Educator of the Year
Alumni of the Year
DR. STEVEN A. GOUGH
WTAE Channel 4 Anchor
Teresa Hawthorne Band
March 12, 2023
On Saturday, March 11, 2023, for the first time since the pandemic began, the Woodland Hills Foundation (WHF) was thrilled to welcome friends and supporters back to the Edgewood Country Club in Churchill, PA to their annual gala celebration. Rebranded as “The Starry Night Gala,” over 200 guests were treated to a red-carpet welcome, an exclusive VIP Lounge, and a silent auction and photo booth before moving to the ballroom for dinner and the evening’s program. The evening ended with live music and dancing with Teresa Hawthorne and The Teresa Hawthorne Band.
In November of 2022, the Foundation announced its Gala Cover Art Contest, inviting Woodland Hills Students to create a piece of art on the theme of “Starry Night over Woodland Hills.” Through social media and the Foundation’s E-Newsletter, friends and supporters placed their votes for the art that best embodied the theme. Tenth grade student Carmella DeVore’s piece won and was used as the cover art for the gala invitation. Plus, Carmella and her fellow top five winners’ masterpieces were available for bid during the silent auction.
When a last-minute illness interrupted the Foundation’s original plan for WTAE Channel 4 Anchor Mike Clark to serve as Master of Ceremonies, James Kiley, a manager of web application development at ZOLL Cardiac Management Solutions in O’Hara and a long-time supporter of the Foundation, stepped up. He led the program with unmatched poise and professionalism—and a touch of humor!
As a way to truly celebrate Woodland Hills as a whole, the Foundation invited the community to play a huge role in this year’s celebration. For the first time ever, the public was invited to nominate, then vote for two of the evening’s biggest stars: the 2023 Distinguished Alumni of the Year and the 2023 Distinguished Educator of the Year.
Nominated by fellow educator, Math Teacher and Musical Executive Producer Andrea Sisk, Jacob Krupitzer received over 10 percent of over 1,000 votes to serve as the Distinguished Educator of the Year. A 7th Grade Language Arts teacher at Dickson Preparatory STEAM Academy, Jacob recounted, with fondness, the positive impact the School District has made in his life since being hired in 2012.
Lyndsay Tkach, Mental Health/Brain Health Services Director at the Wounded Warrior Project and a 2001 graduate of Woodland Hills, was celebrated as the 2023 Distinguished Alumni of the Year. Lyndsay’s personal and professional achievements, along with her service to the community, exemplify the objectives and vision of the Foundation. And with 9 nominees, Ms. Tkach secured an astounding 24% of the community’s votes!
Finally, when Dr. Steven T. Gough stepped down as the Foundation’s Board President in 2021 after serving over 10 years,his fellow Board Members knew it was time to celebrate all the good work he has done for our community for so many years. Not only was he a founding member of the Foundation, but he also continued to maintain and grow the Foundation into what it is today. For his pivotal role in creating, maintaining, and growing the Foundation into an unmatched system of support for the School District, the Foundation honored Dr. Gough with the 2023 Distinguished Service Award. Unfortunately, Dr. Gough was not able to attend, also due to a last-minute illness.
As Timothy Cummings, Board President of the WH Foundation recounts, “Saturday, over 200 attendees came to celebrate, not only the achievements of the Foundation but those of our alumni, our teachers, our students, and our community. It was truly our privilege to honor three individuals who embody the Wolverine Spirit and are true representatives of the good in our District.”
Since 1999, the Foundation has consisted of an impassioned team of parents, community and business leaders, and educators who live and work in Woodland Hills communities. Through the generosity of the sponsors and all of the guests in attendance, the Woodland Hills Foundation supports the Woodland Hills School District and its communities through our various programs, including scholarships for our students, Mini-Grants, the Dream Book, items for our teachers, volunteerism and community outreach through the H.U.G.S. program, free weekend meals for students with food insecurities through the Backpacks of Hope program, and much more.
“Through the generosity of our donors tonight,” Cummings said, “these programs can continue to grow and reach more members of our school and community.” While the evening grossed over $48,000, Cummings also made an appeal to attendees during the event. “The first WHF Gala in 2010 had just 56 guests, some of whom are here tonight…but there was enough passion in that group to sprout what we have here tonight 13 years later. Just think about what a group this size could do 13 more years from now.” He then asked guests to take out their phones to donate on the spot, resulting in an additional $1,000 in donations for the evening.
The Foundation wishes to thank the following 2023 Starry Night Gala Sponsors:
Ursa Major Level Sponsors: US Steel, and 15 Seconds to Fitness/Brainhealth.
Big Dipper sponsors: Lex Home Tech, and Santori & Peters.
Orion Level Sponsors: Compass Rose Financial, The Stein Family Charitable Fund, and Lisa Caulfield.
Andromeda Level Sponsor: Colliers Engineering & Design
Community Sponsor: Churchill-Wilkins Rotary Club