All activities for Saturday, Jan. 18, are cancelled

All Penn Manor School District activities, games and practices scheduled for Saturday, January 18, are cancelled due to the impending weather.  All Penn Manor buildings will be closed.

Manor FFA members earn Keystones, jackets at PA Farm Show

Penn Manor High School students won several awards recently at the Pennsylvania Farm Show representing Manor FFA.

Nine students – Cody Hurlburt, Darby Conrad, Kylie Kreider, Brenna McDevitt, Lauren Sensenich, Jolene Fields, Austin Kolb, Madeleine Denlinger and Renee Eshbach – earned Keystone Degrees.

The Keystone is the fourth of five degrees FFA members can earn.  Only 405 members out of 12,390 in the state received the degree.

To earn a Keystone Degree, FFA members must hold the Greenhand and Chapter FFA Degrees; perform at least 25 hours of community service; earn or invest $1,000 or work 300 hours outside of school in their SAE program; participate in 15 FFA Activities, five of them above the chapter level; and demonstrate leadership and advocacy of agriculture and FFA.

Two of the Keystone recipients, Maddy Denlinger and Jolene Fields, also interviewed for State Star in Ag Placement and Agricultural Science, representing the eastern region.

Three students – Chloe Perry, Jackie Nachmius and Abi Walborn – earned a blue jacket, the iconic symbol of FFA membership.

The first-year member jacket campaign is sponsored by the Pennsylvania FFA Alumni, which provides the jackets and a scarf or tie free of charge.  To qualify, students must write about what the jacket means to them and what they plan to achieve while wearing it.

Congratulations students for earning these honors!

Kindergarten registration opens; Information Night to be held Feb. 4

Kindergarten registration for the 2020-2021 school year opened Tuesday, January 7, and Penn Manor is hosting an information night February 4 to familiarize parents with the district’s kindergarten program and area preschools.

Students registering for kindergarten must be 5 years old by Sept. 1, 2020, to be eligible to enroll for 2020-2021. Parents/guardians must begin the registration process online by clicking here.

When filling out the form, please make sure you register for the 2020-2021 year. After the form is completed, you will be directed to a page to schedule an in-person interview to complete the registration process.

Kindergarten Information Night and Preschool Expo will be held Tuesday, February 4, from 6:15 to 8:15 p.m., at Hambright Elementary School, 3000 Charlestown Road, Lancaster 17603. 

The snow date is February 5 (same times and location).

Preschool Expo:  Beginning at 6:15 p.m., Penn Manor families will have the opportunity to network with representatives of local preschools to learn about pre-K options in our area. (Penn Manor does not currently offer a preschool program.)

Enrolling your child in a pre-K program helps build a solid foundation for learning and eases the transition to kindergarten.

Kindergarten Information Night:  At 7 p.m., our Penn Manor kindergarten teachers will provide an overview of our curriculum and explain how you can help ensure that your child is ready to attend kindergarten.

Parents may attend one or both events. Registration is not required, and child care will not be provided.

Please join us!

Happy Holidays from Penn Manor School District

Penn Manor School District would like to wish our students, staff members, parents and community members a safe and happy holiday season!

All Penn Manor schools will be closed until classes resume on January 2, 2020. The district office will be open December 23, 26, 27, 30 and 31, with limited hours and staffing. Please call (717) 872-9500 for more information.

Enjoy the holiday break, and thank you for a great year!

17 PM students qualify for state Future Business Leaders conference

   Seventeen Penn Manor High School students have qualified to compete at the Future Business Leaders of America state conference in Hershey in April.

   The students qualified by placing in the top two or three at the FBLA Region 18 Conference, held Dec. 18 at Cocalico High School. In addition to Penn Manor, students from Cocalico, Conestoga Valley, Hempfield, Lancaster Catholic, Solanco and Elizabethtown participated in the conference.

   Students took tests or completed oral presentations as part of the competition. Here are the results:

  • Kyle Ament: first place, Accounting I.
  • The team of Tim Hermansen and Dominic Roma: first place, Sports Management.
  • Kaden Peart: first place, Insurance and Risk Management.
  • Alex Mowery: second place, Personal Finance.
  • The team of Lucas Charles and Owen Harris: second place, Banking and Financial Systems.
  • Jonah Eby: second place, Business Law.
  • Gavin Davidson: second place, Emerging Business Issues.
  • Greg Burrows: second place, Entrepreneurship.
  • Max Forrey: second place, Global Business.
  • Alex Mowery: second place, Personal Finance.  
  • Luis Then-Frias: third place, Introduction to Business.
  • Dara Helfrich: third place, Introduction to Public Speaking.
  • The team of Trevor Grassel, Owen Rohrer and Dan Mader: third place, Management Decision Making.
  • Eibhlin Arvizu: third place, Organizational Leadership.
  • Hunter Hoffman: third place, Personal Finance.

     All but one of these students qualified for the FBLA State Leadership Conference, scheduled for April 6-8 at Hershey Lodge & Convention Center.

  Congratulations to these students, and best wishes as you compete on the state level!

From left, Gavin Davidson, Kaden Peart and Dara Helfrich.

PM Quiz Bowl team wins MT Academic Challenge

   Penn Manor’s varsity Quiz Bowl team outscored 21 other teams to take first place in the Manheim Township Academic Challenge, held Dec. 16 at Manheim Township High School.

   The Penn Manor team of Max Keefer, Gabe McGough, Connor Mayers and Audrey Ritchie went 5-0 in the morning rounds and swept all three afternoon games to earn a spot in the finals match.

   The Comets beat the Great Valley “A” Team, 375-305, clinching the win on tossup 19 and ending the day 9-0.

   Connor “powered” 58 questions – answering early to get 15 points instead of the usual 10 – and was the top individual scorer of the tournament, which included teams from Hempfield, Lancaster Mennonite, Bermudian Springs, Friends Select, Huntingdon, Mechanicsburg and other schools.

   “Connor and his teammates have worked very hard to get to this point,” said Sallie Bookman, a Quiz Bowl coach and Penn Manor High School teacher of the gifted. “They have all put in their time and deserved the win.”

   Penn Manor, which has a 9-3 record in the Lancaster-Lebanon League, has already qualified for two national tournaments – in Atlanta in May and in Chicago in June, Bookman said.

   Congratulations to team members on an impressive win!

Quiz Bowl team members, from left, Max Keefer, Gabe McGough, Connor Mayers and Audrey Ritchie.

Here’s how to stay notified of weather-related closings/delays

School closings and delays will be reported on local radio and television stations before 6 a.m., whenever possible. They also will be posted on the district website and Twitter feed. You can also call the inclement weather hotline at 872-9500, ext. 2333, to find out the status of Penn Manor schools.

When inclement weather conditions develop during the day, resulting in an early closing, parents will be notified via automated phone call. Penn Manor uses the Sapphire phone and text communications service for these and other rapid notifications. The system uses contact information from the Sapphire student information system. To assure you are contacted, please submit your updated phone number and email addresses via your Sapphire Community Portal account. For instructions, please see this guide.

During an early dismissal for inclement weather, high school and middle school students will generally be dismissed first, followed by elementary students. Phone calls will NOT be made for closings/delays announced before the school day begins.

Useful links

Foundation awards $93,000 in grants to Penn Manor teachers

Penn Manor Education Foundation has awarded a record $93,000 in Venture Grants to help teachers enhance learning opportunities for Penn Manor students.

The grants will enable elementary students to create podcasts of immigrant families’ personal stories, help support a therapy dog for middle school students and add 3D printing pens, a CNC router and vertical tower gardens to high school classrooms.

The grants also will pay for field trips to Gettysburg National Military Park, Fulton Opera House, the state Capitol and the Museum of the American Revolution, among other destinations.

In all, 65 teachers and principals at all 10 Penn Manor schools received funding for 67 grants to enhance math, science, social studies, physical education, music and art classes, while improving the school environment.

The projects range from $245 to purchase flags representing the 25 countries of origin of Eshleman Elementary students to $3,750 for vertical growing tower gardens for high school agricultural education and family and consumer science classrooms.

Other grants will fund a scholarly student magazine at the high school, multicultural books at several elementary and middle schools, high school diffraction lab materials, musical instruments and software and robotics kits and materials.

“The Venture Grants are such a wonderful opportunity that allows teachers to bring their classroom projects to life,” said Emily O’Donnell, a fifth-grade teacher who purchased guided reading books in multiple genres for her students at Central Manor Elementary School with a $500 grant.

“Exposing students to engaging literature will create lifelong readers, and PMEF is directly supporting this important goal in my classroom.”

Since 2000, the Education Foundation has awarded more than 850 teacher Venture Grants in excess of $940,000, providing learning opportunities that teachers and schools could not fund on their own.

A full list of grants for 2019-2020 is available here.

“The grant program is made possible through the generous support of our community,” said Jan Mindish, PMEF executive director. “A big thank you to our Penn Manor staff members, K-12, who spent their time and energy submitting 76 grant requests.”

Mindish said this year’s record level of funding was made possible because of contributions of $51,000 from area businesses through the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program and $20,000 from individuals through the PMEF Founding Friends program.

In addition to funding teacher grants, the Education Foundation awards more than $70,000 in scholarships to graduating Penn Manor seniors each year and provides more than $15,000 in grants to students and families experiencing financial hardships through its Strong & Healthy Families program.

If you would like to support PMEF, you can donate online at or via check addressed to PMEF, P.O. Box 1001, Millersville, PA 17551.

  • Central Manor students with new books
    Central Manor students with new books

Nationally recognized Tubman researcher, author visits Penn Manor class

   Students in an AP Seminar class at Penn Manor High School this week had an opportunity to watch a new film about Harriet Tubman and learn firsthand about the painstaking research undertaken by an acclaimed biographer and author who helped assure the movie’s authenticity.

    Kate Clifford Larson, author of the Tubman biography Bound for the Promised Land, shared stories of her quest to dispel myths and learn the truth about Tubman while researching her book during a visit with students enrolled in the AP Seminar class, “Race, Ethnicity and Gender,” on Dec. 9.

    Larson then joined the students at Penn Cinema to watch Harriet, the new movie about Tubman, before engaging with them again about her research practices and her role as an advisor on the film.

   “Today was incredible,” said Etsub Taye, a sophomore AP Seminar student. “Having the opportunity to talk to an author who has so much experience and to have her share her wisdom with us was incredible.”

    Etsub was one of 54 current and former AP Seminar students who took part in the event, which was organized by their social studies teacher, Todd Mealy.

   Mealy met Larson in 2007 during a workshop for educators on the Underground Railroad at which she was a keynote speaker. They kept in touch over the years, and when Harriet was about to be released, Mealy – who has written five books of his own, two of them biographies – approached Larson about visiting with his class, which is heavily based on research.

   In addition to Bound for the Promised Land: Harriet Tubman, Portrait of an American Hero, Larson has written two other critically acclaimed biographies – The Assassin’s Accomplice: Mary Surratt and the Plot to Kill Abraham Lincoln and Rosemary, The Hidden Kennedy Daughter.

    Larson explained to students how she conducts her research and how she refuted several false narratives about Tubman while researching her book, which was published in 2003.

   Students also got to ask her detailed questions on a variety of topics, including the recently thwarted plans for a Harriet Tubman $20 bill, the status of free black communities during the Civil War and Tubman’s role as a spy for the Union Army.

   “It was interesting to see the research process through her eyes and how she found something she was passionate about and was able to turn it into a major motion picture,” said Jordan Schucker, a junior AP Seminar student.

   “It was eye opening to see how our research can impact so many people and have a lasting legacy that will hopefully create this social movement that needs to happen in America today.”

   Her classmate, Letu Chibssa, said she was inspired by Larson’s “amazing” visit.

  “I respect all that she does, and how she studies black women,” Letu said. “I’ve heard of her before, but I never thought I would see her and have a connection with her.”

    Mealy is hoping Larson’s visit enhanced students’ understanding of race and gender issues in a historical context and gave them valuable insights as they pursue their own research and engage in thesis defense projects – a requirement of the course – in the coming weeks.

   “I’m glad the students were able to interact with an award-winning academic who was willing to offer suggestions for how to go about their own academic research,” he said. 

  • Author/historian Kate Clifford Larson talks to students inside Penn Cinema
    Historian and author Kate Clifford Larson addresses students following the movie "Harriet."

Five sworn in to serve on Penn Manor school board

Five members of the Penn Manor board of school directors were sworn in Tuesday to serve four-year terms on the board.

District Judge Joshua Keller administered the oath of office to Donna Wert, Carlton “Herk” Rintz, Mitchell Sweigart, Joe Fullerton and newcomer Dell Jackson. All were elected last month to serve on the all-volunteer board through 2023.

Jackson replaces Ken Long, a 12-year veteran of the school board who decided not to seek re-election. Dell is a retired Manor Middle School teacher and longtime basketball coach.

Also Tuesday, the school board elected Rintz as president and Joe Fullerton as vice president of the nine-member school board.

“The Penn Manor community is fortunate to have nine dedicated school board directors who are committed to providing a quality education to our students,” said Penn Manor superintendent Mike Leichliter.

“Congratulations to Herk, Joe, and Dell on their new positions.  Penn Manor continues to be in excellent hands!”

  • Joe Fullerton and Herk Rintz
    School board vice president Joe Fullerton, left, and president Herk Rintz.

Penn Manor schools present free holiday concerts this month

Penn Manor students will present free holiday concerts and choral performances throughout the school district in December. All performances are free and open to the public.

Here is the schedule:

  • Dec. 4, 6:30 p.m. – Pequea Elementary Holiday Concert
  • Dec. 4, 7 p.m. – Central Manor Elementary Holiday Concert
  • Dec. 5, 6 p.m. – Letort Elementary Concert
  • Dec. 9, 6 p.m. – Martic Elementary Concert
  • Dec. 10, 9:30 a.m. – Eshleman Elementary Winter Concert
  • Dec. 11, 6 p.m. – Hambright Elementary Holiday Concert
  • Dec. 12, 9:30 a.m. – Conestoga Elementary Winter Concert
  • Dec. 12, 7 p.m. – Manor and Marticville Middle School Combined Band, Choir & Orchestra Holiday Concert, Penn Manor High School auditorium
  • Dec. 14, 7:30 p.m. – Manor Singers Candlelight Performance, Conestoga Area Historical Society
  • Dec. 17, 7 p.m. – Penn Manor High School Ensembles Winter Concert, high school auditorium

Letort recognized by U.S. Rep. Smucker for Blue Ribbon award

U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker visited Letort Elementary School Wednesday to formally recognize students and staff for earning the 2019 National Blue Ribbon School award.

Smucker presented Letort principal Carly McPherson with a flag that was flown over the U.S. Capitol in recognition of Letort’s “incredible achievement and committment to educational excellence.”

Smucker also presented a proclamation that he read before the House of Representatives in honor of the school’s 2019 National Blue Ribbon award.

The recognition came during the school’s monthly all-school assembly, which included a presentation by second-graders on fire safety, the naming of Students of the Month and the singing of the Letort school song.

Students and staff were decked out in National Blue Ribbon School T-shirts for the event.

Letort is only the fourth school in Lancaster County to receive the national honor since it was established in 1982. The Blue Ribbon award affirms the hard work of educators, families and communities in creating safe and welcoming schools where students master challenging and engaging content.

Letort was cited as an Exemplary Achievement Gap Closing School and was singled out for “whole school improvement” because reading and math test scores for all students have consistently exceeded state improvement levels over the past two to four years.

Only 18 schools in Pennsylvania were nominated this year for the award by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

Letort was formally recognized Nov. 15 during the 2019 Blue Ribbon Schools Ceremony outside Washington, D.C., along with 361 other public and private schools, by the U.S. Department of Education.

Many thanks to Rep. Smucker for honoring the students, staff and families of Letort Elementary!

  • Rep. Smucker addresses the school.

Businesses collect supplies for four Penn Manor schools

Two local businesses are helping assure that students at four Penn Manor schools get the supplies they need this school year.

Roberts Automotive in Mountville and Customs Classics Auto Body in Conestoga collected school supplies from their staff, customers and community members and donated them to Central Manor, Pequea, Conestoga and Eshleman elementary schools.

Hundreds of pencils, notebooks, packs of crayons, glue sticks, rulers, binders, tissues and other basic supplies were donated in an effort that began six years ago with one school and now includes four Penn Manor schools.

“We are so appreciative of their generosity and outreach to help Penn Manor students,” said Brian Malek, principal of Central Manor Elementary. “It’s such great community support.”

Many thanks to Troy McComsey of Roberts and Joel Herzog of Customs Classics for coordinating this effort. And thank you to all who donated!

Students, principals and business representatives with school supplies.

Nearly 200 attend Dinner & Show at PMHS

Nearly 200 senior citizens turned out Thursday night to enjoy “Dinner and a Show” at Penn Manor High School.

The free program is open to Comet Classic cardholders and guests, who enjoyed a chicken pot pie dinner and a free performance of the fall play, “Almost, Maine” in the high school auditorium.

Many thanks to the high school cafeteria staff for preparing the meal and to members of the Penn Manor chapter of the National Honor Society, who greeted and served senior citizens.

Kudos also to Penn Manor freshman Nicole Chen, who provided musical accompaniment on the piano during the dinner.

“Almost, Maine” will be performed for the public at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Nov. 22 and 23, in the high school auditorium. You can order tickets online here.

The Comet Classic program is open to any Penn Manor resident age 60 or older. In addition to the annual dinner and show, members receive free admission to Penn Manor athletic events and the spring musical.

You can find out more here.

  • Senior citizens eating dinner in cafeteria.

Letort receives National Blue Ribbon honor in D.C. ceremony

It’s official – Ann Letort Elementary School is 2019 National Blue Ribbon School!

The school was formally honored Friday, Nov. 15, during a Blue Ribbon Schools ceremony at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Md., near Washington, D.C.

Letort was honored, along with 361 other public and private schools, by the U.S. Department of Education.

Letort is only the fourth school in Lancaster County to receive the national honor since it was established in 1982. The award affirms the hard work of educators, families and communities in creating safe and welcoming schools where students master challenging and engaging content.

“I am so honored to be representing Letort’s staff, students, and the community as we are honored by the United States Department of Education with this prestigious award,” said Letort principal Carly McPherson. “It has been truly an inspiring celebration.”

With 312 students in kindergarten through grade six, Letort was cited as an Exemplary Achievement Gap Closing School. It is one of only 18 schools in Pennsylvania to be nominated for the award by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

The school was singled out for “whole school improvement” because reading and math test scores for all students have consistently exceeded state improvement levels over the past two to four years.

McPherson said Letort utilizes data decision-making and team meetings to identify each student’s strengths and areas in need of improvement. Teachers engage in small-group instruction to provide enrichment or remediation to ensure the academic success of each child, she said.

Penn Manor Superintendent Mike Leichliter praised the efforts of teachers at Letort.

“There is one common theme in talking with educators from Blue Ribbon Schools across the country – great schools are filled with teachers who are constantly working together to reach each child and do a better job today than they did yesterday.”

Joining Leichliter and McPherson at the ceremony was Lisa Suydam, a fourth-grade teacher at Letort. They accepted the Blue Ribbon award from Aba Kumi, Director of the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program for the U.S. Department of Education.

We could not be more proud of the students, staff and families of Letort Elementary!

From left, Carly McPherson, Aba Kumi, Lisa Suydam and Mike Leichliter.