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Luzerne County Head Start awards scholarships, honors community partners and staff at 59th Anniversary Luncheon

Luzerne County Head Start awards scholarships, honors community partners and staff at 59th Anniversary Luncheon

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Luzerne County Head Start, Inc. (LCHS) held its 59th Anniversary Luncheon on May 13 to celebrate its longstanding commitment to enhancing the quality of life for low-income children and their families. Along with recognizing its staff for milestone years of service, LCHS awarded college scholarships to former Head Start students and honored its community partners during the luncheon at Mohegan Pennsylvania. 


Now in its 38th year, the LCHS Alumni Scholarship Program – funded by businesses, organizations and individuals in the community – honors the achievements of former Head Start preschool students set to graduate from high school and continue their education. LCHS awarded $22,000 in scholarships this year to 16 seniors from seven school districts in Luzerne and Wyoming counties, bringing the total to $355,450 since the program’s inception. This year’s scholarship recipients were:

Heidi Knoss, Tunkhannock Area High School, $5,000 Fran Williams Memorial Scholarship. 

Bara’a Kamal, Wyoming Valley West High School, $2,000 Benco Family Foundation Scholarship.

Isabel Vazquez, Wilkes-Barre Area High School, $1,500 Eugene Hogan Memorial Scholarship.

Lucy Obrzut, Wyoming Area High School, $1,500 Tomalis-Gatusky Family Scholarship.

Jacinda Miller, Wilkes-Barre Area High School, $1,000 Tomalis-Gatusky Family Scholarship.

Ibraheem Latifou, Wilkes-Barre Area High School, $1,000 PNC Bank Scholarship.

Tina-Pearl Nghotambo, Wilkes-Barre Area High School, $1,000 Navient Community Fund Scholarship.

Katelyn Tereska, Lake-Lehman High School, $1,000 George R. Evans Memorial Scholarship.

Joseph Souder, Wyoming Valley West High School, $1,000 Mary & Tom Sewatsky Family Scholarship.

Marie Popielarz, Dallas High School, $1,000 LCHS Board of Directors Lena Taylor Memorial Scholarship.

Emily Jacien, Wyoming Area High School, $1,000 Luzerne County Bar Association Charitable Foundation Scholarship.

Ivy Visneski, Northwest Area High School, $1,000 Church of Christ Uniting Scholarship.

Shirley Samanta Bermejo-Calle, Wilkes-Barre Area High School, $1,000 Friends of Head Start Scholarship.

Julitza Cazares Gaspar, Wilkes-Barre Area High School, $500 LCHS Policy Council Claudia O’Boyle Memorial Scholarship and $500 Delaney Family


Michelle Muñoz-Cordero, Wilkes-Barre Area High School, $500 Coombs Family Memorial Scholarship, $250 Pittston Tomato Festival Committee Scholarship, and $250 Benco Family Foundation Scholarship.

Jadon Tlatenchi, Wilkes-Barre Area High School, $500 Cross Valley Federal Credit Union Scholarship and $500 Travis Black Scholarship.

LCHS established the Outstanding Community Partner Award 40 years ago to recognize those who have made significant contributions to the agency. Since then, more than 120 businesses, organizations and individuals have been named Outstanding Community Partners based on nominations from LCHS employees. This year, the agency honored three Outstanding Community Partners:   


Sergeant James Sheridan, Wilkes-Barre City Police Department 

UGI Utilities, Inc. & UGI Energy Services 

Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Wyoming Valley 


Additionally, LCHS gave special recognition to Luzerne County Community College President Thomas P. Leary, who will soon retire from LCCC after 50 years of service. LCHS operates four preschool classrooms between LCCC’s campuses in Nanticoke and Hazleton, and President Leary’s support of the Head Start mission has been instrumental in this partnership.  

LCHS Assistant Executive Director Beth White received the Bold Leadership Award. This award acknowledges and celebrates exemplary leadership that has a significant impact on the children, families, and staff at LCHS. It recognizes those who demonstrate initiative, serve as outstanding role models, and inspire others to work collaboratively and creatively, while serving as a champion for the children and families LCHS serves.

LCHS also recognized 40 staff members, Foster Grandparents, bus drivers/monitors and board members for milestone years of service to the agency. This year’s honorees were: 

5 Years

Staff: Priscila Andrade, Crystal Avalos-Hendrickson, Kelly Bartron, Jane Chakiris, Giselle Cotto, Angela Dube, Lourdes Duverge, Jamie Lee Feliciano, Deanna Lange, Eneida Lugo Cardona, Bonnie Natt, Jeimy Quezada, Irma Rosado, Stacey Sturdevant, Deborah Tavaglione, Donna Thubbron, Ery Turbi, Maria Urena De Santos, Dana Weidman, and Rosalie Winiewicz. 

Bus Monitor: Ruth Coughlin. 

Bus Drivers: Gail Culver, Cheryl Lupher, and Barry Lockavich.

Board of Directors: Ahmad Ali. 

10 Years

Staff: Colleen Baird, Kate Borton, Deborah Buchanan, Melissa Janick, Karen Laidacker, and Cheryl Wallitsch. 

Foster Grandmother: Gwendolyn Vieney.

15 Years

Staff: Tanya DeWolfe, Victoria Lucas, Madeleyne O'Brien, and Christina Shovlin. 

Bus Monitor: Carol Prebish. 

20 Years

Staff: Lorrie Williams. 

25 Years

Staff: Keira Radginski and Aimee Schneider.

Luzerne County Head Start, Inc. is an income-based early childhood education program that provides comprehensive services to expecting parents, children from birth to age 5, and their families in Luzerne and Wyoming counties. For more information about LCHS, visit

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