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North Hills Monthly

New & Notable January 2020

Dec 31, 2019 11:33AM ● By North Hills Monthly magazine
Seneca Valley Students Chosen for PMEA Honors Chorus
Twenty-three students represented Seneca Valley (SV) at the recent Pennsylvania Music Educators Association (PMEA) Honors Chorus concert held at Westminster College in November. SV participants who performed at the festival included Ethan Bannon, Rylie Butler, Anna Byers, Sammi Carter, Seth Cratsley, Kyle Davidson , Cole Eckenrode, Nicholas Folino, John Gargasz, Elizabeth Hixon, Leta Hixon, Trey Hixon, Micah Link, Sarah McKinley, Alex Mortier, Chris Noah, Greta Schmidt, Jonah Smeltzer, Cassidy Spencer, Riley Surratt, Bryce White, Mark Wimer and Caroline Zulick. Students from Butler, Beaver, Mercer and Lawrence counties were able to audition to make it into the choir.

TAVR Team Celebrates 100th Procedure
Heritage Valley Beaver’s multidisciplinary TAVR team recently treated their 100th patient with the innovative, minimally invasive transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) procedure. Heritage Valley Beaver is one of only five hospitals in southwestern Pennsylvania to offer the TAVR procedure, during which a catheter from the groin is used to implant a new valve within a damaged heart valve in patients suffering from severe aortic stenosis. Because the procedure is less invasive than traditional surgery, benefits for patients often include a shorter hospital stay, faster recovery time, quicker relief of symptoms and a lower risk of complications.

Seneca Valley FTC Team Places Second
The Seneca Valley Raider Robotics FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) Team placed second out of 16 teams at the Pennsylvania FTC Scrimmage at North Catholic High School in November. This was SV’s first year starting an FTC team, and students involved include Bri Buccini, Felipe Junqueria, Dalton Reese, Emily Richards, Mackenzie McIntyre, Jocelyn McNany, Kyra Rodgers, Charlotte Purcell, Zach Garcia and Jocelyn Krieger. The team will compete again in Gibsonia on Jan. 11 in hopes to qualify for state championships. The FTC is designed for students in grades 7–12 to compete head to head, by designing, building, and programming a robot to compete in an alliance format against other teams.

Burchfield Primary Principal Receives PSCA Administrator Appreciation Award
Burchfield Primary School Principal Jeff Rojik recently received the Administrator Appreciation Award presented by the Pennsylvania School Counselors Association. Each year, the association recognizes school administrators who demonstrate an understanding and support of, commitment to, and belief in the role of school counselors and comprehensive, developmental school counseling programs. Mr. Rojik was nominated by Burchfield Primary school counselor Lezlie DelVecchio-Marks. In addition to supporting the school’s positive behavior interventions and support programs, Rojik also cofacilitates the Mega Men group, which promotes social growth for all third-grade male students and is an active member of the Burchfield School Counseling Advisory Council.

Dr. Jeffrey Astbury Receives Edinboro University Alumni Award
Jeffrey C. Astbury, MD, FASE, FACC, FASA, MSBE, MSEE, CSAS, CSNS recently received the 2019 Distinguished Alumnus Award in Physics from Edinboro University. The award was first presented in 1976 to recognize outstanding alumni and their accomplishments. Dr. Astbury is the vice chairman for Cardiovascular Services and the director of Perioperative Echocardiography, Department of Anesthesiology, Butler Health System.

Fun Fore All Supports Giving Tuesday at Seneca Valley
On Giving Tuesday in December, Chris Camp, CEO of Fun Fore All Family Fun Park, helped to assist 12 Seneca Valley teachers who were requesting funding for classroom projects via the crowd funding source Camp funded $4,000 to cover the majority of classroom projects, and the Seneca Valley Foundation (SVF) covered the remaining balance. Camp and SVF trustees surprised teachers with their classroom mini grants on Dec. 3.

Therapy Dog Joins Shaler Area High School's Counseling Office
Shaler Area School District has welcomed a new addition to its high school counseling office. Pepper, a certified therapy dog, joined her owner and high school social worker LeeAnn Guido in December in a new initiative to provide support to students. Ms. Guido and Pepper, a 4-year-old Labradoodle, are a certified therapy dog and handler team through Alliance of Therapy Dogs. The dog spends her time in Ms. Guido’s office and is available to students throughout the day, helping to reduce students’ stress and improve physical and emotional well-being and self-esteem, increasing the likelihood of a student’s academic success.

Student Named Semifinalist in Coca-Cola Scholarship Program
Fox Chapel Area High School senior Rajeev Godse has been selected as a semifinalist for the 2020 class of the Coca-Cola Scholars Program. Rajeev is one of 1,928 high school seniors from across the nation and one of 80 from Pennsylvania to be chosen from more than 93,000 applicants. Students are selected based on their academic excellence, leadership, and service demonstrated in school and community activities. A total of 150 Coca-Cola Scholars will be named in March and will be invited to go to Atlanta in April for a celebratory banquet and a leadership development institute facilitated by program alumni.

Ethan Schroeder Earns Eagle Scout Award
Saint Joseph High School Senior Ethan Schroeder received his Boy Scout of America Eagle Award recently for refurbishing the social hall at Bridgepoint Church in Tarentum. The project entailed repainting the entire space; dismantling, painting, and repositioning the modular stage; designing and installing a wrought iron curtain rod; sewing and installing a sheer curtain wall treatment with backdrop LED lights; and creating and installing an AV/ DJ stand. Since its inception in 1911, only four percent of Scouts have earned the rank of Eagle Scout. Schroeder is the son of Edward and Maryellen Schroeder of Tarentum, PA and attends Mount St. Peter Church in New Kensington, PA.

Kiesewetter Awarded 2020 Philip H. Inman Scholarship
Beaver Valley Choral Society awarded the 2020 Philip H. Inman Excellence in Choral Conducting Arts Scholarship to Geneva College student Jordan T. Kiesewetter of Altoona, PA. The son of Kathryn Kiesewetter, Jordan is a junior music education major with a focus in vocal studies. At Geneva College, he participates in several vocal ensembles, including The Genevans, a 50-70 voice mixed ensemble; Eight Bells, a student-run double barbershop quartet, for which he serves as president; and New Song, a 9-10 voice mixed acapella group. His ambition is to become a choral director. The Inman Scholarship was established in 2001, in recognition of the late Philip H. Inman, artistic director emeritus of the Beaver Valley Choral Society.

Aquinas Academy Students and Alumni Receive 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 2019 graduates  Louis D’Angelo, Harry Hardman, and Anthony Hite. Alejandro Garcia earned AP Scholar with Honor, and the following graduates earned AP Scholar with Distinction: Susan Austin, Mary Bence, Elizabeth Blume, Grace Fort, Margaret Maglio, Katherine O’Connell, Ella Stewart, and Anneliese Truschel. Seniors Anna Plazek, Helen Rothfus, Sam Schirra, and Pedro Schmitt are currently taking additional AP classes at Aquinas Academy during their senior year and have the opportunity of earning a higher distinction after AP testing in the spring of 2020.

Merger of Clarion Healthcare System and Butler Health System Approved
Clarion Healthcare System (CHS) and Butler Health System (BHS) have received regulatory approval to integrate CHS and its affiliates, including Clarion Hospital, into Butler Health System. The formal integration of CHS as a subsidiary of BHS began Dec. 1, 2019. Through combined efforts, BHS and CHS will continue to assure and solidify healthcare in their communities, providing high quality, accessible, and affordable services. With BHS, CHS looks forward to strategic investments in new programs, services and technology.

Carnegie Science Center Receives Accreditation
Carnegie Science Center has again achieved accreditation by the American Alliance of Museums, the highest national recognition afforded to the nation’s museums. Accreditation signifies excellence to the museum community, to governments, funders, outside agencies, and to the museum-going public. All museums must undergo a reaccreditation review at least every 10 years to maintain accredited status.  To earn accreditation, a museum first must conduct a year of self-study, and then undergo a site visit by a team of peer reviewers. Of the nation’s estimated 33,000 museums, 1,082 are currently accredited. Carnegie Science Center is one of only 36 accredited museums in Pennsylvania.

Shaler Area Students Accepted into PMEA Ensembles
Shaler Area School District is proud to announce the following Shaler Area High School students were accepted into Pennsylvania Music Educators Association District 1 ensembles. Seniors Alex Almonte and Michael LaBella, juniors Adam Braughler, Luke Franks, and Zachary Spondike and sophomore Erika Kenst were accepted into PMEA District 1 Band. Braughler, LaBella and Spondike were also accepted into the PMEA District 1 Orchestra, as were juniors Jenna Facer and Jonathan Zang, and sophomore Felicity Agostino. Five students were accepted into PMEA District 1 Chorus, including seniors Alex Almonte and Jennifer Hinerman, juniors Zoe Babbit and Sonny DeMasi, and sophomore Jenna Masucci.

Fox Chapel Student Perform with PMEA Honors Band
Five Fox Chapel Area High School students were selected to perform with the 2019 Pennsylvania Music Educators Association (PMEA) District 1 Honors Band. Seniors Jacob Rendall and Anzu Sekikawa, juniors Nathaniel Kisslinger and Joey Wang, and sophomore Janise Kim performed in the concert held in November at North Hills Middle School that included approximately 120 of the best student musicians from Allegheny, Fayette, Greene, Washington, and Westmoreland counties.

Bob White Joins Legend Financial Advisors, Inc.®
Robert C. White, Jr. (Bob) has joined Legend Financial Advisors as an assistant wealth advisor. A former finance intern at Legend, White graduated Magna Cum Laude from Robert Morris University with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a concentration in Finance and Economics in May 2018. White was previously employed as a universal banker working closely with clients and servicing their financial needs.

Shaler Area Students Accepted into Allegheny Valley Honors Ensembles
More than 500 musicians from nine school districts in the Allegheny Valley auditioned for the Allegheny Valley Honors Band, and 31 students were accepted from the Shaler Area School District. They will showcase their talents at a concert at 7 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 10, at Shaler Area High School. AV Senior High Honors Band members include Jenna Facer, Rebecca Schiavone, Teyah Wilson, Allison McAninch, Elisa Gabriel, Anna Rosso, Michael LaBella, Alexis Gregory, Emma Wunderlin, Erika Kenst, Jillian Sullivan, Gabriella Greco, Abby Latzko, Allison Lienemann, Zach Spondike, Erika Waldron, Alyssa Hillwig, Adam Braughler, Madeline Turner, Noah Heere, Brianna Hune and Tyler Egan. AV Junior High Honors Band members include Grace Cosentino, Kara Yarnot, Victoria Scariot, Laura Heere, Samantha Walker,Daniel Presto, Michael Ulery, Jordan Fowler and Rachel Scierka.

Joe Welch Named Educator of the Year
Joe Welch, a North Hills Middle School teacher, was recently named Pennsylvania’s 2020 Educator of the Year. Welch, who teaches American History, is one of 12 Teacher of the Year finalists. Nominations for the Teacher of the Year were submitted by students, parents, peers, and members of the community wishing to honor and recognize educator achievements both inside and outside of the classroom. In 2018, Welch was also named National History Teacher of the Year. He teaches seventh- and eighth-grade social studies, has served as a curriculum chair and project advisor for the Project Connect 1:1 Initiative, has been a sponsor of the National History Day Program for Regional Students, and has served as the director of the North Hills DC Trip Program. 

Aquinas Academy High School Students Win Model EU Award
Sophomores Samuel Everson and Sabrina Knox from Aquinas Academy of Pittsburgh won the outstanding position paper for their room at the High School Model European Union, hosted by the European Studies Center on December 4. The Aquinas Academy Model EU club competed at the University of Pittsburgh event against students from approximately 15 area high schools, with the prompts focusing on EU-China relations on the issues of human rights, security and foreign policy.  Participating from Aquinas were senior Pedro Schmitt, juniors Riley Fantini, Diego Garcia, Isabelle Tessier, Kate McLaughlin  and Grant Kaercher, and sophomores Emma Queen, Patricia Blume, Sabrina Knox, Samuel Everson, Maria Figucia, Katelyn Buchanan, Alicia Lenartova, and Anna Keverline.

Ryan Gloyer Middle School and Pittsburgh Public Schools Taking Part in Penpal Program
Ryan Gloyer Middle School (RGMS) students and students in the Pittsburgh Public Schools (PPS) are making friends the old-fashioned way—as pen pals. The idea grew from a friendship between Christine Mills, a learning support teacher on the Falcons Team at RGMS, and Sarah Carlson McCallion, an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher at Beechwood PreK-5 School, who studied education together at Westminster College. The program is being used as an opportunity for students to practice their reading, writing and vocabulary skills. After initial letters are exchanged, RGMS students will share photos and ultimately video chat with their younger counterparts sometime next year. 

Seneca Valley Students Win Awards at SRU Arts Exhibition 
Three Seneca Valley students won awards and 18 others were featured at Slippery Rock University’s (SRU) 2019 Regional High School Art Exhibition. Seniors Kelsey Gianfancesco, Corin Trejchel and Victoria Lydon earned three of the five awards presented during the exhibit reception on Nov. 21. Gianfrancesco received a portfolio scholarship to SRU based on the breadth and depth of the portfolio she submitted. Trejchel won the Potter’s Guild Award for her ceramic piece “Hockey Skates,” and Lydon received an Honorable Mention for her piece “Drop It Like It’s Hot.” Work was also on display from seniors Emma Householder, Paige Biordi, Madison Hatcher, Grace Hilling, Lindsey Edwards, Kennedy Carr, Haley Cramer, Audery Ferraro, Ivee Corcuera, Sophia Snow, Max Carpenter, Emma Burd, Lindsey Hans and Angelina Khoury. Junior artists included Simren Jayaraman, Jenna McDonald and Max Ludwig, and sophomore artists included Adrien Koromaus. All students are under the direction of high school art teachers Jason Woolslare, Jason Shorr and Megan Bonistalli. 

Fox Chapel Students Win in Wadsworth Grizzly Forensic Tournament 
Two Fox Chapel Area High School students were named winners in the annual Wadsworth Grizzly Classic Forensic Tournament in December. The Policy Debate team of senior Rajeev Godse and junior Jackson Romero advanced to the quarterfinal elimination round, placing them in the top eight in the tournament. Approximately 700 students from 36 high schools in Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia participated in the tournament in Wadsworth, OH.

Hempfield High Students Take First in Chain Reaction Contraption Contest 
A team of students from Hempfield Area High School took first place in the 2019 Chain Reaction Contraption Contest, powered by Westinghouse Electric Company and presented in partnership with Carnegie Science Center. At the competition in December, the team’s winning contraption “Ab’rube’cadabra” performed a magic card trick through a series of complicated steps. More than 250 students from 27 high schools in the Pittsburgh region participated in the annual competition, which challenges students to build a machine that accomplishes a simple task using a series of 20 or more steps. Central Catholic High School was awarded Rookie of the Year, sponsored by Carnegie Science Center and Pine-Richland High School won the What Will You Create? award, sponsored by Inventionland. Hempfield Area High School also won the Most Innovative award, sponsored by Jones Day.

Zeke Stroupe Wins Third in Classrooms Without Borders Contest
Ryan Gloyer Middle School (RGMS) Gifted Support Teacher Zeke Stroupe’s lesson plan, “Understanding Now to Change the Future,” recently won third place for the middle school track in the Classrooms Without Borders (CWB) contest, which is designed to tackle issues of racism, hate, and antisemitism in classrooms; engage students in meaningful dialogue about the shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue; and help them act to prevent more violence. Stroupe was awarded a $200 book stipend for his efforts.

SV Academic Decathlon Team Places First
The Seneca Valley Academic Decathlon Team, for the second time this year, placed first in a regional Academic Decathlon Competition. Medalists in the Collegiate Academy event include seniors Nishant Jayachandran, who won overall gold and medaled in the category of science; Gabriel Sutherland, who won an overall silver and won in the events of economics and interview; Julia Allman, who medaled in speech; Megan Neely, William Firman and Logan Glatz, who medaled in interview; Megan Spark who won in science and Steven Yang who won in the math category. Junior Mia Chevallier won an overall gold and also medaled in economics, science, essay and speech; and junior Ash Eury medaled in economics, math and science. Juniors Allison Flatt and Abigail Roeckmann both won in the category of science and Gwyneth Defede medaled in speech. SV medalists also included sophomores Rayan Ghaffar, who won an overall silver and medaled in math and speech; Shanker Pillai, who won in the category of math and Nick Nedzesky, who won in speech.

Patricia M. Swisher Named Executive Director of Content Strategy at Duquesne
Patricia Swisher has joined the Duquesne University Division of Marketing and Communications as its executive director of content strategy. She began her role, which is a new position at Duquesne, in November, and is responsible for the strategy, development and presentation of brand-related content at the University. She also serves as editor-in-chief of the Duquesne alumni magazine, and oversees the content team, which is comprised of social media, media relations, web communications, web design and video/photography staff. Swisher most recently served as a senior manager of marketing and communication at UPMC Enterprises, and was formerly the director of marketing communications and vice president of corporate communications at IKM Incorporated.

Shady Side Academy Ranked Best Stem School in Pittsburgh Area
Newsweek recently announced its ranking of the top 5,000 STEM high schools in America for 2020, and ranked Shady Side Academy as the best STEM high school in the Pittsburgh area and No. 6 in Pennsylvania. Nationally, Shady Side came in at No. 250 overall out of the 5,000 public and private schools that were recognized. Three other Pittsburgh-area high schools made the top 500: Winchester Thurston (283), Sewickley Academy (372) and Fox Chapel Area High School (461). Shady Side Academy’s Senior School in Fox Chapel recently opened two brand new STEM facilities: the 22,000 sq. ft. LEED Gold McIlroy Center for Science & Innovation, which opened in fall 2018 and houses spacious classroom-labs for biology, chemistry and physics, and the 12,000 sq. ft. Glimcher Tech & Design Hub, which opened in fall 2019 and houses a fabrication lab, robotics arena, workshop, wet lab, computer labs and more.

Silverstein Appointed Director of BVCS Treble Youth Chorale
Beaver Valley Choral Society has appointed Deborah R. Silverstein as director of the BVCS Treble Youth Chorale, replacing former director Donna Mateer, who resigned last summer. Silverstein earned a Bachelor of Music Education degree from the New England Conservatory of Music, and a Master of Music degree from Ithaca College. She is currently band director at Rhema Christian School in Moon Twp., and is also woodwind chamber director for the Pittsburgh Youth Concert Orchestra and principal flutist with the Pittsburgh Civic Orchestra. 

Beyond Spots & Dots Earns Awards at AMA Ceremony
Beyond Spots & Dots earned two awards at the prestigious American Marketing Association Awards ceremony in Pittsburgh in December, including 2019 Travel Marketing Marketer of the Year on behalf of Visit Potter-Tioga, and the 2019 Non-Profit Marketer of the Year on behalf of Joey’s P.A.W. The agency was also recently recognized for its outstanding industry work at the MarCom Awards. The AMA awards highlight the very best marketers from both brands and agencies for their creative work, excellence and success. Awards are voted on by peers and include 14 categories as well as the coveted Grand Marketer of the Year Award, which Beyond Spots & Dots won in 2017.