Charlie Giacometti lived next door to me when I was a kid and had a role in the first film I wrote, directed, and starred in. I don’t remember how old we were when I made Seventh Street’s version of the Keystone Cops, but definitely elementary school age.
Frankie Pineno grew up catty corner from me and his wife, Joanne Nelson, on Institute Street. I graduated with Joanne’s brother, Richard. Josette Yakobitis, Steve Chipolis and Kathy Pitcavage were colleagues, loved by all students and staff. Rick Belza was always around, coaching, refereeing, mentoring and keeping us safe.
Mark Kleback was a Drama Club dad who always made the electric sign for the plays, helped with crew and sold tickets every night. And Tom Kearns did so much for the WA Drama Club, I need far more space than I’m allowed here to describe it all. I may have revived the club in 1990, but Tom took it to the next level. He gave us “Broadway on Memorial Street.”
And then there are the kids I taught. I can picture them. Jenn Sidari studiously taking notes, Stephanie Godri running track, Mike Pedley — a little guy when I taught him in middle school — with the biggest smile. Mark Dushok helped me figure out how to broadcast a live news report throughout the school every morning. We named our station the WAVE, Warrior Audio Visual Entertainment.
They’re all gone now, but not our memories of them. Families and friends generously contribute to scholarships in their names. I’ve only mentioned the few I knew personally. There are so many more.
Many of you will remember Rosella Fedor, a Wyoming Area guidance counselor. After Rosella retired she got the brilliant idea to have a celebration for all WA scholarship recipients and their donors. 2019 will mark the 10th anniversary of the Scholarship Celebration, a program very few schools have, especially public schools. There are now more than 80 scholarships given, with a new one being developed as I write and another scheduled to be developed.
Rosella has invited me to join her and Juel Anne Klepadlo to speak to seniors about the scholarships available and how to apply for them. This is a project very near to my heart. It’s wonderful to see so many kids receive help with their post high school education, but what makes it really special for me is the chance to talk to the kids about my old friends and former students. I try to help the students realize what an honor it is, not to win money, but to be forever connected to these memories. As time passes, they may become just a name on a scholarship to someone, but they are alive to those of us who loved them and get to happily say their names in public once again.
When we visit the senior English classes on Dec. 4 and 6, we’ll describe the scholarships available, especially the new ones. Emphasis will be placed on the website, where students will find descriptions of each scholarship and the scholarship applications. Don’t think the money goes only to the top in academics. There are awards for all sports, the arts, community service, financial hardship, military commitment, Irish heritage, and even one for smiling. In many cases, students who will be attending technical schools or two year colleges are eligible to apply.
I advise parents to take a look at the website and discuss this opportunity with their seniors. Students should download the application and take notes on scholarships that interest them. Come to class with questions. The only answer we cannot give is who will receive the scholarship. That is decided totally by the donors.
I’ve attended WA commencement ceremonies since 1990 and have been part of this celebration since its inception. I love everything about it, with one exception. The scholarships are given, as I said, by families as memorials, by community service groups and civic organizations, and by alumni and friends of Wyoming Area. There is at least one scholarship designated specifically for a student of each town — Exeter, West Wyoming, West Pittston, and Harding. The only town without a scholarship is Wyoming. That has bothered me every year. I think the people who want to give only to someone from their own town are doing so because of fond memories of their schools before the merger. There are many people who are nostalgic about the good old days of small schools — me included. I just wish some graduates of Wyoming Memorial High School felt the same way. Here’s hoping that will change in 2020.
For information, visit www.wyomingarea.org. In the left column, click on the link for guidance. Then follow the link to scholarships. All applications must be submitted in early February, so it’s not too soon to start working on them.
Kiwanis Breakfast with Santa
The Wyoming Area Kiwanis Club, along with the Wyoming Area Key Club and Builders Club, will hold its annual Breakfast with Santa from 8:30 a.m. to noon Sunday, Dec. 2, at the Wyoming Area Secondary Center cafeteria. The public is invited. Breakfast will consist of pancakes, eggs, sausage, juice, milk, coffee and tea. Tickets are $8 for adults, $5 for children 2 to 12 years and free for children younger than 2.
Tickets may be purchased in advance by using the Wyoming Area Kiwanis Club Facebook page and the link to PayPal or at the door. Money raised from the event will continue to support the Key Club, Builder Club and K-Kids Club and Circle K Club sponsored by the Kiwanis Club.
Children and parents will have a safe, non-stressful environment to visit with Santa, enjoy the wonders of Santa’s Wonderland, and do crafts with the Builders Club members. There will be raffles for baskets of toys for boys and girls and Christmas trees. PSP will be available to take professional photos at an additional cost.
Those who already registered are reminded the children’s produce market will be held at the Wyoming Free Library from 10 to 11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 1. The market is open to all Luzerne County families with children.
Applications for future produce markets are available at the library.
A special “Twas the Night Before Christmas” event will be held from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 9. Wyoming Mayor Joseph Dominick will read the book, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” at 1:30 p.m. Activities and refreshments will be provided. The holiday event is open to children of all ages. Registration is required. Please call the library at 570-693-1364.
Exeter Council will meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 4. Wyoming and West Wyoming councils both meet at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 10, in their respective borough buildings.
West Wyoming Ambulance holiday painting benefit
A family fun holiday painting event to benefit the West Wyoming Ambulance will be held from 3 to 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1, at The Arty Place, 33 S. Wilkes-Barre Blvd, Suite 2, Wilkes-Barre. Tickets can be purchased at www.theartpartyplace.com. Adults will paint “Santa Wine Glass” on a large canvas and children will paint “Melting Olaf” on a medium canvas.
Wyoming Area Catholic news
Wyoming Area Catholic annual PTG Breakfast with Santa will be held for students on Monday, Dec. 3. The breakfast will be held in the school cafeteria at Wyoming Area Catholic School. Pictures with Santa will be taken. Students may dress in their Christmas/Sunday best.
Every year at Wyoming Area Catholic School, students in grades four to eight participate in an advent retreat. Advent, from Latin meaning “coming,” is a time of waiting and preparing for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas. The teachers and students will take part in a prayer service, play advent or saint bingo; create and design Christmas cards and construct a Nativity ornament for the residents of Wesley Village. They also will watch a short movie about the spiritual season of Advent. This year’s retreat will be held the morning of Wednesday morning, Dec. 5.
Sunday, Dec. 9, Wyoming Area Catholic School students in pre-kindergarten grades PK through eighth grade will perform their annual Christmas concert, to be held in the school auditorium beginning at 4 p.m. The concert, under the direction of Jackson Fiore, music teacher, will include a variety of traditional Christmas carols as well as some contemporary Christmas songs. The eighth grade students also will present the Nativity according to the gospel of St. Luke. Students in grades four to eight will enhance this presentation with Christmas carols. In the evening of Dec. 9, beginning at 6:30 p.m., the students in eighth grade will present the annual performance of the Living Nativity. This manger scene, with live animals, will take place in front of Wyoming Area Catholic School, 1690 Wyoming Ave., Exeter.
Students at Wyoming Area Catholic School will have the opportunity to shop for Christmas presents for their parents and other family members Tuesday, Dec. 11, in the school cafeteria.
Students fourth and fifth will perform a Christmas program for the residents of Wesley Village. Under the direction of their music teacher, along with homeroom teachers Josie Toomey and James Renfer, the students will display a variety of talents through song, narration and musical instruments.
WA holiday concerts
The Wyoming Area Music Department has some programs scheduled to get us in the spirit of Christmas.
The Secondary Center Concert Band will perform its Christmas concert Thursday, Dec. 6. Chorus concert will be held Thursday, Dec. 13, and the piano/guitar concert will be held Wednesday, Dec. 19.
All concerts begin at 7 p.m. in the high school auditorium and are free to the public.