BRISTOL BOROUGH >> The Academic Oversight Committee (AOC) has had a busy fall and winter season working with the administration and faculty of the Bristol Borough School District and St. Mark School providing academic support to the students attending Bristol Borough’s public and parochial schools, despite the impact of COVID-19.
The AOC is a community oversight board focused on providing academic enrichment. Its mission is to lead and serve the educational community in Bristol Borough to enable each student to grow into an inspired, productive, fulfilled lifelong learner. The AOC’s core focus is to provide essential extra-services not covered by a 21st Century Community Learning Center grant awarded to the Bristol Borough School District by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.
AOC Board members include community leaders such as Bristol Borough’s current Mayor Joe Saxton, former Police Chief Arnie Porter, former MLB player Jeff Manto, former teachers Mary Gesualdi, Ron Sherrat, Deb Fine and Mike Girard, Bucks County Community College administrator James Sell and Assistant Professor Alison Angelaccio, local artist Rose Marie Strippoli, de-facto administration officials from the local schools including Superintendent of Bristol Borough Schools, Dr. Rose Minniti and Principal of St. Mark School, Mrs. Maria Sanson, and others.
This year marked the AOC’s 10th year of operation. During the past decade, it has funded many programs otherwise not available such as STEM enrichment, Microsoft Certification delivered in a partnership with the Bucks County Community College, environmental sciences, and special events like sailing trips on the A.J. Meerwold, the State of New Jersey’s official tall ship, providing Bristol Borough students an opportunity to experience the Delaware River like never before and learn about the environmental benefits this local waterway provides.
Hands-on cooking programs are very popular and delivered by local chef Sue Duffy Arroyo. Originally delivered only at St. Mark School, food preparation courses have generated increasing demand and are now delivered to students attending all Bristol Borough schools. Chef Sue says this is “because of the virus and more people at home”, plus the benefits of “technology allow me to deliver programming virtually so more students can participate”.
Chef Sue’s courses are culinary adventures combining fun with cooking facts students can use at home to help with meal preparation. Besides introducing tips to bring out the natural flavors of food, students learn the economics of buying food, the health benefits of balanced meal-planning, and the mathematics involved with measuring ingredients, all essential for cooking.
The AOC also organizes the Student of the Year and Teacher of the Year Awards. Announced in October, this year’s Student of the Year is Bristol High School senior Maria Bernadette Evardone.
Evardone not only excels academically in the classroom, but she is actively involved in the community volunteering with the homeless, tutoring students after-school, and helps senior-citizens. Evardone will be awarded a $1,000 scholarship to attend the college of her choice in recognition of her academic accomplishments and community volunteerism by the AOC at graduation.
Teachers of the Year included Jeannine McGee, St. Mark School 4th-grade teacher and Lynn Ciotti, Warren Snyder-John Girotti Elementary School, 4th-grade teacher. Rosie Parmigiani was posthumously recognized for her many years as principal of the Warren Snyder-John Girotti Elementary School. The teachers received an honorarium from a local business leader, agency owner of the Farmers Insurance _Steve Mooney Agency on Mill Street in Bristol Borough. Mooney is also President of the Bristol Borough Business Association.
The AOC funded programming for Bristol Borough students totaling $17,752 in 2019.
All of the programming and activity provided by the AOC is made possible through continuous fundraising. In a typical year, two annual fundraisers are held to raise money. Like everything else that changed because of COVID-19, the AOC was not able to host its popular annual fundraisers – the June “Jazz on the River Concert” and November “Bristol Fall Classic” – canceled due to the pandemic.
Instead, the AOC sponsored the No-Go Bristol Fall Classic Raffle raising more than $20.000. Launched September 30, more than 350 tickets were sold at $75 per ticket. Three winners were selected on December 8. They were second-place winner, St. Mark School Faculty receiving $1,000; first-place winner, Pat Mulhern, owner of Driftwood Water Adventures, receiving $2,000; and the grand-prize winner, Fred Baumgarten, the owner of Grundy Commons, receiving $5,000.
The Board of the AOC thanks everyone who showed their support for education by purchasing a raffle ticket.