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Senior Spotlight

On June 1, the Class of 2015 represented the 50th to graduate from Burrell High School. Among the 125 graduating seniors were students who excelled in academics, sports, the arts and other extracurricular pursuits. Here, we chat with two of those seniors about their experiences, memories and the lessons they’ll take with them.

Richelle DeBlasio

Richelle DeBlasio didn’t even like science when she first joined Science Olympiad in sixth grade. “But once I was able to study the subjects that interested me, I realized that I didn’t find it boring at all,” she says.

Those subjects were anatomy and physiology – and now, more than seven years later, she’s ready to pursue her dream of becoming a doctor. In the fall, Richelle will begin classes in the Honors College at the University of Pittsburgh, where she’ll study molecular biology with the goal of becoming an oncologist.

Q: If not for your plans to become a doctor, what would be your dream job?

A: Performing as a Rockette.

Q: Best senior-year memory:
A: Dance team and drama club. Knowing this was my last opportunity to take part in these groups made me more aware of each moment. I wanted to remember every emotion, sight and sound.

Q: Advice to underclassmen:
A: Become involved with the school and community. Take a risk and join something that you have never experienced but find interesting. It’s one of the best ways to meet friends, learn about yourself and form memories that you’ll remember forever.

Q: Favorite high school class or activity:
A: Drama club. It’s a place where people from all different cliques come together to put on the best production possible.

Q: What’s one thing people might be surprised to learn about you?
A: That I have family in Argentina, although I’m not Argentinian. A few of my Italian ancestors got on the wrong boat when trying to come to America and ended up in Argentina. Apparently, one relative is a famous pianist there.

Q: Meaningful quote or words to live by:
A: “We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious … and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” – Walt Disney

Al Beattie

Burrell High School has a storied tradition on the wrestling mat – a tradition that grew even stronger in March, when Al Beattie won the PIAA heavyweight division to become the school’s seventh state champion. The victory capped an illustrious high school career that also included three consecutive WPIAL championships and three consecutive PIAA Southwest Region championships. In addition, he wrestled for Team USA in the Dapper Dan Wrestling Classic and was named 2015 Valley News Dispatch Wrestler of the Year.

Having graduated with a 3.5 grade-point average, Al has accepted a scholarship to wrestle at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown. He is undecided about a major.

Q: Most influential teacher or coach:
A: All my teachers where influential and pushed me to do my best, but my wrestling coaches taught me to push my physical and mental limits.

Q: What do you like best about wrestling?
A: Being with my team and coaches.

Q: What do you like least about wrestling?
A: As a heavyweight, I am always the last to wrestle and I hate all the waiting. Also, three practices a day – I’m not a morning person.

Q: What are your plans for summer?
A: To work at the Wooden Door Winery and wrestle.

Q: Advice to underclassmen:
A: Always work to achieve your dreams by reaching for your goals.

Q: Favorite high school class:
A: Environmental Science. That’s the major I’m leaning toward.

Q: Meaningful quote or words to live by:
A: “Shake hands and kick butt.” – Burrell wrestling coaching staff

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