Mt. Lebanon Great Alumni

Group of men and women on football field.
Mt. Lebanon High School’s 2023 Great Alumni class, from left: Elena LaQuatra, Jeremy DeLuca and Jon Delano, with district superintendent Melissa Friez and high school principal Joel Thompson. Not pictured: Susan McFadden. (Marilee Kline)

GREAT ALUMNI The Mt. Lebanon School District has recognized four Mt. Lebanon High School graduates with its Great Alumni Award. The award, now in its 18th year, is a project of the high school student council, which chooses the awardees with input from a selection committee composed of students, faculty, administrators and past Great Alumni Award recipients. This year’s honorees are:

Jon Delano, Class of 1967, has been the money and politics editor for KDKA for nearly 30 years, and recently retired after 25 years teaching public policy at CMU’s Heinz College and writing for the Pittsburgh Business Times. His awards include the Edward R. Murrow Award, Golden Quill, Small Business Champion Award, Good Government Award, Vann Award for Excellence, and the Clarity Award. Delano has been a leader at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, the Historical Society of Mount Lebanon, and the Denis Theatre Foundation.

Elena LaQuatra, Class of 2010, lost 100 percent of her hearing to bacterial meningitis at age 4. She underwent extreme rehabilitative measures and now hears with a cochlear implant, having regained her listening and spoken language skills at DePaul School for Hearing and Speech in Pittsburgh. LaQuatra, a former Miss Pennsylvania USA, is a morning traffic and news anchor with WTAE. She has been named one of Whirl Magazine’s 13 Under 30, Pittsburgh Magazine’s 40 Under 40, the National Herald’s 40 Under 40, and Pittsburgh Business Times 30 Under 30, and has received ACHIEVA’s Yvonne Zanos Excellence in Media Award and the Girl Scouts’ Woman of Distinction in Journalism Award. LaQuatra serves on the board of trustees and as a spokesperson for DePaul and on the board of directors for the Eye & Ear Foundation of Pittsburgh.

Susan McFadden, Class of 1966, began her pursuit of psychology in Dr. Margaret Anderson’s high school class. She pursued undergraduate and graduate degrees in psychology at Bucknell University, teaching high school and community college classes before earning her doctorate in psychology and religion at Drew University in New Jersey. She taught at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh while focusing on the psychology of aging and the psychology of religion. McFadden’s research and scholarship appear in many journal articles and books, and she continues to give lectures on aging, dementia, and creative engagement to improve the lives of older people. Since retiring in 2012, she continues to write academic papers, attend conferences, and give lectures. She also co-founded the Fox Valley Memory Project, a nonprofit that offers joy and meaning to people with dementia and their care partners.

Jeremy DeLuca, Class of 2004, graduated from the Indiana University of Pennsylvania with a bachelor’s degree in music education, with a focus in percussion and educational psychology. He returned to Mt. Lebanon and rose to become director of percussion studies in 2019, overseeing programs for 200 percussionists in grades 4-12. DeLuca and the Mt. Lebanon Percussion Program were awarded the 2016 Scott E. Folmer Memorial Exemplary Practice/Partnership Award by the Local Task Force for the Right to Education in Allegheny County, when he was recognized for his efforts to make percussion and marching band fully inclusive. He received the Extra Mile Award from the Mt. Lebanon School Board in 2022. In addition, DeLuca is a prolific arranger and composer, and developed a cymbal technique widely adopted by area programs.