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Published by Forest Hills School District, 2020-01-28 14:24:33

Fall Newsletter 2019

Fall Newsletter 2019

Forest Hills

Ranger Review

Vol. XL
No 1

Fall 2019-2020


What happens when you misplace your marbles, lose track of time, find purpose, or
commit to a focus area? I have to admit that after writing and reflecting on the last
column, many Rangers have joked with me suggesting I ‘had lost my marbles’. I find it
interesting that with every change, new challenges and opportunities present them-
selves. Sometimes change is needed to indicate focus areas or where growth is need-
ed. On one hand, the prospect of change brings about feelings of loss, sadness, and
fear. After these feelings subside, a realization of how you should support your family
and constituency emerge. The challenge is to act on these emerging feelings and ad-
dress the areas which need attention. However, after celebrating the graduation of
the class of 2019, I discovered it was time to get back to work developing an EFFIEICENT, EFFECTIVE,
and ATTRACTIVE environment for all leaners. Defining these organizational ideals can be difficult, con-
sidering the scope of Ranger nation. Nonetheless, the challenge is well worth our collective effort.

I would like to take some time to address some of the exciting changes that have occurred in our learning
environment over the past several months. At the Elementary School many new programs and initiatives
have been adopted and implemented to provide learners with rigorous learning experiences and to pro-
mote learning and equity for all learners. Programs such as ECRI, Spring Math, LinkIt!, and STEAM are
cornerstones of this programming. Teachers are working hard to integrate these programs into the cur-
riculum with fidelity. We are excited to watch the students develop and demonstrate their newly acquired

At the Junior-Senior High School many changes have occurred ranging from significant operational
framework changes to integrated curriculum changes. Mr. Curt Vasas now serves the District as the Ac-
ademic Principal and Mr. Edward Alexander serves as the Operational Principal. Both Principals call the
main office their home. The Guidance Suite is now positioned in the heart of the school. All three guid-
ance counselors now work in the same center with a focus on meeting the needs of our diverse popula-
tion. A goal for the District is to develop a comprehensive Career Readiness and Workforce plan for all
learners. A comprehensive Pre-K-12 curriculum development plan is in progress. Additional STEAM
based opportunities have been introduced, and the AP course selections have been expanded with the
introduction of AP Language and Composition.

Making improvements to school culture and school climate is a central focal area for the District. Forest
Hills is partnering with the Intermediate Unit and other peer districts in a project designed to improve in
these areas. A school climate and culture team has been developed which includes administrators,
teachers, and community members. In the near future, the community will be asked to provide infor-
mation through various avenues including online surveys. Be on the lookout for these opportunities.

(Continued on page 2)


Additionally, the Forest Hills School District utilizes various forms of social media such as Twitter, Face-
book, and Instagram to communicate with stakeholders. We encourage you to follow these media out-

This is an exciting time to be a RANGER. There is a tremendous amount of RANGER PRIDE that goes
into making “R” buildings and grounds beautiful and inviting to the students and community. A sus-
tained vision has been followed to provide learners with a modern learning environment supported by
ATTRACTIVE facilities. The recent facility improvements represent a piece of an ongoing puzzle de-
signed to promote excellence in all learning areas for the students. These projects represent the cap-
stone of the facility vison that has been sustained for over twenty years. The facility work highlights a
legacy of leadership and student centered thinking. We are proud to announce the completion of the
final phase of the construction plan.

The baseball field complex includes a fully synthetic infield system com-
plete with improved drainage. A new backstop has been installed as
well as additional fencing. To improve safety and security in the area,
the District is exploring the addition of a wireless security system to
support the area. Additional improvements will be made over time to
the outfield and facility amenities.

The track facility has undergone a complete
redesign and resurfacing. The track surface boasts a modern look com-
plete with striping and numbering representing “R” school colors. Addition-
al amenities include improved bleacher seating areas, security fencing, im-
proved drainage, and infrastructure improvements.

The multi-purpose field will provide all students educational and extra-
curricular experiences. The field boasts a full size soccer, football, and soft-

ball synthetic turf playing area. To accommodate space demands, the
visitor bleachers were relocated. Efficient lighting upgrades also oc-
curred. Additionally, a new concession stand was erected that con-
tains modern appliances and includes a ticket booth.

Thank you for your support and dedication to the Forest Hills School
District. We appreciate your efforts to help
us develop our most prized possession - our

Dr. David Lehman
Superintendent of Schools

New Teachers at the Junior-Senior High School

Ms. Kaitlyn Stiffler—Kaitlyn was born and raised in Johnstown and graduated from
Conemaugh Valley High School. She attended Pitt-Johnstown for her undergradu-
ate degree and is currently working on obtaining her masters degree from IUP. She
is teaching 7th and 10th grade students this year. In her spare time she enjoys
coaching softball, spending time outdoors, and hanging out with friends and fami-
ly. She is excited to be part of the Forest Hills Family.

Mrs. Gabby Bilchak—Gabby is the new 7th and 8th grade Health and Physical Edu-
cation teacher. She graduated from IUP in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in
Health and Physical Education. She and her husband reside in Portage, with their
three children. She is thrilled to bring her passion and excitement for physical fit-
ness to Forest Hills. (Continued on page 11)


Parent Compact for Title I

The Forest Hills School District’s Strategic Plan establishes the mission of the Forest Hills School District
regarding its educational program for all children, including Title I eligible children. The Forest Hills
School District Title I Program, however, has a primary mission, to improve the educational opportunities
for Title I eligible children so these students are “equally likely” to achieve advanced skills, including those
established by Pennsylvania’s content and performance standards in reading, language arts and mathe-
matics. It is within this framework that Title I students are provided with a highly supportive and congruent
learning environment specifically designed to provide appropriate developmental and/or intervention ac-
tivities to enhance their capacity to learn. Teachers are committed to sharing this responsibility with you
and your child by performing the following practices:

Teacher’s Pledge: I will
 Establish a safe, positive, and secure learning environment that promotes student learning
 Build a relationship with the families through clear communication methods
 Keep families informed of their children’s progress and needs in each subject
 Help students learn through differentiated instruction
 Send home learning materials to reinforce skills and concepts
 Explain my approach to teaching, expectations, and grading to students and their families
 Continue professional development to enhance best teaching practices
 Strive to address the individual needs of each student
 Communicate to students and or parents to help them understand assignments and their goals
 Strive to gain appropriate participation of parents in the education decisions of their children

Parents must also share the responsibility of providing children with appropriate learning experiences.
The African proverb states, “It takes a village to raise a child,” indicating that education is the responsibil-
ity of all of us. Parents and teachers must work together as partners to provide children with a supportive
learning environment. Consequently, as parents, we ask that you share this responsibility by committing
yourself to the following practices:

Parent’s Pledge: I will
 Send my child to school regularly and well rested
 Participate in educational decisions related to my child
 Review daily / weekly school communications
 Monitor my child’s progress and assist in homework completion
 Use educational materials the school sends home throughout the school year
 Attend parent / teacher conferences and school functions

Students must also take responsibility for their own learning. We ask students to commit themselves to
the following practices:

Student’s Pledge: I will
 Ask for help from my teacher and family if I am having trouble understanding my school work
 Attend school every day on time
 Follow my teacher’s directions and instructions throughout the school year
 Work on my math and reading skills at home, using the materials my teacher sends home
 Write down assignments, do my homework every day, and turn it in when it’s due

Communication is the essence of a good relationship. The Forest Hills School District’s Title I Program
has always and is continuing to commit itself to improving the communication between home and school.
Implementation of the “PARENT PARTICIPATION PLAN,” as adopted by the Board of School Directors in
conjunction with this compact, is a major step in the communication linkage. The Title I Newsletter, which
we will continue to publish twice a year, is yet another forum for the sharing of ideas and practices to help
keep the lines of communication open. There will also continue to be telephone conferences and requests
for face-to-face meetings to enhance communication.


Student Health Exams, Privacy, and Surveys

The Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA) affords parents and students who are 18 years old or
emancipated minors (i.e., “eligible students”) certain rights regarding the conduct of surveys, collection,
and use of information for marketing purposes, and certain physical exams. These include the right to:
Consent before students are required to submit to a survey that concerns one or more of the following
protected areas (i.e., “protected information survey”) if the survey is funded in whole or in part by a pro-
gram of the U.S. Department of Education (USDoE)...

1. Political affiliations or beliefs of the student or student’s parents;
2. Mental or psychological problems of the student or student’s family;
3. Sexual behavior or attitudes;
4. Illegal, anti-social, self-incriminating, or demeaning behavior;
5. Critical appraisals of others with whom respondents have close family relationships;
6. Legally recognized privileged relationships, such as with lawyers, doctors, or ministers;
7. Religious practices, affiliations, or beliefs of the student or student’s parents;
8. Income, other than as required by law to determine program eligibility.
Receive notice and an opportunity to opt a student out of...
1. Any other protected information survey, regardless of funding;
2. Any non-emergency, invasive physical exam or screening as a required condition of attend-

ance, administered by the school or its agent, and not necessary to protect the immediate
health and safety of a student, except for hearing, vision, or scoliosis screenings, or any physi-
cal exam or screening permitted or required under state law; and
3. Activities involving collection, disclosure, or use of personal information obtained from stu-
dents for marketing or to sell or otherwise distribute the information to others.
Inspect, upon request and before administration and use...
1. Protected information surveys of students;
2. Instruments used to collect personal information from students for any of the above market-
ing, sales, or other distribution purposes; and
3. Instructional material used as part of the educational curriculum.
The Forest Hills School District will develop and adopt policies, in consultation with parents, regarding
these rights, as well as arrangements to protect student privacy in the administration of protected surveys
and the collection, disclosure, or use of personal information for marketing, sales, or other distribution
purposes. The Forest Hills School District will directly notify parents and eligible students of these policies
at least annually at the start of each school year and after any substantive changes. The school district
will also directly notify parents and eligible students at least annually at the start of each school year of the
specific or approximate dates of the following activities and provide an opportunity to opt a student out of
participating in:

 Collection, disclosure, or use of personal information for marketing, sales, or other distribu-

 Administration of any protected information survey not funded in whole or in part by the

 Any non-emergency, invasive physical exam or screening described above.
Parents and/or eligible students who believe their rights have been violated may file a complaint with the:
Family Policy Compliance Office, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington,
DC 20202-4605


ESEA Title I Home Language is other than English, the
Parent Participation Plan Survey Cover Letter District will provide an
instructional program ap-
It is the goal of the Forest Hills School District’s The Civil Rights Law of propriate to your child’s
Title I program to develop partnerships with the 1964, Title VI requires developmental and in-
home. Parents and teachers working as partners that school districts/ structional level.
increase student achievement and promote posi- charter schools identify
tive attitudes about school. It is the intent of the Limited English Proficient If the answer to any of the
following plan to encourage and promote such a (LEP) students. Pennsyl- questions on the Home
relationship. vania has selected to use Language Survey is “yes,”
the Home Language Sur- your child will be given an
In accordance with the U.S. Education De- vey for identification of initial assessment to de-
partment’s regulations for ESEA Title I and the students who are English termine if an ESL program
District’s Title I Parent and Family Engage- language learners. is appropriate. ESL is a
ment Policy (#918), the following guidelines basic curricular area, and
concerning “Consultation with Parents and The Forest Hills School would take the place of
Teachers” shall be effective: District has the responsi- your child’s regular Eng-
bility under federal law to lish class if the initial as-
1. Conferences, including telephone confer- serve students who are sessment revealed that
ences, shall be established between individ- limited English proficient such a program was
ual parents and teachers. Parents shall also and need English instruc- needed. If this is the case,
be invited to attend, at the Forest Hills School tional services. Given this an in-depth assessment
District’s Title I program expense, state and responsibility, the school will be administered to
regional conferences designed to increase district has the right to your child, and the results
their knowledge regarding relevant Title I ask for the information it would be used to plan a
issues. needs to identify English suitable program of in-
Learners (ELs). As part of struction.
2. Timely information shall be provided con- the responsibility to lo-
cerning the Title I program, including pro- cate and identify ELs, the The Forest Hills School
gram plans and evaluation through a mini- District may conduct District will monitor your
mum of at least one annual meeting. Addi- screenings or ask for re- child’s academic and so-
tional meetings, as needed, may be request- lated information about cial progress throughout
ed by parents. students who are already his/her participation in the
enrolled in the District, as ESL program. Even after
3. Parents’ suggestions shall be solicited regard- well as from students who your child exits from the
ing the planning, development and operation of enroll in the District in the ESL program, he/she will
the Title I program. future. be monitored for a period
of two years after reclas-
4. Consultation shall be conducted with parents The Home Language Sur- sification and reporting
about cooperation in achieving the program’s vey is used to determine if former Els to the state for
objectives. your child’s primary lan- an additional two years
guage is a language other (total of four years of mon-
5. An annual evaluation shall be conducted to de- than English. If your itoring status.
termine the effectiveness of the Title I Program. child’s primary language

Parental Concern/Complaints Step 1: Meet with the teacher. If the concern/
complaint is not resolved,
The Forest Hills School District is dedicated to Step 2: Meet with the Principal/Assistant Principal. If
meeting the educational needs of our students and the concern/complaint is not resolved,
is constantly working to ensure that your child re- Step 3: Meet with the Director of Education. If the
ceives the best possible education. To ensure that concern/complaint is not resolved,
the educational needs of students are being met, a Step 4: Meet with the Superintendent. If the concern/
strong educational program and communication complaint is not resolved, the parent/guardian may
between school and home must be maintained for then choose to address the Board of School Direc-
every student. tors regarding the concern/complaint.

In the event that a concern or complaint arises, par-
ents/guardians should follow the chain of command
listed below to have the concern/complaint ad-


Notice of Homeless Education Programs

Each year, more than 800,000 school-age children in the United States experience homelessness. The
federal McKinney-Vento Act includes a provision to make sure that homelessness does not cause these
children to be left behind in school. Homeless children should have access to the education and other
services that they need to meet the same challenging state academic achievement standards to which all
students are held.

The Forest Hills School District is required to provide activities for, and services to, homeless children,
including preschool-age homeless children and youths, enabling them to enroll in, attend, and succeed in
school or preschool programs.

The law requires all school districts to inform parents or guardians of their rights under this federal act.
Specifically, it states that, pending resolution of a dispute about school placement, a school district must
immediately enroll a homeless student in the student’s school of origin or other school selected on the
basis of the child’s best interest and provide a written explanation of the rights of appeal to the parent/

Parental Involvement Meeting Notification

Title I – Part A – Homeless Education – ESL

Title I requires the Forest Hills School District to develop and distribute to parents a written parent in-
volvement policy that establishes the District’s expectations for parent involvement for Title I – Part A,
Homeless Education, and English as a Second Language (ESL). Specifically, schools must hold a yearly
meeting, at a convenient time, to which all parents of participating children must be invited and encour-
aged to attend. At this meeting, the District will provide you with information about the school district’s
programs, a description and explanation of the curriculum in use at the school, the kinds of tests the
school district uses to measure student learning, and the proficiency levels students are expected to
meet. Administrators will also review the District’s parental concern/ complaint procedure at this meet-

This year’s meeting will be held on Thursday, November 14, 2019 at 9:30 a.m. at Forest Hills Elementary
School. Please complete the information at the bottom of this page and return it to the Elementary
School office.

We look forward to seeing you at this meeting.

Parental Involvement Meeting Response Form

Please check here:

_____ Yes, I will attend the Parental Involvement meeting on November 14, 2019

_____ No, I do not plan to attend the Parental Involvement meeting on November 14, 2019

____________________________________ ___________________________________
Printed Name of Parent/Guardian Printed Name(s) of Child(ren)

____________________________________ ____________________________________
Signature of Parent/Guardian Date


Parent Right to Know Information as Required by
Elementary and Secondary Education Assistance (ESEA) [Section 1112(e)(1)(A)]

Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) [Section 1112(e)(1)(A)]

Forest Hills Elementary School receives Federal Title I funds to assist students in meeting state achieve-
ment standards. Throughout the school year, we will be providing you with important information about
this law and your child’s education. This letter lets you know about your right to request information
about the qualifications of the classroom staff working with your child.

As a Title I school, we must meet federal regulations related to teacher qualifications as defined in ESEA.
These regulations allow you to learn more about your child’s teachers’ training and credentials. We are
happy to provide this information to you.

At any time, you may ask:

 Whether the teacher met state qualifications and certification requirements for the grade lev-
el and subject he/she is teaching.

 Whether the teacher received an emergency or conditional certificate through which state
qualifications were waived, and

 What undergraduate or graduate degrees the teacher holds, including graduate certificates
and additional degrees, and major(s) or area(s) of concentration.

 You may also ask whether your child receives help from a paraprofessional. If your child re-
ceives this assistance, we can provide you with information about the paraprofessional’s

 The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) which was signed into law in December 2015 and
reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1956 (ESEA) includes

 Information on policies regarding student participation in assessments

 Information on required assessments that include: subject matter tested, purpose of the test,
source of the requirement (if applicable), amount of time it takes students to complete the
test, and time and format of disseminating results.

The Forest Hills School District is dedicated to meeting the educational needs of our students and is
working to ensure that your child receives the best possible education. The district is fully committed to
the success of your child. We appreciate your partnership in our efforts.


Principal’s Corner ~ Mr. Curt Vasas, Academic Principal

Welcome back everyone!!
The start of another school year brings excitement to all of us here at the Junior-Senior High School.
There is excitement about new challenges, new courses, and new relationships we are eager to build with
students, parents, and members of our community.

Once again, we have made some additions and modifications to curriculum in order to provide our stu-
dents with the best opportunities for future success. We have introduced or re-introduced exploratory
classes in 7th and 8th grade. These elective area courses include visual, digital and studio art, coding,
stem, manufacturing, family and consumer science and career exploration. High school aged students
had the opportunity to schedule AP Language and Composition, Computer Science, and Engineering
Graphics and Design as new offerings as we continue to expand our curriculum choices to meet the needs
of our students and our changing global society. This year seniors will be exposed to a financial literacy
curriculum that allows them to be better informed about credit, investing, and their overall financial choic-
es. (continued on page 8)



Principal’s Corner ~ Mr. Curt Vasas, Academic Principal (continued from page 7)

The future of State assessments as a graduation requirement has now been established by the Depart-
ment of Education. The class of 2022, or our current sophomores, will be required to meet baseline re-
quirements; however, the State has introduced flexibility in how these requirements can be obtained. I am
confident all of our students will be adequately prepared to reach this mandate. We also will be building
partnerships with alumni and community members to ensure all stakeholders feel a sense of connected-
ness to our schools. Developing graduates that are career and workforce ready is a primary focus of our
educational system.

As always, we encourage you to contact us if you have any questions or concerns. Please also visit our
website for valuable information including the link for the “High School Years” newsletter under the Ad-
ministration link within the Our School tab of the current High School homepage. We continue to strive to
provide a quality education so our students develop into life-long learners and understand their im-
portance in a democratic and global society. Thank you for your continued support and assistance to-
wards making our schools the best in the area.

Principal’s Corner ~ Mr. Ed Alexander, Operational Principal

Welcome back! As we begin the 2019-2020 school year, we are excited and prepared for a successful
year. The first few weeks have brought much excitement and have overall been a wonderful start! Our 7th
and 8th graders will have more opportunities, as we have scheduled nine-week exploratory courses in
STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math). New courses being introduced include: Coding
7 & 8, Digital Art 8, Studio Art 8, Manufacturing 8, Music 8.

As we are now a grade 7-12 building, it is very important to stay connected with your children, especially
during this time of great change. The best way to stay connected with school is to actively communicate
with his or her teachers. Our teachers are required to maintain and update a monthly teacher calendar on
our website: Also, Forest Hills now has a District Twitter handle, as well as a District
Instagram page. Please follow us for important announcements and information!

Another way to stay in the loop is through PowerSchool, our District’s student management system. In
PowerSchool, you as the parent or guardian, can be notified instantly regarding your child’s attendance
and grades. Here’s to a fantastic school year! Please let me know if I can be of assistance. My contact is:
[email protected] , or you can reach me at the Junior-Senior High: (814) 487-7613 ext. 3800.

Tailgate 2019

The 22nd annual Tailgate Party took place on Friday, Septem-
ber 20, 2019 prior to the Varsity football game against Bishop
McCort. This was a special evening because not only was it
Tailgate, but it was
also Homecoming
and the first Varsity
football game on the
new stadium
turf. The Tailgate
party was a huge suc-
cess for all the organ-
izations that partici-
pated. We hope to see everyone next year for the 23rd annual Tail-
gate Party.


Marching Rangers

This year’s group, a total of 85 students, held camp the first two weeks of August. They worked tirelessly
from 8am – 5pm using all aspects of the High School, from the auditorium to the gym, to the parking lot.
This year’s theme, “Road Trip” is fitting for the season, for we spent our first four games on the road. The
Marching Rangers encourage you to come see the halftime performance featuring the songs; “I’m Shipping
Up To Boston,” “Havana Express,” and “Viva Las Vegas.” As the season progresses, this group keeps get-
ting better! This group really shines on our brand new turf football field. We still proudly perform our fight
song at the beginning of every home game and after every Forest Hills score and encourage you to cheer
along with “R-A-N-G-E-R-S.”
On top of performing at all the football games, you may have seen the Marching Rangers at the Richland
Days Parade. If you missed a band performance, you can also see us perform at the South Fork, St.
Michael, and Johnstown Halloween Parades, as well as the Johnstown Veterans Day, and Christmas Pa-
rades. We wrap up our season the first week of December at the Ebensburg Christmas Parade. Also
planned for the Marching Rangers this season are a performance at a Johnstown Tomahawks game, and a
trip to Allentown to see the Collegiate Marching Band Festival. Alumni from Forest Hills will be performing
with the IUP and Shippensburg Marching Bands.
Concert Band and Chorus are excited to perform two different concerts this fall and winter. Our Annual
Fall Concert featuring students in 7th through 12th grade was on October 11th.
Our Junior High Christmas Concert is December 12th and our High School
Christmas Concert is December 9th. All concerts start at 7pm and are free to

Kaitlyn Rusnak Makes the All-National Choir

Senior Kaitlyn Rusnak was selected to sing in the 2019 National Association
for Music Education All-National Mixed Choir as a result of her successful
audition that was submitted this past spring. She is only the second student
to make any national level music ensemble in the history of Forest Hills. To
even be eligible to audition, she had to previously have had a successful au-
dition to District, then Regional, and then State choruses. Kaitlyn will per-
form with these student singers from all across the United States on
Saturday, November 9 at the Gaylord Palms Resort in Orlando, Florida.


Homecoming 2019

The 2019 Homecoming Game was held on Friday, September 20, 2019 where the Homecoming Queen and
King were announced. This year’s Queen is Allyson Boring and the King is Hadon Staller. The Homecom-
ing Court consisted of Elisabeth Zajdel, Rebecca Williamson, Skyler Hostetler, Grace Edsall, Nate Harris,
Robbie Sivi, Joey Schrader, and Lowe Ayers. The Homecoming Court was also announced at the Home-
coming Dance on Saturday, September 21, 2019.

Forest Hills National Honor Society Walks to End Alzheimer's

On September 14, 2019 our Forest Hills National Honor Society members attended the annual Walk to
End Alzheimer’s at the Windber Recreation Park. The NHS raised four hundred and seventy one dollars
for the event. Their fundraising efforts and participation were greatly appreciated by the event organiz-
ers and various members of the community.
The event featured a ceremony in which several members of our local community talked about their per-
sonal experiences with Alzheimer’s. Lacey Greathouse, our NHS president, spoke at the event. She stat-
ed, “We are not affected personally by the disease, but we are here to walk with you, the other advo-
cates, in support. We want it to be known that even at a young age, we know the importance of walking
to find a cure.” Our students also took part in the ceremony by selecting a color of flower that represent-
ed their connection to the illness. This ceremony reminds participants just how far-reaching this disease
is within our community. At the end of the ceremony, students placed the flowers into a promise garden.
By doing so, they made a promise to honor, remember, and fight for a cure to this devastating disease.
The event ended with a walk around the park.
According to the Walk to End Alzheimer’s website, Alzheimer’s is the only top ten cause of death in
America that cannot be prevented, slowed, or cured. There are over five million people living with Alz-
heimer’s in the United States, and there are over sixteen million people caring for them.


AP Students Attend Mountain Playhouse’s 5/31/1889: The Flood

On September 26, 2019, Dr. Mock’s AP Literature
students and Ms. Yevchak’s AP Language and Com-
position students attended the play 5/31/1889:The
Flood at the Mountain Playhouse in Jennerstown.
The play, written by Rob Barron, was a two-act ac-
count of the historical event through the lives of
denizens of Johnstown.

Students who attended the event found it to be both
engaging and insightful. Hannah Roberts, a student
who attended the play, recalled that “the play had me on the edge of my seat.” Another student, Josilyn
Wehner, reflected upon the experience by stating, “the experience the actors portrayed was extremely
moving.” Thomas Hockensmith commented: “it was one of the best plays I’ve seen.” Directly following
the play, students participated in a question-and-answer forum sponsored by the Johnstown Flood Mu-

The field trip, organized by Dr. Mock, was a noteworthy experience for the AP students. Upon return-
ing to their classrooms, students will be completing various activities and assignments related to their
field trip experience. Dr. Mock’s students will be studying the play and the playgoing experience as a
prototype for their own playwriting assignments. Ms. Yevchak’s students will be discussing the implica-
tions of historical representation in narrative in a unit focusing on authorship and credibility.

Army National Guard Visits Forest Hills

Sargent Eddington from the Army National Guard was in the high
school physical education classes in September. He set up the activity
on the multipurpose field that all students could participate. Students

had to work in teams and carry
one student to retrieve items
that were placed all over the
field. The team with the most
collected won. He instructed
the students that they needed
to work together, rely on their
teammates, and help one an-
other. The students enjoyed the activity which included
strength, strategy, endurance, and good competition.

New Teachers at the Junior-Senior High School (Continued from page 2)

Jenna Ricci-Dykes—Jenna is our new Biology and Environmental Science teacher.
She is a 2005 graduate from Richland, a 2009 graduate from the University of
Pittsburgh at Johnstown with a Bachelor’s degree is Secondary Education: Biology,
and a 2012 graduate from Clarion University of Pennsylvania with a Master of Educa-
tion: Curriculum and Instruction. She spent her first 10 years in education at
Ferndale Area Jr./Sr. High School and has also been coaching competitive cheerlead-
ing for 13 years. She’s motivated to continue her career as a life-long learner and ed-
ucator at Forest Hills School District.

Morgan Patton—Morgan comes to Forest Hills after teaching for three years at Shanksville-
Stonycreek School District. She has loved science since she was young and specialized in astro-
physics at Allegheny College before attending IUP to become a teacher. Morgan teaches all of our
physics courses. When she is not busy at school or taking care of her two children, Mrs. Patton
enjoys reading and ultrarunning. She is incredibly excited to be a part of Forest Hills.



Principal’s Corner ~ Mrs. Rebecca Roberts

Welcome back for another great school year! Dr. Dill and I are excited to have the kids back into the build-
ing where they will learn not only academically, but socially, physically and emotionally.
Some new initiatives taking place this year:
In grades K-2, our focus will be strengthening our core literacy curriculum with the implementation of En-
hanced Core Reading Instruction (ECRI), an explicit, systematic approach to teaching phonics and phone-
mic awareness skills. Our literacy program will focus on phonics, phonemic awareness, vocabulary, read-
ing comprehension, and fluency. In grades 3-6, the ELA curriculum will include Equipped for Reading Suc-
cess, a comprehensive, step-by-step program for developing phonemic awareness and fluent word recog-
In grades 4-6, in addition to enhancing phonemic awareness in ELA, a new math intervention program—
Spring Math—will be implemented. Spring Math provides comprehensive interventions that provide both
effective class-wide and individual math instruction.
Our third curricular change will be the implementation of LinkIt, a comprehensive data benchmarking and
management system, in grades 2-6. LinkIt will enable teachers to make data-driven instructional decisions
and ensure that our students are on track to achieve or exceed grade-level standards.
The school has expanded our special area offerings with the addition of STEAM (Science, Technology, En-
gineering, Art, and Mathematics). All students, PreK through grade 6, will have 18 weeks of STEAM.
STEAM is a hands-on, interactive, inquiry-based approach to learning that promotes students’ creativity
and innovation.
We look forward to watching your child(ren) grow throughout the year. Working together with parents is
essential in providing students a positive educational experience. If you ever need anything or just have a
question, please call 814-487-7613.

New Teachers in the Forest Hills Elementary School

This year we are excited to welcome Ms. Kara Matthews and Ms. Denae Dorian to Forest Hills
Elementary School.
Ms. Matthews (right) is from Johnstown, PA and a graduate of Westmont Hilltop. She attended California
University of Pennsylvania receiving an undergraduate degree in 4-8 ELA and PreK-8 Special Educa-

tion. Currently, she is pursuing a Master’s Degree in Autism and a cer-
tificate in Secondary Special Education. Before working at Forest Hills,
she worked at Windber High School and Conemaugh Valley Elemen-
tary. When not in school or completing her own school work, she en-
joys playing tennis, adult league softball, and fishing. Ms. Matthews
works in grade 4.
Ms. Dorian (left) is from Johnstown, PA and is also a graduate of West-
mont. She attended Slippery Rock University and graduated with a
Bachelor's Degree in Early Childhood/Special Education and a Master's
Degree in Education with a Reading Specialist Certification. She previ-
ously taught at Altoona Area School District. Her favorite color is green
and she loves spending time with her family and being outdoors! Ms.
Dorian works in grades K and 1.


Ranger-thon 2019 vate the students to participate. All students re-

The start of the new school year marks the time for ceived the participation prize, a mini puzzle cube,
the annual Ranger-thon fundraiser to benefit the that day. Students had an opportunity to earn addi-
Forest Hills Elementary students! This is the one tional prizes and be entered in drawings based on
and only Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) spon- different dollar levels achieved. A bonus incentive
sored fundraiser for the 2019-2020 school year. A was added this school year where any student who

goal was set over the summer to raise $40,000. This raises over $65 got to pie a teacher of choice!
averages to be approximately $40 per student. Col- Grand Prizes are awarded to the top three students.
lections are tallied in late September, and the PTO is Grand prizes include a Ranger corn-hole game, a
hopeful that they will reach the goal amount. Money television, and a 10-in-1 game table.

raised from the Ranger-thon fundraiser is used to The Ranger-thon celebration was held on Friday,
October 4. All students got a chance to go outside
fund field trips for all the elementary grades and
provide a Ranger t-shirt and yearbook for each stu- and participate in fun games and activities as a
dent. The PTO sponsors other events throughout thank you for participating. This year’s Ranger-thon
the school year including the very popular end of the theme was board games. The students got an op-
portunity to play life size versions of popular board
year carnival and sixth grade dance.
Elementary students from Pre-K through sixth grade games.
were challenged to reach the $40 goal level. Par- The PTO is a 100% volunteer organization managed
ents could contribute the total amount or students by the parents of elementary school students. Activ-
could collect donations from family, friends, neigh- ities and events that are sponsored by the PTO are
bors, and local businesses. Any amount collected an integral part of the Forest Hills elementary year.
above goal helps other Ranger students that were These activities would not be possible without the
unable to fundraise. A donation-based fundraiser support from the generous members of our Forest
has proven to be more successful than selling food Hills community. On behalf of the 2019-2020 PTO
executive board, we would like to thank everyone
or material items.
who has made this fundraiser possible. We greatly
The 2019 Ranger-thon kickoff was held on Septem- appreciate the generosity from all donors along with
ber 4, 2019. Elementary students attended a prize the participation from students, guardians, teach-
assembly where the PTO and Principal explained ers, district staff, and the Forest Hills community.
how the fundraiser works. Prizes are used to moti- We could not do it without you!


Elementary Music Program are currently learning a new dance for our annual

We are off to a great start in the elementary music Halloween video (a special thank you to Out of His
Mind Dance for the choreography!), and rehearsals
department this school year! We have many events have already started for Christmas and County
to prepare for, and the kids are buckling down for Chorus. Our Christmas concert featuring the fifth
exciting performances and opportunities this grade chorus, and sixth grade band and chorus will
fall. A spirit sale will be coming out shortly to sup- be held on December 11, 2019. A free-will donation
port our elementary music program and raise will be requested to benefit a local charity and our
funds to continue creating new opportunities for elementary music department. We are also excited
our elementary students. With your generosity to be continuing our tradition of visiting local per-
through these sales and coming to hear our con- sonal care homes during the holidays with our sixth
certs throughout each school year, we have been grade chorus students! Congratulations are also in
able to provide lunch for our students during our order for Luke Biter, Noah Eash, Breanna Martin,
Christmas caroling trip, buy shirts for our band and Garrett Novak, Shay Rowland, and Ella Wise.
chorus students to use for festivals and concerts, These sixth grade students had successful audi-
and purchase new xylophones for all of the elemen- tions and were selected for County Chorus. Great
tary students to use!
job! We are looking forward to all of these perfor-
Our performances are in a state of constant prepa- mances, and we hope to see you this fall!
ration throughout this fall. Sixth grade students


The Elementary School STEAM Initiative

The 2019-2020 school year marks the beginning
of our new STEAM initiative at the elementary.
The students have hit the ground running with
this new class. Our classroom is focused
around the engineering and design process,
which allows for hands-on learning experiences
for the students. Most lessons are posed as
challenges that require students to work collec-
tively. They must create a plan to approach the
After this, the groups get busy carrying out the
plan to build, create, or arrive at a solution. As
they progress through this process, they also
take time to reflect on their plan and make im-
provements as needed. Finally, the students share their results and communicate their findings.
Along with these challenges, the students are using Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math
skills to learn along the way. Students have enjoyed a variety of lessons so far this year. Fourth graders
have learned about the properties of flight and have designed, created, and tested hoop gliders. Pre-K
students created instruments from recycled materials, inspired by the story Pete the Cat, Rocking in
My School Shoes. Sixth graders tested their knowledge of buoyancy and displacement by creating foil
boats and used pennies to determine how much weight their boats could hold. This is just a small sam-
ple of the topics and concepts that we are covering in STEAM. The students have taken to this new initi-
ative extremely well. It is amazing to see how they work together and come to a creative solution to
solve problems. These skills will be essential to helping them be successful in any of the career paths
they choose. It will be exciting to see them grow and learn as the year progresses.


Foster Grandparent Program of Cambria County

Forest Hills Elementary is excited to partner with the Foster Grandparent Program of Cambria
County again this school year. When a Foster Grandparent volunteer is working in a school class-
room, they are helping the students increase academic engagement or increase the social-
emotional skills needed for learning. No matter where the Foster Grandparent volunteers serve,
their main goal is to be role models, mentors, and friends to the children of Cambria and Somerset

Meet our Foster Grandparents that assist our students in grades K-2:

Hello! Welcome Grandma Gum Gum! Grandma Gum Gum is new to Forest Hills this year and has
been assigned to work with our teachers and children in Kindergarten. Lu Ann, or
Grandma Gum Gum, is 65 years old and is very excited to begin her journey as a
Foster Grandparent! Grandma Gum Gum describes herself as loyal and cheerful.
She is also something of a world traveler, as she has lived in 15 different states!
Her favorite color is turquoise and her favorite food is fried chicken! She loves to
garden in her free time. When she was younger, her favorite thing about school
was creative writing. She has several “fur-babies” at home that she enjoys spend-

ing time with and seeing her granddaughter’s smile makes her happy! Grandma Gum Gum’s ad-
vice to the student’s in her classroom is, “Learn how to calm yourself and stay focused. Don’t be a

Hello Grandma Bertha! Grandma Bertha (Mrs. Dibert) is 88 years old and has been a Foster Grand-
parent with the Foster Grandparent Program for 18 years at FHES! Grandma
Bertha currently works in Grade 1. She loves to read, do crafts and help out with
church activities. She loves being a Foster Grandparent because she likes kids a
lot! Grandma Bertha enjoys seeing a child who is having trouble grasping a con-
cept finally understand it. She thinks it is like a lightbulb goes off in their head!
Grandma Bertha had 13 brothers and sisters and was a tomboy when she was
younger! Her favorite colors are red and blue and her favorite foods are chicken
and pigs in a blanket. When she was in school, she enjoyed learning geography

and she really enjoyed getting to know her teachers, some of which lived in her neighborhood!
Grandma Bertha always makes sure to have fun, no matter what she is doing or where she is go-
ing! Grandma Bertha’s advice to the students in her class is, “Put yourself in the other person’s
shoes. Think to yourself, before you do something, if you would like that to happen to you!”

Hello Grandma Lucy! Grandma Lucy is 85 years old and has been a Foster Grandparent with the
Cambria County Foster Grandparent Program for almost 21 years here at Forest
Hills! Grandma Lucy currently works in Kindergarten. She enjoys reading, shop-
ping, taking walks, going to church, studying genealogy, and sitting on her front
porch in her free time. She really enjoys being a Foster Grandparent because she
loves children and it makes her feel good when they learn what she is trying to
teach them. Grandma Lucy’s favorite color is blue and her favorite foods are
shrimp and french fries. She loves animals and has a cat at home. She gets very

happy when she receives the good news that a sick friend has gotten better. Grandma Lucy’s ad-
vice to the students in her classroom is, “Stop and think about it for a minute.”

Hello Grandma Ada! Grandma Ada is assigned to work with students and teach-
ers in Grade 2. Grandma Ada has been a Foster Grandparent with the Cambria
County Foster Grandparent Program for seven years, all of which has been at For-
est Hills Elementary! She enjoys reading, camping and boating in her free time.
She really enjoys being a Foster Grandparent because she loves children and
likes working with them every day in the classroom! Grandma Ada’s favorite color
is blue and her favorite food is spaghetti.


U.S. Postage Paid
Permit #5
Johnstown, PA

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“The mission of the Forest Hills School District is to
provide the best student-centered education so all
students acquire and apply the knowledge and skills to

succeed in an ever-changing world.”

Published by the Office of the Superintendent of the Forest Hills School District


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