All-State Choir

Upper St. Clair High School senior Annabel McQuillan was selected through competitive audition to participate in Pennsylvania Music Educators Association All-State Choir. Annabel performed in the All-State Festival April 3-7, at the PMEA State Conference at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center downtown Pittsburgh.

Annabel placed Second Chair out of 26 students in the Alto 2 section of Region Choir. Auditions for the All-State Choir were held during the PMEA Region 1 State Chorus Festival March 20-22 at Greater Latrobe High School.

In addition to Annabel, the following Upper St. Clair students also participated in the Region Choir Festival: seniors Christian Jones and Jacqueline LeKachman; and sophomore Ben Lang.

Fluid Power Challenge

A team of Fort Couch Middle School students took top honors in the recent Fluid Power Challenge – earning first overall, Best Teamwork and Best Design. The team’s design was so efficient its point total was nearly double that of the second-place team.

More than 20 teams from throughout the Pittsburgh region competed in the engineering competition, which was held March 22 at Carpenter’s Training center in Robinson Township.

Many Fort Couch students worked on the project with the following representing Upper St. Clair’s two submissions at the competition: Alex Todd, John Scherer, Reese Copenhaver, Ty Lagonia, Phillip Markovitz, Matt Earley, Collin Eccher and Mahir Parmar. Students were coached by Jason O’Roark, Fort Couch gifted education teacher.

All-State Band

Two Bethel Park High School musicians successfully auditioned and were selected to perform in the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association’s All-State Band Concert, which was held during the April 3-7 PMEA State Conference at the David Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh.

Representing Bethel Park High School in this event were juniors Jaxson Stewart (clarinet) and Theresa Stolpa (French horn).

The students are taught by Bethel Park High School Band Director Chad Thompson.

All-State Orchestra

Four Bethel Park High School musicians were selected to play in the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association’s All-State Orchestra, which was held during the April 3-7 PMEA State Conference at the David Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh.

Representing Bethel Park in this event were seniors Kobe Coleman (bass), Connor Remington (tuba) and Jenelle Wu (violin), as well as sophomore Elijah Nice (percussion).

The students are taught by Bethel Park High School orchestra director Stephanie Glover and Bethel Park High School band director Chad Thompson.

USC teacher honored

(PIC) An Upper St. Clair School District teacher has been named one of three K–12 educators to receive the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Foundation Educator Achievement Awards. Gifted education teacher Patricia Palazzolo is being honored for her efforts to promote science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education.

This year’s honorees each received $5,000 for themselves as well as $5,000 for their respective schools. Palazzolo was nominated by former student Matt Vernacchia, who is currently pursuing a doctorate in aerospace engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he develops rocket propulsion systems for small, fast aircraft.

At Matt’s request, letters of support were written by Palazzolo’s Upper St. Clair colleagues Connie Gibson, gifted education teacher, and Dr. Tim Wagner, associate principal for program planning and innovation, as well as former student Amy Kaminski, who serves as program executive for prizes and challenges at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C.

After teaching in Augusta, Ga., and at the Allegheny Intermediate Unit, Palazzolo joined the Upper St. Clair faculty in 1986. She has taught in every USC school and every grade level from 2-12 as a member of the social studies, world language, science and special education departments.

A graduate of the State University of New York – Brockport, Palazzolo holds undergraduate degrees in history, with an emphasis in Asian studies, and French along with a minor in anthropology. She completed her master’s degree in secondary education at Duquesne University. In addition to serving as a gifted education teacher, Palazzolo is the high school’s World Affairs Club sponsor and KDKA Hometown High Q coach.

Palazzolo was one of 100 teacher finalists for the acclaimed Teacher in Space Program in 1986. She has served on the Pennsylvania State Future Problem Solving Board, the evaluation Committee of the Pennsylvania Governor’s School for the Sciences, and is a past advisory board member of the Carnegie Science Center. In 2012, she was selected for the MIT Alumni Association Inspirational Teacher Award.

STEM Design Challenge

A team of four eighth-graders from Fort Couch Middle School placed first in the 6-8 grade division at the regional STEM Design Challenge on March 6, at Duquesne University. Matthew Earley, Phillip Markovitz, Quinton Miller and Evan Sarkett qualified to compete at the state-level competition on May 17 at Harrisburg University in Harrisburg.

Sponsored by Thermo Fisher Scientific, the STEM Design Challenge tasks teams of students in grades 4-8 with designing and building a structure using K’Nex that addresses a given challenge. Teams were required to use at least one motor and could not exceed 1,400 K’Nex pieces.

In addition to the first place Fort Couch team, other Upper St. Clair students who participated in the STEM Design Challenge include eighth grader Alex Todd and seventh graders Leona Chen, Autumn Ma, Sydney Zottola, Irene Yap, Maxim-Levi Shevchenko and Arjun Suresh.

Media/design competition

A team of Upper St. Clair High School freshmen placed first in the Web Page Design category of the 2019 Pittsburgh Regional PA Media and Design Competition on March 20, at the Senator John Heinz History Center. The team – comprised of Phoebe Chen, Sophie Chen and Shana Reddy – now advances to the state-level competition on May 21 at Dickinson College in Carlisle. 

The team developed a website, Drop of Life (, from scratch that provides information about the causes, effects and solutions for the clean water crisis in both developing and developed countries around the world.

Three other Upper St. Clair entries earned awards for their projects and presentations. 

Ninth-grader Nikhil Shetty earned second place honors in the high school Graphic Design and Logo category for his minimalistic logo and media campaign that incorporated poster, T-shirt, rack card and social media designs.

Shiven Verma, a seventh-grader from Fort Couch Middle School, placed third in the middle school Programming category with his Machine Learning Driven Security program that can detect and identify images.

Seventh-graders Autumn Ma and Reese Roeschenthaler finished third in the middle school Web Page Design category for their Easy Recipes website that features original and family recipes that are easy, healthy and affordable.

The Upper St. Clair students received guidance and support from gifted education teacher Miss Mittelman, Jason O’Roark, and Pat Palazzolo.

Science Olympiad

Bethel Park High School seniors Tanya Holbert and Patra Hsu earned a Second Place Medal at the Southwestern Pennsylvania Science Olympiad, which was held in March at California University of Pennsylvania. The students earned Second Place in the Forensic Science Event. They were prepared for this competition by Bethel Park High School Science teacher Barbara Eisel.

Robotics team advances 

A team of Boyce Middle School students – The Gear Grinders – was crowned tournament champions at the 2019 Vex IQ Pennsylvania Robotics Championship on March 9, at Keystone Oaks High School. In addition to winning the tournament, the team earned the Teamwork Champion Award and the Excellence Award, the competition's highest honor.

The team – comprised of sixth-graders Owen Bell, Ian Dvorin, Ryan Hyatt, Rohan Mehta and Carlee Santel – now advances to the Vex IQ World Championship, set for April 28-30, at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville. The Gear Grinders will compete against 400 middle school teams from throughout the world.

In addition to their robot, the team participated in a STEM research project with math as the focus. Using Fortnite as an example, the team demonstrated how math is used in artificial intelligence and machine learning. At their station, they had demonstrations of AI robots, Cozmo and Vector, along with math lessons for tournament participants.

German competition

Bethel Park High School German students earned nine awards at the American Association of Teachers of German’s German Day Competition held at Washington and Jefferson College.

Bethel Park students competed against students from 14 other area high schools and earned more awards than any other school in the competition.

For the 17th consecutive year, a Bethel Park High School student won the Culture Bowl competition. This year’s winner was junior Lily Wilson, followed by sophomore Carly Roberts in Second Place.

Lily Wilson also earned First Place in the Fiction Writing competition for her short story, “Es war einmal…” which translates to “Once Upon A Time.”

Second Place Awards were earned by junior Rachel Najdzinski in the Poetry Writing competition for her poem, “Die Antwort ist klar,” (“The Answer is Clear”); and sophomore Kerrianne Troesch in Poetry Recitation for “Heidenroslein” by Goethe.

Third Place Awards were earned by freshman Ella Voskamp in Fiction Writing for “Der grobe King” (“The Great War”) and in the Drawing competition for her rendition of “Krampus.” Additionally Third Place Awards were earned by freshmen Willow Hernishin in Folkloric Arts and Crafts for her handmade German birdhouse, and Kaitlyn Wiard in Proverb Posters for her rendering of the German proverb, “Zu Nacht sind alle Katzen grau,” (“All cats are gray at night”).

The students are taught by Bethel Park High School German teacher Christopher Tobias.

Extra Effort Award

Two Bethel Park High School students received the Extra Effort Award for the Second Quarter of the 2018-2019 school year from the Steel Center for Career and Technical Education. Receiving the awards were senior Miranda Rusch and sophomore Monica Forte, both students in the Cosmetology Program. The awards are given to those students who demonstrate outstanding attitude, work ethic, attendance and dependability.

Future medical leaders

(PIC – school_bp_cooper) Cooper Shoemaker, a junior at Bethel Park High School, will be a delegate to the Congress of Future Medical Leaders in Lowell, Mass., June 23-25. The Congress is an honors-only program for high school students who want to become physicians or go into medical research fields. Cooper's nomination letter was signed by Dr. Mario Capecchi, winner of the Nobel Prize in Medicine and the Science Director of the National Academy of Future Physicians and Medical Scientists to represent Bethel Park based on his academic achievement, leadership potential and determination to serve humanity in the field of medicine. During the three-day Congress, Cooper will join students from across the country and hear Nobel Laureates and National Medal of Science Winners talk about leading medical research; be given advice from Ivy League and top medical school deans on what to expect in medical school; witness stories told by patients who are living medical miracles; be inspired by fellow teen medical science prodigies; and learn about cutting-edge advances and the future in medicine and medical technology. For more information, visit or call 617-307-7425.

Boyce teacher honored

A Boyce Middle School teacher was recently honored with the Promising Practitioners Award from the Pennsylvania Association for Middle Level Education. Sixth-grade English language arts teacher Kelly Pascarella was recognized at the PAMLE 2019 Conference in State College.

According to PAMLE’s website, the Promising Practitioners Award “is presented to teachers who are just beginning their middle school careers. These beginning teachers have made a positive impact on both their school and community. They incorporate effective middle level practices in their everyday teaching.”

Pascarella was nominated for the award by Dan O’Rourke, Boyce Middle School principal.

Pascarella, a member of Team Predator, previously served as the elementary gifted coordinator and elementary teacher in the Mt. Lebanon School District for eight years before joining the Boyce faculty in August 2018. She holds her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the Pennsylvania State University and her graduate degree in educational leadership from California University of Pennsylvania. She will begin a doctoral program in education leadership and administration this fall at Point Park University.

A published author, Pascarella wrote the children’s book “The Climbing Tree” and founded that provides teachers and families with resources and guidance for elementary learners.

Congressional Award

(PIC – usc_sharma) An Upper St. Clair High School senior has been selected as a 2019 Gold Medalist in the Congressional Awards program. Ayush Sharma, representing Pennsylvania’s 14th Congressional District, will be recognized at the annual Gold Medal Ceremony in Washington, D.C. during the summer of 2019.

Some of the requirements of the Gold Medal Award include 400 hours of volunteer service, 200 hours of personal development, 200 hours of physical fitness and a five-day expedition all over the course of two years.

Ayush completed his volunteer service at St. Clair Hospital and his temple. His professional development goal focused on preparing for the competitive workforce and was fulfilled by his involvement in the high school’s speech and debate team and his part-time job at Kumon Math and Reading Center.

As a member of the high school’s varsity tennis team, Ayush focused his physical fitness goals on improving his performance on the court.

Ayush plans on majoring in biomedical engineering with the intent of applying to medical school. At Upper St. Clair High School, he participates in several activities including the speech and debate team, Future Business Leaders of America, National Honor Society and varsity boys’ tennis team.

USC tops in music 

Upper St. Clair School District has been named among the nation’s Best Communities for Music Education by the NAMM Foundation for the fourth consecutive year. Upper St. Clair is one of only 14 school districts in Allegheny County, 92 in Pennsylvania and 624 from across the country to earn the distinction in 2019. 

According to the NAMM Foundation, the Best Communities for Music Education designation is awarded to districts that demonstrate outstanding achievement in efforts to provide music access and education to all students.

To qualify for the Best Communities designation, Upper St. Clair officials answered detailed questions about funding, graduation requirements, music class participation, instruction time, facilities, support for the music program and community music-making programs.

Nat'l Merit Scholarships

The Bethel Park School District held its annual National Merit Scholarship Luncheon at Bethel Park High School to honor those seniors who were recognized in the National Merit Scholarship Program. Recognized this year were senior Commended Students Joseph Bilski, Julia Herrman and Jerry Varghese. They were named Commended by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation because they were among the top 50,000 scorers on the PSAT Test they took as juniors, out of the 1.6 million high school students who took the PSAT in 2017. Attending the luncheon were the students, their parents, district administration, school board members and guidance counselors.

Golden Globe Award 

Upper St. Clair High School was recently honored with a Golden Globe Award from the Pennsylvania State Modern Language Association as part of its PSMLA Exemplary Program (PEP) Awards Showcase. 

The PEP Awards include four award categories: Globe, Bronze Globe, Silver Globe and Golden Globe, the highest level of recognition. Upper St. Clair is one of only three high schools in Allegheny County to earn the Golden Globe.

The PEP Awards honor exemplary Pennsylvania high school world language programs. Schools must submit documented evidence that includes a high percentage of world language enrollment, languages offered in four-year sequences, retention of students at higher levels and other key instructional practices.

More than 85 percent of Upper St. Clair High School students are enrolled in world language courses that include French, German, Spanish, Latin, Chinese and Japanese.

Bethel Park Honor Society

The Bethel Park High School Chapter of the National Honor Society inducted 94 students into its 2019 Induction Class, including two seniors, 11 juniors and 81 sophomores.

Inducted were seniors Kylie Rimes and Thomas Worcester, as well as juniors Edric Craven, Saje Devine, Alexis Duda, Gabrielle Dunn, Maria Ernst, Liam Fink, Cameron Fondelier, Maliha Khan, Parker Loera, Kaitlyn McClary and Kelsey Rogers.

Sophomores inducted were Ilham Ariouat, Kelsey Aronhalt, Tanush Bahl, Morgan Beardsley, Nicole Beardsley, Abigail Cannon, Juliana Capozzi, Emily Carter, Makayla Carter, Julia Casaldi, Marisol Casanova, Angela Cebula, Lucia Coccagno, Ethan Donovan, Grant Eckert, Emily Engel, Christopher Erfort, Anna Foor, Julia Gasiorowski, Grace Gealey, Kirsten Gross, Emily Guffey, Sally Hathaway, Brianna Hayes, Samantha Heiser, Madelyn Hoffmann and Lily Hunter.

Also inducted were Johnatan Ivanov, Genelle Jenkins, Alexa Karner, Abigail Karstensen, Kelly Katilius, Alena Kauric, Tia Kean, Abby Kearns, Courtney Kiesling, Allison Kurtz, Sierra Kuzak, Megan Malecki, Natalie Manns, Anthony Martinelli, Nicholas Massari, Riley McCann, Christian McClaine, Teagan Mehalko, Reagan Milliken, Cassidy Misak, Grace Myers, Demetrios Patrinos, Abigail Phillips, Sarah Plotz, Aidan Puskas, Rachela Rich and Vincent Riepole.

Additionally, Lianna Robbins, Samuel Robinson, Tobias Roule, Macie Runco, Katelyn Sams, Madison Scheidler, Gianna Sciullo, Lexi Seese, Ashleigh Sepesky, Amber Simeone, Layne Simko, Emily Smith, Megan Smith, Samantha Stephenson, Liam Tena, Rachel Toth, Kerrianne Troesch, Elise Turka, Victoria Vinay, Michael Walsh, Olivia Westphal, Kate Wholey, Megan Winzek, Malik Yasin, Makayla Yee, Evan Zelt and Nina Zonghetti were inducted.

To qualify for induction, students must maintain a minimum 3.85 QPA, devote at least 35 hours per year to community service and display good character and leadership qualities.

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