By Dinah Bailey
Five Ambridge High School students, along with Mr. Roos and Mrs. Green, attended the “Seeds of Change” event, held at the Chatham University Eden Hall Campus, on Monday, March 4th, 2019.
The focus of this conference expressed ideas of sustainability, and similar environmental issues. For the first part of the conference, the students observed other Pittsburgh area school’s projects. The projects all focused on how their school was introducing the practice of sustainability. One group discussed the benefits of using metal utensils in the cafeteria, rather than plastic and another school discussed how their garden is impacting their school and community. All of these projects allowed the Ambridge attendees to grow in their knowledge about the environment at a community level and to see the contribution to reducing environmental impact that other schools are promoting.
In the second part of the conference, the students had the opportunity to take part in circle discussions led by adult guests. Guests consisted of state legislators, council members, leaders of non-profit environmental groups, and more. This allowed discussions to be diverse and individualized. The youth in attendance were encouraged to express their opinions and ideas, while the adults took time to listen. Overall, at this conference, the students gained useful knowledge that can help them to explore career opportunities, as well as to allow them to add perspective to the current aquaponics project they are working on as this year's Ecology Club initiative.
On Thursday, March 28, 2019 the Ambridge High School Students were given to the opportunity to listen and participate in the formation of the ACT-SO program at Ambridge Senior High School by Mr. Carter Spruill, NAACP Chairman of the ACT-SO Program.
Founded in 1978 by renowned author and journalist Vernon Jarrett, ACT-SO (an acronym for “Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological & Scientific Olympics”) is an Olympic mentoring program whereby students demonstrate academic, artistic and scientific expertise. ACT-SO stimulates and encourages high academic and cultural achievement among African-American high school students.
The ACT-SO program spans an entire academic year beginning in the fall, followed by planning, mentoring and coaching of students through winter months, culminating in local competitions in April and a national competition in July. ACT-SO is based on the dedication and commitment of community volunteers and business leaders that serve as mentors and coaches.
Students who participate in ACT-SO work with mentors to help develop projects in preparation to compete with other students in categories including but not limited to S.T.E.M., Humanities, Performing Arts, Visual Arts and Business. Students receive medals and prizes provided by the local and regional sponsors and contributors for their achievements.
ACT-SO, often referred to as the “Olympics of the Mind,” seeks to promote the following: Positive self-esteem; Positive interaction between our youth and the adult professional community; Positive academic and artistic excellence and high academic and cultural achievement.
Students in the Ambridge Area School District were granted the opportunity to sign-up and be part of the great program Mr. Spruill has to offer, and listen to the vast array of opportunities for making a difference in their community. If you would like further information, or for your student to be involved in the program, please visit: https://www.beavercountynaacp.org/act-so-1
Mr. Spruill also requested any parents/guardians that are also interested in helping with the program at Ambridge High School to please reach out via e-mail or phone to the number listed above at this time. Mr. Spruill welcomes community and members of the district to help assist in helping the program at the district grow in all facets.
You may also reach out to Ms. Benedict in the guidance office 724-266-2833, ext. 2482 with any questions.
On March 29, 2019 the Ambridge Area School District was pleased to announce the participation of 30 students in the “Build on Careers in Construction and Allied Industries” at the David l. Lawrence Convention Center presented by the Builders Guild of Western Pennsylvania. Alongside the Builders Guild, sponsors included Peoples and CNX, US Steel, Duquesne Light Company and Shell Chemicals of Pennsylvania. During this time, students were given the opportunity to make valuable connections to, not only community and local employers, but also the Trades and Unions including but not limited: Carpenters, Bricklayers and Allied Crafts, Ironworkers, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Boilermakers, Insulators, Plumbers, Electricians and the Laborers Union.
During their time at the trades fair, students participated in interactive activities with the regional building trade unions, industry partners, tool and product suppliers, and experienced a host of games and virtual trainings. Students also spoke first hand with apprentices, training directors, recruiters and others who provided greater insight into well-paying, sustainable careers and career avenues from apprenticeships to journeyman in Western Pennsylvania. The students also learned about educational pathways through no-cost apprenticeship programs, two and four year degree programs offered by area colleges and universities, and endorsed pre-apprenticeship programs for after high school.
All senior members were encouraged to bring copies of their resumes to hand to potential employers and for discussing career pathways with members of the industries at this time.
Mrs. Debona, Ms. Benedict and Mr. Groom with the assistance of Mrs. Brewer accompanied the students on the trades fair and received first hand instruction on the jobs the Shell plant and local unions are endorsing for future employment, and had the opportunity to hear Governor Wolf’s future plans for Western Pennsylvania. The direction for employment is high in the labor field and continues to branch out to not only college pathways but to careers in the unions and the trades for future success after high school. The educators encouraged the students to also consider pathways in the trades and to speak to recruiters, and were able to bring back a vast array of knowledge to the student body as a whole. As one of the representatives from IBEW had stated, “Four year colleges are no longer the only route…we will continue to educate the need for the unions and the trades at this time for a sustainable career."
The Community College of Beaver County is also holding an “Apprenticeship Readiness Program” where students can interact with 16 building and construction trade unions and tour several trades and unions tour sites during this time. For enrollment, students are encouraged to call CCBC at 724-480-3448 and ask to speak to an admissions counselor for the “Apprenticeship Readiness Program.” Any students wishing to pursue the trades or unions are encouraged to speak with members of the guidance team at any time for information. Please feel free to call 724-266-2833, ext. 2377 with any questions you may have.
Photo Courtesy of Alan Freed
It’s shaping up to be a busy – and exciting – year for the Ambridge Steel Band.
Now in its 30th year at Ambridge, the band is celebrating the milestone with a few unique opportunities to shine this year. First on the agenda was the band’s performance in the 38th Annual WPXI Holiday Parade. The steel band was invited to march in this prestigious local parade, which was held on Saturday, Nov. 24. The theme for this year’s parade was “Neighborhoods,” and celebrated the 50th anniversary of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.
“Much like the heartbeat of the once-booming steel town, the Ambridge Steel Drum Band has established a culture of excellence, hard work and pride for our students and the Ambridge community,” said Steel Band director Mr. Todd Hartman.
The band also will be performing at the revival of the B.E. Taylor Christmas Show at Heinz Hall on Dec. 17 and 18. Taylor’s family is reviving the concert series, and using it as a platform to feature some very talented musicians in the area. Learn more about the performance here.
The band also will be a featured ensemble performance at the 2019 Pennsylvania Music Educators Association (PMEA)/National Association for Music Education (NAFME) Eastern Division Conference at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh in April 2019. The appearance as a featured performer at the conference will be a first for any band at Ambridge. “This is an incredible opportunity for our students to be showcased in this way,” said Hartman.
Another thrilling opportunity is in the works for May 2019, when the band is hoping to host a collaborative performance with the River City Brass Band. World renowned steel percussionist Liam Teague is expected to participate in the event. Details still are being worked out for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, said Hartman.
“I think it’s safe to say this year is shaping up to be a big year for our Steel Band,” he said.
On Tuesday November 27, 2018, twenty students from the AP Biology classes and Science Club at Ambridge Area High School attended a local genetics conference at North Allegheny Senior High School with Mr. Eric Harbison, AP Biology Teacher and Science Club Sponsor.
The Genetics Update Conference is held yearly by Sam Rhine. Sam Rhine is a medical geneticist and received his education from Indiana University in Indiana, as well as spending some time at Harvard Medical School. His conferences provide updates on the newest discoveries in genetics and medicine. Some highlights include the discovery of DNA segments that are correlated to common diseases and traits, the ability to use pig organs for transplants into humans to eliminate the waiting list predicament, and the ability to use a medical process known as CRISPR to perform genome editing to remove detrimental mutations from a person’s DNA. With the discovery of the DNA segments that are common in everyday diseases and traits, CRISPR can be used to edit those sequences with the hopes of one day curing ailments such as Autism, Schizophrenia, Type 2 Diabetes, and many more.
The biggest discovery Mr. Rhine shared with our students is that scientists have successfully used CRISPR to remove a harmful mutation from a developing embryo. This success was confirmed and published, as the embryo developed into a perfectly healthy baby that was born ONE DAY before our students attended the conference. It certainly is an exciting time in the world of Science!
Ryan Racioppo and his twin sister, Haley take part in the Westinghouse educational program on Saturdays that are offered here in the Pittsburgh area. Both also participate in the NMSI AP program in the AASD.
Ryan was so impressed and engaged with one of the recent Westinghouse presenters he took the initiative to approach him to learn more about his area of specialization. Dr. L. Alberto Cangahuala is the Europa Clipper Mission System Manager with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California. The laboratory works in affiliation with NASA on space exploration missions and projects.
Dr. Cangahuala was so impressed during his interactions with Ryan that he offered to visit his school. Ryan, along with his Physics teacher Mr. Paul Hladio, corresponding with Dr. Cangahuala, collaborated with AAHS administration to have the distinguished professional visit Ambridge Area School District November 10, 2018. Dr. Cangahuala's afternoon visit included an awe-inspiring presentation on the Europa Project. It was truly an event filled with insight and details on how this project will be executed by 2030, including the rational for selecting the Europa moon of Jupiter for exploration, what and how exploration data will be selected to make the trip, why the team believed water exist on the moon and insight how the professional from Baldwin Wallace went on to attend MIT to lead the team for JPL. We only regret that we actually ran out of time at the end of the school day.
Dr. Cangahuala’s family still resides in the Western PA area and he has agreed to visit AAHS again in the future. We look forward to the time that visit can be realized.
The following was Dr. Cangahuala’s note to Ryan Racioppo as a follow up to his time at AAHS:
“Thanks to you and the staff for making yesterday’s meeting possible, and for the pictures. You showed great initiative in reaching out in the first place; whileI hope I helped with your queries, I must thank you, Mr. Booher, and your classmates for your contagious enthusiasm. I look forward to keeping in touch; in the mean time I wish you, your class and faculty all the best in your studies in the year ahead.”
On October 16th, a team of students from the high school entered into a design challenge at the Energy Innovation Center in Pittsburgh. The challenge was sponsored by Adventure Capital, United Healthcare, and Genyouth. The students competed against 19 other teams and the AAHS winning team won a $1,000 grant to implement the design idea they pitched to the panel of judges.
The winning presentation included ways to promote mental, nutritional, and physical health for the students and members of the community through informative and physical-based activities defined as Step One.
The students presented their ideas in front of a panel of judges and 68 other competing students in a “Shark Tank”-like scenario. One of the judges being former Pittsburgh Steeler, Charlie Batch. There were 10 grants given out in total at the Innovation Challenge. The student team from Ambridge included Lydia Ciani, Kyla Fitzgibbons, and Riley Sas. The group received one of the $1,000 grants as winners.
John Jones and Jake Dunlap also competed and presented their ideas for generating a phone app to help set up after school activities in order to promote physical activity.
Thank you to Mr. Jason Roos and Mrs. Pam Green for sponsoring and chaperoning the students to take part in the challenge.
Tuesday afternoon, Ambridge High School students and their guests celebrated the grand opening of the “lab,” a dedicated space at the school for providing students with hands-on work experience.
Guests also had the opportunity to visit the co-op room to learn more about the school’s recent partnership with PittMoss, an Ambridge-based company that manufactures an organic, recycled, natural cellulosic fiber replacement for peat moss. PittMoss is partnering with the high school to provide workforce training opportunities to students in the Life Skills program.
Special Education teacher Mrs. Teresa Brewer said three Ambridge students participate in a school-to-work program, spending their afternoons at PittMoss learning valuable employment skills from the production line. Additionally, students are able to work in the lab at the High School, building boxes, placing labels and thank you cards and packaging the PittMoss product in the boxes, and then sealing and labeling the boxes for shipping. Students also learn how to inventory supplies needed for each delivery of product, as well as the products they are exporting. To date, students have packaged 200, 10-quart bags of PittMoss.
Special Education teacher Mr. David Bobak said 15 students are participating in the co-op on site at the new lab. Students have the option of selecting from one of five tasks when in the lab:
Students will rotate in groups of five in the lab throughout the day. When in the lab, they will practice the procedures involves with their selected task. Each student has a work record that will be used to clock them in and out and keep track of which tasks they performed in the lab.
Following the grand opening of the lab, PittMoss General Manager, Mr. BJ Rankin, said he was pleased to be working with the school as part of the co-op program. He said the students who are participating on site have a great work ethic and he is pleased to be helping them to learn the skills needed to enter the workforce. Students who participate in a co-op with PittMoss or any other businesses in the region are paid by the Beaver County Job Training Center for their work. Representatives from the center were present at the event today.
Mr. Rankin presented the school with a check for $1,605. The money was raised through the generosity of local business and industry. He said he received a huge response from the community when he put out the call to donate to the co-op program. “The community really came together on this one. I had set a goal of raising $1,000 and was able to exceed it. We look forward to continuing our partnership with the school and we’re hoping to develop something even bigger in the future.”
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!