I would like to begin this week’s column by congratulating Vince Skillings as the newly hired Derry Area football coach.

The Derry Area Board of Education voted unanimously to hire Skillings at Thursday’s regularly scheduled meeting.

Skillings, a former Derry Area High School standout athlete and 1977 graduate, played his college football career at Ohio State University and was later selected by Dallas Cowboys in the sixth round of the NFL Draft.

Under former Derry Area head coach Joe Bellissimo, Skillings became an integral part of the 1974 Foothills Conference Championship football team.

In addition to football, Skillings was also a phenomenal track athlete, winning a couple state championships while at Derry Area.

After the school board meeting, I asked Skillings how it felt to be the new head football coach.

“I’m very honored, and it’s a dream come true,” Skillings said. “I had always hoped to be the head coach at my alma mater, and that’s what makes it a lot more appreciated.

“I’m glad that my first head coaching job is at Derry (Area) because when I win a WPIAL championship, I want it to be with Derry and not against them,” Skillings chuckled.

To read more about Vince Skillings, please check out Assistant Sports Editor Dan Scifo’s story in today’s Bulletin.

Here’s to wishing Skillings and his Trojans the best of luck in the upcoming season!

* * *

Derry Area High School Principal Casey Long recently sent in an excellent write-up that was written by high school Learning Support Teacher Dave McCleary that sums up the 2020 graduation festivities:

“Derry Area’s Class of 2020 has been busy attending graduation festivities that have been unique and special to this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The activities that the seniors have enjoyed would not have been possible without the support and generosity of so many businesses, groups and individuals in the Derry Area community.

“On May 15, Derry Area High School teachers traveled to the home of each Senior to place two graduation signs in their yard, one of which was personalized with the student’s name and senior picture. Special thanks to Elaine Henigan of The Henigan Studios for providing the pictures and D&Z Printers for all of their help and expedience in creating the yard signs and banners. The funding for these signs was secured by Derry Area Board of Education member Sean Kemmerer and the funds were provided by Kathy Crowe of Roundhouse Pizza and Brandon Smolka of Ameriserv Bank, as well as Mr. Kemmerer. Students were also provided with car decorating kits, arranged by Angie Bumar, for the parade the following week.

“On May 22, seniors arrived at Derry Area High School in their decorated cars where they were presented with their favorite lunch, General Tso’s Chicken and a slushy, provided by food service director Gwen Kozar and her cafeteria staff. Cupcakes and snacks were also donated by Lisa Fury and Smith Bus Company drivers and graduation cookies were provided by Kristen Jones. The luncheon was funded by members of the Derry Area community at the request and organization of Mary Chemski. Their generous donations not only paid for the luncheon, but also the car decorating kits, parking lot and parade decorations, school banners for fire trucks, balloons, and the Class of 2020 banner featuring all of the members of the class.

“After the students picked up their caps and gowns and honors regalia they had their lunches and lined up for a parade through the district. Special thanks to Chief Mark Piantine for creating the parade route and the Derry, Bradenville and New Alexandria Volunteer Fire Departments for providing traffic control and joining the parade. Thanks also to Derry Borough Police Chief Randy Glick and his department, Mutual Aid, Pennsylvania State Police and Smith Bus Company for participating in the parade as well. Derry Township Supervisors Vince DeCario, Dave Slivka and Jim Prohaska also provided logistical support and helped to coordinate the parade timing and route.

“Numerous businesses provided their parking areas for parade viewers including St. Martin’s Church, St. Rose Church, Derry Subway, Barb Thompson Early Literacy Center, Rite Aid, Taps ‘N At, George Bush Kitchen Center, Barkley’s Ice Cream, Moxie’s Ice Cream, Chef Dato’s, Dollar General, Palombo’s, EWCTC, Huss Chiropractic, Wash ‘Um, and the Derry Township Supervisor Building.

“Derry Area community members didn’t let a little rain stop them from coming out in droves to stand along the parade route and cheer or sit in their cars and honk their horns in support of the graduates. Many thanks also to the businesses and organizations that put special messages on their sign boards to be seen along the parade route.

“This past Monday, Derry Area’s graduates were presented with their diploma covers in a special drive by ceremony along the front of the high school. Graduates were announced as they walked the blue and gold carpet and were handed their diplomas by Board President David Krinock and Derry Area Superintendent Eric Curry.

“Family members had multiple picture opportunities along the way. Again, the balloons, flowers, banners, blue and gold carpeting, Trojan Pride backdrop, and Class of 2020 display were all funded through the contributions of Mrs. Chemski’s generous donors. The ceremony was live streamed by Derry alumnus Dan Flickinger and Westmoreland Sports Network. The event went smoothly thanks to the exceptional efforts of the Derry Area custodial and maintenance staff, secretaries, technology department, Junior Class Officers, Board and administration and the Bradenville and Derry Volunteer Fire Departments.

“Many thanks also to Rob Rockwell and Pitstop Pizza for posting a video presentation on their electronic sign board featuring Derry Area graduates during both the parade and the drive-up diploma activities. The presentation was created by graduating senior, Kylie Sliva.

“This Tuesday, Baccalaureate services featuring members of the Derry clergy and Derry Area student will be live streamed at 7 p.m. On Wednesday, the 2020 Online Graduation Ceremony will be released at 7 p.m., followed by the premier of the 2020 Senior Slide Show.

“On behalf of the Class of 2020, thank you to EVERYONE that has contributed to this year’s graduation activities. Our seniors and their families have been reminded in a wonderful way what a caring and special community they have grown up in and have had the honor of representing for the last 13 years.

“Seniors, congratulations! This chapter of your lives may not have ended exactly as you expected, but the greatest chapters of your lives are yet to be written. Write them well. You make us all Very Derry Proud.”

* * *

The Derry Township Supervisors have announced that the municipal building will reopen to the public on Monday, June 8, as per the guidelines set by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which includes wearing a mask. Office hours are 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

The next regular meeting will be open to the public, 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 7.

* * *

This next announcement was sent in by Tish Rossi, president of St. Joseph Altar Rosary Society:

The parishioners of the Partner Parishes of St. Martin in New Derry and St. Joseph in Derry recently honored their Pastor, Father Sam Lamendola, on the 30th Anniversary of his Ordination to the Priesthood on Tuesday, May 26. A surprise celebratory parade of decorated cars filled with parishioners from both parishes, led by the Bradenville fireman and local police, streamed by Father Sam at his rectory in New Derry in recognition of his special day. Father Sam has been pastor of St. Martin and St. Joseph since 2017. Thanks to all who participated in this celebration and congratulations to Father Sam!

* * *

If your child will be attending kindergarten at Grandview Elementary School in the fall of 2020, online registration is now open. To register your child, go to bit.ly/gvearlykregistration.

For additional information, assistance or questions regarding registration, call 724-694-2400 ext. 1103 or email wciocco@dasd.us.

* * *

Grandview Elementary School is accepting applications for the free Pre-K Counts program for the 2020-21 school year. This program is for eligible 3- and -4-year-olds residing in the Derry Area School District. Spaces are limited.

For an application, go to dasd.us and select Pre-K Counts Application on the left-hand side of the home page. Applications are also available at Grandview Elementary School.

Eligibility guidelines for family size and annual income are listed on the Derry Area Early Childhood Facebook page.

* * *

Derry Area School District continues to offer no-cost meals during the coronavirus (COVID-19) school closure.

The no-cost meals are available regardless of income level or school attendance to students and any other district residents under the age of 18.

The district offers a drive-through service at Derry Area High School and provide delivery services to four locations throughout the district Monday through Friday.

A lunch for the current day and a breakfast for the next day, will be available throughout the duration of the school closure.

Drive-through service will be offered at the high school cafeteria entrance in the school’s rear parking lot from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Meal deliveries will be made Monday through Friday on the following schedule: 1116 Murtha Way from 10:30 to 10:45 a.m.; Holiday Acres at Scott Court by the playground from 11 to 11:15 a.m.; Derry Area Community Center (Germano Hall) from 11:30 a.m. to 11:45 p.m., and Dogwood Mobile Home Park on Earl Drive from 12 to 12:15 p.m. Delivery time frames are estimates and may require adjustments.

* * *

The 5th annual DARCee Car Show will be held rain or shine from noon until 4 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 2, at the Derry Borough Community Park. Gates open at 10 a.m.

All cars, trucks and motorcycles welcome. Dash plaques for the first 100 vehicles to arrive on the day of the show. Trophies will be award to the top three place finishers in each class as well as Best of Show. Additionally, there will be three Kids Choice Awards.

Cost of the event is $6 if pre-registered by July 25 or $10 at the gate. There will be a Chinese auction and 50/50 drawing.

* * *

Latrobe-Derry Area Teener League opens its season today, June 5, with a doubleheader starting at 5:30 p.m.

With social distancing in mind, fans are permitted to attend, as the league will operate under the Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines.

FOE and VFW square off in the first game, while Frontier Club and St. Anthony’s are schedule to battle in the second (weather permitting).

Each of the 10 teams will play an 18-game schedule with playoffs scheduled to follow.

According to Tom Batcho, the concession stand will be open under CDC guidelines and social distancing requirements.

Batcho also wanted to thank all the sponsors who have donated in one way or another to the league this season.

The following is a list of sponsors who have contributed to the league: Pit Stop, Kuhns Electric, The Fasteners Shop, Blue Sky Signs, Schultheis Electric, Lowes, Derry Township Supervisiors, Hartman Funeral Home, Frederick Funeral Home, Griffin Janitoral Supplies, Ligonier Construction, CM Paving, Mullen Refrigeration, Champion Kitchen, Aroma Italiano, Latrobe-GLSD Parks and Recreations .

In addition, Batcho wanted to thank everyone who helped with getting the field ready, including Pat Papuga, Jim and Eric Smolleck.

* * *

The Village at Chestnut Highlands will hold a community garage sale from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. June 19-20.

The garage sales takes place at participating residents homes, located along Route 30 East to Route 982 North in Derry Township thru Bradenville and left on Greenfield Road and right onto Everview Lane.

* * *

Have a great weekend!

* * *

Derry Diary items may be emailed to liberoni@aol.com.

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