A Beaver Area school board protest scheduled for Monday in support of the suspended high school principal is based on an assumption of religious discrimination that school officials wholeheartedly deny.

But the kerfuffle has brought new light to the religious organization Principal Steve Wellendorf represents: Beaver Valley Young Life (BVYL), a nonprofit international Christian group dedicated to forming personal friendships with and proselytizing to students about a strict following of scripture, including an anti-gay message.

Wellendorf serves on BVYL’s committee. Beaver resident Luke Berardelli, who graduated from the district in 1999 and has been vocal in his support of BVYL, organized the protest.

Berardelli has said he plans to ask the board to not renew Superintendent Carrie Rowe’s contract because he claims she’s targeted people involved in Young Life. Others are alleging the opposite is true, that some individuals are targeting Rowe because of her sexual orientation.

Rowe denied Berardelli’s accusations that the district had targeted Wellendorf because of his affiliation with Young Life in a statement provided to BeaverCountian.com.

“While we are aware of the misperceptions circulating in the community about the reason for (Principal Wellendorf’s) leave of absence, please know that the Beaver Area School District does not discriminate based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, religion, ancestry or any other legally-protected classification. Because this is a personnel matter, we are unable to provide further details on this matter.”

Berardelli is claiming that Wellendorf also was targeted for his open support of another member, Moriah Bridges who graduated from Beaver in 2017. Bridges became the subject of national attention when administrators asked her to rewrite her address because it was in the form of a prayer instead of a speech. Bridges’ final speech still included prayer elements.

Berardelli also alleges that Rowe targeted former girls’ varsity soccer coach Shannon Essick who left the post last year. Essick is also the BVYL area ministry director.

The district had received complaints from some parents alleging Essick was giving preferential treatment to BVYL members, and that the woman had regaled players with tales of her misspent youth and encouraged them to share their stories.

Essick told BeaverCountian.com the complaints made against her had no merit.

“I think that they are refuted in the fact that I always respected and followed the expectations of school officials involving Young Life on school campus. I never one time came to the school to do the job the school had hired me to do without being professional about that. I did my job and Young Life played no role in that.”

She declined to say whether or not she feels she has been targeted because of her beliefs, as Berardelli has asserted, and would not answer other questions about the BVYL ministry. Instead, she sought to emphasize that her organization has been operating by the rules.

“We respect and follow the expectations established by the school officials regarding the presence of outside groups, including Young Life, on school campuses or at school activities. We feel Principal Wellendorf has been clear about school district policies and expectations and we have closely followed those expectations. We also believe he has shown excellent leadership as principal and hope he will be reinstated in his role.”

Essick said she intends to pray for all of the school board members and administrators, including those who have views different than her own.

Essick said that while Berardelli has been a vocal supporter of BVLF, he has no formal role in her organization. “I have never met him.”

Berardelli, who once tweeted that transgender people have “mental disorders” in reply to a New York Times tweet about Vermont’s first transgender governor candidate, says in his publicly issued statements that the district is no longer teaching the beliefs of its community.

“We are a community of strong faith and deep beliefs. The school district that our children attend should reflect those community standards we hold dear and cherish … The school board, nor the superintendent, nor any other district staff, should be trying to dismantle this representation by their leadership and/or decision making that undermines the values and principles our district communities cherish.”

His scheduled protest on Monday was bolstered by publicity provided through an article published by the Beaver County Times on September 12, which did not delve into the underlying controversies plaguing the district.

School Board President Frank Bovalino told BeaverCountian.com that Berardelli’s claims of religious persecution are “absurd” and that he feels Superintendent Rowe has been doing a “fantastic job” for the community.

“From my perspective, and I have been on the board basically for 20 years, I see a milestone in our district right now as far as its service to the students in educating them. From the parents to the teachers, the administrators to the board, I have never seen the quality of education for the price taxpayers are paying ever before in our district.”

Berardelli announced on social media that he intends to run for school board next year, and is seeking to recruit other similarly-minded individuals to run alongside him. Berardelli is an active member of the local Republican party and manages the Beaver County Young Republicans Facebook page. He previously served as a Beaver borough councilman.

Berardelli has not specifically mentioned LGBT issues in his public statements about the district, although BeaverCountian.com has received a number of messages from members of the community which have contained anti-gay sentiments in the days leading up to and following his announcement of the planned rally.

Janet Holp-Hedge, who says she is a parent with children in the district, wrote to express her support of Wellendorf and fears that the district may be promoting homosexuality.

“The superintendent is an atheist as well as being a lesbian,” she wrote, also listing other school personnel she believes may be gay or non-Christian. “My concern is that their views will be pushed onto our children.”

Holp-Hedge wrote that she has been troubled by lessons of acceptance being taught to students by the district.

“One English class already had to do a paper on LGBTQ. When a student said that it’s not normal, the teacher said that he couldn’t say that. My children have moral beliefs and Christian beliefs that we taught them from day one. I do not want the school trying to indoctrinate them that this is the new normal. It is not. It is against God’s will for us. They can do what they want in their own personal life, that’s on them, but don’t try to mess with the beliefs of very impressionable children.”

But attempting to “mess with the beliefs” of children is exactly what critics of Young Life say it is working to achieve in the district.

A 314-page “The Complete Leader” resource handbook for Young Life volunteers goes into detail explaining how to befriend students until they get to a level of trust and can “come to know Christ.”

It recommends going to school sporting events, plays, concerts, basketball pickup games, the mall or places students are likely to work to start the friendships. It also provides a 47-point list of things to do with them for ideas, such as bringing them into their homes, and recommends keeping an up-to-date record so volunteers are on top of things when they talk.

Using secular music may be a way to draw in “hard-to-reach kids,” it says.

Young Life is a nonprofit “parachurch” ministry – meaning it works across Christian denominations. Based in Colorado, its mission is to reach out to middle-school, high-school, and college-aged kids. It’s billed as a “place to talk about surviving school, break-ups, parents, bad grades or God.”

Its “Statement of Faith” in part says the old and new testaments are the “final and supreme authority in all matters of faith and conduct.“

From its “How to Thrive at Camp” handbook, Young Life says “appropriate sexual conduct” only occurs between married heterosexual partners.

The handbook says that homosexuals engage in sexual misconduct, and Young Life will minister to them but not condone their behavior. It says they will also provide medical, psychological, spiritual and economic assistance to them. But, in no instance, is a homosexual allowed to serve on staff or as a volunteer.

Additionally, Young Life publications say that, “with regard to the delicate matter of homosexual lifestyle and practice, in the light of the biblical data regarding creation, Young Life believes such activities to be clearly not in accord with God’s creation purposes.”

Beaver Area includes a population of openly gay students and a transgender student graduated in recent years.

Grace DuBois graduated from Beaver Area School District in 2017, where she openly identified as a member of the LGBT community. She is now a student at the University of Pittsburgh.

“I was valedictorian of my class and I also gave a (graduation) speech that year along with Moriah,” she said. “I was out in school, most of the students knew, but I don’t think the teachers and administration really did.”

DuBois told BeaverCountian.com she was at times made to feel isolated during her years in the district, but believes Superintendent Rowe was working to create a school environment more respectful of diverse views.

“Because I am progressive and am not religious, and because I am part of the LGBT community, I sometimes felt ‘other’ in Beaver,” said DuBois. “At the school board meeting after the 2017 graduation, I stood up in support of Dr. Rowe and thought it was unfortunate how she was being treated by some of the more conservative voices … It was known at the time that she is gay but it was never an issue with the students.”

Beaver Valley Young Life’s website claims it’s currently in two local school districts and at Geneva College, with local offices in Ambridge and Sewickley and a club in Beaver Falls. Its goal is to grow into all local schools, and describes the ministry in the Pittsburgh metro area as “booming.” Pittsburgh Metro Young Life encompasses 15 Young Life areas.

BVYL raises money for ministry costs and to provide camp scholarships to Lake Champion in Glen Spey, N.Y. On July 23, it had a golf outing at Seven Oaks Country Club in Ohioville, sponsored by Chick-fil-A, the Fort McIntosh Club in Beaver (Berardelli is a member of the club and secretary of the Fort McIntosh Foundation, the club’s philanthropic arm,) Stray Cat Studio in Beaver Falls, Beaver Falls Coffee and Tea and Dick’s Sporting Goods.

Started in 1939 by a Presbyterian minister in Texas, it claims 700 ministries in 324 cities, with about 18,000 members.

Editor’s Note: This article originally listed Luke Berardelli as the secretary of the Fort McIntosh Club, when he is in fact secretary of the Fort McIntosh Foundation, the organization’s philanthropic arm.

John Paul
John Paul is the founder of the Beaver Countian. He reports full-time for the site, specializing in investigative journalism with an emphasis on public corruption.


  1. I find it odd that this article mentioned Moriah but didn’t mention the important facts of that situation. Carrie Rowe did try to censor the free speech of a student. (I believe based on her bias against religion). BAHS did change their outdated and illegal policy and extend an apology to Moriah. Instead they chose to give voice to the opinion of a former student who supports Rowe. Easy to see where this writer stands when it comes to fair and balanced reporting. I guess facts just aren’t that important in journalism these days. Another slanted perspective represented in the media. Just what this country (and community) needs. I won’t be surprised if this comment ends up deleted.

  2. Luke is right on target with this situation. Liberals and so called progressives have been tearing down the institutions that have made this country the greatest in the world.

    They always love to quote the initial part of the First Amendment to the US Constitution regarding religion:
    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion”

    But they hate and ignore the rest of the line :
    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, OR PROHIBITING THE FREE EXERCISE THEREOF.”

    They use parts and pieces of the Constitution out of context to push an agenda.
    With the new makeup of the US Supreme Court, expect to see recent decisions rolled back.
    Two or Three more Supremes will be replaced in coming years. Changing the court composition and attitude toward the liberal agendas even more.

    • Sorta like the way that Conservatives always seem to forget that the words “well-regulated” are in the Second Amendment???

  3. I find it disgusting that I live in a community where people like Berardelli and organizations like BVYL are tolerated. And people complaining because their children are being taught diversity and acceptance in school? You are what is poisoning our society with your ugly hatred. Stop using God to justify your homophobia.

    • I will always stand firm in my beliefs. I do not use God to justify anything. I believe in God and follow His teachings. I realize that not everyone believes in God or has the same opinions that I do, and that’s OK. Everyone is accountable for themselves. I have nothing against any member of the LGBTQ community. Just because I don’t agree with their choice does not mean that I don’t love and respect them as s person, because I do.
      I believe that diversity, acceptance and tolerance can and should be taught without an agenda. Children are innocent and should not be put in the middle of political, personal, religious or any other agenda.

  4. After reading the above story, I now, more than ever, believe this quote: “If God were alive today, He’d be an atheist.”

  5. This whole matter began as an enforcement of the Establishment Clause by the district. They enforced the law. And, neither the liberals, conservatives nor anyone else picked and chose the parts to be applied. All of these issues have been argued, litigated and written into the Constitution and are encoded into state law and the PA Dept. of Education.

    Don’t like the law? Change the law, don’t shoot the messengers.

    That said, in my humble opinion, their champion seems again to be a local loudmouthed gadfly for the woefully self-pitying disenfranchised, and he never seems to be happy unless he is stroking his lance to tilt at windmills.

  6. It’s a separation of church and state, beaver is a public school.If you want to pray and impose you beliefs do it in an environment that is specific to your system of beliefs and with like minded individuals. A public school is to be all inclusive and non discriminatory.

    • If the school is to be all inclusive, does that not include Christians? Why is it ok to discriminate against them and prohibit them from practicing their religion? Separation of church and state only means there will be no government sponsored religion. It does not mean that it is unlawful for someone to speak of their beliefs or practice their religion in public. Inclusivity has to extend to all.

      • I’m transferring my kid to Beaver next year. He WILL be valedictorian. We are Satanists. And he WILL give a Satanic prayer. I hope we will have your support. Love inclusivity.

      • Christians pray around the flagpole at Blackhawk. One day this year, an alternate group decided to pray around the flagpole (Wiccans maybe). All’s fair. I don’t see where Moriah giving a speech thanking God or offering a prayer was a problem at all. On the other hand, a school official isn’t allowed to do that. Honestly, who cares? Just don’t listen. To each his/her/their own.

        The disturbing part of this article is the completely creepy Young Life playbook for “gaining the trust” of young people. Like a pedophile grooming plan or the indoctrinization of young Nazi’s or recruits into a cult, it gives a step by step guide for wooing people who are not yet adults into your cause. Whether it’s well-meaning or not, that level of trust and authority is reserved for one group only- parents. Seriously, doesn’t anyone else find that creepy?

      • ask yourself and answer truthfully

        if people of the muslim faith did this would you still think the same way? what about satanists? mormons? hindu? buddahs

        the reason its a good idea to keep religion out of schools like this is because once you let one be worshiped you have to let them all and it will just become a huge mess

        want to let kids have a 1 minute prayer before class? sure go ahead but be assured someone will complain that their kid was exposed to a person of muslim faith or some other religion that you dont agree with

  7. Oh jizzkill. That sneaky liberal agenda. No Christian conservative agenda with BVYL. Next thing you know, people will become principals so they can push a Christian conservative agenda. What law has Congress passed the prohibits the free exercise? Just curious. Funny you obviously don’t care about a conservative agenda being pushed, except if you are taking parts and pieces out of context to push a conservative agenda.
    Isn’t there a place people can express their views? Church??? SC has ruled ad nauseam that student led prayers are not protected by the first.

    • Wrong….. It has not been argued ad nauseam to favor removing prayer. It was not until 1963 that prayer was removed by a very liberal leaning Supreme Count. So for the first 187 years of our nations existence prayer was very much part of our country’s schools. Its only been for 55 years that it has not. This will soon change. Prayer will return and very soon. God Bless you Real Troof !

      • There is enough misery and intolerance already hear in Beaver County. Its young people do not need to be taught how to perpetuate it.

      • Wrong again. Public education didn’t start to become compulsory until the 1850’s. So there goes that whole 187 years nonsense. There were no SC decisions affirming that schools had the right to indoctrinate children into Christianity. So that argument is junk too. I’ll pray for you jizzkill.

      • Public Schools were present in colonies since the 1600’s and they pre-date the USA. They continued to exist and were expanded after the USA was established. What planet are you living on ? I’m not sure which particular compulsory law you’re referring to, but for a fact public schools have existed for a very long time Compulsory or not.

        The Real Troof is actually Fake News !! What a Clown.

      • jizzlick, I don’t expect you to know the laws because you’re an idiot. Laws mandated Christian prayers. News flash!!! Not everyone is a Christian. Even many more aren’t Protestant. These laws were established to make America a Protestant nation, violating the Constitution. The Court has ruled in many cases you can’t do this. But Christians with an agenda and who are deeply disturbed by not being able to comprehend the ability to think people might think differently from them are so scared that what they’ve been taught is not rational they double down by trying to establish laws to make everyone think like them. It’s a sickness and shows a low IQ. So, which Court decisions mandated the prayers sanctioned by schools have to be held in school? Christians will no doubt keep trying and will waste millions in tax dollars. Because, what is a sign of a good religion if it can’t exist without a government endorsing it.

      • I’m laughing at you right now Real Troof. America was founded by Christians as much as you would like to ignore that.

        Things are going to change now with a new court.

        First, we are going to get Row vs Wade overturned. And that is going to happen, take it to the bank. Why do you think Liberal Democrats are so scared about what is happening with Kavanaugh ?

        Soon after that prayer in school. No one is mandating prayer in school… but it will be permitted again ! And we won’t have atheist school administrators telling a valedictorian that he or she can’t have a prayer in her commencement speech. Have a great Sunday Troofer ! Go visit your local church ! Who knows maybe you’ll like it.

      • Republicans have the SC, buzzkill. Why are they waiting to overturn Roe v Wade? Are a few more thousand babies being aborted no big deal to them while they wait? Or do they just want to keep those Pro-Life votes captive while they reneg on their promises while voters hope that someday, with one more SC justice (who happens to be pro-big business instead of pro-life), with one more Republican Congressman or Senator (who spouts off about pro-life but plans to attack your Social Security and Medicare with Paul Ryan after November) abortion will end? It’s a lie.

    • LOL. Thanks Jizzlick. I hoped pointing out your stupidity would make you laugh…or cry. I’m going to leave this right here, “The government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.”
      —John Adams
      You can pray in school if you want. The school can’t sanction it. Unfortunately, too many people lack logic, reason, and education and would rather remain ignorant.
      Row? LOL! Row, row, row your boat

  8. If this is the case why he was placed on admin leave (and no one is talking on this); It’s a possibility this will end up in court and taxpayers in Beaver Area school district will be footing the bill…just sayin…

  9. At one time in history, religion and knowledge went hand and hand. Since the dark ages that has not been the case. Keep your fairy tales, false enlightenment,and pedophiles out of public institutions. If you want your kid to get a Harry Potter education you should send them to some sort of religious institution. KEEP RELIGION OUT OF PUBLIC SCHOOLS!!!!!

    • If someone works really hard and becomes valedictorian – then they have every right to say a prayer in their speech. If people don’t like it, don’t listen. If the person was Muslim, they would’ve let that person say their prayer because we can’t step on minorities’ toes

  10. The training manual of this evangelical group of fundamentalists sounds like it was written by a bunch of child predators hoping to teach others the skills of luring and mentally manipulating kids. Apparently if you paint a cross on it then it’s no longer called stalking but instead is called “befriending and witnessing.”

    Being a Christian is about accepting Jesus as your personal savior; somewhere along the way some folks in Beaver changed Christianity by self appointing themselves as being qualified to stand in judgement of others and to disregard the tolerance that Jesus once taught.

    Jesus washed the feet of Judas. Perhaps Janet Holp-Hedge should wash the feet of a few gay and trangendered people before she calls herself a Christian. Or do the lessons of Jesus not really matter when they are inconvenient to your intolerance, Mrs. Holp-Hedge? God forbid that the Holp-Hedge youngsters grow up to be compassionate and tolerant adults. Perhaps when she isn’t too busy acting holier than thou, she should educate herself…she might learn that “gayness” isn’t contagious and won’t rub off on her or her children.

    • There is nothing that would force me to make out with a dude-no tv shows/movies/music or “god forbid” the outside world——but maybe some in this group—wink wink hey Lukey B-something tells me he is close and can’t get it outta his head-fight the demons back Luke fight with all you got buddy

    • MR accorgingtome,
      I would gladly wash the feet of gays, transgenders, straights, or anyone else for that matter. I would also lay down my life for them. I am NOT intolorant nor am I a bigot (as John Paul claims). I am a Christian who will stand firm on my beliefs and my God. I do understand that not everyone has the same beliefs as I do, and that’s OK…I respect that. All I’m saying is that innocent children don’t need to be indoctrinated with anyone’s agenda (that includes religious agenda, political, agendas, conservative or liberal agendas, etc). Public schools should be a place of acceptance, love and support for our children’s innocence. When they are adults, they can make their own educated decisions on their beliefs and political views.
      As for our superintendent, I have nothing against her. I’ve met and talked with her. She is a wonderful, caring person. How she chooses to live her life is her business and I respect that. What I have concerns with, is if she is trying to push an agenda at school. If she is not, than I don’t have a problem with her being the superintendent. I don’t feel that Public schools are the place for ANY agenda to be pushed on impressionable children.
      As for my children, they are very compassionate and tolerant of everyone, whether they agree with them or not, because that is how we have raised them. I have NOT judged anyone. I am very tolerant of everyone’s beliefs and choices. Yes, I am a Christian but I also realize that not everyone has the beliefs that I do, and that’s OK. That does not mean that I don’t love them or don’t respect them, because I do. All I’m saying is that public schools are NOT the place for personal agendas.
      I respect your point of view, but I also stand firm in my beliefs. We can just agree to disagree.

      • They are totally indoctrinating innocent children. Teaching them every human has equality and deserves respect. What libtards!

    • As a journalist, I read nothing biased in this article. It contained public record and quotes.

      Keep government and religion separate, as the law dictates.

      As long as folks aren’t hurting others (i.e. pedophilia, peer pressure, assault), who cares whom they love?

  11. I thought we were past the point where we took religious organizations seriously enough to let them toxically permeate the realm of already questionable so-called public services, like the stellar arena of grossly exalted public education. One bad institution surely could not bring any improvement to another bad institution.

  12. Sorry Mr. Berardeli, anti-LGBTQ messaging does not reflect “community standards we hold dear and cherish”. I am a Beaver resident with one child who graduated and one who still attends Beaver Area. I do not in any way support any organization that marginalizes or stigmatizes LGBTQ students or community members.

  13. The most confusing thing to me is that there are Christian homophobes at all. You guys aren’t Jewish, you don’t have to keep old covenant.
    And most of them don’t, that same section of bible also prohibits eating shellfish, wearing underwear made of more that one type of material, and talking to menstruating women.
    Plus I mean, “lifestyle choice?” Like do they wake up every day and have to fight of gay urges as a conscious decision?
    tbh, all theological discussion aside, the idea of any organization encouraging unvetted members to befriend children and invite then into their homes rubs me ask kinda of wrong.

  14. Wonder if a Muslim or someone of a smaller denomination would be denied the same vocal rights that Christians on campus are? Not an opinion, just a fair question.

    • And the answer is a resounding NO, they would NOT be denied!
      Lesson 1: Christians BAD!
      Lesson 2: Muslims GOOD!
      Lesson 3: Republicans BAD!
      Lesson 4: Democrats GOOD!

  15. Putting the slant to these students on religion or sexual preference has no place in the school. This has already been hashed out in the judicial system and is a settled issue as Raven stated. Keep it simple by teaching students the basic adopted curriculum of reading, penmanship, spelling, math, science and respect to one another. All the qualities they need to be successful in life. You teachers and administration do your jobs properly, collect your paychecks, keep quiet and that’s it. You don’t own these students or have the right to dictate their life. Your job is to educate them plain and simple.

  16. I am assuming, and correct me if I am wrong, that Principal Steve Wellendorf was hired for ostensibly good reasons, but later turned out to be a Trojan Horse, carrying this religious zealotry as unknown baggage. Then, the school was faced with having to invoke the Establishment Clause restriction on a speaker for a group of students, and he was placed in the uncomfortable position as one of the enforcers. He refused to apply the law, so he was placed on leave by the Superintendent for obstruction. Friend Berardelli cries foul and tries to redeem his friend. He uses religious intolerance and bigotry as his excuses, and the district is thrown into a tailspin to counter it. Sad, but not as sad as the same tactics being used throughout history to replace laws and reason with intolerance and ignorance.

  17. I am hoping that the rally and following school board meeting on Monday — 6:30 and 7:00 — will be recorded and videotaped for the public to see. This matter has gone on for far too long, and the players will be silenced by their own words getting out to more a more discriminating audience. These matters have direct links to some members of the Young Republican Party, to Beaver Council matters of the past and potential Beaver school board membership issues in the future. Don’t question whether this is investigative reporting or not. It is not a stretch to say that the intolerant racist comments of a Republican Party Committee woman recently and this kind of intolerance are closely related in theme, and even invoke some of the same people in the organization.

  18. When all this is over, said and done, I hope that a formal apology will be given to Superintendent Carrie Rowe by Luke Berardelli. You will not find an historically better Superintendent, educator, intellect or ethical person anywhere. Dragging her through this with personal insults and innuendos has been totally out-of-line with decency and humanistic respect.

    By the way, Luke, people with Master’s degrees do not use M.S after their names. That is petty, arrogant egotism and a misuse of the letters. Wait until you get an earned doctorate Ph.D. Then, you can use the label and letters to intimidate people to your heart’s content. Of course, you won’t have to. People will already know it. But a Dr. Luke. Nope. That ain’t very likely.

  19. How about a counter protest to Mondays gathering of the mindless? And I know a few BC establishments that won’t be getting any of my business – “it had a golf outing at Seven Oaks Country Club in Ohioville, sponsored by Chick-fil-A, the Fort McIntosh Club in Beaver (of which Berardelli is secretary,) Stray Cat Studio in Beaver Falls, Beaver Falls Coffee and Tea and Dick’s Sporting Goods.”

  20. Maybe the answer is the Beaver School District and all other school districts should concentrate on two primary goals. First, create a safe and invigorating environment for all students while on school property or involved with school related events so they can achieve the second goal. Second, concentrate all resources and educational time to educating students to become productive members of the economy and positive contributors to society.

    Schools should not be in the business of promoting social issues or instructing what should be tolerated or adopted as being acceptable in society. Society at large (parents, families, employers, peers and organizations freely associated with outside of school) can provide guidance on social issues and while it may not move as avsolute, fast or in the direction desired by some citizens, it is everyone mixing their beliefs and ideas together that correctly identifies what is acceptable in society.

    Although I have no children, I have paid close to $100,000 in school property taxes over the past 20 years. I have no objection to funding schools but I expect the money to be spent on preparing students for the real world and leading productive lives rather than being socially engineered by either a radically liberal or radically conservative agenda.

    It is unfortunate that more time and expense will be expended this week on arguing over who did what to who and for what reason rather than educating the students … and no matter what the adults have created a large unnecessary distraction for the students for no other reason than forcing their personal agendas and beliefs.

    • Sounds like the pot calling the kettle black. Two fanatics that have lost touch with their own messages. Let’s stick education. Keep religious and social issues at home where they belong. I’m always wary of people that wear their beliefs on their sleeves.

    • “…create a safe and invigorating environment for all students while on school property.”

      For many years, the BASHS has provided time before and after school for “clubs” like this to meet on their own, independent, unsupervised. The school has bent over backward to accommodate them. But this kind of organized, predatory proselytising goes well beyond that and imposes itself upon school life. It is no different than the Jehovah Witnesses that bang on your door and bother you until you give in and listen to their stories. At least you can kick them off your porch. But these Jesus emissaries are on site daily during school hours and try to impose a system of belief — upon teenagers at a critical time when social pressures are upon them, and they have immature, partial or mixed up emotional development to conform and be one of the gang. They are vulnerable, and these predators know that. They know that very well.

      The best answer for the School Board is to hear Berardelli out, then kick his ass out the door.

      • Give Luke his day. It will be up to him to PROVE that someone involved in his “parachurch” ministry was harmed. When he is unable to prove damage, based on his past history (Beaver Council), he will call some names and storm out of the room. First- I would compare Superintendent Carrie Rowe’s background and educational history to Luke Berardelli’s resume. My opinion, Superintendent Carrie Rowe has no agenda, and that is yet to be PROVEN, so give Luke his day.
        UNLESS Mr. Berardelli , can prove damage, and not, I heard or she said, but FACTS, I would thank him for his opinion and wish him the best in his small and getting smaller world.

    • Gerald, overall I agree with your sentiments but I think there is a potential serious complication here. My original impression was Beradelli might be a little over the top, but according to additional information I have, he might not be.

      I have one child that graduated from BAHS a few years back and I have another that will graduate in a couple of years. I asked both of them what they know about this and my younger one says that this is actively avoided and won’t talk about it.

      The older child told me that when Rowe was a principal, she was a “militant LGBQ supporter” and this was well-known by all of the students at the school. My older child said that a student was overheard saying that Rowe was a lesbian and it was along the lines of “hey, did you know that she is a lesbian?’. My child heard the actual comment. The child that said it was suspended. All close to it felt is was over the top. And this is not the only example.

      So pairing that with what I have read in BCT and BC, its not hard to believe that Rowe might be getting a little too aggressive against people she doesn’t agree with. If so, then maybe bringing all of this further out in to the open can it get resolved. Hiding behind “personnel matter” could be legitimate or it could be a way to hide less than honorable actions.

      Sometimes “special” groups are treated with such “kid gloves” that when there is a bad apple, no one is willing to go after them. This could be one of those instances. Just one view.

  21. Berardelli is a political wannabe who’s name comes up 3 or 4 times a year. When he had a chance to be in a public office he bailed in short order.

    This whole persecuted Christian bullshit is an ongoing thing here in clinging to religion country. If you want your children to have Christian instruction, then take them to church , take them to evening or weekend youth programs. Put yourself out, on your time and your dime to get them this part of their education.

    So the kids can’t put forth openly Christian thought and values in class or school programs? Okay, can another child go to this Young Life, or to catechism or to BVCS or any number of churches in the valley and talk openly and thoughtfully about abortion, birth control, other religious beliefs, science, secular issues , etc. without censure at those formats? I imagine it wouldn’t be well-received.

    Everybody has their formats and platforms for their agendas. Use them. If the thought police break into services and shut down the believers , then call me. It’s not an issue at present.

  22. There are no horror stories here yet from districts and parents who have removed this group from schools. But, they abound. More converts = more money. More money = more religion = more money… Ya gotta love American capitalism. And it’s all tax exempt!

    • Mungo has always maintained that religion should be taxed. Immediately and retroactively. If for nothing else to act as an adult entertainment tax for all the piddling pastors, priest, and rabbis for all the disgusting shit they get up to, as recently reported on regarding the catholic church. All tax proceeds should be gathered and distributed to all the childhood victims that these piddlers destroyed and took from them over the last century.

      • Boom!! Mungo you just hit the nail on the head. These hundred plus year old buildings are built on prime real estate in most townships that are struggling to make ends meet. Most of the Catholic Churches are extravagant and were built on the backs of the poor and rarely gave back to the communities that their priests preyed upon. Time for these snake oil salesmen to pay the piper and actually do something that is measurable. Pay your god damned fair share.

  23. “Our desire is … to confront the culture in which we all live today in ways that will continue to help
    advance God’s Kingdom”… Betsy DeVos, Secretary of Education. God (IF there is one) help us all.

  24. Teachers are there to TEACH. If I was a History teacher I would be required to instruct students of the three separate but equal branches of government BUT not allowed to “teach” them the President is an Idiot. Also, as a teacher, I would be well advised to keep my beliefs to myself outside the classroom. Likewise, religion.

    What Wellendorf believes is HIS BUSINESS. What Rowe believes is HER BUSINESS. What I believe is MY BUSINESS and what YOU believe is YOUR BUSINESS. Keep YOUR BUSINESS (and THEIR BUSINESSES) out of OUR tax-paid PUBLIC schools. Plus, to SERIOUSLY think your kids are being “brain-washed” to love someone of the same sex is downright RIDICULOUS.

    I believe BVYL is using Wellendorf’s suspension as a backdoor opportunity to stick their religious foot in the public education doorway, ala Betsy DeVos, in an attempt to unseat Rowe because they don’t like her likestyle choice. It’s all about the Christian Right attempting to cram THEIR version of Christianity down OUR throats.

    In case anyone is interested, here is a link to YOUNG LIFE’S PROCLAMATION PAPER September 18, 2008:


    Briefly, it states “Our Statement of Faith, Article III, affirms this: God made man and woman in His image that He might have fellowship with us. Being estranged from God by our disobedience, we are, as sinful people, incapable of a right relationship to God apart from divine grace.” It goes on to say “We proclaim the reality of sin and its consequences — that apart from divine grace, we are estranged from God by our disobedience and incapable of a right relationship with God.”

    Finally, it is my understanding that Young Life’s policies regarding homosexuality say Young Life accepts middle and high school students regardless of sexual orientation, BUT the standards are different for leaders. Only those who are heterosexual are allowed to serve the international faith-based nonprofit as leaders. That applies to young people and adults alike.

    THAT’S what this is about and it reads like a not-so watered-down version of the Westboro Baptist Church. It is MY OPINION their Proclamation can be summed up in 4 words – GAYS NEED NOT APPLY. In other words, as shown in THEIR own words, they are a homophobic anti-LGBTQ organization that should have no place in a public school that OUR tax dollars support.

  25. The contents of this article are extremely unsettling to me, and I’m sure to many of you as well. These comments are literally saying they want to fire Rowe because she’s gay and atheist, and that they know Wellendorf is a catalyst to push for religion in schools. We must not allow these blatant homophobic ideologies represent the core values that many of us stand by everyday. Let’s take a stand to this protest and show them that this hatred does not represent what the people of Beaver stand for. Make a change at the flagpole at Beaver HS at 6:00 pm Monday (tomorrow) wear rainbow

  26. I am really just coming in on this topic having no children in school and being out of school for 40 years. I am a 1979 grad of BASH.
    Curious if any of you hav been in YL, or have had children in it. YL was a very important part of my high school life. I met some of my best friends through YL from surrounding schools. I met my husband through YL. I am not a religious zealot. I do not go to church. YL helped me to examine myself and my Christian belief system through weekly meetings consisting of songs, skits and a 15 minute lesson from the Bible. Sort of like church that most of us all went to on Sunday’s..only geared towards teams. I felt no pressure. It was more like exposure in a fun and supportive environment.
    I respect the separation of church and state.
    I am just so saddened that YL is at the root of this controversy throwing BASH in the news when it was such a positive and fond part of my life.

  27. I was told this has nothing to do with anything in this article and has more to do with a bunch of Beaver kids getting caught drinking at a school sponsored event and Steve sweeping everything under the rug as to not ruin or tarnish the Beaver image. Plus some of the students parents are the more involved parents of Beaver. Apparently Dr. Rowe was never informed and policy wasn’t followed so Steve is in trouble for that. Just a rumor I was told.

    • Not to diminish your comment, but that kind of underreporting of Beaver Brand Names has been happening for decades. News of student drinking busts spread like wildfire. It’s unlikely Rowe would not know about it. Besides, it is clear from Berardelli’s own comments that the issue is about religious “persecution” of YL and his own bigotry toward a minority group. Also, if the principal’s job is to avert conflict, why hasn’t he done it? Did he have to call in Luke’s cavalry to get him out of the situation? Underage drinking is illegal and a police matter, and that would have fallen into the hands of the school resource officer. Rowe said it’s not a legal matter, so I’m inclined to believe that. Are we going to start a case for obstruction of justice by the staff? Nope. Luke could have asked Rowe for a personal favor to treat the principal kindly, and avoided all of the religious distraction.

      • The school resource officer, Officer Ken Stahl, I believe, is a real cop. He is a proven veteran with decades of experience. it is unlikely that he would help brush illegal activities by the kids under the rug and lose his job. Maybe it’s time to have Rowe do a simple op-ed and clear the matter — before the school board meeting tonight — about the principal, because all this guessing is damaging.

      • I personally think Rowe is bound not to speak specifically about any personal matters but nothing should stop Steve from speaking out and clearing the air. I heard that the JROTC had an event this summer out of state and a bunch of them got caught drinking, some of them involved with YL. The leader at ROTC tried to keep it quiet and spoke to Steve about it. Steve tried to handle it himself, not involving Stahl as to it was out of Beaver and not sharing with Rowe as it had to do with YL kids. Word got around the week school started and Steve was put on suspension. Not sure if any of this is true but it did make sense. I guess only time will tell but even then I don’t believe we will ever know the truth of the matter.

        Not to diminish your comment, but that kind of underreporting of Beaver Brand Names has been happening for decades. News of student drinking busts spread like wildfire. It’s unlikely Rowe would not know about it. Besides, it is clear from Berardelli’s own comments that the issue is about religious “persecution” of YL and his own bigotry toward a minority group. Also, if the principal’s job is to avert conflict, why hasn’t he done it? Did he have to call in Luke’s cavalry to get him out of the situation? Underage drinking is illegal and a police matter, and that would have fallen into the hands of the school resource officer. Rowe said it’s not a legal matter, so I’m inclined to believe that. Are we going to start a case for obstruction of justice by the staff? Nope. Luke could have asked Rowe for a personal favor to treat the principal kindly, and avoided all of the religious distraction.

  28. True to Beaver County and America today. Bunch of whiny, “I should be entitled”, my way is the right way adults interfering with the education and trying to influence the lives of children and teens. It’s okay for kids to plan parties, where they’re gonna drink and get drugs but it’s not okay for kids to talk about a place they can turn if they are having trouble, need someone to talk to… until a student commits suicide then there will be an outrage that the student felt alone and had nowhere to turn. If kids feel strongly about the group they should be able to talk about it and support it period. This is no different than students asking other students to join their track team, football team, cheerleading squad. Heck is no different than a boy asking a girl out in school. He may offend her if she is lesbian and hasn’t came out. The fact that students had to write a paper on LGBTQ is totally absurd. That made the students a whole lot brighter I can imagine. I would like to see the teacher use differentiated instruction and give all those same students an option and see how many of them would pick that topic, very few would be my guess.

    What the superintendent believe, what the school board members personal beliefs are is all fine and dandy but how bout we let the kids believe what they want to believe as well and instead of worrying about God in schools how bout we worry about drugs, alcohol, and bullying in schools.

  29. There are other options. Send your child to SSPP or another catholic school, Beaver Christian, the place in Midland. You have to pay the tax, but you don’t have to send your child there. That’s the beauty of America…there are always options.

  30. It’s way, way past time we get the Liberals and politics out of our schools. Instead of worrying about hurting little Johnny’s or little Suzie’s pride and give them a trophy just for getting out of bed every day, We need to turn out self supporting well adjusted young adults instead of the entitled, indoctrinated, whiny, liberal robots that are screwing up our country. It’s also high time that sports take a back seat to actually giving an education instead of creating panhandlers that go out begging money instead of learning how to earn it. School supplies and up to date TRUTHFUL curriculum should be the top priority. Not worrying about the turf on the field or putting commercial advertising on taxpayer property. If ten percent of the students play sports then they get ten percent of the money that is left over when ALL the proper, current, truthful, curriculum are paid for including books and or programs. The liberals in charge have it all backwards and no one seems to give a shit until stuff like this bites them in the ass.

    • The “Liberals” ????


      Because Beaver is such a bastion of liberalism. Get your head out of your ass. It’s not raining today or your lunch order was wrong because of “liberalism”. HAHAHA

  31. Not so Lucid-Luke(Berardelli) had his protest, NEVER ASKED FOR A RESIGNATION, and proceeded to stammer through his protest and prayer offering. Once he had the floor, more of the same. Never asked for a resignation, never mentioned a run for the school board … one big yawn. He did ask for unity, I hope he realizes the damage he has done, to the community he now hopes to unite.

  32. Whole thing blown out of proportion. Never was about being LGBT or Christian. As a former student, Mr. Wellendorf has been nothing but nice and supportive to each and every student while Rowe made zero effort to talk to the students. Rowe commenting about LGBT just shows she has wellendorf on leave for the wrong reasons. Never felt any views were pushed on me. I am Christian. Pro LGBT. And pro wellendorf. All Rowe has done is made the students and community go against eachother, all students are fighting now, what a “safe environment”. No one cares if you’re gay, no one cares if your Christian, just do your job.

  33. I grew up in Beaver County, and graduated from Monaca High School, over 50 years ago. My aunt was
    president of the Beaver County Republican Party for many years, in what, as I recall was then a very Democratic Party stronghold. My aunt must be spinning in her grave from the sound of these articles and
    the prejudice they illicit. Her’s was a strong and loving hand !!!! A leader !!!!!
    I had always been proud to have been from western Pa. and Beaver County, and Monaca, Pa. but now it is with great trepidation, that I comment about this situation, given the serious allegations about the
    Catholic church in Pennsylvania – and I am Catholic – and this from an area I hold dear to my heart!! My wife and I have traveled quite a lot, and I have lived in numerous places that I hold in great respect with
    great people in all these places, just like Beaver County. I especially loved Germany and Italy, but I was
    shocked to see some names in your articles that would tear the fabric of my heart to discover their
    ancestry. (One of the greatest joys of my youth was in visiting the great variety of ethnic peoples as I
    collected for my paper route at Holiday Times, and experience the love they extended to me)..
    This is exactly what I experienced later in my travels through several areas of the world. NOT at all like
    what our present Government appears to think and place credence in Dictators instead of TRUTH and SANITY in our DEMOCRACY and the fundamentals the Republican Party I once knew stood for as GREAT.
    IT IS VITALLY important we maintain our daily social fabric, and our schools in a generous, open, and
    loving attitude so our children grow up in the same wonderful atmosphere that was – and can be again –
    THE BEAVER COUNTY of my youth, and my ten siblings !!!!! Obviously, it is not just Catholics that need to do some serious soul-searching and LEADERSHIP RESTRUCTURING to allow everyone their GOD GIVEN
    strength is their search for happiness and love. BE WELL ! Ray Fink



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