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Redbank’s Rupp aims to promote unity between district, community

NEW BETHLEHEM – “I think we need to work as a community,” said Dr. Amy Rupp, superintendent of the Redbank Valley School District. “That’s my biggest goal, to work as a community to promote kindness, to promote unity and to promote the success of our students.”

Rupp, who served as high school principal from 2015 until she was hired as superintendent in 2021, said that her goal for the district grew out of her dissertation which she successfully defended on July 19 after two years of research from PennWest California, formally California University.

The topic of her research specifically was: Principal Turnover and its Impact on Educational Programming, Student Achievement, School Climate and Professional Development.

She recently explained that the topic grew largely from experiences at Redbank Valley, citing a number of principal turnovers in recent years.

“In the past 15 years, the elementary school has had five principals and the high school has had five principals,” she said, noting that her six years as high school principal was actually one of the longest stints in recent history. “There were many at the high school who didn’t even make the average of three years as principal.”

Such change is bound to have an effect on school climate.

Rupp also said that midway through her research that began in 2020, there was yet another principal turnover when she moved into the superintendency.

After accounting for the change in her research, she concluded that such a change is less stressful for the district as a whole.

“It appeared as though when you have leaders who come from within, the teachers are much less stressed about,” she said, explaining that when change comes within, teachers and staff feel like they know what to expect. “Overall, this last transition, the data showed, was smoother than the other transitions because everybody had a familiar face — Sandy [Shirey] and Roddy [Hartle] came from teaching, and I [had been] the principal.”

By way of research, Rupp looked at bands of test scores, based on the principal. She said the research showed that during the first year under a new principal, tests scores in math and English seemed to go up, followed by a dip in scores in the second year, no matter who the principal was.

She also noted that every time there’s a vacancy there is an increase in stress and anxiety with the teachers.

“That’s why initiatives haven’t been able to stick because things are not consistent,” she said. “With the lack of consistency comes a lack of trust, which then increases gossip and takes the focus away from academics because people are so focused on the leadership.”

Rupp said that as with everything, consistency is the key, and with so much turnover, employees don’t know what to expect.

Knowing that the newly signed teachers’ contract is up in 2025, Rupp said she hopes that the district can start to work things out and get an early contract.

Teachers and administrators, however, are not the only factors to consider when looking at school climate, as parents also play a role in the process.

The superintendent said that the district is already trying to increase parental involvement through initiatives like the Bullying Prevention Taskforce.

“We’ve had a pretty good turnout for these Bullying Prevention Taskforce meetings,” Rupp said. “I’d love to see parents start to attend PTO meetings, continue to attend sporting events, support the arts, support any kind of committees that they may be asked to attend, see how they can get involved in planning so that we can work together.”

Rupp said that the next meeting of the Bullying Prevention Taskforce will be Aug. 8 at 5:30 p.m. in the high school library, and discussion will center on community involvement.

“We’re going to talk about SAP services (Student Assistance Program) and that kind of help that students need,” she said. “We want to get to that root cause [of bullying] so that we can support mental health and social emotional learning.”

Rupp emphasized that parents and other adults in the community can help by not tolerating negativity.

“This might take some time, but I feel like it can happen if we just get enough people to say stop it,” she said.

Rupp noted that the district is also looking at ways to improve communication with everyone involved. The high school has an anonymous Google form to report instances of bullying and community members who observe bullying can use the Safe2Say tip line at 1-844-SAF2SAY.

“That is something that comes to all the administrators and we get those anonymously,” she said. “They can call at any time and report anything like that.”

Rupp suggested that sometime in the future the administration might sponsor town hall meetings on the state of the district where information can be shared. She cautioned, however, that parents also need to understand that when they do bring an incident to the district’s attention and administrators report back, all of the information cannot be disclosed because of confidentiality.

Now that the contract is settled, the pandemic manageable for the moment, and the administration is stabilized and ideally in place for the future, Rupp hopes that significant changes can occur.

“Get to know the administration and understand that we are here to help,” she said. “We’re criticized quite a bit in the public, and I really think that sitting down and having conversations is the only way that this is going to help, just changing attitudes and supporting the district.”


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Successful Fair Week comes to an end

ALCOLA – The 2022 edition of the Clarion County Fair is in the books, but organizers don’t have a lot of time to rest on their laurels, not with a pair of fair-related events coming up over the next few months.

“It was a successful week,” fair board president Josh Minich said of the seven-day event that wrapped up Saturday, July 30, at Redbank Valley Municipal Park in Alcola. “Everything went great.”

Enjoying nice weather for most of the week, Minich said attendance was above average for the week, and the number of people coming through the gates was higher each day this year than last year.

Minich said it was great to see the vendor areas filled up this year with more booths, and he pointed to the addition of the new indoor exhibitor space near the grandstand that was completed just before the start of the fair.

The fair’s nightly shows and the daily free shows on the grounds were popular this year, Minich said, with lots of positive comments coming in to fair organizers.

He singled out the amateur drag racing event, which was the big show Monday, July 25, saying that it was so popular with participants, that it continued well into the night.

“The kids were still smiling at 1 a.m.,” he recounted.

Minich also said the 4-H Livestock Sale also went well in its open area barn setting, with several records broken this year in relation to animal pricing.

“We want to thank all our committees, all our volunteers and everyone who makes the fair happen each year,” he said. “We thank the many sponsors who support the fair and make it possible.”

Minich said fair organizers are not ready to make any announcements about next year’s fair, but said planning has already begun.

“We’re moving forward already — starting to plan for next year,” he said.

Part of that planning is seeking input on this year’s fair from attendees, as well as ideas for shows and improvements moving forward. He said ideas can be sent to the fair via its website and Facebook page.

“We also are hoping to continue to make improvements to the grounds,” Minich said, adding that the fair works with the park to make renovations and improvements throughout the year.

He also explained the fair has already begun talks with Tropical Amusements, which provides the fair’s carnival and midway, about bringing in more rides and new rides next year.

But next year’s fair isn’t the only event being planned, as the fair’s annual Gun Raffle will be held at the park on Saturday, Sept. 24. Registration begins at 2:30 p.m., with dinner starting at 3 p.m. and the prize drawings getting underway at 4 p.m.

Tickets are $20 and can be purchased at A-Plus in New Bethlehem, Knox Country Farm Supply, Palmer’s Country Store, Mayport Gas, Sportsman’s Outfitters, Hetricks Farm Supply and First United National Bank in New Bethlehem.

Minich said the fair is also gearing up for a new event this autumn — the Fall Brawl “cleanup” demolition derby at the park on Saturday, Oct. 15.

He said that anyone with demo derby cars left over from this summer’s events, as well as anyone working on cars, will be welcome to take part in the new derby. Additional details will be forthcoming.

As fairgoers reflect on the recent summertime fun, Minich encouraged everyone to start looking now at the fair’s premium book online to find a category that they can enter in the many home and garden competitions at next year’s fair.

“Find something that suits you,” he said, noting that it isn’t all about baking a cake or growing vegetables. “There’s a Lego category, there’s photography — there’s something for everyone.”

He noted that participants can walk away with prize ribbons, cash prizes and sometimes even a chance to advance to statewide competitions.

“Start thinking about that for next year,” he said.


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Rimersburg looks to bolster maintenance crew

RIMERSBURG – Rimersburg Borough leaders are looking to help out the town’s maintenance crew, which has been hit with a number of health-related issues this year.

“We definitely could use some help,” borough maintenance supervisor Frank McNaughton told the town council at its Aug. 1 meeting.

Officials said the regular three-man crew has been down one person for several months, and that McNaughton has also been battling back from an injury which has limited his work this summer.

“We’re way behind,” he told the council of the usual summertime list of projects, including crosswalk and curb painting. “We’re just trying to keep ahead of stuff.”

Despite the shortages, council members said the crew has performed admirably while shorthanded.

“You guys have been doing a good job keeping the fires put out,” councilman Roger Crick said. “But you can’t do that indefinitely.”

With winter coming, Crick called on the borough’s Personnel Committee to find a working solution to bolster the maintenance crew.

McNaughton said that due to more pressing issues and since it is getting late in the summer, the maintenance department may not be able to get to the curb and crosswalk painting this year.

Council president Scott Myers agreed that additional help is needed. He said he would call for a meeting of the Personnel Committee to explore options.

Officials noted that they expect it will be difficult to find workers in today’s job climate.

Mayor Tim Yeany said he has been talking with the county’s probation office about utilizing community service workers to help pick up garbage at the playground area and throughout town. He suggested that they may also be able to provide workers who could mow grass, paint curbs or perform other tasks.

Also at this week’s meeting, McNaughton said that water losses remain high for the borough’s water system, noting that a crew from Pennsylvania Rural Water would be visiting Rimersburg to help look for waterline leaks.

He also said that the water tower at the fairgrounds has been filled after it was recently painted on the inside, and that the borough was awaiting test results before putting the upgraded tank back into service.

Community

Days Coming

Southern Clarion County Police Association representative Dan Burkett gave the council an update on the organization’s upcoming Community Days festival in Rimersburg, which will be held Aug. 13-14.

He said that a homecoming history event will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Jerusalem United Church of Christ, and that the festival parade will head down Main Street at 6 p.m. An ugly truck contest will bring up the rear of the parade. A street dance will follow from 7 to 9 p.m.

On Sunday, the festival will feature the annual car cruise from noon to 4 p.m., along with several food vendors set up in the community parking lot.

He explained to the council that portions of Main Street in the downtown business district will be closed to traffic Saturday evening, and most of the day on Sunday.

Additional details will be published in next week’s Leader-Vindicator.


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Leisurely Visits

Fair Week 2022 is now in the rearview mirror, but not before creating all kinds of great memories for those who took part in this year’s Clarion County Fair.

It was a great week, both weather-wise and as far as the fair’s events, shows and attendance were concerned. There were more vendors on the grounds this year, and several first-time shows that were well-received.

Those of us at The Leader-Vindicator spent a lot of time at the fair, covering various events and working at our booth, where we had the chance to talk with hundreds of fairgoers who were enjoying the traditional summertime festivities.

Congratulations to the Clarion County Fair’s many organizers and volunteers, as well everyone who helped make this year’s fair a great showcase of our local area. Plans are already in the works for next year’s fair, and we can’t wait to see all the great things that are still to come.

* * *

Hundreds of entry forms were filled out for The Leader-Vindicator’s prize giveaway at the Clarion County Fair last week, and the winners of our major prizes can be found pictured in today’s newspaper.

We want to thank Nolf Chrysler-Dodge for its generous support of our drawing by providing a new griddle grill that was given away this year. Also, thank you to the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium for zoo tickets that were also awarded to three lucky winners.

We also awarded a one-year subscription to The Leader-Vindicator to Jolena Brocious of New Bethlehem, and welcomed quite a few new subscribers with our special fair deal this year.

Congratulations to all the winners, and thank you to everyone who stopped by our booth at the fair to signup and visit with us.

* * *

Speaking of the many great L-V subscribers, each week we select one as our Subscriber of the Week, and post their name in the newspaper.

And from those weekly winners, we select one Subscriber of the Month who receives one free month added to their subscription.

For July, our Subscriber of the Month is Luann Kilburn of Rimersburg. Congratulations!

Now, more than ever, local newspapers need your support so that we can continue to provide the coverage you expect of local news, sports and area events. You can have The L-V delivered to your mailbox and save money off the retail price by calling us today at (814) 275-3131 ext. 221.

* * *

Southern Clarion County Community Days will be held Aug. 13-14 in Rimersburg, and there’s still time to take part in the return of the event’s parade.

Organizers are looking for groups, organizations, sports teams, bands, churches and individuals to take part in the parade, which will begin at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 13.

After an absence of several years, this year’s parade returns to Main Street, and will be held in memory of longtime parade organizer Susan Barger.

Anyone interested in taking part in the parade should contact Pat Stewart at (814) 221-0015 as soon as possible to register.

* * *

The Fort Armstrong Folk Festival rolls into Kittanning this week, with a full schedule of performers to complement the park full of vendors Aug. 4-7.

The festivities get underway tomorrow (Thursday) in Riverfront Park, which will be lined with more than 70 artisans as well as food vendors and more.

A new event this year will be the Jeep Fest from 5 to 9 p.m. on Friday, and the Car Cruise returns on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Musical entertainment is scheduled throughout the four-day festival, with a full schedule online at armstrongfestival.com.

* * *

Not only do we want to see where you “Take The L-V With You” this summer, but we want to give you a chance to win some prizes as well.

From day trips in the area, to weekend getaways, to full-blown family vacations, we ask readers each year to pack a copy of our newspaper and submit a photo of them with The L-V from a memorable stop along their journey.

Everyone who submits a photo for this year’s vacation photo pages will be entered in a drawing for a four-pack of tickets to the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium.

You can send in your photos to us at news@tlv.comcastbiz.net, and be sure to provide the names of everyone in the pictures, where they are from, and where your travels took you this year.

We’ll collect the photos all summer, and will share them in The L-V in late September.


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