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North Hills Monthly

New & Notable December 2019

Nov 30, 2019 10:28AM ● By North Hills Monthly magazine
Fox Chapel Students Win Awards at Model UN Conference
Several Fox Chapel Area High School students recently won awards at the annual University of Pittsburgh High School Model United Nations (UN) Conference. Senior Zeynep Ozkaya won a Best Delegate (first place) award.  Outstanding Delegate (second place) awards went to seniors Rajeev Godse, Gavin Hitchens, and Henry Jacques. Third-place awards went to seniors Noah Hertzman, Aaron Santilli, and Ameya Velankar; junior Cecilia Rike; and sophomores Alaina Kaslewicz and Siddharth Yende. Additionally, the team of Noah, Ameya, Cecilia, and junior Abigail Rickin-Marks were named the Best Small Delegation (first place). Approximately 500 students from 27 public and private high schools competed at conference.

BHS Nurse Terri Isacco Honored in Cameos of Caring® Program
Terri Isacco, RN, BSN, CHPN was chosen by Butler Health System as its recipient for the 2019 Cameos of Caring Program® Award. She was nominated by her colleagues and was recognized at the annual awards gala on Nov 2. In her 25-plus year career at BHS, Isacco has served on many key health system committees and initiatives and has gone from a nursing assistant, to team leader, to case manager, to educator to her current role in palliative care. The Cameos of Caring Program® was created in 1999 to honor exceptional bedside nurses.

BrightStar Care Caregiver Heather Bailey Wins National Award
Heather Bailey, a Home Health Aide (HHA) with BrightStar Care, has been awarded the National Caregiver Award. Each year BrightStar Care recognizes their caregivers for putting forth exceptional empathy and patience by honoring one employee with this prestigious award. Bailey was nominated by her client’s wife, who credits her with helping him meet numerous milestones after a perioperative stroke, including attending his daughter’s graduation in another state.

Students Place in Erie Forensic Tournament
Six Fox Chapel Area High School students recently placed at the annual M&M Forensic Tournament in Erie, PA. The team of junior Jackson Romero and sophomore Siddharth Yende won first place, and the team of freshmen Marie Romero and Prajval Sreenivas won fourth place in Policy Debate. The team of juniors Hannah Jahnke and Annabella Zgurzynski were awarded first place in Duo Interpretation.  Hannah also won third place in Dramatic Performance. Approximately 140 students from 11 high schools from across western PA participated in the event.

Choi Earns Highest Score on ACT
David Choi, son of Sihyuk Choi and Soojin Kim, and a junior at Seneca Valley Senior High School, earned the highest possible ACT composite score of 36. In the U.S. high school graduating class of 2018, only 3,741 out of more than 1.9 million graduates who took the ACT earned a top composite score of 36. Students who earn a 36 composite score have likely mastered all of the skills and knowledge they will need to succeed in first-year college courses in the core subject areas.

Seneca Valley Band Seniors Selected for NafME Honor Ensemble
Seneca Valley Band Seniors Kate Scanlan (trombone) and Sean Scott (baritone saxophone) were recently selected to participate in the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) All-National Honor Ensembles in Orlando, FL. Scanlan was selected as the only student from Pennsylvania to perform in the National Jazz Ensemble, and Scott was selected as one of only eight students from Pennsylvania to perform in the National Concert Band.

SV JROTC Receives Honor Unit with Distinction Award
The Seneca Valley Junior Reserved Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) has been named a 2019-20 Honor Unit with Distinction by the U.S. Department of the Army. The department presents this award to JROTC units that have maintained an exceptionally high standard of performance during the 2018-19 school year. In order to receive the award, a JROTC unit must undergo a two-part evaluation process: a formal inspection and a unit report. Seneca Valley JROTC is part of an elite group that achieved this status out of over 1,700 Army JROTC programs across the nation. 

Farmers National Bank adds Fruehstorfer as Mortgage Loan Consultant
Farmers National Bank is growing its mortgage lending team with the addition of Beth Fruehstorfer as mortgage loan consultant. She will be working with customers out of the bank’s Beaver, PA location. Fruehstorfer is an accomplished professional with nearly two decades of experience. Prior to joining Farmers, the Slippery Rock University graduate worked in various roles for logistics and manufacturing companies, before returning to her roots in banking where she began her career.

Seneca Valley Reading Team Finishes First
Seneca Valley’s 9-12 Reading Competition Teams have had their noses in books—literally—over the last few months. Seneca Valley hosted the Butler County Reading Competition and one SV team, the Dumbledorks, finished first out of nine teams on Nov. 7. To prepare for the event, students were given a reading list of 16 books that each team reads. On the day of the competition, there was a 96-question quiz show where teams competed to see who knew the books the best. 

Beaver Valley Choral Society Invited to NY
Distinguished Concerts International New York City (DCINY) invited Artistic Director Ray Rotuna and the Beaver Valley Choral Society to participate in a performance of The Music of Joseph Martin on the DCINY Concert Series in New York City in November. The society joined with other choristers to form the Distinguished Concerts Singers International, a choir of distinction. Conductor and Composer Joseph Martin led the performance.

Fox Chapel Marching Band Wins First at PIMBA Championships
The Fox Chapel Area High School Marching Band recently won first place at the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Marching Band Association (PIMBA) Championships. The Marching Foxes placed first in Class 2A at the October competition at Gateway High School, earning a combined score of 81.075, and high honors for music and visual performance. The band is under the student leadership of drum majors senior Hanna Chen and junior Jack Scott, and band directors Daryl Lesnik and Evan Hertrick.

Sixteen Aquinas Academy Students  and Alumni Awarded AP Scholar Awards
Sixteen Aquinas Academy students have earned AP Scholar Awards for their success on AP exams.  These include seniors Anna Plazek, Helen Rothfus, Sam Schirra and Pedro Schmitt; and Louis D’Angelo, Harry Hardman and Anthony Hite, who were awarded the AP Scholar designation after completing their AP Exams in the spring of 2019. Alejandro Garcia earned AP Scholar with Honor, and Susan Austin, Mary Bence, Elizabeth Blume, Grace Fort, Margaret Maglio, Katherine O’Connell, Ella Stewart and Anneliese Truschel earned AP Scholar with Distinction.

Wagner Introduces Online Recycling Map
With changing household recycling guidelines and requirements raising questions for many local residents, Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner launched an interactive online Recycling Resources Map, which allows county residents to search by address for recycling services provided by their local municipality or nearby private operations. The Recycling Resources Map can be found at

Heritage Valley Health System Adds New Scanning Technology
Heritage Valley Health System has announced the installation of new scanning technology at Heritage Valley Kennedy that combines the advancements in Magnetic Resonance (MR) with the sophisticated engineering of a 1.5T wide-bore system. The new scanner provides an increased level of patient comfort with flexible coil designs and novel applications designed to minimize scan times and improve image quality. The design also automates patient protocols to help decrease exam times and accommodate more patients per day.

Shaler Area District Expands Go Bucket Program
The Shaler Area District Parent Council, in partnership with the district, launched the Go Bucket initiative in the 2019-2020 school year to help teachers be more prepared for an emergency situation. The Go Buckets are five-gallon buckets that include items that can be used in an emergency or extended lockdown situation such as flashlights, first-aid kits, duct tape, rope, a space blanket and whistle. The buckets serve as a container for the supplies and doubles as a stool or an emergency lavatory. The project launched at Marzolf Primary School with every classroom receiving a Go Bucket, and this month expanded into Reserve Primary and Scott Primary. To date, 78 Go Buckets have been placed in Shaler Area classrooms in three schools.

Fox Chapel Students Place in Novice Forensic Tournament  
Fox Chapel Area High School students recently placed at the annual Upper St. Clair Novice Forensic Tournament. Sophomores Alaina Kaslewicz placed third and Mona Gerges placed fifth in Impromptu Speaking; the Policy Debate teams of freshmen Marie Romero and Prajval Sreenivas placed second and Sonny Hur and Dawson Krisky placed fourth. Approximately 170 students from 24 schools from western Pennsylvania and West Virginia competed at the tournament.

Sliders Curling Opens
Pittsburghers will have a new way to shake off the winter blues this year with the arrival of Sliders Curling, the city’s first competitive, bar-style ice curling rink. The venue, located outside of LumberjAxes in Millvale, opened in November and will operate all winter. At Sliders, guests will play a “bar-style” version of the sport, taking turns throwing Olympic-style stones while standing on rubber mats, rather than walking on and sweeping the ice.

Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands Wins Emerging Destination Award
Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands has been voted one of the top 30 emerging travel destinations on the planet for 2020. The annual awards honoring trending destinations were published on the site, which promotes emerging destinations around the world as a solution to overtourism. Winners were selected after voting by 30 of the most popular travel bloggers in the industry, who collectively sport more than 12 million followers on social media. The Laurel Highlands region was nominated for the award by The Pennsylvania Tourism Office/Visit PA.

Christ Church at Grove Farm Hires New Pastor
Christ Church at Grove Farm in Sewickley has expanded its leadership team with Craig Gyergyo now serving as their new senior pastor. Gyergyo joins the staff of Christ Church at Grove Farm after previously serving as executive director at Bible Museum on the Square in Collierville, TN.
Fox Chapel Area High School Receives National Recognition from Special Olympics 
In November, Fox Chapel Area High School, a Special Olympics Pennsylvania (SOPA) Unified Champion School, hosted a special banner presentation to acknowledge the school’s national recognition for its outstanding efforts to provide inclusive sports and activities for students with and without disabilities. The celebration featured remarks by special guests Matt Aaron, SOPA president & CEO; Michael H. Hower, Ed.D., lead principal at Fox Chapel Area High School; and district administrators. The remarks were followed by the unveiling of the 2019 National Unified Champion School Banner. Fox Chapel Area High School is the first school from Allegheny County and the eighth in Pennsylvania to receive this national honor. The school is also the only school from Pennsylvania and one of 34 schools nationwide to be named to the Special Olympics–ESPN Honor Roll for 2019.

Seneca Valley Earns Middle States Accreditation
The Seneca Valley School District recently announced that the high schools, grades 9-12, have earned accreditation by the Middle States Association Commissions on Elementary and Secondary Schools, a worldwide leader in accreditation and continuous school improvement. Accreditation is a multifaceted evaluation process that schools and school systems voluntarily use to demonstrate they are meeting a defined set of research-based performance standards.

Butterfly Cards to Benefit Highmark Caring Place
Sarah Nelson, artist and founder of Atlas Art Press, has created a beautiful set of watercolor butterfly notecards to benefit the Highmark Caring Place. $10 from each set ($5 from Atlas, $5 matched by Highmark) goes directly to help the children, teens, and families who are grieving the death of a loved one at the Highmark Caring Place. To purchase notecards, visit

Seneca Valley Academic Decathlon Team Places First
The Seneca Valley Academic Decathlon Team placed first among 15 schools and brought home over 10 medals from the Academic Decathlon Competition at Meadville High School on Nov. 9. SV medalists included seniors Megan Neely, who won an overall gold; Will Firman, who medaled in the categories of essay and art and won an overall sliver; Logan Glatz, who medaled in the essay category and won an overall bronze; Megan Spark, who medaled in music; and Julia Allman and Gabe Sutherland, who both medaled in social science. Juniors included Mia Chevallier, who medaled in music, art, essay and received an overall gold; Ashley Eury, who medaled in the categories of music and art and won an overall bronze; and Allison Flatt, who medaled in essay and music.

Bruster’s Named a Top 2019 Franchise for Veterans
Bruster’s Real Ice Cream was recently named a 2019 Top Franchise for Veterans by Entrepreneur Magazine. Bruster’s participates in promoting franchise opportunities to military personnel each year, offering a 50 percent discount, or $17,500, on franchise fees to military veterans.

Knapp Named President of Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh
The board of trustees of Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh has named Steven Knapp, Ph.D., the institution’s 11th president. Dr. Knapp is president emeritus of The George Washington University (GW) in Washington, D.C., where he is currently university professor of English. Prior to joining GW, he served for 11 years as provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. He will assume his new position on Feb. 1, 2020.

Shaler Area School District Names Abraham Distinguished Alumnus
Shaler Area has named graduate Heather Abraham (Class of 2002) as its 2019 Distinguished Alumnus. Abraham is a veteran journalist who credits Shaler Area’s television production program and SATV teacher Lee Myers with providing her with the encouragement to pursue broadcast journalism. The district created the Distinguished Alumnus Award to recognize and honor the graduates of the Shaler Area, Shaler, Etna or Millvale School District who have made a valuable contribution to society through their personal or professional life.

Senft Recognized as Top Executive by Pittsburgh Smart Business Magazine
Zachary Senft, chief officer of Passavant Memorial Homes Family of Services (PMHFOS) has been recognized by Pittsburgh Smart Business magazine as one of the top executives of the 50 smartest companies in the Greater Pittsburgh region. The Cranberry Township resident was selected for this award for his ability to effectively build and lead a successful organization. Additionally, PMHFOS has been nominated to receive a specialty award for achievements in the areas of innovation, impact, and sustainability. 

Shaler Area Assistant Superintendent Receives Excellence in Educational Leadership Award
Dr. Bryan O’Black, Shaler Area assistant superintendent, is one of 17 professionals nationwide to receive the University Council for Educational Administration’s Excellence in Educational Leadership Award. The award is an annual recognition for practicing school administrators who have made significant contributions to the improvement of administrator preparation. Dr. O’Black serves as a mentor to doctoral candidates within the Ed.D. in Educational Leadership program at Duquesne University, and has supported initiatives and experiences that create opportunities for educational leadership at all levels. The Duquesne University faculty also recognized Dr. O’Black’s work with the Pennsylvania Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development as having clear impact on educational leaders across the commonwealth. 

Slagle Leads Kindness Card Project
For the second year, Beth Slagle of Ross Township, a business attorney at Meyer, Unkovic & Scott, led the firm in launching the Kindness Card Project, a philanthropic effort where 50 employees at the firm volunteer to create unique, hand-painted greeting cards available for purchase. All proceeds from the sale of the cards benefit the 412 Food Rescue. In its first year, the firm raised $3,800 for 412 Food Rescue and this year, hope to surpass that goal. The cards are currently listed for sale on the MUS website.

Fox Chapel Area High School Earns Re-accreditation
Fox Chapel Area High School has earned re-accreditation by the Middle States Association Commissions on Elementary and Secondary Schools, a worldwide leader in accreditation and continuous school improvement. Accreditation is a multifaceted evaluation process that schools and school systems voluntarily use to demonstrate they are meeting a defined set of research-based performance standards. 

MSA-CESS Recognizes Fox Chapel for Programs of Distinction
The Middle States Association Commissions on Elementary and Secondary Schools (MSA-CESS) recently recognized Fox Chapel Area High School for its Programs of Distinction in Music, School Counseling, and the Visual Arts. The Middle States Programs of Distinction initiative provides external validation of an accredited school’s accomplishments in specific areas of expertise and enables schools to take accreditation to the next level.