HOMER-CENTER: Four students participate in Regional Band Festival
February 21, 2014 10:50 AM
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HOMER CITY — Love was in the air, but so were school, work and achievements, especially at Homer-Center High School as Valentine’s Day came again this year. Even in spite of an epidemic of students catching the love bug, there was still some important news floating around.

Congratulations go out to Shannon Stains, Hayden Michael, Emerie Stagner and Tonee Clawson for their accomplishments at Punxsutawney during the weekend of Feb. 8.

The four Homer-Center students all auditioned for a chance to participate in the Regional Band Festival, playing pieces of music they were given weeks beforehand.

They were then evaluated based on their performance to see if they would qualify.

Stains was rewarded with first chair for the upcoming performance over the weekend as well as a spot at the Regional Band Festival. Districts weren’t just all about the competition, though, as all the students around the district met at Punxsutawney to perform a compilation of pieces.

The students were taken under the wings of IUP music professor Dr. Jason Worzbyt as the students were tasked with working together to perform a concert of several musical pieces from a variety of composers. This concert was held on Feb. 8 at Punxsutawney Area High School. It is great to see that, even in an area where the arts are sometimes struggling in schools, some solace still remains.

Now, it was recently the week of Valentine’s Day, so Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) members have taken the opportunity to further the festivities. They had been selling carnations throughout the past couple of weeks in order to gain funds for charity donations and club funds.

Students were able to buy a carnation, and then have the flowers sent to a certain student of their choice. Students could even spend a little bit extra and write a message on the gift. As stated, the profit from the carnations will be used as a way of making donations as well as some extra money for the club.

On a different note, Homer-Center also took this opportunity to raise awareness on the topic of domestic violence among teens as well as support anti-domestic violence practices.

This past week, students were asked to show support for the cause by wearing purple wristbands all week. In addition, students were asked to wear purple on Feb. 13. What’s the significance of these activities? Well, Dr. Gary Cuccia visited Homer-Center this past Thursday in order to educate students on teen dating violence.

Dr. Cuccia’s daughter, Demi Brae Cuccia, had been murdered as a result of teen dating violence on Aug. 15, 2007. The incident occurred when Demi’s ex-boyfriend, John Mullarkey Jr., wanted to see Demi after a breakup. No one was around when John went over to Demi’s house.

[PHOTO: Dr.. Gary Cuccia, left, and his wife, Jodi, right, recently visited Homer-Center High School to speak about teen dating violence that led to the death of their daughter, Demi Brae Cuccia. With them are Homer-Center Principal Jody Rainey and teacher Lisa Adams. (Stephanie Myer/Homer-Center High School photo)]

As a result, they got into one final argument and Demi was then stabbed repeatedly, where she then bled to death. Dr. Cuccia has since then made it his goal to tell his story and inform students about the importance of looking for warning signs in a teen’s relationship. Domestic abuse and violence can occur even in young adolescents’ relationships. Dr. Cuccia has made it his goal to prevent any more of these horrific tragedies to the best of his ability, as he partnered with Ladies Hospital Aid Society to spread awareness of the Demi Brae Cuccia Awareness Organization.

As Dr. Cuccia puts it, “Never break up alone.”

When asked what really drives him to spread his message, Dr. Cuccia answered, “Of course, I loved my daughter and I want to share with everyone what kind of person she was. Not only that, I don’t want her story to be just another case and just another number. I want to try and prevent any more of these incidents. I may not put a complete end to domestic violence, but I hope I’m preventing something.”

Lisa Adams, a science teacher at Homer-Center and one of the teachers who really helped put the assembly together at Homer-Center, agreed with Dr. Cuccia.

“Make sure someone knows what is going on and where you are going to be. It’s better to break up in a public place and to have a friend nearby.”

Homer-Center is certainly doing all it can in order to support the cause, as multiple posters have been put up in the halls stating facts regarding teen violence. In addition, more teen dating facts have been broadcast every morning during the morning announcements. Hopefully we won’t see another tragedy like this happen anytime soon.

On a lighter note, Homer-Center’s Drew Hurd won a recent contest for his Anti-Drug message. He gave a message on local radio stations in the form of a public service announcement.

Hurd said that, “There are many ways to avoid peer pressure, but I think the best way is just to walk away. Drugs have ruined the lives of loved ones — not just your friends or mine — but every 48 minutes someone dies from drug- or alcohol-related accidents. Now I ask you to think what if one of those lives taken was of a family member or a friend of yours.”

Very well put, and as a result, Hurd received $100 for his message. It’s always a great event when we get to see youths taking part in the act against drugs, so we are very pleased to congratulate this Homer-Center student on his achievement.

That concludes this week’s installment of the activities happening inside Homer-Center Junior/Senior High School. From everyone at Homer-Center, we hope you enjoyed the Valentine’s Day weekend.

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