Public input sought on district’s comprehensive plan

Every six years, Penn Manor School District is required to submit a comprehensive plan to the Department of Education. The plan must address academic standards and assessments, professional education, teacher induction, educational technology and student services. Penn Manor has completed its updated plan, through the 2021-2022 school year, with goals to guide continuous improvement for academic achievement and further support educational opportunities for all students.

The plan is available for public review prior to approval by the school board. Following a vote by the board, the plan will be submitted to the Pennsylvania Department of Education for approval.

To view the plan, please click on the link below. Members of the community who wish to submit comments should contact Dr. Cheryl Shaffer, Assistant Superintendent, at

Penn ManorComprehensive Plan 2018-2022


Five to speak at Penn Manor commencement June 6

Five student speakers have been named for Penn Manor High School’s 2018 commencement, scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 6, at Franklin & Marshall College Alumni Sports and Fitness Center.

The speakers are Nicholas Fafel, Aniah Washington, Joshua Adams, Blake Martin and Kevin Ward.

  • Nicholas, the son of Steve and Vicki Fafel of Conestoga, is class valedictorian. He participated in cross-country, wrestling, track and field, Science National Honor Society, Rocket Club and National Honor Society and was president of the Technology Student Association. Nick plans to study chemical engineering at the University of Delaware.
  • Aniah, the daughter of Stephanie Stoy of Lancaster, is senior class president. She participated in soccer, track and field, Aevidum and Mock Trial and was business manager for the yearbook. She plans to study law, jurisprudence and social thought at Amherst College.
  • Joshua, the son of Jeffrey and Monique Adams of Lancaster, is class salutatorian. He participated in the Technology Student Association and plans to attend Penn State University.
  • Blake is the son of Curtis and Beth Martin of Lancaster. He participated in lacrosse, soccer and Model UN and was a tutor for Math Bowl. Blake plans to study biomechanical engineering at Penn State.
  • Kevin is the son of John and Deborah Ward of Millersville. He participated in Marching Band, Percussion Ensemble, Quiz Bowl, National Honor Society, Technology Student Association, the STEM Team and Attollo. Kevin  plans to study computer engineering at Stevens Institute of Technology in New Jersey.

Admission to commencement is by ticket only, nine per graduate. All seating, with the exception of a reserved section for the disabled and honored guests, will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. Admission tickets will be distributed to graduates at the end of commencement practice, scheduled for 8 a.m. June 4 and 5 at Penn Manor High School.

The commencement ceremony will be webcast live, beginning at 6 p.m., on the district website, DVDs of commencement will be available for purchase here. Parking details are available here: F&M event parking 2017

Baccalaureate is at 7 p.m. May 31 at Pequea Church. Seniors may also participate in a “Senior Walk,” a procession through the halls in their caps and gowns at the elementary school they attended, on Tuesday, June 5, from 2:30 to 3:15 p.m.

PLEASE NOTE: Commencement is a formal ceremony that marks an important event in each student’s life.  For this to occur, we need the cooperation of the Class of 2018 and each person in the audience. During presentation of diplomas, please refrain from cheering or making other noises that will make it difficult to hear student names.  Once all students have received their diplomas, attendees may celebrate.


2018 commencement speakers
Commencement speakers are, from left, Aniah Washington, Joshua Adams, Blake Martin, Nicholas Fafel and Kevin Ward.

Penn Manor Quiz Bowl team headed to national tournament

Penn Manor High School’s Quiz Bowl team is headed for national competition after compiling an impressive 15-3 record this season.

The team of sophomore Connor Mayers, juniors Sean Moore and Chad Hoglund and senior Kevin Ward will compete in the High School Quiz Bowl National Championship Tournament May 26-29 in Atlanta.

But before they head south, the students will participate in a tune-up match on Monday, May 21, against a team of Penn Manor faculty, beginning at 3 p.m. in the high school library.

The teachers will include Anthony Carrodo (math), Chris Meier (economics), Brian Reinking (English), Katherine Rodriguez (Spanish) and Matt Scheuing (history).

Penn Manor qualified for the national tournament by placing in the top 15 percent in regional tournaments throughout the year and by finishing third in the Lancaster-Lebanon League playoffs, said Meier, who serves as Quiz Bowl advisor with Sallie Bookman.

Throughout the year, more than 20 Penn Manor students, including many freshmen and sophomores, participated in Quiz Bowl, Meier said, which bodes well for future Penn Manor teams.

Connor Mayers, the team captain, said he’s looking forward to the national competition.

“In many ways we’ve outdone the expectations I had for this season, and I’m excited to see how we do at nationals,” he said.

“My ultimate goal is to sneak into the playoff rounds, but even if we don’t, I’m sure we will have a good time and put in great performances.”

And how does Connor feel the students will fare against their teachers?

“I back us to win without too much of a problem, but you never know.”

Congrats to the students and staff on this impressive accomplishment!

Penn Manor Quiz Bowl members
From left, Quiz Bowl team members Chad Hoglund, Connor Mayers, Sean Moore and Kevin Ward.


Letort students, teachers sample augmented reality teaching tool

Students and teachers at Letort Elementary School this week got to experience the potential of augmented reality in the classroom when they participated in Google for Education’s Augmented Reality Pioneer beta program.

The school was selected to sample the new technology, which will enable insects, dinosaurs, volcanoes, earthquakes, planets and other objects to come alive before their eyes via a cell phone app.

The images, which are controlled by the teacher, are highly detailed and can be viewed on all sides — and internally — by moving the device up, down, right or left.

Under the direction of a Google staff member and their teachers, Letort students in all grades got to experience the technology, which elicited screams of surprise and delight — especially from the bugs.

“I loved watching their faces when a new image popped up,” said fourth-grade teacher Lisa Suydam. “It was learning with enthusiasm at its finest.”
Suydam said the technology will enable teachers to create “a more authentic learning experience” by allowing students to view objects in a new and detailed way.
“The augmented reality beta allows learning to become ‘alive’ and take the students to a new level of excitement,” she said.
Google is soliciting feedback from students and teachers at Letort and other schools before it fully launches the new technology in the coming months.
It was great for our students to experience this emerging teaching tool!

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Penn Manor’s Nick Fafel, Alyssa Schriver earn Brackbill Awards

For only the second time in 30 years, two student athletes from the same high school have earned the prestigious A. Landis Brackbill Scholar-Athlete Award, which this year goes to Nick Fafel and Alyssa Schriver of Penn Manor High School.

The award is given annually to a male and female senior student-athlete who maintains a 3.5 grade-point average and letters or plays in 75 percent of at least two PIAA-sponsored sports in one year.

Alyssa has played basketball and field hockey all four years at Penn Manor, participated in track and field for two years and played softball for one year. She has earned a grade-point average of 3.693 and plans to study pre-med at Penn State University.

Alyssa played on two state championship field hockey teams and was named a First Team Lancaster-Lebanon League All Star in basketball. In addition, she holds the school record for the 400-meter dash and contributed to the school record 4 x 100 relay run.

Nick has participated in cross-country all four years and lettered in wrestling and track and field for three years. He has earned a grade-point average of 4.0 and plans to study chemical engineering at the University of Delaware.

In cross-country, Nick finished 24th in the state championships and seventh at the  L-L League meet. In wrestling, Nick was an L-L League Senior All-Star, First Team All-Star and Section Team All-Star. On the track, he qualified for districts in the 3,200 meter run.

A committee set up by the Lancaster-Lebanon League each year selects winners of the Brackbill Award, which is named after A. Landis Brackbill, a Penn Manor high school principal from 1944 to 1968 who was the first executive director of the L-L League. Award winners receive a $1,000 scholarship from the Manheim Touchdown Club.

Click here for an LNP story on the awards.

Congrats to Nick and Alyssa for this impressive honor!

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Coaches Association names Soto Field Hockey Coach of the Year  

Penn Manor coach Matt Soto has been named Field Hockey Coach of the Year by the National High School Coaches Association.

“We are extremely pleased to honor Coach Soto,” said Eric Hess, Executive Director of the Association.

“Coach Soto has not only established Penn Manor as one of the top programs in Pennsylvania, but also as one of the best in America. His commitment to excellence for his student-athletes is second to none.”

Soto, who has coached at Penn Manor for 13 seasons, led the Comets to a perfect season and a state title in what is considered the toughest high school field hockey conference in the country.

The Comets finished 28-0 as the PIAA AAA State Champions, District 3 Champions and Lancaster-Lebanon League Champions. It was the third state title in program history and the first time the team went undefeated.

The Comets outscored their opponents 148-5 and did not give up a goal in the district or state playoffs. The team allowed only three shots on goal in its last seven games.

The Coaches Association honor is the latest accolade for Soto, who also was named National Coach of the Year by Max Field Hockey. In addition, the Comets were the top-ranked team, and Penn Manor junior Emma DeBerdine was the top-ranked player in the nation.

Soto’s award is the third straight National Coaches Association field hockey honor for a coach from Pennsylvania.

In 2017, the award went to Sue Butz-Stavin of Emmaus High School. In 2016, Lower Dauphin’s Linda Kreiser was the recipient.

Congratulations, Coach Soto, on a well-deserved honor!

Penn Manor students use new technology to create virtual tour of Lancaster farming

Penn Manor High School students have created a virtual reality tour using technology that will allow people from across the globe to learn about farming in Lancaster County.

Penn Manor was chosen to participate in a beta project for Google Tour Creator, a new software program that enables schools and other institutions to create virtual tours of their programs, communities and businesses.

Penn Manor agricultural education students worked with their peers in American literature and commercial art classes to create “Farming for the Future in Lancaster,” a 360-degree tour of local farming practices and businesses viewable through VR goggles and using Google’s new Poly web interface.

The tour covers such topics as dairy farming, landscaping, erosion control, greenhouses and family farming traditions, providing panoramic images that include pop-up explanations.

Google for Education representatives were so impressed with the farming tour they sent a film crew from New York to Penn Manor High School last month to create a video about the Lancaster project. The film was aired May 9, to coincide with the worldwide release of Tour Creator.

The Lancaster farming tour is now available for viewing by anyone across the globe.

“It was an incredible experience being able to connect with and help the global community,” said Joel Brubaker, a Penn Manor junior who helped create and edit the written explanations that are part of the tour.

The project came about when Penn Manor technology training specialist Shelby Foster and Diane Glock-Cornman, a PM agricultural education teacher, were talking about ways to integrate more technology into the classroom.

Glock-Cornman was familiar with Google Expeditions – the VR tours the company made available to schools – but was dismayed to find so few on agriculture. She decided to challenge students to create their own using 360-degree cameras purchased by the school.

When Google announced the beta Tours program, Penn Manor submitted an application to create the farm tour and was admitted to the program. Google provided access to proprietary software and expertise, but the students basically created the tour on their own.

“The kids loved the experience,” Glock-Cornman said. “Our agriculture students are always up for a challenge, but with this, they really owned it and ran with it – covering all facets of ag production. It also was a way for students to see how they could use a new tool to communicate.”

The ability to share the story of their way of life in such detail inspired them, she said, helping dispel the “cows, sows and plows” stereotype of “ag kids.”

“Many times our agriculture students get pigeonholed into a specific stereotype, and it was so encouraging to see them working with other classes and getting the opportunity to lead a project within the school,” she said. “Plus, I think they made some new friends along the way, too.”

The collaborative nature of the project got Google’s attention, and company decided to feature Penn Manor in its release of Tour Creator. A film crew was on campus for three days in late April to shoot the video.

“After all the work was done, to experience the film crew and visit from Google was beyond anything we expected,” said Lisa Mayo, a Penn Manor English teacher who participated in the tour project with her students. “It’s weeks later, and students are still talking about it.”

Kyle Bushong, an agriculture student from a farming family, said the virtual tour “is a great way to show others about where we live.”

“We have the perfect soil here, and I feel this land is highly valued by the many generations that have lived here before me,” he said. “This is a great way to get the facts out there about what we do.”

Kudos to our students and staff for embracing this new technology in such an impactful way!

Click here to see the film about the Penn Manor Tour Creator project.

Click here for the farming VR tour.

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PMHS earns fourth straight Silver Medal, No. 1 ranking in county

For the fourth year in a row, Penn Manor High School has been honored with a Silver Medal from U.S. News & World Report and is ranked the No. 1 high school in Lancaster County!

Penn Manor is ranked No. 36 in Pennsylvania, and No. 1,335 in the United States, based on the magazine’s 2018 evaluation of academic data from more than 20,000 public high schools in 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The rankings are based on test scores in reading and math for all students and for student subgroups, including African-American and Latino pupils and the economically disadvantaged, graduation rates and the number of students taking and passing college-level courses.

“To receive this award for four consecutive years is an indication of the tremendous work that our students and teachers are doing,” said Phil Gale, high school principal.

“As a big school, we pride ourselves on the diversity of the programs we offer to prepare all students for life after high school. This recognition demonstrates the quality education that our students receive in all of the programs at Penn Manor High School,” he said.

Mike Leichliter, Penn Manor School District superintendent, called the latest ranking “wonderful news to receive during Teacher Appreciation Week.”

“We have a successful formula that includes dedicated students, caring teachers and a supportive community.  When all three of these elements are combined and work together, continued progress can be made,” Leichliter said.

He pointed out that a record 10 high schools in Lancaster County were honored with awards this year. “This speaks to the strong public schools and tremendous work ethic that is found in Lancaster County,” Leichliter said.

Congratulations to our high school students and staff for again making us Penn Manor Proud!



Manor MS student earns Scholastic Writing poetry award

Manor Middle School eighth-grader Ella Layton has earned a Scholastic Writing Award for a collection of poems she wrote over the past year.

Ella chose five poems – “Unsaid,” “Hesitation,” “Bind,” “Paradise” and “Mess” — to submit to the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards competition. She earned a Silver Key, the second-highest award, for the collection.

“Each poem represents a time of my childhood or a person who is or was in my life,” said Ella.

Kerri Miller, one of Ella’s teachers, said her poems and essays “are insightful and powerful.”

“Ella is an incredibly astute young writer who has a voice of conviction and maturity that is not often seen in a middle school student,” she said.

Congratulations, Ella!

Ellay Layton and her teachers
Ella Layton with her teachers, from left, Kerri Miller and Carrie Aukamp.


Penn Manor honors 2018 retirees, Outstanding Educators & Employee

Penn Manor honored 18 retirees with nearly 450 years of  combined service May 2 during the 39th annual Employee Recognition Dinner in the high school cafeteria.

Attendees watched a video presentation of comments (plus one song-and-dance number!) by 12 of the retirees — Jeff Roth, Marilyn Springer, Donna Brady, Anne Butterfield, Cheryl Dearolf, Frank Dell’Estate, Sue Frese, Shirley Jackson, Nancy Kaufhold, Peg Murr, Wayne Martin and Dave Bender.

Other retirees included CeCe O’Day, Dave Hoar, Faye Sangrey, Christine Pierce and Cheryl Drumm-Miklos.

Also honored Wednesday were 41 Penn Manor employees with 20 or more years of service and the Outstanding Employee and Educators of the Year.

Cindy Bachman, high school athletics secretary, was named Outstanding Employee for 2017-2018.

Honored as Outstanding Educators were Beth Mader, a Central Manor Elementary second-grade teacher, and Ken Webster, a Marticville Middle School social studies teacher.

Employees honored for 30 Years: Carol Alexander, Sharlotte Dammerman, Cynthia Frey, Lori Graham, Jeff Himes, Peg Murr, Michelle Rankin and Melany Rios.

Employees honored for 25 Years: Cindy Bachman, Anne Butterfield, Donna Falk, Kathy Grenier, Kelley Groff, Marty Ioannidis, Doug Kramer, Marjean Long, Gary Luft, Amy Niemkiewicz, Carol Purzycki, Carol Ragland, Kathleen Railing, Maryann Saylor and Laura Stephan.

Employees honored for 20 Years: Mark Andrew, Christine Bachman, Beth Corl, Rebecca Eichler, Stephen Harnish, Erica Kopp, Carin Leisure, Lisa Martin, Emily Mattern, Shawn Maxwell, Charlie Reisinger, Cindy Rhoades, Deborah Sensenig, Streeter Stuart, Jennifer Winters and Pam Witmer.

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

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Scout projects make Penn Manor schools more welcoming

Penn Manor’s elementary schools have become more welcoming to students this year thanks to a group of young men with a couple of things in common.

Noah Johnson, Matthew Julian, Dylan Terry and Stephen Marquette all are members of Boy Scout Troop 268 in Millersville. And they all recently completed Eagle Scout projects at Penn Manor schools.

Noah built picnic tables for Eshleman Elementary School students to use at recess, and Matthew constructed bins for a new composting program at Conestoga Elementary and helped to rebuild the school’s community garden plots.

At Central Manor Elementary, Dylan repainted the playground basketball court, and Stephen added a beanbag bull’s-eye game to the playground area and cleared overgrown brush from around the property.

In all of the projects, the work was completed at little or no cost to Penn Manor School District, thanks to donated materials and support from PTO groups, individuals and businesses.

“The work that Dylan and Stephen did at Central Manor was amazing,” said principal Brian Malek. “The basketball courts were brought alive with Penn Manor blue and gold, and the circular beanbag game has been a wonderful addition.”

The projects have made the playground more popular with students, which is just what the two boys – both of whom attended Central Manor – had in mind.

“It was great to give back because I remember in my days playing basketball at the school we would always have to make up a three-point line because it was so faded,” Dylan said.

Stephen said he’s happy he could give students another option during recess and play time.

“To provide another activity for the kids where they can use their math skills and have a little fun, it just felt good to do that for them,” he said.

The Boy Scouts all attend Penn Manor High School. Noah, Matthew and Dylan are juniors, and Stephen is a sophomore.

They have something else in common as well. Their projects all helped them attain the rank of Eagle Scout – the highest possible achievement in the Boy Scouts.

Thanks, boys, for all your hard work!

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Manor FFA members help kick off 10 Million Trees campaign

Six Manor FFA members on April 24 helped kick off of an effort to plant 10 million trees over the next seven years to help reduce pollution into the Chesapeake Bay.

The students gathered at a Manheim farm, along with state and federal officials, to plant the first 100 trees in the Keystone 10 Million Trees Campaign, sponsored by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

The effort is designed to establish a buffer along farmland streams to reduce runoff and along urban streets to reduce storm water flooding into the watershed. The goal is to have 10 million new trees planted by 2025.

Penn Manor student and Manor FFA member Sarah Bleacher read a brief greeting and prayer before the first tree was planted by the students and gathered officials.

Cindy Adams Dunn, Secretary of Conservation and Natural Resources, participated, along with Secretary of Agriculture Russell Reading, U.S. EPA Regional Administrator Cosmo Servidio and Chesapeake Bay Foundation president Will Baker.

The Manor FFA members participated through the Mentors in Agriculture Conservation, a job-shadowing program in which students work with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

In addition to Sarah Bleacher, the participating students were Cody Hurlburt, Alyssa Chalfant, Renee Eshbach, Alyssa Broderick and Dan Eshbach.

Many thanks for helping to kick off this important program!

Read an article about the program here.

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Penn Manor HS students place first in Sea, Air & Land Challenge

A team of Penn Manor High School students placed first in the Sea, Air and Land Challenge, held April 24 at Lancaster Lebanon Intermediate Unit 13.

Moses Buckwalter, Graham Thomas, Maxwell Kreitzer, Wesley Kendig and Thomas Hockenberry – all freshmen – won the air portion of the competition, which required teams to design, build and fly drones over a simulated wooded area and release materials on targets.

The exercise was designed to simulate an aerial response to a forest fire.

Each team had a $500 budget to construct a drone and modify it for the competition. The Penn Manor team used computer-aided design to create new motor mounts, landing gear, a payload mechanism and other components, which came to life via the 3D printing process.

During the competition, team members had to explain their project to judges before flying the course. They were judged on the accuracy of their flights and payload drops, the durability of their designs and a preliminary design report.

“The team members were well prepared and conducted themselves in a professional manner at the competition, impressing not only us coaches but also the judges,” said Jon Zimmerman, the Penn Manor High School gifted teacher who serves as the team’s adviser.

 Since December, he has worked with the students during homeroom and after school, with the assistance of Dan Yocom, a Penn Manor parent who served as team mentor.

“I am amazed at the ingenuity and ability of this team to overcome numerous challenges and learn new technology concepts in such a short period of time,” Zimmerman said.

This is the first year Penn Manor has participated in the competition, which is  sponsored by Penn State’s Electro-Optics Center in collaboration with the Office of Naval Research Program.

To cover the cost of materials and entry fees, the Penn Manor team received a $600 Venture Grant from Penn Manor Education Foundation.

Congratulations to students and coaches for an impressive first-year effort!

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Penn Manor students bring home state TSA awards

Congratulations to Marticville Middle School student Jaden Smith, who placed first in Pennsylvania in the Children’s Stories category of the Technology Student Association State Conference, held April 18-21 at Seven Springs Resort.

Jaden was among the 14 Penn Manor students who finished in the top 10 in the competition, which included more than 1,900 of the state’s best STEM students competing in a variety of events, from robotics and biotechnology to extemporaneous presentations and architectural design.

Jaden’s performance was a highlight of the conference for Molly Miller, who is co-adviser of Penn Manor TSA, along with Alisha Gerhart.

Although the Children’s Stories competition is a team event, Jaden chose to work solo on the project, doing the same amount of work as a team, she said. While onstage for the awards ceremony, he was so busy congratulating the second-place team, he almost missed his own award — which apparently came as a total surprise.

“He has come a long way in TSA, and we could not be prouder of his accomplishments,” Miller said.

In all, 32 Penn Manor students participated in the competition. The top-10 finishers were:

Marticville MS
Grace Fafel  – Digital Photography, 8th place.
Jaden Smith  – Children’s Stories, 1st place; Materials Process, 6th place.

High School
Ray Gerner – Extemporaneous Speech, 2nd place.
Morgan Cooper, Joshua Gerlach, Aliya Trussell and Christopher Trussell – Animatronics, 5th place.
Bryce Eberly, Max Minnick and Kevin Ward – System Control Technology, 5th place.
Joshua Gerlach, Audrey Ritchie, Joshua Adams, Trey Erisman, Simon Schoelkopf and Christopher Trussel — Video Game Design, 6th place.
Alexander Detter — Prepared Presentation, 8th place; Digital Video Production, 8th place.

Both Jaden and Ray qualified for the national TSA conference in Atlanta, Georgia, from June 22 through June 26.

Congrats to all the students who participated!

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Unified Track & Field team provides new opportunity

Penn Manor hosted the first Unified Track & Field meet in Lancaster County Friday, kicking off a new program that enables students with intellectual disabilities to compete in organized sports.

Hempfield, McCaskey and Warwick also have teams under the first-year effort, which is governed by the Special Olympics and endorsed by the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association.

Student athletes compete alongside partners without disabilities, with teams fielding an even number of each. Students are eligible to compete in one track event of 100, 400 or 800 meters; one relay (4 x 100 meters or 4 x 400 meters); and one field event, including shot put, long jump and javelin.

Team members compete in flights, which pairs students of similar abilities against each other, giving everyone a chance to be competitive.

Penn Manor kicked off the inaugural meet against Warwick and Hempfield Friday in front of an enthusiastic group of spectators. Penn Manor won the meet, but the students seemed excited just to be able to participate.

“I think all of our athletes felt like superstars on Friday,” said Jessica Cunningham, who coaches the team along with Doug Kramer. “They were proud of themselves for what they accomplished, and they felt encouraged and supported by the Penn Manor community.”

Sports teams teach students many valuable lessons about unity, sportsmanship and perseverance, Cunningham said. “I am glad we now have a program that allows all of our students to participate in a sports team. We’re all learning valuable lessons about encouragement and perseverance from our Unified athletes.”

The next meet is May 2 at Hempfield. The season will culminate with a regional championship that will include the four Lancaster County schools, along with Red Lion and York County Tech, scheduled for May 14 at Hempfield High School.

Many thanks to the coaches, special education teachers, partners, volunteers and supporters who made this new program possible for students of all abilities at Penn Manor!

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