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TASB recognizes academic/athletic achievements of students at board meeting

The Tyrone Area School Board met Tuesday evening and had the opportunity to learn about the achievements of some of the school’s programs and its students, both academically and athletically.
Middle School teacher Beth Cannistraci began the board meeting by giving a power-point presentation on the middle school’s SOAR program, which stands for “Students with Outstanding Aptitudes are Recognized,” and the program is aimed to promote a positive attitude in the middle school.
Cannistraci said the SOAR program is designed to highlight both student and teacher achievement, focusing primarily on the students because “sometimes the attention isn’t always positive, so we wanted to focus on the positive things the kids are doing.”
Some of the things the SOAR program does is identifying and recognizing Students of the Month and Teachers of the Month.
One middle school student is nominated from each core class (Math, English, Science, History) monthly, with fifth and sixth grade students being nominated by their teacher. Students that are selected are honored in a showcase with an 8×10 picture, receive an award certificate, receive free tickets to the SOAR Carnival, and a pizza party at the end of the year.
Teachers of the Month are selected by the students from a grade level list, with a different grade selected every month. Teachers chosen also are in a showcase, receive a framed certificate and a certificate for a free buffet at the Eagle Inn.
The SOAR program does a number of special events involving the students and teachers, one event per nine weeks, which includes: SOAR School Days, So You Think You Can Dance Competition, and the SOAR Carnival.
SOAR School Days is a relay race where students, along with some teachers, participate in various races involving classes such as English and Math. The dance competition also involves the students and teachers, with judges similar to that of American Idol. The SOAR Carnival involves a dunk booth, various carnival snacks and different events ranging from academic, fun and simple, to more athletic events.
“Students can earn free tickets to the games by doing positive things, and this is one of the ways we highlighted more academic and aptitude type of stuff,” said Cannistraci. “Free tickets are earned for such things as perfect attendance, being named a Renaissance Star, and SOAR Student of the Month.”
Two TAMS students, J.D. Dorminy and Caleb Snyder were on hand to be recognized and discuss their participation in the SOAR program. J.D. and Caleb were two of the members of the Jr. High football team, the winning team at this year’s SOAR School Days. The two students told the school board about the relay races and also about the SOAR Carnival.
Cannistraci said of J.D. and Caleb, “They are two of the types of kids we do like to recognize, they’re both model students, they are both athletically inclined, great citizens and individuals, and they are a tribute to the school and their families.”
Also on hand was middle school student Morgan Decker, who has won SOAR Student of the Month twice while at TAMS. She addressed the school board about what the SOAR program means to the school and the students.
“I really appreciate the program because it shows your hard work benefits the school and yourself,” said Morgan. “This program gives you a boost of self-esteem and a lot of kids like it, it really focuses not just on certain students, but all the students. I think the program is really good and it’s definitely been a great addition to the middle school.”
Cannistraci added, “These are fabulous, fabulous kids, it’s a tribute to their parents for sure. These kids maybe wouldn’t of been recognized before, but as you can see they’re just great individuals.”
School Board President Lee Stover emphasized, “It’s pretty obvious the students’ support is important, but the support from the parents is equally important.”
The SOAR program is possible thanks to a group of middle school teachers that volunteer their time, come in for meetings, help set up for events and recognitions, making the program a team effort.
Also at the meeting Tuesday night, FFA students Andrew Clark, Jon Hoffman, Denis and Jamie Thompson and teacher and FFA advisor Ben Mordan were recognized for their 35th place finish in the entire country at the 2007 National FFA Agricultural Mechanics Career Development Event (CDE).
Board member Brian Bressler recognized 10 TAHS students who have qualified for the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association District 6 Chorus. They include: R.J. Beck, Derik Cruz, Laura Thompson, Sofia Revolorio, Jonathan Harris, Stevie Woodring, Garrett Ray, Chris Sipe, Ken Nearhoof and Cristina Rodriguez.
Individual recognitions went to Jonathan Harris who tied for first chair in the Bass II section and Sofia Revolorio who received first chair in the Soprano II section and the highest overall score among all auditioning students.
Director of TAHS Choirs, Cathy Young said these students auditioned among 310 high school students who represented the 30 plus high schools in Blair, Bedford, Cambria and Somerset counties. The students will now attend the PMEA District 6 Chorus festival that will be hosted by the Bellwood-Antis School District in February.
Two athletes were also recognized: Ninth grader Richard Stever and fellow freshmen Jimmy Ferguson. Richard placed 123 out of 274 participants in the AA state cross country meet in Hershey. He was the first Tyrone student to qualify for the state meet since 2000.
Jimmy was a PIAA regional qualifier in golf this year, shooting an 80 at the qualifier. He also received the honor of being selected MAC Conference MVP for this past golf season.