BLaST IU 17 helps students transition into high school

Penn College and IU 17 hold STEM competition; WASD advances to state competition this May

BLaST IU 17 helps high school students transition into high school and trains teachers to help students transition from high school into everyday life. The organization also held a recent STEM competition with Pennsylvania College of Technology where local schools and students presented on how to improvise the state through STEM.

Transition Conference

BLaST IU 17 and Pennsylvania College of Technology are hosting the first Transition Conference, an event open to high school students with special needs and disabilities in 10th through 12th grade, parents and community agency supporters from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. March 15 at Klump Academic Center on the Penn College campus.

“The transition from high school can be daunting for any student, and much more so for students needing extra support,” said Amy Wolfhope-Briggs, director of student services for BLaST IU 17. “We want to ensure they have the information and resources to help them succeed.”

This conference will provide breakout sessions in the areas of postsecondary transition: education and training, employment and independent living. In addition, postsecondary transition vendors will be on site to answer any questions about the services they offer.

“Our goal has been to provide a positive and informative event that will help this population of students be successful as they transition and for the rest of their lives,” shared Jeffrey Pelly, Transition consultant for BLaST.

Adam Blank will be the keynote speaker for the event. Blank is a gifted motivational speaker with challenges of visual impairment, albinism and autism who has an inspiring story to share. His message of being bullied and overcoming it has gained him recognition throughout the state.

Registration information has been communicated to each local school district’s special education director.

Some schools will be taking students as a group and will register the student. There is a cost. If register individually, visit

For more information, call Jeffrey Pelly at 570-323-8561 ext. 1007.

STEM competition

At the PA Governor’s STEM Competition, BLaST IU 17 and Pennsylvania College of Technology held the fifth annual regional competition held at the college for student teams in ninth through 12th grade. The competition was open to school districts throughout Bradford, Lycoming, Sullivan and Tioga counties and tested the skills of three teams this year including East Lycoming High School, Towanda Area High School and Williamsport Area High School.

This year’s theme was “Improving Pennsylvania Through STEM.” Area teams selected a real-world problem, conducted research, designed, built and presented a device that was capable of making the quality of life better for citizens in the state. Each team had five members.

Williamsport Area High School focused on an repurposing the organic industry’s waste into soil amendment to reduce the overuse of fertilizers and pesticides in farming in the state that of repurposing organic industry waste into soil amendment to reduce the overuse of fertilizers and pesticides in farming. Their presentation of the Cup of Grow demonstrated a natural soil amendment using repurposed industry waste of used coffee grounds, spent tea leaves, brewery grain byproducts and sawdust.

Williamsport Area High School took first place in the regional competition and will move on to the final state event, the 2019 PA Governor’s STEM Competition, scheduled to be held in May in Harrisburg.

Towanda Area School District presented the Backpack Rescue Device, a product aimed at aiding hunters and hikers who fall victim to injury while in our woodlands in getting to medical assistance.

The Hughesville High School team from East Lycoming School District presented on the e. coli problem in the state and proposed a device designed to combat the issue.

“STEM-based education plays an important role in filling a number of current and future jobs, and we are excited that our local school districts see the value in having students explore all areas of STEM,” said Randy J. Zangara, dean of college transitions and first year initiatives.

Teaching and



As part of the Teaching and Professional Development curriculum BLaST IU 17 provides, teachers and administrators were recently offered the opportunity to participate in a series of workshops geared toward assisting students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in navigating life after high school.

“Preparing transition age youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders for College and employment can be challenging at times,” said Jeffrey Pelly, transition consultant for BLaST and facilitator for the classes.

This workshop trained participants in the Arc of Philadelphia’s “Neurodiversity in the Workplace” curriculum. This curriculum allows individuals with diverse neurological conditions to function at a high professional level with specialized training. The goal of the Arc of Philadelphia has been to shed light on the possibilities that workforce diversity can offer, not just to employers, but to their communities as well.