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New & Notable February 2022

Seneca Valley Names Two to New Positions

At a recent Seneca Valley school board meeting, Ashley Porter was promoted to the supervisor of equity and Dr. Marie Palano was named assistant superintendent of curriculum and assessment. Porter and Palano are familiar faces in the district, both having been in administrative roles at Seneca Valley for nearly five and 11 years, respectively. Palano was previously the director of analytics and federal programs and Porter served as the assistant principal of the Seneca Valley Academy of Choice (SVAOC).

Seneca Valley Hires New Assistant For Athletics/Activities

Nii Sowa-Doku has been hired as Seneca Valley’s activities/athletics assistant director. Sowa-Doku comes to Seneca Valley from University of Pittsburgh Athletics, where he has been serving as the assistant director of equipment for nearly a year. He also has four years of experience as equipment manager for Georgetown Athletics in Washington D.C., as well as professional experience with Washington Spirit in Leesburg, VA; Kansas Women’s Basketball in Lawrence, KS; and FC Kansas City in Overland Park, KS. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Education, Sport Management, with minors in Business and Communications from the University of Kansas and earned his master’s in Professional Studies, Sport Industry Management, from Georgetown University.

Fox Chapel Area Telethon Raises Record-Breaking Total

In December, Fox Chapel Area School District students held their 32nd annual telethon and raised a record-breaking total of $107,146. This year’s total brings the money raised by Fox Chapel Area students and staff to more than $1,025,532 over the last 32 years for various local and regional charities. The telethon raised money for Fox Families Care and involved students from all six schools in the Fox Chapel Area School District (Fairview, Hartwood, Kerr, and O’Hara elementaries; Dorseyville Middle School and Fox Chapel Area High School). The public may still make donations through the following website:

BHS Welcomes New Primary Care Physician

Joseph Dougherty, MD joined BHS Primary Care in December 2021, specializing in Family & Sports Medicine. Dr. Dougherty is board-certified in family medicine with a certificate of added qualification in sports medicine. He received his medical degree from West Virginia University School of Medicine, and completed a residency in family medicine at UPMC St. Margaret, and a fellowship in sports medicine at Allegheny General Hospital. Dr. Dougherty has also been named the founding program director of the new BHS Family Medicine Residency Program, which he is currently developing with Dr. Michael Fiorina, vice president of medical education. BHS anticipates its first class of residents in July 2023. Dr. Dougherty is currently accepting patients at 1651 North Main Street Extension in Butler. For an appointment, call 833-604-0435.

La Roche University Launches Master of Arts in Teaching

Aspiring teachers who hold a bachelor’s degree in any field now can earn a Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) at La Roche University. The new 30-credit MAT program offers convenient online and evening courses for students to earn initial Pennsylvania teaching certification in just 15 months. The program will begin in Fall 2022. Upon completion of this program, students will be skilled to teach any core subject at the fourth to sixth grade level, and one of the following subject areas at the seventh and eighth grade levels: English/Language Arts and Reading, Mathematics, Science or Social Studies. A full list of application requirements is available online; for more information, contact the Office of Graduate Studies & Adult Education at or 412-536-1260.

SSA Senior Named a Top Scholar in Regeneron Science Talent Search

Shady Side Academy senior Steven D. Liu of McCandless is one of only 300 students who were named Top Scholars in the 2022 Regeneron Science Talent Search, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious science and math competition for high school seniors. Liu is one of just six students from Pennsylvania and two from the Pittsburgh region to receive this prestigious STEM honor. Liu’s original research project, Techno-Economic Assessment of a Cost and Quality-Based Algal Biodiesel Production Process, was conducted as part of the Research Science Institute (RSI), a prestigious six-week summer program sponsored by the Center for Excellence in Education and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Liu participated in the RSI in the summer of 2021 and was mentored by Dr. Jean-Francois Hamel, of the MIT Chemical Engineering Department. Liu also has been conducting research on algal biofuel for the past two years in SSA’s McIlroy Center for Science & Innovation under the guidance of faculty advisor Dr. Devon Renock through SSA’s Independent Study Program. That research won him a first-place award at the Pittsburgh Regional Science and Engineering Fair and a third-place award at the National Junior Science and Humanities Symposium last spring and helped him earn admission to RSI last summer.

Haines Middle School Student Publishes How-to Dinosaur Book

A student who is a self-described “dino-enthusiast” recently wrote and published his first book at just 10 years old. Dylan LaDieu, a current fifth-grader at Haine Middle School, wrote and published Dylan Draws Dinosaurs, a how-to dinosaur drawing book with over 100 dinosaur facts for kids. According to, each how-to drawing page is accompanied by a scene showing the dinosaurs in action. The book also has statistics and facts for each dinosaur and even includes a representation of what their skulls look like. In addition to writing, Dylan has his own YouTube channel, Instagram page and website.

Germain to be Featured Back Hall Gallery Artist

In February, photographer Nicolette Germain will be the featured artist at the Cranberry Artists Network’s Back Hall Gallery, which is located in the Cranberry Township Municipal Center. Her photo collection spans several years and many Pennsylvania locations, including Moraine State Park and McConnells Mill. For more information about C.A.N., visit

Phipps Conservatory Receives $250,000 Grant

Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens recently received a $250,000 award through the Community Conservation Partnerships Program, an initiative administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Phipps will use the money to help support the rehabilitation project of the Phipps Garden Center at Mellon Park, which will include replacing the roof and making mechanical upgrades, restoring greenhouse roof glass, installing solar panels and shade structures and making the center ADA accessible, as well as landscaping, project sign and other related site improvements.

Seneca Valley Instrumentalists Selected For PMEA Honors Band

Seneca Valley recently had 36 students selected for the 2021 Pennsylvania Music Education Association (PMEA) District 5 Honors Band. All of the students went on to participate in a three-day festival that culminated with an in-person concert in Orr Auditorium at Westminster College in December. This year’s Honors Band was guest conducted by Dr. Adam F. Brennan, director of bands and professor of percussion studies at Mansfield University. Seneca Valley students selected were Leanne Abel, trombone; Connor Allen, trumpet; Alaina Althouse, French horn; Paul Amado, trombone; Paityn Armstrong, clarinet; Lucas Boyle, French horn; Noah Bracht, tuba; Jason Chen, flute; Emma Conrad, alto saxophone; Kennaeya Fitzgerald, clarinet; Rebekah Heltzell, 1st chair, bass clarinet; Elizabeth Hixon, clarinet; Peter Ko, 1st chair, alto saxophone; Katelyn Livorse, 1st chair, trombone; Katie Mack, 1st chair, oboe; Tessa Markham, flute; Colton Marley, trumpet; Haley McKinney, clarinet; Camyn Meanor, French horn; Bailey Milanovich, alto saxophone; Maggie Monahan, clarinet; Sreya Padamati, 1st chair, tenor saxophone; Steven Patterson, clarinet; Jackson Scherzer, 1st chair, baritone saxophone; Bridget Scott, trombone; Daniel Simoes, trumpet; Jonah Smeltzer, percussion; Katie Sylves, trumpet; Sydney Thompson, clarinet; Zachary Tollerton, trumpet; Eliana Topf, flute; Kami Topf, trumpet; Mackenzie Tunstall, clarinet; Ray Walter, trumpet; Taryn Wilson, clarinet; Mark Wimer, euphonium. Directors at the secondary level include Varden Armstrong, Robert Babick, Sara Snyder and Brian Croach.

Chatham Baroque Relocates to Pittsburgh Theological Seminary Campus

Chatham Baroque has announced that it will relocate to the 10-acre Pittsburgh Theological Seminary (PTS) Campus in East Liberty/Highland Park. The move will enable the organization to have its offices, rehearsal space and a performance venue all in one location, for the first time in its 30-year history. For the past 18 years, Chatham Baroque has been headquartered at the Ice House in Lawrenceville, with rehearsals and performances occurring at various locations throughout the city. With its move to the PTS campus, the ensemble will be able to centralize many activities.

LumberjAxes Partners with KingView Mead at Cranberry Location

Pittsburgh’s first competitive axe-throwing business continues to add to its repertoire with a new partnership. LumberjAxes has teamed up with KingView Mead, Wine & Hard Cider to offer a full-service bar at its Cranberry location. Customers will be able to enjoy a large selection of KingView meads, wines and ciders, along with an assortment of beer and liquor from around Pennsylvania, while partaking in some axe-throwing.

Achieva Announces New Website Launch

Achieva, a leading provider of lifelong comprehensive services for people with disabilities and their families, has announced the launch of its newly redesigned website at The new site features an efficient user experience, a compelling design, ADA accessibility (Level AA), and a language translation tool. The revamped website’s structure, content, and layout will allow every user to take an efficient and intuitive journey through the site, and ultimately produce the information the user is looking for. The new comprehensive website brings together the Achieva family of organizations, which currently include: Achieva Support, Achieva Resource, Achieva Family Trust, The Arc of Greater Pittsburgh, and Autism Connection of PA. Also available is convenient access to Achieva Business Services and Achieva Business Operations sub-sites, whose audience includes for-profit businesses rather than people with disabilities and their families.

Friends of Shaler North Hills Library to Hold Fundraiser

Shaler North Hills Library's annual Mini Golf “FUN”draiser, sponsored by the Friends of SNHL, will return during Presidents’ Day weekend, Feb. 19-21. In addition to playing mini-golf, families can also get together and design a golf hole; visit to find out more and to reserve your spot to play. The cost is $5 per player/$2.50 for kids 10 and under.

FCAHS Students Place in European Union, Speech & Debate Tournaments

Numerous Fox Chapel Area High School students won awards in a Model European Union diplomatic simulation and two speech and debate tournaments. Six Fox Chapel Area High School students won awards as part of the virtual University of Pittsburgh Model European Union diplomatic simulation. Freshmen Etash Jhanji and Swati Mylarappa won an award for Outstanding Position Paper (first place). Seniors Patrick Alexander and Nathaniel Mueller won the Excellent Delegation (second place) award. Juniors Caleb Hahl and Blaz Vavpetic won the Excellent Position Paper (second place) award and an Honorable Mention Delegation (third place) award. Members of the Fox Chapel Area High School Speech and Debate Team participated in the annual North Catholic High School Invitational Speech and Debate Tournament. Senior Patrick Alexander won an Outstanding Performance award by finishing in the top five. Two Fox Chapel Area High School students were named winners in the virtual annual Isidore Newman School Invitational Speech and Debate Tournament. In Policy Debate, senior Ian Mackey-Piccolo and sophomore Adhitya Thirumala finished as semifinalists, meaning they were in the top four, in the tournament.

La Roche University Announces Adventures in Lifelong Learning Winter Term

This winter, adults 50 and better can rediscover the joy of learning without the pressure of assignments, grades or exams at La Roche University. Beginning Jan. 31, the University’s Center for Lifelong Learning will launch a range of interactive courses in the subjects of science and technology, fitness, gardening, scripture, geography, film, and writing and poetry. Offered as part of the Center’s membership-based program, Adventures in Lifelong Learning, the courses enable retirement-aged individuals of all backgrounds to expand their social networks through shared intellectual experiences. Courses include Big Data: What it Means for Our Everyday Lives; Core Strength & Stability; Faith on Film; HIIT; The Psalms; Reading in Genre: Mystery Novel; How to Have Your Best Garden Ever; Bodiography® Fitness and Strength Training; Chemistry with Chemistry; Poetry and Public Speech; Cultural Geography: Southeastern and Central Europe; and Memoir Writing. Course descriptions are available at or email or call 412-536-1026 for more information.

Student Publications Win First-Place National Awards

Two Fox Chapel Area High School publications won recognition in the 2021 American Scholastic Press Association Annual Review and Contest Awards for scholastic yearbooks, magazines, and other publications. The 2020-2021 literary arts magazine Tapestry received a first-place national award. The high school’s newspaper, Fox Tales Quarterly, was also named a first-place national winner for the fall 2021 issue. Student staff members of Tapestry include 2021 graduates Molly Dean (layout design) and Divine Eyth (editor-in-chief); 2021-2022 seniors Carlie Barnett (head of submissions), Alexa Berman, Nina Busch, and Audrey Mah; 2021-2022 juniors Ishaan Acharya, Mikhail Ion, and Sophie Shao; and 2021-2022 sophomore Kaylee Dunham. The students’ advisor is Fox Chapel Area High School English teacher Jessica Green. The 2021-2022 student staff members of Fox Tales Quarterly are seniors juniors Justine Eng, Russell Fenton, Kaylee Uribe, and Ann Yonas; juniors Andrew Begg, Helia Hamidi, Trevor Katz, Leah Kenyon, Nathania Lingam, and Mahitha Ramachandran; sophomores Annalese Bartolacci, Katherine Haas, Shriya Krishnamurthy, Safiya Stewart, and Abraham White; and freshmen Josie Giguere and Paris Ricketts. The students’ sponsor is Fox Chapel Area High School gifted education facilitator Lisa Gibson.

Northland Library Offering Free Virtual and In-person Programs

In February, Northland Library will be offering a number of free virtual and in-person programs. These include Welcome to Opera: The Marriage of Figaro on Feb. 3; Lawn to Nature on Feb. 10; The Good Divorce on Feb. 17; Pennsylvania Goes to the Polls on Feb. 24; and Save a Life: B.E. F.A.S.T. on Feb. 28. Registration is required; for more information and to register, visit or call the Ask A Librarian desk at 412-366-8100, ext. 113.

Seneca Valley CyberPatriot Team Takes Third at Defense Competition

Cybersecurity is an ongoing threat in the world today, but not for four young women at Seneca Valley. The high school’s first-ever Women in Engineering CyberPatriot Team won the third place, silver tier award during the CyberPatriot National Youth Cyber Defense Competition to advance to the semifinals. As part of the competition, students were challenged to find and fix cybersecurity vulnerabilities in virtual operating systems. The team, formed by senior Veronica Pimenova, includes seniors Courtney Beals and Vivian Palmer, and sophomore Lihini Ranaweera.

Mayor Gainey Hosts City’s First National Day of Racial Healing Ceremony

In January, City of Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey hosted the City’s first National Day of Racial Healing Ceremony, where he presented more than 14 proclamations to community members who have demonstrated a commitment to inspire collective action to create a more just and equitable Pittsburgh. Participants in the event included Dr. Cathy Sigmund, North Side Christian Health Center and ACTS Institute of the Allegheny Center Alliance Church; Feyisola Akintola, Welcoming Pittsburgh; Benedict Killang, United African Communities; Rev. Dr. Brenda Gregg, Project Destiny/THRIVE18; Aweys Mwaliya, Somali-Bantu Community Association of Pittsburgh; Khara Timsina, Bhutanese Community Association of Pittsburgh; Rev. Blaine Workman, Allegheny Center Alliance Church; Dr. Wiam Younes, ANSAR; Hillary Holes, Healthcare Council of Western PA; Rev. Dr. Redda Ibrahim, Arabic Church of Pittsburgh; Bethany Blackburn, North Side Christian Health Center; Siraji Hassan, United Somali-Bantu Association; Fr. Paul Abernathy, Neighborhood Resilience Project; Kheir Mugwaneza, Allegheny Health Network; and Benoit Kihumbu, Congolese Union of Pittsburgh.

Applications Now Open for Annual Handmade Arcade Spring Market

Whether you’re starting out as a new maker or have been crafting on the side for years but have yet to take your hobby to the next level, the Handmade Arcade Spring Market is a great way to hone your products, skills, and entrepreneurial experience while making a splash in Pittsburgh’s thriving arts and crafts scene. The block-party-style pop-up event will feature 30 talented emerging Pittsburgh makers, food trucks, live artists demonstrations, and more. The deadline to apply is Feb. 13 at midnight and costs $5. For more information, visit

La Roche to Host Meet Design on Feb. 21

La Roche University invites high school students to explore the fields of film, graphic design and interior design at Meet Design on Feb. 21 from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Hosted by the La Roche Design Division, the event is for students in grades 10 through 12 who are interested in film, photography, and graphic or interior design. Students will test their own creative skills by participating in a hands-on design project. The event also will feature firsthand accounts from current design students, faculty and professionals about opportunities in the field. Students must preregister by Feb. 10 at Space is limited, and priority is given to high school juniors and seniors. For more information please contact Freshman Admissions at 412-536-1792 or

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