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.”


Dunmoreans Nominated to Attend U.S. Service Academies

Congressman Matt Cartwright  has announced students from Lackawanna and Luzerne Counties nominated for appointments to attend the United States Service Academies, including two from Dunmore, Colby DeSando and Charles Valvano. 

Each student nominated by Congressman Cartwright will go through the academies’ competitive application process. If offered an appointment, the students will join their respective academy’s Class of 2024.

U.S. Service Academies Nominees Colby DeSando“Each student nominated is among the best and brightest of Northeastern Pennsylvania, and they represent the next generation of great American leaders,” Cartwright said. “I want to thank these outstanding young adults for their willingness to commit to serving their country. They give me hope that our best days are surely ahead.”

Colby DeSando, son of Michael and Lori DeSando is a graduate of Dunmore High School. He has been nominated to the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD.

Colby currently attends Virginia Tech and is a member of the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets and the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets Marching Band. While at Dunmore High School, Colby was vice president of Students Against Destructive Decisions and a member of Health Career Club and the marching, concert, and jazz bands. 

Colby is an active member of his community, serving as the Public Safety Head Chairman City and State at the Keystone Boys State in 2018 and a Keystone Boys State counselor in 2019. As a member of the Sea Cadets, he was both a Seaman and Assistant Leading Petty Officer. 

U.S. Service Academies Nominees Charles ValvanoCharles Valvano is the son of Guy and Kellie Valvano and a senior at Dunmore Jr./Sr. High School. Charles is a member of the National Honors Society, Dunmore High School Yearbook, TACT, and the Health Service, Engineering, and Students Against Destructive Decisions clubs.

He won first place in the 2019 Northeast Pennsylvania Bridge Building Competition and went on to place first in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and 26th internationally. Charles is on the varsity football and track and field teams. He was also 2018 Scranton Times Division III Coaches’ All-Star Defensive Selection and is a co-captain of the football team.

Charles is a member of the U.S Naval Sea Cadets and was the recipient of the Dart Drones Scholarship. Charles has been nominated to the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, MD and the United States Air Force Academy at Colorado Springs, CO.


Other local nominations include Lance Corporal Michael Huntington, Dallas, currently serving as a musician in the United Marine Corps Band, also nominated for the Naval Academy; Tyler Kotowski, Scott Township, nominated to the U.S. Air Force Academy; Stephen  Postupak, also of Dallas, a member of the Air Force ROTC at St. Joseph’s University, also nominated to the Air Force Academy; Jakob Quanbeck, Clarks Summit, who has been nominated to the U.S. Air Force Academy, U.S. Navy Academy and the U.S. Military Academy; Dylan Rowland of Carbondale, who is currently majoring in mechanical engineering at Penn State University and is a part of the Army ROTC Nittany Lion Battalion nominated to the U.S. Military Academy.