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Serra Catholic High School trail, greenhouse dedicated

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Tuesday, April 23, 2013, 2:21 a.m.

With the completion of a Faithfully Fit fitness trail and greenhouse, the Highmark Foundation and White Oak Rotary Club are making a difference in the lives of Serra Catholic High School students and staff.

The McKeesport school hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony and dedication for the trail on Monday afternoon, inviting Highmark and Rotary guests to see the finished project of a $50,000 grant that was awarded to Serra in 2010.

With the grant, Serra intended to install digital presentation screens in the gymnasium for use during physical education classes; bring in new cardiovascular and weight training equipment; promote nutritional awareness; and increase healthy offerings in the school cafeteria and vending machines. Building off of those ideas, Serra's Interact club teamed with White Oak Rotary to install the fitness trail and the Science National Honor Society incorporated a greenhouse into the plan.

Serra president Diane DiNardi praised every organization for helping to make Serra a healthy school community.

“It shows perseverance, dedication and a commitment to healthy lifestyles,” DiNardi said. “Every student and community member who worked on this — they never gave up.”

Christina Wilds, senior program officer for the Highmark Foundation, encouraged everyone to honor their effort by using the fitness trail. She said the Highmark Foundation has a strong commitment to improving the health and wellness of students, families and communities

“The birds are singing. The sun is shining. Get out your sneakers ... and hit the fitness trail,” Wilds said.

Bob Petty of White Oak Rotary said developing a fitness trail with more than 10 stations of exercise equipment was a lot of work, but it was a labor of love.

“You might think that there was a lot of work in this, but there was a lot of camaraderie built during this project,” Petty said.

Rotarians who worked on the project included Larry Anlauf, Craig Anlauf, Dave Balmert, Ernie Oatneal, Jeff Valenta, Mark Squallichi, Dennis Diffenderfer, Matt Rigo, Carl Kovski, Barb Braun, Jim Sikorski and Dan Kravetz.

Petty said Serra students have learned a lot about camaraderie through their Rotary connections.

Senior Nicholas Hudak expressed appreciation for the Rotarians' hard work.

“It means a lot to us and this community,” he said. “To have you here is really something special.”

Serra development director Jennifer Salvador said the trail already has been used by students and staff who are improving their lifestyles with health and fitness goals.

“We're happy that this will bring future awareness to Serra students,” she said. “We want to teach our students about healthy living ... and let the community know what we're doing at Serra.”

Jennifer R. Vertullo is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1956, or



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