New Castle News

Schools

April 16, 2013

Senior girls shine at program’s end

NEW CASTLE — It takes a long time to make a diamond —  in this case, eight years.

And last night, the jewels shone.

The first graduating class of Diamond Girls gathered at Gallo’s Italian Villa to celebrate the completion of a mentor-based program they began during fifth-grade in the New Castle Area School District.

The initiative stresses responsibility, accountability and self-respect, and the girls who began it at ages 10 and 11 are graduating with grade-point averages between 3.0 and 3.8. All have post-graduate education plans as well.

“It has been a long eight years,” said co-director Michele Perelman. “Some girls thrived, some girls lost their way. The goal of the founders and mentors to change lives is the continuing motivation for the program.

“And the lives of these girls have changed. They are sparkling, strong and beautiful young women poised to take on the world.”

Supported by 10 mentors who have been with the program since its inception, Diamond Girls placed high expectations on its members, including a no-drug, no-alcohol and no-pregnancy commitment through graduation. That came with challenges to achieve good grades, perform volunteer services and to become involved in the community.

Meetings included volunteer opportunities; health education programs; classes in manners, etiquette and modeling; academic support; and fitness programs. The girls attended Girl Scout camp, volunteered at the Hoyt Center for the Arts Children’s Festivals, served lunch at First Presbyterian’s Glory Grill, took multiple nature trips to Moraine State Park and even visited New York City on an overnight excursion.

Three of last night’s graduates — Keonna Fuqua, Payge Elias and Antoynette Greer — each said that Diamond Girls had helped them overcome shyness and enabled to them to speak confidently with and before others.

“I became an outgoing young lady,” Keonna said. “When I was little, I was shy. I didn’t talk to many people, so I kind of evolved to where I can talk to people now.

“It was hard, because I didn’t want to, but I got used to it.”

Payge shared how volunteering with the group opened both her eyes and her heart.

“The thing that got to me most was feeding the homeless and seeing them come in and having nothing and being able to give them what they need,” she said. “And we went caroling at a nursing home, and got to make them smile.

“It opened my eyes more to a world like that, and it kind of hurts that you can’t help them all.”

Antoynette was thankful for the guidance of the group’s mentors.

“These mentors are like another mom to you because they teach you things that you don’t know, things that your mom doesn’t teach you,” she said. “It’s just nice to have another mother when you’re away from your own mother.

“So I have a home away from home.”

More than 90 friends, family members and sponsors attended last night’s dinner, where each girl received a Diamond Girl silver charm and necklace, with a diamond in the center and the inscription “Diamond Girl” on the back.

Maria McKee, chief financial and operating officer of the New Castle Community YMCA, spoke on “Three Key Life Lessons,” and each girl shared what Diamond Girls has meant to her. With the support of the Pittsburgh-based FISA Foundation, Packer Thomas, Treloar and Heisel, the Perelman Foundation and Joe Anne Preston, each girl will be awarded a scholarship based on a written application.

 

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Schools
  • Yauger.jpg Yauger’s Mercer County trial on hold

    A pending criminal trial for the former Midwestern Intermediate Unit IV executive director has been continued again in Mercer County.

    July 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • Yauger.jpg Yauger now facing federal charge

    With Mercer County court proceedings pending this week, Cecelia Yauger faces federal prosecution for alleged business credit card misuse.

    July 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • school.jpg New Castle board adopts budget despite uncertainty

    The New Castle school board adopted its 2014-15 budget Monday but may have to re-open it next week. The $5.4 million budget, introduced in May, has no tax increase and will not tap into the fund balance. Taxes remain at 17.72 mills.

    July 2, 2014 1 Photo

  • Todora.jpg Board, staff bids farewell to superintendent

    Dr. Mary Todora will retire Monday from the Neshannock school district. “I remember eight and a half years ago when Dr. John Dietz (then-board president) called to tell me I got the job. I was thrilled,” Todora said at her final board meeting.

    June 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Rich.jpg Vo-tech administrators get bonuses, no raises

    Lawrence County Career and Technical Center administrators will get one-time bonuses instead of raises next year. The joint operating committee approved one-year agreements that would freeze the salaries of director Leonard A. Rich and the principal, head custodian, cafeteria supervisor and computer technician.

    June 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • FrankAloi.jpg Frank Aloi: 50 years of school spirit in Ellwood City

    Frank Aloi is a true Wolverine. Aloi, who turned 73 Friday, spent the past half-century affiliated with the Ellwood City school district and its sports teams.

    June 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • FrankAloi.JPG Frank Aloi Retiring: Ellwood superintendent leaving amid budget woes

    Frank Aloi is retiring next month as Ellwood City’s superintendent of schools. Aloi, a 50-year district employee and its superintendent for nearly 12, submitted his retirement notice to the board during an executive session prior to Thursday’s meeting. His last day is July 16.

    June 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • school.jpg District mulls building sale options

    The New Castle school district is considering selling its three recently closed buildings through a sealed bid process.

    June 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Perfect.jpg Your Education: Shenango grad never missed a day

    They say nobody’s perfect. But for 13 years, Jenna DiGiammarino certainly was. When Jenna left last night’s commencement ceremonies at Shenango High School, she did so not only with a diploma in hand, but also with a flawless record of attendance dating back to Day One of kindergarten.

    June 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • 03.jpg Photo Gallery, Story: Three New Castle schools close today for good

    Today is bittersweet for New Castle Area School District elementary students and teachers. Three buildings packed with history as longtime learning institutions are closing their doors for good.
     

    June 5, 2014 1 Photo

House Ads
Poll

Summer is a perfect time for a good read. Where's your favorite place to spend off time with your nose in a book?

Relaxing on the couch
On a bench in the park
By the pool
At the closest beach
I don't have time to read
     View Results