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'Kids Yoga' catching on at Oklahoma Elementary

Students at Oklahoma Elementary School in DuBois have been participating this year in “Kids Yoga,” an after-school enrichment program, and loving it, according to Dr. Christina Pisani-Conway, a parent and certified Kids Yoga instructor.

“I decided to teach yoga to help children grow,” said Conway, who is trained in and teaches the “Kidding Around Yoga” style of kids yoga. It’s the kind of yoga, which helps kids build strength and self-esteem while teaching them to manage stress and learn compassion, she said.

Conway said the Dalai Lama is believed to have said, “If every 8 year old in the world is taught meditation, we will eliminate violence from the world within one generation.”

“This resonated with me as our children today need, more than ever, to be comfortable in their bodies, to know they are loved and to learn how to cope with everyday stresses,” said Conway. “We do a mixture of yoga, mindfulness and meditation to help them grow in kindness, confidence and health.”

Conway said she is currently working on her 200-hour yoga teacher training through Satya Yoga Teacher Training and pursuing her dharma, “or my true path in life.”

She said she plans to seek further training to be able to offer the gift of prenatal and pelvic floor yoga, which are two areas close to her heart as a women’s healthcare provider.

“I would like to continue blending newer western medicine with more established approaches like yoga and Ayurveda to support our community in their wellness goals,” said Conway.

Throughout the 2018-19 school year, Conway has been teaching four, five- to six-week sessions through the after-school enrichment program and also conducted a summer program at SoL Wellness and Gathering Space in DuBois.

Conway, who has a daughter as a participant, said the children have been loving the new experience.

“They are so enthusiastic and learn so quickly,” she said. “When we meditate we repeat a mantra, ‘Peace begins with me,’ and after moving and stretching their bodies and learning how to mindfully interact with others, they float peacefully out the door.”

In this last session currently underway, Conway said there are approximately 30 students participating, including both boys and girls.

“I anticipated that it would be different groups of kids but then no kids really wanted to drop out of it,” she said.

Conway said one of her student’s parents communicated that when her daughter got frustrated with a task, she said, “’Mom, I only have yoga one day a week!’”

“They have a space where they are free to laugh, move, and accept and support each other,” said Conway. “They have the opportunity to be silly, physically active, and learn to be mindful of their feelings and actions to be able to thrive.”

Conway said she hopes to offer the Kids Yoga program again next school year.

DAHS students give restrooms a makeover

Students who are members of the Interact Club at the DuBois Area High School spent some time recently sprucing up their school.

In particular, they thought the school’s 12 restrooms could use a makeover. So when it came time for a fresh coat of paint, they decided to add a fresh perspective and turned them into havens of peace, inspiration and motivation.

“We’ve basically been working after school and all day, every day, for 14 days straight and haven’t really stopped,” said Kailey Pisani.

Special recognition goes to the Interact Club officers for their dedication and leadership throughout the entire project, which would be Pisani, Jimmy Oberlin, Chelsea DeSalve and Alexander Volpe.

“We would like to also acknowledge multiple businesses for their support of their project from monetary donations to discounts and then food,” said Pisani. “That was basically our big motivation to get through every day, was we always had pizza or wings waiting for us down in the Home Economic rooms. We’re very grateful for that.”

April Weber, of Weber Decorative Finishes, guided the club and provided a lot of her expert advice, supplies, and hard work and time, said Pisani.

“There were a lot of times where we weren’t sure we were going to finish certain bathrooms and, luckily, she was always there to help us out with anything that we needed. So we’re really grateful for her help,” Pisani said.

On the front of some of the stalls in a girls room, inspirational words and sayings were added such as, “Your mistakes don’t define you,” so that everyone entering would leave feeling empowered and loved.

Other restrooms feature different themes, including sports- or theater-related and rock-and-roll, while others depict familiar characters such as SpongeBob, Mario Kart or Batman.

The Interact Club, sponsored by the DuBois Rotary, has been in existence at the high school for two years.

“The restrooms look fabulous,” said Dean of Students Chuck Pasternak. “The creativity of each of these students as well as their desire to make a positive and lasting impact on our school is extraordinary. I am very appreciative of the effort and dedication of Mrs. Jen Buskirk and Mrs. Gretchen Javens in leading this wonderful initiative.”

Substitute Superintendent Wendy Benton said she sincerely appreciates the leadership of Javens and Buskirk and the student members of the Rotary Interact Club.

“This is just one of the many positive contributions that this group has made to our school and community,” said Benton. “The restroom project is a great way to showcase the talents of our students and provide a sense of inspiration to all who enter. When the kids shared their project idea with me, I never imagined it would be so extensive. The artwork has truly transformed the spaces. Projects like this empower the students to take ownership of their school and it promotes a culture where it’s all about the kids.”

Photo by Rich Murawski  

DuBois' Tucker Fenstermacher swims in the preliminary round of the 100 free during Thursday's PIAA Swimming and Diving Championships at Kinney Natatorium.

Groundhog Club director has passion for place she calls 'home'

PUNXSUTAWNEY — Some may know her as “the girl behind all of the groundhog stuff.”

Punxsutawney native Katie Donald is probably one of the busiest people around, but she takes “pride” in being a part of so many organizations.

Donald can recall wanting to be a librarian when she was younger, she says. Throughout high school and college, though, her dream was to be a lawyer.

A Punxsutawney Area High School graduate of 2005, Donald moved to Florida for a while, but soon found herself wanting to return to her hometown. When she did return in 2010, she wanted to “lend a helping hand” in the community.

She’s the board president for PRIDE — Punxsutawney Revitalization: Investing, Developing, Enhancing — and executive director of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club.

Aside from those things, she’s a member of the Punxsutawney Rotary Club, development committee chair of the Punxsutawney Chamber of Commerce, president of the Punxsutawney Area Community Foundation and president of the Philanthropic Educational Organization (PEO), which focuses on advancing women through scholarships, grants, awards and loans.

Donald has had her fair share of event planning and marketing experiences, including many that are known around the world — the Groundhog Day Celebration, Inner Circle’s Groundhog Ball, the annual Groundhog Picnic and Phil Phest and many others.

“I can’t give money, but I can give my time and energy,” she said. “I’m capable of being involved and trying to help the community.”

Volunteering in a town she’s passionate about is rewarding, Donald said.

“If someone is able to help support the many nonprofit organizations, it makes a big difference,” she said. “It’s a great way to make friends, connections and memories.”

One of her favorite things about her hometown, Donald says, is the tourism aspect, and the enthusiasm and activities surrounding Punxsutawney Phil. Feb. 2 is still one of the “purest” celebrations around, she said. Groundhog Day and all it offers is a great way to expose people to a small town with many hidden treasures, she adds.

In her “spare time,” Donald jokes, she has a photography business called “Capture & Create.” She’s also a runner, reader, dog mom, wife and “family person.”

Another “fun part” of her efforts, Donald said, is awarding grants through the PACF, and helping raise funds for women in education through the PEO. By both applying for and rewarding grants, she visits “both sides of the spectrum,” she said.

Donald aims to welcome everyone into the town she calls home.

“I’m always excited when I see a new business in town,” she said. “There is a lot of growth here.”

Her ultimate goal, Donald says, is to give 100 percent to all she does and to make an impact.

“There are a lot of great people in town with great ideas who are looking to revitalize and re-energize Punxsutawney,” she said.

PA Lottery Cash 5 jackpot of $500,000 won in Clearfield County

A Clearfield County convenience store sold a jackpot-winning Pennsylvania Lottery Cash 5 ticket worth $500,000 for the Wednesday, March 13, drawing. The ticket matched all five balls drawn, 19-21-27-38-41, to win the jackpot prize, less withholding.

Sheetz, 701 E. DuBois Ave., DuBois, earns a $500 selling bonus.

Winners are unknown until prizes are claimed and tickets validated. Cash 5 prizes expire one year from the drawing date. Anyone holding a jackpot-winning Cash 5 ticket should sign the ticket and contact the nearest Lottery office for further instructions.

More than 37,000 other Cash 5 tickets also won prizes in the drawing. Players should check every ticket, every time, and claim lower-tier prizes at a Lottery retailer.

Visit the Winners and Benefits pages at to review how much money each county receives in Lottery prizes and funding to benefit older Pennsylvanians.

How to play Cash 5: Players pay $1 and select five numbers from 1 to 43. Players may select their own numbers using a Cash 5 playslip or opt for computer-selected quick picks. Players must match all five numbers drawn to win the jackpot. Players also win prizes for matching two, three or four winning numbers. Cash 5 is drawn each evening. Chances of winning the jackpot prize are 1 in 962,598; the overall chances of winning any prize are about 1 in 10.5.