Westmoreland high school notebook: Belle Vernon, Ligonier Valley honor teachers

Sunday, February 13, 2022 | 6:35 PM

Late-season basketball games are often platforms for special occasions. Senior night and youth recognition night are among them.

But more schools are using the game times, where fans are gathered again, to get teachers noticed.

Ligonier Valley and Belle Vernon are two local schools that celebrated teachers last week during halftime or pregame ceremonies.

Like referees, teachers rarely get applause or a pat on the back. At these schools, they get that and more.

“We appreciate the teachers and all educators and are proud to have such great people in our lives,” Ligonier Valley senior basketball player Abby Painter said. “These people give so much every day to the learners at LV.”

Ligonier Valley’s girls players gave each educator an apple and a greeting card, and some gave a special gift.

“They are the best,” Rams athletic director Joe Skura said of the teachers. “The athletes appreciate the time and effort, and the role models, that these people provide.”

Just like at Belle Vernon, each player selected a teacher and provided thoughts on why they admire them.

Belle Vernon also has a youth wrestling night, a trick-or-treat night in the fall and sometimes has an outstanding student throw out a first pitch at a baseball or softball game in the spring.

“The goal is trying to do something unique for as many sports as possible,” Belle Vernon athletic director Matt Humbert said. “This was an opportunity to do something in our gymnasium to show a different side of the student-athlete. To kind of have them show their appreciation for someone else, and there’s no better way to do that then honoring people that sometimes don’t get the credit they deserve, teachers. I think the community has enjoyed it. We usually get nice turnouts when we do it. And I know the teachers have really appreciated it.”

The Belle Vernon student-athletes gave each teacher a framed letter.

Testa home at Norwin

Norwin senior Joey Testa moved here from Katy, Texas, where she was a standout for Katy Aquatics in the AAA Junior Olympics.

She still holds records there.

But she earned her college scholarship as a Norwin Knight.

Testa, who moved to the area in eighth grade, recently signed to swim at Division II Southern Indiana, which will debut its inaugural program and compete in the Great Lakes Valley Conference.

Testa is a two-year WPIAL qualifier on three relays: 200-yard medley, 200 freestyle and 400 freestyle.

This season, the 200 free relay broke a school record with Testa on board.

She qualified individually this year in the 100 backstroke and 100 butterfly.

Southern Indiana could become a Division I program in the near future.

Testa’s other offers came from Mount St. Mary’s, Niagara, Merrimack and Malone.

“The facilities are first class and include a brand new multimillion-dollar natatorium,” she said. “Coach (Cameron) Kainer really made me feel at home and that he had a vision for my future and how they could help me become the best student-athlete I could be. I was also very interested in helping to build a program from the ground up, including any potential move to Division I.”

Hockey playoffs

The PIHL playoffs are set to begin March 7. A few area teams have clinched postseason berths.

They are Franklin Regional (12-2-1) and Penn-Trafford (12-4), both in Class 2A.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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