Parkland’s Westglades Middle School teamed up with the Value Up School Culture Movement this week in an effort to build an increasingly cohesive culture that values the intrinsic identity and value of each individual student at school. Each grade participated in an assembly on Tuesday with leadership from the Value Up organization, promoting a student-led shift in culture that is positive and unifying within the student body.

Value Up is a non profit organization founded in 1999 by leaders and students affected by the Columbine, Colorado shooting that took the lives of 12 students. Leadership from Value Up are able to speak to and relate to school culture issues in a manner that is uniquely relatable to Parkland, and the Westglades leadership are appreciative of that aspect.

Principal Matt Bianchi has been particularly passionate and intentional in his effort to revise,  refine, and improve all aspects of the Westglades environment in the wake of the February 14 shooting at Stoneman Douglas.

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In his own words, Bianchi writes:

Shortly after the tragedy of February 14th, the administration at Westglades began planning to provide support for students, teachers, and parents not only for the remainder of the year but for the upcoming year as well.  We have added several security measures including extra personnel, additional cameras, locking mechanisms, ballistic protections and more. We are also very thankful to the WMS PTO and Make Our Schools Safe organization for raising money to further safety enhancements at our school.   It was essential for Westglades to address the social and emotional issues that result from a tragedy of this magnitude. We have added additional school counselors, a full time social worker, a full time psychologist, a testing coordinator to free up guidance counselors to handle more student concerns, and a community liaison to share information out to our community.  Having assemblies like Start with Hello and Value-Up are just a part of the overall plan to provide support and can create a spark for some of the other social and emotional activities that we are putting in place this year.

Westglades parents were treated to a special presentation of the Value Up positive school culture experience on Tuesday evening. Additional events supporting school culture are being planned for 2019 as well. To learn more about the Value Up program, please visit