Category: Armstrong School District

Armstrong LEO Club Keeps Growing

More than 35 Armstrong Junior/Senior High students were recognized as part of the 105 inducted in the 2016-17 school LEO Club last night.

More than 35 Armstrong Junior/Senior High students were recognized as part of the 105 inducted in the 2016-17 school LEO Club last night.

by Jonathan Weaver

Although all not in attendance, Armstrong Junior/Senior High added more than 100 River Hawks to its school LEO Club last night.

During the about-30 minute ceremony in the high school auditorium, three-dozen students were recognized in-person by Advisors Erin Burkett and Lauren Craig, Ford City Lions Club King Lion Brad Baillie, past District Governor Tom Toland and student officers.

Craig, an eighth-grade Learning Support teacher, said the 105 new members include students in seventh through 12th grade.

“I believe the majority of our members are seventh, eighth and ninth graders,” Craig said. “Which is awesome that these younger kids want to be involved. Hopefully they’ll stay involved throughout their high school career.”

According to Toland, the Armstrong River Hawks LEO Club – an organization dedicated to community service through Leadership, Experience and Opportunity – is the largest in the state of Pennsylvania.

“Every time anything’s presented, the kids step up,” Burkett added. “It’s always more than we ask for.”

Both Craig and Burkett were advisors for one year at Ford City Junior/Senior High before it closed.

Many siblings are also part of the new inductees – including siblings of chapter Vice-President Abigail Trithart and Secretary Emma Halutick. Trithart – a senior – identified her brother, Matt, as a new member and said sister Hannah was inducted last year.

“Most of the time it’s me signing them up for things, but my brother’s a huge help in LEO Club this year. He really helps a lot,” Abigail said. “It just feels like a really nice family thing to do. We’re all really different, and this is something that can help bring us together.”

The organization was brought back 20 years ago by former Ford City teacher and current State Representative Jeff Pyle – who was in-attendance after daughter Katie was elected chapter president.

“I think it’s an excellent effort by these kids. They’ve proven themselves time and again, and the contribution they make to this community is often times unseen but always felt,” the state representative said.

With the new inductees, about 200 students are part of the student organization.

Katie was surprised to see how many students is now part of the group.

Elderton Elementary Students Excel in VFW Essay Contest

Elderton Elementary sixth-grade students surround Shannock Valley Memorial Post VFW #8555 Commander Robert Brubaker and members Andy Lindenfelter, Elwood Thomas and Ron Condrick after they were recognized for participating in the annual Patriot's Pen essay contest. They were joined and supported by Armstrong School District Assistant Superintendent Cheryl Soloski, Elderton Elementary Assistant Principal Chris Hooks (both on far left) and 5th/6th Grade English Language Arts Teacher Patti McCausland (right).

Elderton Elementary sixth-grade students surround Shannock Valley Memorial Post VFW #8555 Commander Robert Brubaker and members Andy Lindenfelter, Elwood Thomas and Ron Condrick after they were recognized for participating in the annual Patriot’s Pen essay contest. They were joined and supported by Armstrong School District Assistant Superintendent Cheryl Soloski, Elderton Elementary Assistant Principal Chris Hooks (both on far left) and 5th/6th Grade English Language Arts Teacher Patti McCausland (right).

by Jonathan Weaver

A pair of Elderton Elementary students will move on to the next round of a national Veterans of Foreign Wars essay contest.

During the school Martin Luther King, Jr. assembly Friday, 11-year-old Brayden Sitosky – of Rural Valley- and 12-year-old Caden Gearhart – of Shelocta- found out their essays were chosen as winners of the Patriot’s Pen contest by members of Shannock Valley Memorial Post VFW #8555.

“The America I believe in is an America that never gives up, an America that never stops fighting until peace is restored,” Gearhart read as part of his winning essay.

In addition to a certificate, the two sixth-grade students also received a $150 check.

Fifth/Sixth Grade English Language Arts Teacher Patti McCausland said it was the first time her students participated in the contest – which this year had the essay theme “The America I Believe In.” Students had to submit essays by November 1.

“I had quite-a-few (essays) that were above-average, excellent. Their messages were so heartfelt that I couldn’t have decided (winners),” McCausland said. “There were some really good, passionate ones, and that’s what I was looking for.

“I just think the kids are exceptional. I’m so proud of them.”

Elderton Elementary sixth-graders Brayden Sitosky and Caden Gearhart won the district VFW Patriot's Pen essay contest and received a certificate and $150 check from Shannock Valley Memorial Post VFW #8555. Their essays now go on to the regional level.

Elderton Elementary sixth-graders Brayden Sitosky and Caden Gearhart won the district VFW Patriot’s Pen essay contest and received a certificate and $150 check from Shannock Valley Memorial Post VFW #8555. Their essays now go on to the regional level.

Students – who were also graded in class on their essays – also read some of their essays during the school’s Veterans Day assembly.

The other nearly-two dozen student writers received a certificate and a check for $50.

McCausland’s daughter, Kaitlin – a senior at West Shamokin High School, – was the local Voice of Democracy essay contest winner and also received a check and certificate before her essay moves on.

Before all participating students received certificates and checks for their participation, students also watched a video of 2015-2016 national winner Shane Stafford -sponsored by VFW Post 10468 in Searchlight, Nevada, – recite his winning essay during an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C. in February, where he received a $5,000 award.

Students from across the globe took home their share of $3.3 million in scholarships and awards from last year’s Patriot’s Pen and Voice of Democracy contests. More than 120,000 students are thought to have participated during the 2015-16 school year.

After the assembly, the more than 50 fifth and sixth grade students were able to ask questions of the four veterans – including regarding their service history, memories on the battlefield and their community service.