District lauds students, teachers
As Bethlehem prepares to finish yet another school year, the school board and Superintendent Dr. Joseph Roy took the opportunity to congratulate students and educators on a number of impressive successes. Nearly 45 minutes was spent at the May 21 meetig recognizing everyone’s accomplishments. The first groups of students recognized were those who auditioned for positions in the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association festivals.
Freedom HS Principal Michael LaPorta was joined by band director Michael Moran and Choral Director Jennifer Volpato. They joined together to congratulate students Emily Barger and Isaiah Brown on attending the PMEA District 10 Chorus Festival, and students Leah Fastenau and Emily Sylvester on attending the PMEA District 10 Band Festival.
Next Principal Harrison Bailey of Liberty HS joined Band Director Kevin Long and Choral Director Julie Wydrzynski in congratulating the following students: Seth Tomis Bobyak, Nicholas Miravich, Esther Rhee and Grant Sedlock for the PMEA District 10 Band Festival. In addition they recognized Micaela Marie Azzati for PMEA District 10 band, District 10 Orchestra, and Region 5 band; Fernando Ramirez Jr. for PMEA District 10 band and Region 5 band; Sarafina Schultheis for PMEA District 10 band, District 10 chorus, Region 5 band, and Region 5 chorus; Chloe Wilcox for PMEA District 10 band, district 10 orchestra and region 9 Orchestra; and Vivian Wong for PMEA District 10 Orchestra, Region 9 Orchestra and All-State Orchestras.
The arts were further recognized through the Young Playwrights’ Festival, in which students from various BASD elementary schools attended a 16-day program in conjunction with Touchstone Theatre, to create and produce their very own play, which was performed in front of a 1,000 seat audience. Students were joined by their respective Principals or Community School Coordinators for recognition.
Students recognized for their plays inckuded Farmersville ES student Nathaniel Bowers for “John and the Lion Man”; Lincoln ES student Angelique Jorge for “The Queen & The Unicorn”, Donegan ES student Cristian Mendez for “Blob & Rob: The Lost Backpack”, Freemansburg ES student Daron Roberson for “Mermaid Wants a New Family” and finally Liberty HS student Payton Shaffer for “A.B.H.D.R.”.
After covering the arts, Roy took a moment to recognize two students who won medals at the PA State SkillsUSA conference. SkillsUSA is a nationwide organization that focuses on the importance of skilled labor careers by working with students and schools. Student Jasmin Ramirez of Liberty HS earned a bronze medal in the Medical Terminology competition, and Destiny Rosado of Freedom earned a silver medal in Action Skills. The board also recognized student board members Andrew Youwakim of Freedom and Sarafina Schulteis of Liberty for their service throughout the year as student school board representatives.
The board then shifted from student recognition to teacher recognition. Freedom HS science teacher Amber Chiafulio was recognized as one of 12 finalists in the 2019 Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year award program. Chiafulio has been a teacher at Freedom for 11 years, with a bachelor’s in biology, a master’s in secondary education, and is currently pursuing a second master’s in instructional technology at Lehigh University. The final winner of the teacher of the year will be announced in December.
The final recognition, which came with great emotion and fanfare was for Freedom Theatre Director Jennifer Wescoe. After being both a teacher and theatre director for the past 18 years, Wescoe is stepping down from the role within the theatre, but continuing her role as an educator with the district. Roy welcomed down students from Freedom to share their thanks with Wescoe for making their years at Freedom so memorable. State Representative Steve Samuelson also took to the podium to thank Wescoe.
As an avid Freedom theater attendee, Rep. Steve Samuelson had numerous playbills, quotes, and souvenir memorabilia tied into his presentation. Wescoe thanked the board and the district for the opportunities and the experiences she has had over the past 18 years. Board President Michael Faccinetto also urged those in attendance to seek out and view the documentary that was produced a few years ago about the Freedom Theatre Company to really understand the depth of Wescoe’s commitment and character.