• Nov. 25, 2019

    Fort Couch & USCHS celebrate International Education Week

    International Education Week Students at Fort Couch Middle School and Upper St. Clair High School had the opportunity to participate in several activities during the schools’ celebrations of International Education Week.

    International Education Week, held this year from Nov. 18-22, is a joint initiative of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education and is intended to promote programs that prepare Americans for a global environment and attract future leaders from abroad to study, learn, and exchange experiences.

    Fort Couch Middle School students celebrated International Education Week last week by participating in several cultural activities on Thursday, Nov. 14 and Friday, Nov. 15, 2019. The World Language Department hosted four different international groups: Timbeleza, Brazilian drumming; Yamoussa Camara, West African drumming and dancing; Art in Motion, Samba dance; and Yanlai, Chinese dance. Fort Couch’s activities were planned by world language teachers Erin Lemon, Maria Marchionna and Kristin Weaver.

    “International Education Week is vitally important for our students, as we are an ever-increasing global society.” Mrs. Weaver said. “While many students have had the opportunity to travel to other countries, many others have not. This activity brings international music and dance into the schools, and the students have the chance to experience a new culture firsthand.”

    In addition to experiencing cultural activities, eighth graders created posters comparing and contrasting researched countries with the United States while seventh grade students learned the importance and benefits of knowing a second language in a future career choice.

    “All of these experiences during International Education Week continue to help shape our students into global citizens,” Mrs. Weaver said.

    Coordinated by Tanya Chothani, IB and resource center coordinator, Upper St. Clair High School students had the opportunity to participate in several International Education Week activities throughout the week.

    “In this fast-paced, ever-changing global community, students need to be exposed to issues outside the Upper St. Clair bubble,” Ms. Chothani said. “International Education Week challenges students to think about the role they play as global citizens and encourages students to begin to grapple with future careers, experiences and lifestyles that will make a positive footprint in the community and abroad.”

    The theme for this year’s celebration was “Pittsburgh: International Food for Thought.” Activities included the following: 

    • Monday, Nov. 18: Global Fluency Certificate introduction for freshmen during social studies classes; multi-language lunch for students of two or more world languages
    • Tuesday, Nov. 19: Speakers Day throughout the school day (see list of speakers below)
    • Wednesday, Nov. 20: Global Q, an international trivia competition with proceeds donated to the winning team’s international charity of choice; International Film Fest during world language classes
    • Thursday, Nov. 21: Human Rights Action Day
    • Friday, Nov. 22: International Talent Show

    The following speakers presented on Tuesday, Nov. 19 in the Upper St. Clair High School theater: 

    MODS 1-2: Cara Lyons, Project Heal

    Cara Lyons is a first year MPH candidate in the department of Epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh, as well as an eating disorder advocate in the Pittsburgh area. After recovering from anorexia, Cara led the Pittsburgh chapter of Project HEAL: Help to Eat, Accept, and Live for 3 years during her undergraduate career and worked with Project HEAL to launch a community-based support system in Pittsburgh. Cara’s current research interests lie in looking at eating disorders as a public health issue so as to create greater change toward treating an illness that affects over 30 million Americans.

    MODS 3-4: Just Harvest

    Founded in 1986, Just Harvest is a “nonprofit organization that reduces hunger through sustainable, long-term approaches that lift up those in need. The organization gets at the root causes of hunger by using public policy and programs to reduce poverty and improve food access.” Just Harvest’s four-pronged approach to hunger and food insecurity include: individual empowerment, neighborhood development, government advocacy and public education.

    MODS 5-6: Leah Humes: From Forced Labor to Fair Trade, Food in the Age of Globalization

    Leah Humes is in our Social Studies Department here at Upper St. Clair High School where she currently teaches Economics, AP Psychology and Women's History & Literature with her co-teacher and great friend Mrs. Buccilli.

    Before becoming a teacher, she spent over ten years as an activist working on a wide range of environmental and human rights issues. She previously worked on food policy and agricultural issues in both our state and nation's capital, ran the educational programing for a refugee resettlement agency, and led a coalition to stop the world's largest tire incinerator from being built next to PA's largest remaining wet land--the Geneva Marsh. 

    She loves documentaries, traveling around the world, the Steelers, and any excuse for a get together or celebration. She is excited to talk with you today about global food issues and hopes it will get people thinking about our food's journey from field to plate and the impact of the choices we make as consumers. 

    MODS 7-8: Pat Palazzolo, Food that is Out of this World: The Science and Culture of Eating in Space

    Pat Palazzolo is a teacher at the high school, where she has worked with students in every grade level from 2 – 12 in subject areas as diverse as astronomy and advanced French (International Baccalaureate Diploma Program).  She is currently a grade 9 - 12 gifted education coordinator. Pat is a Teacher Excellence Foundation Gold Award winner and MIT Inspirational Teacher Award recipient, but is probably best known as "Pennsylvania Teacher-in-Space." In 1985, she was named Pennsylvania finalist for what was to become the ill-fated Challenger mission. In that role, she has addressed over 50,000 Americans and conducted teacher workshops from Colorado to New Brunswick. Her students have sent sea-monkeys and Chia Pet seeds into orbit with John Glenn, spoken with cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev while he circled the Earth as the first Russian on the American space shuttle, and contacted astronaut Mike Fincke on the International Space Station via amateur radio. Her dedication to aerospace education was recognized by the Women in Aerospace organization when she was 2002 recipient of the group's prestigious Anne Morrow Lindbergh K-12 Aerospace Educator Award. She is most proud of her recent recognition by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, which included a $5000 grant to the school, because the rocket scientist, NASA program director, and school principal who wrote the supporting letters all happen to be her former students! 

    MODS 9-10: Aya Dakroub, Dani Palazzolo: International Food for Thought

    Daniella Palazzolo (Dani) of Dani's Pantry is a first-generation Italian-American. Dani’s very large family comes from Sicily, where the importance of using high-quality ingredients for home cooking is essential. Instilled with a passion for excellence, Dani is focused on bringing premium imported Italian goods to your table through Amazon and local markets in the Connecticut area. She personally curates the best quality imported products at reasonable prices. Her on-going goal is to bring an authentic Italian and Sicilian food experience to others while maintaining a modern fresh approach.

    Dani began a career in human services and information systems. After a 35-year career, she decided to pursue her passion for fine quality food and Italian food traditions. She began selling fine Italian imports on Amazon online while working. Six months later she left her job and began selling in local Farmer's Markets. She recently teamed up with her Italian teacher from Florence who has worked as the dedicated pasta maker for fine restaurants in Connecticut. They are developing a business model to serve fresh pasta and other Italian delicacies in the Connecticut area.

    Dani holds a BA from Fordham University. Dani began her studies in Italian and French in middle school and continued in college, studying abroad in her Junior year. She recently started Italian studies again with a tutor and joined several Italian conversation groups. 

    Dani continues to pursue all her passions and bring new ideas to her business by travelling to Italy often, studying the Italian language, attending trade shows, researching other food businesses and continuing her education in the culinary arts. 

    Aya Dakroub is a 2019 graduate of Upper St. Clair High School who has first-hand knowledge and insight into the far-reaching effects of food on our society from years spent working at her parents’ Lebanese restaurant. While at USC, she was NHS president and active in speech and debate. Her TedX Talk last year on “Food for Thought” served as the inspiration for this year’s International Education Week theme. Currently a freshman studying chemistry at Pitt, we are pleased to have Aya take time from her college schedule to share her thoughts on the “meaning” of food, and especially how it contributes to the integration of minority cultures.

    MODS 11-12: Shanthi Krishnaswamy, Jenneth Layaou, The Trials and Tribulations of Food Production in the 21st Century

    Jenneth R. Layaou grew up in a small town in northeastern Pennsylvania where she had four appaloosa horses and was active in the Equine 4H Club, but linguistics held her true interest at that time. She moved to Sweden after high school to attend Dandyrid’s Gymnasium, and then attended Penn State for German Education upon her return from Sweden. She also lived and studied in Germany at the Academie Klusenhof. In her role as Coordinator for Campus Enrollment and Retention for Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences, she travels to every Penn State campus to support agricultural students and those who advise them. In addition, she is the director of special programs such as the Pennsylvania School for Excellence in the Agricultural Sciences (PA Governor’s School for Agricultural Sciences.) In 2018, she received the Dr. William Henson Diversity Achievement Award, an honor that recognizes distinctive and outstanding teaching, research, extension or creative work that advances diversity in the college.

    Shanthi Krishnaswamy is a senior at Upper St. Clair High School. She is active in FBLA and speech and debate, as well as volleyball and the Spanish Club. She was a junior mentor and is a Natural Helper. Shanthi has explored her interest in science and engineering through special summer programs at Duke, CMU, and Virginia Tech, but was especially honored to have earned a place among the 32 students in the Commonwealth selected to attend the Pennsylvania School for Excellence in the Agricultural Sciences where she studied every aspect of agriculture, from animal science to global food and fiber systems. Shanthi has a special interest in and has conducted research in both aquaponics and food waste.

    MODS 13-14: John Crist and Maria Chiodo, The Science and Necessity of Beekeeping

    John Crist has been a beekeeper for nine years and has several apiaries in the South Hills, including two that belong to the non-profits Scott Conservancy and Pittsburgh Botanic Garden. Crist grew up in South California, attended Chapman University and then Claremont School of Theology, was ordained in 1972 and pastored a church in Santa Monica for three years. After two years of clinical pastoral training in corrections, general hospital and mental health chaplaincy, he moved to Pittsburgh in 1977 to become the Protestant Chaplain at Mayview State Hospital. He retired from Pennsylvania State Institutional Chaplaincy in 2003. He and his wife Mary have been married from 39 years, have two sons and five grandchildren and live in Mt. Lebanon.

    Mario Chiodo began beekeeping 10 years ago, starting with one hive.  Today, he manages between 8-10 hives with an estimated population of 600,000-800,000 bees.  Harvesting honey in the spring and, in good years, also in the fall, he sells the honey out of his home and to commercial customers such as Simmons Farm on Route 19.  He is a member and participant in the Tri-State Beekeepers Association, Beaver Valley Area Beekeepers Association, Burgh Bees Pittsburgh and Country Barn Farm beekeeping group.

    MODS 15-16: Abdel Khila, Couscous and More: Moroccan Food and the Art of Restaurant Ownership

    Abdel Khila is an ESL teacher at Boyce and former owner of Couscous, a Moroccan restaurant in Mt. Lebanon. He will speak on both the delicacies of Moroccan cuisine as well as his experience of owning a restaurant.