William Penn Senior High School students Yorgelis Lopez, left, Marie King, Zaynab Snowden, Cierra Michael and Rashimi Tuck dance in the back of the
William Penn Senior High School students Yorgelis Lopez, left, Marie King, Zaynab Snowden, Cierra Michael and Rashimi Tuck dance in the back of the auditorium to music by Chantz Kacey during the York City School District's Town Meeting Celebration Friday. (FOR THE DAILY RECORD/SUNDAY NEWS - JEFF LAUTENBERGER )

It was more than the orange and blue balloons that lent a festive mood Friday night to York City School District's Town Meeting Celebration.

"You might not always see the good news on the TV. You might not always read the good news in the newspaper," said Supt. Deborah Wortham to a standing-room-only auditorium. "Tonight you hear the good news."

The district shared last year's scholastic progress and honored eight alumni for their contributions to the community.

Eight of the district's schools saw increased academic student achievement, according to Wortham. McKinley and Devers Elementary schools met annual yearly progress. Phineas Davis Elementary and William Penn Senior High School met annual yearly progress targets in math.

At William Penn Senior High School, the drop-out rate has decreased by 3.5 percent, the graduation rate has increased by 5 percent and discipline referrals were 2,500 fewer than the year before.

The district's move to combine the elementary and middle schools this year had many parents worried about student safety.

"The fear of making it K-8, that there would be a lot of problems with the younger kids and older kids ... it's actually working out perfect," said Jovette Day, whose 9-year-old son attends Devers K-8.

According to security director Michael Muldrow, the district has seen a marked decline in "middle school issues" such as hallway roaming, after-school fights and serious incidents.

"When discipline goes down, then achievement goes up," Wortham said.

Each school building also shared its individual accomplishments and new programs. The district's own students were showcased in a puppet show by students from Ferguson K-8 and performances from the high school marching band, cheerleaders and choir as well as local performers the Southside Steppers and Temple Guard Drumline.

Alumni honored included Henry Boulding, Jody Harman, Ali Johnson, Juanita Kirkland, Brandon Marquette, President Judge Stephen Linebaugh, Ryan Rossum, and the Rev. Carl Scott.

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