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FEA students hope to compete nationally

January 15, 2013
By WARREN SCOTT - Staff writer ( , Weirton Daily Times

WELLSBURG - Shortly after the Brooke County Board of Education recognized three Brooke High School students for their outstanding performance at a state competition, the board on Monday was asked to help them go on to an international event.

Brianna Kowalsky and Angeline Smith, both seniors in the school's careers in education program, both finished first in competitions testing their readiness for the field and held as part of the West Virginia Future Educators of America conference in December.

Kowalsky, who also is vice president of the state organization, placed first in the job application division, for which participants were judged for resumes and cover letters submitted for a fictional job opening and their poise and effectiveness while participating in a mock job interview.

Article Photos

SPECIAL RECOGNITION — The Brooke County Board of Education recognized three members of the Brooke County chapter of Future Educators of America, for their outstanding performance in the FEA state competition. Taking part were, from left, Diane Lucero, their teacher; Brianna Kowalsky, Angeline Smith and Kirsten Minger; and Joe Starcher, Brooke County Schools director of career technical education. -- Warren Scott

Smith was presented the WVFEA's Leadership Award, the highest honor bestowed by the group, for a project in which she taught cooking and other life skills to special education students at her school with the help of members of Friends Helping Friends, a club she formed.

Diane Lucero, the pair's instructor, said Smith still works with them once or twice a week.

Kowalsky and Smith are eligible to compete at the International FEA Conference in Orlando, Fla. in April.

Lucero said a third Brooke student, Kirsten Minger, isn't eligible for that competition but earned 93 of 100 possible points for the lesson plan she created and presented to children at Jefferson Primary School.

Lucero told the board each of the three raised $150 to compete in the state event and will need $850 each to participate in the international event.

She noted Brooke coaches who lead their athletes to state competitions receive a bonus for their efforts, though it's not their real incentive for such success.

Lucero said instead of a bonus, she asks the board to contribute to the students' costs and possibly establish a budget for the local FEA chapter, which receives no funds from the state. She noted since 2009, several of her students have advanced to the international competition, and a few have won.

Board President Jim Piccirillo said he will ask Superintendent Kathy Kidder and Joe Starcher, the school district's career technical education director; to explore avenues through which the school district may assist the students.

The board also recognized the Brooke High School Cheerleaders for earning the school's 13th state championship title, setting a state record for the number of wins by one school.

Certificates were presented to coaches Melissa Michaux, Michelle Scherich and Chris Stucin and the following squad members: Teirria Duffy, Alexandria Sperlazza, Emily Hosler, Katie Nunley, Haley Bowman, Elizabeth Fernandez, Holly Davis, Aubrey Reynolds, Alexandra Velegol, Cassi Camilletti, Abbi Yachini, Brooke Clark, Danielle Johnson, Nicole Himmelrick, Caitlin Cuomo, Makayla Moore, Kelly Schambach, Lauren Fritz, Marin Rogers and Sydney Gambellin.

The squad is preparing now for the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference championship, which will be held Feb. 2 at WesBanco Arena in Wheeling.

In other business, the board:

Approved a settlement agreement with Scott Donohew following a grievance filed by him against the board. Piccirillo said he's prohibited by state policy from discussing the agreement.

Kidder said she also couldn't comment other than to say it was reached through mediation between an administrative law judge and attorneys representing both parties.

Donohew, who is principal of Franklin Primary School, had been recommended by Kidder for the facilities supervisor position last year. A majority of the board didn't accept the recommendation, and Kidder submitted Rob Robinson, who was approved.

Donohew, who was called for comment, said he also couldn't discuss it.

Authorized Robinson to close athletic tracks and playgrounds at local schools during the day in an effort to address security concerns but they will be available after school.

Kidder said the move is one that was recommended by Patriot Services, a consultant hired last year to assess security at the schools. She said while some of the facilities need only to be locked, others will require additional fencing, to limit access.

Piccirillo said while the move may be an inconvenience for some, "I hope the public will understand the students's safety is our main concern."

Heard from Denise Spensky, president of the Brooke County Council PTA, who reported on efforts to provide coats, shoes and clothing to local children in need through the Brooke County Clothes Closet and a dropoff box built by vocational students from the high school for the clothes closet at 26th Street and Pleasant Avenue.

Spensky said the group has several activities planned and will meet at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Lauretta B. Millsop Primary School.

Approved the transfer of Shanah Perrone from special education position at Follansbee Middle School to fifth-grade teacher there; the hiring of Nancy Deemer and Kim Anderson as secretaries at Follansbee Middle School and Beech Bottom Primary School, respectively, and several substitute service personnel; and the retirements of the following staff: Frances Bonnaure, a kindergarten teacher at L.B. Millsop Primary School; Russell Shaffer, an art teacher at Beech Bottom, Franklin and Wellsburg primary schools; Deborah Ulrich, a second grade teacher at Wellsburg Primary School; Randall Weppler, a physical education teacher at Follansbee Middle School and wrestling coach; Cynthia Weppler, a speech therapist at Wellsburg Primary School; Michael Santora, a custodian at L.B. Millsop Primary School; Karen VanDyke, a secretary at Beech Bottom Primary School; Virginia Foresha and Jan Baker, both vocational instructors at Brooke High School; and Margaret Jeane Sheperd, a French teacher at Wellsburg Middle School.

(Scott can be contacted at

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