Riverview students give back to Verona, Oakmont
Riverview School District students in every grade did their part to better Oakmont and Verona earlier this month as part of the district’s third annual Give Back Day.
High school students assisted the Verona Garden Club with beautification efforts. They also lent a hand to Riverview Children’s Center, Verona United Methodist Church, Oakmont Center for Nursing and Rehab, and the Western Pennsylvania Center for the Arts in Verona, among others.
Junior Nico Catanzaro and some of his classmates did yard work at Oakmont United Methodist Church.
“It was pretty nice giving back to the community,” he said. “People at the Methodist church knew our families. It was kind of nice to represent our schools and families.”
Senior Angeleque Craighead, 17, used acrylic paint to create a mural of cartoonish dinosaurs inside the classroom of her science teacher, Brooke Pegher. She made a similar one for Pegher depicting planets two years ago.
“After I leave this year, it’s always going to be there,” Angeleque said of the mural. “I’m always going to be a part of the school, and it makes Miss Pegher very happy — and the younger kids love to see paintings of dinosaurs on the wall. She’s really fun and laid-back. She’s a good teacher and teaches in ways that make you understand easier. She’s really helpful.”
Nico and Angeleque said they hope students go to Longwood at Oakmont retirement community and hang out with residents as part of the next Give Back Day.
Riverview student council sponsor Michelle Walsh said other high-schoolers made 56 care kits full of hygiene products for Familylinks, a nonprofit that helps homeless youths and others struggling throughout Pittsburgh and surrounding areas.
Walsh said a veteran helped her and some students pay for some kit items at the Dollar Tree in Verona. The man did not give a last name or military branch.
“He said, ‘I received a care kit and it really meant the world to me, and I want to pay it forward,’” Walsh said. “I put on Facebook, ‘Thank you Peter the veteran at the Verona dollar store.’ It was a nice karmic moment for the students to witness. I cried. It was really an amazing experience.”
Tenth Street Elementary first-graders made gift bags full of snacks and treats for borough first responders. Second grade completed a read-a-thon in March and raised about $2,700 for the Oakmont Carnegie Library. Third-graders collected food for the Riverview Community Action Corp. food bank. Some students also make thank-you letters and posters for other nonprofits.
Verner kindergartners presented Principal Mary Ann Plance with flowers and helped christen the school’s Buddy Bench.
“We’re really trying to push the importance of the community and the school in how we really collaborate and partner together,” Plance said. “Verner Elementary’s a hidden gem.”
The bench is outside by the playground and is designed to help children without a peer to play with. A student would sit on the bench, and others would join that person.
Kindergartner Allyson Tigano, 6, said her favorite part of Give Back Day was giving flowers to her principal.
Verner sixth-graders cleaned up the playground area.
“It felt good to do because I know I was doing something good for the school,” said student Kortney Nedley, 12. “It’s nice having a small school, because you can get closer with everyone and you have better relationships with the teachers. People give us so much that we should give back and do good things for other people.”
Give Back Day was spearheaded by Superintendent Peggy DiNinno so students could reflect on all the ways Verona and Oakmont residents and organizations support the district, and originally to learn from Martin Luther King Jr.’s example.
“Many of our local businesses, community members and volunteers donate their time and resources to assist us with providing a very personalized and high-quality education to our students,” DiNinno said. “The first year we held Give Back Day, we had many requests from our staff to consider offering the student volunteer day during the springtime when our kids would have more opportunities to really help others during the nicer weather.
“As a result, Give Back Day makes use of two days during the school year. In January, we spend time honoring Martin Luther King Jr. by reflecting on his call to give to others during the time of year when the nation recognizes his birthday.”
Michael DiVittorio is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Michael at 412-871-2367, [email protected] or via Twitter .