Above & Beyond
SUMMER CLASS UPDATE Mt. Lebanon School District’s Continuing Education program’s summer term, which was scheduled to begin on June 15, has been cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions.
“We had to go by the recommendations of the governor,” says Ray Schrader, adult education coordinator. “But we are optimistic to open up the fall program. People should look for our list of classes in the September issue of Mt. Lebanon Magazine.”
However, certain virtual summer classes are available to students. The summer health class is currently underway for high school students who wish to fulfill their health requirement outside of their regular school schedule. This 60-hour session began on June 15.
The theory portion of the driver education course is also available, with sessions starting July 6 and August 3. This 30-hour course is open to students who have their learner’s permit and are eligible for car instruction. It involves no in-person contact, car simulation or car instruction hours, but the course will introduce students to driving concepts and road rules, and, in many cases, insurance companies will account for it when determining discounts. Students can register online at www.mtlsd.org/ae.
Students hoping to register for car lessons and licensing tests should call 412-344-2020 for more information when the high school building reopens. Please note that these services are currently backlogged, since the spring session had to be cancelled midterm.
VIRTUAL SCHOOL IN THE PARK Even though in-person classes were cancelled this May due to COVID-19 restrictions, Mt. Lebanon Nature Conservancy made sure kids did not miss out on School in the Park, a field trip for third graders to learn about different habitats and wildlife native to our area.
“The curriculum is well-established, and we have volunteers who are used to teaching their station. One lady has taught the same station since the ‘80s!” says Angie Phares, conservancy volunteer and School in the Park coordinator. School in the Park usually features five stations where volunteer teachers present about their topic—birds, invertebrates, field edge, forest or stream habitats—and lead the students through activities.
This year, teachers filmed their stations—some at home and others outdoors—and posted them online for students to enjoy. Each video is 10 to 20 minutes long. Teachers took advantage of their personal resources to make the videos more interesting. Watch the videos on the Mt. Lebanon Nature Conservancy Facebook page at facebook.com/lebonature/.
The conservancy also worked with the school district to ensure students had access to curriculum activities. For example, they delivered owl pellets to each school for parents to pick up so that students could follow the owl pellet dissection activity.
“Our intention is always to get kids outside a little bit more and teach them an approach to nature,” says Phares. “I know kids have been cooped up inside a lot, so this was a nice opportunity to get them out a little bit and feel some normalcy.”
SUCCESS IN SCIENCE Rising Mt. Lebanon junior Natalie McGee, Hoodridge Drive, won awards in two regional science fairs this spring. Her project, “Exploring Sustainable Methods of Ocean Surface Agriculture,” earned her a spot among the Pittsburgh.
Regional Science & Engineering Fair’s Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) finalists, and she also earned a first place at the PA Junior Academy of Sciences.
For her project, which was not part of a school assignment, she created a prototype of a floating device that could collect salt water and, with the help of sunlight, condense it into fresh water that could be used to grow crops. This self-sustaining device could grow commercial crops while floating on the ocean surface.
“Right now we have rising temperatures and sea levels, causing our available land space and fresh water space to shrink. Food supplies are also diminishing as our population grows,” says McGee. “It’s a really big problem, and I’d like to continue this work in the future.”
ALL-STATE MUSICIANS Every year, Mt. Lebanon music students compete at district, regional and state-level music festivals sponsored by the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association (PMEA). Students travel to a host school, audition in front of a panel of judges, and are permitted to advance to the next level based on their chair ranking (the highest-achieving is First Chair.) After the auditions, they stay for multiple-day rehearsal sessions, culminating in a concert, often with a distinguished guest conductor.
Due to COVID-19, this year was different. While the model for districts remained unaffected, regional and all-state festivals could no longer convene for rehearsals or concerts, but students could still compete by submitting recordings. In spite of this, five Mt. Lebanon students advanced to the state level: Senior Aaron Fry achieved First Chair Tuba in PMEA All-State Orchestra; Sophomore Rose Lischner achieved First Chair Bassoon I in PMEA All-State Orchestra, Junior violinists Caroline Kenney and Alexandra Stephenson also advanced to PMEA All-State Orchestra; and Senior Nicholas DeLuca advanced to PMEA All-State Concert Band for the cornet.
Since we aren’t having a July 4 celebration this year, we thought we’d reach all the way back to the Bicentennial year of 1976, when the community gathered together at the high school to bury this time capsule. You can read a firsthand account of the placing of that time capsule (which is to be opened in 2076), as well as a description of everything else that happened on that long-ago summer day, at lebomag.com/paperboy-days/.