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North Hills Monthly

New & Notable October 2020

Sep 29, 2020 01:35PM ● By North Hills Monthly magazine
North Hills Student Wins PA VFW Scout of the Year
Hannah Sciulli, a North Hills Senior High School student and member of Girl Scout Troop 50146, has been selected as the 2020 Veterans of Foreign Wars Department of Pennsylvania Scout of the Year. The Girl Scout Ambassador Gold Award winner earned the top VFW honor this year from competition around the Commonwealth. In addition to a trophy, she will also receive $1,000 from the VFW Department of Pennsylvania, and her sponsoring organization, VFW Post 914 ‘Intrepid’ West Mifflin, will be presenting a monetary award.

Seelos Academy Principal Awarded Prestigious Golden Apple
Robert Reese, principal of Blessed Francis Seelos Academy, will receive the Golden Apple Award, known as the ‘ultimate educator's award’ by the Diocese of Pittsburgh. Nominees for this prestigious award are submitted by school principals, parents, students, and fellow teachers and a selection committee consisting of members of the Diocesan Schools Office, the Education Department from Duquesne University, and the Donahue Family Foundation chooses the recipients. The winners are selected on a number of criteria, including an educator’s professional excellence, leadership, commitment to Catholic values, and devotion to teaching in Catholic schools.

Shaler Area Student Selected for National Jazz Ensemble
Shaler Area High School senior Zachary Spondike is one of 18 high school students in the country to be selected for the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) 2020 All-National Jazz Band. He went through a grueling audition process in December 2019 to be selected for the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association (PMEA) All-State Jazz Band, which in turn, qualified him to audition for the all-national band. He is accomplished musician whose recognitions include PMEA All-State Jazz Ensemble, PMEA District I West Honors Band, PMEA Region 1 Honors Band, PMEA Honors Jazz Ensemble, PMEA District 1 Orchestra, Allegheny Valley Honors Band, Shaler Area’s “Shrek” Pit Orchestra, Shaler Area Honors Jazz Ensemble I, Three Rivers Young Peoples Orchestra (TRYPO), Shaler Area Honors Wind Ensemble, and Drum Major of the Shaler Area Titan Marching Band.

Bridges Health Partners and Aetna Extend Value-Based Collaboration to Commercial Employer Groups
Bridges Health Partners LLC (Bridges), a clinically integrated network, and Aetna, a CVS Health company, have entered into a value-based agreement for Aetna’s commercial employer groups in western Pennsylvania. The agreement is designed to improve clinical outcomes, efficiency and cost of care for Aetna’s commercial employer groups cared for by Bridges providers. Working collaboratively, Bridges and Aetna will use insights derived from clinical, claims, and administrative data to promote a healthier workforce through wellness promotion and early intervention.

Bruster’s Adds New Franchises, Sees Impressive Sales Growth
In August, Bruster’s Real Ice Cream had one of its best months in history, selling 12 new franchise agreements, nearly 2.5 times more from the same time period in 2019, and seeing overall same store sales growth up 11 percent from 2019.

FCAHS Students Release Fred Rogers Documentary
What began in April 2019 as a voluntary book study of Maxwell King’s, The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers, became a 70-minute documentary on the life of a remarkable man, produced entirely by Fox Chapel Area High School students. Students in teacher Ryan Devlin’s digital media production course have released their documentary, Our Assignment from Fred Rogers, which took more than a year to make, and includes interviews from many people who were close with Rogers. The students involved were 2020/21 seniors Jean Daniher (producer) and Ryan Kenyon; 2019 graduates Adina Munin (producer) and Santiago de la Torre; and 2020/21 juniors Anushka Vis and Lance Wilhelm (director). Jessica Morris, a 2018/19 intern at Fox Chapel Area High School from the University of Pittsburgh, was also involved with the production.

Seneca Valley Rolls Out New Podcast Series
Seneca Valley is entering the growing world of podcasting. Voices features interviews with guests who share an inside look at what is taking place at Seneca Valley. The podcast is now available with 13 episodes, 10-to-12-minutes each, addressing Seneca Valley’s 2020-21 return to school. Interviews include Superintendent of Schools Dr. Tracy Vitale; Human Resources Director Kyra Bobak; and Seneca Valley Academy of Choice Principal Denise Manganello. Future episodes will highlight sports and activities, as well as the social, emotional needs of students during COVID-19. Listen at or on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

FCASD Deputy Superintendent Receives National School Safety Award
Fox Chapel Area School District Deputy Superintendent David McCommons, Ed.D., is the recipient of the 2020 National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO) Chief Nicholas Derzis Safe School Leadership Award. The award recognizes individuals for their contributions and dedication to a School Resource Officer (SRO) program and who exemplify leadership, innovation, and dedication to taking proactive measures to enhance the safety of their school community. McCommons, who has been with the school district since 2007, was instrumental in starting the district’s first school police department, which now includes eight school police officers and one safety officer, that are all certified as SROs through NASRO. He was nominated for the award by Joseph Kozarian.

SV Students Perform for Open Minds, Open Hearts Fundraiser
Last fall, Seneca Valley students Lihini Ranaweera and Friyana Sepai, in partnership with Classrooms Without Borders (CWB) of Pittsburgh, participated in a Holocaust Immersion Day where they sang a Yiddish song for their classmates. CWB reached out to these two talented students again, this time for their Open Minds, Open Hearts fundraiser. The virtual event was held on Thursday, Sept. 10 and featured their musical talents. The students also spoke live about their experiences with CWB and learning about the Holocaust. Afterward, a recording of their song was shared.

La Roche Student Receives Award from American Association of Nurse Anesthetists
Ryan Wade, a​ student at La Roche University and Allegheny School of Anesthesia, is the recipient of the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA) Student Excellence Award. The national award is presented to a student in good academic standing who demonstrates outstanding leadership and professionalism, participates in activities that help foster a positive public image of nursing, and engages in activities that support health care. Wade has been an advocate for CRNAs in Pennsylvania by serving on the Pennsylvania Association of Nurse Anesthetists (PANA) Government Relations Committee. In this role, he participated in a WTAE broadcast, demonstrating the proper use of PPE and discussing PANA’s purchase of 3D N-95 masks to support Pennsylvania CRNAs working with COVID-19 patients.

SV Senior to be Featured in National Down Syndrome Society Video
Seneca Valley Senior Sarah Widenhofer appeared in the bright lights of Broadway on Sat., Sept. 12 as part of the National Down Syndrome Society's (NDSS) annual Times Square Video presentation that features photographs highlighting children, teens and adults with Down syndrome. The photo of Sarah was selected as one of 500 photographs to appear in the video, streamed on NDSS social media from the heart of Times Square. She was pictured getting ready for the Miss 22Quties Special Needs Beauty Pageant last August in Cranberry Township.

Haine Elementary Student’s Art Selected for MIUIV AWARD
Anne Newmyer, a 6-year-old first-grader from Haine Elementary School, recently had her artwork, entitled Love, selected from almost 600 pieces of art to be named the Midwestern Intermediate Unit IV (MIUIV) Young Artist Purchase Prize Award winner. Her artwork will be framed with a plaque and become part of the permanent collection exhibited at the MIUIV office in Grove City. In addition, her art was chosen as the ‘unofficial face’ of the exhibit and has been put on a t-shirt that is distributed to every student. Her painting was also awarded a Juror's Choice. The MIUIV Very Special Arts Program annually celebrates the abilities of students in grades K-12 with special needs through an art exhibit held at Grove City College.

Zelienople Library Kicks off Centennial with ShuBrew Collaboration
In September, the Zelienople Area Public Library kicked off its centennial celebration by participating in a collaboration with ShuBrew to release a fruited Berliner Weiss called Reader’s Relief. The library received $1 per pint for every pint sold while it was on draft at ShuBrew from Sept. 24-30. Other events marking the centennial will include a Centennial Procession on Oct. 10 from 3-4 p.m. that will wind its way through the residential streets of Harmony and Zelienople and feature vehicles from each decade from 1920 through the present. On Oct. 17, there will be a free 100th Birthday Puppet Show at 2 p.m., presented by Adam Swartz Puppets. To find out about other events, visit

Bridgeview Wealth Wins Silver and Bronze in Winemaking Competition
Competing in the largest amateur wine competition in the world, Robb McKinney and the Bridgeview Wealth Wine Club came away with two medals, winning silver for their 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon/Petite Sirah and bronze for their 2017 Merlot. Bridgeview uses the winemaking process as a tool in their Family Dynamics Experience as they engage with family businesses and families of wealth. Bridgeview utilizes their proprietary process, The Ultimate Discovery Experience™, TUDiE, to assist families in operating at their place of highest potential. Winemaking allows families to work together on a project that generates long-term results. This brings the total number of medals won by the club to 19. For more information, visit

Sojourner House Hires Wood as Clinical Supervisor
Sojourner House and Sojourner House MOMS recently hired North Side resident Pamela Wood as its new clinical supervisor. Wood most recently worked as assistant director and clinical supervisor for Resources of Human Development, a 16-bed long-term residential treatment facility. Prior to that, her experience included working for Wesley Spectrum Services, WJS Psychological Associates, Inc., and at a substance abuse treatment center at Acadia. Wood earned her MA in Counseling Psychology at Waynesburg University. She earned her BA in Liberal Arts with a concentration in psychology from West Virginia University. Sojourner House and Sojourner House MOMS (Mentoring, Opportunity, Motivation, and Spirituality) provide compassionate, faith-based residential recovery services to mothers and children in the Pittsburgh area.

UPMC Children’s Express Care Now Open in Cranberry
UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh has opened an Express Care Center clinic at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex, providing pediatric care in a family friendly environment. UPMC Children's Express Care—Cranberry is open evenings and on weekends and staffed by UPMC Children’s board-certified pediatricians who provide specialized treatment and care for minor injuries and illnesses. For onsite visits and to save time, there is a ‘Save Your Spot’ option on the ChildrensPgh app, which allows families to save their spot in line before arriving to the location. For more information, visit

FCASD Students/Graduate Recognized as Part of Teen Media Contest
Three Fox Chapel Area School District students and one recent graduate placed in the 2020 Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s Teen Media Awards. FCASD 2020 graduate Anzu Sekikawa was awarded first place and an honorable mention for her 2D art. Junior Alexa Berman won second place and an honorable mention for her 2D art, and sophomore Sloane Simon won first place in the music category.  Dorseyville Middle School seventh-grader Dalisay Quemado also won an honorable mention for her 2D artwork. More than 200 young writers, visual artists, musicians, filmographers, and inventors in Allegheny County vied for honors.

26 UPMC Hospitals Recognized by HRC for LGBTQ Care Policies and Practices 
Across UPMC, 26 facilities have been recognized for LGBTQ care policies and practices by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation, the education arm of the country’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people. Of these hospitals, 10 have been designated as ‘Leaders in LGBTQ Healthcare Equality,’ meaning the meet the following four criteria: LGBTQ patient-centered care; LGBTQ patient services and support; employee benefits and policies; and LGBTQ patient and community engagement. UPMC hospitals designated as HEI leaders include UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh; UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital; UPMC McKeesport; UPMC Passavant (both McCandless and Cranberry); PMC Pinnacle Carlisle; UPMC Pinnacle Community Osteopathic; UPMC Pinnacle Harrisburg; UPMC Pinnacle West Shore; UPMC St. Margaret and UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital.

Eight Students Recognized in STEM Competition
In recognition of their impressive research projects submitted for the Pittsburgh Regional Science & Engineering Fair (PRSEF), eight local students have been named among the top 300 competitors in the 2020 Broadcom MASTERS—the nation’s premier science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) competition for middle school students. Students include Jacob Collins, Ingomar Middle School; Luke Hartman, Fanny Edel Falk Laboratory School; Aurea Hickenboth, homeschool; Valor Lekas, Hampton Middle School; Anne Lindsay, Freeport Area Middle School; Aneri Shethji, Marshall Middle School; Adhitya Thirumala, Dorseyville Middle School; and David Thomas, Holy Cross Academy.

Fox Chapel Area Students Named 2021 National Merit Semifinalists/Commended Students
Seven Fox Chapel Area High School seniors have been designated as National Merit Semifinalists and 13 have been named Commended Students in the 2021 National Merit Scholarship program. Semifinalists include Suparna Agrawal, Amulya Garimella, Brendan Gladwin, Ryan Kenyon, Mark Puthenpurayil, Jackson Romero and Vinisha Sant. Commended Students include Erin Doherty, Natalka Harris, Emily Li, Lucy Markovitz, John Polcyn, John Scott, Sanjay Seshan, Vivian Shao, Aaron Tien, Michael VanDemark, Joey Wang, Alwyn Williams and Nathaniel Yerage.

Eight Seneca Valley Seniors Named Semifinalists in 2021 National Merit Scholarship Program
Officials of National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) recently announced Seneca Valley Seniors David Choi, Zachary Garcia, Simren Jayaraman, Parker Logue, Ananya Rao, Avani Salunkhe, Anoop Savio and Dora White as Semifinalists in the 66th annual National Merit Scholarship Program. As semifinalists, these eight seniors will have an opportunity to continue in the competition for some 7,600 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $30 million that will be offered next spring. 

La Roche Maintains Status as Best Regional University by U.S. News & World Report
U.S. News & World Report has again named La Roche University a Best University in the North, a Top Performer on Social Mobility and a School with the Most International Students. Schools listed as Best Regional Universities offer a full range of undergraduate programs, as well as an array of master’s programs. La Roche ranks 31st among Regional Universities in the North for 2020 Top Performers on Social Mobility and third for Regional Universities in the North with the Most International Students.

IDI Consulting Celebrates 25-year Anniversary
IDI, a leading Pittsburgh-based IT consulting firm, is celebrating its 25-year anniversary. In 1995, Barry Lynch and William Thomas founded the company, which has since expanded its footprint in Pittsburgh and nationally. In August 2017, IDI opened an office in New York, NY, and six months later an office in Houston, TX to better support its ever-growing client roster. IDI Consulting plans to continue to lead with a client-focused model, providing business solutions through the practical application of the most appropriate information technology. To learn more, visit

Shady Side Academy Students Named Semifinalists in National Merit Scholarship Program
Fourteen members of the Shady Side Academy Class of 2021 were named semifinalists in the 66th annual National Merit Scholarship Program. SSA semifinalists include Ishika Arora (Pittsburgh-Squirrel Hill); Luke Brennan (South Fayette); Joshua Castro (Woodbury, MN); Caroline Green (Fox Chapel); Tyler Hart (Pittsburgh-Squirrel Hill); Gabriela Jegasothy (Pittsburgh-Squirrel Hill); Will Karet (Fox Chapel); Andrew Liu (Bridgeport, WV); Zhuoxin Ma (Beijing, China); Eve Mango (Pine); Jason Vasko (Churchill); Zewei “Jason” Wu (Beijing, China); Nicholas Zana (Hampton) and Qingqing Zhao (Indiana Twp.). In addition, six seniors were named Commended Students in the 2021 National Merit Scholarship program in recognition of their exceptional academic promise. They are Alexander Biglan (Point Breeze); Annabel Everett (Fox Chapel); Hannah Romoff (Harmar); Julia Roupe (McCandless); Catherine Sparvero (Penn Hills) and Xinran “Nancy” Wang (Beijing, China).