- Grove City, Pennsylvania

December 30, 2013

Teen's work lighting the way

By Felicia A. Petro/Senior Reporter
Allied News

GROVE CITY — A new digital sign for Grove City Area High School is on its way - thanks to a 17-year-old go-getter.

"To see it up there in the next couple weeks will be a sense of relief, a big feeling of joy for all this hard work," said Matthew Gordon, a GCHS senior who began working on the project almost a year ago.

"Throughout the whole process, he learned a lot of life lessons about how a business works," said his father, David Gordon, whose Grove City insurance business, Davevic, funded much of the project.

"He had a lot of obstacles before him and was successful. I'm definitely proud of what he did," he said.

The school had about $5,000 in seed money for the digital sign, which left about $20,000 for Davevic to add. "My dad and Davevic was generous enough to give us the money for the sign in the fall," Matthew said. "My dad, my grandpa and my family have always given back to the community."

Matthew began working at his father's business - which his now-retired grandfather began - last January for a GCHS professional development program that allows juniors and seniors to work out of school for credit in a field that interests them.

Principal Dr. Rae Lin Howard thought Matthew would be an ideal student to lead the sign project.

"I  thought it was a great opportunity to learn about the business world," Matthew said, "how things work and how certain steps have to be done to do things the right way and legal way."

"It was a great opportunity others don't often have," said Matthew, who plans to attend SUNY Binghamton on a Division 1 baseball scholarship to major in accounting. "I got to put up a sign for the whole school district for a class," he said.

Howard approved details with Matthew, who also attended school board and borough meetings about the project. He worked with borough code enforcement and with the bid winner, Custom Signs of Jackson Center.

"I also had help from Ed Benedict, my adviser at Davevic in this process," Matthew said. "If I needed help with something, he was my go-to man."

Davevic and three other businesses originally gave money toward the sign project, with the idea that their names would be advertised on the sign. After about seven months of work, the borough's solicitor announced at a council meeting that zoning laws didn't allow any ads on the sign.

Without the advertisements, all of the businesses except for Davevic declined their original donations to the project.

School district Superintendent Dr. Richard Mextorf is grateful.

"Matt Gordon's dad said, 'I'm going to do it without the advertising,'" he said. "It's so wonderful; a very positive thing."

The sign, which is similar in size to the current letterboard sign, will be built a few feet closer to the Dairy Queen on West Main Street so messages can be changed remotely from the high school office. "It has to have a clearing for a signal," Mextorf said.

It will be a big help, since the current sign requires a school staff member to hang letters by hand, the superintendent added. "While that is not enormously difficult, but it takes someone's time to do it."

The remote also allows messages to be changed more frequently.

Mextorf announced to school directors this month that the sign would be installed soon.

With Matthew leading, "It's truly a student project," Mextorf added. "He's pretty remarkable. Matt's a great kid."

The district is in the third year of its professional development program. It began with one student the first year; about six last year and a dozen this year, he said.

"The electronic sign was long overdue," David Gordon said. "Now it'll be in modern times. It's a good thing. It's for the district and kids to benefit for years to come."

"It shows the high school and school district is in with new technology and we're moving forward," Matthew said. "It's awesome. Unbelievable. I'm honored, because every time I see that sign, from my point of view, I helped put that up."

Published Dec. 14, 2013, in Allied News. Pick up a copy at 201 A Erie St., Grove City.