Dan Forry named Penn Manor chief financial officer

The Penn Manor school board has appointed Dan Forry to succeed Chris Johnston as Penn Manor’s chief financial officer.

Forry will begin at Penn Manor on March 27 and work with Johnston during a transition period prior to Johnston’s retirement on June 30.

“I am grateful to the Penn Manor executive leadership team and the school board for selecting me as the next CFO,” Forry said. “I’m excited to be joining a Penn Manor team that is committed to ‘a better community … one student at a time,’ and I look forward to working with this incredible group of people.” 

Forry currently serves as chief finance and operations officer at Elizabethtown Area School District. From 2009 to 2020, he was chief operating officer and director of enterprise and operations at Hempfield School District.

Forry was a shift manager at Exelon Nuclear from 1999 to 2009 and previously was a nuclear submarine officer with the U.S. Navy.

A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, he has a master’s degree in business administration from Elizabethtown College and a master’s in operations research from George Washington University.

“We are very excited to have Dan join the Penn Manor School District,” said Penn Manor superintendent Dr. Phil Gale. “He has 14 years of school experience, which will allow him to continue to lead Penn Manor in a strong financial manner.”

Welcome to the Penn Manor team!

Penn Manor increases substitute teacher pay to $150 per day

If you have considered working as a substitute teacher in Penn Manor School District, now is the time to apply. We’ve just increased our daily pay to $150, among the most competitive rates in Lancaster County.

And that rate increases to $200 per day after 15 consecutive work days. 

You can apply for day-to-day sub positions here through Substitute Teacher Service.

As a substitute, you can pick and choose the hours and locations where you’d like to work. At Penn Manor, day-to-day subs are provided with lesson plans and instructions to assist them in the classroom, and they also receive free lunch.

Subs are needed at all levels in Penn Manor schools.

The Substitute Teacher Service staff is available to assist applicants in meeting state requirements for working in our schools and to provide training and other resources to prepare you to enter the classroom. In addition, as an STS employee, you may be eligible for unemployment benefits during the summer, when school is not in session.

Please consider helping Penn Manor meet the educational needs of our students by working as a substitute teacher!

Penn Manor response to Auditor General’s report

Penn Manor was one of 12 school districts chosen by the Pennsylvania Auditor General’s Office for a performance audit covering the period from July 1, 2017, to June 30, 2021. The results of the audit were released to the public on January 25.

The audit did not find any non-compliance with laws or regulations. However, the Auditor General recommended changes to state laws that enable school districts to raise taxes above levels established under Act 1.

Penn Manor applied for and used Act 1 exceptions three times during the audit period. This was part of a multi-year plan to provide funding for the $100 million high school construction project, which was not mentioned in the audit report. Penn Manor used roughly $18.5 million from its capital reserve fund to fund this project.

These tax increases were discussed and approved by members of the Penn Manor Board of School Directors at multiple public meetings. Since Act 1 took effect in 2007, Penn Manor has utilized Act 1 exceptions only four times. 

We are proud of the fiscal management of Penn Manor, which ranks 404th of 500 school districts in Pennsylvania in the amount it spends to educate each student.

To see the report’s findings, and Penn Manor’s formal responses, click here.

Coaches, former athletes inducted into Wall of Honor

Several former Penn Manor student athletes and coaches were inducted into the Athletic Wall of Honor during a ceremony January 20 in the high school auditorium.

The inductees included Coach Joe Herman, football and basketball star Cody Booth, pole vaulter Jocelyn Witmer, the 1997 girls’ track 3,200-meter relay team, and the 2005 boys’ volleyball team.

Joe Herman, a former Penn Manor teacher, was the Comets’ head and assistant track coach for over 40 years, leading numerous student athletes to district and state medals. He also was a longtime boys’ soccer coach and has been the boys’ basketball scorekeeper for more than 40 years.

Jocelyn Witmer (Class of 2008) was a three-time L-L League champion, a two-time District III champion and finished 4th and 5th in the PIAA championship. She also was the Lancaster Newspapers Track & Field Athlete of the Year in 2008 and competed for Penn State as an NCAA qualifier.

The 1997 girls’ relay team of Tess Smith, Allison (Funk) Hess, Erin (Gemmill) Panzarella, and Betty Mohler Tesch, won the 1997 League and District III Championships and finished fifth in the state. They also set a school record of 9:26.82. 

Cody Booth (Class of 2009) was a league all-star in football as a tight end and defensive end and earned first team Lancaster-Lebanon All-League Honors in basketball in his senior year. Cody was a four-year football letterman at Temple University and spent three years in the NFL. He is an assistant football coach at the University of Idaho.

The 2005 boys’ volleyball team, coached by Chris Telesco, was Section I, Lancaster-Lebanon League and District III Champions. The team was ranked number 1 in the state for most of the season and finished fifth in the state.  

Prior to the ceremony, the inductees and guests enjoyed dinner in the high school large group instruction room. The Wall of Honor inductees were later recognized during halftime of the boys’ basketball game.

Congratulations to these former students and coaches, past and present!

(Photos courtesy of Isabella Siebold, PMHS senior)

  • Photo of Wall of Honor recipient Joe Herman.
    Joe Herman

Five PMHS students qualify for regional chorus festival

Five Penn Manor High School students have qualified to participate in the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association’s Region V Chorus Festival.

The students are Drew Lebo and David Ferre (both tenor 1), Kaleb Kabakjian (bass 1), James Helm (bass 2), and Nicole Chen (piano accompanist).

The students qualified for Regionals after auditioning during the PMEA District 7 Chorus Festival, held January 13 and 14 at Solanco High School. Nicole placed first on her instrument and Kaleb placed fourth in his voice part following the auditions.

The Region V level of the festival circuit includes students from school districts spanning 16 counties in Districts 7 and 10. 

The Region V Chorual Festival will be held February 24 and 25 at Mountain View Middle School in Cumberland Valley School District.

Congratulations to these students and Penn Manor’s choral director, Lauren Ciemiewicz!

Photo of students selected for the regional choral concert.
From left, James Helm, Drew Lebo, Kaleb Kalbakjian, David Ferre and Nicole Chen.

Nominations sought for Outstanding Educators, Employees for 2022-2023

Many unsung heroes work in our schools, and once a year, community members have the opportunity to honor them for their service.

If you know of a teacher or other staff member who goes out of his or her way to help students and support our schools, consider nominating them for an Outstanding Educator/Employee Award. Nominees will be accepted online only here.

The school district will present the 2022-2023 awards for Outstanding Elementary Educator, Outstanding Secondary Educator and Outstanding Employee later this year. You can nominate candidates for these awards from January 20 through February 26. Nominations can be submitted by parents/guardians, students and colleagues of Penn Manor staff members.

Last year’s honorees were Chip Froelich, the school district’s delivery driver; Wendy Letavic, Penn Manor’s English Learning Development Specialist; and Jenna Fisher, former physical education teacher at Pequea Elementary, who is now an assistant principal at the high school.

The Outstanding Educator Awards should be based on a teacher’s ability to promote academic growth in his/her students and for outstanding pupil-teacher relationships.  A person may nominate one elementary teacher, one secondary teacher or one teacher on each level.  The nominee must currently be employed by Penn Manor School District.

Outstanding Employee Awards should be based on a staff member’s ability to support the educational program and the quality of his/her relationships with staff and students.  A person may nominate one elementary staff member, one secondary staff member or one employee on each level.  The nominee must currently be employed by Penn Manor.

Please note that honorees from previous years are not eligible this year. Here is the list of past nominees. You can make nominations here. Use one form for each nominee.

Here are an explanation of the awards and nomination guidelines.

Thank you for taking the time to acknowledge the hard work of our employees!

Students become teachers at “Strings Share” concert

Marticville Middle School hosted a recent concert by Penn Manor elementary students that featured a twist – the show closed with audience members, not students, performing.

The January 17 “Strings Share” concert featured about 50 strings players from all seven Penn Manor elementary schools, who performed songs for their parents and family members.

The music teachers in attendance then directed the students to venture into the audience to teach a family member how to play their violin, viola or cello. After a short lesson, the family members then performed snippets of the songs they’d just heard, with direction from a music teacher.

The unusual ending allowed the students to show their families what they have learned, not just by performing, but by teaching.  You can see how things went by watching this video.

“We wanted to have our beginning strings players show what they know and experience the large group playing together,” said Jill Almoney, an instrumental music teacher at four district elementary schools. “You can see by the smiles that the sharing was just what the music teachers had hoped for.”

Many thanks to our teachers and their students for spreading the love of music!

  • Photo of students performing onstage.

Manor FFA Members earn Keystone Degrees and jackets at PA Farm Show 

Manor FFA members from Penn Manor High School received several awards at the Pennsylvania Farm Show, held January 7 through 14 at the Farm Show Arena in Harrisburg. The awards were presented during the Farm Show’s FFA Mid-Winter Convention.

Here are this year’s award recipients:

Keystone Degrees
Four Students – Chloe Perry, Ezekiel Smith, Timothy Frey, and Brandon McMichael – received their Keystone Degrees.

The Keystone is the fourth-highest of five degrees an FFA member can receive. To earn a Keystone, a member must first earn Greenhand and Chapter Degrees, complete 25 hours of community service, participate in at least 15 FFA activities, demonstrate leadership skills, advocate for agriculture and the FFA, and have 300 hours outside of school and $1,000 invested in a supervised agricultural experience (SAE).

One Manor FFA member, Ezekiel Smith, won the Regional Star Keystone in agribusiness for going above and beyond with his SAE project on making and selling knives.

Also during the convention, Penn Manor parents Clyde and Donna Smith received an Honorary Keystone Degree for having three of their sons – Phillip, Isaiah and Ezekiel – earn Keystones.

Jacket Scholarships
Three students – Weston Shertzer, Nathaniel Frey and Kassandra Welch – earned jacket scholarships, enabling them to receive their FFA jackets, scarf and ties at no cost. The blue jacket is an honorary symbol of starting membership in the FFA.

To be considered for a scholarship, the students had to fill out an application explaining what the jacket would mean to them and their future plans in FFA.

Congratulations to these Manor FFA award recipients!

  • Photo of Jacket Scholarship recipients, from left, Weston Shertzer, Kassandra Welch and Nathaniel Frey.
    Jacket Scholarship recipients, from left, Weston Shertzer, Kassandra Welch and Nathaniel Frey.

Teams, athletes and coach to be inducted into Wall of Honor January 20

Penn Manor will induct two former student athletes, a coach and two athletic teams into its Athletic Wall of Honor during a dinner and ceremony on January 20.

This year’s inductees include:

Joe Herman, a longtime coach and supporter of Penn Manor athletics. A former Penn Manor teacher, Joe was the Comets’ head and assistant track coach for over 40 years, leading numerous student athletes to district and state medals. He also was a longtime boys’ soccer coach and has been the boys’ basketball scorekeeper for more than 40 years.

The 2005 boys’ volleyball team, which was Section I, Lancaster-Lebanon League and District III Champions. The team was ranked number 1 in the state for part of the season and finished fifth in the state.  

The 1997 girls’ track 3200-meter relay team of Tess Smith, Allison (Funk) Hess, Erin (Gemmill) Panzarella, and Betty Mohler Tesch. The team won the 1997 League and District III Championships and finished fifth in the state. They also set a school record of 9:26:82. 

Cody Booth (Class of 2009), who excelled in football and basketball. Cody was a league all-star in football as a tight end and defensive end and earned first team Lancaster-Lebanon All-League Honors in basketball in his senior year. Cody spent three years in the NFL.

Jocelyn Witmer (Class of 2008), a pole vaulter who was a three-time L-L League champion, a two-time District III champion and finished 4th and 5th in the PIAA championship. She also was the Lancaster Newspapers Track & Field Athlete of the Year in 2008.

The dinner will begin at 5 p.m. on January 20 in the high school cafeteria, followed by the awards ceremony at 6:30 p.m. in the high school auditorium.

Tickets are $30 and can be purchased by emailing Jill Hamill in the Penn Manor athletic office at jill.hamill@pennmanor.net or calling 717-872-9520, extension 1867.

The inductees will be recognized following the ceremony at halftime of the Penn Manor boys’ home basketball game against McCaskey.

  • Photo of Jocelyn Witmer
  • Photo of Joe Herman
  • Photo of Cody Booth

Readathon to be held at all elementary schools in February & March

The Penn Manor Readathon is coming to an elementary school near you, beginning February 9.

Members of the Civitas Club at Penn Manor High School will read books, lead craft activities and encourage the love of reading for students in kindergarten, first and second grades.

Readathon events will be held twice at each school from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. February 9 to March 24. The activities are free, but parents need to sign up their children using this form.

Here is the schedule:

  • Central Manor — Monday, March 6, and Tuesday, March 21
  • Conestoga — Wednesday, Feb. 15, and Monday, Feb. 27
  • Eshleman — Friday, March 3, and Friday, March 24
  • Hambright — Thursday, Feb. 16, and Thursday, March 2
  • Letort — Monday, Feb. 13, and Wednesday, March 1
  • Martic —  Thursday, Feb. 9, and Wednesday, Feb. 22
  • Pequea — Thursday, Feb. 23, and Thursday, March 16

Many thanks to the Penn Manor Education Foundation for funding this event.

Central Manor students featured in Google CS First video

Students and staff at Central Manor Elementary School are among the “stars” of a new video created by Google to promote its CS First software, which helps students learn coding.

The 3½ -minute video, “CS First: Unlock Opportunities for Students with Computer Science,”  was released to the public on January 3. View it here.

Over the summer, Google reached out to Judy Keller, a Penn Manor technology trainer, to see if Penn Manor would be interested in participating in the project, which showcases how three schools use the software. Judy is a certified Google trainer and has helped implement CS First in all our elementary schools.

On October 12, a film crew came to Karli Broomell’s fifth-grade Central Manor classroom to film a science lesson that utilized CS First.

Prior to the filming, students completed a unit on cells, organelles and the roles they play. Mrs. Broomell then challenged students to create a skit using CS First in which a cell’s organelles have conversations with each other describing their functions.

Students broke into small groups to write a script for their skit and then worked on their own using CS First to complete their project, putting their own unique touch on it, Mrs. Broomell said.

“In the end, one student was on her way to producing a rap song about cells utilizing the skills she had learned in the CS First curriculum.”

That student was among several who were interviewed for the video, along with Mrs. Keller and Mrs. Broomell. The video also features footage of students at work on the project in the classroom and a shot of the Central Manor playground.

“It was such a neat experience to watch a film crew at work right within the walls of our classroom,” said Mrs. Broomell. “The students loved the video.”

Many thanks to our students and staff, as well as Google, for making this opportunity possible.

  • Photo of filming in Central Manor classroom.

Penn Manor senior places first in anti-litter photo contest

When Maddie Whited was exploring the woods at her family’s cabin in Huntingdon in early November, she came across a pile of trash that, while unsightly, proved to be an inspiration.

Among the debris was a discarded television set with leaves and twigs where the screen used to be. Maddie snapped several photos of the TV and submitted them to a contest designed to spread an anti-litter message.

The photo, titled “Nature Show,” earned a first-place prize in the student category of the 2022 Gene Capaldi Lens on Litter Photo Contest, sponsored by the Pennsylvania Resources Council.

“When I got the call about my photo winning, I was really excited and surprised that it had won,” said Maddie, who received $500 for her winning entry. “I took the photo to enter the contest because I thought it had a good message.”

Maddie submitted a total of four images to the contest, which she learned about from her Penn Manor High School art teacher, Maggie Cantrell.

“Photography has always been something that interests me but Mrs. Cantrell taught me more about it and helped me realize it’s something I want to pursue,” said Maddie, who plans to study photography at Millersville University.

Congratulations to Maddie and Mrs. Cantrell on this award! 

Photo of Maddie Whited and her teacher, Maggie Catrell.
Maddie Whited, right, and her teacher, Maggie Cantrell, who is holding Maddie’s winning photograph.

Lunch & Learn activities offered to pre-schoolers beginning January 31

  Beginning January 31, each of our seven elementary schools will welcome preschool children and their parents/guardians to story time, crafts, lunch and a visit to the school library to check out books that will be returned the following month.

    Called Lunch & Learn, this program is designed to familiarize future students and their parents with our schools so they become comfortable with the setting prior to their first day.

   Lunch & Learn activities will be held each month through May. The May events will take place in the evening, but all others are over lunchtime. Here is a printable schedule that includes phone numbers for each school. Please call to reserve a spot and confirm the time of each Lunch & Learn.

   You may attend at your home school or any other elementary school in Penn Manor. Siblings are welcome, and a parent/guardian must accompany all children.

2023 Lunch & Learn schedule

Cardboard Regatta sets sail at Millersville University pool

It was sink or swim on December 21 as Penn Manor High School Physics students set sail in the Cardboard Regatta at the Millersville University swimming pool.

The event pitted teams of students against one another to determine which boats — constructed entirely out of cardboard and duct tape — could stay afloat the longest.

The competition was the brainchild of Penn Manor High School physics teacher Barney Peace, who challenged his student to design, build and pilot the boats.

About 60 students participated, either in the water or by helping their peers get into their boats, timing the race heats, breaking down the soggy cardboard creations or serving as commentators.

Students had to provide the cardboard and duct tape for each vessel. Prior to construction, they learned about Archimedes’ principle of buoyancy — force equals the weight of the water displaced.

They used that concept and density to calculate the water level on the sides of their boats. They also calculated the maximum mass their boats could hold. Many students doubled the layers of cardboard or added extra support to help their boats stay afloat longer.

While helpers held their cardboard creations in the water, two students got into each boat to begin their race heat, which was timed by student volunteers waiting at the other end of the pool. Most boats were successfully paddled by hand across the pool. Once on the other side, weight was added as more students piled into the cardboard creations until they, invariably, sank.

“The success of this type of project depends on the efforts of the students, and with so many boats reaching their destination, I think they rose to the challenge,” said Mr. Peace. “This is a great activity that allows students to apply what they learn in the classroom and have a lot of fun.”

The race drew several parent spectators and three Penn Manor High School assistant principals, who were recruited to help provide paddle power in three boats. The event was made possible with a $2,642 grant from Penn Manor Education Foundation to cover pool rental fees.

As a follow-up, participants had to write a report on their experience and what they’d do differently next time.

Next semester, Mr. Peace is planning an even bigger regatta to include about 140 students enrolled in Physics, Applied Science and Principles of Science classes.

  • Photo of students building cardboard boats

Volunteers needed for REAL Life program at high school February 28 and March 1

Volunteers are needed to assist Junior Achievement of South Central PA in presenting the REAL Life financial literacy program to Penn Manor High School juniors on February 28 and March 1.

All 11th-graders will participate in the day-long program, which includes activities designed to encourage students to plan for their own economic success.

REAL Life will include budgeting exercises to help students understand how financial decisions today will impact their lives as young adults. The sessions also will include activities to help students improve their resume writing and interviewing skills.

Volunteers are needed to lead one activity per day as students rotate through different stations in the high school auxiliary gym. Junior Achievement will provide online training and on-site support to all volunteers, and a light breakfast and lunch will be available.

You do not need to be an approved school volunteer to participate.

Please share this volunteer opportunity with friends, neighbors and colleagues who may be interested in helping our students. Here are more specifics on volunteer duties and a direct link to sign up. If Penn Manor cannot enough volunteers, we may not be able to provide this valuable program.

For more information on the REAL Life, contact Shannon Baker, Junior Achievement vice president of program operations, at sbaker@jascpa.org.

If you have any specific questions regarding Penn Manor’s program, please contact Kim Marsh at 717-872-9520 ext. 1807.

Please consider volunteering and joining us as we spend the day empowering and inspiring our students!