Pilot Point High School looks like it’s riding the gravy train with biscuit wheels from the point of view of behind Principal Todd Southard’s desk.
“We’ve had the most successful semester since I’ve been here,” he said. “In literally everything.”
Southard started at PPHS six years ago and is particularly impressed by this year’s ACT scores, as three of the five areas are the highest they’ve been in five years when he was still new to the school he said.
“Volleyball made the playoffs, football went deep, band went deep, cross country boys and girls went to state and we just had two teens in FFA go to state,” he said. “It’s unbelievable. The kids are doing incredibly well.”
A few months back, a student came up to me in the halls and went ‘Mr. Southard, we’re killin’ it around here,’ which he replied yeah, we are.
“It’s been cool to see the excitement in the kids and the staff’s actually gotten into it too,” he said. “The staff has improved tremendously from where it was when I first got here.”
PPHS made some adjustments to improve ACT by bringing in some outside help, but the school never anticipated it making as significant an impact as it did, he said.
“Better teachers are going to equate to a better school,” he said. “So, we worked really hard over the last few years trying to get the very best people we can find in here and then keep them.”
He said, at times, it seemed like PPHS was just hiring to fill holes and there was a more going through the motions going on. Once the school started looking closer at the individual’s passion is when the success started.
“Part of it too, is our kids are also very competitive,” he said. “Our kids want to win; there’s no doubt about it.”
PPHS has the most competitive students Southard said he’s ever seen.
“It’s very unique,” he said. “For the people who’ve been here for years they don’t understand this, but this is my sixth school district. I’ve been around lots of different places and this is totally different than most places.”
Southard said he’s been in other schools where they might not go to state for anything for an entire graduating class.
“Our kids work hard,” he said. “Our kids are incredibly well rounded. They do a little bit of everything and that’s what I love about this place.”
Southard accredited the student’s work ethic and accomplishments to their parents.
“Pilot Point is the most supportive community I’ve ever been in period,” he said. “I think it’s a combination of really good teachers and really good kids. It’s fun to see our kids get excited and go for it the way they do.”