Carnegie Free Library Unveils Michael Prestia Media Center | New today

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As Paul Ruggieri addressed a crowded auditorium at the Carnegie Free Library in Connellsville on Wednesday night, he noted the influence of a high school teacher, Larry Orlando, who put a camera in his hands when he had one. need.

“He said, ‘Take this home and learn how to use it – we need a yearbook photographer,” Ruggieri recalls. “It was awesome. It was exactly what I needed at the time.

Ruggieri, a Connellsville native and acclaimed photographer and documentary producer, was speaking at the grand opening and opening of the Michael Prestia Media Center on Wednesday. The center is highlighted by an interactive video wall 12 feet wide by 7 feet high, consisting of nine panels, along with other technological components of the room.

To help celebrate the occasion, Ruggieri loaned the library a Mid-Atlantic Regional Emmy Award for Best Documentary – an award he won for his directing of “The Great Ride.” The production captured the beauty of the Great Allegheny Passage and C&O Canal Towpath trails.

The importance of encouragement from adults is something that 34 Emmy winner Ruggieri emphasized in his remarks.

“I really don’t care if people know I have Emmys,” said Ruggieri, who lives in Greensburg. “It’s just not me… But I realized that it was important to me that children be inspired. “

John Malone, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Carnegie Free Library, said it cost about $ 65,000 to set up the media center.

“Most of the money came from a generous grant from Mr. Prestia,” said Malone.

Malone praised a number of organizations that provided the library with vital support for the project, including the Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau, which also helped fund the project.

“We applied and received $ 15,000 in grants for the project,” said Malone.

He said Kevin Ghost, CTO for the Connellsville Area School District, helped spawn the idea with his knowledge of school district technology – and then provided gigantic support for free.

Malone highlighted the extensive use that the community can make of the center.

“This is going to be used by the citizens, students and businesses of greater Connellsville,” he said.

Prestia, born in 1940, graduated from Connellsville High School and worked for over 40 years at Dravo Corp. in Pittsburgh. The literature provided by the library notes Prestia’s far-reaching contributions. “Since his death in November 2017,” the literature says, “Michael’s legacy has survived in the vast philanthropy he has bestowed on the great community of Connellsville.”

Prestia received a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Pittsburgh.

Malone paid tribute to several members of Prestia’s family who were present for the opening of the center.

Malone and others expressed hope that the new center would help spark creative impulses in students. Malone described the role Orlando – who, he noted, was Prestia’s nephew – played in Malone’s own education and also in Ruggieri’s encouragement. Malone and Ruggieri both attended Geibel Catholic High School, where Orlando was a teacher before retiring in 2012.

Ghost said planning for the center started last July and then moved quickly. He said Malone called him first and got the process going. Ghost pointed out the opportunities that the center can offer for creation.

“Where it really becomes a tool,” said Ghost, “where it really becomes a resource for our library is not just the consumption of what is out there, but the ability for us to put our own content there. -low.”

He described how the interactive video wall can represent realistic images.

“What’s really cool about this screen, because it’s almost eight feet tall, is that the people on this screen are life size,” he said. “You’re not looking at a little person on your phone; you look at them like they’re right in front of you.

Ghost also noted the ways the city could use the screen.

“In a citywide emergency, we can make it our command center,” he said. “We can communicate with the people of Connellsville, we can communicate with emergency management in Pennsylvania, we can communicate with federal emergency management. It’s like they’re here. They don’t have to come to Connellsville to talk to us.

Ghost also pointed out the educational possibilities inherent in the screen. He noted how the room could help the students by “getting them to create a video”, and he mentioned the suggestions he had heard for various educational uses, including the possible development of an interactive map. He also noted that local labor has entered the project.

“Everything in this room was done by someone from around the corner,” he said.

After his presentation, Ghost explained in more detail how the center was built.

“The students (Connellsville Area Career & Technical Center) did the framing,” he said. “DMI (LLC) of Connellsville helped complete the drywall with these students. TSItouch came in and put the brackets in place and mounted the TV and set up the touchscreen. And Armstrong pulled the cables out of each of those screens.

Ghost said a high-tech refrigerator and a smaller screen TV came from Craig Appliance & Furniture. He said Ron Rulli, a local electrician, installed the electrical circuits that power the wall.

While much of the presentation focused on technology, the discussion often turned into a reflection on student creativity and how it can be nurtured – both through awesome technology and encouragement. humans.

Ghost envisioned more students to follow Ruggieri’s creative journey with the help of the new media center.

“Students like Paul,” Ghost said, “can come and they can show what they’ve done.”


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