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Special Maroon & Gray Issue
2021 Maroon & Gray Beneficiary:
The Mardi Lowry McDonough ’87 Student Opportunity Fund and Grant Program


Easterly Parkway Grant Project Designed to Maximize Learning by Meeting Basic Needs

“State College Area School District wants to prepare students for lifelong success through excellence in education. If children’s basic needs are not being met, they are not able to fully benefit from the excellent education our district provides,” said Carissa Walter, School Counselor at Easterly Parkway Elementary School.

Walter was awarded a $1,000 Student Opportunity Grant to fund her idea to open a student support closet to provide clothing and toiletries for students in need. In her grant application Walter noted that many students don’t have access to clothes that fit, causing them to feel embar­rassed or uncomfortable. These feelings can result in students disengaging from classroom activities and from their peers.

 The grant funds now help to fill the student support closet with clothing, such as shoes, socks, undergarments, pants, shirts, and sweatshirts, as well as deodorant, shampoo, toothpaste, and other essential toiletries.

Walter acknowledged that other agencies in the community also provide these services, but she pointed out that sometimes families encounter barriers to receiving them. For example, long wait times and varying eligibility requirements between different agencies or programs can delay or prevent services. She also noted that language barriers that can prevent families from filling out the necessary paperwork. This issue may be especially prevalent at Easterly Parkway where 23% of students speak English as a second language.

The goal for the student support closet, Walter said, is to help students fulfill their basic needs on a more immediate basis, and also to reach families who may not qualify for other assistance programs.

“Since we are striving to be inclusive, it is our duty as a district to ensure that all students have what they need in order to learn and succeed,” Walter said.

Read the full article, which was featured in FOUNDATION Magazine, here.

Honoring the 2020 Maroon & Gray Society

Every week we’ll feature our Maroon & Gray Society honorees. We look forward to formally inducting them at the banquet in 2022.

The Late Ron Pavlechko: Beloved Colleague, Coach, Teacher and Friend

Ron Pavlechko had 40 years of service at State College Area School District, first as a teacher, then as the Little Lions head football coach, and later as the full-time director of athletics. He passed away January 24, 2020. Students, alumni, friends and colleagues describe him as not only a great coach, but a great teacher, friend and mentor.

He began working at the SCASD in 1971 as an English teacher and the assistant football coach, then took over as head coach in 1977, leading the Little Lions for the next 19 years.

During his tenure, the team won 116 games and had undefeated regular seasons in 1981 and 1992, with the 1992 team advancing to the PIAA semifinals.

Most importantly, though, Ron was known for his compassion and positive attitude, and for always lending an ear. Just ask any of the players he coached. During practice, he would make his rounds, being sure to connect with each and every player on a personal level. They didn’t just talk about football, but about class, life, and their homes. Winning wasn’t his only — perhaps not even his top — priority. It was taking care of kids.

Beyond being an inspiration to his students, players, and fellow coaches, Ron had many accomplishments to be proud of over the years. He was a member of the Austintown-Fitch High School Athletic Hall of Fame, Sigma Pi Fraternity, The Penn State Football Letterman’s Club, the Board of Directors of the Central Pennsylvania Chapter of the National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame, and the Board of Directors of the Centre County Chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame.

Ron is sorely missed by the entire SCASD community and the Education Foundation is honored to add his name to the Maroon & Gray Society.

Read the full profile.

Mark Roland ’91: Serving his Country & Community with Courage & Humility

Since Mark Roland graduated from State High in 1991, he has served his country and community.

Mark served in the United States Army for 22 years and received recognition for his actions during the Global War on Terror. He earned the prestigious Silver Star for “exceptionally valorous action while serving as the Intelligence Sergeant for Special Forces Operational Detachment Alpha 732, Special Operations Task Force-71, Firebase Ripley, Afghanistan in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM on 11 June 2007,” according to The Military Times.

Mark is also known in the State College community for his giving nature. Now retired from the Army, he focuses his energy on helping those who are battling Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). He also volunteers at the Pennsylvania Military Museum in Boalsburg, where he helps others learn about and make sense of war.

“Mark embodies the best State College High School can hope to give to the world,” says the friend who nominated Mark for this year’s Maroon & Gray Society class. “He is a man of deep conviction, a man who has served others with unimaginable courage and humility. He is so reflective and works very hard to put his service into perspective and to help others who work to do the same.”

Read the full profile.