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Acmetonia Elementary reopening celebrated in Harmar | TribLIVE.com
Valley News Dispatch

Acmetonia Elementary reopening celebrated in Harmar

Chuck Biedka
| Thursday, January 17, 2019 10:52 p.m
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Greg Heavner, one of Acmetonia Elementary’s two principals, explains the sad news that a 1975 time capsule wasn’t saved from damage. Most of items were damaged and what could be salvaged was placed under glass.
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Some of a 1975 News Dispatch newspaper was partially readable after water infiltrated a time capsule buried at the Acmetonia Elementary School in Harmar.
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Allegheny Valley Schools Superintendent Patrick Graczyk listens to Hunter Cousins, right, David Fischer, and Emily Holmes, all in Kelly DiPalma’s kindergarten class, explain how they are learning American sign language.

Acmetonia Elementary School is bigger, brighter and loaded with high tech enough to take the Allegheny Valley School District’s elementary students into the challenges of the future.

At a grand opening Thursday evening, the expanded gym sparkled with the district’s orange and black.

The renovated kitchen, cafeteria, and classrooms were examined by parents and other taxpayers as well as teachers and administrators who once worked in the school.

Part of the $13 million price tag also added classrooms for fourth- through sixth-grade students and modern classrooms for music, science, technology, engineering, art and math.

Security was also bolstered.

Administrators hailed the work for what it will allow teachers to accomplish with students.

“All of our elementary students are under one roof and this gives us opportunities to further enhance education,” Superintendent Patrick Graczyk said about the renovations.

“We have an enhanced curriculum and it’s important to have all of our staff in one place to help students,” he said.

School board president Larry Pollick thanked citizens and officials who cooperated to make the important project happen in an impressive way.

The district once had schools for all of the communities in the district. That hasn’t been possible for years, he said. New solutions were found to make improvements.

“I want to thank our communities and our parents,” he said.

Principal Greg Heavner noted the importance of a welcoming school.

“School is a child’s second home … a place for them to grow,” he said.

Charlene Walters, of Harmar, has four daughters attending district schools, including a kindergartener and a second-grader who attend Acmetonia.

“It’s nice for them to catch the same bus,” she said.

Walters was impressed by the work done on the school she once attended. “It’s absolutely beautiful,” she said.

Rachel Rhodes, who teachers fourth grade language arts, said there are about 15 students for each teacher. That class size helps students.

Nicholas Etzel, a fourth grade math teacher, said the positive atmosphere assists teachers to make real-life applications to what they are imparting to students.

“This is awesome,” said kindergarten teacher Nicole Rottmeyer.

Principal Jennifer Vecchio led a program naming the new Acmetonia principal’s office to honor teacher, principal and role model Julia M. Desmone.

During a career that ended in 1978, Desmone emphasized excellence and was an advocate for rights for female students and staff.

Desmone had a caring heart and she is still today what makes the Allegheny Valley School District so special, Vecchio said.

Officials also unveiled what happened to a time capsule found on the school courtyard during construction.

Tina Fry Kazor, of Springdale, said she was in the third grade when the time capsule was buried on the grounds of Acmetonia Elementary School in 1975.

“Two students from each grade level were asked to write about what they thought life would be like in 2000. I wasn’t one asked,” she told people who huddled around the metal capsule Thursday night at the extensively renovated school.

Unfortunately, water seeped into the capsule and damaged the student essays, Heavner said.

A still legible 1975 Valley News Dispatch newspaper told readers about Vietnamese refugees arriving in the state and story about state politics.

The paper and fragments of student writing were placed under glass because of the smell caused by deterioration.

Heavner said the capsule was found by contractors renovating the school last winter.


Chuck Biedka is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chuck at 724-226-4711, cbiedka@tribweb.com or via Twitter @ChuckBiedka.


Chuck Biedka is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chuck at 724-226-4711, cbiedka@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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