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Kiski grads reflect on changes as district marks 50 years

| Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012, 12:02 a.m.
Valley News Dispatch
The Kiski Area Show Choir performs for open house antendees at the high school. The school celebrated its 50th anniversary on Saturday, October 6, 2012. Jason Bridge | Valley News Dispatch
Valley News Dispatch
Kiski Area High School class of 86' graduate Sean Griffith, of Louisville, KY, looks at the underclassmen cafeteria with his tour group during the open house at the high school on Saturday, October 6, 2012. Jason Bridge | Valley News Dispatch
Valley News Dispatch
Kiski Area High School Key Club member Hannah Guzolik, a senior, leads a tour group, pointing out the differences in the school after it completed its renovation from the original layout, during the open house at the high school on Saturday, October 6, 2012. Jason Bridge | Valley News Dispatch

ALLEGHENY TWP. — For the first time in more than 20 years, Sean Griffith was walking the halls of his high school on Saturday.

But they weren't the same halls, not all of them, at least. And this time, his 9-year-old son, Jacob, was with him.

Griffith, a 1986 graduate of Kiski Area High School living in Louisville, Ky., made the trip home to visit family and take in some of the festivities this week for the district's 50th anniversary celebration. That included tours of the high school on Saturday morning guided by student members of the Key Club.

“There's been so many changes. It's almost like it's a different building,” Griffith said while standing in the high school's two-story atrium, which wasn't there when he graduated. “I'm curious to see what the school looks like. It's a lot nicer than when I was here.”

Kiski Area High School first opened to students in the fall of 1962, and graduated its first class the following spring. Renovations and additions to the building were done in 2005.

The campus-style school opened 50 years ago to educate students from Allegheny Township, Avonmore, Bell, East Vandergrift, Hyde Park, Parks and Vandergrift. Washington Township joined the district four years later.

Sandee Cecchini of Kiski Township, a 1992 graduate, said she hadn't been back to the school in 20 years. It was so different to her, she said.

“But oddly familiar,” said her husband, Jason Cecchini, a 1993 graduate.

Memories came back for Sandee Cecchini, such as the room she had economics in. She said sometimes — usually when she's stressed — she'll dream of being late for class and not being able to get to where she's going.

“We thought we would come and check it out and show our boys where we went to high school,” she said.

Students such as Matt McCutheon, 18, a senior from Washington Township, were leading the tours through the building's halls and rooms. He wasn't able to grant a visit to “the tunnel,” which students once used to travel between buildings, among other unsanctioned activities. It's now used for storage and wasn't open.

As he was highlighting features the students enjoy today, he was learning of its past from visitors.

“I like hearing what they have to say about what's different. Things were a lot different then from what we have now,” he said.

Carole Trentin of Vandergrift, a 1972 graduate, was excited after buying a shirt from the student store in the high school.

“It brings back memories to me,” she said while touring the school with her husband, Jerome Trentin, a 1970 graduate. They were among those planning to attend the dinner celebration Saturday night at the Clarion Hotel in New Kensington.

“It's almost like those were the best years of my life,” Carole Trentin said. “I enjoyed it. I wish I could go back to those times. I always think of my senior year.

“If I could go back to school again, I would.”

Brian C. Rittmeyer is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4701 or brittmeyer@tribweb.com.

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