News & Events 2016-2017

Unified sports league hosts home meet today; positive program at NW grows

posted May 3, 2017, 8:53 AM by   [ updated May 3, 2017, 8:53 AM by NWSD District ]


Northwestern High School’s Unified Sports League track and field team will host a meet versus McDowell, Central Tech and Girard high schools today at 4 p.m.

“The team is truly amazing – there are so many good things that have happened,” Northwestern high school teacher and co-head coach Michelle Ruland said. “Mostly being able to witness the unity of the team and watching faces of students when they accomplish something they didn’t know they could do.”

Special Olympics Pennsylvania’s Unified Sports league combines students with intellectual disabilities and student athletes without intellectual disabilities (called Partners) on sports teams for training and competition. Age and ability matching of athletes and partners is defined on a sport-by-sport basis.

“This is something fun to do that’s not quite as competitive – it’s always a very supportive environment,” senior Partner team member Eleanor Thorpe said.

Ruland said many students have left their comfort zone joining the team, which includes more nearly 20 members at Northwestern.

The concept of combining athletes with intellectual disabilities and those without was first introduced in the mid-1980s to provide another level of challenge for higher ability athletes and to promote equality and inclusion.

The Unified Sports program started in Erie County in 2014. County schools participating in the league today include General McLane, Fairview, McDowell, Central Tech, Girard and Northwestern.

Northwestern Life Skills Job Coach Program Coordinator Chris Zurinsky co-head coaches with Ruland. High school Life Skills teacher Sandy Pavolko and math teacher Annakaye Fenell are assistant coaches.

Ruland said her goal is to pack the stands today at the team's only home meet of the season.

Middle school students create and star in video

posted May 1, 2017, 11:17 AM by   [ updated May 1, 2017, 11:17 AM by NWSD District ]


“Two, four, six, eight – no more bullies, no more hate!”

That’s the chant Northwestern Middle School eighth-grader Lucas Johnson wrote that inspired the theme of an 18-minute video produced by him and his peers.

“This project taught us that we had to communicate,” Johnson said. “Communication is hard, and this type of thing helps bring us all together.”

As part of the middle school’s “Follow the Pride” initiative, Johnson and peers on his “pride team” were challenged with creating a character-building video from start to finish.

Students were tasked with generating ideas for the character-building video, creating any props necessary and writing, performing and filming skits – and on a strict time deadline.

Students had just one 24-minute and one 57-minute period to produce skits and film.

“It’s amazing how it went from chaos to a work of art in 40 minutes. They worked together,” seventh-grade science teacher and pride team leader Kevin Mihalak said. “The point was to emphasize solutions to bullying, teach manners and emphasize what it takes to be a better person in and outside of the school building,”

Topics covered in the video included bullying, manners, cyberbullying, good sportsmanship, constructive criticism, tolerating differences, standing up for people who can’t stand up for themselves, hallway behavior and etiquette, bus conduct, telling vs. tattling and inclusion. The video’s overall focus was also to teach students to be more aware and mindful of how they handle daily situations.

“It brings us together,” said eighth-grader Emilee Swift, who acts in the video’s opening scene. “People you don’t see or talk to usually, you work with in pride groups.”

Middle school pride teams meet monthly and collaborate on projects focused on character and teamwork.

“Activities like this help bring some of the issues to light,” eighth-grader Kiizera Lee said. “I think people think of it as a fun thing, but this year, people took it a bit more seriously – took more account of the situation.”

Together, students and staff watched the finished video for the first time on March 10.


“For the bully’s point of view, to see how we feel, I think it was good,” said seventh-grader Ashley Atzemis after the school-wide screening. “We need people to understand that even though you may not like us, bullying won’t do anything.”

Seventh-grader Bret Miller said he was most impressed with the protest skit – “two, four, six, eight – no more bullies, no more hate!”

“I felt like the protest was strong,” Miller said. “It was a big mob of people… pretty cool.”

The video was played for Northwestern’s School Board of Directors at the April meeting and at this past weekend’s “Weekend with the Arts.”

“It was a student-driven project. Its all about them – it should be theirs, and they should own it,” said sixth-grade language arts teacher and pride team leader Carla McKenna. “You really saw leaders emerge in the group.”

Note: A very special thank you to Kirk Mihalak for donating his time, resources and expertise to help edit the video. Thank you, Kirk!

Are you ready to see the video?:


Weekend with the Arts schedule - April 28 - 30

posted Apr 26, 2017, 8:58 AM by   [ updated Apr 26, 2017, 12:00 PM by NWSD District ]

12th Annual Weekend with the Arts
A Magical Celebration - a salute to Disney
Northwestern High School, 100 Harthan Way, Albion, PA 16401

Schedule of Events:

5:30 p.m. - Doors Open - exhibits, entertainment, Chinese auction, "Willy the Wildcat" game, bake sale & more
5 - 7 p.m. - NHS Guitar and Strings Club performance
7 to 9 p.m. - Drama Club performance of "Beauty and the Beast"

9 a.m. - Color Run
noon - 9 p.m. - exhibits, entertainment, Chinese auction, "Willy the Wildcat" game, bake sale & more
noon - 1 p.m. - Jazz band
1 - 2 p.m. - Chalk walk contest
1 - 3 p.m. - Albion FFA Rabies Clinic
2 - 4 p.m. - Children's activities
3 - 5 p.m. - Take back the Meds - (Old medication collection)
4 - 7 p.m. NHS Guitar and Strings Club performance
7 - 9 p.m. - Drama Club performance of "Beauty and the Beast"

noon - 5 p.m. - exhibits, entertainment, Chinese auction, "Willy the Wildcat" game, bake sale & more
noon - 1 p.m. - Soup-er Bowl
1 - 4 p.m. - Car Cruise-In
1 - 1:30 p.m. - Springfield Elementary performers (Aladdin)
1:30 - 2 p.m. - Forte singers
3 - 5 p.m. - Drama Club performance of "Beauty and the Beast"

See the full -graphic schedule here:

Baseball boosters get $500 from Springfield VFW

posted Apr 3, 2017, 8:01 PM by   [ updated Apr 3, 2017, 8:01 PM by NWSD District ]

vfw check

Springfield VFW Post #4965 donated $500 to the Northwestern Wildcats baseball boosters. Booster President Lory Mundkowsky accepted a check from Post 4965 President Dan Seaman and member Dan Ries on March 18.

Mundkowsky said the money from the VFW helped sponsor the baseball team’s annual spaghetti dinner - their biggest fundraiser. It also helped send 24 boys on a week-long spring training trip in March to Knoxville, Tennessee.

New NW football coach inducts 3 into 1,000 lb. Club

posted Mar 17, 2017, 10:13 AM by   [ updated Mar 17, 2017, 10:16 AM by NWSD District ]

1000 lb

Brand new Northwestern High School football coach Mark Brooks said he is thrilled to announce the induction of three new members to the 1,000 lb. Club.


The 1,000 lb. Club includes students who have lifted 1,000 pounds or more in combination of three weight-lifting exercises – bench press, squat and deadlift.


Juniors Cooper Wagner and Matt Lauscher and freshman Chris Rooks accomplished that feat this week.


Wagner benched 235 pounds, squatted with 360 pounds and deadlifted 405 pounds, totaling exactly 1,000 pounds.


Lauscher benched 225 pounds, squatted with 340 pounds and deadlifted 435 pounds, totaling exactly 1,000.


And Rooks, the powerhouse freshman, benched 225 pounds, squatted with 370 pounds and deadlifted an impressive 505 pounds, totaling 1,100 pounds.


Brooks, 30, who is the health and phys ed teacher at Northwestern Middle School, said for him, “football is family.”


“I’m excited to get started – I want to bring my own practice style and plan,” Brooks said. “Every kid on the JV and varsity team is going to be coached by the same coaches.”


Brooks, who was appointed head coach during the Feb. 20 school board meeting, wasted no time getting started.


By the end of his first week as coach he had 18 players in the weight room. And he said over the last few weeks he’s had more than 35 kids lifting every day, including three girls.


Brooks is serving his first year in the middle school after coming to Northwestern at the beginning of the 2015-2016 school year as the high school gym teacher.



He graduated from Harbor Creek High School in 2005, where he played football versus Northwestern.


“I have many fond memories on this field,” Brooks said, looking at Rogers Field.


Brooks attended Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, attaining a degree in education in 2011.


He coached various teams throughout college and from 2007 to 2011 was the JV head coach at Harbor Creek.

For the past five years, Brooks has been the varsity defensive line coach at Cathedral Prep. He helped coach the Ramblers to two state championships – one in 2012 and one in 2017 – his first and last years with the team.


This past winter, Brooks was the eighth-grade boys head basketball coach for Northwestern.

Brooks takes over for former head coach and middle school science teacher D.J. Hough, who finished his sixth season as head coach last fall with a 1-9 record.


“The team didn’t have a great season last year, but Northwestern’s football tradition is really proud and really strong, and I want to help build the program,” Brooks said. “I want to contribute to the tradition.”


Brooks said he would make himself available to the Northwestern Little Gridder and middle school programs however possible.


He said has ideas for kids’ football camps during summer, run by the high school team, and team community outreach projects.


Brooks said he also plans to implement a character-building program as part of the team’s routine.


“I want as many kids out as we can get out,” Brooks said. “There is strength in numbers.”

Northwestern selects Hansen as Superintendent; Board to vote Monday

posted Mar 17, 2017, 7:37 AM by   [ updated Mar 17, 2017, 7:37 AM by NWSD District ]

The Northwestern School District Board of Directors announced last week that John Hanson, Principal of James W. Parker Middle School in the General McLane School District, has been selected to be Northwestern’s new superintendent.

Hansen has given the board a verbal commitment to accept the position. The board will vote on his hiring at the meeting at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, March, 20, at Springfield Elementary School.

Hansen said he hopes to bring a very personal and collaborative approach, build strong relationships and make people feel that their opinion is important.

“I’m really excited for the opportunity to get back working with teachers and administration to benefit the children,” said Hansen, who served as assistant principal at Northwestern High School from 2002 to 2005. “One of Northwestern’s great strengths is its faculty. I have a lot of respect for the work they do putting students first and going the extra mile.”

Hansen acknowledged Northwestern’s good financial position despite the uncertainty of state funding. That good standing is in large part due to the work of Business Manager Paul Sachar. Sachar has been the district’s business manager for more than 35 years and plans to retire in late 2017.

“As a smaller district, we’re limited with our resources,” Hansen said. “One big goal is to make the most out of the resources we have and to explore new ways to get other opportunities.”

Hansen has spent the last 31 years of his life in education. He’s been Principal at Parker Middle school for nine years. He started his career in 1986 at Cathedral Prep as a biology/earth science and space science teacher, and then worked at James S. Wilson school in Millcreek as a science teacher. Hansen served as principal at the Erie County Technical School from 2005 to 2008.

Hansen holds a masters degree from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. He will finish the school year at Parker Middle School.

Because Hansen is coming to Northwestern during a great time of transition, he said he will be taking some weekend and evening time to be involved prior to his official start date on July 1.

In addition to Sachar, high school Principal Dan Shreve is retiring in June.

“All the candidates were good candidates, but John stood out,” board President Mark Swanson said. “This is what we need right now, and we have a lot on our plate.”

GnS set to rock out Saturday night

posted Mar 15, 2017, 3:40 PM by   [ updated Mar 15, 2017, 3:42 PM by NWSD District ]

band stage

Northwestern High School’s own rock band, otherwise known as the Guitar and Strings (GnS) club, will perform rock songs new and old at concert set for 7 p.m. this Saturday, March 18, in the high school auditorium.

“We’re growing stronger as a band – we’re having fun,” said the group’s only senior, Ethan Mitchell. “We’re all multi-instrumentalists, and we’re getting ourselves out there.”

About 15 students make up GnS – a club unique to Northwestern. Students jam on electric, bass and acoustic guitars, ukulele, drums, bongos, vocals and more.

“They have a wide scope of what music is, and they have an eclectic taste,” said Adviser Jay Baumgardner, a 1994 Northwestern graduate and musician in area band The Inland Vigils.

Students will play two sets Saturday. There will be a bake sale and band merch(andise) including signed posters and homemade guitar picks on sale. Members are raising money in hopes of getting GnS club t-shirts made.

“We’re like every other actual famous rock band…,” guitar player Charlie LaPlaca said.

Band members are asking for a suggested donation of $1 per student and $2 per non-student admittance fee.

gns group

Snowball royalty crowned

posted Mar 15, 2017, 6:07 AM by   [ updated Mar 15, 2017, 6:34 AM by NWSD District ]

Northwestern High School’s annual Snowball dance was held Feb. 18. Snowball royalty crowned were, from left, Queen Jocelyn Bonano, King Hunter Ries, who skyped into the crowning, Prince Ethan Case and Princess Erika DePalma. Enjoy a photo gallery of the lovely evening....



white dress






grey shirt














More photos can  be found here:

Students present to school board

posted Mar 15, 2017, 5:31 AM by   [ updated Mar 15, 2017, 5:41 AM by NWSD District ]

Each month, several students are selected to present exceptional projects they've completed to the Northwestern School District Board of Directors.

Blue rib sb

At the Nov. 21 meeting, Middle school student council members Trinidy Chamberlain and Tessa Yuhascheck gave an update on student council’s service projects. Northwestern Elementary students Zaya and Lauren, along with Principal Terry Trimble celebrated the school’s National Blue Ribbon status. The students read essays they wrote about why they were proud to be a Wildcat. The board and administration recognized Trimble, and gave him a gift of appreciation for his efforts in getting NWE the elite Blue Ribbon classification. Also, Mrs. Lisa Stefanucci was honored for her years of service at Northwestern. Stefanucci retired in October.

First-graders performed a charming Hawaiian song and dance, and Forte sang a holiday medley at the Dec. 23 meeting.

Hawaii dance


At the Feb. 20 meeting, Eighth-graders presented a project they did in Mrs. Fobes’ math class highlighting using math in the real world.

8 gr

Northwestern girls raise more than $1K for vet dogs

posted Feb 28, 2017, 9:57 PM by   [ updated Feb 28, 2017, 10:01 PM by NWSD District ]


The Northwestern Wildcats girls basketball team held its annual charity game on Jan. 23, raising $1,150 for American’s VetDogs – The Veteran’s K-9 Corps. Albion VFW Post #2341 was a co-sponsor of the game. From left are Sean Sherman, of the VFW, seniors Scarlett Seneta, Ashley Ackerman, Katie Troutman, Camry King and Sandy Feldmiller of the VFW.


The Northwestern Wildcats girls basketball annual charity game was held Jan. 23 at Corder Gym in Albion.

Team members chose America’s VetDogs® – The Veteran's K-9 Corps, an organization that serves the needs of disabled veterans and active duty personnel, to be the recipient of funds raised at this year’s game.

The team raised a total of $650, and the game’s sponsor, the Albion VFW #2341, donated $500, making the night’s total donation $1,150.

Any Northwestern students wearing spirit or red/black clothing were admitted for free to the game. The girls’ basketball team offered free admission several times this season to students wearing team colors.

The "Lay-up for Pups" charity game included raffles, a 50-50 drawing, t-shirt sales and half-court shots for $1 at halftime, all to raise money for America's VetDogs.

Each year, the lady Wildcats hold a charity game. The seniors choose the recipient of the funds raised.

“We all wanted to do something for animals, and I wanted to tie in the military aspect,” said senior Scarlett Seneta, who has enlisted in the U.S. Navy.


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