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Present, past converge in Quaker Valley after-school program

| Wednesday, May 7, 2014, 12:24 p.m.

Connecting the present to the past is the focus of a new course Quaker Valley Middle School students are offered in an after-school initiative.

“Sewickley has a rich African-American heritage and history filled with tribulation, unity and triumph,” said Floyd Faulkner, who works as the district's community youth worker. “Growing up in Sewickley as a minority can be a challenging but enriching experience.”

Faulker's program — “Intergenerational Connections — Connecting the Past to the Present to Impact the Future” — was scheduled to begin May 7 with a presentation by Tuskegee Airmen historian Regis Bobonis.

Bobonis is chairman of the Tuskegee Airmen Memorial of the Greater Pittsburgh Region. He spearheaded the $300,000 memorial that is located in Sewickley Cemetery. The monument opened to the public in September.

Nearly 100 Tuskegee Airmen were from Western Pennsylvania.

“This program will utilize adult minority guest speakers, who have knowledge of Sewickley's history to raise the level of cultural competency among the students of Quaker Valley,” district spokeswoman Tina Vojtko said.

Two other classes are planned for May 14 and May 21.

Through the after-school program Studio Life, 30 to 50 students regularly participate in five classes that include visual art, philosophy and service.

Middle school teacher Jeff Evancho started the program, now in its sixth year, through his graduate work to study the impact of art.

For two hours after school some days, students attend classes that have no grades or pressure, Evancho said.

He calls the students decision to attend the classes “voluntary education.”

“If you listen to their discussion, they are having rich discussions,” he said.

Bobby Cherry is an associate editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-324-1408 or rcherry@tribweb.com.

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