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Brentwood grads grateful to be part of small school

| Wednesday, June 12, 2013, 7:10 p.m.
Jeff Healy | For The South Hills Record
Brentwood High School Class of 2013 President Victoria Healy talks to the graduating class during commencement on Friday at CCAC's South Campus.
Brentwood High School Class of 2013 speaker Emily Schneider talks to the graduating class.
Brentwood High School Class of 2013 speaker Sydney Stankus talks to the graduating class.
Members of Brentwood High School Class of 2013 (from left) Nathan D'Andrea, Emily Schneider, Liam Dryburgh, Josh O'Neil and Sydney Stankus enjoy a laugh during graduation.
Jeff Healy | For The South Hills Record Stephanie Hacke | South Hills Record
Brentwood High School graduate Rebecca Yarsky receives her diploma from school board President Robert Kircher Jr. (above). Twins Bryce and Travis Churilla stood out at Thomas Jefferson's commencement (left).
Brentwood High School Class of 2013 speaker Emily Schneider talks to the graduating class on Friday at CCAC's South Campus.
Members of Brentwood High School's Class of 2013 (from left) Justin Bauer, Kyle Simmons, Zach Sniadach, Zach Eisengart and Michael Andrews pose for a picture after their graduation ceremony on Friday at CCAC's South Campus.

Emily Schneider fondly remembers entering Brentwood High School the day before Christmas break each year, as the music teachers played holiday tunes in the lobby and classmates gathered with hot chocolate and cookies.

At pep rallies and sporting events, everyone united to wear the same colors — white, black or camo — to show support for the blue and gold Spartan pride. And when someone was sick, everyone turned out in full force to do what they could, turning the school orange or making bracelets and hosting fundraisers to show support for a classmate in need.

“We're so small. We all know one another,” said Victoria Healy, 18, senior class president. “It's like someone in our family is hurt and we have to help them, or we want to help them.”

Brentwood High School became more than an educational facility for the Class of 2013 during the last four years, students said.

“You become so close with everyone,” said Schneider, class valedictorian. “Even if you're not talking, you just know that everyone is there for you.”

“Small schools are better than big schools,” said salutatorian Sydney Stankus, 18.

“You make a lot of good friends,” Schneider added. “Brentwood really is a family. ... It's nice to see everyone, everyday.”

Even the teachers become an integral part of the students lives, Healy said.

“Teachers will go out of their way, if you're having a bad day, they will notice,” Stankus said. “They care about me on a personal level and they care about my grades, too.”

Being a small school, though, means everyone knows everyone else's business.

“As soon as something happens, everyone knows,” Healy said. “It's like Twitter.”

Leaving the school will be hard, the girls said. But they are also excited for something new.

“You're leaving something that you've known your entire life,” Schneider said. “It's scary. But it gets you ready for something more.”

Stephanie Hacke is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5818 or

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