PTO renames annual scholarship in memory of longtime teacher
By Brit Milazzo
Public relations, BASD
At Bellefonte Area School District, Cheryl DeCusati was known as someone who positively affected the lives of students, colleagues and families in the district – something that reached far beyond the classroom.
That’s why this year, the Marion Walker Parent Teacher Organization unanimously decided to rename the Marion-Walker PTO Excellence Award scholarship in DeCusati’s honor and memory. The longtime kindergarten teacher passed away in January after a courageous battle with cancer. She retired at the end of the 2017-18 school year after serving the district for 25 years.
The inaugural Cheryl DeCusati Memorial Scholarship will be given to one male student and one female student who graduate this year from Bellefonte Area High School. Recipients of this award formerly attended Marion-Walker Elementary School.
The MW PTO funds the scholarship through fundraising efforts and donations from its members.
“In some small way, we wanted to honor Cheryl’s love of education and celebrate the excellence she brought to the students, the school and to the entire district,” PTO President Amanda Grindley said, also elaborating that DeCusati demonstrated a lifetime of excellence that went beyond the classroom.
“She had such an impact, not just on her students, but on her colleagues and especially the families,” Grindley added. “She became a part of everyone else’s family. She went above and beyond, not just in the school, but by coming to her students’ sporting events all the way through high school. She would say those are her boys out on the football field or those were her girls out on the basketball court. It wasn’t just teaching them for a year and the kids moved on; she was part of their lives.”
Several memorials have also been created at the school in memory of DeCusati, including the planting of an eastern redbud tree and the installation of a bench with a plaque near the playground. A mural was also painted for her in the kindergarten and first-grade hallway wing of the school.