Pawprints...a USC Parent Teacher Council Feature

Updated: Jan 29, 2019

Council Suzanne Wynne, President


The Parent Teacher Council is honored to continue its service to our community of parents in Upper St. Clair. We are fortunate to live in a community so dedicated to family and quality education. The more I interact with our District’s teachers and administrative staff, the more I realize how safe and supported my children are because of their dedication. Fred Rogers spoke to this when he said, “Anyone who has ever been able to sustain good work has had at least one person—and often many—who believed in him or her. We just don’t get to be competent human beings without a lot of different investments from others.”


It is in this spirit that the PTC works with you to provide a variety of District-wide programs.


Communication: The PTC facilitates communication between parents and staff by hosting monthly meetings with Dr. John Rozzo, superintendent of schools, where parents can come and learn about what’s happening in each school and about the District overall. This year, we’ve added an evening meeting on Wednesday, March 6 at 7 p.m. in the Boyce School theater. We also host two Open Mics where families and community members engage with Dr. Rozzo and his team to talk, listen, and receive feedback about issues and concerns surrounding our schools and children. The first Open Mic, which focuses on school safety, is scheduled for Wednesday, December 5th at 7 p.m. in the Boyce Middle School theater. The next Open Mic will take place this coming spring. The PTC also facilitates communication by printing a Districtwide student directory, available in both print format and mobile-app.

Committees: The PTC works to enhance our children’s educational environment by managing the Scripps Spelling Bee and the Arts in USC competition. Our Gifted and Talented Education (GATE), Partners in Education (PIE), Outreach, Science/Technology/Engineering/ Arts/Mathematics (STEAM), and USC Wellness committees provide programming to support the interests and well-being of students and parents, alike.

Community: One of our most important roles is to support the ongoing work of the District’s six schools’ PTA, PTO, and PTSO organizations. These organizations are made up of volunteers who enrich our children’s school experience at the elementary, middle, and high schools each and every day. For example, during the month of February, the PTC is facilitating a District-wide food drive for South Hills Interfaith Movement (SHIM). The PTC also supports our community by hosting an annual welcome dinner at the start of the school year, welcoming families who are new to the District. On behalf of the PTC, I appreciate and welcome your feedback and look forward to continued dialogue as we work together to meet the needs of our community. If you would like to get involved, contact me at wynne.sl@gmail.com. Together, we will continue creating one of the best places to live…our home, our USC!


USCHS PTSO 

Shannon Gallagher, President


Upper St. Clair High School started out the school year in the midst of construction… and now that it’s in full swing, the students, faculty, and parents appear to be making it work! We’ve had an active fall with senior cruise, homecoming, and Coach Render’s 400th win (see article on page 29 of the winter 2018 edition of Upper St. Clair TODAY), and the next few months will be no exception.


Our musical students are wrapping up the fall musical and attending the honors ensemble in Orlando, Florida, this November. The spring musical auditions begin December 14, so be on the lookout for the notices regarding meetings.


Our Keystone testing begins the second week of January. Make sure your kids are rested and prepared to maintain the stamina that standardized testing requires.


Our students are involved in organizing so many events, fundraisers, and support of their clubs that, more than ever, a parent’s time with the PTSO and PAC is vital. These meetings are where communication between the community and administration thrives. You will also hear from our students as they let us know how they are making an impact within the school and community. Consider joining and attending our meetings. Your input is what makes it work and, in the end, benefits the kids.


Fort Couch PTSO 

Katy Loomis, President

As USC looks to the winter months, opportunities abound to get involved at Fort Couch!


A favorite annual event, Reach Out will run December 10–21. As Connie Gibson, eighth grade math teacher and student council advisor, explains, “December can often be a hectic time of the year for people and schools. However, here at Fort Couch, we see joy, kindness, and caring hearts around each corner.” During Reach Out, students raise an outstanding amount of money by babysitting, cleaning, helping neighbors, caroling, and completing other volunteer activities. Last year students raised over $19,000! The money raised by Reach Out goes to a variety of charities, including Giant Eagle gift cards distributed to Upper St. Clair community members by the USC Police Department, MS Bike-a-Thon, Hope for Haiti, and an annually-changing student-selected charity. Principal Joe DeMar is “proud of our students for their kindness and generosity!”


Running parallel to Reach Out, PTSO sponsors Caught You Being Good, a week-long activity where students earn tickets for showing positive behavior. If a staff member at Fort Couch “catches” a student doing something positive, they give them a slip to submit for entrance into a daily raffle. Last, but not least, is the Warm Winter Wishes staff appreciation, with a holiday-themed dessert and coffee bar. These three events provide wonderful opportunities for parents to get involved. We welcome you to jump in and help out!


In January, the PTSO invites students to participate in the Scholastics Arts and Writing competition and spelling bee, while February brings the Valentine’s social and Valentine Gram sale. The student council, with our PTSO co-chairs, plan a wonderful night for the students, and PTSO is providing entertainment and food for all of the socials this year.


There is so much to look forward to at Fort Couch during these winter months! Stay connected and get involved through the Fort Couch PTSO website, the morning announcements, “Headlines” on the Fort Couch webpage, FCPTSO Facebook, PTSO eAlerts, and the USC Weekly Recap. The PTSO thanks you for your enthusiasm and support, and we look forward to seeing you soon!


Boyce PTO 

Jennifer Schnore, President


We are off and running at Boyce Middle School! Hopefully all students and parents have found a happy routine by now. Of interest this winter is the Fall Spirit Night at Chick-Fil-A on November 15, Author’s Day, Revolutionary War Day, the Boyce spelling bee, and Chess Club, just to name a few. Our Outreach programs from fall and into winter include a used backpack drive, as well as a SHIM food drive. This winter, we will also hold two of our four staff appreciation luncheons.


What’s the best way to learn about the goings-on at Boyce? Attend the PTO meetings! Because the PTO is a 501(c) (3) organization, we must first review the budget and approve the previous meeting’s minutes. Fiscal responsibility and transparency are essential; however, the informative meetings, which we attempt to limit to one hour, mostly include things that are important and helpful to you as a parent of a middle schooler. Notably,


• A teacher representative briefly reports on what the teachers and students are doing, including information about teacher concerns and teacher-run activities and events.


• A school board member briefly reports on what is happening District-wide.


• School principal Dan O’Rourke provides a brief presentation on a different school subject at each meeting. Examples include school’s position on homework, school safety, test scores, student mentoring, teacher training, and capital improvement in the classroom.


• Interesting guest speakers are included if the agenda allows. At the September meeting, school police Chief Sean Bryson attended to discuss school safety.


I strongly believe communication with parents, caregivers, students, and families is essential. We send out e-alerts as well as post events to the Boyce Bulletin, but the information given at the PTO meetings covers broader subjects, are more in-depth, and often result in dialogue between attendees and presenters. I believe these meetings are the best and most efficient way to stay informed. In short, if you want to know what’s going on at Boyce, attend the PTO meetings!


The remaining 2018–19 Boyce PTO Wednesday meetings will be held on November 14, January 9, March 13, April 10, and May 22. All meetings are in the Boyce LGI room at 9:30 a.m. If the morning meeting is bad timing for you, we are willing to move the time if we get majority consensus. Email me at jennifer_aitken@yahoo.com if you’d like the meetings to be held at a different time of the day.


Additionally, I would love to hear about any possible guest speakers in our District or who work with our District who you might like to engage as a speaker. Don’t worry, if you miss the meeting, the agenda, minutes, and budget are all posted online.


Baker PTA 

Lindsay Beck, President


Fall is my favorite time of year, and we have been keeping busy at Baker as the air turns cooler and the leaves get crunchier. We’ve had a few months of excitement and play on our new playground, and it’s been a delight to see the kids’ reactions— especially when they found out a short morning recess had been incorporated into their day! We had an amazing turnout of kids, parents, teachers, and local sponsors at our ribbon-cutting event held prior to the first day of school (see article at https://issuu.com/usctodaymag/docs/usctoday_wi18/s/29213 or on page 35 of the winter 2018 edition of Upper St. Clair TODAY). We also welcomed more than 70 new Kindergarteners for the 2018–19 school year and celebrated them and their families with the school’s annual PTA Kindergarten- Parent coffee held in September.


October brought the annual Boo Bash, a student favorite. One highlight is always the “teacher experience” auction, where parents can bid in a silent-auction style format for things, including the student experience of “principal for a day” or a special student ice cream treat date with their teacher. The kids also love the cake walk, which is a musical chairs-style game, with the prize being a tasty, beautifully-decorated cake!


In January, the school will have its third annual Read-A-Thon. What started as a playground fundraiser idea turned into a school-wide favorite event. How can you resist an event where reading books ends in your principal getting slimed if he can’t guess the exact number of minutes read school-wide? We are fortunate that Dr. McClintock-Comeaux is such a great sport! Last year over a ten-day period, our kids read more than 108,000 total minutes, and we are confident they will beat that number this year!


The school’s annual variety show will be held in February instead of April this year, so it’s exciting that we’ll get to see our school’s talent on display a few months earlier. I served as the chairperson for this event in 2017 and 2018, and it blows me away each year to see so many talented students and the courage that they display.


The start of a new school year is always such a whirlwind, full of busy times and places to be, but our families at Baker wouldn’t want it any other way! We are looking forward to the remainder of 2018 and the excitement of what 2019 will bring!


Eisenhower PTO 

Heather Grote, President


The fall season is upon us and we are well on our way to another fun and exciting school year. Eisenhower Elementary kicked off the school year with its annual welcome breakfast for incoming Kindergartners and new students. Late in August before school started, parents and students were greeted by principal Mark Miller and the new PTO executive board. After a tasty continental breakfast, the children and parents had an opportunity to meet their classmates, tour the school, and see their classrooms for the first time.


The first quarter of school is one of the busiest for the school’s PTO. While our teachers and students are getting acclimated to their new surroundings and hitting the books, the PTO and our energetic parent volunteers are busy executing a robust calendar of events. Events include the fall book fair, grade level breakfasts, and “Eisenhower Extras” (our after-school programming, which offers various classes ranging from lacrosse to pottery to science exploration). In the middle of this funfilled, action-packed quarter, our tireless team of parent volunteers conducts our annual fundraiser, the Eisenhowler. A family event with food, new and improved games, silent auction, and amazing raffle baskets, it was a great evening of festivities.


In late October, everyone got excited for the fun and games at the harvest parties held in each classroom along with the annual parade, where students wore costumes. New to Eisenhower families this year is a library event on Thursday, November 15, where the PTO is partnering with the Township librarians to host a fun night of reading and games held on the Township library’s children’s floor. Won’t you join us to continue our focus on reading and developing a love of books and learning in our children’s elementary years?


Our Eisenhower family really comes together and offers a wide variety of activities for our students and their families. While these events take a lot of planning time, the smiles on our children’s faces and the happy memories make it all worthwhile!

Streams PTO

 Kerstin Goodworth, President


Fall and winter are seasons of warmth at Streams! We kicked off fall with our wonderful Stravaganza event. This year’s Stravaganza theme was “Around the World: Where will kindness take you?” The theme expressed our sense of community and tied into the school’s IB PYP learner profile words that remind us that we all share a desire to be “caring, open-minded inquirers.” With kindness being the center that connects us all, we are grateful for the kindness and generosity showed by our families, students, teachers, staff, administrators, and guests at Streams. Through everyone’s help, we moved into the holiday season knowing that we’ve secured the funds to put on grade level nights, pay for assemblies and field trips, and give generously to the entire Streams community. That alone warms our hearts.


Before we knew it, it was Halloween. Streams had its annual harvest party and parade on October 31. The student excitement was a real treat to experience!


As the outside temperatures begin to drop, the feelings of love and community grow. Thanksgiving is a beloved holiday for all, but Kindergarteners get a special treat by recreating their own Thanksgiving feast with their classmates.


Before we know it, December will be here, and the warmth continues. The buzz in the school before winter break reflects the warmth of family and traditions that surround December. And right before break, we’ll celebrate the friendships we’ve already forged this year at our winter parties. As we move into the winter recess, the glow of a new year is on the horizon, and so are preparations for our Children for Children event coming up in February.


Children for Children is a magical event. Seeing the kids, teachers, and staff work together to make this student-led charity drive a reality is one of our proudest times of the year. This event was founded with the desire to teach our children how to meaningfully contribute to our community. Every year, the students, event committee, and staff select one charity that will receive the benefits of our fundraising efforts. Among the past charities that received support were Beverly’s Birthdays, CC Champions, and Best Buddies.


Once the charity is selected, it’s up to the kids to get involved. Children make baked goods to sell, make crafts and artwork to be raffled off, create games to run, and research the organization we are supporting. All that preparation comes to fruition the night of our Children for Children auction. Teachers raffle off lunch dates, opportunities to do crafts, pizza parties, and more. The kids get excited to win the prizes. It’s certainly fun to watch the kids’ reactions to the raffle drawing.


The auction this school year is on Thursday, February 21 and the entire community is invited to attend! So, if you find yourself yearning for a reprieve from chilly February weather, come and join our 500 students at our charity event. It will melt your heart! 




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