By Jacob Bailey (Band PR/Drum Captain)
The Ambridge Area high School Marching Band had a very busy week last week, doing multiple performances for the school and community.
Kicking the events off was the first Ambridge Pep Rally Night on Thursday, September 27. The band opened the event with part of their pregame show which featured the Ambridge Alma Mater, along with the National Anthem sung by Carlina Powell (AAHS Drum Major). The band then performed their “Internet Sensations” show, in which they played the selections “Never Gonna Give You Up,” “September,” “Take on Me,” and a funky drumline groove.
Next up was Homecoming Friday, in which the band performed during the in-school pep rally, Homecoming Parade, and Homecoming football game. The band got their Bridger Spirit on during the pep assembly by playing songs from their show, along with the stand cheer “Planet Rock” performed by the drumline. The band had a blast on Homecoming night, and is ready for next year’s festivities.
Saturday morning, the band was honored to participate in the Fall Festival of Churches Parade for the Ambridge Community. Afterwards, the steel band performed for the community at the gazebo.
Later that same day, the marching band performed at the 41st Annual Beaver county Invitational Marching Band Festival (BCI) along with many other bands from Beaver County. The band performed their halftime show, which the crowd loved. BCI, or “Geneva,” is a performance of which every musician of the band loves. It is the most energizing, along with usually being one of the best performances of the year. This year was no different, earning a standing ovation from the crowd.
Although the band had a very busy three days, they loved every second of it, from performing supporting the football team, to performing for the community, to representing Ambridge at BCI. The band cannot wait to do the same next year!
In July, 27 Ambridge Area School District teachers participated in academic training provided by the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI). The trainings are in support of the NMSI program, which is designed to improve students’ growth in the areas of English, Math and Science through participation in the Advanced Placement (AP) program.
The training is part of the NMSI three-year grant the District secured in January 2018. The grant covers the cost of the professional development for teachers, including the accompanying course materials. Ambridge is the only school district in Beaver County to receive a NMSI grant.
During the first two weeks of training, teachers from grades 3-10 received lessons in NMSI’s Laying the Foundation program. The program provides supportive instruction for students that will build skills and higher-level thinking, allowing more students to participate in the AP program.
Ambridge High School AP teachers received training in their specific course during the second week through the College Readiness Program. The training they received has been proven to help students score higher on the AP tests, allowing students to receive college credit for high scores, which will in turn help to lower the cost of tuition. The NMSI program also has permitted the High School to offer the following additional AP courses: Chemistry, Computer Science, English Language and Composition and Statistics. The new AP courses will be added to the English, Math and Science AP courses Ambridge High School already offered.
Throughout the year, the English, Math and Science teachers will continue training in the NMSI model, and our students will have the opportunity to participate in regional study sessions with students from other schools within the Pittsburgh area. At the end of the year, the students participating in the AP classes will be able to take the corresponding AP exams at no additional cost.
Additional information on NMSI’s Laying the Foundation and College Readiness Programs can be found here.
During the 2018 Commencement Ceremony, held at 6 p.m. on Thursday, May 31, 2018 at Ambridge High School, four new members of the Ambridge Hall of Honor were inducted.
Superintendent Dr. Jo Welter introduced the four new inductees. They are:
Dr. Ken Cirka-1989 Graduate
Dr. Cirka is a 1989 graduate of the AASD. Dr. Cirka received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Grove City College and a Master of Arts degree from Slippery Rock University. He attended the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine, where he received his Doctorate of Dental Medicine. Dr. Cirka is a cosmetic dentist who was named "Best of Philadelphia," America's Best Dentist,Life MagazineTop Dentist and a six-year recipient of Consumer Research Council's Top Dentist award he is the senior dentist and owner of Philadelphia Dentistry.
In addition, Dr. Cirka is a philanthropist and is active with the Muscular Dystrophy Foundation, Habitat for Humanity, American Cancer Society, Feeding America and the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. Additional volunteerism and charity include Mom and PA dental, Purses Full of Hope, AIDSWalk, Have a Heart, Feeding America and Share Food Program.
Mrs. Karen Larrimer-1980 Graduate
Mrs. Karen (Petcash) Larrimer, a 1980 AASD graduate, received her Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management from Point Park University. She is currently the executive vice president, head of retail banking and chief customer officer of The PNC Financial Services Group. Mrs. Larrimer is the first female chairwoman of the board for the United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania, and a board and executive committee member of the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh.
Mrs. Larrimer has been recognized as one of the Most Powerful Women in Banking byAmerican BankerMagazine (2017, 2016, ,2015); was selected to receive a Most Powerful and Influential Woman Award by the National Diversity Council's Pennsylvania Awards Committee (2014); and was a finalist for the 2014 Athena Award. She received the Girl Scouts of America Award of Distinction in Business (2013) and was named "Mother of the Year" (2010) by the national publicationWorking Mother.She also was named a"Women Worth Watching"byDiversity Journalin 2009 and was one of the Best 50 Women in Business in Pennsylvania in 2003.
Capt. Charles D. Rowley-1952 Graduate
Capt. Charles D. Rowley is receiving this honor posthumously. A 1952 graduate, Capt. Rowley retired after 30 years of service in the United States Navy. After graduating from the U.S. Navy Test Pilot School, he completed seven deployments, including two tours of duty and more than 160 missions during the Vietnam War. The Commanding Officer of the Naval Training Center from 1985 to 1990, Capt. Rowley was responsible for 1,300 people. He also was the Director of Computer Resources and Avionics with the Navy as well as the principal and chairman of the Joint Services Review Committee for Avionics.
Capt. Rowley's personal service awards include: the Distinguished Flying Cross; Meritorious Service Medal; National Defense Medal; Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross; Armed Services Expeditionary Medal; and 12 Air Medal Strike/Flight Awards.
Ms. Rhonda Wozniak-1979 Graduate
Ms. Rhonda Wozniak is a 1979 AASD graduate. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Art History from the University of Colorado at Denver; her Master of Arts Degree in Art Conservation from the State University of New York, College at Buffalo; and her Certificate of Advanced Studies in the Conservation of Marine Archaeological Objects at the Western Australian Maritime Museum. Ms. Wozniak was the objects conservator and only female crew member aboard the 1994 RMS Titanic expedition that recovered over 400 artifacts from the shipwreck under the direction of IFREMER, the French Oceanographic Institute. The expedition was featured as a National Geographic documentary. Ms. Wozniak lived and worked in France for two years as the primary conservator to prepare the Titanic objects for world-wide exhibit. Rhonda also held the post of Objects Conservator at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh for ten years, and now owns and operates her own MWBE certified art conservation laboratory in Pittsburgh.
The Hall of Honor was established to commend outstanding Ambridge Area School District alumni for their accomplishments, successes, service to others and state or national awards. In order to be eligible for nomination, alumni must meet the following criteria: they must have made a significant community contribution and/or career-related accomplishment. One-time distinctions or awards may be appropriate if they were given at a state or national level. The primary goal of the Hall of Honor is to have our current students aspire to the greatness that other Ambridge Area graduates have achieved," said Dr. Welter. "Those successful graduates add to our greatness and allow us to encourage and motivate current students toward future aspirations."
Information about the Hall of Honor is available here.
It is with pleasure that we announce the Technology Student Associations (TSA) State conference results.
Twenty-seven high school TSA members attended the 40th annual TSA State conference. The conference took place on April 18-21, 2018 and was held at Seven Springs Mountain Resort. Each student member competed in several individual and team events. There are over 80 different events to compete in, many of them involving public speaking, problem solving or STEM concepts. Ambridge took two 3rd place spots, one 9th, two 10th and several finalists (top 12).
Semi-finalists are listed below with their events:
Systems Control: 3rd Dinah Bailey, Kyla Fitzgibbons, Fiona Ozenich; PA LOGO Design: 3rd Rocco Niven,Finalist: Gabriella Milcoff; Structural Engineering & Design: 9th Dimitrios Nairos & Riley Sas, Finalist: David Brock & Tom Swaney; Chapter Team: 10th-Dimitrios Nairos, Madeline Smith, Jacob Shoup, Jordan DeWeese, Samantha Freed, Fiona Ozenich; Prepared Presentation: 10th Dinah Bailey; Sci-Viz: 10th Xavier Albring, Jethro Bell, Alex Elwell, Samantha Freed & Riley Sas; Digital Video: Finalists: Kyla Fitzgibbons, Dinah Bailey, Amelia Freed; Debating Tech Issues: Finalists: Josh Peters & Madeline Smith.
Please congratulate these members of the high school TSA chapter on their accomplishments. There were over 1800 competing students from across the state in attendance at the conference. High School Advisors, Mr. Ben Holmes, Mr. Jason Roos and Mrs. Kristin Holmes accompanied the students over the 3 days and extend congrats on their accomplishments. We look forward to another successful year in 2019.
For more information on TSA, check out the national website: www.tsaweb.org.
Ambridge Area High School students embraced the #ChooseKind movement with an activity designed to get them thinking about the value of being kind to classmates and standing up against bullying.
The event, which took place on Thursday afternoon on the "bridge" into the High School, was organized by student Marissa Hooks, who said she wanted to emphasize the power just a few kind words can have on others. Students who participated wrote messages of kindness on balloons and sent them to classmates. Anyone who received a balloon was then encouraged to include another message of kindness and launch the balloon in the community to help brighten someone else's day.
Each balloon cost $1, and a total of 80 balloons were sold for the event.
High School Principal Ms. Janice Zupsic said she was extremely proud of the students for spreading a message of positivity. " Marissa brings a very positive message to the forefront with this activity. It is a great reminder to all of us that we should be helping to raise each other up rather than tearing each other down."
All proceeds from the event will benefit the Big Brother, Big Sister Organization.
Five Ambridge Area High School Students were selected to perform in PMEA District 5 ensembles this month.
Marjorie Jarsulic was selected to perform in PMEA District 5 Band held on January 11-13 at Neshannock High School. Caitlin Kiliany, Kamryn Rudolph, Thomas Holcomb and Joshua Peters were selected to perform with PMEA District 5 Chorus held on January 25-27 at New Castle High School.
The Pennsylvania Music Educators Association (PMEA) is a statewide nonprofit organization of over 4,500 members, dedicated to promoting the musical development of all Pennsylvanians. The present membership evolved from a small group of band directors dating from 1933. Today, the organization includes those engaged in music instruction at all levels, from preschool through college and university, as well as those in the music industry, merchandising and publishing.
The organization promotes and supports quality music education, learning and performance as well as promoting and supporting music education in schools and communities. PMEA is affiliated with The National Association for Music Education, NAfME. PMEA District 5 encompasses schools from Beaver, Butler, Lawrence and Mercer Counties.
Congratulations to our students!
The Ambridge Area School District is pleased to announce it is the first public school district in Beaver County to be awarded a National Math + Science Initiative grant worth up to $750,000.
The three-year partnership with NMSI will be used to provide professional development opportunities for teachers in grades 3-12 in the subjects of science, math and English. Grant money through the partnership also will be used to dramatically increase the number of Ambridge students enrolled in AP courses and allow the District to provide an additional five AP courses beyond the eight already offered.
“I am incredibly excited about this grant, as it will provide extensive training for up to 34 staff, helping to lay the foundation in grades 3-8 for students to have exposure to more rigorous coursework in alignment with our AP classes,” said Ms. Janice Zupsic, Ambridge Area Senior High School Principal. “This truly is a District-wide opportunity, allowing all of our students to benefit from having access to master teachers and mentors for teachers in all grade levels.”
NMSI’s programs have impacted over 1.5 million students, 50,000 teachers, 1,000 high schools and 44 universities nationwide. In its partnership with Ambridge, NMSI will provide four full days of training each summer for the next three years for 27 regular teachers and seven AP instructors in the District. It also will provide two full days in both the spring and fall for professional development purposes, the assignment of a personal mentor, three Saturday sessions with expert mentors, and additional networking opportunities for teachers.
Dr. Jo Welter, Superintendent, said the partnership is a tremendous advantage to the District, and aligns with upcoming plans for curriculum development. “The development of our curriculum over the next three years is going to be completely different with this training,” she said. “This is a level of professional development to which our teachers otherwise would not have had access.”
AP teachers at the high school also will have access to hundreds of lesson plans, mock tests and materials that can be used to help prepare students to sit for AP exams. Currently, students are not required to sit for an exam upon completion of an AP course at Ambridge. As part of the partnership agreement with NMSI, students will now be expected to sit for the AP exams. NMSI will pay for half of the cost of the exams, with the school district covering the other half.
In addition to the benefits already outlined, the partnership also will provide access to $35,000 worth of course materials and supplies to Ambridge students and staff, and a $100 incentive for every student who earns a 3, 4 or 5 on an AP exam.
Dr. Welter noted that as part of the partnership agreement, the District is required to contribute $25,000 annually for three years to help cover costs. She noted the benefits achieved through the partnership are worth the expenditure.
“We will now have a solid, vertical alignment of curriculum in grades 3-11, with nationally-normed standards and assessment items,” she said. “Our students will be better prepared for college and careers.”
Ms. Zupsic said it is her goal to encourage at least 80 more students to consider enrolling in AP courses at the high school. At present, roughly 140 students are enrolled in one of the existing AP courses offered. “This partnership opportunity makes the ability to take an AP course more accessible to our students, and that’s half the battle.”
We would like to thank all the parents, guardians, students and staff members that helped make the First Annual Transition night a wonderful success at Ambridge Area High School! We would also like to thank all the agencies and speakers that attended to help contribute to the night! As the night consisted of planning future academic areas and pathways that included our Beaver County Career and Technology Center, Trades, Advance Placement and Dual Enrollment classes, we were thrilled to see the students excited and invested in their futures while learning about their future academic/career curriculums! On behalf of the Ambridge Area School District, we are excited to see where all the wonderful future plans will take your student as we continue to welcome the upcoming class of 2022 to the High School!
For your reference, the 2018 – 2019 Transition Night Presentation, 2018 – 2019 Course Flow Charts and the 2018 – 2019 Course of Studies Book is now listed at: www.ambridge.k12.pa.us > Schools > Senior High School > Left hand side: Guidance Tab > Scheduling. It is also listed under the Course Selection Book tab. The High School team also re-visited the Junior High the following day to answer any follow up questions and referenced this location for all students! Please feel free to use the information as needed for future planning!
In order to continue preparing for the transition to high school for the class of 2022, future upcoming events in the Spring and Summer will include: 8th- 9th grade move-up day: All students will be able to explore the high school as a class and learn about the programs, meet and greet the school counselor and high school staff, and explore what the high school has to offer. Freshman Orientation: Parents and guardians will be able to explore and review expectations at the high school, understand graduation and class requirements in addition meet all high school staff while walking through their student’s schedules. Details on the dates will follow!
We once again would like to thank the parents/guardians, students, community agencies and staff for taking time to explore the High School curriculum as we continue to prepare for a wonderful future of academics and career explorations! Best wishes at this time for a wonderful Holiday break!
Reference: The 2018-2019 Transition Night Presentation, 2018-2019 Course Handouts and Course Catalogue is now listed at: www.ambridge.k12.pa.us > Schools > Senior High School > Left hand side: Guidance Tab > Scheduling.
Above: Student Council Members that assisted with the 2017-2018 Transition Night: (Back from left to right): Niya Ridout, Haley Racioppo, Ryan Racioppo, Ariyana Thomas, Alexis Cain, Aubreyanna Biteler, Marissa Hooks, Joshua Peters, Dimitri Niaros, Jacob Dunlap, (Front) Eric Smith; Taylor Welling, Jenna Kunkel, Logan Erickson
Two Ambridge residents are spreading the holiday cheer this season by paying it forward to students in the Ambridge Area School District.
On Wednesday morning, two residents stopped by the District Food Services offices to pay off lunch balances for all elementary schools and the junior high school. While both men originally requested anonymity, Yurkovac agreed to speak about his donation in the hopes that others in the community would be inspired to step forward and consider doing the same to help those closest to home. The other donor has released information on his social media accounts, but did not authorize the District to release his name at this time.
Yurkovac said he had the idea to pay off lunch balances after he read a story about someone paying off overdue library fines for a student at one of the local libraries. His wife, Tina, agreed it was a great idea, so he contacted the District to make the offer. “Both my wife and I were on the free and reduced lunch program at one time during our time at Ambridge, so we know what that’s like,” he said. “It got me to thinking that at this time of year, everyone is focused on helping as many people as possible, so they think about the big charities in an effort to help as many as they can. But when we do that, sometimes our own neighborhood can sometimes get lost in the shuffle. We wanted to make our donation a little closer to home.”
At the Junior High, 90 students were helped, for a total of $500 in negative lunch balances, according to District Food Services Director Janet Gaffney. At the elementary schools, a total of 215 students were helped for a total of $796 in negative lunch balances. While the negative lunch balances have been paid off at the elementary and junior high schools, Gaffney noted that the Senior High School still carries a negative lunch balance of $1,320.38.
Gaffney said this is the first time in her 25 years as the food services director for the District that anyone has come forward to pay off lunch balances. “I am so moved and grateful to have been a part of this experience of having two of our parents come forward in this giving act of generosity; to see firsthand the spirit of giving is still alive and well in the AASD,” she said.