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Back to School

Back to School - North

By Karen. Neuman

Here is a look at what students will see at their districts this year.


Allegheny Valley

OPENS: Aug. 31


WHAT'S NEW: The new jewel in the Allegheny Valley crown is the track and field complex at Springdale High School. The $8.5 million project included renovations to the high school completed last year. The track will be ready for the spring season while the soccer team will begin playing on a new field next fall.

Data coordinator Matt Little's districtwide network comes on-line this fall, linking all schools. The primary school has a new computer lab, and the high school lab has new computers and software.

William Mitas has been hired to direct all musical productions.


OPENS: Sept. 3


WHAT'S NEW: For the first time, Avonworth Junior High Students can be Antelopes - that is, they can play football in the new program being offered.

Avonworth High School will have its first assistant principal. Six teachers and an elementary school principal also are being sought to replace retiring staff members, so almost 10 percent of Avonworth's 76 teachers will be new faces.

Butler Area

OPENS: Aug. 26


WHAT'S NEW: Connoquenessing Elementary School is completely renovated and has additional classroom and activity space. Summit Township, Clearfield Township and McQuistion Elementary School renovations also will be completed this year.

Butler Area High School by summer 2000 will have a newly renovated math/science wing, gym, pool, television studio and auditorium. Construction gets under way this year, to be completed by the end of the 1999-2000 school year.

Superintendent Edward Fink says he hopes to improve communication with parents through better report cards, parent math nights, science fairs and exhibition nights.

Deer Lakes

OPENS: Aug. 31 for grades seven-12, Sept. 8 for kindergarten-6th grade


WHAT'S NEW: "We are standing pat on curriculum this year," said Superintendent Joel Carr.

The school does have a $16.5 million construction project under way. The 1998-99 school year will be the last for seventh- and eighth-graders to attend Deer Lakes High School before moving to the new middle school opening in September 1999.

Renovations to East Union Elementary and Curtisville Elementary will be complete in January.

Fox Chapel Area

OPENS: Aug. 24


WHAT'S NEW: Fox Chapel Area High School's first football game this year will be played in the new stadium, and a new field house should be completed shortly thereafter. For the younger students, all buildings have new playground equipment.

Dorseyville Middle School assistant principal Rox Serrao becomes principal this year, succeeding retired Robert Chiappetta. A new assistant principal will be appointed later this month.

Freedom Area

OPENS: Aug. 31


WHAT'S NEW: The Freedom Area School District will invest $14 million to renovate its middle school and high school buildings. About $280,000 is earmarked for technological improvements including new computers and telephones, plus wiring for network capabilities.

Assistant Superintendent Ron Sofo said increased energy efficiency, handicapped access and security also are primary goals of the construction projects. "We look forward to maintaining a positive safety record in all buildings and working with the community to do so," said Sofo.

Dan Matsook was named acting high school principal, and Robert Gallagher will fill Matsook's former position as assistant principal. Gallagher was the instructional support teacher at the middle school.


OPENS: Aug. 26


WHAT'S NEW: About $2 million in improvements to the Fridley Field complex means the Talbots will play football on a new field this year. A thousand new seats and an all-weather track also were added to the complex.

Cheryl Griffith replaces retiring Gerald Goga as Central Elementary School principal. The board will appoint Griffith's replacement at Poff Elementary later this month.

The district administrative center and business annex have moved from Central Elementary School to new offices located on the third floor at 5316 Route 8 in Gibsonia. The new telephone number is 724-449-8888.

"One of our main goals this year is to integrate technology into our curriculum," said Assistant Superintendent Lawrence Kortchnack. The curriculum for math and science is currently under review for all grades.


OPENS: Aug. 26


WHAT'S NEW: Major technological advances mark the start of the new school year at Highlands. The high school and four elementary schools each have new computer labs. All schools will be networked together and linked to the Internet.

The district will highlight the state School-to-Work program throughout this school year. "Making every student knowledgeable about the world of work is the goal," said Superintendent Louis Baldassare.

Mars Area

OPENS: Aug. 26


WHAT'S NEW: Three teachers at the elementary school, one at the middle school, and one teacher plus a guidance counselor at the high school will be added due to an enrollment increase of 85 students.

Superintendent William Pettigrew said he will introduce ninth- and 10th-graders to career opportunities at a career day sponsored by the Cranberry Chamber of Commerce. He also will add a second set of parent-teacher conferences in March to keep parents better informed about student progress and problems.

Three new construction projects begin this year, including the new primary center, to house kindergarten through second grade at a cost of $9 million.

North Allegheny

OPENS: Aug. 27


WHAT'S NEW: The big news for North Allegheny students is smaller classes. Six teachers have been added at the secondary level, so class size should drop from an average 28-29 to 25-26. The district also will keep four teachers on staff at the elementary level who could have been furloughed due to shifting enrollment, bringing the class size average down to 23.

A new wide-area network links all 13 schools and provides Internet access. "With a single source you can put up fire walls to keep students out of inappropriate areas (on the Internet.) The same software will be available on all computers, and parents will be able to contact teachers via e-mail," said Superintendent Lawrence Bozzomo.

About $40 million in renovations to the Peebles, Hosack, Franklin, Ingomar and McKnight elementary schools will be completed this year.

North Hills

OPENS: Sept. 8


WHAT'S NEW: West View Elementary and North Hills Junior High will open for the first day of school after $20.5 million in renovations, said district spokesperson Barb Hecht.

New classrooms and a wide-area network connecting all nine buildings in the district are ready for returning students. A new phone system also was installed, so parents should call 412-318-1000 for phone number information.

Joseph Belotti joins North Hills Junior High as principal, and Amy Mathieu will be principal at McIntyre Elementary School.


OPENS: Sept. 8


WHAT'S NEW: Though school officially begins Sept. 8, seniors will attend a half-day session Sept. 4 on setting career goals and being role models for the student body.

District staff members will complete a review of the language arts curriculum for all grades by January, comparing it to new state standards and evaluating possible revisions and new course offerings. Superintendent James Manley says a similar study of the math curriculum should be completed by June 1999.

Former assistant principal John Wilkinson replaces retired G.A. Caldwell as principal of the high school, while William Hand from Highlands School District becomes assistant principal.


OPENS: Aug. 31


WHAT'S NEW: District spokeswoman Judy Boren says Wexford Elementary School has doubled in size, and will open for the first day of school.

Kathleen Harrington is the new principal at the middle school, with former teacher Laura Davis as assistant principal.

The district will offer Russian 2 for the first time; Russian 1 was offered last year.

Quaker Valley

OPENS: Aug. 26


WHAT'S NEW: "There are endless possibilities," said district spokeswoman Fazio about the new cable television channel at Quaker Valley. "I hope it will strengthen bonds with the community." Initially a list of district information and events will scroll across the channel. Eventually board meetings and even musicals can be televised.

Edgeworth Elementary school offers a new full-day kindergarten program for students needing extra attention. After attending regular kindergarten in the morning the students will stay for a special afternoon program.

A new instructional support teacher at the middle school will help pupils with academic problems, and James Walls will be the first full-time gifted program facilitator at the high school.

Seneca Valley

OPENS: Aug. 26


WHAT'S NEW: A $132,000 Link-to-Learn grant will fund the new wide-area network linking the schools. District spokeswoman Linda Andreassi says students will take "virtual field trips" using the Internet and a satellite communications link.

"This (technology) will take us well into the 21st century," said Andreassi.

The secondary campus has new tennis courts, and the new middle school which opened last year is now complete.

Shaler Area

OPENS: Sept. 2


WHAT'S NEW: The new intermediate school opens this year for about 1,000 incoming eighth- and ninth-graders.

Of $3.7 million spent upgrading technology, $2.5 million went for centralized hardware while $800,000 went to purchase new computers for students. Superintendent Donald Lee said every classroom would have Internet access, and each teacher would have an e-mail address.

A districtwide effort will be aimed at reducing drop-outs and helping youths in trouble with the law. Allegheny County will have a probation officer based in the district, and alternative education will be offered at the high school. "We want to assist them in being productive in school," said Lee.

South Butler

OPENS: Aug. 26


WHAT'S NEW: The middle school has six new classrooms plus new facilities for art, music and science, and a new cafeteria. The completed addition came in under budget at $1.06 million, school officials said.

The Butler County sheriff will assist district administration in training professional staff in new safety and security procedures; this follows an extensive internal review. District spokesman Todd O'Shell said safety also was a primary concern in designing the newly paved auxiliary student parking lot with 50 additional spaces.

Karen Neuman is a free-lance writer

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