The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

In the Spotlight

May 3, 2013

Busy schedule prepares junior for life after high school

JOHNSTOWN — Shaun Ocipa and his classmates at Conemaugh Valley High School are busy preparing for one of the most memorable days of their lives – the high school prom.

Shaun and the others have the invitations sent out and are working on composing the program booklet and developing ideas to make the day a time to remember.

On the day of the prom, Shaun and the others will decorate the site of the event, the Imperial Ballroom, located near Ebensburg.

As president of the junior class, Shaun has written a welcome letter that will be sent to each student attending the prom. He also will speak at the prom.

“The prom is a chance for all of us to reflect on our high school career and a chance for us to have fun with our friends,” he said.

“One of the biggest things that we will focus on is creating new memories.”

Shaun, like many students at the school, keeps busy with numerous activities that prepare students for a bright future.

He has been a member of the forensics team for the past three years.

“We have a good team,” Shaun said, adding that the adviser is Keli Williams. “We have grown every year that I have been on it.”

He said they compete in tournaments throughout the region and, in the past few years, have sent several students to state competitions.

“We have been close to sending members to national competitions,” he said.

“We have a good time in forensics. Our buses are usually filled with singing and laughter. We are more of a family than a team.”

Just several weeks ago, the drama club, of which Shaun is a member, performed the musical “Footloose” for the community.

He said they have a large club of between 50 and 60 students.

The drama club, which is under the direction of Jean Arcurio and Brian Emphield, has grown every year, Shaun said.

“We are like a family because we spend so much time together.”

Shaun also is on the yearbook staff, which is lead by advisers Toni Shaffer and Davina Ashcom.

“We have about 15 students on the yearbook staff and each of us is assigned to compose different pages,” he said.

Because students have done such a good job of raising funds, they now are able to produce the yearbook in full color, he said.

Shaun is the editor of the school newspaper, called the Conemaugh V.

The newspaper staff, led by adviser Kathie McBreen, currently is working on the final edition of the year, he said.

The edition will pay tribute to seniors by publishing their senior wills and predictions about what life will be like for seniors 10 years from now, he said.

The newspaper staff has done a good job all year, he said.

Shaun also is a member of the Sci Pi Club, which meets once a week to conduct scientific experiments.

Its adviser, Amy Beiter, this year arranged a field trip to the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh and guided them during a science show for the district’s third-graders, he said.

He said all the advisers in the organizations of which he belongs have been doing a great job.

Shaun is proud of his school.

“We excel in sports as well as academics,” he said. “We took the Keystone Exams this year and came out well above average. We have good teachers and students.”

Shaun also is busy outside of school and for the second consecutive year has organized a team for next month’s Relay for Life event at Central Cambria High School.

A stock clerk at Mercik’s Ideal Market in Vinco, Shaun organized a team comprised of his co-workers last year.

This year, he has expanded the team to include family and friends and members of his church, the Church of the Transfiguration, in East Conemaugh Borough.

The team raised about $1,300 for the Relay for Life event at a basket party held in March, he said.

He said his co-workers, Jim Gustkey and Sue Hall, both assistant managers at the supermarket; his parents, Ed and Pam Ocipa; his sisters, Jenn and Jess Ocipa; and members of his church, Shirley Meredith and Nancy Turner, were a big help in in organizing the event.

Many others also supported the event, he said.

Conemaugh Valley High School Principal Shane Hazenstab said Shaun is a model student who excels in numerous activities.

“He serves as a leader and his classmates often look to him for guidance,” Hazenstab said. “He is wise beyond his years in the area of leadership. He represents the junior class with integrity and honesty.

“He will continue to develop into a successful and productive leader as he prepares for life after high school.”

Hazenstab likewise is proud of everyone in the school district.

“We challenge our students to excel in and out of the classroom,” he said. “Our students performed above the state average on the Keystone Exams this year in algebra, literature and biology.

“Our students and staff give an honest day’s work for a day’s worth of time.

“Our athletic programs have found success with wins and losses, but more importantly in the area of character development. Our coaches stress learning to win and lose the right way.

“Overall, there are a lot of great things happening at Conemaugh Valley.”

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