additions evoke grape-colored "Welsh" ("Welch") and the green of "Valley" in glass and exterior wall panel.
Seven principals have served the school in the half century of its existence; its current chief is Mr. Christopher Hall.
Penn Valley, PA, a residential district incorporated in 1930 that lacks a dedicated post office. Served by the Narberth, PA, post office (19072) but adjacent to the Gladwyne, PA, exit of the Schuylkill Expressway (Route 76).
Clubs and activities
TSA Technology and Engineering Team
Under head coaches Chris Weaver, Matt Birch, and Tim Brockman, the WV TSA team has earned strong recognition, including several national championship titles and state championships. The team was formed in the 2005–2006 season with the help of LMSD Assistant Superintendent, and former TEAP president, Steve Barbato. Although TSA does not rank schools, Welsh Valley has had more than its share of students reach the final stages of the competition and place at the regional, state, and national levels. The 2008–09 season was extremely successful for the club with a member count of almost 80 students at the beginning of the year, and a total of 27 students that attended the national conference in Denver, CO. The 2011-2012 year is also very successful with 6 first places at the state conference which was attended by 40 students.
WVTV-26 (The announcements) is the sole television station for Welsh Valley Middle School. Each school day at 8:22 the morning announcements are broadcast throughout the school. The stations teacher is Tim Brockman. The tech crew includes 8th graders, 7th graders, and 6th graders. Recurring segments occur on Monday when the Dragon Pride Award winners are announced to the students who have done some act of good within the school. The TV station was built in 2006 with money from a grant to the schools TSA. The equipment used to make the announcements happen are a sound board, a Tricaster and Microsoft Power Point, along with cameras, a green screen,and a teleprompter.
Competition Jazz Band
The Welsh Valley Middle School Competition Jazz Band's conductor is Gregg Eskin. Every year the school hosts a competitive jazz festival for area schools.
Specialized Academic Programs
- 6th Grade: ARTiFACTS
- 7th Grade: Waterbound
- 8th Grade: POV (Points of View)
- Jones, Dick, ed. (2000). The First 300: The Amazing and Rich History of Lower Merion. Ardmore: Lower Merion Historical Society. ISBN 0-7881-8500-4.
- Historical recollections of Richard H. "Dick" Bloom, WV '69.[unreliable source?]
- Wheelock, Anne (1992). Crossing the Tracks: How Untracking Can Save America's Schools. New York: The New Press. ISBN 1-56584-013-5.
- Echoes: The Welsh Valley Junior High School Yearbooks. Narberth: Taylor Publishing Company.
- "Remodeled Welsh Valley Middle School Rededicated." The Main Line Times. Ardmore: Main Line Times Publishing Company, April 26, 2001.
- "2008 Middle School Event Finalists". Retrieved 6 April 2012.
- cited tv studio in site and shows studio is run by kids http://wvtsa.lmsdscitech.org/model/facilities.html] 
- "Welsh Valley Middle School at the Jazz Festival". Retrieved 6 April 2012.
- Welsh Valley Middle School webpage, Lower Merion School District website
- Lower Merion Historical Society
- Township of Lower Merion
- Welsh Valley Technology and Engineering Club