Penn Manor students celebrate their heritage through food

    Students at two Penn Manor schools recently celebrated their heritage with food.

    Penn Manor High School students got to share the foods of their native countries with fellow students, teachers and staff during the third annual Multicultural Day, held May 2 in the high school gymnasium.

    On May 9, Eshleman Elementary School held its World Food Fair, featuring foods from 17 different countries, including Bhutan, Eritrea, Brazil, Nicaragua, Nepal and Hungary.

   Students and their family members dressed in native garb and displayed maps, flags and other symbols of the countries they represented.

   The event was established 13 years ago to celebrate the cultures of Eshleman students and families and expose community members to traditional food and dress from around the world.

   For the high school event, students prepared foods from the Dominican Republic, Ethiopia, Nepal, Nigeria, Mexico and Puerto Rico to share with the school community. Several students donned traditional garb as part of the celebration.

    In order to sample the food, students and staff members had to learn to say a common phrase in the language of the country represented. In addition to preparing the foods, students created colorful displays about their countries and talked about some of the geographic features and traditions of their native lands.

    The event is the culminating project for the school’s Multicultural Club, which was established three years ago by Etsub Tolossa, a Penn Manor senior from Ethiopia. Club advisors are Penn Manor foreign language teachers Katharine Rodriguez and Nadine Smith.

   Etsub started the club “to provide a platform for students to share their backgrounds, their stories and their cultures, as well as to learn from each other and embrace their culture and heritage,” she said. 

    “America is a product of different countries and nations, and the club helps us teach others about the many cultures that we’re seeing in our classes and community.”

    About 325 Penn Manor School District students are from families that speak 24 different languages at home.

  • Multicultural Day at high school
    High school student Etsub Tolossa dishes out Ethiopian food at Multicultural Day.

Penn Manor Quiz Bowl captain receives national award

    Penn Manor Quiz Bowl team captain Connor Mayers has been honored with a national award from the Partnership for Academic Competition Excellence.

    Connor, a high school junior, is recipient of the Benjamin Cooper Academic Ambassador Award, given each year to a member of the Quiz Bowl community who “embodies, by example, the ideals of academic competition.”

    He will receive the award at the National Scholastic Competition June 8 and 9 in Reston, Va., at which the Penn Manor Quiz Bowl team will participate.

    Connor is the sole high school winner of the award, according to Sallie Bookman, who coaches the Penn Manor team along with fellow Penn Manor teacher Chris Meier.

    “Connor is well known and respected for his amazing breadth of knowledge and the ability to buzz in quickly in competitions,” Bookman said. “He deserves the national award as an excellent citizen in the Quiz Bowl community. His positive attitude and sense of humor are contagious.” 

   Connor leads a Penn Manor team that compiled a 68-49 record this year, with multiple wins over college teams and nationally ranked high school teams. The team qualified to compete in the High School Quiz Bowl National Championship Tournament, to be held May 24-27 in Atlanta.

    Quiz Bowl A Team members, in addition to Connor, are Chad Hoglund, Shane Mosley, Claire DeVinney and Gabe McGough.

    Congratulations, Connor, on this prestigious honor!

Penn Manor retirees and Outstanding Employees honored at banquet

Penn Manor honored 15 retirees with more than 360 years of  combined service during the 40th annual Employee Recognition Dinner in the high school cafeteria on May 7.

Attendees watched a video presentation of comments (plus one spoof of a TV show) by seven of the retirees — Ellen Altdoerffer, Page Lutz, Deb Meckley, Cheryl Shaffer, Shelley Hodson, Bill Southward and Lily Williams.

Other retirees included Marty Ioannidis, Karen Gingerich, Jenny Good, Kathy Campbell, Sharlotte Dammerman, Don Hartsough, Phillis Martin and Lori Scanlin.

Also honored Wednesday were 42 Penn Manor employees with 20 or more years of service and the Outstanding Employee and Educators of the Year.

David Sellers, head custodian at Penn Manor High School, was honored as Outstanding Penn Manor Employee for 2018-2019.

Honored as Outstanding Educators were Lisa Roth Walter, a sixth-grade Hambright Elementary teacher, and James McGlynn, a high school science teacher.

Employees honored for 35 years: David Hess and Page Lutz.

Employees honored for 30 years: Dusty Axe, JoLynn Drexel, Jodie Henderson, Doris Long, Skip Reddig and Lisa Roth Walter.

Employees honored for 25 years: Carrie Aukamp, Valerie Bosso, Gretchen Braun, Karen Gingerich, Mary Jacoby, Erin Kreck, Shelly Kyle, Beth Mader and Amy Wall.

Employees honored for 20 years: Janice Adams, Tamara Baker, Sallie Bookman, Debra Drexel, Kelly Eby, Jerry Egan, Stephen Evans, Ellen Goodman, Quay Hanna, Michelle Henry, Kathy Houck, Kim Juba, Scott Keddie, Maricia Kligge, Sharon Knighton, Heidi Long, Brian Malek, Trevor Mattern, Brian Reinking, Cynthia Schieber, Kenneth Webster, Heather Wigerman, Lily Williams, Brian Wimer and Julie Yoder.

Congratulations to all of our honored employees, and best wishes, retirees!

  • 2019 retirees
    Retirees who attended the banquet, from left (front row) Shelley Hodson, Cheryl Shaffer, Lily Williams, (back row) Deb Meckley Page Lutz, Bill Southward, Ellen Altdoerfer and Karen Gingerich.

Three PM schools participate in technology showcase in state Capitol

   Congratulations to the students, teachers and staff members who represented Penn Manor so well at the Student Technology Showcase, held Monday in the state Capitol in Harrisburg.

   Projects completed by students at Hambright and Martic elementary schools and Manor Middle School were selected for the event, sponsored by the Pennsylvania Association for Educational Communications and Technology (PAECT).

   Martic sixth-graders displayed their project to create a television station to broadcast school announcements using Open Broadcaster Software at a cost of less than $100. The broadcasts include lessons on sign language to help students communicate with their peers in the school who have hearing impairments.

   Hambright fifth-graders showed off their “The World in Our Backyard” project, which uses virtual reality technology to tell the story of the wetlands, farmland and wooded areas surrounding their school.

   Manor students displayed “Science in Our Backyard,” in which eighth-graders worked with the Hambright students to conduct soil samples and create 360-degree images of the areas included in “The World in Our Backyard.”

  All three groups of students participated in live-stream presentations on their projects before being introduced in the Senate chamber and given a tour of the Capitol.

  They also got to demonstrate their projects and answer questions from state Sens. Scott Martin and Ryan Aument and state Reps. Brett Miller, Bryan Cutler, Joe Webster and Joe Ciresi.

  “Senator Martin was amazing with our kids,” said Manor teacher Jennifer Ennis. “He invited them into his office, where they had a great question-and-answer session with him. He was genuinely interested in their projects.”

  The Martic students took the opportunity to record an interview with Rep. Cutler for an upcoming television broadcast.

Participating students, teachers and staff included:

  Manor – Teacher Jennifer Ennis; Shelby Foster, Penn Manor technology staff trainer; and students Grace Seiger, Abby Ames, GG Moenga, DeShawn Stanley and Jerica Strohmeyer.

  Martic – Teacher Brian Plumbo; Judy Keller, technology trainer; and students Parker Sipel, Morgan Eachus, Madison Stringer, CeeJay Rettew, Kaitlyn Yeager and Ayianna Amaro.

   Hambright – Teacher Katie Lutz; Shelby Foster, technology staff trainer; and students Ava Luciano, Oliver Hanna, Adelyn Martin, Evangeline Grapes, Soksopia Yiem, Reilly Ennis and Jack Steele.

   For many of the students – and some teachers – Monday’s event was the first time they had visited the Capitol.

   Many thanks to PAECT and our local legislators for this opportunity to showcase what’s happening in Penn Manor schools. 

  • Hambright students explain their VR environmental project to state Rep. Brett Miller.
    Hambright students explain their VR environmental project to state Rep. Brett Miller.

PM students place in the top 10 in state TSA competition

   Eight Penn Manor students placed in the top 10, including two who qualified for national competition, at the recent Technology Student Association (TSA) State Conference at Seven Springs Resort.

  The students were competing against more than 1,900 of the brightest STEM students from 130 TSA chapters across Pennsylvania in a variety of events during the conference, held April 10-13.

   The Penn Manor High School team of Audrey Ritchie and Aliya Trussell placed second in the video game design competition, earning the opportunity to compete in the National TSA Conference this summer.

   Other top-10 finishers for Penn Manor were:

High School
Isaac Leshok – Prepared Presentation, 5th place; Jaden Smith – Children’s Stories, 6th place; and Audrey Ritchie and Aliya Trussell – Webmaster, 8th place.

Middle School
Suren Clark and Ben Hickey – Challenging Technology Issues, 8th place; and Mitch Jackson and Anders Murphy – Biotechnology, 9th place.

Congratulations to these students and their TSA advisors, Molly Miller and Alisha Gerhart, for representing Penn Manor so well!

Penn Manor HS rated among top third of high schools in county

    Penn Manor High School is among the top third of high schools in Lancaster County in academics, according to a revised ranking system adopted by U.S. News & World Report.

    Penn Manor was ranked sixth in Lancaster County among 18 public high schools and 105th in the state out of 677 high schools in the magazine’s 2019 Best High Schools issue.

   Penn Manor had been ranked No. 1 in the county the past four years by U.S. News & World Report. However, the magazine altered its ranking methodology this year, adding additional categories, changing the “weights” of categories, and including more schools in its analysis.

    “Because the methodology changed so significantly this year, a school’s ranking in the 2019 Best High Schools ranking can’t be compared with its rankings in any previous U.S. News ranking,” according to the magazine.

  The 2019 standings are based on a school’s graduation rate; students’ math and reading proficiency and whether those scores met expectations; the participation level and performance of students on AP tests; and the performance of “underserved” students, including low-income and minority students.

    The 2018 rankings were based on test scores in reading and math for all students, compared with those for underserved students; graduation rates; and the number of students taking and passing college-level courses.

   Penn Manor superintendent Mike Leichliter said he’s pleased that Penn Manor High School was ranked in the top third in Lancaster County under the new system.

Fine Arts Day celebrates its 30th year

    Hambright Elementary students and staff enjoyed Fine Arts Day – what many call “the best day of the year” – on April 26.

    This year’s daylong celebration of the arts was even more special because it marked the 30th year for the event, which was established in 1990 to give students and staff a creative break from the regular school schedule.

    Fine Arts Day 2019 included painting, storytelling, carving, ballet, mosaics, photography, sculpture, quilting, cookie decorating, drumming and dancing – from Irish, Japanese and African to ballroom and hip-hop.

   Local artists, entertainers and performers shared their talents with students, who moved to different activities throughout the school to maximize their exposure to the arts.

  Students created mosaic necklaces, origami birds, soap carvings, pour paintings, clay sculptures and quilts. They also tried out drumming, acting, storytelling, and, of course, dancing.

    The original Fine Arts Day was the brainchild of the Hambright PTO, under the leadership of then-president Dottie Zug, according to Don Stewart, who was principal at the time.

   The event allowed all students, including those who may not have excelled at traditional school subjects, to shine by showing their artistic talents, Stewart said.

  “I am so pleased to know that a program that was started 30 years ago is still valued by the parents and teachers,” said Stewart, who went on to serve as Penn Manor superintendent until his retirement in 2009.

“Fine Arts Day could never had been a reality without the generous contributions from some very caring and talented artisans.”

    Many thanks to the more than 100 artists and countless parent volunteers who have helped make this special day possible for the past 30 years!

  • Sock puppets
    Sock puppets

Project helps Hambright teacher earn National Geographic certification

    Hambright Elementary School teacher Katie Lutz has been certified as a National Geographic Educator, thanks, in part, to a project that she and her fifth-graders completed to better understand the natural world around their school.

   Called “The World in My Backyard,” the project uses virtual reality technology to tell the story of the wetlands, farmland and wooded areas surrounding Hambright.

    With the assistance of Pennsylvania Master Naturalist Dr. Carol Welch, students identified medicinal plants, berries, cattails, mockingbirds, yellow warblers and other species in what Lutz calls the “small, immediate wilderness” around the school.

    Students kept journals of their discoveries and made detailed, colorful renderings of the birds, trees and flowers they encountered, along with opossum bones, fox tracks, grapevines and other evidence of life quietly coexisting just outside their walls.

   Lancaster County environmental educator Ann Strauss led field studies to help students understand the biodiversity of the wetlands and neighboring playing fields, and Manor Middle School eighth-graders helped the students conduct soil tests on samples brought back to the classroom.

    Manor Township Public Works Director Mark Harris visited the classroom to explain how a nearby composting farm turns leaves into nutrient-rich compost and to explain “best practices” in soil management.

   Penn Manor High School students helped the fifth-graders document what they had discovered through photography, videography and video editing, and the district’s technology staff assisted Lutz and her students in creating the virtual tour using Google Tour Creator software.

  The finished product — truly a collaborative effort — can be seen here.

  “The World in My Backyard” was the capstone project that led to Lutz’s certification as a National Geographic Educator. An explanation of the project can be seen here.

  Lutz also participated in a National Geographic workshop on inspiring students to learn how the world works – and how they can make it a better place.

The organization’s Learning Framework focuses on the human journey, our changing planet, wildlife, curiosity, responsibility, observation, problem-solving, collaboration and communication. Lutz had to implement these elements into her teaching.

  Completing the certification “reinvigorated my energy and focus around supporting student inquiry and exploration through hands-on learning,” Lutz said.

   The “World in My Backyard” project gave her students “a renewed sense of interest and wonder in the natural world,” she said.

  “When we began this inquiry, I had several students who had no idea what a pine cone was. Now, some of those same students are able to identify the red-winged blackbird by its call,” Lutz said.

   “I hope my students take away a renewed appreciation of our natural environment, an identity as scientists and explorers, and a commitment to environmental stewardship to protect the species and areas that we studied.”

  • Teacher Katie Lutz and students.
    Teacher Katie Lutz leads her students through a wetlands area behind the school.

Penn Manor students to perform at free spring concerts

Penn Manor students on all grade levels will be performing at spring concerts in the coming days and weeks. All performances begin at 7 p.m. in the Penn Manor High School auditorium and are free and open to the public.

Here’s the schedule:

Thursday, April 4 – Elementary Chorus Concert, under the direction of Kailey Brennan, Ashley Brubaker, Allan Dutton, Sue Hamer and Sarah Repkoe. 

Thursday, April 11Elementary Band/Strings Concert, under the direction of Jill Almoney, Kailey Brennan, Ashley Brubaker, Allan Dutton, Sue Hamer and Sarah Repkoe.

Wednesday, May 8 – Middle School Orchestra/Band/Choir Concert, under the direction of Lauren Ciemiewicz, Sara Masten and Skip Reddig.

Tuesday, May 14High School Orchestra/Chorus Concert, under the direction of Lauren Ciemiewicz and Sara Masten. 

Wednesday, May 22HS Concert/Jazz Bands & Vocal Jazz concert, under the direction of Lauren Ciemiewicz and Andrew Johnson.

Sign Language Club forms at Hambright Elementary School

    About 30 Hambright students meet after school every Wednesday to learn a new language, with the goal of breaking down communication barriers with people who are different than themselves.

    But the members of this club aren’t learning a traditional foreign language. They’re studying American Sign Language and Signed English under the direction of teacher Lorien Gilbert.

    Gilbert started the club to give students an opportunity to connect with hearing-impaired individuals who often feel ostracized. She is assisted by the school’s librarian, Tara Etzweiler, and Nasy Sok, an aide at Hambright whose two daughters, Jessica and Soksopia, are in the club.

She also got a boost from Penn Manor Education Foundation, which awarded her a $300 Venture Grant to purchase materials for the club.

    Club members include fifth- and sixth-graders, along with a third-grader whose father is hearing impaired. Students use flash cards and sign language textbooks to learn vocabulary, verbs, grammar and expression.

    The students learned to sign the song “We’re Going to Be Friends,” which they performed during a recent school assembly. They also watched a presentation about a deaf poet, and they plan to Skype with their peers in a deaf education class run by Intermediate Unit 13.

    “We thought it would be fun for my hearing students to meet some Deaf kids who can be the experts,” said Gilbert.

    Madalyn Kreider, a sixth-grade member of the club, said she likes “being part of a little group in school” that’s learning something completely new.

   “It’s really cool to find out about this. Now, if you run into someone who’s Deaf, you can talk to them,” she said.

   The club is an outgrowth of Gilbert’s personal experience with Deaf culture. As a child, she experienced hearing loss and began to learn sign language on her own.

   “When I was in high school, I made a very good friend, Scott, who is Deaf, and he introduced me to Deaf culture and really helped me to become more fluent in Signed English and ASL,” she said.

    Whenever Gilbert would go out with Scott, she noticed that people would talk to her, but not to him.

    “Scott’s mother told me that other kids were reluctant to talk to Scott, and that he had very few hearing friends,” she recalled. “It’s a world of isolation when people perceive you as different.”

    The ultimate goal of the club, Gilbert said, is for students to connect with people like Scott.

    “If I can help my students feel brave enough to sign ‘Hello’ or, ‘Do you want a snack?’ or even, ‘What is your name?’ then they will be making the world a little less scary.”

  • Students practicing sign language.
    Teacher Lorien Gilbert reviews signs with students.

Baron Jones recommended for PMHS principal post

    Penn Manor superintendent Mike Leichliter is recommending the hiring of Baron H. Jones as principal of Penn Manor High School.

    Currently principal of Conestoga Valley Middle School, Jones would take over his new position from Dr. Phil Gale on July 1. The school board is scheduled to vote on Jones’ appointment at its April 15 meeting.

    Prior to joining the CV Middle School staff as principal in 2015, Jones was an assistant principal at Spring Grove Area High School from 2008 to 2015. He also taught secondary social studies for the School District of Lancaster from 2001 to 2008.

    Jones, 39, received his master’s degree in Educational Leadership/Principalship from Widener University’s Graduate School of Education in 2008 and his teacher certification from Millersville University in 2005, with an emphasis on technology integration.

    He also earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Jacksonville State University in Alabama in 2001.

    Jones is a Leadership for Diverse Schools presenter and served as diversity coordinator for grades 7 through 12 at Spring Grove Area School District.

    He lives in Manheim Township with his wife, Georgia Jones, and their sons Brayden, 10, and Quinten, 8.

    Jones was attracted to the high school post at Penn Manor because of the district’s reputation, he said.

    “The Penn Manor School District places students at the forefront of education,” Jones said. “I am excited for the opportunity to work with dedicated educators who inspire students to make a difference in our school and community.”

    Jones is being recommended for the principal position following a three-month search for a replacement for Gale, who begins his new role as Penn Manor’s assistant superintendent for secondary education July 1.

    “The district is excited to welcome Mr. Jones as its new high school principal,” Leichliter said. “He has a passion for working with faculty and staff to ensure that all students find success in an academically rigorous environment.”

Baron Jones
Baron Jones

In-service day April 18 for grades 9-12

Because of weather-related cancellations earlier this year, April 18 will be an in-service day for grades 9-12. Students in kindergarten through 8th grade will have a regular day of school.

Math Bowl champs named for 2019

Teams from three different Penn Manor elementary schools earned first-place trophies in the Math Bowl, a spirited competition involving students from all seven Penn Manor elementary schools in fourth, fifth and sixth grades.

A team from Hambright Elementary earned the first-place trophy for fourth grade. Eshleman took the fifth-grade crown, and Central Manor was the sixth-grade champ. The runners-up were Letort (fourth grade), Pequea (fifth) and Eshleman (sixth).

The competition, which included about 75 participants, tests students’ general math ability and skills in solving multi-step and word problems and computations with and without calculators. Participants are the top math students from each school, so qualifying for the math bowl is an achievement itself. Here are the results:

Fourth grade

  • First place: Hambright team of Wesley Groff, Anupama Neopaney, Miles Fetter and Micah Cruz.
  • Second: Letort Elementary team of Eliza Myer, Camden Beakes, Elijah Hurst and Emily Simpson.

Fifth grade

  • First: Eshleman team of Seth Barrett, Jett Kroesen, Joelle Kroesen and David Kirkley.
  • Second: Pequea team of Jenna Railing, Rayn Andreychek, Grant Bradburn and Natasha Wee.

Sixth grade

  • First: Central Manor team of Jordan Chen, Zoe Thomas, Cooper Dawkins and Vincent Keefer.
  • Second: Eshleman team of Andrew Gallion, Evan Lee, Jack Hightower and Trinity Mowery.

Congratulations to all who participated!

  • Sixth-grade champions
    Sixth-grade champions from Central Manor (1st) and Eshleman (2nd).

No new lead cases reported at Penn Manor schools

Penn Manor residents may be receiving a notice in the mail from their health insurance provider indicating that lead has been found in the drinking water in Penn Manor School District.

While the issue of lead at schools has received media coverage recently, we want to assure community members that we are not aware of any lead issues at Penn Manor schools at this time.

In October 2016, we discovered elevated lead levels at two sinks at Martic Elementary School. As a precaution, we switched to bottled water at the school until the water system could be repaired and the water retested to assure there were no longer any elevated levels of lead in the system.

We also consulted with medical and engineering experts who indicated they did not believe that Martic students or staff had been exposed to dangerous levels of lead.

Also in 2016, Penn Manor tested for lead at its other schools and found no elevated levels. You can read more about those test results, and the situation at Martic here.

This year, we again will be testing for lead at all of our schools, in compliance with new state regulations. When those results are completed, we will share them with the public.

At this time, however, we are not aware of any issues involving lead in drinking water at our schools since 2016.

If you have any questions or concerns about lead testing at Penn Manor schools, please contact the superintendent’s office at (717) 872-9500 xt. 2223. If you would like additional information on having your child/children tested for lead exposure, please contact your health insurance provider.

Manor MS students participate in ‘Construction Wars’

  Nineteen Penn Manor middle schoolers got some hands-on experience while learning about construction trades during “Construction Wars,” held March 12-14 at the Keystone Center for Construction Careers in Manheim.

    On the morning of March 14, the students donned hard hats and safety goggles and learned how to use a variety of tools, make a stepstool, wire an electrical circuit, repair a plumbing fixture and make a tool box. Their “tutors” were construction professionals.

    Students also learned about jobs in the trades and the career and technical education programs available to them from a representative of Lancaster County Career & Technical Center.

    The program, sponsored by the Keystone Chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors, attracted about 200 students from Lancaster, Lebanon and York counties.

   “Construction Wars” exposed students to high-paying, in-demand jobs that don’t require a four-year college degree, said Danielle Rogers, a counselor at Manor Middle School.

    “An education and training program in construction trades may be the right fit for them,” she said.

    Participants from Manor Middle School included Keegan Baldrige, Morgan Copeland, Jael Cruz-Santos, Jordan Frymeyer, Cassandra Gracia, Keanu Hang, Alex Hogan, Joy Devin, Tyler Keller, Jaidyn Kimmet, Austin King, Dylan Leed, Matthew Lugo, Gershom Magutu, A.J. Miller, Aiden Robinson, Grant Rose, Isabella Siebold and Kelsey Warner.