• Belle Vernon Area School District
    270 Crest Avenue
    Belle Vernon, PA 15012
    phone:  724-808-2500
    fax:  724-929-5598

    Belle Vernon Area Mult-Plex Building
    274 Finley Road
    Belle Vernon, PA  15012
    724-808-2500 x7101
     

    Belle Vernon Area High School
    425 Crest Avenue
    Belle Vernon, PA 15012
    724-808-2500 x2500
    https://www.bellevernonarea.net/bvahs/

    Belle Vernon Area Middle School
    500 Perry Avenue
    Belle Vernon, PA 15012
    724-808-2500 x3500
    https://www.bellevernonarea.net/bvams

    Marion Elementary School
    500 Perry Avenue
    Belle Vernon, PA 15012
    724-808-2500 x4500
    https://www.bellevernonarea.net/mes/
    Rostraver Elementary School
    300 Crest Avenue
    Belle Vernon, PA 15012
    724-808-2500 x5500
     
     

    Belle Vernon Area School District History

     

    The Belle Vernon Area School District was created as a result of a merger between the Bellmarette Joint School District and Rostraver Township School District as the Belle Vernon Area Joint School District in 1964. A “merger” was formally made on July 1, 1966 and became known as the Belle Vernon Area School District with official recognition by the Pennsylvania Department of Education on August 9, 1966. The school district maintained separate entities through the 1965-66 school year with the exception of the sports programs which were combined. Bellmar and Rostraver did meet for a first-ever combined graduation May 26, 1966 at the Rostraver Junior High School football stadium.  The first-ever BVA building-wide graduation ceremonies were held Thursday evening, May 25, 1967 at today’s James Weir Stadium named as such in 1982. A formal dedication for the new Belle Vernon Area High School was held Sunday, October 22, 1967 with a program book and ceremony.  BVA’s first superintendent of schools was Thomas Gilmer, Jr. who led the District through 1978.  Mr. Gilmer was followed by Gregory A. Caruso (1978 -2000), Charles Chandler, Jr. Ed.D (2000-03), Robert J. Nagy (2003-08), and Stephen V. Russell (2008 to 2012) and since July 2012 John D. Wilkinson, Ed.D.

    Located 25 miles southeast of Pittsburgh and encompassing 42.2 square miles in a rural/residential setting spanning Westmoreland and Fayette counties,  Belle Vernon Area School District’s population is over 20,000 residents  residing in five political subdivisions: Rostraver Township, Washington Township, Belle Vernon, North Belle Vernon, and Fayette City.   The district lies at the epicenter of Pittsburgh to the north, Uniontown to the south, Washington (PA) to the west, and Greensburg to the east in Southwestern Pennsylvania.    

    Belle Vernon Area School District’s enrollment in 2000 was slightly over 3,000 students, a number that has gradually declined and now stands at 2,572 students in grades K-12.   The District operates two elementary schools K-6, Marion, originally constructed in 1939 (with further upgrades, renovations, and additions following in 1958,1971,1994, and 2008) and Rostraver, originally constructed in 1958  (with building updates and additions following in 1967,1989,1994, and 2008); one middle school 7-8, Belle Vernon Area, originally constructed in  1964 (with building updates following in 1984,1989, and 2001); one high school, Belle Vernon Area, originally constructed in 1966 ( fine arts wing in 1994) for 4.2 million dollars designed by architect Celli Flynn, and an adjacent field house and physical education building that was built in 1970.   Each building has its own cafeteria with on-site meals served daily. The football stadium is perched atop the hill overlooking the Sweeney Plan. The stadium was constructed in 1955 and named for long-time athletic director James Weir in 1982.  The district’s transportation system has a fleet of 30 buses and 10 vans housed in the converted 84 Lumber Company building on Finley Road, a facility renamed as the Multiplex.   The facility also serves as offices for support personnel in the maintenance and athletic departments.  A weight room, softball hitting room, and wrestling area complements the Multiplex along with extensive displays of sports memorabilia that showcase noteworthy Leopard athletes, teams, and accomplishments. 

    The school district’s administration building, originally built in 1991(updated in 2008), is located next to Rostraver Elementary which, along with the high school, make up the “Rostraver Township campus” in Westmoreland County. Marion Elementary and Belle Vernon Area Middle School, located in Fayette County, make up the “Washington Township campus.”

    The district’s professional staff  consists of over 200 faculty members,  including  teachers from the Westmoreland Intermediate Unit 7, five principals, six guidance counselors, a school psychologist, a director of curriculum and instruction and Title I programs, two nurses and a school social worker.  Support staff includes clerical, health room assistants, security, transportation drivers and custodial-maintenance, along with coordinators of athletics, security, facilities, transportation, and maintenance.  The district utilizes the services of the Central Westmoreland County Vocational-Technical Center in nearby New Stanton for students seeking specialized career and trades training.  The Westmoreland Intermediate Unit 7 services the district in technology, professional needs, and the education of students with special needs. The school district is creating facilities to eventually house almost all special needs students on campus.   

    Belle Vernon Area principals and teachers are highly qualified as required by the Pennsylvania Department of Education standards.  Several faculty members have achieved National Board certification. 

    BVA’s educational successes and academic achievements demonstrate the innovation of the faculty and the initiative of the student body.  While maintaining a 21st century learning environment the district creates a learning community that embraces collaboration between students and teachers preparing youth as college and career ready.  With the incorporation of the Pennsylvania Standards Aligned System (SAS), BVA has achieved success on state testing through demonstration of the necessary academic rigor to meet student proficiency in reading, writing, math, and science.  BVA students have been honored as National Merit finalists, have qualified for state and national forensic competition, and have achieved perfect scores on portions of the SAT test. The Keystone exams based on Pennsylvania Core Standards are administered to high school students in literature, algebra and biology.    

    The school district offers a variety of enrichment and remediation programs that respond to the needs of a diverse student body in preparation for higher learning and careers that require 21st century skills. In addition, dual enrollment classes allow students to receive college credit prior to high school graduation.  The eAcademy allows students to take classes online. Seniors are required to develop a graduation project in which they formally investigate careers of interest through research, job shadowing, and interviewing experienced people currently employed in the field.  Recognizing the importance of early childhood education, BVA expanded kindergarten from a half day to full day in 2008.

    BVA also has reputable arts and sports programs. Each year, the high school drama and music departments collaborate on well attended and applauded productions of noted musicals. Recent performances have included Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma; Lionel Bart’s Oliver, and Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. The outstanding music department features a marching band replete with majorettes, color guard, and dance team. Students have qualified for All State Band and Choir, All East Band and All State Orchestra. BVA sponsors cheerleader squads in both the middle school and the high school.  These squads have cheered their teams on to championships, a glory with which BVA athletics is familiar. Among the highlights include a 2007 and 2015 WPIAL Class AAA championship in Lady Leps softball, a 1995 WPIAL Class AAA championship in football,  a 1978 WPIAL Class AAA championship in basketball and a 1966 PIAA Class AA championship in gymnastics. Also, individual athletes have accomplished a 2015 track and field WPIAL Class AAA champion in discus with a throw of 131 feet 5 inches, a 2010 golf WPIAL Division I individual championship; a 2009 track and field state PIAA and WPIAL Class AAA champion in the long jump with a distance of 23 feet 7 ½ inches, repeated in 2011 with a WPIAL long jump of 23 feet 6 inches and a PIAA long jump of 23 feet 5 ¾  inches; a 2008 wrestling WPIAL Class AAA champion 140-pound category; a 1990 swimming state PIAA and WPIAL Class AAA champion in the 100 backstroke with a time of 53.09 and 200-yard medley with a time of 1:55.04; and a 1966 gymnastic state PIAA and WPIAL Class AA champion in free floor exercises, horizontal bar and parallel bars and a PIAA in free exercises, horizontal bar and long horse, among other honors and achievements.  Other accomplished sports teams include baseball, volleyball, and soccer.   

    BVA students continue to devote time and energy to worthy community service projects through clubs and organizations. BVA graduates have continued their community spirit by offering their services following college graduation with “Teach for America.”  The tradition of a senior high yearbook, Leopard Profile, continues today since the first publication in 1967. This almanac maintains the school’s yearly history. The administration building houses a collection of these books.

    As we are now a full decade into the 21st century, Belle Vernon Area School District continues to grow, innovate, and thrive. The strength of this academic community is in no small way relative to the exceptional quality of the youth, who are its charge, and the locality from which they spring; it is the ongoing commitment of the administration, faculty, staff, and community to ensure this proud legacy will always be as such. 

     

    Retired BVA superintendent Stephen V. Russell April 2015