City Charter High School Takes 2nd Place in International Competition – Moscow

City Charter High School

As Solicitor for City Charter High School – Pittsburgh,  I’m proud to attach an article from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette regarding the schools “SAGE” team, which finished 2nd in international competition held in Moscow.

The administration and staff at City Charter High School have created an environment and culture that allows the students to fulfill their potential at all levels.

City Charter High School

Adviser Maureen Anderson checks Bryce Johnson’s tie as the City Charter High School’s SEED (Students Encouraging Environmentalism Downtown) team prepares to rehearse its winning presentation for its appearance at the Pittsburgh School Board. The group won second place in the Students for the Advancement of Global Entrepreneurship’s (SAGE) worldwide competition in Moscow last summer.

 

By Eleanor Chute / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

As a high school student, Bryce Johnson of Brighton Heights didn’t always see himself as able to help change the world.

But as part of a City Charter High School team that won international recognition, he knows he has.

“We’re making a pretty large impact, and I love it,” Bryce said.

The team, which started an environmental business, came in second among contestants representing 14 countries at the SAGE World Cup competition in Moscow last month, when six members presented. SAGE stands for Students for Advancement of Global Entrepreneurship.

Last week, wearing blue-and-green coordinated competition attire, the team shared its carefully timed 12-minute presentation with the board of the Downtown high school.

The team, which is part of an after-school activity, earned the right to compete by winning the national championship in the social enterprise business category, one of two in the competition.

The students’ business is called SEED — Students Encouraging Environmentalism Downtown. The organization contracts with City High to collect materials for recycling, including old newspapers, other paper, plastic salad containers and various materials at the school.

The students collect from the five floors of the school on Stanwix Street and see that items are in the loading dock area for pickup. The students figure they collect five tons of materials each month. They estimate they have saved 1,600 trees in 2 1/?2 years.

The school pays more than $7,000 a year for their services. Of its annual income, more than half goes to scholarships to the school’s SAGE students, 37.5 percent to business and competition expenses and 10 percent for charitable donations and other expenses. Last year, SAGE distributed more than $4,500 in scholarships.

To go to Moscow, the group relied on about $20,000 in donations, including foundation and business support.

“It was a remarkable experience, given the state of global politics,” said Maureen Anderson, a City High teacher who, along with teacher Ted Zatezalo, went to Moscow with the students.

“It was without borders and barriers,” she said, noting competitors included students from Russia and Ukraine.

The team earned the honor to compete in Moscow by winning the national competition in May at the University of Pittsburgh. Last year, it also took first place in the nationals in Cincinnati, but the team ended up not going to the international competition in Nigeria because of safety concerns after a State Department travel warning stemming from an unstable political climate.

DeVaughn Davis, a senior from the North Side, was one of three current team members who would have gone to Nigeria. He said missing the competition only made him more determined to win this time.

At the competition, the students — some of whom hadn’t been out of the country before or even taken an airplane trip — made friends from around the world, some of whom they still contact on Facebook. They particularly got to know the Irish team, which ended up placing first with a business with water-saving devices.

Sam Richardson, a junior from Friendship, said she had never thought she’d leave the state, let alone the continent.

“It was pretty eye-opening to me,” said Bryce, who said he met some “awesome people.”

Santina Beneditti, a junior from Banksville, said, ”The best thing I learned was seeing the different cultures.“

Morgan Crist, a senior from Sarver, said she is “super, super proud” of having helped to form a business, something the group had ‘‘no idea“ about how to do beforehand.

Logan O’Hara, a sophomore from Brookline, said the competition has inspired him to want to continue building the business and develop leadership skills.

The team is working on developing a new product, likely related to energy conservation. And it is hoping to compete in South Korea next year.

City High’s SAGE group includes about 30 students and a wider array of activities than the business alone. It has made donations to various organizations, including collaborating with students in Burkina Faso, a small West African country, and contributing to charities ranging from Tree Pittsburgh to Heifer International. Members also have helped to clean up city parks and volunteer in community activities.

 

The Civil Case is Still Alive After Ford Found Not Guilty

DA’s decision on retrial of man shot by police overshadows civil lawsuit

Zappala 

Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. will play a key role in whether Leon Ford gets a chance at millions of dollars from a civil lawsuit against Pittsburgh before a federal jury even hears the facts of the case, legal experts said on Tuesday.

An Allegheny County jury on Monday acquitted Ford, 21, of Shaler of aggravated assault and deadlocked on five other counts related to a November 2012 traffic stop in Highland Park. He remains charged with recklessly endangering another person, resisting arrest and escape.

Zappala has until Sept. 26 to tell Common Pleas Judge Donald E. Machen whether his office will retry Ford on those charges.

“If the DA decides not to pursue the charges, it’s a win for the defense,” Downtown lawyer Steven Townsend said. “The city might as well open its checkbook.”

If Zappala pursues and Ford is convicted of any of the remaining charges, that could be “detrimental” to the civil case, Townsend said, because “it makes the officers’ actions justified.”

Ford, who is black, was paralyzed on Nov. 11, 2012, when Pittsburgh police Officer David Derbish shot him five times in what the officer said was self-defense. Ford’s attorneys said the three white officers unnecessarily escalated the situation.

Ford will retain at least some of his claims in his federal lawsuit against the city regardless of whether prosecutors pursue the remaining charges against him, including that the officers used excessive force and unlawfully stopped him, Downtown attorney Joel Sansone said.

Ford’s civil case is “very strong,” Sansone said.

Exactly how much a jury could award Ford remains a guess. Local lawyers estimated a seven-figure pay day.

A gag order that remains in the criminal case prevented Ford’s civil lawyer, Monte Rabner, from commenting. Howard McQuillan, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 1, city public safety spokeswoman Sonya Toler and Mike Manko, a spokesman for the district attorney, all declined to comment.

Councilman Ricky Burgess said Ford’s case highlighted the city’s racial divide and a lack of diversity among the rank-and-file officers. It also furthered a “false narrative” that has caused a distrust between the community and police, which leaders are working to mend, Burgess said.

Court settlements and judgments are paid out of the city’s general fund. The city sets aside $1.6 million a year for that, said Tim McNulty, spokesman for Mayor Bill Peduto.

Tim Stevens, chairman of the Black Political Empowerment Project, implored Zappala to dismiss the remaining charges against Ford. “We feel that the fact that Mr. Ford will never walk again is unto itself reason enough to not refile the charges in this unfortunate incident,” he said.

He added that it “will also provide an opportunity for some level of healing within our African-American communities between the community and the police.”

Adam Brandolph is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412- 391-0927 or abrandolph@tribweb.com.