Excellence in Education 2023-2024

The Excellence in Education Awards concluded its second year on May 13 with a packed house at the Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Center to take part in the awards banquet and car giveaways.  The partnership between the Indiana County Chamber of Commerce, Indiana County school districts, and the Colonial family of dealerships is a business-education initiative that occurred during the 2023-2024 school year and sought to recognize outstanding achievement by students and teachers in Indiana County. 

The awards ceremony saw Anna Layden, a senior from Purchase Line High School chosen as the Indiana County student of the year and the recipient of a brand-new Mitsubishi Mirage from Colonial Motor Mart.  In addition, Christine Yurky, a teacher in the Homer-Center School District, was chosen as the Indiana County Teacher of the Year and the recipient of a brand-new Toyota Corolla from Colonial Toyota.

Over 520 people attended the banquet which featured addresses by Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor Austin Davis and Pittsburgh Penguin Stanley Cup Champion Tyler Kennedy.  The two delivered messages of work ethic, teamwork, and positive communication, and encouraged the students to find their passion beyond graduation.  The 56 students and 8 teachers were also greeted with a red-carpet interview that was streamed on Facebook Live, and entered into the arena accompanied by a live DJ.

A new addition this year featured the United Way of Indiana County who recognized one student and one teacher for their philanthropy throughout the year.  Emma Masengale from Indiana Area School District was the student awarded with a $1,000 scholarship from the United Way.  Scott Herrington, a teacher at Indiana Area School District was also selected, and won $1,000 from the United Way.

The Excellence in Education program was a year-long program recognizing excellence in the Indiana County schools.  Throughout the school year, senior students from each district as well as Indiana County Technology Center had the ability to be nominated by teachers or administration if they stood out based on a set of criteria.  The teachers and administrators were looking for students that displayed excellence in the areas of academics, school/community involvement, essential skills, and growth/maturity.  Each month a committee within each district chose one student from all of the nominees to be the student of the month.  An independent committee made up of individuals from the fields of education and human resources as well as community leaders then reviewed all of the nomination forms and chose one finalist from each school district as well as an overall winner of the award.