2 seniors overcome obstacles, win SHASDA award


Photo contributed by Ethan Spozarski

Seniors Ethan Spozarski and Jacquelyn Lanzerotti were recognized for their progression in academics with the South Hills Area School District Association award.

Tumi Ojo and Maddison Houser

Senior Ethan Spozarski acknowledges that he struggled academically during his sophomore year.

“I had the worst grades I have ever had in my life,” Spozarski said. “I was in a bad place mentally, I was slacking off, and the effort I put into school was not there.” 

Sposarski said his family was a driving force for his improvement in school. 

“I had a long talk with my parents, which is when things started to change. Also, my pap getting lung cancer motivated me to change,” he said. 

Because of that academic improvement and his involvement in school activities, Spozarski has been recognized – along with fellow senior Jacquelyn Lanzerotti – with an award from the South Hills Area School District Association.

Spozarski said his attitude toward school has changed a lot from his freshman year to his senior year. 

“I take school much more seriously, and while my dedication to extracurriculars has stayed the same, I have many more opportunities,” he said.

“I am the chapter president of the Best Buddies Club. I’ve been doing Special Olympics events. I work on the stage crew. I’ve been in charge of the Purb Take sports podcast for the past two years, and I have written the most stories in Purbalite history,” Spozarski said.

Spozarski said he stepped out of his comfort zone with many of his school activities, especially in becoming the Highlander mascot this year.

“Whenever I was a freshman, I could never see what I’m doing now,” Spozarski said. 

Spozarski is now moving on to study sports communication at Waynesburg University. 

Lanzerotti, meanwhile, said she has grown a lot mentally and academically since her freshman year. 

“I was finally able to realize that not everything is a major deal, especially at that time, and that other things are more important. Growing in science since I was best at that helped,” she said. 

Lanzerotti said she finally gained confidence after seeing her hard work pay off. Today, she wishes she could go back and tell her freshman self to push herself and become more outgoing. 

“I wish I had started earlier and realized my potential sooner,” she said.  

Lanzerotti believes that what she has accomplished over the past four years is significant, and she is proud of the accomplishments. 

“It’s great to be recognized and see that other people can see your hard work. It’s also great to see people who are academically inclined be recognized,” she said. 

Lanzerotti will attend Boston College to study biochemistry on a pre-medicine track. 

“I realized I wanted to take the medicine path after my father passed away,” Lanzerotti said. “I never want people to go through what I went through and it helped me realize that my gifts can be used for so many great things.”