Avonworth School District News

April/May/June 2020

Congratulations to the Class of 2020

Due to COVID-19 and the school closure, the end of the 2019-2020 school year did not occur as the Class of 2020 had imagined. However, nothing could dampen the excitement for the Class of 2020! High school principal, Mrs. Dwulit, and class sponsors, Dr. George and Mrs. Sebolt made sure each graduating senior was celebrated by hand-delivering a goodie bag and yard sign. Each senior also had a sign with their picture on it placed on the hill in front of the school.

June 5th was supposed to be graduation night. Although we could not have our graduation on June 5th, a Car Cruise was organized to celebrate the Class of 2020. Around 6 PM seniors lined up their cars at the high school with teachers, staff, and administration ready to cheer them on as they left for neighborhoods to be celebrated by the entire community. Thank you to everyone who made this event possible!

As a reminder, a graduation ceremony is scheduled for July 17, 2020! We can't wait!

AHS Class of 2020 Car Cruise June 5, 2020

Celebrating Some of Our Class of 2020 Seniors

Senior Abigail Adamiak Receives Recognition and Scholarship

Abigail Adamiak has made a name for herself during her years at Avonworth High School for her tremendous musical and academic talents. Her hard work certainly paid off as she has received multiple recognitions as her senior year came to an end.

Abigail was selected as a finalist for the 2020 National Merit Scholarship Corp Special Scholarship through The UPS Foundation. She was selected from a pool of candidates demonstrating the highest PSAT/NMSQT scores (of 2018) and a consistently high academic performance throughout high school. Abigail also needed to receive a full endorsement by the high school principal, Mrs. Dwulit. Abigail was awarded a fixed-renewal scholarship earlier this month.

Abigail was also given the opportunity, through the guidance office to apply for the Delta Kappa Gamma International Society for Women Educators scholarship. The emphasis in the selection process is given to a high school female senior planning to pursue a 4-year degree in education & has an exemplary record of community service & academic achievement. Abigail received notification this month as the winner of this scholarship award!

Abigail has committed to attend WVU as a music education major and has received both an academic merit and music scholarship from the university! Congratulations Abigail!

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Avonworth Seniors Recognized as Global Scholars

Congratulations to the following seniors that have been recognized as Global Scholars!

Alexandra Archey, Mara Bett, Claire Chao, Riley North, Saineha Padala, Lauren Pflueger, Emma Ronk, Matthew Springer, Alexie Auth, Juliette Boughton, Kate Francis, Emma Rind, Rachel Tighe, Mackenzie Wisniewski, Kailey Scigliano, Luke Tomczak, Carly Tomko, Ally Yovetich

Senior Anna Igims Receives Multiple Awards as Female Athlete of the Year

Anna Igims has been recognized as the Avonworth School District Female Athlete of the Year! Anna also received the same recognition from the Northern Area Athletic Directors Association. Each year, the Northern Area Athletic Directors Association (NADA) recognizes multiple sport athletes from over 25 schools in the Northern part of the WPIAL. Each school is permitted to nominate 1 male and 1 female athlete for this recognition. Some of the criteria for being nominated include:

  • The student must have earned a Varsity letter in 3 varsity sports their senior year.
  • They must carry a 3.5 GPA or above.
  • Must have participated in some community service.

One male and one female athlete is chosen to receive a small scholarship to help defray some costs for college. Anna Igims was selected as this year's Northern Area Athletic Directors Associations Female Athlete of the year.

Anna will be attending Slippery Rock University in the fall and will be a member of the Cross Country and Track and Field teams. Congratulations Anna!

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Senior Jax Miller Named Male Athlete of the Year

Jax Miller had an amazing athletic career at Avonworth. His senior year was no different as he helped lead the Avonworth Football Team to Hershey for the 2A PIAA Championship Game. Unfortunately, the school closure meant Jax wouldn't be able to finish out his senior season on the baseball diamond. With his success as a senior athlete this school year, Jax was named the Avonworth High School Male Athlete of the Year! Congratulations Jax!

Next year, Jax will attend the California University of Pennsylvania and plans to play baseball. To learn more about Jax's amazing senior year and athletic accomplishments, take a look at the Senior Spotlight done by the Tribune-Review.

Photo - Christopher Horner, Tribune-Review
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Senior Luke Wagner Recognized for an Amazing Four Sport Athletic Career

Luke Wagner played four different sports and racked up 13 letters during his time at Avonworth. His career is one that certainly deserves recognition.

In late April, the Tribune-Review featured a Senior Spotlight on Luke, which highlighted the many accomplishments he had during his time as a student-athlete at Avonworth. The link to that spotlight is below.

Next year, Luke will attend Arizona State University and focus on academics.

Senior Campbell McCann Receives Platinum Award from US Figure Skating

Senior Campbell McCann received the highest distinction among graduating seniors in US Figure Skating - the Platinum Award. There are 4 distinctions and she was awarded the highest level for her commitment to academic study, service to the community, and athletic skill.

Congratulations Campbell on this amazing recognition!

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Senior Claire Chao Receives the Athenian Award

Each year, the Avonworth Education Association gives a $500 check to a senior. The award is based on the following criteria:

The Avonworth Education Association (AEA) gives the Athenian Award to a student in the top 10% of the class. The student exhibits exceptional academics, effort, and participation in extracurricular. The award is voted on by all AEA High School staff members.

Congratulations to Claire Chao as this year's winner of the Athenian Award!

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Avonworth Named one of the Nation's Best Communities for Music Education for 3rd Year in a Row

Avonworth has been honored for the 3rd year in a row with the Best Communities for Music Education designation from The NAMM Foundation for its outstanding commitment to music education.

Now in its 21st year, the Best Communities for Music Education designation is awarded to districts that demonstrate outstanding achievement in efforts to provide music access and education to all students. To qualify for the Best Communities designation, our music department answered detailed questions about funding, graduation requirements, music class participation, instruction time, facilities, support for the music program and community music-making programs. Responses were verified with school officials and reviewed by The Music Research Institute at the University of Kansas.

This award recognizes that Avonworth School District is leading the way with learning opportunities as outlined in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The legislation guides implementation in the states and replaces the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) which was often criticized for an overemphasis on testing-while leaving behind subjects such as music. ESSA recommends music and the arts as important elements of a well-rounded education for all children.

Lea Helsel & Claire Chao Selected for the 2020 PMEA All-State Orchestra

The school closure couldn't stop Lea Helsel and Claire Chao from proving once again that they are two of the best high school musicians in the state of Pennsylvania. Both auditioned digitally and were selected for the 2020 PMEA All-State Orchestra.

Additionally, PMEA held extra auditions for underclassmen to see how they would rank for NAFME All-National and All-Eastern Honors groups. Lea had the first overall audition in the state of PA on French Horn. Later this month Lea will find out if she has been selected for Nationals! Way to go Lea!

Congratulations Lea and Claire!

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Mr. Ziccardi Named Quarterfinalist for a GRAMMY!

Music teacher/band director, Mr. Ronnie Ziccardi, has been named a quarterfinalist to receive a GRAMMY for the 2021 Music Educator Award. Mr. Ziccardi is one of 216 music educators from 199 cities across the country that have been selected as a quarterfinalist for this incredible recognition. In total, 2,000 initial nominations were submitted.

The Music Educator Award was established to recognize current educators (kindergarten through college) who have made a significant and lasting contribution to the field of music education and who demonstrate a commitment to the broader cause of maintaining music education in the schools. A joint partnership and presentation of the Recording Academy and GRAMMY Museum, the recipient will be recognized during GRAMMY Week 2021.

Way to go Mr. Ziccardi!

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Virtual Performances by Avonworth Students

One of the biggest disappointments during the school closure was not getting the chance to hear our student musicians perform in their spring concerts. Our band and choir directors and their students have worked so hard all year and they were just putting the final touches on their spring performances to share all of this hard work. We can't wait to get back to hearing their amazing musicianship and voices in the near future. For now, please enjoy the following videos that were created during the school closure.

The first is a senior recital performed by some of our high school band students.

The second is a virtual band performance of the Avonworth fight song.

The third is a wonderful Spring 2020 video Mr. Warren put together.

The fourth is an amazing performance of Amani Utupe by the Avonworth Chamber Choir.

The Avonworth Band 2020 Virtual Senior Recital
Avonworth Virtual Band Fight Song
Avonworth Choir Spring Video 2020
Amani Utupe

Avonworth Artists Never Cease to Amaze Us

Sharing our Amazing Avonworth Artists' Work

Another huge disappointment of the school closure was not being able to have our spring art shows. If you haven't attended one, you must. From K-12 our art department does an amazing job teaching our students and as a result, the artwork created by our students is stunning.

During the school closure, our art teachers put together presentations to share some of the student artwork created during the school year and also some artwork created during the closure. Enjoy!

Primary Artwork - Virtual Art Show

Elementary Art During the School Closure

AHS Student Art Show 2019-2020

Take a Peak at This Year's Spring Musical

Spring 2020 Musical - Young Frankenstein

Every spring brings the Avonworth High School Musical, which is always a highlight of every school year. Like every year, our musical director, Mrs. Deborah Frauenholz, and the cast and crew were hard at work on this year's production of Young Frankenstein. Sadly, due to COVID-19 and the school closure, the spring musical had to be canceled.

Due to the incredible talent of Avonworth's Keyaira Cameron, all was not lost. Keyaira was in the process of creating videos to document the creation of this year's musical. She created a trailer and interviews of cast members. Her amazing videos provide a look behind the scenes at the hard work, dedication, and creativity the cast and crew were putting into this production.

Below is the trailer for Young Frankenstein created by Keyaira Cameron. To access all of the videos/interviews conducted by Keyaira, please use this link: Drama Department Website Page

Musical Trailer - AHS 2020 Young Frankenstein

Happenings Worth Celebrating

Avonworth Student Organizes Virtual Run/Walk to Support Food Bank

With the world hit by a pandemic and people in a position where they may be struggling, Avonworth student Matthew Purcell decided to take action. He recognized how families may be impacted by losing jobs and then struggling to put food on the table. To help, he decided to organize a virtual 5K or 1-mile walk to benefit the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. His efforts helped to raise a little over $3000, which equals over 15,000 meals that will be provided through the food bank.

This was an amazing act of kindness on the part of Matthew! Way to go!

Avonworth Volleyball Team Spreads Cheer During Challenging Time

Starting on April 14th, the Avonworth Girls' Volleyball team partnered with two local area nursing/senior homes, The Squirrel Hill Wellness and Rehab Center and Anthology of McCandless. Each girl on the team selected names of residents and started writing letters to spread some positive energy and cheer. In total, there were 62 residents that the team divided up to send letters to. Their hope was that the team could provide every resident with the comfort that they were being thought of during this time of uncertainty. In addition to these residents, the girls also wrote letters to their own family and friends to provide them with the same comfort.

This summer and beyond COVID-19, the team plans to continue their partnership with these two facilities. In the future, the team also plans to visit them in person to meet the residents they have sent letters to.

This is a perfect example of how Avonworth students and athletes live the #bethekindkid mission on a daily basis! Way to go team!

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Avonworth's Drew Harper to Have an Impact in 2021

Drew Harper was a key player on the 19-20 Avonworth Football Team that made it all the way to the 2A PIAA Championship Game and he plans to have an impact in 20-21 as well. The WPIAL Sports News has taken notice of Drew's impact and has named him in their Top 30 in the Class of 2021! Way to go Drew!
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Resources for Families

Helping Parents/Guardians Navigate Technology

As a busy parent/guardian, it is hard to keep up with how quickly technology changes, the many ways your child may be using technology, or what they may be exposed to through technology. Kidsburgh and Common Sense Media can be very helpful to parents/guardians in their quest to keep up with and remain informed about technology as it relates to their children.

Below are links to information on topics you may be interested in learning about. Also, a link will be provided below to a short video provided by Kidsburgh that explains Common Sense Media.

Tweens, teens, and phones: Check out Common Sense Media's 2019 research

Common Sense Media: 5 steps to take before handing down your smartphone

Common Sense Media explains: What are deepfakes?

Common Sense Media: Where can kids find reliable sources for school reports?

Help! My kid wants to use social media

10 risky apps parents should watch out for in 2019

Warning: It's ridiculously easy for kids to cheat using these apps and sites

13 viral YouTube challenges your kids to know about - and what you can do

Parents ultimate guide to Snapchat (from 2018)

New strategies to get kids to create media, not just consume it (2018 - a nice positive story and also helps parents with younger children!)


Wide Open School powered by Common Sense Media

If you are looking for helpful resources, Common Sense Media is one of the best places to find them. They have created a wonderful site with curated resources for families and educators. All in one place, there are resources for content area learning, emotional well-being, virtual field trips, ways to get moving, virtual summer camp and so much more.

Use the link below to access Wide Open School and begin exploring these wonderful resources.

Looking Ahead

Avonworth High School Receives Grant to Bring the LIGHT Education Initiative to the High School

The LIGHT Education Initiative is an incentive-based education initiative designed to inspire, prepare, and empower students for leadership roles in Holocaust, genocide, and human rights education, remembrance, and advocacy. LIGHT, which stands for “Leadership through Innovation in Genocide and Human rights Teaching,” has as a three-tiered approach:

“LIGHT Programming” - differentiated instruction and assessment through project-based learning. Examples include social justice and community-building projects, participation in arts and writing competitions like Waldman International, planning of community library programs, memorial creation like the Butterfly Project, or awareness and advocacy campaigns like Indigenous Peoples’ Day or Genocide Awareness Month.

“LIGHT Centers” – collaborative humanities “makerspaces” within schools. LIGHT Centers can exist in many forms: as permanent shared spaces, as part of an existing STEM/STEAM makerspace, as a space within the school’s library, or as a temporary “pop-up” in preparation for a LIGHT event. The ideal LIGHT Center includes collaborative furniture and technology, allowing students to plan, organize, and execute programming efficiently and effectively, i.e. to “make” in the realm of the humanities.

“LIGHT Coordinator” positions within schools – initially, grant-funded supplemental positions for teachers to oversee LIGHT Centers, programming, and events in lieu of one or more teaching periods and/or duties, or as a “LIGHT club” sponsor.

High School principal, Mrs. Dwulit, will be working with our newly created Social Justice Club and high school staff members to create a LIGHT Center with the funds received from this grant.

Congratulations to high school teacher, Molly Long, for obtaining this grant!

Looking Ahead to 2020-2021

Throughout the summer, the Avonworth School District administration will be working on our plan for reopening in August of 2020. We are receiving information and guidance from the Pennsylvania Department of Education and putting our District's Health & Safety Plan in accordance with this guidance.

The video message from Dr. Ralston below was sent out to families recently. If you haven't had the chance to view this message, please take a moment to do so.

As we learn more and our plan develops, we will be sharing more information with you. Until then, please have a safe and enjoyable summer!