Category: Armstrong School District

Armstrong Behind-the-Wheel Training Costs Increase

by Jonathan Weaver

Student costs for the behind-the-wheel program in the Armstrong School District will increase by more than $100.

Drivers’ Education students at Armstrong Senior High and West Shamokin Senior High will be paying about $100 more for behind-the-wheel training this school year.

At the conclusion of the Armstrong School Board’s special meeting last week, School Superintendent Stan Chapp said maintenance and fuel costs have increased while state subsidy has dropped.

“Over the years, our students contributed a very small portion of our drivers ed total costs. Most school districts in Western Pennsylvania have an outside agency to provide that behind-the-wheel training and classroom instruction,” Chapp said.

Armstrong School District used to receive about $35 per student from the state, according to Director of Business Affairs Sam Kirk.

Board President Joseph Close said the drivers’ education program was also reviewed about four years ago when new vehicles were being purchased.

“We went ahead and continued the program as it was, knowing that we were funding it considerably. At the time, we looked at other districts and what they charged and still we were way below what other districts and what ARIN charged, Close said.

“Just to break even on the cost, it would be at least $230 per student.”

School directors unanimously agreed to increase costs for this school year.

The school district does provide students with six hours of behind-the-wheel training in addition to the in-class instruction.

Board Director Paul Lobby asked to compare costs to the ARIN Intermediate Unit 28 for implementation as soon as the 2016-17 school year. If a student has completed an ARIN IU28 Driver Education Theory Course, either the online or the after- school class, the cost will be $200 for the behind-the-wheel lessons.

ARIN’s six Behind-the-Wheel training sessions are scheduled as two hour sessions, or by the district’s agreement.

The students will drive for one hour and then observe for one hour. All of these sessions are scheduled Monday through Friday.

During the summer break, the students are scheduled to drive during the day. During the school year, they are scheduled after school and into the early evening.

Armstrong also offers behind-the-wheel training during the summer, Close said.

The student’s driving experience includes in-town (light and heavy traffic), residential, highway, rural road, and business district areas. Skills taught include: Starting/Accelerating, Stopping/Braking, Turning, Following Distance, Freeway Driving/Passing, Parallel Parking and many more.

Effective July 1, ARIN Intermediate Unit 28 (ARIN) has been offering Adult Driver Education Courses including online coursework and behind-the-wheel experience.

ARIN’s Adult Driver programs cater to new drivers ages 18 and up who are no longer in high school. The program combines classroom and behind the wheel instruction to assist new adult drivers in gaining skill and confidence. It prepares drivers for the road by teaching safe driving habits and decision-making skills.

Throughout the driving courses they will learn basic driving fundamentals, and defensive driving techniques.

The full course includes 30 hours of online courses and six hours of behind-the-wheel instruction. The online course can be completed over the course of an eight week timeframe. Topics include: PA laws and regulations, vehicle operations, decision making, driving skill development, insurance and driving violations.

There is also an eight hour review program consisting of one day of classroom review and two hours of behind-the-wheel experience. And the behind-the-wheel instruction can be taken as a two hour stand-alone course.

Participants must demonstrate competent knowledge in order to successfully complete the course. Upon successful completion, students will be issued a certificate of participation. Those needing a driver’s license must schedule an appointment at their local Penn DOT’s License Center to take the driving test.

Cost for the adult driving instruction varies by course.

Board Director Paul Lobby (left) asks School Superintendent Stan Chapp and Business Affairs Director Sam Kirk about behind-the-wheel costs at other local agencies.

“KHS Last Dance” Opportunity to Bid Farewell to Wildcats

“KHS Last Dance” committee members met last night in the Kittanning Senior High library to discuss plans for the August 22 event. Anyone interested in joining the volunteers should contact Chair (and 1974 graduate) Mindy Owen.

by Jonathan Weaver

Even though no new students will attend Kittanning Senior High doesn’t mean that former students can’t walk through the hallways one final time.

Next month, Kittanning and Armstrong Central alumni and staff, as well as their significant others, will be able to relive their high school days during the “KHS Last Dance.

Scheduled for Saturday, August 22 from 4-11PM, the event was brainstormed by Armstrong School District Foundation members, according to Class of 1974 graduate Mindy Owen – who was asked to chair the committee.

“I went when they had the open house for the general public (in November 2014) when it was just very-much of a shell, and it was very awesome,” Owen said. “It was very exciting to see it happening.

“It’s very bittersweet because we’re losing our school, but we’re moving to something much better.”

The event ticket sales will also benefit the Armstrong School District Foundation.

Owen, a paralegal who still lives in Kittanning, remembers cheering on the sideline with the Red Army in the stands during Wildcat sporting events, playoff games, and versus rival-Ford City.

“It was a huge rivalry then,” Owen said. “I very distinctly remember going to games in Ford City and when we got off the bus, we had to be protected because they were throwing eggs and tomatoes.”

Owen also bought a ticket for her husband, Jamie (a 1966 graduate) and talked with her father, Arnold (a 1953 graduate), about attending.

Soney Hockenberry graduated in 1976 from Kittanning, and is leading concessions during the dance.

The former Wildcats and new River Hawks cheerleading coach said cheerleaders, boys’ golf, girls’ golf, swimming and boys’ basketball teams will all sell food, drinks or other items during the dance.

Hockenberry’s sons, Kyle (a 2013 graduate) and Brent (a 2000 graduate), also played football, basketball and ran track at Kittanning

Jack Burford, a 1974 graduate who’s in charge of entertainment, said the event will feature two different DJ’s – one of which being Kittanning High graduate Mike Totos.

“Hopefully, we have a massive turnout,” Burford said.

An auto body mechanic from Kittanning who also was a school board candidate, Burford’s grandsons, Ashton and Colton, will attend the new school this Fall.

As well as the dance, alumni attending the event will be able to walk through the new school following a public self-guided tour.

“Last Dance” ticket holders will be able to walk through the Manor Township school from 2-4PM and will be entered into a raffle for an assortment of River Hawks items – including possibly tickets to the inaugural home game.

“We’ll hand everyone a ticket, if they show us their ticket to the dance,” Owen said.

Committee members also discussed DJ’s playing each class’ song, decorating the gymnasium with balloons or even crate paper flowers with spray-painted red edges and utilizing sponsorship donations toward fireworks

Megan Harvey-Crissman, a 2003 graduate who was a Wildcat swimmer, singer and cross-country runner, suggested utilizing money toward a photo booth filled with props such as the Wildcat mascot costume, football helmets and jerseys.

Harvey-Crissman, of Applewold, also has a future River Hawk in son, Landon – who will be a fourth-grader at West Hills Intermediate this Fall.

“He’s excited to be a River Hawk next year, but I’ll always talk about the Wildcats to him,” Harvey-Crissman said. “Wildcats will always be the best.

“I’ll always be a Wildcat – I’ll always bleed Wildcat colors.”

The committee also includes retired teacher Virginia Easley – a “snowbird” that lives half the time in Kittanning and taught physical education from January 1964 until June 1997.

Easley was also a former cheerleading sponsor and class advisor.

“I am friends on Facebook with a lot of my past students, and they advertised a meeting. I came, and I’m in,” Easley said.

In addition to being sold at Dizzy Lizzy’s, the 700 Shop, the Kittanning Public Library and at James Owen’s law office, tickets will also be sold at the former YMCA on North Water Street during the upcoming Fort Armstrong Folk Festival.

More plans will be discussed at the next meeting in two weeks.

Anyone interested in helping with the committee or donating memorabilia can contact committee members through the “KHS Last Dance” Facebook page or Owen at