Bethel Park

Bethel Park School District has reinstituted an active Interact Club, a community service-based club that is open to all Independence Middle School and Bethel Park High School students.

Members, with the support of their faculty adviser and the sponsorship of local Rotary clubs, Bethel Park/USC Breakfast Club and the Bethel Park Lunch Club, will learn leadership skills and how they can make a difference in the community.

Even though students are remote learning, the club is still able to meet on a regular basis virtually. Their first project was to thank a pandemic hero of their choosing, and for the second, they started a pen pal program working with a local long-term care facility, with the hope is this will be an ongoing project.

Students also have volunteered with the Salvation Army as holiday bell ringers and participated in a cookie-making tutorial within the group, with the cookies donated to Meals On Wheels.

Mt. Lebanon

The Middle States Association Commission on Elementary and Secondary Schools recently recognized Mt. Lebanon High School’s visual arts as a Program of Distinction.

The Middle States Programs of Distinction initiative provides external validation of an accredited school’s accomplishments in specific areas of expertise. The review process helps accredited schools identify strengths and areas for growth and provides inspiration and recommendations for attaining high-quality educational programs.

The school district’s Fine Arts Department chairwoman is chaired by Jennifer Rodriguez, who also teaches high school art, as does Greg Kuhar.

At the Mt. Lebanon School Board reorganization meeting in December, Jacob Wyland was elected board president and Valerie Fleisher as vice president. The board also appointed Thomas Peterson as solicitor.

The school board set the meeting schedule for the 2021 calendar year. Here are the dates for regular monthly meetings to be held in Room D205, Mt. Lebanon High School or other district location: Jan. 18, Feb. 15, March 15, April 19, May 24, June 21, Aug. 16, Sept. 20, Oct. 18, Nov. 15 and Dec. 13. Other open meetings of the board are on Jan. 11, Feb. 8, March 8, April 12, May 10, June 14, Aug. 9, Sept. 13, Oct. 11, Nov. 8 and Dec. 6 for the reorganization meeting.

Upper St. Clair

Upper St. Clair High School sophomore Jason Lu was presented with the Award of Excellence in the Young Artists Program, sponsored by the Steinway Society of Western Pennsylvania. The event was held virtually on Dec. 5-6.

Jason, who performed two classic selections, was selected from among 54 pianists. The award, which provides a $200 scholarship, is in memory of Melanie Schmidt, mother of Marina Lupinaccci, SSWPA board president.

“Despite it being over Zoom where we encountered a couple of minor technical glitches, it was a huge success,” Lupinacci said. “All the Young Artists did a fantastic job and the amount of talent we have in our Society is unbelievable.”

Jason received piano instruction throughout the last four years from Natasha Snitkovsky, who chairs of the piano department at Duquesne University. Recently, he began working with Luz Manriquez, teaching professor of collaborative piano and piano pedagogy at Carnegie Mellon University.

In addition, he actively participates in Upper St. Clair’s performing arts programs, including the high school’s Jazz Lab Ensemble and Marching Band.

The Young Artists Program is open to pianists up to age 18 or through their senior year in high school.

Six Upper St. Clair High School students are among the 50 selected to participate in the “I Look Like a Cardiologist” program.

Participating students are juniors Molly Maher, Briella Mammana, Catalina Marchando, Victoria Ann Pete and Fiona Wang, and sophomore Carter Chui.

The program will take place virtually, with events planned each Wednesday evening throughout January. Events will include an introduction to the field of cardiology, a panel discussion with physicians, case study discussion relative to diversity and mentoring opportunities.

The program’s mission is to expose students from backgrounds underrepresented in cardiology to the field in order to inspire diverse high school students to consider a career in the field.

Students are selected by competitive application that included the submission of transcripts, test scores and two essays. The program, which drew more than 120 applications, is sponsored by the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute.

Upper St. Clair High School senior Christian Chiu recently was named a semifinalist in the 2020-21 Coca-Cola Scholars Program. Christian is one of 73 in Pennsylvania and 1,609 from across the country who were selected from nearly 99,403 applicants.

The Coca-Cola Scholars program recognizes high school seniors who have demonstrated academic and civic excellence in their schools and communities.

Semifinalists will submit their application for review by the program reading committee in January. Following the review, 250 will advance as regional finalists, with 150 becoming Coca-Cola Scholars and earning $20,000 scholarships.

Students are selected to advance to the next phase based on academic excellence, leadership and service demonstrated in school and community activities.

Christian is a member of the National Honor Society and has been recognized as a National AP Scholar and AP Scholar with Distinction and a National Merit Semifinalist. In addition to his academic achievements, he is an accomplished pianist who was named an honorable Mention awardee in the 2020 YoungArts Awards, sponsored by the National YoungArts Foundation.

Members of Upper St. Clair School Board elected Patrick Hewitt as president and Phil Elias as vice president during the annual reorganization meeting on Dec. 7. Both offices are one-year appointments.

Hewitt served as vice president throughout 2020. He and Elias are beginning their sixth year on the bard.

Superintendent John Rozzo recognized Barbara Bolas, outgoing president for her leadership and continued service. Bolas, a 33-year member of the school board, has served leadership roles locally as well as with the Pennsylvania School Boards Association and the National School Boards Association.

Fort Couch Middle School Principal Joe DeMar was named a Champion of Learning Award winner in the leadership category. The annual awards, sponsored by the Consortium for Public Education and the United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania, were announced virtually Dec. 17

DeMar, who has served as Fort Couch principal for 17 years, was nominated for the award by Superintendent John Rozzo, with support from Sharon Suritsky, deputy/assistant superintendent.

“We are so happy for Joe, as he is certainly deserving of this recognition,” Rozzo said. “Throughout his career in Upper St. Clair, Joe has been a highly effective school leader and a great ambassador for the district.”

Before taking the helm at Fort Couch, DeMar served as assistant principal at Upper St. Clair High School for seven year and at Fort Couch for two years. He holds degrees from Slippery Rock University and Westminster College in science education and administration.

In addition to DeMar, Cathryn Rodgers, second-grade teacher at Eisenhower Elementary, was one of three finalists in the K-6 category. Rodgers was nominated for the Champion of Learning Award by the family of a former student.

“We are all proud of her and are thankful that she is part of the Eisenhower team and always a positive part of continuing our truly student-centered culture,” Mark Miller, Eisenhower principal, said.

Miss Rodgers has been a member of the Eisenhower faculty since 2009. A graduate of Pennsylvania State University, Miss Rodgers holds an undergraduate degree in horticulture. She earned a master’s in education from Duquesne University.

Upper St. Clair School District is now accepting applications for the spring cohort of its Extended Teacher Certification Program for non-educators who are interested in serving as substitute teachers.

The program is aimed at those who hold a bachelor’s degree in any subject from an accredited college or university but do not have a Pennsylvania teaching certificate.

Interested candidates can learn more during one of two virtual information sessions, which are set for 4:30-5:30 p.m. Jan. 6 and 9:30-10:30 a.m. Jan. 7.

Register at to receive the meeting link.

Applicants will follow the interview process, and successful candidates must attend a one-day orientation, complete an online training curriculum and participate in an observation/shadow day at one of the district schools.

As with all district employees, ETC substitutes must complete the required background, medical, reference and clearance checks. To apply, visit

Applications are being accepted through Jan. 19 for the spring cohort. Orientation is scheduled for Feb. 3.

Upper St. Clair substitutes are paid $100 per day Monday through Thursday and $120 per day on Fridays. Additional monetary incentives are awarded after working 25, 50, 75 and 100 days. After working 25 days, substitutes are eligible to attend trainings and professional development opportunities that are offered to Upper St. Clair School District teachers.

The ETC Program enables those who have completed a bachelor’s degree to acquire training in order to serve as substitute teachers. Those who meet eligibility requirements will receive a non-certificated permit from the Pennsylvania Department of Education. The permits are valid for one school year and individuals can apply for renewal annually through the school district.

For more information regarding the ETC Program or substitute teaching in Upper St. Clair School District, contact Judi Stemmler, human resources representative, at or 412-833-1600, ext. 2289.

Upper St. Clair School District has been awarded a $17,307 equipment grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s Office for Safe Schools.

Through the grant, the district’s more than 70 exterior door locks will be replaced. Rather than distributing keys, building access for employees will be managed through the use of access cards/employee IDs. In addition, the grant will fund the installation of a card reader access control system at the Boyce Middle School field house.

In November 2019, officials from the Crime Prevention Center for Training and Services conducted an independent security assessment of all district facilities. Among the recommendations was the need for an improved system for exterior access control.

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