Doin’ Dunmore: H.S. Seniors Volunteer to Help Children’s Advocacy Center

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Dunmore High School officers for the Class of 2020 included, from left: Katie Hilson, Mia Chiaro, Charles Valvano, Bell Pendon and Madilyn Cianci. Not pictured is Nick Stanco.

By Steve Svetovich

A group of Dunmore High School seniors received recognition for their volunteer service work in holding a fundraiser last December to help the Children’s Advocacy Center of Northeast PA. 

Mary Ann LaPorta is executive director of the Children’s Advocacy Center of Northeast PA, 1710 Mulberry St., Scranton. 

The Dunmore senior class officers who held the fundraiser during a basketball tournament in December were Nick Stanco, Mia Chiaro, Madilyn Cianci, Charles Valvano, Katie Hilson and Bell Pendon.

The Dunmore High School senior class officers’ fundraiser last December to benefit the Children’s Advocacy Center of NEPA was called “Silent Night 2019.” 

Students were asked to bring teddy bears to the basketball game for the children of the Children’s Advocacy Center of NEPA. The event collected 450 teddy bears and $350 in donations, said Rosemary Bohenek, fundraising and event coordinator for the Children’s Advocacy Center of NEPA.

The Children’s Advocacy Center of NEPA named the six Dunmore graduates, all who were senior class officers, as Youth Ambassadors of the Year for Cocktails by Moonlight. The event to honor the six Dunmore seniors was supposed to be held this past April 5 at Fiorelli’s, Peckville, but was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, said Bohenek.

“Due to COVID, the event did not happen,” said Bohenek. “We have been unable to honor them and Dunmore High School. And they deserve to be honored for their volunteer work. 

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Dunmore High School senior class officers are shown making a donation to the Children’s Advocacy Center of NEPA. Shown from left are: Nick Stanco, Mia Chiaro, Mary Ann LaPorta representing Children’s Advocacy Center of NEPA; Madilyn Cianci and Charles Valvano. Not shown are Katie Hilson and Bell Pendon.

“However, we nominated these Dunmore students as Youth Ambassadors for 2020 for their service work in 2019.

“The Dunmore community responded so well at the basketball game when the event was held. The kids were so great to deal with. They were so enthusiastic. The teddy bears were thrown onto the basketball court for the children. And $350 in donations were collected at the game. The Dunmore community really took part in this to help the Children’s Advocacy Center.”

The Children’s Advocacy Center of NEPA, a non profit child abuse intervention center, began in 1998 through the work of Judge Michael Barrasse who decided children needed a different avenue to tell their stories of abuse and neglect. Previously, abused children had to go through multiple professionals and the court system and face their abuser after initiating allegations of abuse, said Bohenek.

Through the Children’s Advocacy Center, a child can now tell his or her story of abuse to one initial contact, said Bohenek. It then goes through a National Data Base and Children and Youth Services and then to the Children’s Advocacy Center, added Bohenek.

“The child’s story is admissible in a court of law and the child never has to face the perpetrator.

“It makes it much easier and less threatening for a child to report abuse. It goes right through us and just one initial contact.” 

Bohenek said the six Dunmore seniors, Dunmore High School and Dunmore community should be commended for their efforts in helping the children of the Children’s Advocacy Center of NEPA.

“They really did a fantastic job. They were great.”


Dunmore High School Class of 2020 Valedictorian: Bell Pendon

DHS Valedictorian - Bell PendonBy Steve Svetovich

The reality is still setting in for Dunmore graduating senior Bell Pendon. 

Daughter of Janet and Reynold Pendon, Dunmore, Bell said she feels “humbled” after learning late last month she is the Dunmore High School valedictorian.

“At first when I was told,” she said, “it didn’t feel like it was real. It took me a while to take it all in. Now I am getting used to it.

“I feel very humbled and grateful.”

Bell, 18, will be attending Bucknell University next year on a Dean’s Scholarship. She will study psychology.

Bell, who has an infectious giggle, said she wants to become a psychiatrist eventually. She will combine the sciences with psychology. The Dunmore scholar said her best subject is English, but she likes science the best.

“I am going to study psychology,” she said, “because I always wanted to help people. I have seen first hand how mental health issues affect people’s lives and I want to be in a profession to help.”

Bell loves to be active and play a big part in school activities which is evident by her membership in numerous clubs. She is a member of the Student Council, Yearbook staff, Drama Club, Newspaper Club, Earth Club and is a football cheerleader. 

Bell enjoys acting and was in various plays at Dunmore High School. “That was a lot of fun,” she said. “It is nice to be involved in a lot of clubs at school. I thought drama was great.” 

She talked about her experience at Dunmore. “It was such a welcoming experience. The teachers and my fellow students supported me so much. They made me who I am today. I am very grateful.”

Bell said she enjoys baking and her favorite musical artist is Taylor Swift.

She has two sisters, Cessna, 21, and Marchete, 19, both Dunmore graduates. Cessna attends the University of Pittsburgh and Marchete goes to the University of Chicago. Higher learning obviously runs in the family. Her sisters have been very positive influences on Bell.

Born in the Phillipines, Bell came to Dunmore with her family when she was in the fourth grade. She talked about the differences in two countries. “Well, it is warmer in the Philippines,” she said, “but here there are many more opportunities. There were certainly a lot of clubs to join in at school. I made many friends.”

Humble in nature, Bell said she learned “perseverance and kindness” from her parents. She said her Dunmore teachers always taught her “to be curious.”

Bell said she spent the past several months studying at home, spending a lot of time with her family and practicing “social distancing” during the on going COVID-19 pandemic. 

Bell said she is excited about attending college at Bucknell. “I am very excited about meeting new people and taking on higher education learning. It will be a different kind of learning with college professors. My experience at Dunmore will help me. 

“My goal is simply to lead a happy life.” 

Scholar of the Month: Bell Pendon

Scholar of the Month Bell PendonA six year member of the DHS Crimson Company, senior Bell Pendon is the current President and has held the positions of both Sophomore and Junior Representative. In addition to her role of Linus van Pelt in You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, her previous roles include Ngana in South Pacific, Molly in Annie, Allana in The Little Mermaid, Touchstone in As You Like It,Beehive Girl in Beehive, and Stella in The Great Cell Phone Catastrophe as well as an ensemble role in Peter and the Starcatcher. Bell has also been a part of the crew – ushering for Seussical: The Musical and working on the Props crew for The Crucible

Bell is also a member of the Student Council, Yearbook, French Club, Band, Chorus, Show Choir, Mock Trial, Earth Club, and Health Careers Club. She plans to study psychology in college in hopes of becoming a psychiatrist.