During last night's board meeting, members of the Lehighton Area School District again recognized the academic achievements of the district's Middle School and four elementary schools.

"It's a great pleasure to be standing here again… to present the elementary and Middle School principals with Keystone Achievement Awards," said Gloria Bowman, the director of curriculum, instruction and grant writing.

"Our elementary schools have achieved this award for six straight years, since it was incepted in 2004," said Bowman. She thanked the district's staff, school board, students and parents for their dedication over the past six years.

The Keystone Achievement Award is given to individual Pennsylvania schools which reach academic targets and demonstrate yearly progress in standardized testing scores over two consecutive school years. Bowman noted that the testing standards were raised during the 2007-2008 school year, but that all five building managed to meet these higher goals.

Both the elementary and middle schools shared additional news with the board. Elementary school principal Aaron Sebelin announced that Mahoning and Shull-David Elementary raised funds for the national Trees for Troops program, hosted locally at Yenser's Tree Farm in Mahoning Township.

"We were able to raise over $400 and provide over 17 trees for military families. I had the honor of taking four students… out there to present the check to Mr. Yenser," he said. "It was a great program, and I think the kids really enjoyed it."

The middle school also raised more than $600, enough to purchase 26 trees.

"I am very appreciative to be part of this program, and hope to continue it in the future," said Sebelin. "I think our kids learned a lot from it. I look forward to doing it next year."

Middle School principal Mark McGalla also announced that the middle school gathered nearly 250 toys for Toys for Tots this year.

"I'm really proud of our students," he said. "It was nice to see kids help others who are less fortunate."

The school board voted to fill one vacant seat on the board, publicly interviewing the two candidates who applied. Lehighton residents Howard Resh and Dean Smith both approached the board, requesting the open position.

Resh has lived in the district for nearly all of his life, and has been in the educational community since 1982. He noted that his educational background would be an asset to the board.

Smith has previously served on the board for the past four years, and is also a life-long resident. He is and has been active in school district activities, including football and band boosters.

After a short recess, Vice-President Larry Stern made a motion to have Resh join the board. The motion was seconded by William Hill and unanimously approved by the board.

Resh will be sworn in at the next meeting, at which time he will begin an active role on the board.

The board also recognized the efforts of the school's volleyball and field hockey teams, which both had record-setting seasons.

"The volleyball team did awesome this year," said Shawn Hindy, district athletic director. The team ended the season with 13 wins, 8 losses.

"This is our second title win ever for the school district, and this is a young program," added Rachel Quinn, volleyball coach, speaking alongside assistant coach Terry Haberman. "That's a great accomplishment for them in such a short amount of time."

She noted that of the six senior volleyball players, all are in National Honor Society and show a dedication to both school and athletics.

The field hockey team was also recognized for its undefeated season, during which the team became state champions.

"We did a great job," said Hindy. "They learned about being a team, and they understand the self-less acts that it takes to produce a champion. It's a great lesson for us to learn."

Hindy also recognized assistant coaches Ashley Frey, JoAnn Schoenberger, Courtney Schleicher, Deb McCain

The next board meeting will be held on Monday, January 25 at 7 p.m.