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McKeesport Area, alumni group plan revamped homecoming

| Saturday, July 27, 2013, 1:46 a.m.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
Getting ready to put a new twist on McKeesport Area's homecoming celebration in 2013, from left, are athletic director Charley Kiss, the Consortium for Public Education executive director Linda Croushore, football coach George Smith, 1994 graduate Bill Isbir, principal Mark Holtzman, 2005 graduate Kamryn Keys and student government faculty sponsor Jennifer Hairston.

McKeesport Area High School and its alumni association are revamping the district's homecoming celebration.

Alumni, students and district residents are invited to take part in a full day of activities promoting Tiger pride on Sept. 7 as the McKeesport Area Tigers football team takes on the Woodland Hills Wolverines at 1 p.m. at Weigle Schaeffer Memorial Stadium.

The 2013 season will mark the return of George Smith as the Tigers coach. Smith left his position three years ago after a long and successful career on the McKeesport sidelines. He recently was inducted into the Western Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame.

“The football program has such a rich history in our school district,” McKeesport Area communications specialist Kristen Giran said. “We are planning a day of activities that will bring people together from all five of our district communities (McKeesport, White Oak, Dravosburg, Versailles and South Versailles Township). We want the whole community to feel welcome in our schools.”

District officials and the McKeesport High School Alumni & Friends Association are planning a catered tailgate picnic from 10:30 a.m. to noon at the high school's inner courtyard. Tickets — $6 for adults and $2 for children — can be purchased in the athletic office. Tickets are limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis.

The district's homecoming parade will make a comeback before the Saturday afternoon game. Students will be on hand to lead tours of the high school, and there will be Kids Zone activities on the reserved side of the stadium during the game for the youngest Tigers-to-be.

“We hope the entire community comes out to visit our high school,” Superintendent Timothy Gabauer said. “If you graduated or your children graduated 20 or even just 10 years ago, you will be amazed at the changes in the educational facility provided to our students today.”

A special halftime salute will honor members of the school's 1994 and 2005 state championship football teams, current Hall of Fame members, and the new inductees.

“This is something different,” athletic director Charley Kiss said. “It will be exciting to have people here from past Tiger teams, past champions. With this being an afternoon game, we hope more alumni and more people from the community can attend.”

The 2013 Hall of Fame class will be inducted later that day at the alumni association's 27th annual Alumni Recognition Night at Youghiogheny Country Club in Elizabeth Township. The reception begins at 6 p.m., followed by dinner at 7 and a formal induction ceremony. Reservations must be made by Aug. 23. Cost is $40 per person.

The 2013 inductees are:

• Jack H. Olender, Class of 1953 ­– Precedent-setting medical malpractice trial lawyer in the Washington area.

• Michele Petrovich Matuch, Class of 1969 – Executive director of the McKeesport Hospital Foundation and dedicated community advocate.

• Albert A. Puskaric, Class of 1971 – Retired teacher, acclaimed artist and civilian associate with NASA.

• Jeanne M. Erickson, Class of 1975 – Nurse educator specializing in the field of oncology, researcher and author.

• David Bruce Garlow, Class of 1982 – Successful sales and marketing executive and worldwide adventurer.

• William Harbert, Class of 1994 – Psychologist and educator described by colleagues as a “true advocate for children.”

Linda L. Croushore, president of the alumni association, urged the community to embrace the new homecoming concept.

“We are thrilled that homecoming is taking on this new, welcoming look,” Croushore said. “It's a day for all of us to express our Tiger pride, whether alumni or just plain friends of the school district. We hope everyone will plan now to participate in one or more of the day's activities.”

For reservations to the Hall of Fame dinner, call the alumni office at 412-678-9125. To attend the Homecoming tailgate picnic, call the district's athletic office at 412-664-3680.

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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