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H1N1 flu shots efforts a success at Lehighton schools

  • STACEY SOLT/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS Lehighton Area School District school board president David Krause, left, stands with the board's three retiring members. Second from left, Dene Smith, Frank Ruch (current vice president), and James Holland.
    STACEY SOLT/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS Lehighton Area School District school board president David Krause, left, stands with the board's three retiring members. Second from left, Dene Smith, Frank Ruch (current vice president), and James Holland.
Published November 24. 2009 05:00PM

During last night's meeting of the Lehighton Area School District school board, Superintendent James Kraky recognized the districts H1N1 flu vaccination efforts. Every student in the district was able to receive a free influenza vaccine earlier this month with written permission from a parent. Staff members were also offered the vaccine.

"It's a direct reflection of the outstanding nursing team we have at Lehighton Area School District," said Kraky. "They had every 't' crossed and every 'i' dotted. It ran like absolute clockwork."

He noted that other school districts have since approached Lehighton, seeking advice on how to implement a vaccination program.

"It's really an example of the great community that Lehighton Area School District has," added Kraky, as he presented certificates of appreciation to each of the district's nurses.

District nurses taking part in the vaccination program included Avril Guardiani,

Colleen Harleman, Kathy Lloyd, Lori German, Deana Blasiak, and Michelle Lobien. Additional volunteers who helped with the program included Evelyn Semanoff, Ruth Kresge, Kyle Smith, Doris Schaeffer, Joanne Mitzen, Christine Remaley. Kraky also thanked members of Blue Mountain Health Systems for their help: Debra Greenwood, Debra Neff, Teri Sebelin, and Denise Rehrig.

The board also recognized three retiring board members during the meeting. Members James Holland, Frank Ruch (current vice president), and Dene Smith were recognized and presented with a plaque.

Each was involved in several committee groups throughout their four year term, and spent a great deal of time taking part in the district's interviews and hiring process, noted board President David Krause.

"I came on the board with them four years ago. We came on as a group, and we've been through a lot together," he said. "At the end of the day, it was the will of the board that mattered and we moved on to the next issue."

Ruch was recently elected as a Mahoning Township Supervisor and offered his official resignation during the meeting. The board accepted his resignation, effective December 7.

Retired teacher Larry Hill addressed the board early in the meeting, questioning a petition to remove baseball coach George Harris. He noted that several complaints have been made against Harris, all which Hill said were false. Members of the baseball team approached the board earlier this year with a petition to remove the coach.

"Eleven JV guys stood in front of you, never playing under this coach," he said. "I think that some boys need to be called on the carpet here. They've gone too far."

Hill stated that he had the batting averages of each team member, and understood the strengths and weaknesses of each kid. He alleged that the members and parents complaining about Harris were upset that their children were not playing often enough.

"It's a little ridiculous," he said. "I'd like to know what the purpose of interscholastic sports is? I thought it was for building character. This is not building character. This stuff is bogus."

Hill noted that Harris had created a winning baseball team in the past two years, something Lehighton hasn't seen in more than 20 years.

"We were on the verge of a championship team. That won't happen now," said Hill. "Every Sunday night, he and his assistant were down at the baseball academy training these kids. That's why they were a championship team."

He added that he wasn't here to support Harris, but to question the board's reaction to the petition.

"Something needs to be done. Who's next? Football coaches, basketball coaches?" asked Hill. "I hope that when you pick a coach, it's not a High School Harry who knows about as much as the kids know."

Krause noted after the meeting that the position of baseball coach has been posted, and that any interested candidates are welcome to apply. Harris was never removed from the position, but coaches must reapply each year.

"Coaches apply each year. These jobs are posted each year," he said. "If there are applicants, we interview the new candidates and the existing coach."

Krause noted that the hiring process is now underway for all spring sports, whose teams are currently in off-season training.

"We want to move on this pretty quickly," he said.

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