The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

August 16, 2013

Community minded: Recent grad will continue service projects in college

Frank Sojak
fsojak@tribdem.com

JOHNSTOWN — Kiersten Szczur is taking the values she learned in high school to college.

At Greater Johnstown High School, the recent graduate helped the community as a member of the Key Club and Interact Club.

When she attends Pitt-Johnstown this fall, she is planning to join the Circle K, the university version of the Key Club. She already has begun the process of forming a Rotaract Club, the university version of Rotary Club at Pitt-Johnstown.

“I’m planning to join Circle K so that I can continue to do projects to help the community,” the 18-year-old Szczur said.

The Rotaract Club would accomplish projects that help people both locally and worldwide, said the daughter of Kenneth and Shelley Szczur of Morrellville.

Szczur, who was secretary of the Key Club in high school this past year, said Key Club members conducted many community service projects.

“We helped out with Kiwanis Club projects, and we took on projects of our own,” she said.

Key Club projects included the Empty Bowls program to feed the hungry and Trojan Family Christmas, an effort to provide Christmas gifts to less fortunate children in the Greater Johnstown School District, she said.

They also held pancake breakfasts to raise money for projects, said Szczur, a member of the club for four years.

“Every year that I was involved, I saw the amazing results that came out of each project,” she said. “I was astonished by it.

“I did not know one group of people could have that much influence on the entire community.”

The club’s head adviser, Rob Heinrich, was good at organizing the projects and helping the students to accomplish their goals, she said.

“He and the other advisers devoted much of their time to making the community a better place,” she said.

Szczur, who last year was president of the Interact Club, said the organization was re-established by school Superintendent Gerald Zahorchak after a 10-year hiatus.

“The Interact Club is based not only on local service projects, but also international ones,” she said.

“We rang bells for the Salvation Army. We went Christmas caroling at LaurelWood Care Center. We also interacted with children at community centers in Johnstown.

“Our big international project was a walkathon for polio.”

The club members were dedicated to making the club a success, she said.

Dan Tomak and Devin Carosi were the advisers.

“Nothing could have been done without those two,” she said. “They really helped to bring the club to life.”

Szczur also was a standout pitcher and outfielder on the high school girls softball team, lettering in each of her four years on the team.

“We had a very good team all four years,” she said.

All of the players were focused and the coaching, led by head coach Randy Romesberg, was amazing, she said.

She wants to continue playing softball and is hoping to earn a spot on the women’s team at Pitt-Johnstown.

Szczur also was co-captain of the high school girls soccer team for two years.

“We had good players and our coaches were phenomenal,” she said.

Szczur was co-president of the musical club.

“Each student had a passion for singing and acting,” she said.

Their advisers, Adam Bukosky and Mike D’Angello, worked incredibly hard to make sure everything was ready for the musicals, she said.

Szczur, salutatorian of her class, is fond of her alma mater.

“JHS is an absolutely amazing school,” she said. “It was very diverse. It taught me many lessons.

“The teachers there were the absolute best. Every single one cared about their students.

“Our principal, Mr. Vuckovich, and (Superintendent) Dr. Zahorchak were extremely forward in making the school a success. They both put a lot of time in to make all the students achieve success.

“I would never have chosen another school to go to because I honestly don’t think there is a better school out there.”

Zahorchak said Szczur is one of the most dynamic young women he has been associated with as a school administrator.

“Kiersten is just so poised when she is with her peers or adults,” he said. “She seems to have a natural ability to lead, which is unusual for someone her age.

“I’ve watched her lead a few community projects, where she almost single-handedly envisioned and executed plans that resulted in a positive impact to causes like fighting polio worldwide and feeding hungry people locally.”



Frank Sojak is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/FrankNews10.