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DuBois Area School Board welcomes new assistant superintendent

DuBOIS — The DuBois Area School Board, at its Thursday work session, welcomed new Assistant Superintendent Brigette Matson to her first official meeting.

“I wanted to extend a warm welcome to Bridgette Matson,” said Director Gilbert Barker. “We’re honored to have you here and looking forward to working with you.”

“Thank you. I’m glad to be here,” said Matson. “Thank you for the opportunity to be a part of the district. I really look forward to working with everybody and moving the district forward.”

In August, the board hired Matson as the assistant superintendent of schools at a salary of $115,000. It was effective Aug. 19 or thereafter. Her contract of employment, through June 30, 2024, was also approved.

Matson was previously the assistant superintendent at the Brookville Area School District. Her resignation was accepted Aug. 19 with regret, effective no later than Oct. 15 (60 days).

The DASD assistant superintendent position had been vacant since Wendy Benton was appointed substitute superintendent Dec. 31, 2018, following former Superintendent Luke Lansberry’s paid leave of absence.

With Lansberry’s retirement effective May 29, the board appointed Benton superintendent of schools effective May 30 at a salary of $140,000. Her five-year contract is effective through May 29, 2024.

Weedville mother becomes Cub Scout den leader to bond with son

WEEDVILLE — An Elk County mother who stepped up to become den leader for a Weedville Cub Scout troop to bond with her son is encouraging other parents to become involved, too.

Cara Shrubb recently became the den leader for Cub Scout Troop 180, of Weedville, part of the Boy Scouts of America Bucktail Council of DuBois.

This is Shrubb’s son, Trenton’s, first year in the Scouts, she said, which is somewhat of a tradition.

“He joined because his grandfather and uncle are both a part of the local Scouts,” she said.

Shrubb’s father-in-law, Simon Shutters, is cub master. He has been involved with the Scouts for many years, Shrubb said.

“I decided to step in and start helping,” she said. “He (Simon) can’t get around as easily as he used to, so to go out and hike or look for leaves would be very difficult for him.”

Shrubb said this is a great opportunity for her to bond with her first-grade son, too.

“I figured it would be a way for us to do something he has an interest in, together,” she said.

Becoming a Boy Scout holds several benefits for youths, Shrubb said.

“They learn many different traits, like how to listen and follow directions, and interact with kids their own age,” she said. “They get away from tablets, TVs and phones. They get out and get to be kids.”

Since every patch is earned, not given, hard work is something the boys learn early on, Shrubb said.

“They learn integrity, honesty, the importance of being kind and helping others and being true to themselves,” she said. “This shapes them to grow up to be well-rounded individuals — not just as children, but as adults.”

Shrubb says she is in need of more parent volunteers. First graders from Elk County and other areas, as well as parents, are invited to attend the troop’s meetings every Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Weedville Wesleyan Church, to learn more about the Scouts and what they do.

For more information or to get involved, contact cara.shrubb@hotmail.com.

Vibrant new Phantastic Phil unveiled at Leila Jo's Bakery

PUNXSUTAWNEY — The first of ten new Phantastic Phil statues was unveiled Saturday in front of Leila Jo’s Bakery.

When Jacklyn Steele bought the building for her bakery, one of the first things she did was ask about getting a Phil statue.

“I was told that it was maybe not something that was a possibility unless somebody was not using theirs anymore. But then when I found out they were selling ten more I was like, ‘I’m in!’ and I was first in line,” Steele said.

She is originally from Pittsburgh, and says the statues remind her of the dinosaur statues there. She moved to Punxsutawney to teach at the IUP culinary school branch, and eventually opened her own bakery.

Steele’s brother, Jason Price, is the artist behind the new Phil statue. He traveled from Pittsburgh to Punxsutawney every weekend from July until early September to work on it. Price, who is a graphic designer in Pittsburgh, says he was honored to be trusted with the project.

“I like everything bright… It makes people happy, so that’s what I wanted. When people look at that, I want them to be happy,” Steele said of the design.

The finished Phil statue is brightly colored and covered in symbols and images that refer to both the bakery, and Punxsutawney itself. The statue is done in a pop art style of painting, with Price having taken much inspiration from the Andy Warhol museum.

“I was visiting the Andy Warhol museum with a friend… There is an elephant that Keith Haring and Andy Warhol worked on together, and after I saw that all the synapses in my brain started firing off… I quickly scribbled it down and I sent it off to her (Jacklyn Steele) and I said, ‘You’re either going to love this or hate it,’” Price said.

Price included the the Leila Jo’s Bakery logo on the chest of the statue, some foods that can be purchased in the shop, a top hat, some weather symbols, and even a little clock that reads 6 o’clock as a reference to the Groundhog Day movie. He even has the handprint of Steele’s daughter, Leila Jo, after whom the restaurant is named, on the back of the statue.

On Price’s birthday he found himself in the Steeles’ garage working on the statue. He decided he was ready to have the project finished and he returned that Tuesday determined to complete the final touches.

“I was happy to get it off my plate and be able to stand back and actually appreciate it,” Price said.

This is the first such project on which Price has worked. He said working with the fiberglass was a learning experience and was “a butt-kicker” at times. He had to learn how to get the paint to stick to the material.

“I can take a lot more confidence moving forward with projects like this… If it does need repairs, I’m looking forward to getting back in there,” Price said. “With the work we put into it, it should be pretty vibrant for many years.”

DuBois Area Middle School teacher Joe Sensor receives Teacher of Month award

DuBOIS — DuBois Area Middle School music teacher and band director Joe Sensor has been honored as October Teacher of the Month by the Allied Milk Producers.

DuBois Area School District Superintendent Wendy Benton, at last week’s board work session, showed directors a video segment highlighting the surprise presentation of the award by Allied Milk Producers and WTAJ to Sensor during his band class. Allie-Moo, a life-sized robotic or mechanical cow that can moo, talk and, yes, even be milked, also made an appearance to teach the students about dairy farming.

Sensor has been the middle school band director for the past six years, but he’s been teaching for 20 years, encouraging students to pursue their passion for music, according to the video.

“I really feel strongly and passionately about how music education can change kids’ lives,” Sensor said in the video. “I know for a lot of kids these days, life isn’t great. As much as the electronics are cool, there’s something about the personal connection of learning to play a physical musical instrument and learning to play wwith a group of people that could be really transformative for these lives.”

When the presenters asked if any students wanted to talk about how Sensor has helped them, every hand in the band room was raised.

“It makes me feel really happy,” one student said. “He’s my favorite teacher. And last year I played flute, and I really wasn’t flourishing, and I tried quitting but he helped me along the way. And he motivated me the other day that I passed my number one assignment and said, ‘Thanks for your hard work.’ And it just made me feel really special.”

“It makes me feel really proud that he’s just a great teacher,” said another student.

Sensor, who had no idea he was going to be presented with this award, couldn’t believe it.

“I think it’s really cool. I mean, I think it’s obviously a big surprise,” said Sensor.

“You can tell that just by his presence, all the kids really liked him, that’s great,” the presenters said.

Benton said the district would like to congratulate Sensor and thanked him for his hard work and dedication.

“And he’s sincerely making a difference,” said Benton. “When I saw those kids interviewed ... it’s refreshing to know that we’re having such a positive impact.”