Celebrating with STARS

Carlynton Junior-Senior High School hosted a STARS St. Patrick's Day Dance Friday, March 15.  STARS, or Students Together with Athletes Reaching Success, pairs students with and without physical and/or intellectual disabilities.  The peer-driven collaborative spans multiple area high schools and coordinates interscholastic events and activities to support friendships and provide mentor-ship opportunities.

Athletes and students from Carlynton, Baldwin, Chartiers Valley, Keystone Oaks, Moon Area, South Fayette, South Allegheny, and Washington high schools, as well as students from the Western Pa School for Blind Children, attended the event in the high school gymnasium. This is the fifth year Carlynton has had the honor of accommodating this inclusive event.

The St. Patrick’s Day celebration featured music, refreshments, prizes, mingling, and a unique bagpipe presentation by Tom O’Conner, a local juvenile probation officer with ties to the school justice reform movement and the Allegheny County Youth Crossover Model. Principal Loughren has had the pleasure of serving on this same committee.

Special guest Pa Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera arrived to Carlynton Junior-Senior High School in time to join the festivities in gym. His visit afforded the chance to meet and speak with students, take part in an interview, and tour the school. He had the opportunity to see students working in The Shop and learn more about the innovated space that incorporates all aspects of STEAM education.

Before departing, Secretary Rivera joined administrators, educator, board members, and other professionals for a round table discussion that included educational topics relevant to the school district.


Principal Michael Loughren met Secretary Rivera at a principal’s conference last fall and extended an invitation to visit Carlynton. Loughren, who endorses the district’s core values of fostering “Community, Excellence, and Character,” believed the visit would be a chance to put a spotlight on the great things happening at the junior-senior high school.


STARS coordinates interscholastic opportunities where all students can compete, participate, and build friendships through athletic and social events.  Through a collaborative, peer-driven leadership structure, individuals come together to enrich the lives of all students within collective high school communities. The partnership provides meaningful activities for students with and without physical and intellectual disabilities to collaborate, create, and participate in activities that enrich the school curriculum.  

The Carlynton District has been a leader in creating inclusive curricular offerings and modeling best practices to achieve greater academic outcomes for all students.

The junior-senior high school boasts a thriving peer-to-peer program, partnering students with and without disabilities in science, art, physical education, and consumer science classes. These inclusive practices impart respect, appreciation, and acceptance of individual differences. Meaningful relationships are developed as positive behaviors are modeled through learning and social activities. 

Additionally, a growing enrollment of English Language Learners has validated the launching of a cultural club that embraces the diversity, customs, and cultures of fellow students.

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