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Kittanning, Ford City student councils team up

| Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014, 12:56 a.m.

The student councils from Kittanning and Ford City are shaping the future of their new organization, even though many will never walk the halls of Armstrong Junior-Senior High School when it opens for the 2015-16 school year.

A nine-member committee called the Armstrong StuCo has been established to lay the groundwork for the student council that, like the new school itself, will merge two existing groups into one.

“We're afraid that if we didn't start something now, the students would get to the new school and would go without a council for years,” said Sarah Dunn, 17, a senior at Kittanning High School. “That means they'd go that entire time without pep rallies and other things, because nobody would be there to start them, and that wouldn't be fun.”

Armstrong StuCo plans to meet monthly to discuss different aspects of their schools, including traditions at each, establishing events and drafting a constitution for the merged student council.

Ford City Principal Michael Cominos said he was impressed by the students' efforts, which began independently.

“This is truly a student-driven project, and there is a lot of enthusiasm coming from these students,” Cominos said. “They want this new school to be a good blend of the two, while building its own traditions.”

Both schools are steeped in unique traditions. For example, Ford City hosts its annual Snow Ball formal dance and a dance-a-thon, while Kittanning offers a fall formal and a small version of Penn State University's THON dance marathon fundraiser, said Karlee Smith, 16, a junior at Ford City High School.

“Everything each school does is a lot more different than we imagined,” Smith said.

The group plans to compile all traditions from each school into one list, then to analyze them all to see what can be merged, continued, or changed to make it work at the new school.

Nathan Goldner, 16, a sophomore at KHS, said he expects the two sides to clash occasionally, especially when deciding which events should be kept or eliminated.

Before making any decisions, Goldner said both sides plan to look at the strengths and weaknesses of each event.

Mallory Bearer, 15, a freshman at KHS, said both sides have laid their rivalry aside and are now focused on becoming the Armstrong Riverhawks.

“We've come to the point where we're realizing we're going to be one school and need to start acting like it,” Bearer said.

Erick Shiring, 18, a senior at KHS, said even after Armstrong StuCo blends activities, the new school's students have the opportunity to begin their own traditions and identity.

Shiring said the group hopes the communities will rally around their willingness to work together. He said the Armstrong Riverhawks hockey games showed the two sides could join together as a cohesive unit, despite the rivalry between the two schools.

“Our plan is to bring the councils and student bodies together with events over the next two years, which will show the communities we're ready to unify,” Shiring said. “I don't think there are many who aren't ready or excited for it.”

Next year, the organization plans to begin holding events for the entire student body of Kittanning and Ford City high schools in hopes of familiarizing more students with each other, Shiring said.

Like the other upperclass members working to shape life for students who will attend Armstrong, FCHS junior Miranda Lasher, 16, said she and the others have developed friendships with most of the underclassmen and want to make sure they have a good experience at the school.

“We want to help them have a successful first year, and the easier we make this transition for them, the better things will be,” Lasher said. “The combination of schools may be hard for them, so we're trying to help them along any way we can.”

Brad Pedersen is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-543-1303, ext. 1337, or

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