Happenings - Pine-Richland Opportunities Fund



Launching Pine-Richland’s theater set design capabilities into the future, the Pine-Richland Opportunities Fund approved a $16,000 grant to purchase two projection mapping projectors.

PR’s International Thespian Society’s fall play, Peter and the Starcatcher, which will be performed Nov. 29-30 and Dec. 1, will feature sets designed by students using this cutting edge technology. Projection mapping allows the design and stage crew greater flexibility in presenting backdrops and creates a set that better immerses the audience in the play’s setting.

PRHS teacher John Dolphin, who advises PR’s International Thespian Society, says the technology will not only be used by his group, but will be available to directors of both the middle school and high school musicals. It can also be leveraged in other curriculum areas, including engineering, art, math and physics, and supports the District’s goal of integrating technology into courses and activities.


Relieve Stress Through Yoga, Fitness Kickboxing and Meditation

Fall is a busy time for high school students as kids take the ACTs, SATs, finish college applications and think ahead to final exams, while balancing sports, clubs, jobs and social activities.  In short, it’s a time of added stress and anxiety for many students, as well as teachers and staff. The new Mind, Body, Balance Club at Pine-Richland High School,initiated in last February, aims to teach kids and adults alike healthy ways to manage stress and anxiety through physical activity, meditation and yoga.

The brainchild of AP Psychology teacher Matt Roberts, the club is funded through a $1,200 grant from the Pine-Richland Opportunities Fund (PROF). It is open to all students and teachers with no official sign-up required meaning drop-ins are welcome.

“Participants have the opportunity to engage in a wide range of practices that have been shown to reduce stress and anxiety,” says Roberts.  “Activities including stress reduction, yoga, and fitness boxing can serve as important protective factors for any individual dealing with moderate to high levels of stress.”

The club meets Tuesday through Thursday in the Global Relations Center from 2:45-3:30 p.m. The activity for each day changes every quarter. During the upcoming second quarter, the schedule is:

  • Tuesday -- Fitness Kickboxing
  • Wednesday -- Mindfulness, Stress Reduction and Meditation
  • Thursday -- Yoga

 All necessary equipment is provided, although participants are welcome to bring their own yoga mats, boxing gloves or other items as needed.  

Taylor Theriault's successful summer internship

In May, Taylor Theriault was awarded the Good Shepherd Veterinary Scholarship & Internship. New this school year, this $1000 scholarship was brought to PROF through the generosity of Dr. Ibrahim and the Good Shepherd Veterinary Hospital. It is awarded to a graduating Pine-Richland student who intends to become a veterinarian or veterinary technician, or get a degree in veterinary science, agriculture, environmental science or a medial field. In addition to the scholarship the Hospital offered a 40 hour summer internship opportunity. Taylor, who is attending the University of South Florida in Tampa, completed the internship this summer and states, “For someone who is going into a field working with animals, this was an amazing opportunity and experience.” She spent the majority of the time helping veterinary technicians, and also had the opportunity to observe and help with surgeries during her internship.

Merging Technology and Science at Eden Hall Upper Elementary

If your sixth grader comes home talking about barometric pressure and wind gusts in a voice eerily similar to WPXI’s Stephen Cropper, you can thank Eden Hall Upper Elementary School teachers Eric Farmer, Damon Duncan and Samantha Dumpe. The teachers recently were awarded a grant from the Pine-Richland Opportunities Fund to assist in the purchase of 30 iPads to help make science lessons more interactive and engaging.

PROF pitched in over $9,000 for the purchase of the iPads as part of a jointly funded initiative with the Pine-Richland Technology Department and Eden Hall Upper Elementary PTO. In addition to recording and editing their own weather reports, students will use technology applications such as iMovie, We Video and Adobe Spark to record, edit, and publish lab findings, analyze scientific discoveries, present interactive results, and create a digital library for teachers, peers and future students.

Adding this technology to the curriculum fosters collaboration among all sixth-grade science teachers ensuring that students in each biome are exposed to the same experiences. In addition, it allows students from different biomes the ability to peer edit, publish, and collaborate remotely on similar tasks.

PROF is proud to be a part of making the visions of Pine-Richland faculty and staff a reality as they strive to uncover new ways of engaging students. If you are interested in discussing a potential grant proposal visit www.prof-fund.org.


Trying to figure out ways to help pay for college or vocational school next year? Look no further than the Pine-Richland Opportunities Fund scholarship program. With 16 scholarships totaling about $42,500 offered exclusively to Pine-Richland students, it’s certainly worth a look to see which might be a fit. While the deadline to apply is April 9, students are strongly encouraged to begin planning their applications now as many require teacher/coach recommendation letters and brief essays.  Here is a helpful checklist:

  • Visit prof-fund.org/scholarships to review brief descriptions of each scholarship.
  • Determine the scholarships to which you plan to apply and review requirements.
  • Request letter(s) of recommendation from teachers/coaches and share the electronic recommendation form with each. Be respectful and ask early – we recommend no later than March 23.
    • It is your responsibility to follow up with those you are requesting recommendations from to ensure they have completed and uploaded it prior to the April 9 deadline.
  • Draft, edit and finalize your essay(s).
  • Gather any other documents necessary. You MUST complete the entire application in one sitting. Required documents may include:
    • Unofficial Transcript - Directions for uploading from Home Access
    • Resume
    • Essay Responses
    • Names and email addresses of individuals from whom the student will be requesting a recommendation. Please review the number and type of recommendations needed for each scholarship. 
    • Family income tax forms with social security numbers blacked out (only if applying for King Family, Zollweg, or Richland Civic Club)
  • Use a personal email address for all parts of the application process; do not use your school email address.
  • Deadline for completed applications – April 9, 2018


One of the most exciting things about the scholarship program administered by the Pine-Richland Opportunities Fund (PROF) is the number and diversity of scholarships offered. In fact, PROF continues to add new and unique scholarships each year in partnership with generous community members.  Among the 16 scholarships totaling about $42,500 to be awarded this year are two new opportunities:

  • Diversity in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Scholarship - $1000 

Sponsored by the Hein family who have two graduates and a current student at Pine-Richland High School, this scholarship recognizes a graduating female or minority student who plans to attend a four-year college/university to pursue a major in one of the STEM (science, technology, engineering or math) fields. Applicants must have attended Pine-Richland their entire junior and senior years. This scholarship may be renewable for the student’s sophomore year of college, dependent on continued enrollment in a STEM program and satisfactory academic achievement.

  • Good Shepherd Veterinary Scholarship & Internship - $1000

Thanks to the generosity of Dr. Ibrahim and the Good Shepherd Veterinary Hospital, this scholarship and 40-hour summer internship opportunity will be awarded to a graduating Pine-Richland student who intends to become a veterinarian or veterinary technician, or get a degree in veterinary science, agriculture, environmental science or a medical field. A minimum grade-point average of 3.5 or higher in biology and chemistry is required. A team from the Good Shepherd Veterinary Hospital will select the recipient.

“We are thrilled to be able to bring these new scholarship opportunities to this year’s graduating seniors, in addition to the many other outstanding awards made available through our wonderful community and alumni partnerships,” says Terry Pomerleau, chair of PROF’s Scholarships Committee. “We encourage all seniors and their parents to check out the PROF website to see which of our scholarships might be a fit and apply by the April 9 deadline.”

Any business, group, alumnus, family or community member interested in starting or donating to a scholarship can fill out an interest form online or contact PROF at scholarships@prof-fund.org.


Calling all Pine-Richland High School seniors! Did you know that the Pine-Richland Opportunities Fund (PROF) will be awarding 16 unique scholarships to deserving PR students this year totaling approximately $42,500? Criteria for each scholarship varies. While a few are based on financial need, many reward students for their academic achievements, extra-curricular activities, intended field of study, character and/or leadership skills as they look ahead to continuing their education at a college, university, vocational or trade school.

Established in 1994 with a memorial scholarship, PROF is a non-profit education foundation committed to enriching and investing in the educational experiences of the PR student community. Administering scholarships is just one part of what PROF does, but it is an especially rewarding part of the organization’s mission. 

“There is always a personal story behind the scholarships PROF helps administer, which makes each of them special,” says Moira Singer, president of PROF’s volunteer board of trustees. “And the number and variety of scholarships offered mean we are able to touch a diverse group of students who deserve to be recognized for their hard work, excellent character and talent.”

Interested seniors can learn about each of the scholarships and apply online. It is important that students familiarize themselves with each scholarship’s requirements. Students must complete the application, upload all necessary documents, and secure and upload recommendation letters before the April 9 deadline. It is a competitive award process and late or incomplete applications will not be accepted. Good luck!

Exploring the World and Beyond at Richland Elementary School

Walking on the moon, traveling to ancient societies, climbing mountains, exploring caves, and scaling volcanoes are just some of the experiences Richland Elementary School students may soon partake in thanks to a $3,000 grant from the Pine-Richland Opportunities Fund (PROF). The grant supports the purchase of virtual reality goggles, which will help immerse students in the subjects they are studying in a new and innovative way.

The grant application was developed and submitted by a trio of Richland Elementary teachers, Todd Murphy, Brian Sauers, and Lisa Sciulli. In crafting their application, the team was inspired by one of the core objectives of the Pine-Richland School District’s strategic plan – to introduce students to innovative technology.

In addition to exploring and researching various places in the world in an engaging and immersive way, virtual and augmented reality are cutting-edge tools and provide another amazing resource to help keep Pine-Richland students and faculty up-to-date with emerging technologies.  

Through its Outstanding Ideas Grants program, PROF is committed to providing financial assistance to Pine-Richland’s teachers and staff as they uncover novel ways to enrich the learning experiences of PR students. PROF is accepting new grant proposals for its spring grants cycle, which closes on March 2, 2018. Click here for more details and an application.


PROF Grant Provides Flexible Seating for Elementary Students

https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/proffundorg/pages/77/attachments/original/1517691077/1.jpg?1517691077Wiggle chairs, yoga balls, stability balls and cushions, along with different leveled tables allow children to work where they will best achieve learning goals. Last spring the Pine-Richland Opportunities Fund (PROF) awarded Richland Elementary 2nd grade teacher, Mrs. Tracy Hanna, funds to implement flexible seating for her class. Mrs. Hanna states, “Students need to be problem solvers and thinkers and this new idea of choosing the best learning spot helps to prepare them for a real-world learning experience.” This pilot program was very successful and led to implementing the flexible seating concept in the other elementary schools.  This fall, fourth grade teachers Mrs. Racheal Zaspel,  Mrs. Lori Prentice, and Mrs. Christina Strine applied for a similar grant to launch a pilot program for Eden Hall Upper Elementary. While there seems to be a more apparent use for flexible seating at the lower grade levels, these teachers saw the need in the upper elementary grades as well.  Their goal is to “enhance the learning environment by providing choice that allows for “active” sitting in the classroom.” They share that, “Active sitting is known to improve attention and concentration, blood flow, flexibility, coordination and balance.”

At the November meeting, the PROF Trustees voted to accept their grant request and awarded $4,500 to pilot the program at Eden Hall Upper Elementary. Every student learns differently and this concept aligns with the district mission to focus on learning for every student every day. Active sitting will give students the opportunity to move as they learn to help them stay focused and increase their level of achievement.

PROF is proud to recognize these teachers’ efforts in their grant request, and grateful to our donors, whose generous donations make grants like this possible.

PROF’s spring grants cycle closes on March 2, 2018.

Your support and donations to PROF will continue to serve the outstanding ideas of our talented Pine-Richland staff.

PROF Grant Helps Bring Writing Workshop to PRSD Teachers

JoyOfWriting.jpgPine-Richland School District elementary teachers took off their teaching hats and put on their thinking caps during summer break. They worked to fine tune their skills in the art of teaching writing during a week-long workshop. Facilitator Richard Koch emphasized to educators and students that writing can be a journey of improvement with feedback from peers.

The workshop helped teachers fine tune their skills in the art of writing and was a second part of a two-part grant funded by the Pine-Richland Opportunities Fund through the Western PA Writing Project in association with the National Writing Project.

This writing initiative, being implemented at PRSD, proved to be an inspirational workshop for teachers as they prepared for the start of the school year. See this video, which captures many of the critical concepts for an effective school community. This initiative has also been featured on the PA Schools, Success Starts Here website. PROF is proud to have been a part of this wonderful opportunity for PRSD teachers. 

Pine-Richland Opportunities Fund Partners with Central Blood Bank for Scholarship

Pine-Richland students and community work together to help our community while raising scholarship dollars for seniors. Read more about this partnership.

PROF Grant Plays a Part in the Pine-Richland High School Fall Play "Fahrenheit 451"

See the article posted on Wed., Nov. 11, 2015. 

"Where I Am From" - PROF-Supported Project Featured on WQED

WhereIAmFrom.jpgWith a grant from PROF, Mr. Riley brought together students from Pine-Richland High School students and students from his alma mater Woodland Hill High School to create art works about “where they are from,” just as Riley's exhibition will revolve around the same theme. The students' works will be presented on 12-inch panel surfaces. 

Mr. Riley said that “Where I Am From” is cultural experience that could not happen within a single school. “Where I Am From” unites two schools with vastly different socio-economic, ethnic and geographic dynamics. Mr. Ramon Riley is connecting students from both schools to share in the arts community. 




PROF Proud to Support the FIRST Lego League Robotics Program

LegoLeauge.jpgFIRST Lego League is a robotics program for students aged 9-14. In this program, students learn thinking processes required in fields of STEM, as shown through competitions in Robot Game and Research Projects as well as the Core Values culture that ties this program together. The theme for the 2015-2016 season is Trash Trek!

Last season, the first-ever FLL team at PRMS ranked 18 out of 65 teams at the Western PA FLL tournament, the second highest ranking rookie team at the competition! The students grew enormously throughout the season individually, and as a group, and really were a great start to FLL at PR. We hope to be as successful in future years!


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