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Distinguished Norwin alums to be honored |

Distinguished Norwin alums to be honored

| Tuesday, April 24, 2018 3:42 p.m
Norwin Star
Casey Harper was inducted as a contributor into the Norwin Athletic Hall of Fame at Stratigos Banquet Centre on Thursday, Sept. 27, 2012.

A Norwin elementary school principal and middle school teacher, a college administrator, an Irwin attorney, a graduate of Army Ranger school, a longtime coach and a former congressman are among eight Norwin High School alums to be honored in the second class of distinguished alumni.

The eight, who graduated at various years from the 1960s into the 1990s, will be honored at the Knight of Distinguished Alumni Banquet beginning at 5:30 p.m. May 24 at Stratigos Banquet Centre, Colonial Manor Road, North Huntingdon.

The honored alums will be joined by automobile dealership owner Casey Harper of North Huntingdon, who will be recognized as a Distinguished Friend of Norwin for his community involvement.

Those alumni and the years they graduated are: Robin Sleight Dillon, 1973; Heather Coiner Newell, 1988; Constance DeMore, 1991; Daniel Piratko, 1980; Mark S. Critz, 1980; David McCullough, 1972; Richard Siniawski, 1966; and William F. Caruthers II, 1973. Dillon and Newell will be included in this year’s class of distinguished alumni but will be honored in 2019 because they are unable to attend the May 24 banquet, said Jack Boylan, president of the Norwin Community School District Foundation board.

The foundation and the Norwin Alumni & Friends Association sponsors the initiative to honor distinguished alumni.

The following is a thumbnail sketch of the honorees:

• Caruthers, of North Huntingdon, is an attorney in Irwin who is a former two-time president of the Irwin Rotary Club and chairs the club’s Fresh Express program to provide food to people in need. He is a former president of the Norwin Public Library Board and former board member of the Norwin Meals on Wheels.

• Critz, who lives in Johns­town, is believed to be the only Norwin High School graduate who was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He worked for the late U.S. Rep. John P. Murtha before serving in Congress from May 2010 to January 2013. He is now executive director of the Pennsylvania Rural Development Council.

• Dillon is a philosophy professor and director of the Center for Ethics at Lehigh University in Bethlehem. She has been a faculty member at Lehigh since 1987 and has received fellowships from the Andrew Mellon Foundation, as well as other foundations. Dillon is an internationally recognized philosopher whose work in ethics focuses on self-respect.

• Harper, of North Huntingdon, has made numerous contributions to the community through C. Harper Charities, which has supported Norwin Athletics, the Police Athletic League, Jamie’s Dream Team, Make-A-Wish and the renovated Lamp Theatre in Irwin.

• McCullough has been a band director at a West Virginia high school and at Syracuse and Butler universities. He has conducted performances at national band directors’ conventions and responsible for more than 350 musical arrangements. He is staff arranger for the University of Alabama “Million Dollar Band.”

• Newell, of Penn Township, has been principal at Norwin’s Sheridan Terrace Elementary School for the past six years. She is in her 25th year as an educator. Her doctoral thesis at the University of Pittsburgh focused on how principals effectively contribute to teachers’ professional learning.

• Priatko, of North Huntingdon, was a battalion commander at the U.S. Military Academy, where he played football. He graduated from the Army Airborne and Ranger schools. His military career, however, was cut short when he was seriously injured in a car accident that left him hospitalized for 18 months and in a coma for seven months.

• DeMore, of Venetia, spent 19 years as a seventh grade social studies in the Norwin Middle School. She is now one of Norwin’s coordinators of secondary gifted education. She also teaches two graduate level courses at the University of Pittsburgh and consults independently for schools districts to provide professional development to teachers.

• Siniawski, of North Huntingdon, who served in the Army during the Vietnam War, coached basketball at Immaculate Conception School in Irwin, St. Edwards School in Herminie, the Police Athletic League and Norwin Junior High East. He was chairman of the Foothills Football Classic, which showcases top players from Westmoreland, Allegheny and Fayette counties.

Reservations are required to attend the banquet and the deadline is May 10. The event starts with a cash bar at 5:30 p.m. and dinner at 6:30 p.m. The program will follow the dinner.

Those interested in attending may register online at or contact Debbie Kunkle at or 724-875-9980.

Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-5252 or

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