New Graduate, 19, Appointed to PA Cyber Charter School Board of Directors

Jun 16, 2011, 17:30 ET from PA Cyber Charter School

MIDLAND, Pa., June 16, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- William "Billy" Cattron of Greenville, Pa., became a member of the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School Board of Directors on June 13, nine days after receiving his high school diploma from the online school.

One of 1,500 graduates in the PA Cyber Class of 2011, Cattron delivered the senior commencement address during June 4 ceremonies at Pittsburgh's Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall.

As a board member with full voting privileges, Cattron, who turned 19 a week ago, will help shape the future of the state's largest and most successful cyber charter school. Cattron was sworn in immediately and joined fellow board members in voting on agenda items, including a "yes" vote on a new budget of $122 million for the 10,000-student online school.

Dr. Trombetta was impressed by Cattron's personal story and his commencement speech.

"We have wanted someone who could bring a student's perspective to the board, but waited to find the right individual," said Dr. Nick Trombetta, CEO. "Billy Cattron has shown his strength of character in overcoming personal adversity. He is an excellent student, an outstanding athlete and comes from a good family. He will be an asset to our board and our school."

"You are going to vote tonight to spend $122 million. Remember that some of that money is mine and some is your parents'," advised Joe Rodella, the board member whom Cattron replaced at the annual reorganizational meeting. Rodella, a former Mount Lebanon School District school board president who has served three years on the PA Cyber board, said he was pleased to see "new blood" on the board.

Pennsylvania public charter school boards of directors are appointed, not elected. Charter schools are like businesses in that they choose members who support the mission of the school and bring valuable experience, talents or points of view. Unlike businesses, public charter school board members are unpaid volunteers.

When unable to attend PA Cyber board meetings in person, Cattron plans to participate through remote video conferencing. Board members in Philadelphia and Harrisburg routinely attend via teleconference.

Cattron plans to serve in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard and educate himself for a career in freshwater lake and stream management. He will major in biology at Pennsylvania State University's Behrend campus in Erie, Pa., and join its Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program. He already enlisted in the National Guard and is to depart in a few days for Fort Benning, Ga., for 10 weeks of basic training. He already has nine credits from college classes he took at local campuses while in high school.

"When I first came to PA Cyber due to recovering from a sports injury, I thought my life was ending, but little did I know that a new path was just beginning," Cattron said in his commencement address. "Sometimes adversity can actually open a door of opportunity for you. I would never want to wish what happened to me upon anyone else, but because of it, I found PA Cyber and it has been great."

A concussion sustained playing football left Cattron unable to remember how to perform simple physical tasks such as tying his shoelaces. He went from an honor student and varsity football, basketball and tennis player to someone who couldn't even go to school. Concussions heal but they take a long time; his took most of his sophomore year.

As a short-term solution, Les and Theresa Cattron homeschooled their son during his sophomore year, then enrolled him in PA Cyber as a junior. Cattron found he liked the flexibility to work at his own pace and PA Cyber's broad curriculum choices, particularly in math, science and biology.

Fully recovered from his injury, Cattron took advantage of Pennsylvania school law allowing charter school students to return to their home school districts for athletics and other extracurricular activities. He resumed his varsity basketball career at Commodore Perry, played tennis, and attended prom and homecoming dances.

Despite missing his sophomore year, Billy finished his senior year as fifth highest basketball scorer in Mercer County with 368 points, was named team MVP his junior and senior years, was selected to the Mercer County All-Star team and was named first team all-region for District 10. He plans to try out for basketball at PSU's Behrend Campus.

As a former social studies teacher and retired principal of Commodore Perry High School, Les Cattron was well aware of how cyber charter schools operate, but said he never thought an online school would be something his children would want or need.

The couple's daughter Stephanie, who is older than Billy, had an outstanding academic and athletic career at Commodore Perry, including holding the women's basketball career scoring record with 1,162 points. She is a senior majoring in psychology at Penn State Behrend and helped lead its tennis team to a sixth straight AMCC conference title and a spot at the NCAA Division III national tournament.

In addition to his career in education, Les Cattron served as an elected Mercer County commissioner. Theresa Cattron was employed as Mercer County's fiscal administrator.

As an avid outdoorsman who loves to hunt, fish, boat and snow ski, Billy Cattron has enjoyed attending, as he told fellow graduates, "our school without walls." A 4.0 student at PA Cyber, he believes the online school has prepared him well for college.

Cattron said he is honored to be offered the chance to serve on the school board, and will try to bring a different perspective to board deliberations.

Is there anything about PA Cyber that he, as a board member, would change right now?

"I'd like to see more technical seminars for new students," he said. "In some of my virtual classes I had to help other kids do things like write on the blackboard or save screen shots."

Contact Fred Miller,, 724.777.5918.

SOURCE PA Cyber Charter School