here and now

Piper Drive resident Connor Hayes and Hoodridge Drive resident Jake Grefenstette, both seniors at Seton-La Salle Catholic High School, have been named University of Notre Dame Hesburgh-Yusko Scholars. More than 1,600 high school students worldwide applied for the prestigious program that requires them to write 16 essays, submit two recommendation letters and conduct a phone and in-person interview at the University of Notre Dame. The committee judges scholars on four criteria: distinguished academic accomplishment, exemplary moral character, demonstrated leadership abilities and sincere commitment to service. Only 25 students were selected to be Hesburgh-Yusko scholars; they will each receive $25,000 annually for four years toward the cost of attending Notre Dame. But the benefits for the students exceed the monetary award, as the program also is a leadership development program that engages students throughout the academic year and summer. Hayes, the son of Kevin Hayes and Maureen Kelly, served as Mt. Lebanon Municipality’s junior commissioner for the first semester of the 2011-12 school year, received the St. Timothy Award by the Diocese of Pittsburgh for his outstanding contributions to the church and community, was instrumental in establishing Seton-La Salle’s Model United Nations and academic games and is a member of the National Honor Society. Grefenstette, the son of Edward and Megan Grefenstett, is the president of the school’s National Honor Society and a senator with the student government.

Mark Jones’ songwriter saga started in Paris circa 1976, when he discovered all he wanted to do was sing and play guitar.  Now he has a new CD—his third—of original songs. The Jefferson Drive musician took a little longer than most to get to album number three—his first album, No More Range to Roam, was released in 1978. Although music is his passion, it took a back seat to raising two sons with wife, Linda Benedict Jones, the curatorial chair, exhibitions and curator of photography at Carnegie Museum of Art. Jones, who has a Ph. D in French literature, taught at Bentley College in Massachusetts and for the last 19 years has been conducting research in the French-speaking cultures of the world (especially popular music) and developing technology-enhanced language courses at Carnegie Mellon University. In 2010, with his boys grown, Jones released his second album of acoustic material titled Heartland Variations. This spring came Suburban 2-Step, a CD exploring middle-class suburban dysfunction. While his music could best be described as folk, blues and Americana, Jones has performed in a funk-rock five-piece band in Boston, and dabbled in vintage Tin Pan Alley with the Allegheny Playboys. You can hear Jones when he performs on the Saturday Light Brigade radio show 6 a.m. to noon, Saturday, June 30, (88.3 FM or  Or see him in person; check his performance schedule at