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CTC group gets interim leader

At the Jan. 26 Whitehall-Coplay Communities That Care meeting, coalition members were introduced to the new interim moderator. Denise Continenza, Penn State Extension educator and longtime CTC moderator, had previously announced her phased retirement, starting in January.

Wendy Texter, with Center for Humanistic Change, is taking on the role of interim moderator while the search for a permanent replacement continues. Texter is already a member of the coalition, so she is familiar with the group and its goals.

Each of the group’s three committees shared updates. The substance use prevention committee discussed the Strengthening Families Program, which began Jan. 23 and runs through March 5. It was mentioned attendance, particularly from Whitehall-Coplay School District, was low. The program is being held in conjunction with Catasauqua Area School District.

Committee members noted they would like more time for enrollment and outreach in the future. Additionally, having some point people in the district could help spread information and recruit families. District communication outlets could also be used to reach more families and share the information, it was noted.

Jamie Hunara, Communities in Schools coordinator at Whitehall-Coplay Middle School, reported she has heard from some families the weeknight time frame of the program conflicts with schedules, such as second jobs, continuing education, student activities and more. Continenza noted the virtual model of the program was not ideal, but they can explore holding the program on a different day or time.

The mental health and wellness committee is working to get its new PSA shared in various places throughout the district. The PSA, created by students for students, works to fight the stigma around asking for help, particularly for mental health concerns. Looking ahead to the future, the committee is looking to have some still images or graphics created along the same theme as the PSA. It was noted these still images could have a wide range of uses, such as billboards and banners, that could be placed in the community to reach a larger audience.

The low commitment to school committee has worked to explore the results of the activities survey given at WCMS and Whitehall High School. Students were asked about their interests, what groups or clubs they belong to, what areas of interest they have that might not be represented by current clubs and activities and what barriers they face in joining activities.

Michelle Khouri, WCSD registrar and community relations, noted the two biggest area of interest were cooking/nutrition and intramural or pickup sports. She said the logistics to add new clubs or activities involve a lot of planning, so they are looking at getting organized and set to implement some of the new ideas during the 2024-25 school year.

Laura Long, of Fellowship Community and Whitehall Area Rotary Club, said the club is looking for a project in the community for its annual Make a Difference Day. Additionally, she noted some Fellowship residents have expressed interest in collecting food items for the community. She questioned if the school district is in need of food donations for the Snack Pack Pals program or other items such as winter clothing.

The next CTC meeting is 9 a.m. Feb. 23 in the LGI room at WHS, 3800 Mechanicsville Road.