Bethlehem Press

Sunday, September 22, 2019
Saucon Valley HS guidance counselor Grant Geiger with senior Lauren Weintraub. Saucon Valley HS guidance counselor Grant Geiger with senior Lauren Weintraub.
Patricia Palencar, Pennsylvania TPA President, speaks at the Travelers Protective Association of America’s Altruism Award Event held at Northampton Community Center. Patricia Palencar, Pennsylvania TPA President, speaks at the Travelers Protective Association of America’s Altruism Award Event held at Northampton Community Center.
Guest speaker Robert Fritz offers well wishes and career advice for the recipients in their future endeavors. Guest speaker Robert Fritz offers well wishes and career advice for the recipients in their future endeavors.
Liberty’s recipient, Alanna Bezas, TPA Post L President Dale Stephens and Liberty guidance counselor Stacey Coomer. Liberty’s recipient, Alanna Bezas, TPA Post L President Dale Stephens and Liberty guidance counselor Stacey Coomer.
Freedom recipient Alixandria Testa and Freedom Assistant Principal Bill Cecchini. Freedom recipient Alixandria Testa and Freedom Assistant Principal Bill Cecchini.
Bethlehem Catholic’s recipient, Holly Peslis, with Annette Zettlemoyer, Becahi guidance counselor. Bethlehem Catholic’s recipient, Holly Peslis, with Annette Zettlemoyer, Becahi guidance counselor.
Notre Dame senior Katelynn Mercurio with TPA’s Dale Stephens. Notre Dame senior Katelynn Mercurio with TPA’s Dale Stephens.

TPA’s Altruism Awards recognize

Tuesday, June 18, 2019 by STEPHANIE RAPHUN Special to the Bethlehem Press in School

Selfless concern for others

Several area seniors received the the Travelers Protective Association of America’s Altruism Award at special ceremonies held at the Northampton Community Center.

The Altruism Award honors those with a selfless concern for the well-being of others.

Liberty HS senior Alanna Bezas was chosen because she has offered outstanding service to both her school and local communities during her time at Liberty.

Stacey Coomer, Liberty guidance counselor, spoke on Bezas’ behalf. “Alanna is a meticulous, and hard-working individual who well surpasses many of her peers in initiative and drive. She is an excellent role model and beacon for other students to follow.”

Bezas has over 160 hours of community service to date and has completed an additional 42.75 hours of service through Liberty’s National Honor Society. Bezas dedicated her time to soup kitchens, the Jacobsburg Environmental Center, the Special Olympics and local elementary school fairs. She also runs the school blood drives, and founded the school’s photography club. She serves as a member of student government, Liberty Life Newspaper, and plays on the girls lacrosse team. In addition to her school affiliated activities, she is a dancer, works multiple jobs and babysits. Bezas maintains a 4.3404 GPA and is ranked 67th in her class.

Freedom HS senior Alixandria Testa was chosen because she is an overall “outstanding young lady.”

“I cannot think of anyone more deserving of this award,” said Bill Cecchini, assistant principal at Freedom.

Testa served as president of Bethlehem Area School District’s Mini-Thon. Her responsibilities included overseeing 10 committees made up of over 100 students, and she served as leader for the school’s involvement in Camp Smile, Santa’s Workshop, the actual event and many other fundraisers. Testa maintained a strong relationship with the Pediatric Cancer Foundation of the Lehigh Valley and continues to offer them much love and compassion.

Annette Zettlemoyer, a guidance counselor at Bethlehem Catholic HS, spoke on Holly Peslis’ behalf.

“Holly is the type of person to bring a smile to cheer someone up, the person you can depend on to lend a helping hand, and the type of young lady that will use her gifts and talents to make the world a better place,” Zettlemoyer said.

Peslis organized and served as a leader as the captain of the Debate Team and she is one of her graduating class’s top students. She is involved in a diverse spectrum of extracurricular activities in both athletics and community service. Most notably she was named the first chairperson of the school’s new student-led philanthropy organization, called ‘The Movement’ which helped numerous organizations in the Lehigh Valley. She and her team helped raised $29,000 for the Sassy Massey organization, which gives toys to children at local hospitals. Peslis was the Student Council President for her classes and this year served as student body president. She is a member of the National Honor Society, a peer listener, and a member of the soccer team. She plans to attend the University of Maryland in the fall and will be studying political science and business.

Notre Dame HS senior Katelynn Mercurio received the award because she has dedicated herself to helping both her school and local communities.

“Katelynn truly embodies an individual who thinks of others before herself,” said Cheryl Fenton, Notre Dame guidance counselor.

Mercurio is described as a humble young lady and would never let people know of any obstacles she’s had to overcome. She was the number one goalie for her soccer team, and sustained an injury last year that kept her in a boot for about six months, causing her to miss her senior year on the field. She went through surgery and never once wore a frown or felt sorry for herself. She is what the staff feels is the “quiet tiller of the soil” at Notre Dame. She served as president of the Student Council and got in early and stayed late to assist other students and teachers with anything they need.

Saucon Valley HS senior Lauren Weintraub is described as a focused young person with a “huge heart and loves to volunteer and help others.”

Saucon Valley guidance counselor Grant Geiger spoke on Weintraub’s behalf.

“Lauren is the nicest, sweetest and most conscientious student I have ever known,” he said. “Her volunteer hours are at a level I have never seen in my 22 years as a counselor.”

Weintraub has been volunteering with St. Luke’s Hospital since 2015 in the pharmacy, lobby and the NICU. She is passionate about the medical field and desires to pursue a career in the NICU. She is enrolled in Bethlehem Area Vocational Technical School’s Honors Academy of Medical Sciences, where she spent a semester at the hospital for clinical experience. In addition to her pursuit of career goals, Weintraub participates in school activities and committees, including the National Honor Society, Special Needs Sports Club, Medical Science Club and SADD. She serves as the yearbook marketing manager and volunteers with the soup kitchen, the Special Olympics and at her church.

“Lauren is a special young lady who is making the world a better place,” Geiger said.

Guest speaker E. Robert Fritz, pricing manager at Knoll Inc., shared stories about his career in business as well as some of his personal journey through life’s up and downs. Fritz is a Louis E. Dieruff HS graduate and went on to graduate from Kutztown University with a degree in finance. Fritz commended and thanked all the honorees for their service and dedication to the community and for serving as outstanding examples for others to follow.

“While life is always on the go, remember to slow down and appreciate life,” he said, reminding them that they will make mistakes. When they do, they should hold themselves accountable, but be willing to forgive themselves, too. He explained the importance of a positive attitude, and that they should always use their talents to make a difference. Fritz wished the seniors well in all their future endeavors.

The TPA is a national nonprofit organization and has been around for well over 100 years, and is known for its dedication to safety. Post L in the Lehigh Valley is the largest post in the Pennsylvania division.

At this year’s altruism award event, a check was presented to Parkland HS senior Alex Ocasio.