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New & Notable, January 2021

UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh Recognized by Parents Magazine

UPMC Children’s Hospital was selected as one of the 15 most innovative children’s hospitals in the nation and appeared in the January issue of Parents magazine. UPMC Children’s was recognized for research into the continuing development of gene therapy technology, which may have the potential to cure diabetes. To determine the winners, Parents’ editors surveyed 50 leading children’s hospitals, inquiring about innovations, response to the pandemic and technology used on a regular basis. More than 200 innovations were submitted overall. See the issue online at

New Assistant Principal Joins Rowan Elementary

Seneca Valley School District (SVSD) board members have approved the appointment of Dr. Jenay Sharp Leach to serve as assistant principal at Rowan Elementary School in Cranberry Township. A Pittsburgh native, Dr. Sharp Leach recently relocated to Valencia from northern Virginia where she served as the K-12 science coordinator for the Fairfax County Public Schools for the past four years. As a graduate of Shaler Area School District and later Grove City College, Dr. Sharp Leach received her Ph.D. in Curriculum, Teaching and Learning from the University of Virginia, a master’s in Educational Leadership and Administration from George Washington University and a bachelor’s in Physics and General Science/Secondary Education from Grove City College. Dr. Sharp Leach also earned national board certification in 2009.

Shaler Area High School Student Accepted Into ‘I Look Like a Cardiologist’ Program

Shaler Area freshman Ava Stabile has always had an interest in medicine, and in January, was able to have the opportunity to learn more about the medical field in a program designed for the next generation of physicians. She was one of 50 high school students accepted into the 2021 I Look Like a Cardiologist program run by the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute. The program, which was offered virtually, included a panel session, instruction in cardiology basics, including cardiac anatomy, types of cardiology practice, and cardiac technology, and case studies related to women, race, privilege, medicine, education, and society. The program also paired Ava with a young physician mentor.

IDI Consulting Supports Light the Night Event and Toys for Tots Drive

IDI Consulting gave back to those less fortunate this holiday season through its sixth consecutive Toys for Tots toy drive, and sponsorship of its fifth Light the Night event. In supporting Toys for Tots, a national gift collection program sponsored by the U.S Marine Corps, and Light the Night, a fundraiser for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s groundbreaking research and treatment options to eliminate cancer, IDI Consulting helped to spread hope and support children and families in the community. IDI Consulting is a leading professional information technology services company headquartered in Pittsburgh, PA with offices in Houston, TX and New York, NY.

Shaler Area’s DelVecchio-Marks Named PA’s School Counselor of the Year

Congratulations to Shaler Area school counselor Lezlie DelVecchio-Marks on being named Pennsylvania School Counselor of the Year by the Pennsylvania School Counselors Association (PSCA). She was recognized during the PSCA’s virtual recognition ceremony during the organization’s 65th annual conference in December. The award honors school counselors who have made significant contributions to their students and/or school districts through the development and implementation of comprehensive school counseling programs based on the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) National Model. As the Pennsylvania School Counselor of the Year, DelVecchio-Marks will represent the state during the annual ASCA Gala held in February 2022 in Washington, D.C. DelVecchio-Marks has been a school counselor for 19 years, with the past 14 years at Shaler Area School District. She currently serves students at Burchfield Primary and Reserve Primary Schools.

Friends Of Flight 93 Accept Generous Donation From First National Bank

The Friends of Flight 93 National Memorial are thankful to First National Bank of Pennsylvania for donating $11,000 for the second year in a row as part of the state’s Education Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program. Friends’ President Donna Gibson, vice president retail market manager with First National Bank of Pittsburgh, has been an advocate for the Friends EITC program. The Friends work to educate today’s generation of Americans born after 2001 about 9/11 and how Flight 93 ended the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history.

Students Place in Steel City Forensic Tournament

Two Fox Chapel Area High School students recently placed in the Dalmasse Sterner Steel City Invitational Speech and Debate Tournament. In Varsity Lincoln Douglas Debate, sophomore Silas Owens won second place, and in Student Congress, junior Patrick Alexander was awarded fourth place. Both Silas and Patrick earned bids to the Pennsylvania High School Speech League (PHSSL) State Championship Tournament that will be held in 2021. Approximately 259 students representing 24 high schools from Pennsylvania competed at the event.

2 SVSD Seniors Named Candidates for Special National Merit Scholarship

Two Seneca Valley seniors, Anne Castagnero and Andrew Drozynski, were named candidates in the competition for a Special Scholarship to be awarded through the 2021 National Merit Scholarship Program. A Special Scholarship is a corporate-sponsored award; Castagnero’s sponsor is The Kennametal Foundation and Drozynski’s is FedEx Ground Package System, Inc. The students submitted their applications in December and will be notified if they are winners in March 2021.

UPMC Children's Awarded 'Top Children's Hospital' from Leapfrog Group

Highlighting its commitment to patient safety and quality, UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh was named one of The Leapfrog Group’s prestigious Top Children’s Hospitals, which is one of the most competitive awards American hospitals can receive. UPMC Children’s was selected as a Top Hospital out of a record 2,200 hospitals participating in the annual survey, which measures performance across many areas of hospital care, including infection rates, practices for safer surgery, maternity care and prevention of medication errors.

SVSD Senior Named Semifinalist In 2021 Coca-Cola Scholars Program

Seneca Valley Senior Cierra Denny has been named a Semifinalist for the 2021 class of the Coca‑Cola Scholars Program, moving to the next round of the selection process to become a Coca-Cola Scholar and receive a $20,000 college scholarship. The Coca-Cola Scholars Program is the largest corporate-sponsored, achievement-based scholarship program in the United States. With the addition of the 2021 class, the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation will have provided more than 6,450 Coke Scholars nationwide with over $75 million in scholarships over the course of 33 years.

Butler Memorial Hospital Recognized Twice by the Leapfrog Group

Butler Memorial Hospital was awarded an ‘A’ in the fall 2020 Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade, a national distinction recognizing Butler Memorial Hospital’s achievements protecting patients from harm and providing safer health care. The Leapfrog Group is an independent national watchdog organization committed to health care quality and safety. Butler Memorial Hospital was also named a Top General Hospital nationally by Leapfrog, which is widely acknowledged as one of the most competitive awards American hospitals can receive. More than 2,200 hospitals were considered for the award.

Aquinas Academy Student Builds Eagle Scout Project

As part of his Eagle Scout project, Aquinas Academy junior John Griffith recently built a Marian grotto for Aquinas Academy of Pittsburgh. The grotto took about a month and a half to build, and approximately 30 people helped, including members of Troop 171, Aquinas faculty and students including junior Maria Figucia, project coach Al Monteverde, Head of School Leslie Mitros, and Griffith’s parents, who financially supported the project and helped see it to completion.

Voices of Hope Founder Shares Story in Unveil Your Voice

Author, activist, and Founder of Voices Of Hope, Kristine Irwin, has dedicated her career to ending the stigma of sexual assault by sharing her story across the country. She has now joined forces with several other survivors of sexual assault in a new book about their personal experiences with hopes to empower others and change rape culture. Unveil Your Voice is a collection of eye-opening, heartbreaking, and triumphant stories by individuals that are working to overcome their trauma. Contributors range from dental hygienists and editors at national media outlets to moms, activists, business owners and more. Learn more at

Local Organizations Team Up to Support Restaurant Workers and Feed People in Need

412 Food Rescue and Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership have joined forces to provide downtown restaurants regular weekly income and bring free meals to people experiencing food insecurity this winter. On weekdays through May, 2021, workers at participating Downtown restaurants will be paid to prepare more than 200 meals for people in need. Grant funding of approximately $10,000 per week will help restaurants cover costs of supplies and employees to prepare a total of 1,225 meals each week. In mid-January, the program will expand significantly to include more already-selected restaurants and provide meals through May, when outdoor dining is expected to resume. The program is supported by a COVID-19 relief grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation.

Amateur Woodworkers Present SVSD Students with Handmade Desks

Anonymous donors reached out to the Seneca Valley School District in October, offering to make a dozen handcrafted desks for students who may not have the proper workspace at home to do virtual work or cyber school. Inspired by a story that aired on the evening news, they learned how to make the desks from a video they found online and handcrafted each desk, which they donated to disadvantaged families in the district. Seneca Valley Academy of Choice Assistant Principal Ashley Porter and Seneca Valley’s buildings and grounds department delivered the desks to students in December.

412 Food Rescue and PAART Partner for Christmas Week Food Distribution

In December, 412 Food Rescue and the Pittsburgh Aviation Animal Rescue Team (PAART) teamed up to distribute food for people and pets experiencing food insecurity. The two groups hosted a no-contact, drive-through giveaway in the Heinz Field parking lot, and distributed 420 Farmers to Families grocery boxes containing produce, dairy, and protein items. PAART provided 400 bags of dog and cat food. A generous donation of pet food from Tim Russell of Maggie’s Farm Rum helped the groups serve every member of families with pets.

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