JEFFERSON HILLS, Pa.; January 25, 2024 – Nearly 20 Thomas Jefferson High School students were lauded by the West Jefferson Hills School District Board for a variety of accomplishments during Tuesday night's monthly meeting. Superintendent Dr. Janet Sardon also recognized the WJHSD Board for their efforts throughout the year during PSBA School Director Recognition Month.

Chick-Fil-A Leadership Academy Recognized
Thomas Jefferson Principal Pete Murphy lauded the efforts of the school's new Chick-Fil-A Leader Academy. More than 30 high school students are part of the leadership group, which has completed two of its three service projects for the year. Last October, the students held "Literacy Under the Lights" at the TJ Homecoming football game, giving away small packages of children's books to the first 160 K-2 students who stopped by.

Prior to the holidays, the Chick-Fil-A Leader Academy initiated The Holidays from the Heart to assist youth patients at UPMC's Western Behavorial Health. The students held bake sales and collected monetary donations and used the funds to donate stuffed plush animals, toiletries, composition notebooks, crayons, markers and coloring books for the children.

The Chick-Fil-A Leader Academy students in attendance at the Board meeting were: Gabrielle Breisinger, Aaron DeNardo, Zoe Krizan, Jacob Palmer, Kathryn Patterson and Caraline Sommer.

Sophomore Class Honored for Food Drive and Empathy
The TJ sophomore class officers were recognized for their efforts in promoting the Pleasant Hills Middle School's Annual Thanksgiving Food Drive, which expanded to all district schools this past fall. The sophomore class officers worked with the school counselors to collect items and help WJHSD families in need celebrate Thanksgiving.

The officers advertised the food drive and initiated a competition at the high school between first period classes to see who could donate the most items, with a donut party for the winning first period classroom (Mrs. Karcher). The class officers contacted staff and students to encourage participation and spent PLTs sorting through the donation boxes to put together the meals.

A total of 680 items were collected by TJ students and 13 full Thanksgiving meals were provided for families. The Class of 2026 officers are: Mason Grilli (President), Bella Ferrieri (Vice President), Gianna Machi (Secretary), Jacob Palmer (Treasurer) and Madeline Gula (Public Relations).

TJ Students Lauded for Academics and Respect
Several more TJ students were recognized during the Board meeting:

-Senior Gina Cocuzzi was honored for earning a full scholarship to attend Princeton University.

-Senior Aidan Oeler was lauded for his efforts in recognizing the 10 TJ graduates who have died in service to our nation. Oeler has created a slideshow and spoken about each of the 10 military personnel during TJ's Veterans Day celebration the past two years.

Record-breaking Students Recognized
A quartet of TJ student-athletes were recognized for breaking school records:

-Senior Evan Berger became TJ basketball's career scoring leader among boys and girls on January 12 in a victory at Bethel Park. Berger surpassed Karri Miller Lockhart '89, who scored 1,357 points.

-Junior Genevieve Cody has added several more TJ girls swimming and diving records to her resume this year, including the 200 Free, 100 Butterfly and 200 Individual Medley. She also recently broke the school mark in the 500 Free with a time of 5:37.43, eclipsing a mark that had stood since 1999.

-Senior Gage Derrick recently broke two boys swimming and diving records, the 200 Free and 500 Free (5:08.04). The 500 Free mark had stood since 2007.

-Sophomore Joey Nix was lauded for recording the first 300 game in TJ Bowling team history. He earned the perfect score on January 17 vs. Norwin. The previous team record was 299 by the current TJ coach, Lou Scataglia.

Students Mason Grilli and Madeline Gula provided the Board with an update on some of the activities, achievements and upcoming events at the high school.

Students Create Placemats, Centerpieces and Video to Recognize School Board
Prior to the monthly meeting, a small dinner was held for the School Board members with district principals, administrators and staff. Students at Gill Hall and McClellan Elementary Schools created laminated placemats and thank you cards and Pleasant Hills Middle School students produced tote bags and wrote thank you notes for the Board. Thomas Jefferson student musicians Sabina Brigoli and Noah Clonan played the piano and electric guitar during dinner.

During the meeting, a video produced by Jefferson Hills Intermediate School students thanking the Board for all their dedicated efforts for WJHSD students was shown to the audience.

Kimberley Finnerty is president of the nine-member WJHSD Board. Suzanne Downer is the first Vice President and Christopher Zacur is second Vice President. The other Board members are: Chelsea Campolongo, Dave Dominick, Denise Kahler, Anthony Rash, Adam Rice and Kristin Shoemaker.

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