The Bellevue Community Herb Garden is open for use by the community.

Everyone is invited to "pinch what you need and use what you pinch".

Some of the plants that are large enough to provide herbs already are tarragon, oregano, parsley, marjoram, lavender, chamomile, and thyme. Sweet, purple, and Thai basil will be ready in a few weeks. Signs are posted to identify the plants and explain how they can be used.


Drivers passing by Jack and Tracy Ferguson’s Kilbuck residence have no reason to lurch to a stop to observe gardens of bubbling fountains, mesmerizing night lights, intricate floral arrangements. That’s because there aren’t any.


Nothing unusual about a 5-year-old girl enjoying a pony ride gift for her birthday.

But for Avonworth eighth grader Emma Smith, that gift has not ended, as she continues to ride, four to five days each week, building her skills as a hunter/jumper, riding and honing her skills at Candy Lane Acres in Sewickley.

Emma's mom, Janae, said that as a child, Emma showed an early interest, had a great passion for all animals and liked to jump the horses. But what started as a pastime has now advanced to some intense competition for students in grades 6-12.


College students majoring in education take four years of content and teaching courses and then work in classroom settings before graduating to job search. One piece of information rarely offered in any of their academic instruction is very important, but only a few wise professors pass it along to soon-to-be teachers. The advice: Learn to appreciate the secretaries in the schools where you eventually will work. Greet them each day with a smile and a few kind words, because secretaries are as important as superintendents in keeping schools functioning efficiently.


Avonworth and Northgate high schools presented diplomas to the graduating classes of 2017 during ceremonies held last Friday at Avonworth, and Monday at Northgate.Both schools honored their top academic achievers.

Avonworth valedictorian Julianna Nicolaus, at right, daughter of John and Linda Nicolaus, will attend Carnegie Mellon University, where she will major in math and science. Salutatorian Abby Busse, daughter of Lisa and John Paul Busse, will attend George Mason University, where she will major in bio-engineering.

Photo by Tom Steiner for The Citizen


Avonworth and Northgate high schools presented diplomas to the graduating classes of 2017 during ceremonies held last Friday at Avonworth, and Monday at Northgate.Both schools honored their top academic achievers.

Pictured here, Northgate valedictorian Alex Sklyar is the son of Sergey and Tatyana Sklyar of Bellevue. He will study neuroscience at the University of Pittsburgh in the fall. Salutatorian Kathleen King is the daughter of Lori and Andrew King, also of Bellevue. She will attend Chatham University next fall, majoring in biology as part of the physician assistant track.


“An army travels on its stomach.”

So who said it? Napoleon? Frederick the Great? Some historians attribute the statement to both of them.

Whoever. The message is the same: In combat, nutrition is almost as important as munitions in achieving victory.

But can the same be said for sports teams?

Step behind the scenes of the current Penguins quest for victory and head chef Geoff Straub would say that most assuredly, good nutrition is right up there with good teamwork in making it to the Stanley Cup playoffs.


The Pennsylvania Music Educators' Association's All-State Festival, April 19-22, featured the best high school vocalists and musicians, with Avonworth sophomore Lukas Helsel being named the top trombonist in the state.

Studying and playing the instrument for the past seven years, Lukas, age 15, said that although he originally wanted to play the French horn, he decided on the trombone because, “I liked the fact that it had a slide and that it could make unique sounds.”


What started as a classroom discussion in Avonworth teachers Jason Smith's and Melissa DeSimone's co-taught eighth grade civics class turned into a memorable event involving all of the eighth grade, as well as students from other grade levels and several adults.

“We started working on the project in January after a class survey showed that over 75 percent of eighth grade students felt the country was 'too divided' right now,” Smith said. “Students were challenged to find a way to bring their community together and build citizenship skills by making a positive impact that unites people.”


What’s a good age for students to start becoming involved in community service, giving back, making a difference?

For Avonworth Primary Center teacher Maureen Frew, kindergarten through fourth grade is as good a time as any to start developing social awareness.

Frew said that the idea of helping out in their community was student-inspired, starting “…in 2016 when two first graders -- Julia Nardozzi and Amelia Lucas -- asked me if we could start a business of girls who could make items and sell them.”


To celebrate the 145th year of Arbor Day festivities, volunteers last Friday planted several trees on the grounds of Ohio Township’s Mt. Nebo Presbyterian Church, replacing those that Duquesne Light had removed due to potential hazards to people and property because of age.

Among the replacement plantings that the company donated were three bushes, seven trees, mulch, top soil, perennials and educational items. Along with other donations, the value of the utility’s contribution to the environmental effort exceeded $1,000.


It’s common knowledge that heroin addiction claims hundreds of lives every day, being an equal opportunity killer of all ages and all socioeconomic groups. Some newscasters speak of the epidemic almost as casually as they report the weather, but students from area high schools decided to take a stronger approach to the problem, hoping to expose the dangers of opioid and heroin addiction.


Opening night for Avonworth's musical, “Beauty and the Beast” was met with enthusiastic applause for the cast, but after the performers took their bows, there was one more round of applause awaiting as superintendent Thomas Ralston stepped on stage to address the audience.


One of the perks of retirement is the freedom to travel wherever and whenever, Florida being an escape of choice for many northerners.

Herb and Bernadette Hartle didn't just stop in Florida and relax on the beach, though. Instead, they moved on a few hundred more miles south to visit where most Americans rarely consider for a vacation destination: Cuba.


Prom night. It’s supposed to be one of the most memorable and most enjoyable events in any high school student’s social life.


Avonworth will stage its spring musical, ‘Beauty and the Beast” March 31 and April 1, 7, and 8 in the high school auditorium, with a 7:30 p.m.curtain time for all performances.

Deborah Frauenholz, in her 20th year as musical director, said that the stage production is similar to the film, but that the live performance “…has more depth. Also, it has additional numbers.”

Approximately 70 students, grades 7-12 are involved in the production which has special lighting and staging effects.


Northgate middle schoolers joined students from six area schools -- North Allegheny and Norwin high schools, Pittsburgh Sci-Tech, Obama Academy of International Studies, Environmental Charter School, and University of Pittsburgh’s Falk School -- for a Monday morning conversation with Gene Luen Yang, an award-winning graphic novelist and the 2016 Library of Congress National Ambassador for young people’s literature.


The story of a young orphan boy choosing to rise above his circumstances takes to the Northgate High School stage in the musical, “James and the Giant Peach” April 1, 7, and 8 at 7:30 p.m., with a family and sensory-friendly show Thursday April 6. Activities and dinner for the Thursday show begin at 4:30 p.m., with a 6 p.m. curtain.

Karen Klicker, in her 14th year as musical director, said that the story has an all-ages appeal.


Eight years ago, when David and Lisa Wert of Ben Avon were in the process of adopting their son, Alek, they weren't sure how they were going to afford all of the expenses involved in that process.

“We were short on funds,” David recalls.

He and Lisa shared their concerns with a friend visiting for the weekend. A few days later, their friend called and said they didn't need to worry about any fund-raisers because he wanted to give them the remaining money as a gift.


As one reads through the memoir, “Dear Mater, A Soldier's World War I Letters to His Mother,” a personal attachment to that soldier soon begins to develop. For aside from differences in the details -- time, location, enemies -- the collection of letters written by William Arthur Jewell could be letters home from a relative or a friend stationed in Afghanistan, Yemen, Iraq -- wherever the never-ending tragedies of war continue to unfold.


Deciding what to do post-high school has always posed problems for students. Get a job? Community college? Trade school? Start a business? Four-year college?

To help students make sense of it all by planning wisely, Northgate High School's Business, Computer, and Information Technology (BCIT) Department this past Tuesday hosted its first "financial reality fair," a program sponsored by credit union associations nationwide.

BCIT teacher Susanne Galupi explained the purpose of the event.


Most artists can wait a lifetime before seeing their work displayed at a gallery or museum.

Not so for nearly 35 Northgate students whose works will be on display at the John A. Hermann Memorial Museum located on Lincoln Avenue in Bellevue.


In many ways, last Tuesday was the perfect day for penguins to be out and about. Some snow, temperature in the 20s, an even colder wind-chill factor made the trip to Avalon Elementary a comfortable journey.

No. Not penguins on the loose from the Pittsburgh Aviary. The other Pittsburgh Penguins, the ones from the NHL team coming on strong in the Metropolitan Division.


Frank Sulzer of Avalon started his running a little later than many, beginning three years ago at age 38.

But don't expect to see Frank, who also is a member of the Avalon Volunteer Fire Company, jogging California Avenue in typical running attire -- sweats or shorts, water bottle and the obligatory headphones plugged in to some device that provides music to accompany the trek.

Instead, he takes a more serious approach by running in a full firefighter's bunker suit that includes jacket, pants, helmet and airpack, while also carrying the American flag.