The student news site of Greater Latrobe High School

The High Post

The student news site of Greater Latrobe High School

The High Post

The student news site of Greater Latrobe High School

The High Post

A+ Capital Campaign Stresses Community, Alumni Involvement


Greater Latrobe fosters a cutting-edge educational program, regardless of evolving budget changes. GLSD is committed to a well-rounded education centered on the three A’s. Offering a myriad of AP classes and electives, an academically innovative online program, hosting a seventy-five year old unique art collection and distinctive facilities in the arts, and boasting a three time hockey champion team, swimming and wrestling standout state athletes and national track stars, separates GLSD from other districts. In the words of Vince Lombardi, “Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.” Lombardi’s philosophy affirms GLSD’s goal, not only remaining good, but constantly getting better – striving for perfection.

“Our goal is to maintain and develop curriculum that is global in nature and one that meets the needs of our students as they pursue higher education or jobs. That’s a tall order. That is our overarching goal,” said Mrs. Judith Swigart, Superintendent.

The newly formed Greater Latrobe Partners in Education Foundation demonstrates the strong need to maintain the distinctiveness of Greater Latrobe School District. Accentuating interaction with alumni and community, GLSD will embark on a unique campaign that is familiar to many colleges and universities. A culture of philanthropy, individuals making tax-free charitable contributions to the school district, will support long-term programs.

“People are excited to give back to the school,” said Mrs. Jessica Golden, Center for Student Creativity Director. “Strong schools equal strong opportunity for the community.”  Stemming from the importance of community involvement, the “A+ Campaign” will embark on numerous renovations in the district focusing on the ever important 3 A’s –  academics, arts and athletics. “All three move the district forward in the eyes of the community, and we know that the school district creates opportunity for students to have a solid base for the future,” said Swigart. “We are strong academically. In the arts, we encompass excellent programs. Athletically, we need to improve our facilities to meet our needs; it is really the marriage of three.”

The school board’s approval of the campaign in February set much into action. An investment in athletics will upgrade current fields and ultimately create an athletic/wellness complex. Plans for the complex are becoming a reality through the surveying, bidding and rendering process.

 The current field areas behind the junior and senior high complex will be transformed into a thriving athletic/wellness center through the creation of two synthetic fields separated by a field house with meeting rooms, team rooms, locker rooms and storage facilities. A fifth tennis court, six-lane track, batting cage, golf practice green, walking trail, and a basketball court are included in the proposal. Additionally, a new concession stand, ticket booth and press box building are proposed with 2000 bleacher seats overlooking the field.

“Literally, from the band to the sports, everybody in the school district at some point during any week will access the facility,” explained Mears. “Everybody, every kid will be involved through physical education classes; where else can you have a project where you guarantee every student using [the athletic complex]? I think that’s why everyone is excited about it.”

The construction, proposed to take place between October 2012 and October 2013, will create a campus like atmosphere for students and athletes alike. “I’m hoping to create a very strong surge of excitement for athletics,” reflected Mears. “It’s an exciting time and it will be exciting to see it all unfold.”

While excited, students similarly ask questions about economic factors in the project. A prominent track and field athlete, junior Francie Fazzini said, “I’m happy about the decision to build a new sports complex, but I’m a little anxious about how it will affect the school price wise; however, it will make transportation to my track meets easier.”

 In addition to the fundraising campaign, money for the campaign will come through a bond issuance. The timing allows the district to take advantage of historically low interest rates. “The issue that people need to understand is that a separation occurs between the way capital budgets and operating costs are funded,” explained Watson. “The district could not borrow $10 million to pay for district salaries, benefits, textbooks, supplies as the money is one time, while operating costs occur yearly.”

The planned improvements will bring GLSD up to a similar level as most local schools as most have artificial playing surfaces. “It’s not like we are doing something unheard of. If anything, we are behind the curve,” remarked Watson.

GLSD is ensuring competitiveness, while ensuring safety for athletes and the community. “When it rains the field can be very muddy and hard to play on,” said senior softball player Rachel Conrad. “It takes a long time trying to fix the field to make it suitable to play on and effects our team by taking away practice time. Last year, it rained so much that we couldn’t make up all of our games because the field was too sloppy to play on.”

South Western Pennsylvania weather is a constant factor for Mears. “The fact that we have so many muddy and torn up fields; it’s a safety issue,” remarked Mears.

Students in physical education classes, athletes in lacrosse and the band will be more secure and safe in the new facility. Community members will also benefit from the complex. According to Swigart, the school district is the community. “It’s the one constant. It’s always, a community. That’s what we are made up of,” said Swigart. “It is a good thing. We are always improving, always moving forward.”

Embarking on a capital campaign also means improvements to academics and arts, thus the entire community. According to Swigart, the academics piece involves a K-12 global classroom initiative, providing every classroom an interactive white board, student response systems, a teacher slate, and other technologies for specific classes and grades, like specialized globes for geography classes, furthering GLSD’s place of educational leadership. “Global classrooms benefit all students,” remarked Swigart.

Greater Latrobe High School’s special art collection is a distinctive feature of the district. Through the campaign, improvements will be made to initiate a similar art collection at the junior high to display existing student art work and promote the advancement of the fine arts. “I believe think students rise to the level of expectation,” said Swigart. “Once students are able to get connected [to art], we will see the same results we see in the high school, which is total respect for what is there.”

Greater Latrobe School District’s students, alumni, administrators, faculty and community members share excitement to keep the district’s curriculum global. Vouchers and state legislature will give the opportunity of choice for public education. Because of the facilities, GLSD will remain strong and welcoming. “As a district, we have to be fiscally responsible with tax payer dollars but at same time look into the future to maintain the competitive, cutting-edge attributes of Greater Latrobe,” said Watson.

Swigart shares similar feelings and hopes for a strong future of the district. “It’s really two folded, first to maintain and improve programming K-12. In order to do that though you have to continue to hire excellent staff, maintain facilities, and continue to recognize that you are responsible for the community educational system. The second part is being fiscally responsible,” she said. “I believe 100% in public education. It is the keystone of what makes Pennsylvania great, providing a quality education for every student – that’s what we are here to do at GLSD,” said Swigart.

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