ShareThis Page
STARS are out in Carlynton | TribLIVE.com
Carnegie/Bridgeville

STARS are out in Carlynton

888878_web1_sig-STARSdance7-032819
Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
Baldwin junior Kaitlyn Anderson (middle) looks on as Carlynton students try to teach her The Wobble during the STARS St. Patrick’s Day Dance at Carlynton Junior/Senior High School on Friday, March 15, 2019. STARS, which stands for Students Together with Athletes Reaching Success, pairs students with special needs with athletes for the event.
888878_web1_sig-STARSdance6-032819
Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
Carlynton senior Sam Steiner (center) and with fellow seniors Savana Huehn (left) and Patty Maloy during the STARS St. Patrick’s Day Dance at Carlynton Junior/Senior High School on Friday, March 15, 2019. STARS, which stands for Students Together with Athletes Reaching Success, pairs students with special needs with athletes for the event.
888878_web1_sig-STARSdance2-032819
Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
Moon sophomore Carolyn Manasterski (left) dances with senior Ryan Kelly during the STARS St. Patrick’s Day Dance at Carlynton Junior/Senior High School on Friday, March 15, 2019. STARS, which stands for Students Together with Athletes Reaching Success, pairs students with special needs with athletes for the event.
888878_web1_sig-STARSdance4-032819
Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
Pennyslvania Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera (middle) dances with Carlynton junior Rayana Jordan (left) and eighth-grader Aushenay Hudson during the STARS St. Patrick’s Day Dance at Carlynton Junior/Senior High School on Friday, March 15, 2019. STARS, which stands for Students Together with Athletes Reaching Success, pairs students with special needs with athletes for the event.
888878_web1_sig-STARSdance3-032819
Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
Northgate eight-grader Henry Lenard covers his ears from the loud music as others dance during the STARS St. Patrick’s Day Dance at Carlynton Junior/Senior High School on Friday, March 15, 2019. STARS, which stands for Students Together with Athletes Reaching Success, pairs students with special needs with athletes for the event.
888878_web1_sig-STARSdance1-032819
Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
Western Pennsylvania School for Blind Children student Nicholas Ferdarko dances during the STARS St. Patrick’s Day Dance at Carlynton Junior/Senior High School on Friday, March 15, 2019. STARS, which stands for Students Together with Athletes Reaching Success, pairs students with special needs with athletes for the event.
888878_web1_sig-STARSdance5-032819
Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
Carlynton lunch lady Marirose Grayson (center) does the “Cha Cha Slide” during the STARS St. Patrick’s Day Dance at Carlynton Junior/Senior High School on Friday, March 15, 2019. STARS, which stands for Students Together with Athletes Reaching Success, pairs students with special needs with athletes for the event.

Music filled the Carlynton High School gymnasium, as students decked out in their best green attire crowded the “dance floor.”

It was time to party.

Even state Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera showed up for the celebration.

“It was awesome,” said Michael Long, 15, a freshman at Carlynton, as he hugged Rivera. His favorite parts: getting to paint and, of course, the beads.

This was the fifth year Carlynton hosted a St. Patrick’s Day celebration as part of the STARS partnership, which stands for Schools Together with Athletes Reaching Success.

STARS, which partners students with and without disabilities at 20 high schools across southwestern Pennsylvania, aims to “expose all kids to as many learning experiences as possible, so that they can develop teamwork (and) mentorship,” said Lisa Rowley, peer-to-peer physical education teacher at Carlynton.

Each school in STARS hosts its own event each year.

“Our goal is for these kids to network and meet other students that have similar challenges,” said Jerry Pepe, transition and student assistance program coordinator at Carlynton.

Many of the schools involved in STARS have peer-to-peer programs in which students with and without intellectual disabilities are partnered on a daily basis.

At Carlynton, the program includes peer-to-peer physical education, science, art and life management.

“We just want to create an environment that is accepting, has awareness and is reaching out to love everyone,” Rowley said.

This year’s guest list for the St. Patrick’s Day celebration on March 15 included students from 10 area high schools, from Baldwin to Chartiers Valley to South Fayette.

There was dancing, bocce games, photo booths and a bagpiper performing for the crowd of 150 students.

Rivera, who spent his morning touring the school and learning about social and emotional programs the district has in place, took the time to break a move on the dance floor alongside Carlynton students.

Of course, he laughed that the only move he knows is the two-step.

“We were invited here today first to engage and participate in the celebration of community,” he said. “It really is an opportunity to see student leaders here at the school engage with many of our students who have special needs. It really is telling how educators differentiate around the needs of all students.”

Rivera said interactions like this are important: “It’s a reminder for us, this is why we do what we do.”

The day was about “community” and “celebrating the good things in education,” said Carlynton Junior-Senior High School principal Michael Loughren.

“Not only does it give all of our students in the building the opportunity to come together and celebrate, but now we’re making connections across districts,” added Carlynton assistant principal Rachel Gattuso. “These are some of our favorite events. It really gives kids from all different backgrounds an opportunity to shine.”

Carlynton junior Basem Majed, 18, and his best buddy, sophomore Adam Haas, 16, enjoyed laughs together during the event.

“We’re best friends,” Majed said, hugging Haas.

“Best friends, yeah!” Haas repeated back with a smile.

“I try to help him out, just to be himself with people,” Majed said.

At Chartiers Valley, senior Bailey Donofrio, 17, is a part of the best buddies program. She loves helping out her classmates.

“It’s really great seeing everyone included,” she said. “They’re smiling and having so much fun and dancing and doing whatever they’d like with no judgment.”

Kaitlyn Anderson, 17, a junior at Baldwin High School, said her favorite part of the day was: “Just coming. Everything that we is fun,” she said. “It’s St. Patrick’s Day!”

Teachers from across the area stood back and watched the smiles and laughs from all students.

“We just look for every opportunity we can to get the kids out to socialize and interact with others,” said Josh Stahl, special education teacher at Baldwin. “They just get to be kids and make friends.”

The events provide something different for each student, he said. “It could be friendship, overcoming adversity if it’s a bocce match. It teaches them a lot about life.”

Categories: Local | Carlynton
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com 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.