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Teen-written play speaks teen language about dating violence at Prime Stage

Prime Stage Theatre specializes in presenting plays of classic literature that are accessible to all ages, but to reach teens with a warning about dating violence, the theater turned to its own Teen Board for a fresh new drama.
 
The result? "Everything is Fine," being offered in a free showing March 1, with donations benefiting the Demi Brae Cuccia Memorial Foundation.
 
Demi Brae Cuccia was a well-known Gateway High School cheerleader when she was killed in 2007 by an ex-boyfriend. Prime Stage hopes "Everything is Fine" teaches teens the warning signs of dating violence in a way that an adult-written play never could.
 
Dotty Weisberg, Prime Stage board member and Teen Board advisor, says her daughter Hannah Jo and two other Teen Board members wrote the play after the entire Teen Board came up with ideas, then collectively reviewed and refined the results. It has already debuted at several high schools.
 
"The kids who came to see the play … their attention was there from the very beginning," says Weisberg. "There were kids who came up and talked to counselors afterwards who said they thought that they were in a relationship that wasn't healthy."
 
In general, the Teen Board suggests Prime Stage productions that teens ought to be interested in seeing, "in the hopes that as adults they will continue to enjoy going to live theater," says Debra Sciranka, Prime's marketing assistant. Prime will also feature a new dark-night reading series beginning Feb. 27 with a memoir by local multidisciplinary artist Shirley Barasch, who will talk about growing up in Squirrel Hill and developing her creative side despite a strict religious upbringing. Its next play production is "The Elephant Man."
 
"Everything is Fine" will be available for performances at schools and other organizations whose audience might benefit.
 
"A child doesn't have to end up murdered" as a result of a dangerous dating situation, says Weisberg. "There are a lot of warning signs -- obsession with the person, wanting complete control …" This play, she concludes, "is a very valuable educational tool."
 
Do Good:
See tips and tools about teen dating violence at the Women's Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh -- and support its other efforts while you're there.
 
Writer: Marty Levine
Sources: Debra Sciranka, Dotty Weisberg, Prime Stage Theatre

Major Sprout art designs revealed; Family House gets van from EQT; POWER streamlines; and more!

The designs competing to be Sprout's big 10th anniversary public art are ready to view -- and comment on -- here. The work, which will adorn the side of 429 Fourth Avenue, across from the City-County Building, will be done by one of four artists (or artist pairs) to be selected next month. "We felt like this was a way to celebrate where we've been and maybe be a preview of what's to come," says Curt Gettman, Sprout's public art manager -- although that's still to be determined, he adds.
 
You'll start noticing the chosen artwork going up this spring or early summer; in the meantime, here are some of this week's other noteworthy developments in Pittsburgh philanthropy:
 
The EQT Foundation has given Family House a new natural gas van to shuttle facility guests, who use its supportive and affordable housing while visiting local hospitals, to their medial appointments as well as stores and other locales, along with their families. The eco-friendly van, much more affordable to run than a traditional vehicle, will help Family House serve an additional 1,200 to 1,500 families each year.
 
POWER --Pennsylvania Organization for Women in Early Recovery from alcohol and drugs--is revamping its main office at 7501 Penn Avenue to add new day outpatient services. POWER is also consolidating its screening and assessment services into a new POWER Line: 412-243-8755. That should make it easier for women to start themselves on the road to recovery from addiction.
 
There's still time to register for the Feb. 25 teen writers' workshop on writing blogs, reviews, essays and other commentary from Luminari, the local nonprofit that says it aims to "broaden minds, inspire innovations and promote community engagement." The workshop itself is all about turning 'tudes into tremendous prose that's publishable. Register for the one-day session for 8th through 12th graders here or call 412-877-1888.
 
And finally: The second annual Celebration of African American Arts at the Father Ryan Arts Center in McKees Rocks on Feb. 19 will feature food, arts, crafts and a showcase for the art of Etta Cox, the Langston Hughes Poetry Society of Pittsburgh, Mid-Atlantic Contemporary Ballet and Ibeji Drum Ensemble. Topping it off will be Actors Civic Theater’s staged-reading performance of “Another August” by first-time playwright Charlene Donaghy. The play takes place in post-Katrina New Orleans and includes a finale by the East Liberty Presbyterian Church Chancel Choir. For tickets or information, call 412-771-3052 or visit here. The Father Ryan Arts Center is a program of Focus on Renewal.
 
Writer: Marty Levine 
Sources: The Sprout Fund, Family House, POWER, Luminari, the Father Ryan Arts Center

Medium is the misleading message, says upcoming Girls Coalition Conference

Girls may learn how to act from the way society presents women, and that may not be a wonderful thing, says Girls Coalition Program Director Heather Mediate. That’s why the March 28 Girls Coalition Conference, aimed at anyone whose profession involves improving the lives of girls, will feature keynote speakers whose research concerns the impact of media.
 
First among them is Madeline Di Nonno, executive director of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender and Media. Davis, perhaps best known as half of the movie duo Thelma and Louise, "started the institute because she saw there was such a disparity between males and female characters" in film, television and other media – in numbers, in types of roles, and especially in the stereotypes they more often portrayed. Di Nonno will speak about her research concerning the effect of this skewed public portrayal on girls' development.
 
Rebecca L. Collins, director of the Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Program at RAND Health, will talk about her own research on how girls (and boys) are affected by other types of media, such as music. The impact of repeated hearings of sexually suggestive lyrics, she has found, contributes to girls’ sexual behavior, and thus their sexual health. She’ll also speak about how people can use media as an effective tool for positive change.
 
The conference will also show progress on last year’s PROGRESS Partnership, which used Carnegie Mellon University Professor Linda Babcock’s Program for Research and Outreach on Gender Equity in Society to create a set of tasks and a curriculum to teach girls to negotiate "all along the way, with teachers, sexual partners, friends, so that they know they have the power to ask for things," says Mediate – and ways to prepare for negative responses. Forty Coalition partner organizations received the tools and trainings over the past year, and two will report on how they've been able to integrate these tools into their programming. Among the other conference topics are redefining business and beauty as they affect African American girls, and young women and the juvenile justice system.
 
"Even for programs that aren’t just for girls,” says Mediate, “it's a great way for them to look at how they are providing gender-specific services."

Do Good:
Get involved with another local girl-focused nonprofit, Strong Women, Strong Girls, which pairs young girls with college-age mentors.
 
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Heather Mediate, Girls Coalition of Southwestern Pennsylvania

Hear Me feature: Hines Ward visits Clairton, where students have had their say

Just before Hines Ward joined students at Clairton High School to mentor one of them as part of an NFL program (airing Feb. 10 on USA Network), the students spoke their minds to Hear Me.
 
Hear Me, a project of Carnegie Mellon University's CREATE Lab (Community Robotics, Education and Technology Empowerment), has collected thousands of stories from area students about their neighborhoods and their futures. The Clairton kids spoke out about their "desire to raise their community up, become role models and to be seen and heard as positive people," according to Hear Me Project Coordinator Ryan Hoffman.
 
They were participating in Hear Me 101, a year-long video advocacy program during which students focus on changes they want to create in their communities or schools, creating video projects on community service and profiles of local change-makers. The students finished a production workshop hosted by Pittsburgh Filmmakers on Feb. 4 and will begin shooting this week to complete their projects by April 23, according to Jessica Pachuta, project manager. Steel Valley, McKeesport and Woodland Hills are also in the program.
 
Listen to some of the Clairton students and their stories now. As 10th-grader Marcaysia says, “We want to show that we have more to offer than just football”:
 
Carlton, in 11th grade, who was mentored by Hines Ward, wants to see more programs for kids and discusses the need for older kids to be positive role models;
 
Markea, in 12th grade, talks about the lack of activities in Clairton and the power of media to inspire positive change in the community;
 
Chelsea, in 12th grade, discusses the value of kids speaking out about what matters to them;
 
Nicole, in 12th grade, addresses violence and her desire for a safer community; and
 
Marcaysia, in 10th grade, wants students to improve themselves and help each other, hoping to see more activities in the area and more help from adults.
 
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Ryan Hoffman, Hear Me
Audio recorded and edited by The Consortium for Public Education


'Dramatic and inspiring': TEDxYouthDay videos premiere

"The students who got up to present were incredibly inspiring, and you could tell they were very passionate," recalls Amy Cribbs about the high-school students from North Allegheny (where the event was held), Propel Braddock Hills, Andrew Street in Munhall, Pine-Richland, and elsewhere who gave short speeches, dramatic presentations and other impressive presentations at TEDxYouthDay late last year.
 
"It was an incredible event," says Cribbs, who helped run the show as career exploration coordinator at Allegheny Intermediate Unit 3.
 
Now the videos are finally ready for viewing. If you weren't in the exclusive audience of 100 -- or even if you were -- you'll want to see these TED talks by some remarkable young people:
 
Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Lily Zhang and Katherine Zhou: A dramatic interpretation of the controversial educational views of author Amy Chua that contrast Chinese and Western parenting.
 
Beekeeping by Jonathan Walker and Anthony Hrubetz: An examination of the importance of saving bees and how crucial they are to the environment.
 
American Sign Language by Carrie Johnston and Amanda Keller: Lessons on how valuable ASL is to these students, leading to a possible career.
 
Observations by Anna Sinelnikova: Of life as a young ballet student.
 
The American Dream by Ji-Ho Park: What is the American Dream, and is it only in America?
 
MRSA by Michelle Lee: Lessons on how to prevent the illness, employing a stuffed bug representing the infection, and some new research.
 
Propelled to Read by Alex Francette: Using old old newspaper boxes donated by the Post-Gazette, a group of kids repurposed them into book distribution spots at bus stops. Now they have book drives and their own website, and they're hoping to make this a national program.
 
Importance of Integrating Global Communities by Ronald Reha, Jr.
 
Speak Your Mind by Alexandra Grese: It's a new twist on an old story: a boy and a girl who like each other but are afraid to say it directly, so they employ an intermediary, who is sworn to secrecy. Except this time the intermediary tells the boy and girl the truth.

Concludes Cribbs: "It was a nice way to wrap up the day with an inspiring message."
 
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Amy Cribbs, TEDxYouthDay

'Small but mighty': High-school students to be Teens 4 Change grant makers

The kids in the new Teens 4 Change program have only $250 to $2,000 to give away to each local project they choose to fund, says Willa Paterson of the Three Rivers Community Foundation, which created it. Yet the effort will have a "small but mighty" effect, she believes.
 
Students from McKeesport, University Prep, City Charter, Oakland Catholic, Allderdice and CAPA high schools are preparing to receive and fund proposals for the new youth-led and youth-focused program.
 
There is a March 19 deadline for groups in Allegheny and nine surrounding counties to apply for grants. The 10 teens on Teens 4 Change's board will be looking for projects that promote social change in such areas as disability rights, economic and environmental justice, LGBT and human rights, racial justice, and women's, youth and family issues). 
 
Paterson cites a game GASP devised earlier this year, as part of another youth-focused initiative of the foundation, as the sort of project that might win favor with the student board. GASP created a game at the Environmental Charter School at Frick Park to help students recognize the importance of knowing air quality and particulate levels here.
           
"It engaged the whole school in awareness of one issue," Paterson says. "We're hoping that students will come up with something unique. The key issue is getting people to think about how we can make a change" -- through service? Education? Public awareness? In the end, she hopes Teens 4 Change will "get students at an early age to think about how they can be individually involved."
 
Do Good:
The Pennsylvania Progressive Summit is in Philadelphia for the first time -- but consider going anyway; it's Feb. 10-12.
 
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Willa Paterson of the Three Rivers Community Foundation

Fallingwater residencies open to rising students, teachers

Fallingwater is offering a new, more in-depth summer residency for the first time to area students to supplement the long-running program for high-school kids at Frank Lloyd Wright’s famous architectural masterpiece.
 
"Student programs are really here to satisfy the students' curiosity about architecture," says Roy Young, curator of education at Fallingwater. "We're allowing them to understand what it's like to be given a design problem to solve, to become more aware of their environment, and to look at it in a new way."
 
The Studio 1 residency, held at Fallingwater for the past dozen years or so, is July 10-17 for kids after their sophomore or junior year. They'll solve design problems using hands-on building projects related to Fallingwater and its site, and take advantage of drawing, design studio and materials workshops. The new Studio 2, Aug. 7-14, is for kids headed to college to study architecture or design. Here, students will work toward three portfolio projects for their college applications while getting to know the design process. 
 
K-12 teachers can also enjoy Teaching through Architecture week, held July 24-31. This program, Young says, "is meant to be transformational, to broaden their comfort level with what they can do as a teacher." Everyone from dance instructors to history teachers has attended in the past, he says. Afterwards, they should be able to view their own teaching subjects through the lens of architecture.
 
Application deadline is April 30 (and March 31 for early admission). To apply, or for more information, click here or call 724-329-7826.

Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Roy Young, Fallingwater

New chance for nonprofits to connect with fresh volunteers, thanks to Pittsburgh Cares fair

Nonprofits are a little wary of recruiting high school-age help, notes Holly McGraw, director of youth programs at Pittsburgh Cares. And some organizations just don’t know how to work with these young volunteers.
 
No worries, McGraw says: "They have a ton of energy and excitement and they could become potentially lifelong volunteers and agents of change for [your] cause. It's helping the next generation to become people who give back to their communities."
 
That’s one of the reasons Pittsburgh Cares is happy to run the first volunteer fair at the local spring conference of the Pennsylvania Association of Student Council (PASC) March 23 at South Fayette High School – and why Pittsburgh Cares is asking more nonprofits to come to the fair and recruit. Twenty organizations among Cares’ 500 partners have signed up, and there’s room for at least 10 more.
 
PASC should draw 700 students from public and private middle and high schools in Allegheny County, many of them as gung ho on service and volunteering as any students around. McGraw is hoping to fill the fair with nonprofits by March 2; call 412-715-9451 or email her here to get a registration form.
 
“Events like this wipe the fears away" from both sides, she says, since high-school kids may not know exactly what volunteering means or how to connect with the right organization.
 
Pittsburgh Cares is also offering a teachers' workshop on volunteerism and service at the event. The organization hopes to create additional volunteer fairs for local college students, or members of the general public.
 
"Our goal,” concludes McGraw, “is to make volunteering easy and support our agency partners in fulfilling their missions."
 
Do Good:
Not a member of your high-school student council (anymore)? Still want to volunteer? Get started by signing up for Pittsburgh Cares here.
 
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Holly McGraw, Pittsburgh Cares

Which will win PBS contest: Frogs on the moon or fairies riding crocodiles?

The illustrations WQED gets every year as entries in the annual PBS KIDS GO! Writers Contest "put a super-smile on your face," says the station's Jennifer Stancil, executive director of educational partnerships. And the judges get attached to certain tales: "Often we find grown adults defending stories about crocodiles, fairies, spaceships and frogs on the moon, and they get very passionate about it," she reports.
 
That's why she's encouraging all kids from kindergarten to third grade to enter the 18th annual contest aimed at inspiring and increasing children’s reading skills. With EQT Corporation as a sponsor, Stancil expects hundreds of entries that will generate both local and national winners.
 
WQED and stations in West Virginia and at Penn State will be working with local teachers and libraries to encourage entry creation, including the opening of two new PBS Kids Library Corners (the first such in the region) at the Andrew Carnegie Free Library in Carnegie on Jan. 26 and the Homestead Library on Feb. 2. Saturday Light Brigade is also installing two new Story Boxes that feature audio of last year's winners reading their entries.
 
Parents and teachers can register for one-hour webinars to encourage their kids: Writing and Editing on Jan. 25 by elementary school teacher Caley Svensson; Ideation to Storyboarding on Feb. 8 by local children’s author Michael Scotto; and Illustration on March 7 by Joe Wos, executive director of the Toonseum.
 
Deadline for entry is April 6.
 
Past entries have been "amazing and imaginative," Stancil marvels -- everything from pop-up books to stories about science and sports. In art, "we will get everything from colored pencil drawings to paintings, photographs, and a lot of collage, a lot of three-dimensional art." Parents can even write words narrated by their youngest ones.
 
Prizes include tablets, e-readers and MP3 players will be handed out this summer, and winners and honorable mentions will record their stories live in the SLB radio studios at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, along with a celebration at WQED on May 12 that will include a performances of the winners’ stories as puppet plays.
 
Every grade level has four winners locally "and a great deal of honorable mentions," Stancil says. "Last year we had 'Best Use of a Pittsburgh Steeler' as an honorable mention … because we get really attached to stories that well-exceeded expectations."
 
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Jennifer Stancil, WQED Pittsburgh

This story originally ran in Pittsburgh is Kidsburgh

Second 'Shot' heard round the Burgh: Steeltown youth film contest comes back

The Take a Shot film contest for middle- and high-schoolers is back, offering even more prizes and a greater variety of themes for winning films.

This year's contest, with an April 30 deadline, asks kids to make short videos about something in Pittsburgh that has changed the world, or how they can change the world themselves. There are four $2,500 prizes: The Heinz History Center Innovation Prize, for a film about a Pittsburgh innovation or innovator; the Jefferson Awards' Globechangers Social Action Prize for a movie showing the filmmaker's own ideas for changing the world; the Environmental Prize for a film about Pittsburgh's environmental past or present -- or how we can help its future; and the Polio Prize, for a video on last year's theme: the local origins of the Salk polio vaccine and the connection to other world efforts to get rid of polio once and for all.

Last year, says Rachel Shepherd, program manager for contest creator Steeltown Entertainment Project, Take a Shot drew 80 films by 265 kids, as well as 12,500 votes on their Website for the winning entries. When Shepherd and Carl Kurlander, who founded Steeltown, toured local schools to publicize the contest, they found that few of today's students knew about polio or Pittsburgh's role in its eradication in this country. The contest's motto is Make a movie. Make a difference, and “realizing that film can be a tool to raise awareness and spur change, everyone did make a difference,” says Shepherd.

Last year’s winner, Tyler Anderson of Mt. Lebanon High School, used his $5,000 grand prize to buy film equipment and a future trip to Haiti to film Rotary International’s water purification efforts, Shepherd reports. “We couldn’t have hoped for a better thing for the kid to do with the money he won,” she says.

To kick off the 2012 contest, Steeltown is holding a special showing of YERT: Your Environmental Road Trip at the Heinz History Center on Jan. 29, a film that chronicles an eco-focused cross-country trip, beginning here at the Rachel Carson Homestead. Speakers at the free event include filmmaker Mark Dixon: Dr. Patricia DeMarco, director of Chatham University's Rachel Carson Institute; Carl Kurlander; and History Center head Andy Masich. For reservations, call 412-622-1325 or email here

Shepherd says Steeltown is considering taking the contest national. “It doesn’t seem that radical to me," she says, "but it seems we’re doing something unique."

To register for "Take A Shot," click here.

Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Rachel Shepherd, Steeltown Entertainment Project

McAuley grants help Hill, Uptown, West Oakland prosper

McAuley Ministries has only been making grants since 2008, but Executive Director Michele Rone Cooper believes the group's focus on the Hill, Uptown and West Oakland is already starting to have an impact.
 
The Hill District's Cliffside Park, Reading is Fundamental and five after-school programs are among the local concerns sharing more than $1.25 million in grants just announced by McAuley, the charitable arm of Pittsburgh Mercy Health System.
 
One of the focuses of the Hill District's master plan, devised last year by the Hill District Consensus Group and Hill Community Development Group, is restoring some of the area's green spots for reasons of both community health and esthetics. McAuley has awarded the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy $200,000 to revamp the Hill's Cliffside Park overlooking the Allegheny River, which was built in 1975 but has already decayed.
 
“We know that there is a persistent achievement gap in the schools located around the Hill District,” says Cooper. That's why McAuley has also given $358,000 to five after-school programs in the Hill: Boy Scouts of America, the Center that C.A.R.E.S., Oakland Planning and Development's School-to-Career Program, Ozanam and Schenley Heights Development Program. “Children who attend high-quality after-school programs [increase] their academic success,” she says.
 
That's also the reason McAuley has granted $150,000 over the next three years to two programs of Reading is FUNdamental. Everybody Wins is a literacy program pairing 2nd and 3rd graders with adult volunteers from various local companies and nonprofit groups who share books and conversation during the lunch hour. The Storymobile goes to childcare homes, daycare and public housing, where kids can check out books and also get free books to take home, “ so they are also building their own home libraries," Cooper says. "The research shows that children from economically disadvantaged communities often have very few books in their homes.”
 
To see all the grants announced by McAuley Ministries, click here.
 
Do Good:

• Have a stake in the future of the Hill District? Become active in issues central to the Hill District Consensus Group’s efforts by clicking here.
 
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Michele Rone Cooper, McAuley Ministries

Furries on ice: Annual Mascot Skate lets kids glide with favorite costumed creatures

Ice skating. Refreshments. Giant costumed animals, historical figures, and even a check mark with limbs.
 
It’s an event that can’t miss.
 
All of that will be featured in the 25th annual Citiparks Mascot Skate, taking place at the Schenley Park Skating Rink on Jan. 14 from 1:30 to 3:30 in the afternoon.
 
Bill Backa, now the community outreach specialist and volunteer coordinator  with Gateway Hospice, has been the Mascot Skate manager and director from the beginning, when a city assistant parks director suggested it. The event was devised as a kind of ‘meet and greet’ for kids who usually only witness the mascots’ antics from far away during a sporting event or other appearance.
 
"Everyone who shows up” is guaranteed to have a good time, Backa says; the rink usually draws 500 people for the Mascot skate, half of them children. The mascots “all come for free, and do this as a labor of love," he says.
 
The first year, 1988, drew just a dozen fur-clad skaters, including the Carnegie Museum’s T Rex and the Pirate Parrot. More than 70 different mascots have participated since then, and Backa expects at least 30 this time around. Besides the Parrot, the mascots confirmed for attendance are:
  • Frankie the Fish from ALCOSAN
  • Steely McBeam from the Steelers
  • Iceburgh from the Penguins
  • The Pitt Panther
  • Chick-Fil-A’s cow and calf
  • The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium’s shark and polar bear
  • Carnegie Mellon University’s Scotty the Scottish Terrier
  • Chatham University’s Cougar
  • The Tender Care Learning Center Teddy
  • The Pittsburgh Riverhound

Stalwarts from previous skates who hadn’t yet confirmed their attendance by press time, but whom Backa expects will likely attend, include:

  • Buster the Raccoon from the city's recycling office
  • Charlie Check First (a giant checkmark), from Safety Kids Inc.
  • Mr. Froggy from Froggy Radio
  • Washington and Jefferson College’s George W. and Thomas J.
  • Fantastic Sam's Fantastic Fuzzy
  • Gordy the Groundhog from the Frick Environmental Center

Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Bill Backa
 
 


MLK Day is a day on, not off with service activities

Take note: Martin Luther King Day will be a day on, not off.
 
On Monday, January 16th, a holiday for many, Pittsburgh Cares is featuring a full day of service activities for interested volunteers,  everything from lending a hand to teachers and students to helping remove tires. Click here to find out more.
 
And also on MLK Day, don't miss "Celebrating the Dream! MyBag, MyHome: Homeless by Choice Tour" at the University of Pittsburgh Frick Fine Arts Auditorium.

Keynote speaker is national motivational speaker Roy Juarez Jr. who will share personal stories from the HBC Tour and his life. As a teen, he was homeless and today he's spending two years traveling across the country, living in a car, to speak to youth and others.
 
"The HBC tour started as a dream to inspire youth and the reason I think it's so cool is his dream goes so hand and in hand with MLD Day," says Holly McGraw of Pittsburgh Cares.
 
Admission to the event is free if you bring new or used scarves, winter coats or gloves. Doors open at 12:45 and the keynote
speaker starts at 1:30.

Do Good: Volunteer today or in other activities throughout the week to celebrate Martin Luther King.

Writer: Pop City staff
Source: Holly McGraw, Pittsburgh Cares

Warhol won it too: Kids' Scholastic art contest offers $10,000 scholarship via La Roche

Pop artist Andy Warhol won a Scholastic Arts Regional Awards, back in the day, and so did actors Robert Redford and John Lithgow, authors Joyce Carol Oates and Sylvia Plath, and designer Richard Avedon.
 
Now teens in grades 7 through 12 from all over our region can compete to win one of the 2012 Scholastic Arts Regional Awards in a few long-standing visual arts categories and a few more recent categories that Andy would probably have loved to compete in: from video-game design, film and animation to sculpture, photography, fashion design and comic art. The deadline for entries in all categories is Jan. 6 (except for videogames, which are due Jan. 9).
 
La Roche College, teaming with North Allegheny Senior High School, will host the competition for the second year in a row; it also housed the contest a decade ago. Last year’s competition drew more than 400 entries locally, says Maria Ripepi, Design Division Chair at La Roche. “It’s just great to bring it back to Pittsburgh,” she says.

Local winners will be displayed in the college’s Cantellops Art Gallery, Feb. 4-22. One regional winner last year went on to be featured in Scholastic’s national exhibit in Washington, D.C.
 
“This awards ceremony,” Ripepi says, “helps recognize that students are extremely talented and helps recognize that the arts are central to education.”
 
Pittsburgh is one of 115 regions to compete nationwide; all have local judges. A national panel determines the Portfolio Gold Medalists, who win $10,000 scholarships, and the Portfolio Silver Medalists, who gain other awards, such as stipends to summer arts programs.
 
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Maria Ripepi, La Roche College

We are not making up this story: Young Writers Institute seeking creative kids

The Young Writers Institute is looking for kids in 4th through 12th grade who want to take their poetry, fiction, flash fiction, memoirs and other writing to the next level. The Institute is teaming with the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust to hold its Winter sessions beginning Jan. 28. Registration deadline is Jan. 23.
 
This is not an academic program, says Matthew Luskey, director of the Western Pennsylvania Writing Project at the University of Pittsburgh, where the Institute has been run for many years. Think creative writing, he says. Still, with students learning the art of journaling, drafting, and revising on their way to a fun final product, “that whole process approach to writing is helpful for school.”
 
Sessions will be held on six consecutive Saturdays downtown in the Cultural Trust’s education center, which has “a really a nice space for the kids to write in,” says Luskey. It also has the black-box Peirce Theater, where students will share writing in a celebration at the end of the program. Families can attend and the entire event will be filmed – plus, student writing will be collected into an online anthology.
 
Scholarships are available for up to 20 percent of students.
 
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Matthew Luskey, Western Pennsylvania Writing Project
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