Giving School Spirit a Facelift

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By Nadine Buckley

With every new year comes new additions to the school. This year is no exception as Shenango High School presents a new gym floor and a fresh coat of paint. However the most noticeable change is the giant pictures hanging on the hallways. These photographs  show students, past and present, participating in various school activities like performing in marching band, playing sports, cheering as part of a crowd and showing all-around school spirit. Some say motivational words like “Skill” and “Unity” underneath. The mastermind behind these inspirational decorations? None other than the small but mighty chemistry teacher and track coach, Mr. Chris Vecenie.

“So the school I went to growing up had tons of school pride stuff all over the place,” Vecenie said. “I felt like we could do a little better of a job around here with those types of things. So I came up with this project to infuse some school pride into the school through pictures of kids doing stuff in Shenango gear.”

In order to make his vision a reality,Vecenie had to get the support of the school staff behind him. This proved to be relatively easy, as nearly everyone thought it was a great idea. The main concern was being able to balance the different groups being shown. They wanted to make sure everyone had a fair representation.

Of course, this project would not have been able to happen without Clarks Studio. The locally renowned photography studio has been taking Shenango’s pictures for years, capturing many sporting and musical events with their cameras. The pictures they chose to display in the hallways were typically ones where the students’ backs were turned or their faces were covered in some way to keep them anonymous and therefore relatable to the general student body. Other pictures feature smiling faces of previous distinguished alumni who have left their mark on Shenango in some memorable way.

The woodshop teacher, Mr. Miklos, is also currently working on an academic scoreboard.  It will allow the students to see how they compare to the rankings of other Lawrence County schools in testable subjects like SAT and PSSA scores, along with graduation rates to help build a competitive spirit and encourage students to do well not just for themselves, but for Shenango as a whole.

Vecenie said that he just wanted kids to walk around school and feel pride in being a Shenango kid, whether they were involved in something extracurricular or not. Even if all a student does every day is come to school and sit in class, they can feel like they are part of a bigger family.

 

This Year’s Band is Feeling “Confident”

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By: Annalise Ginocchi and Ireland Kelly

Anyone can enjoy the stellar performance the Shenango Wildcat band puts on at halftime during the football games, but what most people don’t see is all the behind-the-scenes work that goes into these halftime performances. During the summer, the band and auxiliaries work extremely hard to clean and achieve what results in an unforgettable halftime show.

Preparation begins for the danceline and majorettes in mid-June. The danceline practices three days a week while the majorettes also put in several hours weekly all summer long. The band convenes in mid-July with music rehearsals to start learning and memorizing the halftime show music. The first two weeks of August are when everyone finally comes together for band camp. Band camp is from 8:00-3:00 every day for those two weeks, a time when the marching band and auxiliaries learn everything at once for the upcoming season.

“It’s super tiring, but, in the end, it’s so worth it,” said danceline freshman Aryssa Peters.

A band rookie, Lindsey Jennings added, “It was hot and hard work, but we got through it as a team.”

“By the end of camp, we’ve spent 70 hours together. It’s a lot of hours and a lot of work in the hot sun,” band director, Mr.Butchy shared. “The key thing about band camp is you have to get most of your work done at camp because once school starts, people are missing here and there for whatever reason.”

A goal for Mr. Butchy this year was to make sure that by the end of camp, the drill work was super clean and well-prepared. Also, he wanted to really step up the expectations for everyone this year and work harder, which he feels was achieved.

One of the ways this happened was through the introduction of summer band conditioning. The band met for six weeks prior to band camp to condition and become physically prepared for the rigor to come.  

This year’s drum major, Anna Bupp, noted one of the biggest challenges for her was “being able to help memorize music with rookies and being able to keep sectionals on task with the amount of younger kids. It’s challenging to keep their focus on  music.”

The halftime show consists of “Are You Ready for It,” “Band Bang,” “That’s My Girl,” and “Confident”.

“My favorite song is probably ‘Confident’ because I think it is energetic and powerful,” Mr. Butchy noted.  

Freshman Bella Fellion, a majorette veteran, says, “You don’t really know what to expect going into band camp. Yes, you know you are going to be there for eight hours a day for two weeks but what you don’t know is all the fun that is going to take place,” she said.  “For example,Jonathan Shaffer ripped his shirt off during the silver nut award. Band camp definitely brings everyone together as a family.”

Wildcats Mentor Kinderkats

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By: Dominique DeVivo and Melina Mangino

On a brisk Sunday morning, the varsity cheer girls got together for an early morning practice before holding the 2nd annual Kinderkats cheer clinic for grades K-6. The junior high cheerleaders also joined the varsity girls in holding this event. Cheer coach Brianne Keyser and Jeanine Reamer facilitated the event, which supported the cheerleading fund.

At the beginning of the camp, the older cheerleaders were grouped in three or four girls, two varsity and two junior high, and they worked with groups of five to ten girls teaching pom pom routines and chants. Some easy stunting was also incorporated into this.

“Trying to teach such young girls was very exciting,” noted junior Raquel Maxwell. “It was exciting because you get to teach such little girls that want to be cheerleaders just like you when they are older. Also, when the game comes around, you get to watch them smile and laugh, it makes you feel as if you have accomplished so much.”

After going through some easy/intermediate chants, the remaining time consisted of the girls all gathering around the home side of the track with happy parents watching all the material they learned.This material was important because later that week, all cheerleaders would be cheering at the first varsity football game that upcoming Saturday.

The camp ended with a final fun activity that everyone could participate in.The Wildcats gathered together and played a game that involved each older cheerleader and their assigned little girls going to the middle of the circle and dancing.

“I think the clinic is both important to the high school cheerleaders and the elementary level girls. For the high school girls, I can tell it brings them back to a time when they were younger, and they enjoy being role models for the smaller ones,” said coach Keyser. “For the little girls, I watch them look in amazement at my older cheerleaders hopefully to one day be like them on the sidelines. It is the cutest thing to watch!”  

Archery, Handball, and More!

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By Zoey Angelucci and Ian Richard

Seventh grade students wore their tennis shoes and brought their pencils to embark on their journey into the wilderness of Moraine State Park on the annual field trip that works to bring the class of 2024 together.

Seventh grade teachers, with the help of guidance counselor, Mrs. Othites, came together to make the annual trip a success. Mrs. Othites shared, “In the springtime, I set up with the Moraine people for a day. Our seventh grade faculty gets together and talks about the activities that they are going to do. It’s just a matter of getting all the supplies you need.”

This trip has become a successful part of Shenango’s annual curriculum.  “It started many years ago prior to me being here,” Mrs. Othites noted. “The previous counselor thought it was a way for the students to expand their horizons. Some of them have never been to Moraine, which is about ten minutes away from us. So each teacher developed a classroom lesson that they could do outdoors. That’s how the tradition started.”

Like Mrs. O said, each 7th grade teacher created a lesson that could be taught outside of the classroom. Each teacher got a letter from the word WILDCAT on which to base their lesson.

For example, Mr. Mayo had the letter L. He used this as a means to focus on the life skill of listening. “I did a listening activity. Basically, they partnered up with a different person every two minutes, and they talked about a certain topic. I think it is important because I think listening is the most underrated skill,” he stressed.

Students partook in different activities such as career planning, attitude-based handball games, integrity talks, listening activities, and archery.

The 7th graders were pleased with the field trip. Most enjoyed being able to get out of the classroom and learn in a new environment. The fan-favorite activity was archery with Mr. Merlino. However, Nikolai Mihaly and Maria Bryant agreed, “playing handball with Mr. Cooper” was their favorite part. Each student enjoyed the outing and learned something valuable.

Social studies teacher Mr. Cooper explained, “I think it is one of the best things we do here at Shenango. So many times we just worry about the history, the English and everything else, but a lot of times we can be more successful inside the classroom by building on those character traits,” he said. “I think it’s a good step back to be able to do that and help the kids in all phases of their lives, not just in the classroom.”

 

Teamwork Outside the Classroom

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By: Isabella Cassano and Kailee Smith

Eighth grade students recently made the dream work with their teamwork, coming together as one. The annual excursion to Lutherlyn really helped to bring the current class of 2023 together.

School counselor Mrs. Othites started planning this trip last spring. All of the eighth grade core teachers also are crucial components to the trips success, leading the different groups of students.

Each year, the eighth graders attend this trip to practice teamwork and exercise bonding activities. “A lot of things are about teamwork, communication, and cooperation,” said Mrs. Othites. The students are expected to work together to complete difficult obstacles throughout the trip, and the obstacles were especially hard due to the unfortunate weather patterns. Mrs. Othites expressed her concerns at the time about the weather due to the hurricane and the rains it caused near the Lutherlyn site. Thankfully, everything ended up going smoothly.

Mrs. Othites described some of these obstacles to be more challenging due to the wetness, like the tightrope walk she did herself.  When she asked her group who thought she would not be able to make it, “they all raised their hands,” she said, laughing. Another challenge was the log activity where the students had to stand on it and move amongst themselves to alphabetize their order without talking.

Student Ashley DeCarbo noted one of her favorite activities was climbing over the wheel and helping each other with the challenge. “We worked with different people than we normally would,” she stated.

“The Lutherlyn staff does a really nice job connecting the activities that we do with life experiences,” stated Mrs. Othities, which she expresses is key to teamwork, a skill that is paramount for all students’ futures.  

A Year of Change: Shenango Welcomes Mr. Anthony

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By Melina Mangino, Angela Prestopine, and Kayla Suber

Students and staff might wonder how this school year will look different from previous years. One key change is the addition of a new Wildcat. As assistant principal, Mr. Todd Anthony is ready to improve the school district and help students as much as he can.

“My goal for this year is to make sure I communicate with as many people as possible,” he shared.   

Mr. Anthony comes to Shenango with many years of diverse experience and can’t wait to use his skill set to better the district. One of his positions in the past involved working with blind students.

“It was a school for students with severe disabilities,” Mr. Anthony said.  “It really taught me to work with students who couldn’t communicate.”

Mr. Anthony also worked as the school counselor at West Middlesex. This experience lends to his assertion that “I won’t be easily overwhelmed by anything.”

Drawn to Shenango High School for many reasons, Mr. Anthony knew about Shenango’s reputation for equipping students with a strong education.  Evidenced in part through high AP scores every year, he wanted to be a part of a community that values education and high expectations.

As the assistant principal, Anthony explained a new rule that will be enforced starting this year. Students are no longer permitted to carry large purses during the school day. Although many students were upset about this new change, there were several ideas that backed up his reasoning, the most obvious being safety. Feeling safe during the school day is something Mr. Anthony feels strongly about, and he wants students to feel comfortable every day in a secure environment.

“Sometimes you have to search the good people to find the bad people,” Anthony explained in regards to the logic behind the increased safety focus.  “It’s the same thing with a speed limit. You might be fine driving seventy miles per hour, but the person who’s distracted or drinking is why we really have to enforce the rules.

“I trust you guys. I just don’t trust that one person,” he stressed. That is also why bag checks are randomly done in the mornings to ensure the safety of students and staff members.

Mr. Anthony is excited to “form bonds with students” as he takes on the new school year.

United Way Day of Caring

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By Isabella Cionni and Joey Doughty

A group of the Shenango Peer Leaders joined the United Way Day of Caring to help clean up their community and bring out the beauty of New Castle.

“They  cleaned up trash downtown,” shared Peer Leadership advisor Mrs. Rudesill. “ In the past, they painted different businesses and have done some landscaping as well.”

The Peer Leaders have participated in the United Way Day of Caring for many years now. “Peer leadership always stresses community service, and we have a connection with United Way.  The event gets kids out in the community and helps them realize the importance of community service,” clarified Mrs. Rudesill. An event like this combats the misconception that kids of this generation are too self-involved.

One student who attended the event, senior Anna Bupp, enjoyed listening to the musicians play all of the Beatles songs. Anna’s green thumb made her favorite part of the day when they got to weed the diamond in downtown New Castle.

“We helped clean up downtown New Castle by weeding. Then, when it started to rain, we went inside the YMCA and helped clean walls and clean up the area. After that, we helped clean up roads and the side of the highway,” Anna stated.

The Peer Leaders believe the event showed how one person can do something as simple as picking up trash can change the community and the world.  

Shenango Annual 5K Is Back

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By Haley Earl and Chaslin Hoover

Mark your calendars because it is finally time for the annual 5K run/walk and Kids Carnival put on by the Shenango Community Education Foundation (SCEF). The event will take place on Saturday, September 22 at Shenango High School.

This particular 5K was founded in 2013 and has been a successful fall event for the past five years. “We’ve added some new games and ‘minute to win it’ challenges this year for a new twist,” Dr. McCormick shared.  “I enjoy it because it is a positive community event and a chance for students, teachers and neighbors to join for some positive outdoor fun.”

“I think the SCEF 5K is a GREAT community event,” noted school counselor and facilitator of the event, Mrs. Othites.  “I enjoy seeing all of our Shenango families at the children’s carnival. The foundation has done amazing things to help support our students in their educational journey.”

Through the foundation, different grants and scholarships have been provided, such as SCEF Student Scholarships, Beth Pears Scholarships, classroom grants, and STEM Initiatives. In 2014, the foundation raised just over $5,000; now, the foundation in 2018 is up to $23,203, which for a district the size of Shenango, is extraordinary.  Over the course of five years, the foundation has raised a grand total of $77,508.

Though the prime event is the 5K run/ walk, there is more to Saturday than just that. There are plenty of other activities for those who aren’t runners! The race will begin at 9:00 a.m. and will immediately be followed by a kids carnival that will last until noon. At the carnival, there will be a station for balloon animals, a bounce house, a teacher dunk tank, and many more fun activities. After all this excitement, check out Sinkers and Suds’ donuts!

Dr. Matis, who plays a large part in making this event successful every year, emphasizes that “SCEF strives to involve the community in fundraising events. We encourage both runners and walkers to participate. The carnival has always been a hit with our younger wildcats, so we extended the time for this event.”

Mr. Budai Inducted into the Hall of Fame

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By Sam Miloser and Paige Seitam

As a part of the Shenango School District for nearly 53 years, Mr. Jan Budai is truly “Mr. Shenango.”

During the week-zero varsity football game against the Union Scotties, various players, coaches, and cheerleaders from the 1970s were recognized. The Shenango athletic director, Jan Budai, however, was additionally honored as the first member of the school district’s new athletic hall of fame.

Playing a large part in the creation of the hall of fame, Budai noted, “We had been discussing this for years on how we could go back and recognize former players that have gone through Shenango.  Our goal is to honor about a half a dozen people every year.”

Although he was an important influence facilitating the recognition process, Budai was not expecting to be the first inductee. “We’re supposed to meet in October for our first meeting, and I was surprised that they inducted me as the first recipient.”

While Budai was surprised himself, his induction did not shock many others.

High School principal, Dr. Joseph McCormick, acknowledged the accomplishments and commitments of Budai throughout his years in the school district.

“Few, if any, other individuals have invested as much time and talent into Shenango athletics as Mr. Budai,” McCormick said.  “From his time as an elite student-athlete to his decades of work as a coach and athletic director, Jan has had an immense influence on our students, coaches, and programs. He is a consummate professional and a relentless advocate for our school and athletes.”

Colleague and friend, Mike Othites shares McCormick’s sentiments.  “I was in 7th grade when Jan was a senior. I remember watching him as a three-sport star,” Othites remembered.  “He went on to be one of the best coaches to come out of this school. I was fortunate to coach alongside of him.”

Following Mr. Budai is an impressive track record. Earning nine letters in football, basketball, and baseball, Budai excelled as a Wildcat athlete. Budai led the Westminster College football team to an NAIA national championship in 1976 as the quarterback. In addition, he was voted the most valuable player in both the semi-final and final game. Playing in a time before the three-point line was present, it is also impressive to note that he finished his high school basketball career with just shy of a thousand points. Budai was all-section in baseball two years in a row. In 2006, he was inducted into the Lawrence County Historical Society Sports Hall of Fame.

The immediate future of the hall of fame is unknown. The location and various other aspects of the upcoming recognitions will be decided in the committee’s first meeting in October.

Fifth Grade Authors

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Several fifth graders in Mrs. DeCaprio’s reading classes received a “Young Author Award” for creating, writing, and illustrating their own picture books. Students began the project in January by studying and analyzing literary and visual qualities of picture books. They used the books to learn about story structure, character and plot development, visual elements, and graphic layout. Each student then developed his or her own original fiction story with illustrations and created hard cover picture books. The books included a photo and biography of each author.

Once completed, the fifth graders shared their stories with students in Kindergarten through third grade by participating in read-aloud activities.

A group of teachers read each book to determine winners in the award categories. Students were awarded certificates in several categories, including “Best Story” and “Best Illustrations.”