Kathy Drayer of Middlesex is St. Barnabas Health System's 2012 Hoppy Award winner. Mrs. Drayer was nominated by her co-workers for what is St. Barnabas' equivalent of an Employee of the Year, from more than 620 employees.
As a 20-year employee of St. Barnabas, Mrs. Drayer is a restorative certified nursing assistant at St. Barnabas Nursing Home in Richland. Her responsibilities include providing range of motion exercises for residents undergoing restorative therapy, entering and updating care plans and providing assistance to nursing units.
The award is named for the late Ralph L. Blessley, a 19-year employee of St. Barnabas Nursing Home who died in 1984. Mr. Blessley was a patient at St. Barnabas who was affectionately known as "Hoppy" because a bone disease had left one leg shorter than the other, causing him to have an unusual gait.
Going beyond his duties as a maintenance worker, Hoppy raised plants, built a greenhouse and made small tables for patients. He raised $2,300 for St. Barnabas' annual fundraising event by selling items he had made. During his years at St. Barnabas, he missed fewer than 10 days of work.
• Nicole Carney, 15, of Cranberry, a ninth-grader at Seneca Valley Intermediate High School, was selected as Miss Junior Teen United States 2013 at the National Pageant in Houston, Texas, where she represented Pennsylvania. She was Miss Junior Teen Pennsylvania.
She competed in gown, interview and casual-wear modeling competitions. She won awards for best interview, best gown and the national title. As the national winner, she will travel across the country representing the Junior Teen system that focuses on teens exemplifying excellence. The daughter of Bob and Julie Carney, she will preside April 6 at the Pennsylvania Pageant, where she will crown her state successor.
• Melissa Lunz of West Deer, a Deer Lakes High School senior, received a Silver Key Award and an Honorable Mention for her artworks submitted to the 2012 Scholastics Art and Writing Awards juried student exhibit at LaRoche College.
• Four members of Mars Area High School Chorus were selected to perform in the recent Pennsylvania Music Educators Association District 5 Chorus Festival at Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School in Midland. They were seniors Chris Blahnik and Elizabeth Meyer and juniors Courtney Shaffer and Dalton Smith.
• Trent Kozar, a sixth-grader at Quaker Valley Middle School, recently won the Scripps National Spelling Bee school championship. He will represent his school March 23 at the 63rd Western Pennsylvania Spelling Bee. Trent won in the 10th round by correctly spelling "apotheosis." Tied for second place were sixth-grader Katie Kelly and seventh-grader Franzi Nace.
• Several works by Mars Area High School students were accepted to the 2013 Pittsburgh Arts Region Scholastic Art & Writing Awards last month in La Roche College's Student Union Center and Cantellops Gallery. Students are seniors Alessandro Armbrust, Andrea Dean, Hayley Esterline, Rachel Rectenwald, Emily Thomas and Alexa Titchen; juniors Frankie Petrini, Madeleine Salapow and Taylor Zediker; and sophomores Nicholas Deleone and Osyana Roman.
• These North Allegheny High School seniors have been selected as candidates for the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program: Connor Phillips, Hae Min Jung, Richard "Tommy" McCoy, Anjali Premkumar, Henry Taborski, and Kevin Zhu. They are among 70 seniors from Pennsylvania.
• Hampton High School students Kristina DiNardi and Britton Mills will perform in the Swan Day Jr. event March 23, at Pittsburgh's New Hazlett Theater. Swan Day Jr. is a children's version of the Swan (Support Women Artists Now) Day event, which features world-premiere works by Pittsburgh's female musicians, dancers, poets, theater artists, visual artists, filmmakers and fashion designers. Kristina, a junior, will read an essay she wrote about a day she forgot one of her belongings in a classroom. Britton, a sophomore, will read her poem "Remember When."
• Three Quaker Valley Middle School students earned perfect scores on the recent WordMasters Challenge that was administered in December. Sixth-grader Marguerite Courtney scored among the top 2 percent among 6,500 competitors, and seventh-graders Annika Christensen and Molly Henschke scored in the top 3 percent among 5,500 seventh-grade competitors nationally.
• Three Avonworth students received gold keys at the recent Regional Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. Senior high students Amy Ursiny won in fashion and Evie Moran in photography. Middle school student Ashley Erwin won in photography.
• North Hills Senior High School and A.W. Beattie Career Center students grabbed top honors at the 2013 Family, Career and Community Leaders of America regional competition and advanced to the statewide competition. Senior Tori Hurst won in the culinary arts category, and senior Matt Renzelman won in the waiter/waitress category in the annual competition that showcases the skills of students enrolled in family and consumer science education programs.
• JoAnn Jenny, director of communications for the Allegheny County Airport Authority, has been awarded Renaissance Communicator of the Year Not-for-Profit Organization by the Pittsburgh chapter of the Public Relations Society of America. The Ross resident was honored for her work in communicating Pittsburgh International Airport's messages, orchestrating the 20th anniversary celebration campaign for the airport and promoting important customer service programs, including the FlyPittsburgh.com website, the weekly low fare alerts and nonstop Pittsburgh to Paris on Delta Air Lines.
• Katherine Zhou, a senior at North Allegheny Senior High School, has been named a 2013 Coca-Cola Scholar. As a member of the 25th class of Coca-Cola Scholars, Katherine received an all-expenses-paid trip to Atlanta, where each of the 250 finalists will participate in interviews conducted by a National Selection Committee representing outstanding leaders in business, government, education and the arts. Fifty finalists will be designated as national scholars and will receive awards of $20,000 for college. Each of the remaining 200 finalists will be designated as regional scholars and will receive awards of $10,000 for college.