Sunday, November 7, 2010

Clairton Today and Yesterday

The Spirit of Clairton History

Bears and Honeybears: The Clairton Bears knocked off another opponent. A Districts 7 (WPIAL); 5 football 2010 - Round 1 - Game 1. This time the victim was Carmichaels and the score was 42-0. The next playoff opponent will be Bishop Canevin next Friday. We will keep you posted. By the way, Clairton is the only team to advance in the playoffs from the Black Hills Conference. Fort Cherry, Chartiers-Houston and Brentwood lost their first-round games.

There is more to Clairton than just football even though it seems to get the most ink. A full complement of mens and womens sports has been a tradition of CHS for many decades. The band is among the many extra-curricular activities available to students and the majorettes, renamed Honeybears in the 1950s are among the pride of Clairton. Reader Gary Irvine sent me the photo of the majorettes circa 1952. It was a few years after the photo above that Benny Benack took over from Rutilio Rotilli as the head of the band and majorettes. Benny was a cool dude in those days. His parents ran the photo studio that took most of the school pictures and Benny was a prodigy. He regularly played his trumpet and led bands at Steeler and Pirate games and had the majorettes select a name for their group. They chose “Honeybears.

The drum major has not yet been identified but the girls, so talented yet still in high school, from left to right are: Peggy Manual, Nancy Irvine, Nora Fiore, Clair Cicchini, Viola Roberts, Mary Jane Pittman, Audrey Slate, and Agnes Martis. We also mention with sadness that Nancy Irvine recently passed away in Charleston, S.C. at age 75.

Cheerleaders: The majorettes of 1952 were complemented by a unique group of cheerleaders. Why unique? They were all male! George Kraynak, Michael Mihalov, Burt Finney, Roy Verbanes, Angelo Sgroi, and Paul LeDonne were the five male cheerleaders who, according to the Clairtonian, “… mastered the old standby cheers and added to the list, Sound Off, Where, Where, and Ichabod.” Whether 1952 or nearly 60 years thereafter, school spirit is alive and well at Clairton High School.

Not just a good football team: Most educators groaned when the federal government introduced the “No Child Left Behind” Act. The idea was a good one but the first problem was that it was an unfunded initiative, which meant schools were mandated to do several things including scads and scads of student testing, but no monies were provided with which to accomplish the task. Still schools were measured against one another and each year a report card, called, AYP, or Average Yearly Progress measures the success to which all students are held. In a recent letter, Clairton School District Superintendent Dr. Lucille L. Abellonio wrote, “We are extremely proud to announce that the district has achieved AYP status in reading and mathematics for the third consecutive year! Congratulations for all their hard work to staff and students.

“In order to continue our academic progress, there are many exciting changes planned for this year at Clairton City School District! The district is beginning a ninth grade academy at the high school level. There will be a wing on the high school floor which will house all ninth grade classrooms and faculty. This will establish a sense of community for those students and provide a vehicle to foster communication between staff members working with our ninth grade students. New courses are being offered in the High School. The departments offering the new courses include English, Social Studies, Science, Mathematics, Business Education, Family and Consumer Science, Technology Education and Art Education.

“Student court, the school newspaper, and the production of morning announcements are just a few of the new activities available for student participation. We are excited to begin Project Grad during the fall semester and provide academic support services and college access services to our high school students throughout the day. The program will be located in room 224.

“Some middle school students will participate in Read 180 a computer based reading program. This program is based on individual student ability and incorporates videos, teacher instruction and books with CDs for independent instruction.

“Elementary school will continue the academic academies and learning academies which were instituted last year. Children, parents and teachers have provided much positive feedback regarding the elementary program.

“We are welcoming a new social worker this year, Ms. Cassidy Yeager, who is coming to us from the Pittsburgh Public Schools and will be working with all our students from kindergarten through twelfth grade. She has many exciting plans for the coming year.

“The district received the Enhancing Education through Technology (EETT) grant in the amount of $50,000.00 which will be used to continue to integrate technology into classroom lessons. A new District website is being developed, and wireless network access will be available on the high school level as well as other common areas such as the cafeteria and auditorium.” A tip of the hat to the good Doctor and her staff.

Too many homeless: Homelessness is an issue in many parts of the country, and western PA is no exception. For the children of homeless parents the problem is even more acute. .Nicole Anderson, coordinator of the Allegheny Intermediate Unit's Homeless Children's Initiative, which covers nine southwestern Pennsylvania counties has conducted training sessions for districts outlining their responsibilities to homeless students. Clairton School District participated in a session and has developed a partnership with a local agency providing transitional housing for single parents of 24 children. On the first Wednesday of each month, high school guidance counselor Maureen McGarvey goes to Sisters Place in Clairton to check in with moms. On her first visit she gave them enrollment packets and a list of important numbers and dates. There must be a special lounge in heaven for people who do certain things on earth. That lounge would include military heroes, palliative care workers, and guidance counselors such as Maureen who go above and beyond the call for our children.

A follow up: Thanks to readers Doe, Shelby, and bill who forwarded us information Clairton Club 46. It is a social club run by volunteer firemen who drive Clairton Fire Truck #46. Word is that the cook is great and the fish frys are yummy. We’ll have to give it a try on our next visit.
A little blogging music Maestro… “You’re My Inspiration” by the Chicago.

Dr. Forgot

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