On today's program: Pittsburgh Public superintendent Anthony Hamlet looks ahead to a new semester; volunteers clean up illegal dumps in Allegheny County; panthers once ruled Pennsylvania; and a new program trades tech skills for free residency in a unique, intergenerational community.
Classes resume at Pittsburgh Public Schools
(0:00 — 12:55)
Now in his fourth year, superintendent Anthony Hamlet says district educators are coming back to school Monday focused on students' mental and physical well-being. He says teachers have been trained to recognize concerning behaviors, especially in light of more frequent mass shootings.
The district has a readiness plan and uses ALICE training—Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate—to conduct active shooter drills at its schools. According to the National Association of School Psychologists, lockdown drills can sometimes cause stress for students, but Hamlet says the alternative is to operate without a response plan, leaving staff and students more vulnerable.
The school year begins as investigations continue into Hamlet's unauthorized trip to Cuba with fellow administrators and an city ethics complaint regarding Hamlet's financial interest statements.
“I stay focused on the children,” he says of the complaints. “I look at every opportunity as an opportunity to improve what we do.”
Allegheny CleanWays keeps the county beautiful
(14:10 — 17:50)
For 18 years, volunteers with nonprofit Allegheny CleanWays have cleared more than 5 million pounds of garbage from illegal dumping sites across Allegheny County. 90.5 WESA’s Brian Cook talked to organizers about their work.
Did panthers really live in Pittsburgh?
(17:53 — 22:08)
It’s been more than a century since panthers roamed the Pittsburgh region, though their mark remains in statuary and sporting mascots. These predators—sometimes referred to as cougars, pumas and mountain lions—were once the most widespread mammal species across the continent. For WESA's Good Question! series, Katie Blackley explores the history of Pittsburgh’s favorite big cat.
Students dorm with seniors at Vincentian's Terrace Place
(22:09 — 38:56)
Vincentian Collaborative System is offering free room and board to six students in a one-year intergenerational residency through LaRoche University, trading no-cost accommodations for their tech savvy skills.
LaRoche president Sister Candice Introcaso says the program is part of the school’s transition from a college to a university, and she hopes it's the start of something big in an environment already changing demographically.
“By 2030, almost a quarter of the residents of Pennsylvania will be above 65 years old,” says Introcaso. “When you have that kind of population surrounding you, and you’re an educational institution, it’s incumbent on you to serve that part of our community.”
Nick Vizzoca, president and CEO of Vincentian, says the program combats social isolation for both seniors and students.
Senior business major Ricardo Serrano-Perez, who moved into Terrace Place this month, says he's already making friends. He'll be tasked with offering technical assistance and hosting recreational classes using Vincentian's Alexa and K4Connect smart systems, which allow residents to communicate, text and call one another.
90.5 WESA's Julia Zenkevich, Julia Maruca and Hannah Gaskill contributed to this program.
The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in weekdays at 9 a.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.