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Class of 2020 Graduation Ceremony

July 25, 2020 • City Charter High School

It is with great pleasure and great pride to present to you the City Charter High School Graduation Commencement for the Historical Class of 2020.

All day today at Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall, each of our seniors, with the accompaniment of their parents, will be guided to the graduation stage as their name is called.  The students of City High’s Class of 2020 will complete their final task as a high school senior as each student completes their walk across the  stage to accept their high school diploma from their principals.

We at City High commend our seniors for their perseverance and resilience in such unprecedented times. And, thank you for the contributions you have made to our school. We missing you already!


Dara Ware Allen and Alesha Platt & Khamza Allaberganov and Chelsey Slade
Pledge of Allegiance—Tracy Edwards

“The Future Coco Chanel”—Siani Adams


“Start Strong, Finish Strong”—Nekiya Washington-Butler


“You Gotta Wear Your Weird”—Morrison Young


“‘Norma Rae’ It!”—Marci Mazza-Fredley

City High Graduation 2020: Marci Mazza-Fredley from City High Digital Media on Vimeo.


Theodore Zatezalo

City Hich Class of 2020 Graduation: Mr. Zatezalo from City High Digital Media on Vimeo.
CLOSING REMARKS—Khamza Allaberganov and Chelsey Slade

Abigail Apter-Rose and Alesha Platt

City High Class of 2020: Future Plans from City High Digital Media on Vimeo.

Posted in Honors and Awards, News, News Videos, School Videos | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Marci Mazza-Fredley receives the 2019 student RFK Urban Education Award.

Marci Mazza Fredley, right, with Cara Kennedy Cuomo, presenter of this year’s awards during the 2019 Leaders That Can and Robert F. Kennedy Urban Education Awards Luncheon at the Robert Treat in Newark, NJ

Congratulations to City High junior Marci Mazza-Fredley!

Marci Mazza-Fredley is the recipient of the 2019 student RFK Urban Education Award. Marci, 17, is “the definition of a student-activist,” according to Mark Barga, the teacher who nominated her for the award.

Schools That Can presents the annual Robert F. Kennedy Urban Education Awards to three award recipients: a teacher, a student and a school leader. The award is in honor of Robert F. Kennedy and is part of a partnership with Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, which focuses on human rights issues. Each of the awardees are selected out of a large pool of nominees and embody Kennedy’s characteristics by speaking truth to power and acting as agents of positive change, and who embody this quote from Kennedy: “Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet it is the one essential, vital quality for those who seek to change a world which yields most painfully to change.”

Out of the nominees for this year’s award, three finalists were chosen in each of the three categories. This year’s awardees, including Marci, were announced at the awards ceremony on May 1 in Newark, N.J. The awards were presented by Cara Kennedy Cuomo, the daughter of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the granddaughter of Robert F. Kennedy

Marci Mazza-Fredley receives the 2019 student RFK Urban Education Award.

Marci has continuously demonstrated her activism both inside and outside of the classroom. In Barga’s class “Education and Deomcracy,”which collaborated with students from CMU, Marci interacted with the socially conscious students as an intellectual equal. She pushed others to think differently and more seriously about social justice topics, while actively pushing for justice and equality. For her graduation project, Marci dove deeper into these issues and led a school walk-out as her action project to show solidarity with workers, people of color and others who face oppression.

Earlier this year, Marci attended a rally and women’s march and encouraged other classmates to join her. In addition to being an activist, Marci is a talented writer. At the rally, she performed a spoken-word poem about women’s rights and a need for our culture to break free from cultural constraints of patriarchy. She has rallied for a variety of social justice issues, including women’s rights, LGBTQIA rights, immigrant rights and the rights of those who are undocumented, the working class, ending gentrification and climate change. She has also rallied and volunteered with community organizations such as Black Lives Matters, Socialist Alternatives in Pittsburgh, Girls Write Pittsburgh, and 1Hood, a collective of socially conscious artists and activists.

Marci’s passion fuels her writing and her advocacy. She is dedicated to her city and to her county and hopes to continue to fight for equality for others. Marci will be a senior at City High this fall. She hopes to attend college and pursue a career in politics and to also open her own bakery and connect with the community.

Posted in Honors and Awards, News |

Shawntea Mahdi makes the most of her City High experience… and has a $124,000 scholarship to show for it.

Talk about motivation!

Shawntea Madhi is living proof that it pays off. For this City High student all the stars aligned. Her grades. Her volunteering and extra curricular activities. Her amazing internship at UPMC. Her science project. The list goes on.

As she’s about to graduate, Shawntea has gotten into all the colleges she’s applied to – from IUP, Cal U and Slippery Rock to St. Vincent and Allegheny. What’s more, she’s been awarded an amazing $124,000 scholarship at prestigious Allegheny College, based on her academic strengths plus all the things above that prove what a well-rounded student she really is. As Shawntea says, “My mom was excited. She cried. She was very proud. And I brought the letter into school and my teachers were very proud, too.”

She has every reason to be pleased with her progress. She’s earned a 3.6 GPA, has taken mostly honor classes whenever they were available to her and she’s even qualified for the Pittsburgh Promise Scholarship. By the way, she is also the first City High student to act as a Pittsburgh Promise Student Ambassador. In this role, she hosts events and goes on college tours to help prepare fellow classmates who might be eligible for these scholarships.

And when she’s not doing all this, she still finds time to work at McDonald’s, help out at her mother’s small business and volunteer at the Humane Animal Rescue-Northshore Site. It was her work at mom’s in-home childcare center (and her interest in science) that led Shawntea to choose UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital  for her senior internship. “I’ve always been interested in children,” she says. “And in helping out my mom who runs her own in-home daycare. Even as a little kid, I was helping her out. Once I was old enough to learn how to take care of children, how you have to be there for them, I realized that’s something I’ve always wanted to do. Coming here, I realized how into science I was. I had a liking towards children as well as science. And that led me toward the medical field.”

At UPMC Magee, she got great exposure to the world of medical care during 137 hours over 13 weeks. She rotated between three different departments, giving her a wide range of experiences from the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) to Ultrasound to Mother/Baby care. “The internship was an eye opener,” Shawntea recalls. “I wanted to see what that was like, what the pace was like, how people worked together. I definitely saw the teamwork required. Teamwork is one big thing. You have to be able to work as a team.”

Shawntea added, “I learned that it’s important to communicate with people. There are situations you will encounter that will be hard and challenging, but it’s about how you overcome it, because there’s not always going to be someone over your shoulder or there to hold your hand. Sometimes, you’re going to have make your own decision. Sometimes you just have to think through it yourself and be willing to take risks on your own and see what the outcome will be. And if it’s not what you expected, to change or fix it, if possible. That was definitely a big take away for me.”

According to Sarah Stewart, Volunteer Coordinator for UPMC Magee, “Shawntea was one of my most goal-oriented interns. She was always here, always on time, always ready to go, willing to work.  She didn’t just sit back and wait for people to tell her what to do, she kind of went after it.  She was so great with her colleagues that they still ask about her all the time.” That’s a great thing.

Her mentors Ericka Hardy and Cynda Robbins in Imaging brought her flowers and a balloon on her recent visit. They also had high praise for Shawntea’s work ethic and team approach. “She always came in happy, motivated and ready to work.” 

“The internship was an eye opener for me. My mentor was always open to questions. If I had a problem she made sure to solve it right then and there. She made sure that they were teaching me. Not just showing me, but actually teaching me: Showing me what they were doing on a day-to-day basis, what their roles were. Instead of them just telling me, they actually incorporated me into the process. ‘This is what we do… you can try it… you can do it,’ they would say. They made sure I was always doing something hands on, not just watching people do it. They wanted me to learn for myself.”

Her mentors Ericka Hardy and Cynda Robbins in Imaging echo this sentiment, “She was very nice, outspoken and very respectful. She was one of the volunteers who came out to the front desk and helped one-on-one with our patients. She pulled their charts, gave them pagers and kept our department moving. She always came in happy, motivated and ready to work. We didn’t have to tell her over and over again. She was always on the move. We were very short on support staff and she was an asset. She was one of us.”

Ms. Stewart explains the hospital’s approach to interns and volunteers. “I just want them to get as much exposure and to learn as much as possible. Most of them come to a hospital because they’re interested in a career in medicine. I want them to see what it is, as best they can. As opposed to… You come in and see it and you know that it’s notfor you… you might learn that… and be like, ‘Oh, I’m too squeamish I can’t handle that’. Or maybe. ‘Oh my, that was so interesting. That’s perfect!’ So it’s important to get the exposure. You never know.”

From Shawntea’s perspective, “This experience opened my eyes a lot more about the medical field… but it also pulled me in more. So I do want to continue on this path and end up in the medical field eventually. I want to start off in college by studying biology.”

Her science project is in that vein. Her premise? How energy drinks affect heart rate and behavior. Since human testing is not permitted, she is performing tests using Daphnia magna (a freshwater crustacean) and collecting data to quantify this accepted hypothesis.

Shawntea Mahdi and Ms. Sarah Stewart

About UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital

For more than a century, UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital has been caring for women through all stages of their lives. It has become one of the nation’s top hospitals specializing in women. Yet, as a full-service facility, Magee offers services for both men and women including cardiology, geriatrics, urology, bone and joint, bariatric surgery and spine, in addition to traditional gynecologic and obstetric services.

UPMC Magee has partnered with City Charter High School since 2008, offering real-world exposure to students considering a career in healthcare. Unlike the traditional volunteer at UPMC, City High students undergo a rigorous 13-week program, requiring daily attendance and a rotation through various departments.

Magee’s volunteer coordinator, Sarah Stewart draws the distinction, “We basically work the program for City High as we would any other college student who’s interested in coming in. Even though the intern comes in every day.”

City High senior Shawntea Mahdi, who recently completed a 137-hour internship at UPMC Magee, met with Ms. Stewart first to help determine what her interests were. “I wanted to find out if she wanted to be a nurse, a PA… what she was interested in….” Ms. Stewart says. “Most people come here because they want the mother/baby intern experience. That was a big thing for Shawntea.” But Ms. Stewart wants the experience to be broader than just that. “We work with them and try to find departments they’re interested in. Then I usually try to pick an array, so they get some experience in a bit of everything… instead of just one thing,” she reveals.

Shawntea spent time in mother/baby care, ICU and ultrasound. And in each department, she learned about the variety of day-to-day tasks: mother/baby (making the rounds on patient floors – checking on patients, getting them ice water, blankets, etc.); ICU (rounding up patients, stocking cabinets and rooms with supplies, warming with the blankets); Ultrasound (you’re a hostess so you help taking patients back, taking records back, some clerical work).

The entire internship was a win-win – for the City High student and for the Hospital.

According to Ms. Stewart, “Shawntea was one of my most goal-oriented interns. She was so great with her colleagues that they still ask about her all the time.”

Thanks to the staff at UPMC Magee, Shawntea’s learned a lot. As she puts it, “This experience opened my eyes a lot more about the medical field… but it also pulled me in more. So I do want to continue onto this path and end up in the medical field eventually.” She adds, “I wanted to see what it was like, what the pace was like, how people worked together. I definitely saw the teamwork required. Teamwork is one big thing. You have to be able to work as a team.”

According to one of her City High Internship Managers, Patti Kretschman, the internship has other advantages beyond personal development and learning about the job requirements. “This is a great opportunity for students to network with career professionals in the field. And so many of them take an interest in our students that they naturally end up becoming secondary career mentors, connecting them with other people in the community. They’re also giving them a deeper dive into what school and work is going to look like past high school… giving them some solid, in-depth career information and guidance.” Ms. Kretschman adds, “Our students also get exposed to the atmosphere, picking up the vocabulary, learning about the flow of how things go. They see how different departments interact with each other. All very good initial workplace experiences.”


Posted in Honors and Awards, Internship Sites, News, Student Spotlight |

Actor? Writer? Director? A real-world internship sets City High’s Ryan Fisher on his future path.

Ryan Fisher stops for a photo at the City County Building, his place of internship, and where the
City of Pittsburgh Department of Innovation and Performance delivers the day-to-day
workings of local government to the public.
Ryan will attend Point Park University on an artistic scholarship in the fall.

“Someday, I’d like to make a movie. Not just any movie or one that makes a lot of money, but one that moves people… so they can say ‘I went to a theater, I watched this movie, it was amazing, I felt like it was an experience I can take home with me.’ One or more of these movies would be nice to make,” says City Charter High School Senior Ryan Fisher.

But to think Ryan might never have set this goal if he had chosen another high school. He says it best himself, “The best thing about City High? I think there are a lot of opportunities to do things. I might have never have done a musical in my life. But because there’s a musical here and my teachers encouraged me to try out. Now it’s something I just love doing.”

Acting was not Ryan’s career ideal, but he definitely liked it, ever since middle school. He even took some basic acting classes when younger. But at City High (and in his internship), he got exposure to scriptwriting. He’s written for the school musical all 4 years, but only started acting in 10th grade.

And even though this 4.0 GPA student is leaning toward filmmaking, and has already applied to a few colleges, like Point Park, LMU and CMU, Columbia for scriptwriting and filmmaking and Loyola Marymount in LA, (which is top rated for scriptwriting), he attributes his initiative to City High. “They don’t have to give the students all these opportunities. They could just say, ‘Here’s your work, here’s your homework, go home, get an education…’ But instead, they really want to make students thrive.”

As Ryan says, “Like, I would never have gone to a whole new country without City High. I would never be in a musical without City High.”  The new country was Costa Rica, as part of his junior year service learning experience. Once again, it was inspirational. “I always wanted to go to a new country,” he admits. “I always saw myself as some world traveler in the future. And Costa Rica did kind of tune down my expectation of that, but I do see myself as somebody who can respectfully go to another country and learn about that culture and try to help out. Because this was a service learning trip, I got to learn more about other people – What do other peoples’ world look like? What are their daily experiences like? And since I have some personal experience with it and I can talk about that.” Quite possibly, in a future script or film project, as a result of his 151-hour internship at City Channel Pittsburgh, a division of the City of Pittsburgh’s Department of Innovation and Performance.

Ryan with his some of his mentors in the control room.
From left to right: Joy LeViere, David Finer, Ryan Fisher and Alex Fisher.

Ryan Fisher discusses changes for the 2019 City High senior class yearbook.

Ryan Fisher rehearsing his role as Detective Sherry Lockwood.  Ryan has also served as a Young Playwright for three years, including for this year’s yet-to-be-titled show.

Thanks to the perceptive Internship Managers at City High, this turned out to be the best option for Ryan’s internship requirement and perhaps nothing has influenced Ryan more that this experience. At the City Channel, Ryan was anything but a gofer. “I could help with some of the technical aspects of setup,” he recalls. “I could work on using the equipment they had there. This was a real game-changer for me.”

Ryan’s mentor was a seasoned TV man, David Finer who insisted on this being a learning experience for the high school student. “I let him direct city council coverage. He sat in the control room and 300,000 potential people saw him making decisions live on the air, switching between cameras, deciding where the cameras went, handling the graphics… all during a live broadcast.” Talk about baptism by fire! Mr. Finer insisted this be a real-world experience, so, “On his second day, I put a seventeen thousand dollar camera in his hands. There’s this moment when he wanted to drop it, but he knew he wasn’t allowed to. Yeah, the equipment is very expensive, but he’s not going to learn to use it unless I put it in his hands. And he was extremely, extremely excited to learn from people who had been doing this a long time. He’s not going to learn this from a book.”

It’s this real-world experience that helps City High’s students try out their dream career before committing to years of preparation, only to find out it’s not right for them.

Not the case with Ryan. “It taught me to learn things like: how to white balance, how to edit properly (some different editing techniques), how to set mics up, how to set lighting up… so, it was amazing. I also had to do two projects: one was a little promo for City Channel internships, one was a documentary on the people there.” These projects required other skills, like scriptwriting, directing, lighting, filming, interviewing, editing, and more.

According to his mentor, “Of the 5 interns who have tackled this 10-minute documentary about us, Ryan’s is the best, by far. It wasn’t even close. For an 18-year old, what he gave to us… I wasn’t doing a fraction of that when I was 18. He knew how to use the software and edit videos, and he learned everything else.”

Mr. Finer added, “I want interns to walk out of here with something tangible, something they can say that they did (that I had nothing to do with). So now Ryan can take the two projects he worked on and go to colleges and say, I did this… I shot it, I edited it, I wrote it, I hosted it, I asked the questions, I did everything… this is mine.”

So keep an eye out for Ryan Fisher in about 10 years. As he puts it, “I’m either going to be working for a filmmaking company or maybe I would have gotten enough money to have made some of my own films already. That’s kind of where I wanna to be.”


About the City of Pittsburgh Department of Innovation and Performance

Ryan with his mentors from left to right:  Bill Lamar, Ryan Fisher, David Finer, Joy LeViere and Alex Fisher.

The Department of Innovation and Performance is tasked with improving the adoption of technology and is home to the City Channel Pittsburgh, a government access channel providing local information from an unfiltered and local perspective.

Today, government communications channels provide a convenient and cost-efficient way for local government to reach citizens and inform them about day-to-day workings of local government.

Unlike public access channels, government channels are granted editorial rights to choose the manner, format, and type of information to be disseminated to the public with a goal of attracting viewers to learn more about their local government and to encourage greater citizen participation.

A partner with City Charter High School for the past 5 years, City Channel Pittsburgh gives its interns first-hand, real-world experience in TV production, script writing, filming, editing and even graphics – just about everything that goes into making TV content.

“I feel it’s important to have interns and for interns to have these experiences,” believes David Finer, Communication Technology Manager for the Pittsburgh Dept. of Innovation and Performance. Mr. Finer brings more than 20 years TV experience to this endeavor. And his most recent experience with City High’s Ryan Fisher has been an unbridled success.

According to Mr. Finer, every student has the same twofold assignment: A quick promo for the internship program and a 10-minute documentary about City Channel Pittsburgh. “Of the 5 interns who have tackled this documentary, Ryan’s is the best… by far. It wasn’t even close. I am convinced that Ryan had a great foundation when he came to us that allowed him to make the project as good as it was. When I look at what he gave to us… I wasn’t doing a fraction of that when I was 18.”

Posted in Honors and Awards, Internship Sites, News, Partnerships, Student Spotlight |

The Renaissance Pittsburgh Hotel continues to be a vital part of Pittsburgh and our City High Community

On Friday, Feb. 8th, the City High Internship Department was gifted a donation from the Renaissance Pittsburgh Hotel. The hotel named the internship department their 4th quarter recipient for their national Sage Hospitality Fundraising Program. City High has received an annual gift from the hotel every year since 2009.

Over the years, the Renaissance Pittsburgh Hotel has helped City High in many aspects, including sending Graduation Project panelists and hosting City High interns on a regular basis.

We are honored to have the Renaissance Pittsburgh Hotel as a community partner. Thank you for all of your support!

Posted in Honors and Awards, Internship Sites, News, Partnerships |

Nick Durkin Scholarship Fund awards scholarships to 2019 Costa Rica students

City High juniors Jeynaba Traore and Jeremiah Davis have been selected to receive the Nick Durkin Scholarship for the 2019 trip to Costa Rica. Additionally, a third student, Gwenyth Zeis-Miller, received a special recognition.

After the loss of Nick Durkin almost one year ago, Nick’s family wanted to find a way to keep his memory alive and enjoy the memories of Nick as he was – adventurous, kind, generous and funny. Nick attended the trip to Costa Rica while he was a senior at City High and it was one of the most positive and affirming experiences for him. He returned much more mature, confident, mission-driven and educated about the world.

After the loss of Nick Durkin almost one year ago,
Nick’s family wanted to find a way to keep his memory alive and enjoy the memories of Nick as he was – adventurous, kind, generous and funny. Nick attended the trip to Costa Rica while he was a senior at City High and it was one of the most positive and affirming experiences for him. He returned much more mature, confident, mission-driven and educated about the world.

The fund was created to cover a portion of the costs for one student to attend the annual service trip (the school pays for a portion of the trip through grants and students are expected to pay for the rest of the trip costs). Nick’s family believes in the life-changing value of the trip and wanted to make sure that finances are not an obstacle to a student who has the qualifications and desire to go.

Donations for the scholarship over the past year have exceeded all expectations, raising over $7600. This year, the fund is able to award two scholarships instead of just one.

Of the 20 students selected by City High to make this trip, 8 applied for the scholarship. Applicants had to demonstrate that 1) they possessed qualities that Nick himself had: a desire to be of service, a curiosity about the world, and the ability to make others feel safe and supported; and 2) they would not be able to fully fund their student-portion of costs, preventing them from participating in the trip.

The applications were reviewed by Nick’s mother, Mindy McHale, and sister, Kathryn Durkin. They agreed that the answers provided by the two scholarship winners embodied the heart and spirit of Nick.

City High students Jeremiah Davis and Jeynaba Traore will each receive $1100 to cover their entire portion of the trip cost.  Additionally, the fund made a small donation of $250 to Gwenyth Zeis-Miller as we believed that her concern for her fellow students, the environment and the global community merited special recognition.

In 2019, a group of 20 junior students at City Charter High School will embark on a journey to Costa Rica. The annual trip focuses on service learning and immerses students into the culture of Costa Rica’s capitol of San Jose and the rainforest in addition to practicing Spanish skills with the locals.

The Nick Durkin Scholarship Fund is always accepting donations. His family hopes to grow the fund and award at least one scholarship per year to a deserving student for many years to come. You can donate at: https://www.crowdrise.com/o/en/campaign/nick-durkin-scholarship-fund.

Posted in Honors and Awards, News, Partnerships |

A teaching internship helps Alexa Belschner redirect her career to a different aspect of early childhood education.

From left to right: Mentor Lindsay Kiss, Director of The Goddard School, Alexa Belschner, and Shanna Litchko, On-site Owner at The Goddard School in Pittsburgh at 301 Fifth Avenue.

As far as she could remember, Alexa Belschner has always been good with kids. For this City Charter High School student, an internship in early childhood education was a no-brainer. After all, she’s been working with children through her church since 6th grade.

“I wanted to learn what it would be like to be around kids all the time in a school setting.” Alexa says, “I wanted to learn what tactics they used for challenging kids. Most of all, I was interested in finding out if this is something I wanted to do as a career.” Alexa was very excited about working with children using The Goddard School’s F.L.EX learning framework. She was intrigued by the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) approach using games and play to expose young children to science and math. With her goals looking towards psychology, she was also thrilled to find out she would get to work with a teacher there, helping with students that had learning disabilities. Her internship helped her to understand and connect with those students and motivate them to join in with the learning program.


From left to right: Alexa Belschner and Mentor Lindsay Kiss, Director of The Goddard School show off the climbing wall in the large playroom.

From left to right: Alexa Belschner and Mentor Lindsay Kiss, peaking through The Goddard School’s oversized building toys.

For Alexa her internship helped her to understand
and connect with those students and motivate
them to join in with the learning program.

According to Lindsay Kiss, Director of The Goddard School where Alexa interned, “We have the highest expectations – not only for our students, but for our teachers. We bring in highly qualified teachers because we want to give our kids the best foundation we can to make them successful. Alexa did a great job interacting with the students. She’d have things under control. I kind of forgot a lot of the time that she wasn’t one of my regular teachers because she did such a great job. She fit in really well.”

This glowing endorsement made it difficult for Alexa. On one hand, she had a way with kids. On the other, she really liked and excelled at math and science.  Her internship was invaluable in helping to choose a direction. She admits, “ It really requires a high level of patience to teach children, it was much more than I had expected, I really learned a lot about myself.” So instead of a teaching career, Alexa plans to explore genetic counseling in college. This career direction will allow her to continue to help educate young children, while using her math and science research skills to get to the root causes of early childhood development issues like autism, Down syndrome, ADHD, dyslexia and others.

“Before my internship I was going to go into child psychology and child development in a school setting. After my internship, I changed what I wanted to do,” Alexa notes. “I’m looking to study biology for 4 years and then do the master’s program in genetic counseling. I felt that if I move more into a science field, I could make a big difference.”

For this City High student with a 3.82 GPA, “dream boards” and career classes really helped hone her direction. The way she sees it, “I’m also really interested in psychology, the brain and how it works to influence behavior. . . and I already work with kids, so why not put that together and do child psychology from a biological research side.”

Alexa learned other valuable life skills at City High. “I used to be pretty shy,” she recalls. “But at City High, we had to learn presentation and interaction skills. In 11th grade career class, we had to go out and find somebody in our career field and interview them one-on-one. I picked a Neuropsychologist from Allegheny Healthcare network. And that helped make me get used to talking with professionals. I had to prepare questions, email them to him in advance, and that really helped with me being able to talk to professional adults.” It was these skills that put her at ease about working with not only the kids, but also the adults at her required internship.

About The Goddard School

The Goddard School is an early childhood education provider with more than 400 franchised schools in 35 states. Students range from 6 weeks old to Pre-K.  There are 7 schools in the Pittsburgh area and City Charter High School has partnered with the Downtown location for the past 3 years as a way to give real-world teaching experience to some of their high school students considering a career in education.

At this innovative school where everybody is referred to as a “friend”, it’s all about creating a fun learning experience. But it’s not all fun and games, it’s serious learning. “The teachers are asking a lot of questions while they’re playing,” reveals Lindsay Kiss, Director of The Goddard School. “For the older students, it’s a lot of center-based learning, where the teacher sets out materials at different tables in different areas of the classroom that are related to the lesson plans of the day and the students are free to move through those centers. For instance, if they are working on the letter A, they might have them writing it on a dry erase board, searching through the sensory bin for things that start with the letter A, exploring the characteristics of apples, different things like that. So, the centers and the play that the kids are doing is very education-focused. It’s so much more than pulling toys off the shelves at random and playing with them.”

For nearly 30 years, the Goddard School has been known for its innovative, learning-based approach to early childhood development: learning through play. This play-based curriculum is grounded in academic research that shows children experience the deepest, most genuine learning when they are having fun.

According to Mrs. Kiss, who was also mentor to Alexa Belschner, City High’s most recent intern, “We bring in teachers who really care about what they do in making sure that our kids are School-ready, Life-ready and Career-ready.”

If this sounds like a motto, it is. And it is what sets these preschools apart. The Goddard School uses the most current, academically endorsed methods to ensure that children have fun while learning the skills they need for long-term success in school and in life. Their talented teachers also collaborate with parents to nurture children into respectful, confident and joyful learners.

To learn more: www.goddardschool.com

Ready for School, Ready for Life, Ready for Careers.

Posted in Honors and Awards, Internship Sites, News, Partnerships, Student Spotlight |

City High’s Jacob Osho gains a global perspective through his amazing internship.

Intern Jacob Osho stops for  photos with his mentors from the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh. From left to right:  Brittany Cheeks, Education Program Manager, Intern Jacob Osho from City High and Joe Poskin, Office Manager at the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh

When City Charter High School senior Jacob Osho showed up for his first workplace experience, an internship at the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh, he made a fantastic first impression. “From the very first day (and I’m not exaggerating), I was impressed with Jacob’s professionalism,” reports Brittany Cheeks, Education Program Manager at the World Affairs Council. “He was on-time (if not early). He would always check in with me. No matter what I asked him to help me with, he was very responsive and eager to help. This was remarkable, especially at his high school age. He took this seriously. I could tell by the way he holds himself, the way he would dress to come into the internship every day.”

Thanks to the exposure of world issues at his World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh internship and his Honors History class at City High, Jacob already has his doctorate thesis topic: the effects of immigration (including dislocation, social, political, and economic conditions and experiences of immigrant communities) on gang formation and gang violence.

From left to right: Brittany Cheeks,
Education Program Manager with Jacob Osho
from City Charter High School.

Joe Poskin, the Council’s office manager agrees. “We’ve had quite a few interns since I’ve been here and every day he would come in, say hello, shake my hand, ask how I was doing. . . and if I needed help with anything. It’s not that common for young people to have that skill.”

According to Jacob, “I was a part of the family. Their expectations of me? To come on time, do my best work – to always stay productive and helpful and always try to do my best.” This sounds great, but what does it really mean for a high school student?

Ms. Cheeks, his mentor, says, “He worked with us primarily in the education department where he helped us make changes to the GLC (Global Leadership Certificate) curriculum, both on-site and online.”

She had him create a Spanish lesson to implement with their on-site students. He also helped with their Global Travel Scholarship Orientation (a summer long study-abroad program for high school students). He did research on the economic ramifications of “space mining” for their next World Affairs Institute. So he was a busy intern. How did he keep up? “By prioritizing work,” Jacob reports. “I’d have different things to do for different people. So staying organized helped me get my work done on time.”

These are skills he learned the hard way. When he got to City High, “My biggest challenge was adjusting.” Jacob remembers. “It was nothing like middle school. I had to get used to going to different places, different classes . . . It was hard for me to adjust to just how much I had to do . . . and stay focused on what I’m supposed to be doing. I struggled with that. Now, I feel like I have it under control.”

Jacob also picked up other valuable skills at City High that have come in handy. “Actively reading was a key skill that I learned at City High. It really helped me. Especially when I was doing the research for the article on spacing mining. By taking side notes (like I learned in Cult. Lit. Class), I was able to remember more. It definitely helped me plan an outline of what I learned and write a report that was detailed.”

Cultural Literacy is implemented into the curriculum at City High in order to help prepare students for their current studies but also to help ensure their success at college.

So, now that Jacob’s 140-hour internship is complete, what does the future hold? He’s applying to several universities for a degree towards Cultural Anthropology & Research in Psychology. Thanks to the exposure of his internship to world issues and his Honors History class at City High, Jacob already has his doctorate thesis topic: the effects of immigration (including dislocation, social, political, and economic conditions and experiences of immigrant communities) on gang formation and gang violence.

Jacob plans to focus on the research side of international anthropology as a professor. And who knows, maybe someday he will help us all understand and deal with the struggling plight of immigrants, gang violence and other developing world issues.

These are notable goals for a high school senior who’s also working on earning a scholarship from The Pittsburgh Promise. More personally, Jacob’s goals are  “. . .to try my hardest as soon as I get there, so I don’t have to dig myself out of a hole that I already created . . . to stay focused and get my work done on time. And try not to get sidetracked by different things. And at the end, I want to get my doctorate degree.”

“We studied gang violence in 11th grade in the context of immigration, exploring the context in which gangs can flourish,” Jacob reflects on his Honors History class. It made him passionate to pursue psychology and anthropology and even led him to his internship. It is yet another example of how City High opens the minds of students to fields they may never have considered.

About The World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh

The World Affairs Council has been recognized as a leader in designing and developing educational programs on international affairs. Founded in 1929 by a small group of Pittsburgh residents with a deep interest in international issues, it has become a place for students, educators, and the community at large to learn about international developments and their relevance to Southwestern Pennsylvania.

In 2009, Pittsburgh served as the host of the G-20 Summit. This event helped underscore Pittsburgh’s place in the world and was a demonstration of how Pittsburgh has evolved from a city of iron and steel to a 21st century post-industrial city.

The Council continues to develop innovative programs to engage students, educators, and the community at large in an ongoing conversation about global issues—and why they matter.
The World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh’s mission is to provide a pathway for a more globally minded region, offering students and the community a learning space that covers key international issues. The Council is a member of the World Affairs Council of America (WACA), a network of more than 90 nonprofit, nonpartisan member Councils around the country.

Upcoming Programs


  • 24:  The Policy and Politics of US Nuclear Strategy
    12:00-1:30 pm., Duquesne Club
  • 24:  Special Seminar: Russian Active Measures and Lessons from the Cold War with Dr. Seth Jones, Director of the Transnational Threats Project, Center for Strategic and International Studies and Author of A Covert Action: Reagan, the CIA, and the Cold War Struggle in Poland.
    6:30-8:00 pm., La Roche College


  • 30:  World Affairs Institute for Student Leaders: Exploring the New Space Age.  Experts speak on the current state of space exploration, including commercial human spaceflight, space colonization, and the use of robotics and artificial intelligence.
    8:30 am- 3:00 pm., Heinz History Center

Additional events may be added and can be found on our website at www.worldpittsburgh.org


Posted in Honors and Awards, Internship Sites, News, Partnerships, Student Spotlight | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

City Charter High School is honored with Children’s Hospital Community Partner of the Year Award.

Patti Kretschman, Internship Manager of City High with
Children’s Hospital volunteer coordinator John Krysinky.

City Charter High School is ecstatic to be honored by Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC as a “Community Partner of the Year.” We are not only honored by the recognition, but also thankful for the wonderful experience and mentorship that Children’s Hospital who are looking towards the medical and childcare field as their career interests. Internship Manager Patti Kretschman accepted the award on behalf of City High on Saturday evening.

Patti Kretschman poses with City Charter High School Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh — UPMC’s Volunteer Services Department 2018 Community Partner of the Year Award.

Children’s Hospital has been an internship site partner with City High since the school’s inception, with the first internship in 2005. No interns were at the hospital during the hospital’s two-year move to its new and current site in Lawrenceville, which opened in 2009.

The Community Partner of the Year award recognizes an exemplary community partnership that has provided innovative projects and programs, and whose members have contributed significant hours of service that have made a positive impact on the patients and families of Children’s Hospital. The award was started in 2013, and the Volunteer Service Department of the hospital has honored an organization each year since that has been an important part of the Hospital Volunteer Program.

Our school is thrilled to be named this year’s “Community Partner of the Year” and look forward to our continued collaboration with Children’s Hospital in the years to come and are excited to see our students continue to flourish in their internships at the hospital.


Posted in Honors and Awards, News |

City High seniors’ presentation “GOT PRIVILEGE?” is a big hit at Ellis School’s Cultural Jam!

From L to R: Destiny Troy,  London Brooks, Crystal Cox and McKenna Battista
present Got Privilege? at Ellis School’s Cultural Jam.

For the purpose of workshop discussions, participants wrote down examples of how they have experienced the advantages and disadvantages of privilege

Senior Crystal Cox

Senior McKenna Battist

A group of seniors collaborated to create a workshop titled “Got Privilege?” to examine different types of privilege in our society and how people benefit from them, as well as how people are hurt and held back by them.

The seniors submitted a proposal to present the workshop at the Ellis School’s Culture Jam this past November. Not only was their presentation accepted for the workshop, it turned out to be a big hit!

Many participants remarked that it was their favorite workshop and a few participants even cried because they were so moved by the discussions. Presenters included seniors McKenna Battista, Crystal Cox, Destiny Troy, and London Brooks. These students worked together and presented at the Culture Jam. The group was led by Crystal and McKenna, who played a large role in the planning and creating materials and activities to use in the presentation.

Next Stop is the L.E.A.D. Conference

The next stop for Crystal and McKenna? Presenting their workshop at another diversity conference in March at Sewickley Academy. The L.E.A.D. (Learning Equity, Acceptance and Diversity) Conference on Wednesday, March 14, and is put on by Sewickley’s Student Diversity Club. The two City Charter High School seniors submitted a proposal in December, and were chosen to be one of the student-led workshops. It is among 26 student-led workshops at the conference, including students from Sewickley Academy, Shadyside Academy, Winchester Thurston, Ellis School, Kiski Prep, Woodland Hills, and CAPA.

While students partake in student-led workshops and share their experiences and stories, teachers and chaperones will attend workshops to address the same themes in the student-led workshops, and relate them to their own teaching and practices. There will also be a keynote speaker.

Sewickley Academy welcomes schools throughout the Pittsburgh region and beyond to their conference, including public, private, and independent schools will attend. For more information and to register for the conference, please visit Sewickley.org/LEAD. Registration is required, and there is a limit of 20 students per school.

Posted in Honors and Awards, News, Partnerships, Student Spotlight |