The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

January 13, 2013

Someplace like home: Bishop Carroll transforms hall for international students

EBENSBURG — International students attending Bishop Carroll Catholic High School are many miles away from home, but that doesn’t mean the homey feel can’t be with them.

Aquinas Hall, which is located on the school’s campus, serves as the home for students taking part in the Aquinas International Program and the hall recently went through a major renovation project to give the facility a more modern and updated feel.

The school started housing students in the building in 2009, when the program began. But since Aquinas had most recently been used by the community college, it had more of an institutionalized classroom feel.

“We wanted to transition it to a house setting. So this past summer we spent countless hours going through each room and evaluating the space and seeing what needed to be done,” said Geri Beltowski, director of the Aquinas International Program. “A lot of time, energy and effort went into this, but it’s a complete joy to get to this point.”

Work included painting, stripping paint off woodwork, repair work to walls and decorating the rooms to give them an aesthetically pleasing look.

“We focused on the bedrooms first and added some color and the multipurpose room where the students study, eat and socialize,” Beltowski said.

The next phase includes upgrades to the bathrooms and laundry facilities and general maintenance projects.

“We’d also like to renovate the front porch and utilize that space where we could have furniture and a grill to have cookouts,” Beltowski said.

“This is their home away from home and we want to provide the best we can for them.”

In its first year, the program had six participants with a host family living on the premises to watch over and advise the international students.

Currently, there are 15 Chinese students from freshmen to seniors enrolled.

“We are looking to expand into other countries, and our goal is to make this a diverse house with students from all over the world,” Beltowski said.

Instead of host families, the house is now supervised by two international coordinators  – Rossella Williams and Michelle Wetzel – who live in the hall and are there to make sure the program runs efficiently.

Aquinas has the capacity to house 25 students, and the hope is to increase enrollment with each school year.

“We are always looking at what we need to do to make improvements and expand,” Beltowski said.

The international students have to follow house rules and curfews, but they also have an opportunity to get out and see what the area has to offer.

The program is a win-win for both the international and Bishop Carroll students because it creates a global community within the school.

“It allows the international students to experience American culture and for our students to experience cultures from around the world, which is very diverse, so it’s a great opportunity to learn more from one another,” Beltowski said.

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat print edition.

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat e-edition.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
  • LCB Wine1a Does state know when to say when?

    Booze sales on Sunday have proven so popular the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board is breaking a state law limiting how many stores the system can operate on the first day of the week.

    April 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • mccord Gubernatorial hopeful wins mayor’s support

    Gubernatorial candidate Rob McCord has received an endorsement from Johnstown’s highest-ranking elected official.

    April 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Home is Where The Tribune-Democrat is Delivered!

    Here are the names of the 10 entrants that were chosen today-April 22, 2014.  If you see your name, call the Circulation Department at 814-532-5000 (#1) or 1-866-307-0905 to verify your information.

    April 22, 2014

  • reading night ‘Story Laboratory’ stirs kids’ interest in reading, science

    Mad scientists and Dr. Seuss characters were the stars Thursday as Conemaugh Township Area children helped concoct mysterious potions that bend the laws of physics and learned how french fries can drive you to work.

    April 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Republicans tout ‘right’ credentials

    All three Republican Party candidates in Pennsylvania’s 9th Congressional District race attempted to distinguish themselves as the person conservative enough to represent the state’s most conservative district in the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday night.

    April 24, 2014

  • elder abuse 1 Calling attention to elder abuse

    As far as states with the oldest populations go, Pennsylvania hovers near the top, depending on which statistical report you read. Along with an ever-growing elderly demographic comes more instances of seniors being abused or cheated out of money.

    April 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Cambria adds security to thwart copper thefts

    Would-be copper thieves, be warned: Anyone trying to steal copper wiring from any of the 17 towers that make up Cambria County’s 911 communications system will be caught on camera.

    April 24, 2014

  • Commissioners praise response to bomb threat

    Two days after a bomb threat closed the Cambria County Courthouse for half a day, officials handed out accolades to those who pulled off an efficient search and quick apprehension of the alleged perpetrator.

    April 24, 2014

  • Black fly program to target river corridor

    The Cambria County commissioners Thursday entered into an agreement with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection that opens the door for the state to provide black fly suppression spraying.

    April 24, 2014

  • Inmate faces sex charges

    An Altoona man was charged with rape after authorities accused him of sexually assaulting another man while both were inmates at the Cambria County Prison.

    April 24, 2014


Would you like to see the Johnstown Community Corrections Center remain open after its lease runs out on Oct. 11, 2015?

I'm not sure
     View Results
House Ads