New Castle News

November 26, 2013

Group helps Union students, teachers

Lugene Hudson
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — A robotics program continues to grow in the Union Area School District.

Fifth- and sixth-graders enjoyed Education Day at PNC Park.

And two jazz band clinics also were able to take place.

But none of those would have been possible without a group that is working hard to provide extras to students and teachers.

The Union Area Academic Advocates — a nonprofit organization — was formed in July 2011 to support, encourage and acknowledge academic achievements of students and staff.

The advocacy group has received donations including $2,000 from the Union Area Education Foundation and $20,000 from the Ellwood Group. Del’s Garage donated $1,2000 toward new band uniforms and there were donations from PNC Bank in Erie.

Along with community support and fundraising efforts, the 10- member board consists of educators, business persons and professionals. John Pacella is president and treasurer; Joe Seminara is vice president and Katie Allison is secretary.

Founders were the three officers and Chris Masi.

Since its development, the UAAA has financially supported other academic efforts, including the Scottie Pups preschool literacy program, science activities for seventh and eighth grades, the school musical, middle/high school student council/state student council conference, psychology textbooks for the dual enrollment program, the purchase of a computer numeric control router and a stakeholders dinner, which acquired $50,000 in pledges toward the robotics project.

According to Allison, efforts continue in applying for grants toward the robotics/stem program, and the UAAA is raising donations to fund it. Those donations will be used to provide a renovated technology classroom with computer software, 3-D printer; mobile robotics cart and 15 new robots.

The promotion of technology and robotics will allow students to competitively participate in university STEM-centered competitions and excel in the areas of science, mathematics, and robotics.

Fundraising efforts also include the third annual alumni recognition dinner and dance, which was held Friday. This year’s recipients were Isabella Bartley and Linda O’Neill.

2011 Recipients were Chris Assid and Joe Macri, and 2012 recipients were Martha Shannon and David Del Principe.

The UAAA has done gas card sales and Ruby Tuesday “give back nights,” and does teacher payroll deductions and tax-deductible private donations as well as ones from local businesses.

Allison said the group will continue to explore avenues of fundraising.

“We are very appreciative for the generosity of our business and individual donors.”

(Email: lhudson@ncnewsonline.com.)