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Board recognizes exceptional students, faculty and staff

The April 24 regular board meeting was decorated in appreciation for some exceptional students, faculty and staff of the Bethlehem Area School District community.

The directors first recognized seniors Gabriella Greenhoward from Freedom HS and Lexi Vega of Liberty HS, who were each awarded a full-tuition scholarship to Moravian College March 27. Greenhoward and Vega were selected out of 50 students who applied for the scholarship.

This is the second year Moravian has awarded a full ride, dubbed the Superintendent’s Scholarship, to two BASD students. Moravian College President Bryon Grigsby founded the Superintendent’s Scholarship in an effort to give back to the community and, each year, the winners are chosen by BASD Superintendent Dr. Joseph Roy.

Speaking to the young people mixed in the audience at the meeting, Roy said, “You have the potential to receive a full-tuition scholarship to Moravian College as a graduating senior as these two great young ladies have, if you work hard and take advantage of the opportunities presented to you.”

Next, directors recognized two BASD employees who garnered two highly esteemed awards from the Pennsylvania School Public Relations Association’s (PenSPRA) Excellence in Education Communications Contest for the district. The contest honors exceptional communications in an array of media forms used by communications professionals throughout the state.

“Our district took on many initiatives this year in social media, including promotional videos to engage our community, attract families and build and improve community partnerships and to generally inform the public of the wonderful opportunities and achievements in our district,” Roy said.

The district took home the Best Social Media Campaign award for its #BASDProud campaign assembled by George Wacker, founder and president of Lehigh Valley with Love Media, LLC. The campaign started at the beginning of the current school year in response to a Lehigh Valley – wide mailer that painted Liberty HS students as substance abusers in an effort to promote a Catasauqua charter school. The #BASDProud Campaign drew an outpouring of support from alumni, faculty, administrators, families and community partners that continues to this day. Wacker was honored for the blog posts, articles and other media that he and his team contributed in support of the district.

BASD also received the PenSPRA’s Award of Excellence, the highest award possible, in the Promotional Video category for the video, “How Can You Describe a BASD Kindergartener?” The video was put together by Tom Braun, a computer science teacher at Fountain Hill ES, and explores kindergarteners as critical thinkers, leaders and collaborators. The directors honored Braun for bringing this highly esteemed award to the district. Viewers can watch the video on BASD’s channel on YouTube.

“I want to thank you for the beautifully shot and edited video you compiled,” Roy told Braun. “It was a goal to reassure parents about the wonderful things to expect when their children enter kindergarten.”

Braun also produces BASD’s cable TV show, “District Insider,” that features video segments focusing on different aspects of academics, initiatives and student activities. The show airs on RCN Thursday and Sunday evenings at 6 p.m.

Finally, for the second year in a row, the organizers of the Lynnfield Terrace Community Center showed their appreciation for members of the BASD staff, faculty and students who volunteer their time and talent to the community center. The Lynnfield Neighborhood is a Bethlehem Housing Authority development. Individual awards were handed out by Director Rogelio Ortiz, who volunteers ample time at the community center, and some of the children who benefit from the center’s programs.

“It takes a whole community to support children from the housing authority to the district employees to the community partners to students and families,” Roy said.

Recognized were: school board director Dr. Dean Donaher and Chris Cassidy, representing PA Southside Vision 20/20 of the Community Action Development Corporation of the Lehigh Valley; Andrew Chandler of Sodexo; Carolyn Roman, who teaches at East Hills MS; Mike Alogna, principal at Freemansburg ES; Sonia Vazquez, principal at Donegan ES; Nikki Testa, leader of the district’s Backpack Pals program; Eva Howells, teacher at East Hills MS; Dave Horvath, principal at East Hills MS; Paulina Collaza, teacher at Liberty HS; Andrea Schwartz, guidance counselor at East Hills MS; the East Hills MS Student Government Association; and Martha Ortiz, community organizer.

PRESS PHOTO BY LIZ KEMMERERChildren of the Lynnfield Terrace Community Center with BASD employees recognized for their volunteer efforts at board meeting April 24.