BOARD INSIGHT: Celebrating 50 Years of the Urban-Suburban Program at PCSD

For the Pittsford Central School District, the 2018-19 school year marks a significant milestone. PCSD is celebrating 50 years as a participating school district with the Urban-Suburban Interdistrict Transfer Program. The application-based program allows selected students, who are City of Rochester residents, to attend school in one of 14 participating school districts.

“We’re proud to be among the very first school districts to have established an Urban-Suburban Program and even prouder to be celebrating our 50-year anniversary,” said Amy Thomas, Board of Education President. As an Urban-Suburban Program school district, PCSD has long been dedicated to its mission of working collaboratively to “inspire and prepare our students to be their best, do their best and make a difference in the lives of others” regardless of where our students live.

Through this program, the District has provided the foundation to achieve greater success for generations of students including Mendon High School alumnus Kelvin Knight. As a six-year-old student, Kelvin Knight’s parents enrolled him in the Urban-Suburban Program. Knight attended Thornell Road Elementary School, Barker Road Middle School and graduated from Mendon High School in 1985.

“My childhood friends from Pittsford are also my lifelong friends,” said Knight. He went on to say, “I have actively engaged my friends in discrediting mutual social and racial stereotypes in housing, food, music, fashion, language and culture.” His connections were so meaningful during his time at Pittsford Schools, he even led the planning of his 20-year high school reunion.

Pittsford Schools provided more than just an education in the core academic subjects for Knight. Throughout the years, he actively participated in extracurricular activities and sports. In elementary school, Knight was a part of the Safety Patrol and a member of the local Cub Scouts. In high school, Knight was a manager at the Mendon High School bookstore and a member of the track and football teams. Knight also participated in career internship programs at the University of Rochester. During his internships, he said he worked alongside some of his classmates’ siblings and parents. “All of the programs I attended were well worth the effort,” said Knight. “They shaped my perspective of future goals and expectations for myself.”

“The myriad and breadth of experiences that have come from meeting students and adults from diverse social, racial, ethnic, educational and professional backgrounds has allowed me to easily engage in conversations and/or advocate for anyone of any age in the community or workplace,” said Knight about his experiences at PCSD.

While Pittsford Schools marked the beginning of his educational journey, Knight continued his education and received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Rochester. He went on to work in social services in Chicago, IL, and received a master’s degree in public health from the University of Illinois. Later, he returned to Rochester where he worked as a Safety Engineer for Xerox Corporation. Currently, he works as a manager for the City of Rochester where he engages with city residents to identify ways the City of Rochester can improve the quality of life for all residents.

Knight’s Urban-Suburban experience inspired him to give back to current students by helping them to find success too. He founded and coaches a national award-winning middle and high school STEM immersion program for Urban-Suburban Program students and district resident students. He encourages students to pursue STEM classes and careers by engaging them in STEM facts and trivia competitions, local college tours and STEM events. This program is funded by Knight, the Urban-Suburban Program and private donations.

Knight has also helped to establish a not-for-profit academic scholarship for local Urban-Suburban students and district resident students who plan to attend college. For the past seven years, Pittsford students have received scholarships that were personally funded by Knight in memory of his father.

When offering advice to current Urban-Suburban students, Knight says, “I would suggest new students be open to the new variety of life experiences offered to them as an Urban-Suburban student.”

“The Urban-Suburban Program has provided an abundance of opportunities for all of our PCSD students. We look forward to what the next 50 years will bring,” said Amy Thomas, Board of Education President.

Kelvin Knight as a student Kelvin Knight
Kelvin Knight as a Mendon High School student and today