Dunmorean of the Month: Kayleigh Semion

 

kayleighBy Steve Svetovich

Dunmore High School graduate Kayleigh Semion could have played Division II or III college basketball just about wherever she wanted, but her dream was to go to Penn State.

When she enrolled at Penn State she thought her basketball career could be over, but it wasn’t. Now the 2015 Times-Tribune Player of Year is really living her dream.

She is a key member of the Penn State University women’s club basketball team.

And while it is not Division I varsity level, this team plays a brand of highly competitive basketball with six to eight tournaments throughout the year. The team practices at least two hours three nights per week.

Daughter of Sherry Nicolais and step-daughter of Mark Nicolais, Kayleigh, 20, is a sophomore Kinesiology major with aspirations to eventually become a physical therapist.

An All Regional and second team All State point guard at Dunmore in her senior season, she had opportunities to play division II or III college basketball, but her dream was to attend Penn State.

Then the opportunity came to tryout for the club basketball team. The tryout was competitive and intense, but Kayleigh, a sophomore at Penn State, made the roster. Now she gets to attend Penn State and play basketball.

With over 1,200 career points at Dunmore, she quickly became a key member of the club basketball team. She averaged 14.0 points, 5.0 assists and 4.0 steals per game in her senior season at Dunmore and is playing that same type of game for the Penn State club team. She averaged 8.0 points and 4.5 assists mostly coming off the bench for the club team this season.

She helped her Penn State club team place in third place in the National Intramural Recreational Sports Association Championship tournament last month at Ohio State University. Her team beat Virginia Tech, Ohio University and the University of Connecticut, but lost to Air Force. She came off the bench to score 13 points against Virginia Tech.

Kayleigh was named to the All-Tournament team following the Regional Championship Tournament at Boston University earlier this year. Her Penn State club team won that tournament.

“It is very competitive basketball,” she said. ” It is on the level of division II or III college basketball. We practice hard and get to go away to games. We get to practice all the time. The games are highly competitive. The players love to compete. It is a terrific experience. And it is great representing Penn State.”

Breana Toro, former Lackawanna League all-star from Abington Heights, is a member of her club team.

Two of the girls on the club team were promoted to the Penn State varsity roster after injuries to players last season. Most of the girls on the club team attend the varsity games.

And Kayleigh is even a manager for the Penn a State varsity team.

“I will do anything I can to stay in the game,” she said. “I love basketball.”

The scholar-athlete has an impressive 3.8 grade point average at Penn State. She takes a lot of what Dunmore coach Ben O’Brien instilled in her. “He taught me about work ethic . He is really into what he does as a coach. He really helped me as a basketball player.”

Kayleigh also ran track at Dunmore and was a twirler.

She and her two sisters Brittany and Meredith learned twirling from her mom, a prominent twirling instructor in Dunmore.

“My mom always teaches me to go after whatever I want in life 110 percent at a time. She tells me to go after it full speed.”

Personable and full of life, Kayleigh knows she is living her dream at Penn State. “I love it here,” she said. “I always dreamed of going here. I look around and here I am. I love the atmosphere here. And I still get to play basketball.”

Kayleigh said she likes listening to music in her spare time. She would like to see Ed Sheeran in concert.

And while she continues to do what she loves at her dream college, Kayleigh thinks of her future. “I want to get into a physical therapy school after graduation. It is highly competitive, but I want to become a physical therapist.”

And competition seems to be something Kayleigh Semion thrives on.

 

Dunmoreans of the Month: Alec Yanisko and Joe Del Vecchio

Dunmoreans of the Month - Joe and Alec

By Steve Svetovich

Whether it was an act of heroism or being in the right place at the right time, two Dunmore teens showed smart judgement in alerting authorities to find missing U.S. District Judge Edwin Kosik.

Alec Yanisko, 15, son of Steve and Stacey Yanisko, a Dunmore High School freshman, and Joe Del Vecchio, 18, son of Dave and Denise Del Vecchio, a Dunmore High School junior, discovered Judge Kosik’s gray 2015 Acura RDX in a wooded area off Tigue Street in Dunmore around 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 30.

After finding identity inside the vehicle, the teens went back to Del Vecchio’s home and notified police.

Law enforcement agencies immediately drove to the scene, including a Dunmore Police Department canine unit. The search dog picked up Judge Kosik’s scent and located him about 100 yards away.

The two teens were riding ATVs around the Dunmore Reservoir before stumbling upon the missing judge’s  vehicle. The jurist had been missing in the cold without food or water for two days.

kosickU.S. marshals said Judge Kosik, 91, had been taking medication for memory loss and was last seen entering Bill’s ShopRite on the Daleville Highway in Covington Township late Tuesday night, March 28.

“These two boys are being called heroes in the borough,” said Dunmore Mayor Patrick “Nibs” Loughney when contacted by The Dunmorean. “They were in the right place at the right time.

“And fortunately for Judge Kosik, they did not walk away from this potentially tragic situation. They used good judgement and did some work on their own. They checked the vehicle, found identification and went to work. They went to one of the boy’s homes and immediately called police. They alerted police to the scene. They acted quick and responsibly.

“The two teens should be commended for what they did. The borough is very thankful and we will express that gratitude in some way.

“We are very proud of those two young men and their parents.”

Alec Yanisko, an honor student and lineman on the Dunmore Bucks freshman football team, said he enjoys the outdoors, especially fishing, hunting and ATV riding. He would like to eventually study plumbing and heating at Johnson School of Technology.

When contacted by The Dunmorean, he said, “I don’t know for sure if you can consider us heroes, but we were at the right place at the right time.

“It was going to rain that night and we weren’t even going to go out. But we had nothing to do, so we went out on our ATVs. It was raining and we pulled over. We spotted the car and found identification inside. We went to Joe’s parents house and called the police. We showed them the car and then the canine dog found Judge Kosik.

“At first we were not sure if he would be found alive. He had been missing two days. It sure feels good he was found alive. We want to meet him and his family now.”

And then there was the reception of classmates at Dunmore High School Friday, March 31, the day after Judge Kosik was located. “The kids at school were tremendous,” said Alec. “They were calling us heroes and saying that we saved the judge. It was outstanding.”

Joe Del Vecchio, like his friend, also loves the outdoors, especially hunting, fishing and ATV riding. He is an honor student, hopes to eventually attend Penn State and wants to be a state trooper.

When contacted by The Dunmorean, he said, “It was going to rain that night, so we weren’t even going to ride our ATVs that night. But we were looking for something to do, so we decided to go,out. When we first spotted the car in the woods we were a little nervous. So we got the identification and immediately went back to my house. We told my dad about it and he helped us contact the police. We found out what was going on and were happy to help police locate the judge.

“As far as being called heroes, well, we were just happy to assist in finding the judge and help him out. We are happy he is okay. Now we just want to meet him.

“The kids at school were all excited the next day. They were all congratulating us. It was great.”

Judge Kosik was taken to Geisinger Medical Center for an examination after he was found. He was taking medication for memory loss. The judge was awake and aware authorities were around him at the time he was found.

Kosik had been a federal judge for over 30 years. Earlier this year, he transferred to inactive status due to health issues.

His disappearance touched a widespread search. A state police helicopter searched in the air. Electronic signs reported his license plate to passing motorists.

The boys located a Sam’s Club card bearing Kosik’s name inside the stuck vehicle. The windows of the car were found smashed. The boys checked the judge’s name on Facebook and found numerous news stories reporting the judge’s disappearance. That all led to authorities and the canine dog finding him.

Prior to his tenure on the federal bench, Kosik served as the Lackawanna County president judge from 1979 to 1986. During his three decades on the federal bench, Kosik presided over several high profile cases, including the “kids for cash” scandal.

Dunmorean of the Month: Alison Boga

 

dunmorean-of-the-month-alison-bogaBy Steve Svetovich

Alison Boga has always had an affection for senior citizens.

So it is not surprising when she accepted the position of executive director at the Dunmore Senior Center, 1414 Monroe Ave., Dunmore, this past December.

And the transition has been an easy one.

Daughter of Alice and the late William Boga, Alison succeeded long time Dunmore Senior Center executive director Jeanne Hugenbruch.

Boga worked under the highly respected Hugenbruch as activities coordinator at the Dunmore Senior Center from 2002 to 2007. She was an active volunteer at the Dunmore Senior Center until her recent appointment as executive director.

Boga, who graduated from West Scranton High School and attended Penn State University, has always found it rewarding working with senior citizens.

She worked as administrator of Amos Towers, Scranton, from 1995 to 2002.

“I have always gravitated towards senior citizens,” she said. “They are a lot of fun. I love to hear their stories and about what they did when they were young.”

Boga, who was a member of the marching band and orchestra in high school, worked as a financial assistant administrator for the Girl Scouts of America from 2007 through 2016 until her recent appointment.

She sees both old and new faces at the Dunmore Senior Center, also known as the Dunmore Activity Hub. “It is fun to be back here. A lot of people, sadly, are no longer with us. However, I do see a lot of familiar faces. I do love the new people and already feel like I formed a bond with them. It’s nice.”

The new executive director said she has many hobbies, including reading, gardening, the environment and running. She completed three straight Steamtown Marathons from 1999-2001. She also participated in numerous 5K runs.

She was co-chairperson of Scranton’s First Night in 2007. She ran the Senior Bingo in the second annual First Night and was an active volunteer from that point until the final First Night in 2016.

Boga was selected as Northeast Woman in November 2008.

She is looking forward to upcoming events at the Dunmore Senior Center, including the second annual Weekend of Arts Festival to be held October 13-14. The big event will be preceded by Purse Bingo October 1.

Another big event, said Boga, is the annual Pasta Dinner, May 11.

“The Weekend of Arts Festival was very successful last year and we are looking forward to it again.”

She is also looking forward to Summer Demo Days at the Dunmore Senior Center. “Members can try a number of different classes for free. They can try classes like Tai Chi or Oil Painting. There will be many options.”

She talked about the future of the Dunmore Senior Center. “The Baby Boomers are coming and they have a lot to offer. We want this to be the go to place for seniors. It is for seniors who want to learn and be innovative and progressive.”

There are currently 350 paid members of the Dunmore Senior Center.

Alison, who enjoys all kinds of music except country, said she always has been around seniors.

“I was always with my parents and around older people. It is just natural for me to be with older people. And I always found them interesting. I feel a certain bond with them. I honestly love being around them.”

Dunmorean of the Month: Vivian Cooper

vivian-cooper-1By Emily Fedor

600 fashion design students from around the country were in the running for the YMA Geoffrey Beene Scholarship. The highest honor, a $35,000 scholarship, was reserved for but one of them; that one designer turned out to be Dunmore’s own Vivian Cooper.

A 2013 graduate of Dunmore High School, Cooper is currently a senior fashion design major at Philadelphia University. Her interest in the arts, and more specifically designing, was sparked when she was young and surrounded by creative family members.

“My grandparents on my mom’s side were both artists and my mom is very artistic as well,” said Cooper. “So I grew up with tons of art supplies and creativity.”

Then when she was in 6th grade, she was given a Scholastic paper clothing craft book.

“I would design in it for hours,” said Cooper, “and eventually my parents got me sewing classes in 8th grade. I ended up sewing both of my prom dresses.

That love for creating and designing clothes brought Cooper to Philadelphia University. This year, the university was one of a number of schools chosen by the Fashion Scholarship Fund committee to apply for the annual Geoffrey Beene National Scholarship.

To take home the high honor, designers had to create a project that focused on the future of sustainability in the fashion industry, which one of Cooper’s major interests.

“I’m passionate about sustainable fashion and brands that support a mission instead of focusing totally on making the sale,” said Cooper. “Ultimately, fashion is a business, but it’s exciting to see the innovation that’s changing the market and helping companies sell product while also giving back to the community and environment.“

Cooper’s concept for the Geoffrey Beene Scholarship was called “Full Circle,  a junior’s swim and beachwear line sold at Target. Designs for the line would be made from recycled plastic bottles.

“The brand would get Target employees out into the communities and, in turn, invite communities to get involved in the bigger mission behind the line which is to reduce pollution in our oceans,” Cooper said.

A number of Cooper’s fellow PhilaU classmates also applied for the scholarship. Then out of that pool of students, the school would select one designer to represent the school in the next level of competition.

vivian-cooper-2

On January 12, Vivian Cooper was honored as a recipient of the the YMA Geoffrey Beene National Scholarship at an awards dinner in New York. Shown is Cooper, center, accepting her award from Geoffrey Beene brand ambassador, Kellan Lutz, and EVP of business development at Macy’s, Marc Mastronardi. (Credit: Philadelphia University)

Cooper’s fun but elegant design style, combined with her clever project pitch, earned her a spot in the next round. And out of that pool of national winners, Cooper made it into the top 8.

The YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund’s 80th annual Geoffrey Beene National Scholarship Awards Dinner was held on Thursday, January 12 in Manhattan. On that night, Cooper found out her work paid off, She received the night’s top honor a moment she recalls fondly as a true honor.

Following her graduation from PhilaU, Cooper aspires to work for a company that has a mission bigger than itself preferably one that shares her passion for transparency, sustainability and innovation.