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Artists of the Year:

Oakdale’s Kathleen Mulcahy and Ron Desmett

Special Section: Health & Wellness Page 13

School District News Winter 2013

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Contents winter

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features 10 Artists of the Year Kathleen Mulcahy and Ron Desmett honored by Governor and Mrs. Corbett.

13 Special Section: Health & Wellness How to live a healthier, happier, longer life.

22 Life on Air Force One John Haigh shares his captivating story of serving presidents, prime ministers and royalty.

28 Paying it Forward West Allegheny Middle School‘s Shark Team raises more than $5,100 for local families in need.

30 O Christmas Tree Choosing a live evergreen in West Allegheny.

10 on the cover For their dedication to cultivating the arts through the concept and establishment of the Pittsburgh Glass Center, husband and wife team Kathleen Mulcahy and Ron Desmett received the 2013 Governor’s Artists of the Year Award for the Arts.

departments 4 8 10

From the Publisher IN the Loop

31 40

School News INCognito

IN Person

sponsored content Industry Insights

7 Pain Management: Ohio Valley General Hospital


In Community is a publication dedicated to representing, encouraging and promoting the West Allegheny area and its comprising municipalities by focusing on the talents and gifts of the people who live and work here. Our goal is to provide readers with the most informative and professional regional publication in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

West Allegheny | Winter 2013 | 3


PUBLISHER PUBLISHER Wayne Dollard EDITORIAL DIRECTOR Julie Talerico REGIONAL EDITORS Mark Berton [South, West and Erie]

At Seven Springs with my wife Lisa and our three sons.

Top-notch health care, education, banking and technology are what make Pittsburgh known, but our communities are what make us home. Home – where you live, go to school, shop, work and play – is what IN Community Magazines is all about. Each quarter, we bring you the latest news and information about schools, businesses, nonprofits and the people who make them exceptional. We also bring you coverage of interesting events and articles about historical sites you may pass every day without even knowing. We like to surprise you with little-known facts about your community and profile intriguing people who’ve made their mark locally – and sometimes even globally. One thing that makes our communities in western Pennsylvania special is the beautiful seasons. As autumn comes to an end and the snow begins to fall, we hope you take some time to enjoy the many winter activities our area has to offer and hit the slopes, sled ride, cross-country ski or ice skate at one of our many beautiful parks. Or simply build a snowman in the backyard! The staff at IN Community Magazines wishes you and your family a wonderful holiday season and a happy, healthy New Year!

Wayne Dollard Publisher

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Pamela Palongue [North and East] OFFICE MANAGER Leo Vighetti ADVERTISING COORDINATOR Debbie Mountain DESIGN DIRECTOR Michael Miller DESIGNERS Cassie Brkich Jim Paladino Melissa St. Giles Anna Buzzelli Tamara Tylenda Sharon Cobb Jan McEvoy Contributing Writers Jonathan Barnes Leigh Lyons Jennifer Brozak Joanne Naser Earl Bugaile Melanie Paulick Tracy Fedkoe Melissa Rayworth Brenda Haines-Cosola Marilyn Wempa Elvira Hoff Mandie Zoller Heather Holtschlag Contributing Photographers Ginni Klein Kathleen Rudolph Evan Sanders Jennifer Steenson Primetime Shots Gary Zak GENERAL SALES MANAGER Tamara Myers SALES MANAGER Brian McKee ADVERTISING SALES Sophia Alfaras Connie McDaniel Matt Amoroso Gabriel Negri Pamela Arder Aimee Nicolia Jennifer Dahlem Vince Sabatini Julie Graff Mike Silvert Robin Guest RJ Vighetti ICM Printing Sales Manager Tom Poljak ©2013 by IN Community Magazines. All rights reserved. Reproduction or reuse of any part of this publication is prohibited without the written permission of the publisher. Direct all inquiries, letters to the editor and press releases to:

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Pain Management

SponSored Content

Pain Management Physicians, Dr. David DeChellis and Dr. Ankur Gosalia, Promote Patients’ Safe and Speedy Recovery


hether it be an acute sports injury or chronic back pain, we have all experienced pain at some point in our lives. However, unfortunately, it seems that it is also all too common to wait to seek medical attention for that pain – often as a last resort. Dr. David DeChellis and Dr. Ankur Gosalia are working hard to change that misconception. As pain management physicians, both strongly feel that their services should be considered by patients, and by other doctors, from the start of the medical process. “If pain is caught early on, we can work to ensure that each and every patient’s pain is diagnosed, and managed, properly from the very beginning,” explains Dr. DeChellis. “Every knee pain is not the same knee pain, nor every back pain the same back pain.” While 80 percent of their patients come in with chronic pain, Dr. Gosalia points out that a patient coming in with complaints of acute pain may also have an underlying chronic issue. “Pain can be very complex, and rather than procrastinating in seeking treatment, the answer is very simple. If a person is having pain that has lasted longer than anticipated, or that is interfering with his or her quality of life, then it is time to seek medical attention.” The attention from Dr. DeChellis and Dr. Gosalia involves a comprehensive approach on a case-by-case basis. Treatment modalities used are individualized to each patient and may range from pain medication management, to exercise and physical therapy programs, to diagnostic or therapeutic injections and interventions, to more holistic treatments such as acupuncture, yoga or group therapy. What is key to their practice is the interventional management that Dr. DeChellis and Dr. Gosalia can offer. While a primary care physician might prescribe a general oral medication to address a patient’s pain, which can affect the whole body, a pain management specialist may offer a local injection or intervention to the specific site of pain, in addition to working in conjunction with a physical therapist to create a program tailored to the patient’s needs. Furthermore, at Ohio Valley Pain Treatment Center, patients can be reassured that they will be fully involved in the decisionmaking process. Just like the quarterback of a football team, both Dr. DeChellis and Dr. Gosalia see themselves as working to create the best strategy for their patients’ safe and speedy recovery—a process that is very much team-oriented and “pro-patient.” Rather than a one-sided relationship, both doctors aim to educate and present their patients with the best options, so that in turn, their patients can choose the most medically appropriate treatment themselves. No matter what treatment plan is followed, Dr. DeChellis and Dr. Gosalia’s goal is the same: “to help patients with disabling symptoms re-discover their lives.” As Dr. Gosalia also puts it, they aim to safely help their patients get back to whatever it is that brings them joy—whether that is “being able to pick up their grandkids, or taking a walk around the lake with their spouse.” For more information, please visit To schedule a pain consultation at one of Ohio Valley Pain Treatment Center’s two convenient locations – Kenmawr Plaza in Kennedy Township and Mt. Nebo Commons in Ohio Township – please call 412.777.6400. West Allegheny | Winter 2013 | 7

in the

Loop What’s news in West Allegheny

Patrick Cannon Stars in “Our Town” at Pittsburgh Public Theater

Patrick Cannon, a 2007 West Allegheny graduate, played George Gibbs in Pittsburgh Public Theater’s “Our Town,” which also starred Tom Atkins and Emily Krom. The play ran September 26 through October 27 at the O’Reilly Theater. Mr. Cannon is a graduate of Columbia College Chicago and a member of the Actors Equity Association. Since graduating from West Allegheny, he has appeared in more than 30 productions across the country.

State Sen. Matt Smith Joins Pittsburgh Botanic Garden Board

State Sen. Matt Smith has been elected to the 32-member volunteer board of directors of the Pittsburgh Botanic Garden.

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“With Senator Smith’s interest in conservation, education, recreation and water quality, the Pittsburgh Botanic Garden is pleased to have him join the board to help advance those same issues that are primary to the garden’s mission,” said Greg Nace, president, Pittsburgh Botanic Garden. Smith was elected to the Pennsylvania Senate in November and represents portions of Allegheny County including the airport corridor, Sewickley Valley, and much of the South Hills as well as Peters Township in Washington County. Smith has championed green building and sustainable development projects during his tenure in the state House and Senate. He serves on the Senate Community, Economic & Recreational Development Committee and the Game and Fisheries Committee. He is also a member of the Joint Legislative Air and Water Pollution Control and Conservation Committee.

“It is vitally important that we protect green spaces for future generations,” Smith said. “The Pittsburgh Botanic Garden provides an educational and cultural resource for the entire region and the garden’s extensive reclamation and remediation of the abandoned coal mines means that the site will soon be healthier than it has been in nearly 100 years.” At the completion of restoring the brownfield site, the garden will be home to thousands of native trees, shrubs, and herbaceous perennials. The Pittsburgh Botanic Garden is one of the largest botanic gardens in the country being built on reclaimed land. “We must continue to encourage this type of sustainable development — particularly in our region’s recreational amenities,” Smith said. “I see the garden as a draw for western Pennsylvania residents and visitors alike, further bolstering our region’s image as one of green innovation.” The Pittsburgh Botanic Garden is transforming 460 acres of abandoned mining land—just 20 minutes west of Pittsburgh— into a world-class botanic garden, including 18 distinct gardens, five diverse woodland experiences, a visitors center, an amphitheater for outdoor concerts and performances, a celebration center to accommodate weddings and corporate events, and a center for botanic research. For more information about Pittsburgh Botanic Garden, please visit

The Mall at Robinson Shares Anti-Bullying Program with Local School Districts

In recognition of National Bullying Prevention Month, Bubba (Marc Snider) of 100.7 FM joined The Mall at Robinson for the kick-off of Malls & Retailers Unite Against Bullying. In an effort to teach kids to be kind to one another, and to reject bullying behavior, The Mall at Robinson will be declared a bully-free zone and will encourage guests to sign an anti-bully pledge. The Mall at Robinson hosted school officials and kindergarten, first, and secondgrade students from South Fayette School District and other area district officials and students for an event designed to recognize and reinforce school and community efforts to eradicate bullying behavior among our community’s children.

Each school district was provided with a S.H.A.R.K. Patrol kit (Students Help Achieve Respect and Kindness), a complete complimentary prevention program kit designed for grades K-2 including books, posters, puppets, a treasure chest, reward stickers, a sing-a-long CD, an interactive app and eBook download and a teacher’s guide. All participating students signed a pledge wall in The Mall at Robinson’s Anti-Bullying Zone. “There are so many of our children that are affected by bullying on a daily basis and the issue will not just go away on its own,” said Shema Krinsky, director of marketing, The Mall at Robinson. “We want to contribute to the intervention and the important work our neighborhood schools are doing to eliminate bullying.”

Oakdale News:

Aspiring Student Chefs Compete for $45,000 in Available Scholarships High school seniors recommended by their culinary instructor to represent area vocational-technical high schools and career technology centers competed for partial tuition PTI scholarships ranging from $500 to $5,000 at the Great American Chef High School Cookoff hosted by the American Academy of Culinary Arts (AACA) at Pittsburgh Technical Institute. Nine teams comprised of two high school aspiring chefs represented A.W. Beattie Career Center, Central Westmoreland Career and Technology Center, Jefferson County Vocational School, Lawrence County Career and Technical Center, Northern Westmoreland Career & Technology Center, Parkway West Career and Technology Center, and Western Area Career & Technology Center. Participating students represented Carlynton, Cornell, Edison, Greensburg Salem, McGuffey, North Allegheny, Norwin, Quaker Valley, Steubenville and Upper St. Clair. The Great American Chef High School Cookoff provides local high school students a stage to demonstrate their culinary skills. “We

wanted to give these students the opportunity to showcase what they know, what skills they have developed under the direction of their vo-tech culinary instructors,” said PTI Cookoff coordinator Janet Jennings. “These dedicated teachers are often the inspiration for students who could like to further their culinary careers and possibly become the next great American chef.” Santa Claus at the Gazebo On Saturday, Nov. 30, at 7 p.m., Santa Claus is coming to town! Come celebrate the spirit of Christmas and welcome Santa to Oakdale! He’ll arrive at the downtown gazebo area and you are welcome to join him for refreshments at The Rock compliments of Oakdale Masonic Lodge No. 669 and The Rock. Be there for this glorious opening of the Christmas season!

NEWS FROM THE ROCK Sunday, December 15, 5 p.m.: Family Christmas Night with the West Allegheny Show Choir, Dinner and a Children’s Play. Monday, December 16, 7 p.m.: The Trinity Jazz Orchestra. n West Allegheny | Winter 2013 | 9

Artists inPerson

of the

Year Oakdale’s

Kathleen Mulcahy and Ron Desmett honored by Gov. and Mrs. Corbett. By Mark Berton


athleen Mulcahy and Ron Desmett never became artists for the awards. They became artists because they loved art and the freedom it gave them to express themselves, and the awards just came. This fall, the husband and wife team received yet another award — this time, for their dedication in cultivating the arts in Pittsburgh through the concept and establishment of the Pittsburgh Glass Center. For that accomplishment, they were named the 2013 Artists of the Year at the Governor’s Awards for the Arts, presented by Governor Tom Corbett and First Lady Susan Corbett. The ceremony, held in Harrisburg’s Whitaker Center, honored outstanding Pennsylvania artists, arts organizations and patrons who have made significant contributions to the advancement of the arts.

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“All of this year’s honorees are a window into the range of talent and imagination found in every corner of Pennsylvania,” said Corbett. “Each of them has made a contribution to our culture that will resonate for years to come. Because of that, we pay homage to their genius, generosity, imagination and impact.” “The Governor’s Awards for the Arts represent Pennsylvania’s highest recognition of artistic talent and personal commitment to the arts,” said Mrs. Corbett. “The governor and I are pleased to acknowledge and celebrate the many contributions of the 2013 recipients.” Mrs. Corbett is the chair of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. The awards are a tradition, spanning 33 years in Pennsylvania, and are administered by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.

“Between Ron and I, we’ve probably received seven Council on the Arts awards over 25 years,” Mulcahy said. The two have collaborated on special projects since 1980, winning prestigious awards and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation and the Fulbright Foundation. Mulcahy has been creating works of art from glass and mixed media since 1969. After receiving her Master’s of Fine Arts degree from Alfred University in glass sculpture and three-dimensional design, she directed glass studio programs at Bowling Green State University in Ohio and Carnegie Mellon University here in Pittsburgh for 14 years. Her work includes installation pieces, cast glass and blown glass objects that are in

many public and private collections including the American Craft Museum, The Corning Museum of Glass, the Carnegie Museum of Art, The Renwick Galleries at the Smithsonian Institution, and the Westmoreland Museum of American Art. In 1996, Mulcahy was awarded the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s prestigious Creative Achievement Award for her artwork. Desmett received his Master’s of Fine Arts degree from Carnegie Mellon University, where he rebuilt the entire Hot Glass Studio. Its eventual closure stimulated the creation

By Ron Desmett

It’s a state-of-the-art facility. We designed everything from the ground up and now it’s one of the premier glass facilities in the country. of the Pittsburgh Glass Center. A versatile artist, he works as a painter, a glass artist, in ceramics, mixed media and sculpture. One of his iconic blown black glass “Lidded Trunk Vessels” is in the collection of the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution. He is represented in various collections, including the Carnegie Museum of Art, the American Art Museum, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Westmoreland Museum of American Art, the Tacoma Museum of Glass and the University of Pittsburgh. Mulcahy and Desmett have worked as independent artists on projects for installation in private glass collections, homes, corporate offices, public projects and solo exhibitions throughout the United States. In January 1997, they were artists in residence at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris, France. Their public art projects include work for the New Hazlett Theater in Allegheny Center, American Eagle Headquarters, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, the Port Authority Light Rail Transit Station, Penn Center West, corporate work for NOVA Chemicals, Deloitte and

Touche, Kennametal Corporation, and Bayer Corporation among others. But it’s much more than just awards and recognition for them. At first, awards helped them further their careers and artistic goals, but as they matured, the recognition became much more symbolic. “Those (awards) have been so important to us because not only is there a monetary award, but you are selected by your peers, so you feel a boost from your peers,” Mulcahy said. “As we got older, we realized how important it is to give back, and these awards remind us to set aside time to give back.” And give back they have. Their odyssey to take the Pittsburgh Glass Center from a concept to a reality has not only elevated Pittsburgh nationwide among cities known for their dedication to the arts and humanities, but it has created jobs and revenue for the region in the process. Over a period of 10 years, from 1991 to 2001, this artistic duo collected more than $3 million from foundations and many donations of material to co-found and develop the Pittsburgh Glass Center, a state-of-the-art Continued on next page West Allegheny | Winter 2013 | 11

“The Alchemist’s Story” by Kathleen Mulcahy

facility dedicated to teaching, creating and promoting glass art. A testament to their vision, activism and determination, the center is a school, gallery and LEED Gold Certified glass art studio. In its first decade, the studio hosted more than 280 artists from around the world who have taught more than 15,000 students. It has also hosted an international glass conference and a Year of Glass that brought in $20 million in revenue to Pittsburgh. “We call it our missionary work to develop the Glass Center,” Mulcahy said. “We spent 17 years on that – over 10 years just in planning, developing and fundraising – and five years of sticking with it, and keeping it going until it could stand on its own two feet. We wanted something for Pittsburgh that would change the face of Pittsburgh.” Like any visionary, Mulcahy and Desmett faced questions on the wisdom of their ways on everything from the location of the glass center to its impact on the region as a whole. “We’ve both seen what other states have that makes the arts flourish there and what was missing from the landscape of resources for our artists here,” Mulcahy said. “We both taught at CMU and our students didn’t stay in the region. They moved to Seattle, New York, Philadelphia. We did a bench and planter project in Carnegie and Carnegie became one of 100 small art towns in the country because of that. So we knew that, little by little, the action would grow to something. So when people would ask why we wanted to put the Glass Center where it is, we stuck with it and would not get off course. It’s a great 12 724.942.0940 to advertise | West Allegheny

neighborhood because it’s a mixture of diverse populations. We wanted it to bring very different people together to rub shoulders. We did it to the best of our ability. It’s a state-ofthe-art facility. We designed everything from the ground up and now it’s one of the premier glass facilities in the country.” Once the glass center was complete, the two went back to being collaborators with each other, working independently, but remaining advocates for each other’s work. While their building and fundraising days are behind them, they remain Permanent Artists in Residence and a vital part of the Artistic Leadership Team. “We always wanted to get back to our main goal, which was to be independent studio artists,” Mulcahy said. “We will assist each other and we do give advice to each other, but we don’t necessarily have to take that advice. I love that we’re so different, but at the same time, our images come out of a love of nature.” To see more of their artwork, go to and n

Great Ways to Live a Healthier, Happier, Longer Life in West Allegheny

West Allegheny Health & Wellness Section By Michele Thompson

Though finding the fountain of youth (or miracle product) is unlikely, you can embrace the following ways to feel and look younger. Gleaned from age-defying experts this list is a must-keep for your desk or refrigerator.

So turn the page — hack into the havoc that aging can wreak on your body! ››

West Allegheny | Winter 2013 | 13

H e a l t h & W e l l n e s s / West Allegheny

Health & Fitness Exercise to live longer. West Allegheny has many walking and biking trails to help you stay fit. According to the American Council on Exercise (ACE), regular exercise helps control blood pressure, body weight and cholesterol levels, and reduces the risks of hardening of the arteries, heart attack and stroke. Not to mention you will look and feel better! Warm up and cool down. Regardless of the types of exercises you do, warming your muscles as well as cooling down with slow rhythmic stretches is key to avoiding injury, reducing soreness, and speeding up your recovery. Commit to daily fitness. Getting out there and staying active translates into better health and well-being — both physically and mentally. Focus on total fitness. ACE recommends aerobics and muscular conditioning along with exercises to stretch your body and promote good posture. Year-round exercise. Don’t ditch your fitness routine because of inclement weather. Try new activities, such as snowshoeing, swimming at an indoor pool, or fitness classes at your local fitness or senior housing facility. Join a health club. Be social and get fit. This one’s worth its weight in sheer motivation points.

Take supplements. Don’t mega-dose, just take a daily multi-vitamin and mineral supplement. Get aerobic. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends getting moderate aerobic activity 30 minutes per day, five days per week or 20 minutes of vigorous cardiovascular activity, three days per week. Break it up. Instead of 20 or 30 minutes of exercise, break up your cardio into 10-minute segments throughout the day. Make working out fun. Getting out of the house and traveling to interesting places where you can walk around is one of the best ways to get exercise without even trying, and you get to enjoy the sightseeing, too. Put a set of dumbbells by your television set — and use them!

Stop smoking. Nuff said.

Pump it up. Margaret Richardson, author of Body Electric, says one pound of fat burns three calories a day while one pound of muscle burns 30-plus.

Go green. Eat organic, use eco-friendly products and practice green living to protect your health as well as the environment.

Challenge yourself. To counteract age-related muscle loss, do exercises with progressively challenging resistance.

“Water walking is awesome because it is so easy on the joints and if you do it for 30 minutes it is the equivalent of walking on land for two hours,” said Robert Brozovich, director of Parks & Recreation. “It is also very affordable for residents at only $2 per session.” 14 724.942.0940 to advertise | West Allegheny

Cognitive Boosters Music therapy. Music can regulate mood, decrease aggression and depression, improve sleep, and, because old songs are stored in memory, even create new brain cells. Brain food. Keep your mind sharp by eating salmon, nuts, olive oil, soy, meat, eggs, dairy, leafy greens, beans, oatmeal and dark skinned fruits.


Train your brain Working a daily crossword, Sudoku puzzle or another brain teasing game can help improve your mental fitness.

Oral Health & Hearing Brush and floss your teeth. According to research, chronic inflammation caused by periodontal disease has been linked to a greater risk of cardiovascular disease. Turn it down. According to the House Ear Institute, noiseinduced hearing loss is a leading cause of permanent hearing loss that can be prevented by turning down the volume on your TV, radio, or headsets to a level that you can comfortably hear.


Posture Avoid sitting cross-legged. Pain management specialists at New York Chiropractic warn that crossing your legs puts excessive stress on your knees, hips and lower back. Sit up straight. When you slouch or strain to look at the screen, these patterns stick and posture learns these positions. Listen to your body. See a chiropractor, physical therapist or post-rehabilitation specialist for postural exercises to reduce pain and risk of injury. Stretch. Stretching your neck and chest can prevent short and tightened muscles that can lead to injury. A simple stretch involves bending your head to your shoulder, holding it there and slowly bringing it back to the mid line and then switch sides.

Practice healthy sleeping habits.

Belly button to spine. Not only will this exercise help you stand taller, it will take five pounds off your waistline!

Not getting enough nightly rest puts you at risk for accidents, depression and other illnesses, and it decreases your quality of life.

Head up. Instead of scrunching your head to your shoulder to hold the phone, get a headset and avoid injury to your neck and shoulders.

West Allegheny | Winter 2013 | 15

H e a l t h & W e l l n e s s / West Allegheny

Eat Healthy Eat an anti-inflammatory diet. Holistic guru Dr. Andrew Weil recommends eating a diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables and minimal processed foods to reduce inflammation in your body. Eat all natural. Avoid high-calorie foods full of sugar, fat and artificial ingredients and concentrate on eating high-nutrient, high-flavor foods such as fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices.

Eat many small meals. Eat something every three hours to keep your metabolism high and your blood sugar and insulin levels steady. Don’t skip breakfast. The easiest meal to skip but the most important. Eat something small, even if you aren’t hungry. Read labels. Opt for products with at least three grams of fiber, low sugars and no hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils.

Eat less and live longer. Maoshing Ni, author of Secrets of Longevity: Hundreds of Ways to Live to be 100, suggests the “three-quarters rule,” essentially not eating any more after you feel three-quarters full. Drink tea. Ni recommends daily tea because tea is a proven

Eat and drink coconut. The type of saturated fat in coconuts does not contribute to heart disease and it is rich in lauric acid, which boosts your immune system.

Avoid bad fats. Bad fats include saturated fats, which are primarily derived from animal products, and trans fats, which are used in commercial fried foods, margarines, and baked goods like cookies and crackers. Spice it up. Dr. Wendy Bazilian, author of The SuperFoodsRx Diet: Lose Weight with the Power of SuperNutrients, recommends high-antioxidant spices and herbs such as cinnamon, ginger, curry, rosemary, thyme, oregano and red pepper.

Drink up. Drinking water throughout the day can decrease your urges for sweets, lower your cholesterol and blood pressure, minimize pain associated with arthritis, migraines, and colitis, hydrate your skin, and help with your digestion. Limit your alcohol intake to one or two drinks per day. According to the Centers for Disease Control, too much alcohol can increase your risk for developing various diseases and physiological and social problems.

preventive and treatment for hardening of the arteries and has potent antioxidant powers.

Sideline the soda. The phosphoric acid in carbonated beverages, particularly colas, can put you at risk for osteoporosis.

Slim down with soup. People who eat soup before a meal reduce the total number of calories they consume.

Drink red wine. Red wine is renowned

Sink your teeth into superfoods. Experts say superfoods can help ward off heart disease, cancer, diabetes, cholesterol, bad moods, high blood pressure, and improve digestion, skin, hair, nails, bones and teeth. Superfoods recommended by are beans, blueberries, broccoli, oats, oranges, pumpkin, salmon, soy, spinach, green and black tea, tomatoes, turkey, walnuts and yogurt.

Eat more healthy fats. According to University of Michigan Integrative Medicine, healthy fats to include in your diet are monounsaturated fats, found in vegetable oils, nuts, seeds and some plant foods as well as polyunsaturated fats, like omega-3s found in fatty fish and omega-6s found in nuts.

P Eat a variety Eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, dairy, and omega-3 fats better ensures you get all the nutrients your body needs. 16 724/942-0940 to advertise | West Allegheny

for its many health benefits, primarily for the heart. However, new research from the Institute of Food suggests that wine may also protect you from potentially fatal food-borne pathogens, such as E. coli, salmonella, listeria, and H. pylori.

Marinate your meat. Research from the Food Safety Consortium recommends marinades with rosemary, thyme, peppers, allspice, oregano, basil, garlic and onion to cut down on carcinogens.

Stress Control Smile. Smiling lowers blood pressure, heart rate, and the stress hormone cortisol.

Aromatherapy. Essential oils improve your mood, reduce stress and even improve your memory. Try lavender, lemongrass, cinnamon or cedarwood. Being outdoors with green plants, fresh air and the sounds of nature is a proven stress buster.

Yoga. The Mayo Clinic recommends practicing yoga to reduce stress and anxiety.

Get kneaded. Research from the Touch Research Institute indicates that regular massage lowers heart rate, blood pressure, anxiety levels, depression, hostility, and the stress hormone cortisol. See a therapist. Mental health professionals can help you deal with stress.

Begin with breathing. The first thing you ever did for yourself was breathe. And consciously focusing on your breath remains the epitome of self-care throughout your entire life.

P Humor your stress Laughing improves circulation, lowers blood pressure, releases tension, and improves your immune system.

Reprinted with the permission from

Let nature take your stress away.

Get Fit In WEST ALLEGHENY Here are just some of the fitness classes available:

North Fayette Township Parks and Recreation Exercise Programs North Branch Rd., North Fayette Township; 724.693.3118 Fight the winter blues and holiday pounds with affordable winter exercise programs. Water Walking is held Monday through Thursday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Donaldson Elementary School pool for just $2 per session. The Community Center Gym is open for free from 7:30 a.m.-9:30 a.m. for those who want to walk and stay out of the colder weather. For more information on these and other programs, call or visit the website.

Latin RhythmZ Studio 5500 Steubenville Pike, Robinson; 412.498.5406 “ZUMBA is the exciting fitness class sweeping across the country! It combines a high-energy cardiovascular workout with pulsating Latin music into a fun, calorie-burning experience.” For information on a $7 drop-in fee for one class, call or visit the website.

Movement Studio Pittsburgh 271 Main St., Imperial, 412.401.9052

Pittsburgh Botanic Garden Site 1082 Pinkerton Run Rd., Oakdale; 412.444.4464

“Movement Studio Pittsburgh is dedicated to inspiring, motivating and challenging individuals to lead healthier lifestyles and focus on workouts for the mind, body and soul.” Kettlebell, kickboxing, TRX Suspension training and yoga are offered. People who have not been to the studio can take advantage of an introductory two-week free pass (restrictions may apply). For more information, call or visit the website.

The botanic garden is not yet open for general admission, but is offering Peek and Preview Tours on specific dates and times in December. “Led by a knowledgeable tour guide, each tour consists of a one-hour walk (moderately difficult) through the newly developed Woodland Garden Trails. Reservations are required and visitors are asked to reserve a place on the tour at least two days prior to the scheduled date of each tour.” For more information, call or visit the website.

Settlers Cabin Park

1225 Greer Rd., Oakdale; 412.787.2750 Dust off your hiking boots, cross-country skis, sleds and snow shoes and enjoy the picturesque, 1,610-acre park. West Allegheny | Winter 2013 | 17

18 724.942.0940 to advertise | West Allegheny

Say What? Your mother was right when she warned you that loud music could damage your hearing, but now scientists have discovered exactly what gets damaged and how. In a research report published in the September 2013 issue of The FASEB Journal, scientists describe exactly what type of damage noise does to the inner ear, and provide insights into a compound that may prevent noise-related damage. “Noise-induced hearing loss with accompanying tinnitus and sound hypersensitivity is a common condition which leads to communication problems and social isolation,” said Xiaorui Shi, M.D., Ph.D., study author from the Department of Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery at the Oregon Hearing Research Center at Oregon Health and Science University. “The goal of our study is to understand the molecular mechanisms well enough to mitigate damage from exposure to loud sound.” To make this discovery, Shi and colleagues used three groups of six- to eight-week-old mice, which consisted of a control group, a group exposed to broadband noise at 120 decibels for three hours a day for two days, and a third group given single-dose injections of pigment epithelium-derived factor (PEDF) prior to noise exposure. PEDF is a protein found in vertebrates that is currently being researched for the treatment of diseases like heart disease and cancer. The cells that secrete PEDF in control animals showed a characteristic branched morphology, with the cells arranging in a self-avoidance pattern which provided good coverage of the capillary wall. The morphology of the same cells in the animals exposed to wide-band noise, however, showed clear differences - noise exposure caused changes in melanocytes located in the inner ear. “Hearing loss over time robs people of their quality of life,” said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., editor-in-chief of The FASEB Journal. “It’s easy to say that we should avoid loud noises, but in reality, this is not always possible. Frontline soldiers or first responders do not have time to worry about the long-term effects of loud noise when they are giving their all. If, however, a drug could be developed to minimize the negative effects of loud noises, it would benefit one and all.” Source: Medical News Today

Protect Young Athletes The risks of sports-related traumatic brain injuries among professional athletes are making national headlines. However, prevention should begin at childhood, especially among those involved in contact sports. Each year, approximately 300,000 people in the United States experience sports-related concussions. A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury most often caused by a sudden bump or blow to the head or other parts of the body. It also can be caused by a fall. As a result of the sudden impact, the brain moves around in the skull causing chemical changes. These changes make the brain more sensitive to stress and other injuries until it fully recovers. In addition, the immature brain of a young athlete is known to take longer to recover. Most people who have experienced a concussion realize that something is wrong, however, the symptoms can be tricky, so those around the injured person must pay close attention for the warning signs. This is especially apparent among football players who are conditioned to being knocked down and getting back up again, only to realize later that they’ve been hurt. Many athletic directors for public schools require that athletes who participate in “high-risk” sports must have a baseline

symptoms of a concussion Difficulty concentrating Difficulty completing tasks Changes in behavior Worsening headache Persistent double vision Excessive drowsiness Stroke-like symptoms

neurocognitive test before their first contact football practice, within the first week of cheerleading or before the first game for other sports. Although treatment for concussions is individualized, almost all physicians recommend physical and mental rest immediately after the injury. This includes no texting, video games, TV, reading or physical activity. It’s also important to understand that medications will mask the pain and do not heal the brain. In fact, anti-inflammatory medications can be dangerous because they increase the risk of bleeding. However, there are situations where medications are warranted. It is paramount to have an evaluation and obtain clearance by a physician experienced in diagnosing and treating concussions before returning to sports activities. Source: UCF Pegasus Health/UCF College of Medicine

West Allegheny | Winter 2013 | 19

H e a l t h & W e l l n e s s / West Allegheny


Childhood Obesity One Child at a Time By Heather Holtschlag

Imagine – for the first time in four generations, a

child’s life expectancy may not match his/her parents. One in 10 American children is obese, and between 16 to 25 percent of children are overweight. Children average a weight of about nine pounds heavier today when compared to the 1960s, and the average teenager’s weight has increased by 12 to 16 pounds, according to government statistics. Beyond the issue of just being overweight is the risk factors associated with obesity, including heart disease, certain types of cancer, and type 2 diabetes. Fit-Trix Fit Kidz, located in Bethel Park, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that is devoted to the prevention of childhood obesity in the western Pennsylvania region. The purpose of Fit-Trix Fit Kidz is to educate children and parents on the importance of achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight by adopting increased physical activity and healthy eating. “We promote fitness, proper nutritional habits and self-esteem in a fun, positive and safe environment,” said Lynn Ross, owner of FitTrix Fit Kidz. “Our 45-minute program provides a full body workout regardless of fitness ability. We focus on cardio, hydraulic and resistance training with kid-friendly equipment, including BOSU balls, punching bags and agility ladders.” Fit-Trix Fit Kidz also encourages small lifestyle changes that may provide immediate health benefits for children, such as lower blood cholesterol levels, increased independence and productivity and reduced demands for health care services. And, staff members are committed to disseminating these healthy lifestyle messages to children of 20 724.942.0940 to advertise | West Allegheny

all ages, regardless of their ethnicity or socioeconomic status. Ross said that the main purpose of Fit-Trix Fit Kidz is to teach kids that fitness can be fun, so that they can develop a healthy lifestyle to maintain throughout their entire lives. The staff members do this by providing a fun and safe environment where they teach healthy behaviors to children at young ages, hoping that by doing so, the children will carry their good habits well into adulthood. “At Fit-Trix Fit Kidz, we believe that exercise and proper nutrition are the pinnacles of preventing obesity in children and adolescents,” Ross explained. “We differ from other gyms in that we work by appointment, which helps make the children we see to remain accountable to their fitness goals and gives the staff the opportunity to work with and get to know each child on an individual basis.” According to Ross, there are a number of benefits that can have an impact on children as they begin an exercise program. These include an improved body mass index (BMI), an increase in self-esteem, a boost in athletic performance, increased flexibility and endurance, and an increase in lung capacity and fat burning through cardio exercise. “Strength conditioning also will increase a child’s bone density and improve tendon and ligament strength,” Ross noted. For more information about Fit-Trix Fit Kidz, call 412.831.1200, stop by the facility located at 4941 Library Road in Bethel Park, or visit the website at

health &Wellness DIRECTORY FASTER, LLC 412.489.6036

Judy L. DiSanti D.M.D. & Associates 412.264.6229

Jason “Coach” DeRose is the owner of FASTER, LLC, where he directs sports training and adult fitness programs. His mission is to provide individualized training in an empowering environment equipped with the most innovative equipment and exercise methods. Coach applies his methodology and expertise to some of the nation’s top professional athletes, to the weekend heroes, to the average Joes.

Dr. Judy L. DiSanti is dedicated to restoring and enhancing the natural beauty of your smile through state-of-the-art procedures that produce beautiful, long-lasting results. Prior to becoming a dentist, Dr. DiSanti was a licensed dental hygienist. She and her staff pride themselves on offering high quality dentistry in a friendly atmosphere. Please call 412.264.6229 or go to for an appointment today.

Dr. Bradley A. Levinson Cranberry 724.741.6020 Pittsburgh 412.777.4352

Children’s Community Pediatrics 412.262.2415

Dr. Brad Levinson is a board-certified colon and rectal surgeon with over 30 years of experience. Dr. Levinson performs most procedures in his office or on an outpatient basis. Some procedures such as for hemorrhoids are painless and can take only seconds. Others can prevent colon and rectal cancers. He and his staff give each patient all the time they need, making themselves available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. For appointments, please call: Cranberry 724.741.6020 or Pittsburgh 412.777.4352.

Established in 1974, CCP – Moon & Wexford’s mission is to provide high-quality pediatric and adolescent medical care. In addition, it provides preventive health care which includes developmental, behavioral and nutritional assessments and ageappropriate counseling with a strong emphasis on patient and parent education. It offers a variety of specialty services right within the practice including behavioral health, weight management and sports medicine services. To schedule an appointment, call 412.262.2415 or visit

West Allegheny | Winter 2013 | 21

Life On Air Force One John Haigh shares his captivating story of serving presidents, prime ministers and royalty. By Mandie Zoller


ommunity members joined the newly opened West Allegheny Library in welcoming Mr. John L. Haigh Sr., Chief Master Sergeant, United States Air Force (Retired), and Former Chief Steward, Air Force One, as a speaker in October. He shared with the West Allegheny community his passionate story of life on Air Force One. Born and raised in a small coal mining community called Lambert, located in Fayette County, approximately seven miles south of Uniontown, Haigh attended German Township High School, which is now named Albert Gallatin School District. As a young high school student, John was very involved

22 724.942.0940 to advertise | West Allegheny

in music, playing in marching, concert and dance bands throughout his high school years. Yet, it was in these teenage years of his life that he uncovered what he wanted his future to look like. “My neighbor came home in a blue Air Force uniform one day, and that’s when I pointed at him and said, ‘That’s what I want to do, that’s for me.’” Haigh decided he wanted to travel the world in uniform and serve his country, just as his father did in World War One. That is why when Haigh’s parents heard the news that he wanted to enlist, at the age of 17, they were pleased to sign the paperwork allowing him to serve his country. Haigh enlisted on September 28, 1960, and was sent

to Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. “I thought I was leaving the world that day, because that was to be the farthest I’d ever been away from home,” explained Haigh when remembering his first basic training days. His first assignment after basic training was located at a missile base in Wyoming, where he was stationed for two and a half years. When the opportunity came available for flying duty, Haigh was quick to volunteer. “I was apprehensive because I didn’t know

“I felt like

every day of work was my birthday.”

what to expect, but I worked closely with my peers, so I got acclimated pretty quickly,” Haigh explained. He was sent to the McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey, where his boy-hood dreams of traveling the world would become a reality. “When I first started my flying career, it was on-the-job-training serving ‘heat ‘em and eat ‘ems...what we know as TV dinners, to the troops.” This was elementary to the next assignment Haigh was headed for as he was sent to Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. It was here that Haigh had his first involvement with VIP flying in the 89th Military Airlift Wing, which played home to Air Force One. VIP flying was much different than flying with troops. Haigh was required to attend three culinary classes during the next six years of his career, along with on-the-jobtraining. From 1973 to 1979, Haigh started serving a variety of VIPs including the Apollo 17 astronauts, the last people to walk on the moon. His next venture was on a 33-day Presidential Goodwill trip around the world. On the trip, John served some of the most respected members of government including Secretary of State Dr. Henry Kissinger, Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger, Secretary of Treasury George Schulz, Vice President Ford and Vice President Mondale, the Prime Minister of India, Premier of China, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, President Carter, President Reagan and President Bush Sr. It was 1973, after Haigh’s first presidential backup trip with President Nixon that he

set a goal to become a permanent member of the Air Force One flight crew. He worked hard from the start to attain this status, but it didn’t come right away. He loved his job, and flew with everyone but the president while waiting for his opportunity to come about. Finally, after six years of hard work and dedication, Haigh’s chance to become a permanent member of the Air Force One flight crew came to life. “I felt like every day of work was my birthday,” Haigh said about his new position serving the first family. “It was our role to find out the first family’s likes and dislikes when it came to food preferences.” When he came up with a good menu that the family enjoyed, he was sure to remember it and use it again in the future. Each day, Haigh and the rest of the culinary team went grocery shopping for fresh food to prepare that day. He admitted that days were long and stressful, but loved his job. “Life’s too short to go to work unhappy.” After 30 years, Haigh finally retired from doing what he loved, which was really hard for him. “I missed the people I worked with. Everyone was very motivated to do their

very best at all times.” He recalls his favorite trip to Ireland when he went with President Reagan to see the president’s relatives and homeland. Haigh shared in the experience since he, too, had a deep heritage in Dublin, where his grandfather was born. Yet, he was glad to come home. “No matter where I was in the world, my heart was always in western Pennsylvania. I know I’d go back to my home.” In 2006, Haigh moved back home to Pittsburgh and currently lives in Export. His favorite pastimes include playing golf with the seniors, being the chaplain of the local American Legion Post #711, writing lyrics, and other literary compositions. When asked about his time at the White House, Haigh recalls one of his favorite memories of being invited to the White House to pitch in President Bush Senior’s annual horseshoe tournament. “The First Lady told me not to go easy on the president, so I played my best game yet.” Haigh was dubbed the MVP in November 1989. Haigh’s beloved wife passed away in 1995, and he remarried in March of 1999. He and his wife enjoy traveling and visiting both of their families who “are” conveniently located in some of the best vacation spots around the nation: Las Vegas, Pembroke Pines, Florida, and Southern Maryland. He has three children and his current wife has three children, and a total of 12 grandchildren. “I believe in the old adage that one should fall in love with what you want to do for a living, get started and never quit. Be excellent in everything you do, no matter what your position in life may be, and success will be yours.” n

West Allegheny | Winter 2013 | 23


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space Pittsburgh’s premier guide to stylish living, sophisticated create your design and the best resources in Pittsburgh and surrounding regions. buys l aunc hi ng fir s t i s s ue De c e mbe r 2013 wise


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West Allegheny | Winter 2013 | 25 balance

SHARING THE HARVEST If you’re a hunter but your freezer’s full, please consider donating your deer to Hunters Sharing the Harvest Hunters Sharing the Harvest is a program that’s been helping to feed Pennsylvania’s hungry for more than 22 years. The program is simple and rewarding – you go hunting, you arrange with your nearest participating processor to donate the deer (or elk, moose and caribou where applicable), and you make a tax-deductible $15 donation to help cover the cost of processing. All donations, whether monetary or deer meat, are recognized by a letter for your taxes and a window decal to let people know that your hunt helped feed the hungry. From the processing plant, your deer meat will be butchered and distributed to area food banks and charities throughout the state. Your average-sized deer can provide up to 200 meals to help those in need. The program is a dedicated, 501(c)(3) charity supported through public and private entities. As a hunter, you probably already know that deer meat is an extremely healthy food source that’s low in cholesterol and saturated fat. It has more protein and fewer calories than other processed meats, and is on par with other meats for nutritional content such as vitamins and minerals. For more information, call 866.474.2141 or email

The meat processors serving the region for 2013 are: Allegheny County

Kip’s Deer Processing Paula Padgelek 3 Saint John’s Drive Carnegie, PA 15106 412.279.6527

Butler County

Bims Boloney Bim Slater 145 Morris Road Petrolia, PA 16050 724.894.2569 McKruit’s Custom Meat Cutting Tracy McKruit 1011 Bear Creek Road Cabot, PA 16023 724.352.2988

26 724.942.0940 to advertise | West Allegheny

Washington County

Bobeck’s Deer Processing Mary Bobeck 139 Craig Road Monongahela, PA 15063 724.258.2298 Lenik Deer Processing Ron Lenik 204 Railroad Street Finleyville, PA 15332 724.348.7019

Romes Meat & Deli Ronald Rome Sr. 312 Bonniebrook Road Butler, PA 16002 724.285.1236 TA Giger Deer Processing Tim Giger 121 Kyle Road Valencia, PA 16059 724.898.2244

Erie County

Shuba’s Processing Steve Shuba 1116 Allison Hollow Rd-Shop Washington, PA 15301 724.255.4861

Westmoreland County

Custom Deer Processing Samuel J. Monteparte 131 Flowers Road New Alexandria, PA 15670 724.668.8950

McDonald Meats, Inc. Neeli McDonald 10445 Ridge Road Girard, PA 16417 814.774.3507

Espey’s Meat Market Joe Espey Jr. 319 Espey Meat Market Lane Scottdale, PA 15683 724.887.3226

Pacileo’s Great Lakes Deer Processing John Pacileo 8890 Wattsburg Road Erie, PA 16509 814.825.3759

G. Karas Packing Sharon Karas 606 Story Road Export, PA 15632 724.468.5811

Scott’s Custom Deer Processing Scott Mills 212 S. Main Street Albion, PA 16401 814.449.5335

Hoffer’s Ligonier Valley Packing Denise Zimmerman 582 Darlington Road Ligonier, PA 15658 724.238.7112

West Allegheny | Winter 2013 | 27


West Allegheny Middle School’s Shark Team raises more than $5,100 for local families in need. By Mandie Zoller


nclement weather didn’t stop the Shark Team at West Allegheny Middle School from raising more than $5,100 to donate to their local community this October. Although the big event was postponed due to rain, sixth graders on the Shark Team organized and participated in a Walk-a-thon called “Trail for Toys,” raising funds for the National Honor Society (NHS) holiday gift basket project. The project donates clothing and toys throughout the West Allegheny community to support local families in need. The five-mile walk took place on October 22, starting at the middle school, where the students took to the trails, heading down the hill along the school’s nature trail and ending up on the Montour Trail. In its 15th year, the Walk-a-Thon continues to be a success in raising money that goes directly back into the community to those less fortunate. This year, students were given a “toy” theme and competed in teams of 10 students or less (named after their favorite toys) to raise money. There were teams like the Power Rangers, the Crayons and the Barbie team that all competed for the coveted winning title. The team that raised the most money earned a pizza/ sundae party hosted by the teachers. Prizes were also awarded to teams for best costume, poster, and cheer. To participate, students solicited members of the community, such as family and friend’s to act as sponsors for their walk. The Crayons team won this year, raising a total of $946. With the funds collected, the students and teachers shopped for toys and clothes, which will be gift-wrapped and added to the NHS holiday distribution. The holiday distribution assists local families in need throughout the year, providing clothing and toys to youth. Any money not needed for the NHS program will be donated to the West Allegheny Family Support Committee.

28 724.942.0940 to advertise | West Allegheny

“Collecting money for [families] who can’t buy Christmas gifts or put food on the table made me realize what I take for granted.” “I have learned to value my things. Collecting money for [families] who can’t buy Christmas gifts or put food on the table made me realize what I take for granted,” said a member of the Shark Team, Merrin Prevade. Students worked together to pull off the event with great success and learned a lot about themselves and their peers along the way. “I have learned that if you work together you will accomplish things,” said another Shark Team member, Olivia Nicholson. The special event could not come to life without the help from the middle school teachers who assist in coordinating the day’s events, prizes and donations. The teachers who organized the “Trail to Toys” event this year included Rachel Adair, Tom Burke, Mary Damratoski, Bill Marx, Lisa Midgley, and Valerie Meehan. Meehan is a sixth grade social studies teacher at West Allegheny Middle School and told us more about the event that she has worked on for four years. What is your role in the walk-a-thon? I assist the Shark teachers in organizing and implementing the event. When did you start helping out with the program? I came to the Shark Team four years ago. All teachers on the sixth grade team participate in organizing the event. They include myself, Tom Burke, Rachel Adair, Lisa Midgley, Mary Damratoski, and Bill Marx. Who started it? The teachers on the Shark Team 15 years ago. Who is on the “Shark Team”? The sixth graders are divided into two teams at West Allegheny Middle School. The Sharks and Superstars – each team does two service projects every year. How many students participate in the “Trail to Toys” Walk-aThon? The walk-a-thon is done by all of the Shark Team students and teachers. There are 120 students on the team. Do parents get involved with the Walk-a-Thon? Parents assist students with team names, costumes, collecting donations. Where do the funds raised go? All funds are used to purchase holiday clothes, gifts, and gift cards for families in the West

Allegheny community in need of support. The Shark teachers receive anonymous information about the families and purchase and wrap the gifts for delivery. Any money not used for the purchase of holiday presents is donated to the West Allegheny Family Support Committee and they use it as they see fit. Are community members able to participate? If so, how? Community members are asked to sponsor students by giving a cash donation. What does the “Trail for Toys” event teach your students? It teaches students many important values. First, they learn altruism as they raise money to help those less fortunate in their communities. They also learn responsibility as they manage the money that they raise. Finally, they must collaborate with their team members as they develop a team costume, poster, and cheer. What does the team that raises the most money win? Prizes are awarded for the team that collects the most money, has the best poster, has the best costume, and has the best cheer/chant. All winners receive gift cards and the team that collects the most money is given a pizza/sundae party after school sponsored by the Shark Team teachers. During the walk-a-thon, raffle tickets were given for each lap walked and “door prizes” were given out at the conclusion. What is the best part of putting on the “Trail for Toys” Walk-aThon? The students and teachers always have a great time donating their time giving back to the community. n West Allegheny | Winter 2013 | 29

O Christmas Tree

Choosing a live evergreen tree in West Allegheny By Matthew J. Fascetti


t’s the most wonderful time of the year, and choosing a real Christmas tree is a season highlight for many families. Whether you make the trek to a tree farm to cut down your own, or head to your neighborhood tree lot, the smell of fresh pine in your home signals the beginning of the holiday season. Your tree selection is often the result of personal preference and budget, but there are a few things to keep in mind. Perhaps the most popular type of tree is the Fraser Fir. It has one-inch needles that are silvery-green and soft to the touch. Because there is space between the branches, the Fraser is easier to decorate and the firm branches hold heavier ornaments. Also very popular is the Noble Fir, with a deep green color, soft needles and well-shaped, sturdy branches. Other varieties include the Colorado Blue Spruce, known for its blue foliage and pyramidal shape with strong limbs that can hold heavy ornaments. The Grand Fir has glossy dark-green foliage and is soft to the touch, however it may not hold heavier ornaments. The Balsam Fir is a wonderful dark-green color with airy, flexible branches and a pleasant fragrance. The branches are not as sturdy so it’s not the best choice for heavy decorating.

Find it here...

The White Fir has a pleasing natural shape and aroma and good needle retention. The Eastern White Pine is known for making garlands, wreaths and centerpieces due to its long, feathery-soft needles. Though it’s a beautiful tree, the branches can be a bit too flexible to use as a Christmas tree. Finally, the Douglas Fir makes a visually appealing tree with soft, shiny green needles and wonderful aroma. If you purchase your tree at a lot, keep in mind some pre-cut Christmas trees may have been cut weeks earlier. Try to buy your tree early to extend its freshness. Check the tree for brown needles and perform a “drop test.” Raise the tree a few inches off the ground and then firmly place the tree trunk on the ground. If green needles drop, it could indicate the tree may have been cut some time ago. Once you take your tree home, make a straight cut at the bottom of the trunk, removing about one inch. This will improve the tree’s ability to absorb water. Place the tree in a container that holds at least one gallon of water and add more as needed. The base of the trunk should always be in water which will help sustain the beauty of the tree for as long as possible. ■

e Hozak Farms 470 Anderson-Hozak Road

e Sam’s Club 249 Summit Park Dr.

e North Fayette Volunteer Fire Department 7678 Steubenville Pike

e The Home Depot 440 Home Dr.

30 724.942.0940 to advertise | West Allegheny

e Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouse 400 Davis Road


School District News

West Allegheny School District News 32

New Hires / Retirements


High School Counselor Named Committee Chair


West Allegheny Forensics Team Earns Membership in National Club


West Allegheny Elementary Teacher Receives “Champions of Change” Award


Trips Abroad Offer a World of Culture


“SMALLab” Provides Huge Learning Opportunities


Biomedical Science Curriculum Introduced at High School


High School Establishes Key Connection with Check In/Check Out


Band Students Selected to Represent West Allegheny School District


West Allegheny Sixth Grade Walkers Raise Over $5,100 for Charity

A Tradition of Excellence...A Vision for Tomorrow

NEW HIRES The West Allegheny School District welcomes the following new teachers: Lauren Barry High School Learning Support Elizabeth Blank High School Math Teacher Lauren Barry

Jonathan Denk Elizabeth Blank Middle School Language Arts/Gifted Education Teacher Jaime Mahramas Elementary Music

Jonathan Denk

Melissa Pratt

Melissa Pratt Wilson Elementary Third Grade Teacher

Jaime Mahramas

Melissa Riley Middle School Special Education Teacher

Melissa Riley

C ity West of Mc allegheny KeesportSC N ews H OO L News

McKeespor West Allegheny t

Elise Sunseri Donaldson Elementary Fifth Grade Teacher Bob Yost High School Biology Teacher Bob Yost

Elise Sunseri

RETIREMENTS The West Allegheny School District would like to recognize the following retirees for their dedication to enhancing the lives of our students: Donna Elliott, Aide 15 years Linda Groznik, Teacher 18 years Dave Sedlock, Custodian 16 years Veva Tessmer, Business Office Secretary 22 years

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C ity W estof allegheny McK eesport SC HOOL NewsNews

West Allegheny High School counselor Julie Sitko was named committee chair for the Counselor Education for the Pennsylvania Association for College Admission Counseling (PACAC). The goal of her ad hoc committee was to explore establishing a PACAC presence in graduate counselor education programs throughout the Commonwealth. Sitko’s committee was charged with: • Surveying graduate programs in Pennsylvania to determine both the current environment and ongoing needs for college counseling and financial aid instruction. • Reaching out to other states to determine what level of college and financial aid counseling is included in graduate coursework. • Preparing a report of the committee's findings and providing recommendations to the Executive Committee. Sitko received a grant to attend the PACAC Annual conference at Seven Springs, where she presented the committee’s work. The presentation was so well received, her committee was granted a one year extension to continue working to incorporate a college counseling curriculum into graduate coursework in Pennsylvania. The goals this year are to focus on connecting with the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) schools, as well as to begin writing a curriculum that will be used by graduate schools in Pennsylvania. In addition to her ad hoc committee work, Sitko was also selected to spend four days as a faculty member at the PACAC Summer Institute, held at Bucknell University, in July. She was one of two public school counselors on faculty who spoke to new college admissions professionals and high school counselors on a variety of topics that included the high school profile, first generation college students, and the college application process.


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High School Counselor Named Committee Chair

Julie Sitko

The West Allegheny High School Forensics Speech and Debate team has earned membership in the National Forensic League’s (NFL) 200 Club and was ranked among the top five percent of schools nationwide. This recognition reflects the points and degrees West Allegheny has earned based on competitive and service –related activities for the 2012-2013 school year. “This milestone is remarkable because it demonstrates outstanding commitment to teaching students essential life skills, including communication, research, listening, writing, and organization,” states J. Scott Wunn, NFL executive director. Michael Shaffer is the West Allegheny Forensic head coach and Speech and Drama coach, along with Michael Quinn as assistant coach and Congress and Debate coach.

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Donaldson Elementary School teacher, Leah Vestal (center), receives “Champions of Change” award, accompanied by Donaldson principal, Patricia Nolan (left) and superintendent, Dr. John S. DiSanti (right).

West Allegheny Elementary Teacher Receives “Champions of Change” Award Donaldson Elementary School teacher Leah Vestal received the 2013 “Champions of Change” award at a luncheon hosted by the Allegheny Intermediate Unit’s (AIU) Center for Creativity and its partner Common Sense Media. The ceremony was in honor of Connected Educator Month and was held on October 21, 2013. Champions of Change is a program promoted by the White House, which recognizes educators who “are doing extraordinary things in their communities to out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world.” The award acknowledges those educators and leaders who use a creative approach to enhance learning, embrace technology and seek new and effective ways to engage children in the learning process. Vestal was recognized by the AIU and the District for assisting the West Allegheny administration in facilitating a Summer Technology Training initiative for teachers. The initiative included determining teachers’ technology needs and competencies, and designing training sessions that utilize technology to increase

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student engagement. Upon completion of training, teachers’ skills were evaluated and Digital Driver’s Licenses (DDL) were awarded. Teachers with a DDL were then encouraged to submit a Technology Opportunity Proposal (TOP) requesting new technology for their classrooms. These District sponsored TOP grants resulted in 14 teachers receiving new technology including iPads, Chromebooks and Surface RTs, which ultimately will support the educators in their efforts to engage learners and raise student achievement. “Mrs. Vestal is very passionate about providing dynamic classroom learning experiences that would not otherwise be possible without innovative technologies. That is why she is so committed to sharing her expertise with colleagues and supporting their efforts to provide highly engaging learning opportunities using digital delivery methodology. She is a true ‘Champion of Change’ for our District,” said superintendent, Dr. John S. DiSanti.

TRIPS ABROAD OFFER A WORLD OF CULTURE It was a memorable summer for two groups of West Allegheny High School students and chaperones when they traveled to Italy and France. Both trips provided the students with a glimpse into the broad cultures of these two countries. A total of 24 art students traveled to Italy in June for an eightday tour that highlighted artistic masterpieces, cuisine, language and culture. Destinations visited included the Canals of Venice, the Duomo Cathedral in Milan, the leaning tower and baptistery in Pisa, the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City and the Coliseum in Rome. Art teachers Mike Short and Carol DeWitt organized and chaperoned the trip with fellow teachers Brandie Short, Diane Boustead and Lea Hartzog. In a separate trip, French teacher Shelley Crannell led a group of high school students to France in July. With the tour lasting nine days, the group experienced such Paris favorites as climbing the Eiffel Tower, and visiting Notre Dame Cathedral and Chartres. Their journey also took them to Normandy’s Omaha Beach and

Art students and chaperones tour one of Milan’s notable castles.

the cemetery where American soldiers were buried following the invasion of Normandy during World War II. The tour wrapped up with visits to the Loire Valley castle sites of Chambord and Chenonceau. The three French students and chaperones traveled with students from West Virginia. Offering students the opportunity to apply their French speaking skills, the tour also delved into the rich culture of the region and its ties to American history. Through these trips, students were able to apply lessons learned in the classroom to their own life experiences and culture. West Allegheny | Winter 2013 | 35

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West Allegheny students (left to right) Emily Kiss, Jessica Fesenmyer and Jarrett Parker travel with students (right) from West Virginia.

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A Tradition of Excellence...A Vision for Tomorrow

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West Allegheny

A Tradition of Excellence...A Vision for Tomorrow

Eighth grader Jessica Packer utilizes the new SMALLab technology during Kristen Martin and Mark Davis’ resource class.

“SMALLab” Provides Huge Learning Opportunities In a recently transformed middle school classroom, learning takes on a new dimension in the Situated Multimedia Arts Learning Lab or SMALLab. Considered an embodied learning environment, SMALLab provides a dynamic technological atmosphere where learning becomes a physical experience as students interact with motion-capture technology that allows them to immerse themselves in the content they are studying. A $20,000 STEAM Grant from The Grable Foundation and the Benedum Foundation enabled the District to fund implementation of the SMALLab, which will be utilized by all students in grades six to eight to support the delivery of the District’s curricula particularly in math and science. “Through the application of innovative technology, SMALLab will provide our students and staff with a unique, immersive learning experience designed to motivate and engage all learners,” stated 36 | West Allegheny

West Allegheny superintendent, Dr. John S. DiSanti. “We certainly appreciate The Grable Foundation and the Benedum Foundation’s support of this new and exciting opportunity for our District.” After years of research and design, Dr. David Birchfield, along with nine co-inventors from Arizona State University, created this holistic learning approach that integrates kinesthetic, collaborative and multimodal components. The lab encompasses a 15 by 15 foot space and offers embodied learning scenarios that address concepts related to physics, chemistry, biology, earth science, and mathematics. Teachers Kristen Martin, Lauren Siciliano, Erin Rakoci, Rachel Adair, Gabby Monti and Bobbi Jo Buggey received training on the varied applications of the SMALLab, and have already introduced their students to its interactive abilities.

Year One: Principals of the Biomedical Sciences

This course outlines biology concepts through the study of human diseases. Students review the death of a fictional person to determine the cause and if lifestyles choices and medicine may have prolonged the person’s life. Areas of study include human physiology, medicine and research processes.

Year Two: Human Body Systems Students delve into the role of the body systems and how they interact. This curriculum examines the body’s identity, power, movement, protection and homeostasis. Experiments and investigations are student driven, and use software to monitor body functions.

High School Establishes Key Connections with Check In/Check Out For decades, educational research has supported the importance of a positive relationship between children and adult role models. In his role as high school assistant principal Kevin McKiernan recognized this fact and applied the philosophy to West Allegheny students – many who could benefit from a student/teacher connection. With the help of teachers Katie Zanella and Julie Dennis, McKiernan developed the Check In – Check Out (CICO) program. This program encourages “at-risk” students to check in/out for five or ten minutes to talk about the day and set goals with their designated teacher. “We have many teachers who naturally serve as mentors and are able to build great relationships with young students,” explained McKiernan. “We also realized we weren’t reaching every child. Some students just aren’t into sports, band, or chorus, but still want to belong and need a positive connection to an adult in their life. We began this program with those kids in mind.”

Year Three: Medical Interventions This course offers students the opportunity to investigate interventions involved in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disease as they follow the life of a fictitious family. Students explore how to prevent and fight infection; screen and evaluate the code in human DNA; prevent, diagnose and treat cancer; and prevail when the organs of the body begin to fail.

Year Four: Biomedical Innovation Students design innovative solutions for the health challenges of the twenty-first century. They work through progressively challenging open-ended problems, addressing topics such as clinical medicine, physiology, biomedical engineering and public health. These courses were designed to be hands-on and project-based, and engage students on multiple levels.

With 10 students benefiting from the program in its inaugural year, the program has since grown to reach more than 30 each year. In response, additional teachers were recruited in order to reach the increase in students; they included Mindi McFate, Mike Short, Elizabeth Shannon, and Kristin Persing. With teacher guidance, students establish personal goals and strategies to help improve grades and keep them in school. The program is not just academic; it addresses personal and social issues as well. Zanella is confident that the program has far reaching effects. “Helping students become more successful in school and feel more confident about their future is truly inspiring,” Zanella adds. “Not everyone has to be an A+ student to be a success, but everyone has to feel accepted and believe in themselves to achieve their goals and become mature adults. This program is truly beneficial to so many students.” The rewards of the program were apparent from the start. Very few dropped out; most grades improved, and students started to feel as if they belonged in the building. Other teachers, inspired by the efforts of the CICO team, also began to mentor and help troubled students. The CICO program has proven successful in adding another level of support to students. The program is open to any high school student who may benefit from the one-on-one connection. If interested in learning more, contact Kevin McKiernan or Katie Zanella at the high school.

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Under the heading of what’s new in curriculum offerings at West Allegheny is the Biomedical Sciences Program for high school students considering the medical track. Provided by Project Lead the Way, the program will integrate one new course a year for four years, and include:

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Biomedical Science Curriculum Introduced at High School

A Tradition of Excellence...A Vision for Tomorrow

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West Allegheny

Ray Haim

Band Students Selected to Represent West Allegheny School District

Jodi Kutzner

The West Allegheny arts department recognizes four band members for being selected to showcase their talents in Pennsylvania Music Educators Association (PMEA) performances. On October 8, 2013, over 400 students from 60 schools auditioned at South Fayette High School for the PMEA Honors Band. The four students selected to represent West Allegheny include twelfth graders Eric Finkelstein, Ray Haim, and Jodi Kutzner, and eleventh grader Grace Rosus. These students will practice every Saturday in November with world-

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Grace Rosus

Eric Finkelstein

renowned composer and conductor, Sam Hazo, to prepare for a performance at Carnegie Music Hall on November 24. Finkelstein was also selected from over 150 students from 60 schools for the PMEA Honors Jazz Band. He will be rehearsing with world-renowned conductors Eric DeFade and Dr. James Moore, on December 13 and 14, and will perform in a concert on December 14. The auditions were held on October 28, at Pine Richland High School.

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WEST ALLEGHENY SIXTH GRADE WALKERS RAISE OVER $5,100 FOR CHARITY West Allegheny Middle School students on the sixth grade Shark Team raised over $5,100 for the National Honor Society (NHS) holiday gift basket project by participating in a Walk-a-thon, “Trail for Toys.” The walk was held at the Joe P. DeMichela Stadium at West Allegheny High School on October 11, 2013. Students solicited sponsors to donate money for toys and gifts that will go to the children of district families in need of help. Using toys as the theme, students competed in teams named for toys to raise the most money. The winning team earned a pizza/ sundae party hosted by the teachers. Prizes were also awarded to teams for best costume, poster, and cheer. With the funds collected, the students and teachers will shop for toys and clothes, which will be gift-wrapped and added to the NHS holiday distribution. Any money not needed for the NHS program will be donated to the West Allegheny Family Support Committee. Middle school teachers coordinating the event included Rachel Adair, Tom Burke, Mary Damratoski, Bill Marx, Lisa Midgley and Valerie Meehan. Team Crayon raised the most money for the “Trail for Toys” Walk-a-thon, with a total of $946. The team consisted of: (front) Britney Wilson, Sarah Spokart, Mia Palmer, Cayla Chiodo, (back) Merrin Prevade, Emma Hamm, Annie Koester, Olivia Nicholson and Mia Bizzarri.

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Did you know? Photo:

County I Nearly Created a Separate Borough for the Airport By Mark Berton 40 724.942.0940 to advertise | West Allegheny

f things had gone differently in 1987-88, the Pittsburgh International Airport might not have been a part of Findlay Township as it is today. The problem all boiled down to inspection fees – Findlay was charging too much and Allegheny County officials felt they were getting a bad deal. Because the work was being done in Findlay, the township had a right to charge the county for inspecting sewer and water lines. However, when those fees came in at around a half million dollars, county officials balked and decided it would be less expensive to set up a dedicated borough to service the 12,000-plus acres of airport property. And that’s how the concept of the Borough of Midfield was born. After the plan was publicized in media outlets and people began to know the name Midfield Borough, Findlay supervisors at the time went on record to state that the fees charged were a miscommunication, and the $500,000 fee was reduced to just over $22,000. Findlay and county officials then began a series of

sit-down meetings to negotiate a fair price for work done at the site. Findlay officials cited their ordinance as the cause of the problem, because it was drafted to cover residential inspections only, without provisions for large-scale, commercial construction such as the airport, leading to the outrageous fee numbers. The two bodies eventually worked out an all-inclusive fee schedule that made the work more palatable to everyone involved, and the Borough of Midfield vanished as quickly as a plane on the horizon – an aviation Brigadoon never to be heard of again. However, borough creation was not as remote an idea 30 years ago as people may think today. Just over a decade earlier, in 1977, Pennsbury Village formed out of Robinson, with 16 other boroughs created statewide in the 23 years prior to that. n Did You Know? We are looking for little-known facts, history or other interesting stories about your community. Please send your ideas to Thank you!

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COMMUNITY AWARDS FOR SERVICE EXCELLENCE (C.A.S.E.) What makes communities great are the special people who volunteer their 2013 Master of Ceremony

Andrew Stockey

we would like to honor these special people who have made a positive impact in their community and whose philanthropic leadership sets an inspiring example for us all.

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Which community is this nomination for?___________________________________________________________________________ Name of person submitting nomination_____________________________________________________________________________ Phone___________________________________________Email_________________________________________________________ Send nomination form and statement to: Wayne Dollard, IN Community Magazines, 603 E. McMurray Road, McMurray, PA 15317. If you have any questions, please contact Debbie Mountain at 724.942.0940. Deadline for nominations is February 1, 2014.

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West Allegheny : Winter 2013