Moon Area cheerleader wins award named for former student killed in crash
When Moon Area High School senior cheerleader Shelby Harris learned she had won the Spirit of Nicole Award at the school basketball banquet last month, she said her first thought was “to see if my mom was crying, because she was on the verge of crying all night.”
“I'm the oldest of three, so this going off to college and making high honors” made her mother cry tears of joy, said Harris, 17, of Moon.
Harris, the daughter of Bill and Michele Harris, has an “endless smile,” the trademark of the young woman whom the award memorializes, the late Nicole Falbo of Moon, said Kelsey Currie, Moon Area High School's cheerleading coach.
“She just sparkles,” Currie said of Harris, who Currie said is known for her school spirit.
Candidates for the award must be graduating seniors who participated in football and basketball cheerleading; have a friendly, positive attitude; display poise, confidence and team spirit; and maintain a minimum 2.5 grade point average. Currie and Athletic Director Ricci Rich recommend the candidates.
Harris has other qualifications: She is a member of the National Honor Society, president of Christ in Youth and carries a 4.26 grade point average. She plans to major in chemical engineering at Penn State University and try out for one of the Penn State cheering squads.
“She is a genuinely kind and warm-hearted person,” Currie said.
Falbo, of Moon, died at age 19 in a two-vehicle accident in January 1998 as she was traveling back to Indiana University of Pennsylvania. An IUP sophomore majoring in media communications with a minor in dance, she had been a cheerleader for the Moon Area football and basketball teams, a longtime dance student and a model.
“She was just a very well-liked person and very vibrant,” said her mother, Anne Logan-Buzza of Independence, Beaver County.
“She was the person every girl admired and looked up to,” said Jada Capuano Portello, now 33, of Miami, who met Nicole when both girls took dance classes at Carol Leone Dance & Gymnastics in Moon.
“When you lose a child, it's forever,” said Nicole's father, August Falbo of Moon. “At the time, we wondered what we could do to perpetuate her memory.”
Not long after Nicole's death, Capuano Portello told the Falbo family at a sports banquet that something should be done to honor a cheerleader who exhibited the same vibrant qualities as Nicole.
Logan-Buzza subsequently wrote to the principal, asking that the school establish an award to memorialize her daughter's “team spirit, friendly demeanor and the ‘endless smile. She was compelled to do the best at everything she pursued.”
Now the award, which has honored a total of 15 Moon Area senior cheerleaders, is “carrying on the memory of my sister's spirit,” said Nicole's brother, Christopher Falbo of Moon. “She had the biggest spirit of anyone I know.”
Winners get a plaque, and their names are engraved on the base of a crystal tiger trophy, signifying the Moon Tigers' sports teams.
“I'm honored that I can be compared to her,” Harris said of Falbo.
Sandra Fischione Donovan is a contributing writer to Trib Total Media.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Feasibility of Moon Area-Cornell merger remains uncertain
- Cumberland Trail repairs under way
- Upper St. Clair resident’s appeal of proposed grocery tossed
- Back in session: What’s new at Pittsburgh-area schools
- Mt. Lebanon residents opposed to loss of brick roads
- Photo gallery: Mt. Lebanon, Bethel Park police play charity softball game
- Young Achiever: Alexis Werner