Featured image, above: PALCS USP participants in the Mock Trial Friendship Tournament

2017 has been quite a year for PA Leadership’s University Scholars Program, with students in grades 6-12 accomplishing so much both academically and personally. We recently took some time to reflect on what an amazing year it has been for our honors college-preparatory program, which offers a specialized accelerated curriculum, by either attending the on-site/online blended program in West Chester or participating in the completely virtual program for statewide students. Over the next few weeks, we will be publishing posts in a series called “USP: A Year in Review.” Below, you will find the second post of the series, talking about the triumphs of USP activity groups attending 2017 competitions.

The PALCS University Scholars Program offers students the opportunity to join a long list of student activity groups. Such groups include: the Mock Trial Team, Moot Court Team, Academic Team, Drama Activity Group, The Algorythms: USP’s A Capella Group, and many more. These activity groups not only kicked off 2017 with victories and triumphs, but are ending 2017 in the same way!


  • PA Leadership’s annual USP Spelling Bee took place in January 2017, with several students moving onto the Chester County Competition.
usp spelling bee students

Photo: students at the USP Spelling Bee (also participating in Pajama Day)



  • The High School Mathletes competed in the Arete Labs Math Madness competition, which has grown to hundreds of high schools nationwide.
  • On February 15, USP students competed in the 68th annual American Mathematics Contest (AMC) with several USP students earning 1st, 2nd and 3rd place awards.

Social Studies & Government:

    • The PALCS USP Mock Trial team competed at two weekend tournaments in January of 2017 and won third place overall. They then advanced to the district semi-finals by winning matches against Villa Maria Academy and Oxford High School in the opening rounds. In the semi-final match, the team won in a challenging trial against Henderson High School. In the final trial, our team lost in a very close match against Devon Preparatory Academy. This makes the 4th consecutive year the team has finished in 2nd place of all the high schools in Chester County.


students  of moot court

Photo: students on the Moot Court Team

  • In November, a dedicated band of USP delegates made the long trek to Williamsburg, VA to participate in the College of William and Mary High School Model UN Conference. While there, they represented Venezuela, Slovakia, and Zimbabwe, introduced motions, collaborated with representatives of other nations, and helped resolve diplomatic crises of the present and the past (including the U.S. Election of 1800.) The delegates were led by social studies teacher and Model U.N. Coach, Mr. Park, and USP math teacher, Ms. Reddig. “I was very impressed by all of the students attending the conference. Their professionalism and serious way they tackled each issue was remarkably mature. I’m very proud of each and every one of them!” declared Ms. Reddig.

students of model un

Photo: students participating in Model UN


  • This past summer, during the last two weeks in June, PALCS held the 2017 Middle School STEM Camp at the AIC in West Chester, PA. The program was designed to expose students of all ability levels to STEM-related concepts and activities in a collaborative, teacher-guided environment. Students had the opportunity to gain hands-on experience with some of the most popular STEM devices and tools available on the market.

The Arts:

  • This past March, the USP High School Players opened with the first of three performances of John Cariani’s play, “Almost, Maine.” Six talented USP students each played between two and four roles in this production.

the cast and crew of almost maine

Photo: the cast and crew of “Almost, Maine”

  • In early April, The Algorhythms, USP’s student a cappella singing ensemble, performed at A Cappella at the Rock (AATR) at Council Rock. AATR is a regional a cappella festival and concert featuring ten high school a cappella groups from Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Students in The Algorhythms

Photo: students in The Algorhythms, USP’s a capella singing ensemble

  • In mid-May, the USP Middle School Drama Activity Group presented its production of the comedy “Game of Tiaras,” written by Don Zolidis. Described as “combining the gut-wrenching plot twists of Game of Thrones and the soul-numbing despair of Shakespearean tragedy,” this adaptation of “King Lear” kept the audience laughing.


All Disciplines:

  • The Academic (Quizbowl) Team finished another regular season in the top half of all high schools in the incredibly competitive Chester County League and earned a spot to the semi-finals which were held in February 2017. In October 2017, the Academic Team traveled to Downingtown West High School to face Downingtown West and Octorara’s academic teams. The Junior Varsity team was victorious, almost doubling both other team’s totals with 95 points.
  • The “Ivy Experience” came to the AIC in October to lead a brainstorming session that taught students and parents how to come up with ideas for essays and applications, including the personal statement. Admissions representatives from universities came to meet with the students and describe what type of students they are looking for and what their programs have to offer. Schools in attendance included, Johns Hopkins University, Drexel University, Northeastern University, and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI).
hugging palcs graduates

Excited Graduates from the Class of 2017

As the 2017-2018 school year came to an end, 22 USP seniors and juniors joined the rest of the PALCS graduates to end their high school careers and move on to future adventures. On Saturday, June 17th, in Lancaster, PA, the annual PALCS graduation ceremony celebrated the graduates in the Class of 2017. In total, the PALCS University Scholars Program seniors and graduating juniors were offered over $1,675,720 in scholarships from 40 colleges and universities. Some of those universities included

Boston University, Carnegie Mellon University, Case Western University, Cornell University, Drexel University, George Mason University, George Washington University, Johns Hopkins University, New York University, Northeastern University, Penn State University, Philadelphia University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), Rutgers University, Temple University, University Of Michigan, University of Pennsylvania, University of Pittsburgh, Villanova University, West Chester University

Congratulations to each and every member of the various USP Activity Groups and all of your wonderful successes. Each of you have so much to be proud of, and we are proud to have you represent our school and community. We cannot wait to see what 2018 has in store for you!