Influential women of Colonia High School

In+the+USA%2C+International+Womens+Day+has+been+recognized+since+1911+but+wasnt+commemorated+until+1978.

Photo Credit: Photo via wikipedia under creative commons license

In the USA, International Women’s Day has been recognized since 1911 but wasn’t commemorated until 1978.

By: Sofia Grasso, Club Reporter

As many already know, the month of March is Women’s History Month. During this month-long celebration, we get to look back on the amazing contributions women have made throughout history.

We especially set time aside to learn more about the women who have worked to improve this world. In this same way, we can use this month to reflect on the impact women have made on a schoolwide basis. To do this, I sat down with some of the female teachers at CHS who have contributed to the improvement of our school and community in some way.

Mrs. Brennan

One woman that Colonia is proud to call a part of our community is Mrs. Brennan. She is co-advisor of one of the most popular and involved clubs at CHS,¬†Interact Club. I was lucky enough to meet with her and discuss all that she does for our community. If you don’t know about the Interact Club already, I’ll break down their main goals for you. The Interact Club’s main purpose is to, in Mrs. Brennan’s words, allow students to “develop a service mindset while also building relationships with other students.”

As we all know, it’s very important to get involved in your community, but in Mrs. Brennan’s eyes, it goes beyond just looking good on resumes. As the advisor of Interact, she hopes to help students recognize all of the good that comes from having that “service mindset”. Additionally, she believes that it will help students not only succeed but will also improve their happiness.

Mrs. Brennan is extremely proud of all of the hard work that the students in Interact put towards the service projects that the club takes on. Her greatest pride comes from watching students develop a passion for the projects they take part in.

Mrs. Brennan is inspired most by her mother, who even at age 91, still has such a “zest for life”. Her mother was the first to instill the idea of a “service mindset” into her head. Growing up, Mrs. Brennan’s mom always found a way to look at things positively, which is impressive when taking into account the fact that she had 5 children in less than 5 years and was a stay-at-home mom.

Mrs. DelPortal

Another amazing woman in the CHS community is Mrs. DelPortal, who along with Mr. Chester, runs the Minithon. The Minithon is based on Four Diamonds, an organization that stands for courage, strength, wisdom, and honesty. This organization works in conquering childhood cancer, whether that’s through assisting patients or covering bills, especially at the Penn State University Hospital. The CHS Minithon does many fundraisers a year to support this same cause. Their annual goal is to achieve 6 hours of dancing, fun, and interaction between students all while spreading awareness about childhood cancer.

Mrs. DelPortal’s favorite thing to see as advisor of the CHS Minithon is to see students take pride in their work when carrying out fundraisers. She says that especially last year, the Minithon community was so strong and the students were so dedicated to what they were doing, which made her really proud.

Mrs. DelPortal has been a teacher at Colonia High School for 24 years and says that what makes her happiest about being part of this community is how much of a family we are. She feels as if her fellow teachers are always looking out for her and keeping her best interest at heart, which makes it an amazing atmosphere to work in.

Her biggest inspirations as a woman are from her own family. She has always been inspired by her mother, who although had Mrs. DelPortal at a late age always encouraged her to stay determined, motivated, and kind. She is also inspired by her two sisters, who she loves very much.

Mrs. Platko

I also had the honor of interviewing Mrs. Platko, who directs the Fall Play and the Spring Musical for the CHS Theater Department. Mrs. Platko describes the theater community as a balance between a “safe place for students” and a “professional working environment”. This allows for people to feel welcome while still learning something they can apply to their acting careers outside of school (if they wish).

Mrs. Platko loves being a part of the community that Colonia High School has become. She is grateful to get to do what she loves every day. She even called herself a “self-proclaimed learning junkie”, and a “Nerd” who enjoys sharing her knowledge of theater with her students. The staff has been extremely welcoming towards her. She says that she’s “made lifelong friends amongst (her) colleagues” as well. In addition, she explained that “there is something to be said about being able to look forward to coming into the building each day”. She has experienced jobs where the environment was not very healthy to be working in, which gives her even more confidence now in calling our high school a place where she feels “at home”.

Mrs. Platko takes pride in not only her actors and students but also in herself. She was very proud of how she adjusted to teaching during the pandemic, and how much she improved as a teacher because of it. She believes that having that experience under her belt has made her a “more compassionate and empathetic teacher”. To add, she explained that it’s helped her become more creative with her lessons.

We talked a lot about ‘doing your homework’ because rehearsal doesn’t end when we send the cast home. This means that the actors and performers need to review their choreography, practice their vocals, and memorize their lines/blocking on their own time. This year, our cast has definitely done their homework.

Platko is also proud of how much “ownership” this year’s cast in the spring musical has taken over their work. She’s excited to get to show everyone the beauty that can come out of a cast that “does their homework”.

Mrs. Platko looks up to many women in her life, but she has two who may inspire her most. She has always looked up to her former high school theater teacher, whose name is Margo Crupi. A lot of her work ethic as a director was based on what she was taught by Crupi. She stays in touch with Crupi to this day and says that later in her life, she was truly a “mentor”.

The other woman who inspires Mrs. Platko is Betty White. Her years of success as an actress proved to many women that you don’t have to fit society’s image of beauty to make it in the industry. She always spoke up for what she believed in, which is something Mrs. Platko greatly admires. Betty White also supported the popularization of animal rescues, which is something that Mrs. Platko is a part of. Mrs. Platko works with a rescue called Husky House occasionally to help provide a better life for animals in need.

Ms. Lee

I also interviewed the beloved Ms. Lee, who is a track & field coach, tennis coach, and math teacher at Colonia High School. She is so grateful for all of the support that the CHS community has shown her, and says that it may even be her favorite part about working here. She is passionate about everything she does in our community and loves helping her students improve, whether that’s when she’s coaching or teaching.

The proudest she has been in her time at Colonia was when her tennis team made a comeback from their losing record at the time and became a “winning team”. She says that was an amazing experience to watch them get better over time and gain confidence in themselves as well as respect from others.

Ms. Lee looks up to her mother and her college coach for the same reason. In Ms. Lee’s eyes, these two women are “both strong and independent”. She says that it is because of them that she has become the woman she is, as they taught her to always hold her head high.

Mrs. DiChiara

The last outstanding woman I interviewed was Mrs. DiChiara, our, as of very recently, new vice-principal. She is extremely passionate about “integrating the freshmen” into the school and making them feel welcomed and accepted.

As vice principal, Mrs. DiChiara has prioritized qualities such as diversity, equity, and empowerment in the CHS community. She takes pride in the way that we include upperclassmen in incorporating these qualities into lessons that students will pay attention to. To become a part of these decisions to embrace inclusion in the education system, upperclassmen have opportunities to join things like CJCEE, Peer Leadership, and the Diversity Team.

Additionally, because she was Head of the English Department before becoming Vice Principal, she is always very proud during the Poetry Slams. She says that it’s always inspiring to see such brave students read their innermost thoughts aloud in the “purest” of forms. She continued by explaining that the poetry slams are a beautiful representation of “artistry” in youth. The message that Mrs, DiChiara conveyed here was extremely powerful, and I was touched by the viewpoint that she shared.

One woman that Mrs. DiChiara looks up to is the former vice-principal of Colonia High School, Mrs. Murphy. She says that Mrs. Murphy has been an amazing mentor to her in life, guiding her through many situations, and helping her learn from any mistake she may make. She’s grateful to have Mrs. Murphy in her life, as she is such a positive person. What’s so beautiful about their relationship is that it’s a great example of women supporting and “building each other up” in Mrs. Dichiara’s words, especially in the education setting.

Overview

These women have given me perspective on what it truly is to be a leader and to embrace the Three C’s of Colonia: Character, Community, and Commitment. Without them, our school would not be the same. They deserve a ginormous thank you for all the time and dedication they put into their work. These women are individuals I have such admiration and respect for. They are excellent examples for young women in the Colonia Community. It was a pleasure to learn more about these notable women whom we’re honored with the presence of at CHS.