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 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.


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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Four named to Penn Manor Alumni Wall of Honor

Congratulations to the four new members of the Penn Manor Alumni Wall of Honor – Joshua Herr, Craig Kauffman, J. Samuel Walker and Jan Mindish.

Herr (Class of 2001) is Design Director for Creative Direction for Adidas and leads the Originals team, which works with celebrity designers. Herr’s team developed XENO, a new shoe material that changes colors in response to light, that was introduced for the 2016 NBA All-Star Game.

Kauffman (Class of 1981) has spent nearly 30 years in banking and is regional president for BB&T Bank. He serves as a board member on the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce, Lancaster General Health Foundation and the Safari Club International Foundation.

Walker (Class of 1964) is an American historian and author known for his research and writing on the nuclear age. He was historian for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission for 24 years and has written many books and articles on diverse topics, including American foreign policy, nuclear energy and college basketball.

Mindish, a longtime Penn Manor teacher and high school principal, was recognized as the Pennsylvania Principal of the Year in 2007. She is executive director of the Penn Manor Education Foundation and remains active at Penn Manor, despite her retirement in 2009 after 37 years of service. She is an honorary alumna.

The four honorees were inducted April 12 into the Distinguished Alumni Wall of Honor during a reception at Lancaster Yacht Club. The following day, they talked with high school students about how their time at Penn Manor shaped their future endeavors.

Many thanks to these distinguished individuals for sharing their expertise with our students, and congrats on your well-deserved recognition!

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Updated design proposals for high school released

More details on the proposed renovation and reconstruction of Penn Manor High School were shared this week with Penn Manor booster groups.

District architects CrabtreeRohrbaugh & Associates presented the latest design proposals of what the school might look like when construction is completed, including more details on athletics and arts facilities and the exterior appearance of the school.

Penn Manor is planning to spend an estimated $87 million to renovate and rebuild the high school on its existing site, beginning in summer 2019. The project is expected to take at least three years for completion.

The project must go through several reviews before the board of directors agrees to a final design and approves construction contracts.

Here are slides from the presentation: High School design update 4-10-2018

Jason Mattern named Penn Manor athletic director

The Penn Manor board of school directors has appointed Jason Mattern as the district’s new athletic director, effective June 18.

Mattern, currently athletic administrator for Prince George’s County Public Schools, will replace Jeff Roth, who has served as Penn Manor AD since 2001.

“I am ecstatic to be welcomed into Comet Country,” Mattern said. “The new era of Penn Manor athletics will be one that students, parents, staff and community will continue to have pride in while also seeing some modernization in communication and the promotion of our programs and student athletes.”

Mattern said he was attracted to the Penn Manor AD job “because of the great schools, community and established legacy of excellence, both in the classroom and on the athletic fields.”

Mattern taught social studies at Bowie High School in Maryland from 2006 to 2014 and served as assistant athletic director at the school from 2012 to 2014. He has served in his present position since 2014.

Mattern also has coached varsity baseball at Broadneck and Bowie high schools in Maryland and was a pitching coach at the U.S. Naval Academy.

He received his bachelor’s degree from Muskingum College in 2006 and his master’s degree in athletic administration from Grace College this year.

A native of Cleveland, Mattern has lived in Annapolis, Md., for 12 years. He and his wife, Allison, have a three-year-old daughter, Addison, and are expecting a second daughter in early August.

Welcome to Penn Manor, Jason!

Jason Mattern with his wife, Allison, and daughter, Addison.
Jason Mattern with his wife, Allison, and daughter, Addison.

Two PMHS students named Agricultural Sciences Scholars

Two Penn Manor High School juniors have been selected to attend the prestigious Pennsylvania School for Excellence in the Agricultural Sciences.

Arilyn Tegtmeier-Oatman and Rylee Mellott were named PSEAS Scholars and will attend the four-week program in the College of Agricultural Sciences at Penn State University. Only about 40 students from across Pennsylvania are selected each year to participate.

They will live on campus and attend college-level courses, exploring the fields of agricultural science and natural resources while experiencing life on a college campus. The program, which covers the cost of tuition, housing, food, books and other materials, runs from July 8 to Aug. 3.

Arilyn said she cried when she found out she had gotten into the program.

“I feel great about it because it’s so selective, and knowing that I was picked makes me think all that work, those late nights, the stress from your classes and the research, is paying off. It’s gratifying,” she said.

Rylee said she’s looking forward to experiencing Penn State. “I want to attend Penn State when I get older, and spending four weeks learning exactly what I want to be learning is what I want to be doing.”

The students had to submit their resumes, along with a recommendation from a counselor. They also had to write two essays – one explaining who they are and why they wanted to attend the program, the other about an agricultural issue affecting another country.

Arilyn wrote about malnutrition in Sudan; Rylee’s essay was on agricultural instability in Haiti.

During the program, the scholars will be challenged to come up with solutions to such problems as lack of access to clean water, malnutrition and social injustice faced by those living in developing countries.

In addition to attending classes, laboratories and workshops, participants will work on group research projects and participate in evening activities.

“I’m so proud and thrilled to have two students involved with this program,” said Penn Manor agricultural education teacher Diane Glock-Cornman.

“It is a tremendous opportunity and can really pave the way for amazing opportunities in the future.”

Congratulations, Rylee and Arilyn!

Rylee Mellott, left, and Arilyn Tegtmeier-Oatman.
Rylee Mellott, left, and Arilyn Tegtmeier-Oatman, with animal sciences equipment.


Peyton Cassel earns national Scholastic Writing Award

Penn Manor High School junior Peyton Cassel has won another award for her writing — a national Silver Medal in the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards competition.

Peyton won the award in flash fiction (under 1,000 words) for her story “The Apology,” which previously won a regional Scholastic Gold Key Award.

The national Scholastic Award is the second for Peyton, who won a Silver Medal in 2016 for her collection of poems — the first time in 10 years that a Penn Manor student had earned a national medal.

Only 1 percent of the nearly 320,000 works of art and writing submitted in the competition earn an award. Past recipients of national awards include such outstanding artists and writers as Sylvia Plath, Andy Warhol and Truman Capote.

Earlier this year, Peyton also won a regional Silver Key Award for a collection of five poems and an Honorable Mention for her personal narrative “The Hatching.”

She plans to major in English or communications in college and pursue a career in broadcast journalism.

Congratulations, Peyton!

Peyton Cassel
Peyton Cassel


Elementary students take home trophies in Penn Manor Math Bowl

In a spirited competition involving students from all seven Penn Manor elementary schools, teams of fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders squared off in the Penn Manor Math Bowl.

Teams from Central Manor Elementary School took home the first-place trophy in all three grades, and Eshleman students claimed the runner-up trophy.

More than 75 students participated in the competition, which tests students’ general math ability and skills in solving multi-step and word problems and computations with and without a calculator.

The participants are the top math students from each school, so just qualifying for the math bowl is an achievement. Here are the results:

Fourth grade

  • First place: Central Manor team of IzEldeen Salem, Maryam Alfayyadh, Chloe Mummau and Kayla Joy.
  • Second: Eshleman team of Tristn Torres, Jett Kroesen, Seth Barret and Luke Devinney.

Fifth grade

  • First: Central Manor team of Zoe Thomas, Cooper Dawkins, Jorden Chen and Brady Breneman.
  • Second: Eshleman team of Evan Lee, Andrew Gallion, Tyler Hudson and Ishmael Bolorin.

Sixth grade

  • First: Central Manor team of Gavin Long, Matthew Perkins, Carter Vinson and Tristan Groff.
  • Second: Eshleman team of Aydan Aliotta, Autumn Kirkley, Elizabeth Pursel and Mackenzi Nafziger.

Congratulations to all who participated!

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PMHS students design and build toys for pediatric hospital

Penn Manor High School students recently made a special delivery to children at Pediatric Specialty Care Hospital – a collection of colorful toys they designed and built in an unusual collaboration between students who normally would not work together.

The Pediatric Toy Project paired students in a technology/applied engineering course with learning support students for an opportunity to create toys to benefit children with significant medical challenges.

Working in teams, the Materials Design students shared their design and building knowledge with their peers to create safe, colorful, stimulating toys based on guidelines provided by the hospital, which sent a representative to meet with the students during the design phase.

The toys had to use nontoxic materials and include no sharp edges, with soft-close lids and other safety features. They also needed to be stimulating to the senses, with distinct textures and sounds, bright colors and recognizable shapes.

The building materials mostly included wood and Plexiglas, purchased with a $500 Venture Grant from Penn Manor Education Foundation.

“The project gave all the students a new experience they would not have gotten without this project,” said Alisha Gerhart, who teaches the Materials Design and Production class. “It brought two groups of students together that normally would not be in the same course.”

Gerhart collaborated with learning support teacher Michelle Wagner to create the project.

Over several months, students designed, built, tested and painted their toys before delivering them to the Lancaster pediatric hospital on March 1. They got to interact with the children and staff members – an unforgettable experience for many.

“This experience has allowed me to appreciate what I have in my life,” said Mitchell Martin, a junior. “These kids don’t get to go home every day and be with their families.  The experience that I had to give these kids joy with the toys that we made is a once-in-a-lifetime thing, and I was glad to be a part of it.”

Senior Kayla Hansen also was touched by the experience.

“Knowing that we will put a smile on those kids’ faces is the reward for our time and effort put into this project,” she said.

Gerhart said the class was a great learning experience, on many levels.

“This was an incredible opportunity for students to problem solve, work collaboratively, and do good within the local community,” she said.

Other students who took part in the project were Kyle Ament, Aidan Clark, Jonathan DiStefano, Josiah Edwards, Aaron Gale, Bryce Hanna, Kayla Hansen, Quinton James, Mitchell Martin, Cale Rehm, Julio Sepulveda, Brandon Singer, Toby Singer, Brandon Weitzel, Breanna Yanas, Cole Yecker, Tevonte Abernathy, Jose Alicea, Destinee Clinton, Madeline Gonzalez, Graylin Hyson, Victoria Kennedy, Cheyenne Reimer and Zana Yalch.

Congratulations to our students and teachers for their effort on such a worthwhile project!

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