Schools in the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh have started the new year with different administrators, updated facilities and enrollment changes. Here's a summary of changes at a few of the North schools:
With the opening of Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic High School in Cranberry set for fall 2014, the current high school in Troy Hill has started what is expected to be its next-to-last school year.
Site preparation is well under way for the new school on the 71-acre parcel along Route 228. Astorino Architects and Engineers has designed the new facility, the curriculum framework has been completed and funding and financing are in place.
The curriculum framework is being developed by a school education planning commission that represents a cross-section of educators and Catholic leaders. Work is scheduled to be completed in late fall.
The school will have a science, technology, engineering and math -- STEM -- certification program as well as technical education and programs for students with special needs, performing and fine arts, advanced placement options, electronic portfolio and project-based graduation requirements.
The North Side Friends and Neighbors Education Fund has provided financial assistance to Cardinal Wright Regional Elementary School, which is now the newly merged Northside Catholic School at 3854 Brighton Road. During the past 14 years, the fund has provided more than $1 million to support Catholic education on the North Side.
The friends and neighbors group, co-chaired by Ambassador Dan Rooney of the Pittsburgh Steelers and former Pirates owner Kevin McClatchy, will host its 15th annual fundraising gala Oct. 25 at Heinz Field. The members to be inducted into the North Side Hall of Fame will be Kevin Colbert, general manager of the Pittsburgh Steelers, and -Jerry Bergman, distinguished retired National Football League referee.
Margaret Ruefle is the new principal of the K-8 school founded and sponsored by the Sisters of Divine Providence in McCandless.
She had been principal at St. Stephen Lutheran Academy in Zelienople, where she initiated the Sanctuary Model, the School-Wide Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports and School as a Society.
She implemented programs that adopted new online curriculum, updated technology and developed school improvement strategies for the present and future.
During her 11 years at The Bradley Center, a private school in Robinson, Ms. Ruefle was honored with several awards, including Leader of the Pack, Sharing and Caring, and the Howard McKamish Distinguished Service Award.
In her 25-year career, Ms. Ruefle, 53, has served as a teacher, administrator and principal. She was born and raised in Shaler and attended St. Sebastian School in Ross and Shaler Area High School. She has a master's degree in education from the University of Pittsburgh and a master's degree in school administration and supervision from Duquesne University.
The computer lab at St. Alphonsus in Pine has been upgraded with 32 new iMacs. All classrooms have Smartboards for the new school year. The cafeteria has been refurbished with new ceiling tiles, and the partitions have been removed.
The new year started at St. Joseph High School in Harrison with its Columbian Squires Circle 5138 receiving the Knights of Columbus Corps D'Elite award for the 2011-12 fraternal year for overall achievement in programming and reporting. This is the third consecutive year that the St. Joseph circle has received the award.
The 20-member circle fulfilled reporting requirements and achieved membership goals while conducting a program of 16 service, social, spiritual and membership activities.
The group was chartered in 2007 as part of a student-led Diocesan Youth Council project. Its members have performed more than 2,100 service hours for church and community and helped raise more than $4,400 to benefit people with developmental disabilities.
The Columbian Squires is the official youth organization of the Knights of Columbus and an international fraternity of about 25,000 Catholic young men, ages 10 to 18, in more than 1,500 circles worldwide.
On Aug. 23, the first day of classes, students met Kathleen Roppa, their new principal, and these teachers: John Benzing, fourth-grade language arts and social studies; Alicia Burroway, fifth-grade math and science; Celeste Pagano, seventh-grade language arts; and Christopher Sparacino, seventh- and eighth-grade science.
The enrollment is 400 in grades K-8 with an additional 60 in preschool.
The school has a refurbished art room with a new kiln and two updated auxiliary computer labs. Students have two activity periods during school hours, an 80-minute block schedule in language arts for grades seven and eight, and library skills added to the curriculum.
The school is brighter and more energy efficient because overhead lighting in all classrooms and offices has been changed to modern lighting fixtures under the Duquesne Light Rebate Program.
The science lab at St. Teresa of Avila in Ross has received new furniture, a mobile iPad lab and 20 new iPads. The fall book fair will be held next week in the school.