The Grand Finale

After a shocking setback in March, NASH teamed up with Grandview Elementary one last time to embark on an unforgettable adventure.

Sierra O'Neil, Staff Writer

There was calmness in the air last Wednesday, as both Grandview Elementary in the Pittsburgh Public School District and North Allegheny students made their way up the steps of the yellow school bus. Starting off 16 miles apart, both schools were headed in the same direction.

After months of anticipation , the North Allegheny and Grandview trip to the Carnegie Science Center was finally taking place. Following the cancellation in March due to a Covid outbreak, the trip was long awaited.

The Grandview Mentoring program has been in existence for a decade, and its continuous goal is to bridge the education and food security gap that plagues America. Field trips increase critical thinking and grant students from low-income households equal opportunities.

Unlike the trip to Grandview Elementary in December of 2022, where students spent their time in the classroom working on math and English, the trip to the Science Center was be a uniquely interactive experience for the Grandview students.

NASH GOAL teacher and head of the Grandview mentoring program Mrs. Janellen Lombardi, whose sister teaches at Grandview, spoke about the difference between in-class learning and this type of field trip.

“When we tutor in the classroom, the teachers select lessons with difficult concepts where the children will benefit from one-on-one attention. At the Science Center, the children are able to explore the exhibits in a way that is interactive and different from the day-to-day routine,” Lombardi said.

The decade-long initiative has made a great impact on Grandview.

“I loved hosting the kids at NASH when they picked their lunch from our cafeteria, made hand-made pottery, and had a dance party in the Baierl Center,” Lombardi said.

Like Lombardi, NASH students have formed a close bond with the Grandview students.

NASH junior Megan Manesiotis, who did not attend the drip in December to the Grandview classroom, she loved getting to spend the day with her Grandview buddy for the first time.

“My buddy and I got into a huge water fight and started splashing each other. I swear I have not laughed that hard in a long time,” Manesiotis said.

NASH juniors, who have the option to continue with the Grandview program next year, got a glimpse of the difference that just a few hours with a younger student can make.

Angel Qu, a NASH junior, said, “My favorite memory was seeing the kids interact with each other. My buddy loved racing other kids in SportsWorks, even when he didn’t know them.”

Altogether, the Grandview and NA buddies had a shared learning experience.

“In their world, there is absolutely no reason not to talk to someone new — and when compared to the social cliques and intrinsic prejudices that start forming in middle school and beyond, I think we could learn quite a bit from these third-graders,” added Qu. “If we just reached out to each other more without regard for our differences, maybe we’d have a different world from the one we have today.”

Even though the Grandview buddies lack some wisdom that comes with age, their bubbly personalities were contagious.

At the Science Center, there was a multitude of activities and learning experiences for the Grandview students to see.

NASH senior Sophie Kollitz said, “My favorite memory was going to sports works and playing the ninja game with my buddy.”

From students to staff, this opportunity has changed so many lives.

“I’ve learned that the cycle of giving and receiving is a loop that fuels itself to continue because of the good feelings that come from making a difference in the life of another,” Lombardi recounted.

Manesiotis added, “I do not get many opportunities to see younger children. This trip reminded me how fortunate I am and that I should not take my education for granted.”

It was really refreshing to see these kids find joy in even the smallest things in a world where more and more experiences are becoming taken for granted.

— Angel Qu, NASH junior

Trips like these are a necessity to showing North Allegheny students the inequality that exists only a few miles away, while at the same time giving Grandview students some of the same opportunities NA students had when they were young.

“This program showed me that not all schools are the same and that many children from Grandview are growing up with different lifestyles than we did,” said Kollitz. “I remember going to the science center many times as a kid, and this was my buddy’s first time there.”

For a lot of the NASH students, this trip was a reminder of their youth, as many of them begin some of the most important years of their lives.

Qu said, “It was really refreshing to see these kids find joy in even the smallest things in a world where more and more experiences are becoming taken for granted.”

In the ten years of working with Grandview, North Allegheny has been able to donate dozens of books, write a multitude of encouraging letters, and ensure a brighter future for so many Grandview students; nevertheless, the program still has big plans.

“My sister and I make a great team and have similar views about how these trips should be organized,” said Lombardi.

A decade in the making with many years still to come, the Grandview mentoring program will continue to shine a light on the common bond between all students.