Saturday, March 27, 2010

Lebo Girls Steamroll to Second Consecutive State Title!

We're proud of you, ladies!!!

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The Mt. Lebanon girls' basketball team won its second consecutive PIAA Class AAAA title, beating Archbishop Ryan, 70-43, last night at the Bryce Jordan Center.
Blue Devils junior guard Madison Cable scored a season-high 30 points -- 20 in the first half -- to lead Mt. Lebanon.
The Blue Devils are the first WPIAL team to win consecutive PIAA Class AAAA championships.
Mt. Lebanon has not lost to a team from Pennsylvania since the 2008 PIAA championship game.

Read more:

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Heart O'My Town: The PTA

"We are more than a bake sale," deadpans Karen Wolowski, President of the PTA Council of Mt. Lebanon and goodness knows she means it.  Having spent the better part of two decades immersed in the PTA's activities and mission, Ms. Wolowski knows better than most how vital the organization is to a community.

"The national PTA is more than a hundred years old," notes Wolowski.  "It started when two women put a notice in newspapers to discuss child development issues.  They were hoping that a hundred or so people would show up when in actuality, over two thousand came to that first meeting in Washington, D.C."

The group was quickly up and running and took the lead on issues such as the juvenile justice system and child labor laws.  Over the years, the PTA has pushed for kindergarten in the schools and school lunch programs and in the 1980s, paved the way on HIV education in the schools.  Always looking to the welfare of our kids, it was the PTA's petitioning of state goverments across the U.S. that led to a maximum price limit for milk in grocery stores.

On a local level, the PTA has encouraged the Mt. Lebanon School District to have health aides on hand daily at schools throughout the district.  It has also led the charge on playground safety and championed advance community notification of pesticide use on school campuses.  Near and dear to Wolowski's heart is the PTA's vision screening program at preschools throughout the community.  "We use volunteers trained by the Blind Association and over the years we've saved the eyesight of many kids," she says.  "Some conditions must be caught at the preschool age in order for them to be reversed."  These screenings are provided free to the community.  The local chapter has also been providing scholarships to graduating seniors for 75 years and has run a parent education program since the 1950s.

With a mission of promoting the health and welfare of children in their home, school, community and place of worship, the PTA is mindful of its role as an advocate for those it serves.  "As advocates, the end result of our efforts will benefit our constituency, not the PTA itself.  We are a non-partisan organization and our efforts shouldn't be construed as lobbying," says Wolowski.  The PTA's community outreach extends to hosting non-partisan candidate forums for both local and statewide political candidates as well as voicing opposition to the state's Keystone Exams for graduating Pennsylvania seniors.  "Twelve years of education cannot be summed up in one exam," notes Wolowski.  "What if you're just having a bad day?"

Helping the PTA can take on many forms, according to Wolowski.  "You don't have to be a hand-raiser or even someone who likes to be asked.  Some people can't take on a high level of involvement.  Simply collecting box tops or soup can labels helps the organization tremendously."  Another program Wolowski is excited about is XGEN XPERIENCE, where anyone from working parents to empty nesters can come into the schools as a guest lecturer, math facts coach, musician or science whiz.  "We have a unique community with extraordinary talent," enthuses Wolowski.  "We want to tap into that."  More information on the program can be found here.

Ever the good neighbor, the PTA is hoping to pay it forward next year, making a student musical trio available for community events or offering up teachers to retirement communities to lead a discussion on current events.  But then, this is a group that's been putting its money where its mouth is for years.

"The PTA has been the largest donor to the Mt. Lebanon School District for years, by far," says Wolowski proudly.  "The money we raise benefits the kids and their classrooms directly.  We buy books, help needy families...our angel fund is directed by the principals at the schools and if they see a need that must be addressed, all they have to do is ask."

Yet another good reason why the PTA is the Heart O'My Town.


March 24 - Historical Society of Mount Lebanon Presents “Picture the Past”. 7:30 p.m., Mt. Lebanon Public Library, 16 Castle Shannon Blvd.

Bruce Klein from Photo Antiquities on the North Side will discuss the history of photography and the care of old photos. Feel free to bring an old, undated photo for him to identify. Refreshments will be served. 412-563-1941 412-563-1941.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Jazz Night at the High School!

Plan on attending Jazz Night on Tuesday, March 23rd at 7:30 p.m. in the Fine Arts Theatre. Performing will be the Mt. Lebanon High School Jazz Ensemble, Lab Band, and guest artist, RML Jazz, a professional jazz quintet. Tickets are $5 and can be reserved on the district website.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Spring Cleaning Sale!

Now here are a few great deals for a great cause!!

The Mt. Lebanon Foundation for Education is offering their cookbook for $10 apiece (that's a $10 discount!) and school replicas for $5 each (a $20 discount!) for a limited time. Quantities are limited. Please send orders with check payable to MLFE stating what you would like to order. Include your address, to MLFE, PO Box 11664, Pittsburgh, PA 15228. Items will be delivered to your Mt. Lebanon address.

Friday, March 19, 2010

If It's Friday, It Must Be Fish Frys

Here's a link to a story I just did for Pop City on Friday Fish Frys.  We'll be hitting one tonight.  Note:  these extravaganzas won't seem like much of a Lenten sacrifice -- the food is better than at many restaurants!

New Girl in Town: On Fish Frys

Growing up in Bridgeport, Connecticut, my mother always prepared fish on Fridays during Lent and if the churches were doing fish frys it was news to me, probably because we ate out maybe twice a year.  The profusion of fish frys in Pittsburgh intrigues me, as does the fervor with which the locals approach them.  Shedding light on the matter is Father Ronald Lengwin, spokesperson for the Diocese of Pittsburgh...

Thursday, March 18, 2010

It's Block Party Season! Block Party 101...

Over the past couple of years I've learned a thing or two about Mt. Lebanon's beloved block party traditions. Last year was my first year as our street's designated "Block Party Coordinator" The good news is that they aren't really that tricky to plan. The most important step is that a permit must be acquired by the town's Public Works Department. Below you will find a link to their website and printable application. The rest is just like planning an enormous potluck! My street has planned in various ways over the years. Last year we collected a few bucks from each participating home and with that I bought the "entree" foods and paper products - we're talkin' the basics here - hot dogs, hamburgers, veggie burgers. I know in the past my street has gotten even fancier with the likes of brats, chicken, etc. I decided to start out conservatively my first go-around. Next, I assigned even-numbered houses side dishes and odd-numbered houses desserts. Drinks were BYOB. A few kind neighbors set up some super-fun games for the kids as well. The town also supplies volleyball standards for the athletic minded. I also placed a call to the Lebo fire and police departments asking if they would bring a car and truck over for the kids to check out. That was truly one of the day's highlights. One mom even helped all the neighborhood kids make tie-dyed shirts in the middle of the street!! Super-cool! Best of all, everyone - young and old - had a great time mingling and getting to know each other even better. What a perfect way to get reacquainted after a long winter of being stuck indoors!!

I encourage everyone to get out there and enjoy the great neighbors and neighborhoods we live in. I just received my street's permit for this year and look forward to another fun gathering. What better way to encourage and cultivate community! Don't fear the task of planning!!! It's really a "piece of cake" - actually it's more like a burger and a piece of cake and a lot of good conversation! My kids are counting the days until Block Party 2010! Secretly, I am too!

Hockey Mom? Check!

Hockey coach Jane Broeren has seen a lot of excitable parents in the stands in her years at the Mt. Lebanon Ice Center.  "They'll yell at their kids, telling them to do more, play better," she says.  "If they only knew how much is involved in playing the game, especially for kids as beginners, they'd feel differently."

That's one of the reasons why Jane has teamed up with Dave Hornack, Assistant Manager of the Ice Center, to offer Women's Skills and Drills, a primer directed at hockey moms on what it takes to play the game.  Through a combination of skating, balance, stick handling and shooting drills, the pair is making it possible for these moms to learn the game from the inside out.  Most of the women who signed up for the first session, which began four weeks ago, have children at the Mite level, or less than three years of hockey experience.

"We're having a lot of  fun with it," says Dave.  "Even so, I've heard more than a few moms say 'I didn't realize this was that difficult!'  They have to master skating, stick handling -- and then they have to play the game.  Crosby may make it look easy but it's harder than it looks."

Easy or not, the moms are clamoring for a scrimmage, if only to test their newfound skills.  That said, it promises to be one the likes of which Dave has never seen.  "If someone falls, they help them up.  They'll say 'pardon me' and 'excuse me' on the ice.  I tell them that's not part of hockey!  You just take the puck and go."

A second session of Women's Skills and Drills will be offered in the Spring.  To sign up, visit the Mt. Lebanon Ice Center, call 412.561.4363 or visit the Center's web site here.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Irish Dance At Molly Brannigans Tonight

Late word from my friend MaryBeth Trivilino:

"Happy St. Patrick’s Day Everyone!

Come get your Irish on at Molly Brannigans tonight!  Hannah is performing there with the Shovlin Academy of Irish Dance. They put on a great half-hour show which starts promptly at 6:30 pm.

Céad Mile Fáilte!"

There's a $5 cover charge and a band will play later in the evening.  More info at Molly Brannigans here.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Spring Fever

While Spring doesn't officially start until Saturday, days like today (sunny and 41 degrees as I type this) put some pep in my step (been running for seven out of the last ten days, yay! and good to see you out there this mornin', Tina!) and have me thinking Springtime fun.  What are the options?

Eat outdoors.  Time to fire up the gas grill (we refill our propane tanks at Rollier's) and sit out on the deck.  If you want someone else to do the cooking, Bistro 19, Il Pizzaiolo, Atria's and Luma all have outdoor seating.

Play ball.  The Mt. Lebanon Baseball Association is currently accepting registrations.  Watch your kids play or pop into town to see the Pittsburgh Pirates play at PNC Park.  Win or lose, it's a beautiful ballpark and a sweet experience on a warm spring evening.

Stop and smell the roses.  The roses may not be in bloom just yet but the daffodils have punched through the ground in my neighbor's front yard and that's a start.  You can buy tulips and help the Mt. Lebanon Public Library through April 5th or get heady at the Spring Flower Show at the Phipps Conservatory in Schenley Park.  I've been to the Flower Show the past two years and it's a magical event.

Take a hike.  Now that the snow has melted, it's easier to amble through Lebo's parks, though sturdy shoes are a good idea in the residual mud.  The footing is more solid during Martha's Run, which offers a 10K, 2-Mile Fun Run and 1-Mile Walk and will be held on Saturday, April 10th.  Year-round guided hikes are offered at the Regional Environmental Education Center in Upper St. Clair, with the next hike scheduled for Sunday, March 21st (a great opportunity to see their great blue heron rookery!).

What's Really Happening In Mt. Lebanon

What's really happening in Mt. Lebanon is that the signal-to-noise ratio is way out of whack, which is why we'll no longer be accepting comments at Real Lebo (see post below).  Seeing as how most of our readers were lurkers anyway (as is the case throughout the blogosphere), we trust this change will be seamless.  There may even be a silver lining for those who did choose to comment on the blog:  we can now talk amongst ourselves face to face, be it at a local cafe, over the fence or after church.  Hiding behind a computer screen, as it turns out, does not bring out the best in many.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, March 7, 2010


Some sad news to report:  the torrent of expletive-filled comments that we've been receiving on this blog for many weeks now (none of which have been posted here) have turned to more serious threats.  It is impossible for us to attempt to create community, even to discuss issues, under these circumstances.  We fear that if common sense doesn't prevail, our community will be undone.

Thanks to those who have offered their support and encouragement.  We'll see you around.

Blue Devils Sweep!

Mt. Lebanon Boys Beat Gateway for WPIAL Title
Saturday, March 06, 2010
By Michael Sanserino, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The Mt. Lebanon boys' basketball team won the WPIAL Class AAAA boys' basketball championship tonight, beating Gateway, 57-51 at the Palumbo Center.
Evan Pierce scored 21 points, all in the second half, and Luke Hagy scored four points and made two steals in the final minute to seal the top-seeded Blue Devils' championship, their second under coach Joe David.
The boys' win completes a Mt. Lebanon sweep on the night. The Blue Devils' girls' team beat Baldwin for its second conseutive championship.Read more:

Mt. Lebanon Girls Beat Baldwin for WPIAL Title
Saturday, March 06, 2010
By Michael Sanserino, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The Mt. Lebanon girls' basketball team beat Baldwin, 59-43, tonight in the WPIAL Class AAAA championship game at the Palumbo Center. It was the Blue Devils' second consecutive championship.
Mt. Lebanon junior Madison Cable scored 21 points to lead Mt. Lebanon and was 6 for 11 from the field.
The Blue Devils shot 55.3 percent from the field while limiting the Highlanders to 33 percent.
Belma Nurkic led Baldwin with 12 points.Read more:

Saturday, March 6, 2010

It's Not too Late to Sign Up for Lebo Baseball!

The Mt. Lebanon Baseball Association is still accepting late applications for spring baseball sign-ups. Here is a link to their site and the application.

Friday, March 5, 2010

High School Theatre Department Presents...

Flowers for Algernon

Mt. Lebanon High School Theatre and Technical Theatre Companies will present the play, “Flowers for Algernon” by David Rogers and directed by Cynthia K. Schreiner on March 17-20 at 7:30 p.m. in the High School Fine Arts Theatre. Tickets are $5 and may be reserved on the school website.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Good News on Construction Bidding Climate

The PG's Mary Niederberger wrote a fascinating article which appears on the front page of today's South section entitled "School Districts Start New Construction". And the news is...GOOD! Construction bids are way down throughout our region! A slow economy has a silver lining after all! As my husband always says - "Buy low!" Well, right now, we can! The time to get bids on the high school project is NOW while the competition is still fierce - I have no doubt that this renovation project is coveted by lots and lots of bidders - and their ticket to having their bid accepted? ...being sure they are the low bidder, of course. That's Business 101, right?...But don't just listen to what I have to say about it....Here's a quote from her article that outlines the realities of the current climate in our area:

"While most school construction projects involve some level of tax hike to finance them, there is good news for residents in districts preparing to go out to bid and some who have recently accepted bids.
Because of the slow economy and dearth of other major construction projects in the region, more contractors are scrambling to bid on school projects, with the competition bringing prices down.
In recent months the Bethel Park, Derry Area, Upper St. Clair and West Mifflin Area school districts have accepted bids on major construction projects that were 17 to 20 percent lower than their projected costs as a result of the competition.
"A few years ago on projects where you would see maybe five or six bidders, you are now seeing 10 or more," said John Taormina, manager of the school construction project management Division of P.J. Dick Inc.
"Competition is stronger so people are willing to make bigger cuts and better deals than two years ago when maybe the plate was a little more full."

The entire article can be found here:

It is immensely helpful to have cold, hard facts about what has actually been happening with similar projects in the region in order to have a better understanding of what we can likely expect from our own. Clearly, the time to act is now. If bids are currently coming in 17-20% lower than projected costs, why would we wait? If you do the math, if our $113 M cap gets bids that are 20% less, that would bring our ACTUAL cost down to about $90 M. That's GREAT news for all of us! Let's take advantage of this golden opportunity and help not only ourselves but the future generations of this town. Onward!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Honors for Bridget Belardi

Foster Elementary Teacher Selected for State Educational Technology Award March 2, 2010

Lebo's very own Bridget Belardi, Library Media Specialist at Foster Elementary School, was selected as the 2010 Teacher of the Year by the Pennsylvania Association for Educational Communication and Technology (PAECT) and is now one of 50 teachers being considered for ISTE's National Teacher of the Year Award in Denver this summer. In addition, Bridget is a state-level Keystone Technology Integrator, the chair of Pennsylvania School Librarian Association’s Curriculum Committee, and the Events Coordinator for the Discovery Education Leadership Council.

Congratulations! We are so lucky to have you here!

Monday, March 1, 2010


Hi there folks...Well. we're just about at our 2-month anniversary here at Real Lebo. I just wanted to send out a heartfelt THANK YOU to all of you out there who have given me and Elaine such wonderfully positive feedback over the past couple of months. We are so pleased that so many people find our blog so enjoyable and helpful. I have received countless kind comments on and off the blog from happy residents. I was especially pleased the other day when an out-of-towner/soon-to-be-resident contacted me after discovering our blog. What a delight to know that the blog helps residents and even soon-to-be residents make connections in the community! That's what it's all about. We are so pleased to find so many people as positively passionate about our town as we are! It makes all the difference in quality of life. THANK YOU ALL!!

Martha's Run

This month's Mt. Lebanon magazine includes an entry form for the fourteenth annual Martha's Run, a 10K race benefitting the Martha Fund, which commemorates Lebo native Martha Dixon Martinez, an FBI agent killed in the line of duty in Washington, D.C.

I ran this race in the spring of 2008 and with several marathons under my belt and two decades spent running the hills of San Francisco, didn't even bother to train.  Wrong!  I quickly learned that they don't call it MOUNT Lebanon for nothing, since the course was filled with hills that challenged me to the max.  I finished the race but vowed to train next time around.  I missed last year's race as I was out of town but will be signing up this year and pounding the pavement in the weeks ahead in anticipation of the event.

Mercifully, race organizers also offer a 2-Mile Fun Run and a 1-Mile Walk.  Equally enjoyable are the Children's Races, which are arranged according to age (0-10 years can participate) and a blast for kids (the pic of our then-six-year-old sprinting for the finish line is a personal favorite).

For those of us with cabin fever (or not), Martha's Run couldn't come at a better time as it serves to kick off the Spring running season.  The Pittsburgh Marathon waits in the wings and while long-distance racing is no longer on my dance card, I hear it's a great race for the willing.

Proceeds from Martha's Run registrations will once again serve to fund/improve playgrounds across Allegheny County.  Children were near and dear to Martha Dixon Martinez and running in her name is the least we can do for one who paid the ultimate price.