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McKeesport Area School District board members continued their commitment to highlighting student achievement during this month’s meeting.
After asking attendees to observe 30 seconds of silence for those impacted by the May 24 mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Texas, Board President Mindy Lundberg recalled recent board efforts to showcase student success and said, “We're going to continually try to highlight students every month.”
Charley Kiss, athletic and activities director, reported on the accomplishments of student athletes Kanye Thompson and Aaron Elm, calling the seniors “two of the hardest workers — the kids are on campus always running on that track and preparing.”
Thompson, a three-sport athlete and school record holder who qualified for the 100-meter event at the upcoming state championships, is a “model student athlete,” Kiss said.
Elm is a two-time WPIAL track and field championship qualifier in the 1600-meter event and recipient of the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps Marine Option Scholarship.
“That’s a big-time award,” Kiss said. “We’re looking forward to big things coming up.”
Thompson implored the board to continue emphasizing student success, saying “This is the biggest thing I’ve ever seen you do. This is great…Thank you all for acknowledging me and showing that I was a role model.”
Elm agreed, saying “This really means a lot being recognized by the head.”
For Thompson, recognition by the elected officials is a reminder to continue serving as a role model, as he did the day earlier when running with a group of middle schoolers.
“The community here isn’t really that good, or doesn’t get a good reputation, and there are kids like me that want to do good, want to strive for greatness.” When the board promotes student success it will “push kids to do more,” he said. “Once you get your name here, and everyone knows you, you’ll get looked at as good instead of ‘Oh, he’s another McKeesport kid.”
Board members have an ability to foster student growth during monthly public events, continued Thompson: “People watch these things. People get motivation from stuff like this.”
Elm noted the board’s actions may actually create a positive feedback effect.
If students attend the monthly meetings and observe “all the bureaucracy that goes on” they may be compelled to “try and make the changes that they want to see in the district.”
Perhaps it’s a pipedream, Elm continued, but “there (are) voices in the high school that are always trying to make it better.”
Adam Reinherz is a Pittsburgh-based journalist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Originally published May 26, 2022.