Quaker Valley’s Tusick selected as Sewickley Herald Emerging Citizen

Thursday, April 25, 2019 | 6:00 AM

Nicholas Tusick is always willing to help.

Whether it’s determining what’s wrong with a classmate’s computer at Quaker Valley High School, designing an innovative learning hub in the heart of the school’s library or flying a drone over the site of the proposed new high school to capture footage for the district, Tusick never turns down a chance to assist.

“I guess I just want to help them. I want to help out anywhere I can,” said Tusick, 18, of Bell Acres, about the role he’s taken assisting peers and teachers with their technology needs. “It’s just what I love; it’s hard to explain that.”

For his efforts, Tusick has been named Sewickley Herald’s Emerging Citizen of the Year.

“He’s one that students and teachers have just come to rely upon with issues related to technology,” teacher and librarian Rich Hollein said.

Tusick’s interest in technology started when he was a fifth-grader at Edgeworth Elementary. There, he completed a project on computers and their components.

His interest in technology grew from there.

In middle school, he and a friend began helping troubleshoot problems with school computers. By the summer after eighth grade, Tusick had assembled his own computer at home.

As a freshman, Tusick became part of the school’s peer help desk, which offers an array of assistance including technology support and student tutoring. Tusick spent his time “focused strongly on technology,” he said.

In the middle of class, if a teacher was struggling with their computer, Tusick would step up to help, Hollein said. If a student couldn’t get a PowerPoint presentation to work, Tusick again was there.

“I think he enjoys being helpful. I don’t think it feels like work to him,” said Amy Keller, career education coordinator. “He really had a thirst for learning more.”

Helping others has given Tusick a chance to explore his interest, hone his skills and identify a true passion.

As a member of the peer help desk, Tusick gave himself a daily goal to try and improve at least one thing — anything from improving the ticketing system for submitting help requests or showing younger students the ropes.

“He became a leader in that respect,” Hollein said.

Tusick, who mostly taught himself everything he knows about technology, became so good at it that he was hired as one of the district’s summer technology employees following all four years of his high school career. Employees review every student’s computer to determine if repairs are needed.

Tusick also designed a modern workspace for the peer help desk.

“(District administrators) came to us and said, ‘We want to revamp the room… Make this your space,’” he said.

Last summer, the school transformed a space in the library into an innovation center. The design room features a circular whiteboard wall that allows students to brainstorm their ideas. In the middle of the room is a space for teachers to pilot new classes and for students to utilize new technology. A makerspace was added where students can bring their visions to life.

Tusick, who enjoys 3-D modeling, took computer-aided drafting files of the floor plan and borrowed a virtual reality headset from Carnegie Mellon University’s Entertainment Technology Center, allowing administrators and teachers to “walk through” plans for the space and see what it would look like before it was built.

Hollein said this helped them determine which furniture was best for the space and think ahead to how students would interact.

Tusick mostly focused on flow of people through the space.

“I guess it’s just that I have the drive to do this stuff efficiently and quickly and still have fun doing it,” Tusick said. “I don’t mind it.”

But Tusick does more than help with technology.

He’s designed the lighting for the school’s musicals and runs the soundboard in the auditorium for various programs, something he taught himself from reading the manual. When he was younger, he performed in band, chorus and orchestra. He had to pull back on some of that in high school due to his busy schedule and advanced placement courses.

By helping others, Tusick has learned a lot, he said. He’s learned social skills and how to interact with adults. And he’s been able to explore so much of the technology world.

“Nick really discovered his purpose here,” Keller said.

Tusick, the youngest of three, credits his success to parents Darla and Todd, who always let him follow his passion.

Tusick has been accepted to Robert Morris University, where he plans to major in information, security and cyber forensics. While he doesn’t know exactly what career he will pursue, he knows it will be related to technology.

Click here to read about Citizen of the Year Bob Patterson Jr.

Click here to read about Woman of the Year Beverly McQuone.

Click here to read about Man of the Year Jimmy Maslanka.

Reservations for the Sewickley Herald Honors Dinner will be accepted until May 1. Tickets are $45 each or $450 for a table of 10. The event will be held at 6 p.m. May 10 at the Edgeworth Club. For tickets, email [email protected] or call 412-324-1408.