Sunday, October 31, 2010

Building Blocks of Clairton

Clairton Police Department: Keeping your grandparents safe in 1948.
Left to Right FRONT ROW: Albert Ihnat, Joseph Soltis, Joseph Frickanish, Chief Pete Orsini, Raymond Eichler, Ralph Cole, Tony Katish
SECOND ROW: Eddie Johnson, Vernon Presley, Alex Chester, Chuck Hoff, Leo O’Donnell, Sarge Fiore, Vince Ross, Pete Maskin
THIRD ROW: Bernard Busch, Charlie George, Mike Lutheran, Sam Myford, Bruce Ackinclose, Salem Greene, George Trocheck

Regular season ends: The Bears ended their regular season and the final score was: Clairton 483, Opponents total 19. The amazing CHS football squad finished their undefeated regular season having scored 60 or more points in four of their nine games. The fewest points scored, 41, came against Little Washington which plays in a bigger league than Clairton. It is true that our hometown has had some setbacks and encountered many changes over the past half century or so, but football tradition lives. We salute Coach Nola, his staff, and the entire football squad. Job well done! Now on to the playoffs. Season results below:

Date Opponent Time/Result
Fri., Sep 3 at Washington W41 - 0
Fri., Sep 10 Western Beaver W55 - 6
Fri., Sep 17 at Carlynton W60 - 6
Fri., Sep 24 Chartiers-Houston W48 - 0
Fri., Oct 1 at Avella W60 - 0
Fri., Oct 8 Bentworth W60 - 0
Fri., Oct 15 at Brentwood W52 - 0
Fri., Oct 22 Fort Cherry W42 - 7
Fri., Oct 29 at Serra Catholic W60 - 0

Passing of a giant: We mentioned former CHS football coach Pat Risha in a prior post and cited some of the challenges that he’s had during his career as an educational administrator. The local media produced several stories that were critical of some of his dealings and those articles led to an ethics probe of the superintendent of three different area school districts. It is clear Mr. Risha had both supporters and detractors, but one cannot deny the impact he had in so many different arenas within the field of Education. From his start as a substitute Phys. Ed. teacher at Clairton High School to his tenure as a successful coach, to his ventures (and adventures) into local politics, business, and education; Mr. Risha was a difference maker. Pat Risha passed away last week of an apparent heart attack. West Mifflin Superintendent Janet Sardon, who replaced Risha was quoted as saying, "He was one of the best superintendents this region has ever seen. Every decision, every program he put in place, everything he did was always surrounded by the best interests of kids." Rest in Peace Pat Risha.

Clairton doctor: We have written in blogs past about one of Clairton’s family physicians, Dr. Eugene Cutuly. He was our family doctor for most of my youth, and after I left home, he continued as both family friend and doctor of my parents. My father died at age 87 and my mother passed away in her ninety-first year. Dr. Cutuly was their doctor until they died, and he was five years older than they were! If you search his name in the box on the upper left of this blog, you will find past blogs that we’ve written about Dr. Cutuly.

An unassuming, understated rebel: The Cutuly’s eldest daughter Joan and I shared classes and Sadie Hawkins dances as well as other CHS experiences. We were classmates. Joan became a teacher first at CHS, then at other schools and at some point moved to Las Vegas where she taught High School English. She was more than the typical English teacher, she was a teacher on a mission to teach and reach all students – gang members, honor students, limited English speakers, and every other high school student who wandered into her classroom. Her methods were unique and groundbreaking as she used the teaching of writing skills as problem solving strategies. She became a very successful award-winning teacher, recognized in the fast-growing school district as one of the best. In fact she became so successful that her unorthodox methods, although successful, threatened the traditional administration. The administration pressured her to replace those unorthodox albeit successful teaching techniques for the more traditional ones that ironically resulted in lower achievement and higher dropout rates! Joan wrote a book which was published by the National Council of Teachers of English, entitled “Home of the Wildcats: Perils of an English Teacher”

Joan was branded a radical by school officials – a round peg in a square profession; the buttons figuratively ripped from her soldier uniform and her sword broken. She was driven from the corps of teaching and those who drove her out were rewarded with cash bonuses. But she soldiered on. Bent but not broken she was driven from the desert to the sea coast where she rested, recuperated, then regrouped. She came to terms with many issues in her life and published a second book, “Prisoner of Second Grade.”

In her own words: In the introduction of her second book Joan describes herself in the following way, “I was more of a poet at heart than a teacher. By poet, I don’t mean simply a lover of metaphor but rather one who breathes for the day when truth turns power structures into flowers. It’s this latter trait that in so many oppressive regimes has earned poets a reputation for being nettlesome.”

Joan Cutuly has begun a new phase of writing. Inspired by an obnoxious but lovable seagull, she has put together a wonderful blog site called the Gulliver Initiative. Its purpose is to create better schools through art, humanity, and reason. I encourage you to visit the web site at If you don’t find as fascinating as I did, I’ll refund your money. (just kidding – its free). Joan Cutuly, Clairton gal.

Finally, we have a question for readers of this blog. We have seen many references to Club 46 in Clairton (image above). There is even a logo on a facebook page. This seems to be a community activity that is hosted by the volunteer fire department and hosts dances, fish frys, and other community activities. So we are sending out a research request to all blog readers; please tell us about Club 46 and we will post the information in a future blog.

A little blogging music maestro, “Paperback Writer” by The Beatles

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