ShareThis Page

Memorial bench is planned at Connellsville Area Senior High School

Mary Pickels
| Monday, March 25, 2013, 7:33 a.m.

Continuing its efforts to acknowledge classmates who have died, the Connellsville Area High School Class of 1995 is raising funds for a memorial bench to be placed at the high school.

The district school board recently approved a request submitted by class vice president George Stash.

After money is raised for the bench — in honor of deceased 1995 alumni Shannon Cricco, Denene Fee, Jonathan James and Jason Sandusky — Stash is hopeful a rededication service can be held for all of the students included in the memorial.

The class had earlier planted pin oak trees in memory of two class members — Kurt Kapolka and Dan Martray, both of whom died in 1994.

District building and grounds director Mike Omatick confirmed that those trees, and two others planted in memory of deceased students from other years' classes, were removed two years ago as part of a high school renovation project.

The project is wrapping up, and all four trees have been replaced along Falcon Drive.

No formal dedication service was held, Stash said.

Plaques bearing the students' names have been stored and will be returned when the landscaping project at the high school concludes this summer, Omatick said.

Stash said two years ago that class members, who provided funds for the trees and accompanying plaques, were not notified of plans to remove the trees.

“I don't think the school district was ever at fault. There may have been some poor planning,” he said.

Construction manager John Pappas, of Eckles Construction Services Inc., New Castle, said at the time that the trees were not replanted because they would have to be moved again and likely would die.

The majority of the members of the Class of 1995 who could be reached at the time expressed dissatisfaction with the way the trees were removed, Stash said.

“The idea of the memorial bench came from us losing four classmates in addition to the two we lost while we were in school,” he said.

“There was an idea brought forth to place a bench between the two memorial trees for our classmates we lost in memory of the other four who have since passed, and do (a dedication) all at once,” Stash said.

“I would like to see (dedication) as soon as possible. When the trees were removed, everyone was so upset by it, beyond our classmates. I would like to see this done right away,” he said.

“My plan is to see how much money is raised between now and the April (school board) meeting. We will see if we are ready to order, and proceed accordingly,” Stash said.

So far about $650 has been raised toward a bench that Stash anticipated could cost about $2,500.

He said donations have begun to pick up again since the board approved placement of a bench.

Donations, payable to the Connellsville Area High School Class of 1995, may be sent to Stash at 330 Little Summit Road, Dunbar, Pa., 15431.

Mary Pickels is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-5401 or

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.