28 PM students qualify for state TSA competition

Twenty-eight Penn Manor students have qualified to compete on the state level after their strong showing at the Technology Student Association regional conference Feb. 9 at Huesken Middle School.

Ten students from Manor and Marticville middle schools and 20 Penn Manor High School students competed against their peers from Lancaster, Berks and Lebanon counties in more than 40 events, ranging from structural design and engineering to extemporaneous presentation.

Penn Manor middle school teams placed first in Biotechnology, Medical Technology, Safety Illustration, and Off the Grid events. The high school teams took top honors in Biotechnology, Extemporaneous and Prepared Presentations, Video Game Design, Webmaster, Safety Illustration, Children’s Stories and Problem Solving events.

Here are the students who qualified to compete at the state conference April 10-13 at Seven Springs Mountain Resort in Champion.

Middle School
Biotechnology: 
Mitchell Jackson, Kieran McFall and Anders Murphy, 1st place.
Medical Technology:
 Suren Clark, Ian Groff, Mitchell Jackson and Anders Murphy, 1st place.
Off the Grid: Mitchell Jackson, Caden Jacyszyn and Aders Murphy, 1st place.
Safety Illustration: Benjamin Hickey, 1st place; Ava Ritchie, 3rd.
Tech Bowl – Written: Suren Clark, 2nd place.
Mass Production: Suren Clark, Ian Groff, Benjamin Hickey, Caden Jacyszyn and Noah Reen, 2nd place.
Problem-Solving: Kieran McFall and Ava Ritchie, 3rd place.
Challenging Technology Issues: Suren Clark and Benjamin Hickey, 3rd place.

High School
Biotechnology Design:
Audrey Jachimowicz and Jordan Schucker, 1st place.
Children’s Stories: Sophie Groff and Jaden Smith, 1st place; Morgan Cooper, Bernie Eckman and Audrey Ritchie, 3rd place.
Extemporaneous Presentation: Ray Gerner, 1st place.
Prepared Presentation: Isaac Leshok, 1st place; Audrey Ritchie, 3rd.
Technology Problem Solving: Ray Gerner and Cole Shenk, 1st place.
Video Game Design: Aidan Lewis, Audrey Ritchie and Aliya Trussell, 1st place.
Webmaster: Audrey Ritchie and Aliya Trussell, 1st place.
PA-Safety Illustration: Grace Fafel, 1st place; Ray Gerner, 2nd.
Forensic Science: Audrey Jachimowicz and Jordan Schucker, 2nd place; Kaylee Jackson and Cole Wilson, 4th.
Software Development: Aidan Lewis and Aliya Trussell, 2nd place.
Board Game Design: Morgan Cooper, Bernie Eckman, Kaylee Jackson and Isabella Price-Dubble, 3rd place.
Debating Technological Issues: Sophie Groff and Bernie Eckman, 3rd place.
Computer-Aided Design—Engineering: Ryan Buchwalder, 4th place.
Photographic Technology: Jordan Schucker, 5th place.

Congratulations to these students for representing Penn Manor so well, and best of luck in the state competition!

  • Middle school TSA participants
    Middle school TSA participants

Penn Manor’s Fellenbaum named Outstanding PA Ag Teacher

Penn Manor High School agricultural education teacher Neil Fellenbaum has been named Pennsylvania’s Outstanding Teacher by the Pennsylvania Association of Agricultural Educators.

    Fellenbaum was nominated for the award by his peers and is now in contention for a national award.

“I am very humbled to receive the award, considering there are so many great ag teachers in Pennsylvania,” said Fellenbaum, who is in his 19th year at Penn Manor High School.

    A Penn Manor alumnus, he is coordinator of the high school’s agricultural education department and teaches courses in Plant Science 2, Engines 1, and Introduction to Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources.

    Fellenbaum and other award nominees were evaluated based on their teaching philosophy, instructional strategies, professional growth, community connections and involvement in promoting student participation in ag organizations and activities.

    Fellenbaum will receive his award at the Pennsylvania Association of Agricultural Educators Conference July 9-11 at Blackhawk High School.

He is now being considered for a national award by the National Association of Agricultural Educators.

Congratulations, Mr. Fellenbaum, on this well-deserved honor!

Neil Fellenbaum
Agricultural education teacher Neil Fellenbaum works with student Colin Smith in Plant Science 2 class.

Neighborhood meeting on HS project to be held Feb. 26

Neighbors of Penn Manor High School and interested parties are invited to attend an update on the high school project at 7 p.m. Tuesday, February 26, in the high school library.

Topics will include construction phasing over the next three years, the impact of the project on the surrounding neighborhood, and communication methods to keep neighbors updated on construction.

The meeting is open to the public.

School year to start, end earlier in 2019-2020

The school year will start and end earlier in 2019-2020 to accommodate the high school construction project.

Under the 2019-2020 school calendar, approved Feb. 4 by the Penn Manor board of school directors, the first day of school for students will be Aug. 21, 2019. The opening day for staff will be Aug. 19.

The last day of school for 2019-2020 will be May 29, 2020.

The earlier end date will allow construction workers to begin demolition of sections of the existing high school earlier and extend the amount of time available for construction over the summer.

A downloadable copy of the 2019-2020 calendar is available here.

14 PMHS seniors honored on National Signing Day

Family and friends gathered Wednesday in the Penn Manor High School library to honor 13 seniors who will participate in collegiate sports at 12 different colleges and universities next fall and one who will attend a military academy.

The National Signing Day ceremony featured students who will participate in 10 different sports and honored one student, Cole Shenk, who was accepted into the U.S. Naval Academy.

Congratulations and best wishes to these outstanding students:

Dylan Frey – Pennsylvania College of Technology, baseball
Charles Thourot – Pennsylvania College of Technology, baseball
Joshua Heckman – Swarthmore College, lacrosse
Zachary Banta – Millersville University, football
Elizabeth Kubicar – Westminster College, volleyball
Kara Huber – Lancaster Bible College, soccer
Logan Hess – Robert Morris University, golf
William Briegel – University of Hartford, lacrosse
Briana Harsh – Lock Haven University, field hockey
Emma DeBerdine – University of Maryland, field hockey
David Kramer – West Chester University, cross country and track
Kate Levato – DeSales University, basketball
Anna Sugra – Bloomsburg University, swimming
Cole Shenk – United States Naval Academy

Rep. Cutler visits Penn Manor HS classrooms

State Rep. Bryan Cutler visited Penn Manor High School Jan. 24 to learn more about our programs and to congratulate Penn Manor’s Teacher of the Year finalist.

Cutler visited the psychology classroom of Maria Vita, who was one of 12 finalists vying for the 2019 Teacher of the Year award. Cutler congratulated Ms. Vita, then spent time with students as they worked with lab rats.

The students were interacting with their “adopted” rats to socialize them before they are used in conditioning lab experiments.

Cutler also addressed students in Jon Boxleitner’s AP Government class, where he talked about serving in the state Legislature and answered students’ questions about state government.

Later, he visit with high school counselor Melissa Ostrowski to learn about Penn Manor’s Comet Credential initiative.

Introduced last year, the program helps ninth-graders develop the “soft skills” employers say are needed to succeed in the modern workforce.

Many thanks to Rep. Cutler for taking the time to learn firsthand about what happens in the classrooms at Penn Manor!

  • State Rep. Bryan Cutler addresses AP Government students.
    State Rep. Bryan Cutler addresses AP Government students.

School board approves bids on high school renovation/construction project

The Penn Manor board of school directors voted 8-1 Jan. 22 to approve bids on the high school renovation and construction project.

The board approved construction bids totaling $82.7 million and the notice for contractors to proceed on the project, which will replace major portions of the school and renovate others.

New classroom, agricultural education and athletic wings will be built, along with a new auditorium and upgrades to the school’s HVAC, plumbing, electrical, fire suppression, technology and security systems.

The project also will include a new district office at the high school, which will open up space for classrooms at Manor Middle School, where the office is currently located.

Board members Ken Long, Nicki Nafziger, David Paitsel, Rich Frerichs, Joseph Fullerton, Donna Wert, Mitchell Sweigart and Chris Straub voted in favor of approving the bids. Carlton “Herk” Rintz voted against the measure.

Construction bids came in about $4.6 million higher than anticipated, but school district officials are confident the higher costs can be covered without an additional tax increase over the original, four-year funding plan.

Penn Manor will be able to cover the additional expenses by using more of its reserve funds than originally planned, said Chris Johnston, the district’s business manager. Penn Manor has set aside $9.6 million so far for the project and has borrowed $40 million to cover initial phases and plans to borrow another $40 million to complete the project.

Major construction is scheduled to begin in March, and the project should be completed by summer 2022. Here are the bids that were approved Jan. 22.

Nominations sought for Outstanding Educators, Employees

Do you know of a Penn Manor teacher or staff member who goes above and beyond in performing his or her duties? If so, please consider submitting a nomination to the 2018-2019 Outstanding Educator/Employee Awards program.

The school district will present the awards later this year to two teachers and two staff members.  Nominations are being accepted until February 22, 2019, from parents/guardians, students and colleagues of Penn Manor staff members.

Last year’s honorees included Cindy Bachman, high school secretary, named Outstanding Employee for 2017-2018. The Outstanding Educators were Beth Mader, a Central Manor Elementary second-grade teacher, and Ken Webster, a Marticville Middle School social studies teacher.

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.

Nominations for the Outstanding Employee Awards should be based on the 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 click here to submit a nomination. Use one form for each nominee.

Below are an explanation of the awards, guidelines and a list of previous recipients.



Public input sought on hiring of new PMHS principal

Penn Manor is seeking input from the public as it embarks on a search for a new high school principal.

Your response to a short online survey will help the school district develop a leadership profile that will guide the selection of a new principal, who will take over from Phil Gale for the 2019-2020 school year.

Dr. Gale has accepted the position of assistant superintendent for secondary education at Penn Manor, effective July 1, 2019.

All survey responses must be submitted by January 25, 2019. The survey includes 13 questions, and all responses are anonymous.

You can take the survey here.

Thank you for responding thoughtfully to the survey questions. Your input is greatly apprciated.

School board votes to advance HS renovation/construction project

The Penn Manor board of school directors voted 7-1 Jan. 7 to advance the high school renovation and construction project.

The board approved the notice of intent to award construction bids totaling $82.7 million for the project, which will replace major portions of the school and renovate others.

New classroom, agricultural education and athletic wings will be built, along with a new auditorium and upgrades to the school’s HVAC, plumbing, electrical, fire suppression, technology and security systems.

The project also will include a new district office at the high school, which will open up space for classrooms at Manor Middle School, where the office is currently located.

Board members Ken Long, Nicki Nafziger, David Paitsel, Rich Frerichs, Joseph Fullerton, Donna Wert and Chris Straub voted in favor of accepting the bids. Carlton “Herk” Rintz voted against the measure. The ninth member, Mitchell Sweigart, was absent.

Construction bids came in higher than anticipated, but school district officials are confident the higher costs can be covered without an additional tax increase over the original, four-year funding plan.

The bids, opened Dec. 13, came in about $4.6 million above estimates. The total cost of the project, with all “soft costs,” including financing, construction management and contingency fees, is $99.9 million.

Penn Manor will be able to cover the additional expenses by using more of its reserve funds than originally planned, said Chris Johnston, the district’s business manager. Penn Manor has set aside $9.6 million so far for the project and has borrowed $40 million to cover initial phases and plans to borrow another $40 million to complete the project.

Major construction is scheduled to begin in March, and the project should be completed by summer 2022.

Alumni return to PMHS to share advice on college athletics

A group of eight Penn Manor alumni returned to the high school Jan. 3 to share advice with current Penn Manor students about attending college while participating in sports.

    The Athletic Alumni Roundtable, held in the high school cafeteria, attracted about 40 students, along with coaches and parents.

    The panel of collegians responded to questions about balancing athletics and academics, choosing the right college and the differences between athletics on the college and high school levels.

    After the question-and-answer session, the student athletes broke into small groups for individual discussions with students.

    The roundtable was designed to help Penn Manor students “become a little bit more college ready and to help them decide which colleges would be a good fit,” said Jason Mattern, Penn Manor athletic director.

   Many thanks to our alumni who participated in the event:

  • Brooke DeBerdine (Class of 2017) University of Maryland, field hockey
  • Cassie Kline (Class of 2015), Penn State University, field hockey
  • Doug Kramer (Class of 2017), Eastern University, cross country, track and field
  • Grant Gale (Class of 2017), Franklin & Marshall College, football
  • Matt Keller (Class of 2015), Syracuse University, football
  • Nick Kirk (Class of 2016), Ursinus College, lacrosse
  • Wyatt Barnett (Class of 2016), York College, lacrosse
  • Casey McCollum (Class of 2018), Lafayette College, football

HS students headed for state Future Business Leaders competition

Ten Penn Manor High School students have qualified to compete at the Future Business Leaders of America State Leadership Conference in Hershey in April.

The students qualified by placing in the top three at the FBLA Region 18 Conference, held Dec. 18 at Cocalico High School.

Penn Manor’s top finishers were:

  • Max Forrey, first place, Journalism
  • Alex Mowery, first place, Business Calculations
  • Kaden Peart, second place, Political Science
  • Dominic Roma and Zach Bailey, third place, Sports & Entertainment Marketing
  • Dan Mader, Owen Rohrer and Trevor Grassel, third place, Marketing
  • Gavin Davidson and Garrett Garber, third place, Entrepreneurship

They will move on to compete at the state conference April 8 to 10 in Hershey.

Congratulations, and best wishes as you compete at States!

Kindergarten registration opens Jan. 7; Information Night is Feb. 5

Kindergarten registration for the 2019-2020 school year opens Monday, January 7, and Penn Manor is hosting an information night February 5 to familiarize parents with the kindergarten program and area preschools.

Students registering for kindergarten must be 5 years old by Sept. 1, 2019, to be eligible to enroll for 2019-2020. Parents/guardians must begin the registration process online by clicking here.

The Kindergarten Information Night and Preschool Expo will be held February 5, from 6:15 to 8 p.m., at Hambright Elementary School, 3000 Charlestown Road, Lancaster 17603. 

The snow date is February 6.

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!

Penn Manor/Hempfield team places second in HackHershey

A team of students from Penn Manor and Hempfield was a top finisher in a statewide hacking competition held recently at Hershey High School.

    Kyler Stigelman, Aidan Lewis and Tristen Martin of Penn Manor and Michael Pagano of Hempfield placed second overall in HackHershey, a 12-hour programming competition that attracted 21 student teams from across Pennsylvania.

    The projects were judged on originality, technical difficulty, polish and usefulness.

    The four students developed an app called Face2Password that uses facial recognition software to assist people who forget their passwords.

    “The team had a fully working program completed in less than 10 hours, which was really impressive,” said Gina Kostelich, Penn Manor Student Help Desk specialist, who helped prepare Team Face2Password for the competition.

    The Penn Manor students all are enrolled in the Help Desk Course at Penn Manor High School, in which they complete repairs and provide technical support for student computers under the 1:1 Laptop Program.

    Help Desk students earn credits and work under the direction of Penn Manor’s professional information technology staff.

    “I think this course has really expanded their programming passion beyond a hobby,” Kostelich said.  “Plus, the students are now bonding and using their programming experience to do some really cool projects.” 

    “Bright futures are in store for this group.”   

    Tristen is a senior and Kyler and Aidan are sophomores at Penn Manor. Michael is a sophomore at Hempfield.

    The students received $600 worth of prizes, including a computer monitor, Airpods and Snapchat Spectacles, for their second-place finish.

Team members, from left, are Kyler Stigelman, Michael Pagano, Aidan Lewis and Tristen Martin.

HS project construction costs higher than anticipated


Bids for the construction/renovation project at Penn Manor High School came in higher than anticipated, but school district officials are confident the higher costs can be covered without an additional tax increase over the original, four-year funding plan.

    Construction bids, which were opened Dec. 13, totaled $82.3 million, about $4.6 million above estimates. The total cost of the project, with all “soft costs,” including financing, construction management and contingency fees, is $99.6 million.

    The project originally was projected to cost $87 million to $91.4 million, without construction management fees of $1.7 million and additional costs for soil stabilization. Those estimates did not include an alternate bid of $1.3 million to build district office space, and about $1 million in additional contingency fees to cover unanticipated construction cost.

    While most construction bids came in at or under projections, the general construction bid totaled $55.9 million — $6.4 million above estimates.

     Only one contractor bid on that portion of the project, which likely affected the bid.

    At a school board meeting Dec. 17, project architect Larry Levato of Crabtree, Rohrbaugh & Associates said his team is working with the contractor, Lobar Inc., to reduce general construction costs, but a significant reduction is not likely.

    School board directors discussed whether to rebid that portion of the project, but Levato said doing so would be unlikely to result in a lower bid and would increase costs by delaying the construction timetable.

    Penn Manor will be able to cover the additional expenses by using more of its reserve funds than originally planned, said Chris Johnston, the district’s business manager. Penn Manor has set aside $9.6 million so far for the project and has borrowed $40 million to cover initial phases and plans to borrow another $40 million to complete the project.

    The district administration and architect will work to reduce costs and update financing plans prior to a vote on the construction bids at the school board’s Jan. 7 meeting.

    The meeting will begin with a high school construction workshop at 5 p.m., followed by the 7 p.m. committee of the whole and voting meetings at Manor Middle School.

    The high school project will replace major portions of the school and renovate others. It will include new classroom, agricultural education and athletic wings, a new auditorium and upgrades to the school’s HVAC, plumbing, electrical, fire suppression, technology and security systems.

    Completion is expected by summer 2022.