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East Allegheny middle school students offered new courses

| Monday, Aug. 26, 2013, 1:26 a.m.
Michael DiVittorio
East Allegheny High School social studies teacher Dennis Edwards, left, talks about upcoming projects with head high school principal Don MacFann.
Michael DiVittorio
East Allegheny High School (file photo)
Michael DiVittorio
East Allegheny High School social studies teacher Dennis Edwards talks about upcoming projects with head high school principal Don MacFann.

East Allegheny middle schoolers will have more class options, and high school students will be able to bring their electronic devices when classes begin on Sept. 3.

“We're starting nine-week courses in a whole slew of new categories,” Logan Middle School seventh- and eighth-grade principal Mark Draskovich said. “We're really excited about the new course offerings.”

Those courses are Pennsylvania History, Creative Writing, Problem Solving/Critical Thinking, Journalism, Current Events and STEM — Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

Draskovich said they will be offered opposite reading and math enrichment classes. Students who scored proficient or above on the Keystone Exams will be able to try the new classes.

A new health curriculum is being implemented through the University of Colorado at Boulder.

“It addresses quite a few of the challenges that adolescents face,” Draskovich said. “It's been very well received by our faculty here.”

Girl Scouts will work with the district to offer middle schoolers an after-school opportunity to participate in more academic-related activities Tuesdays through Thursdays.

The middle school continues to offer a successful Algebra I class. Thirty-one out of the 35 students who took the Keystone Exams in that subject scored proficient or advanced.

A big change at the high school is allowing students to bring cell phones, iPods and tablets to school.

The district had a zero-tolerance policy for technological devices last year.

Head high school principal Don MacFann said the change came about because district officials understand the need to prepare students for the 21st century workforce.

“That means we need to have some forms of electronics and technology throughout the day,” he said. “We went from that zero-tolerance to permitting the kids to use them at lunch (and) in the classroom for academic purposes, and that's totally at the discretion of the teacher.”

What will not be permitted, MacFann said, is calling, texting or messaging, or for other for non-academic purposes.

MacFann said the students may welcome the opportunity to learn with modern aids.

“Would you rather use your app to look up words or look up information, or go sit in the library and open an encyclopedia?” He said. “I think we know the answer to that.”

No cell phones are permitted during Keystone Exams, assessments or any other testing. Headphones are not permitted in the high school. Students who violate the policy will be subject to disciplinary actions.The district is not liable for the loss, damage or misuse of any electronic device brought to school by a student, the policy states.

Use of electronics may be expanded at the middle school if it is successful at the high school.

Starting and dismissal times are five minutes earlier to accommodate busing. Students accustomed to a 7:40 a.m. start now will begin classes at 7:35 and be dismissed at 2:21 p.m. instead of 2:26 p.m.

Draskovich was the assistant high school principal. His move to the middle school is one of several administrative changes. He remains the district's pupil and personnel director.

Betsy D'Emidio moved from high school assistant principal for ninth grade to high school assistant principal for curriculum for 11th- and 12th-graders.

Raymond Morton moved from middle school principal in grades 7 and 8 to principal for the ninth-grade academy and the 10th grade, and is the high school's federal programs coordinator.

Sean Gildea is principal for Green Valley Primary School, Early Learning Center and middle school for grades 4 through 6. Scheduling was added to his duties.

Angela McEwen is the assistant principal at Green Valley and the preschool. She will take on grant writing.

MacFann was the high school principal. He now is head principal and assistant to the superintendent.

MacFann said the school board and Superintendent Roger DiEmidio make personnel changes and other decisions “with the students' best interest in mind.”

More information about the district is available at

Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161 ext. 1965, or

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