37 students qualify for state TSA competition

Thirty-seven Penn Manor students have qualified to compete on the state level after their strong showing at the Technology Student Association regional conference, held Feb. 10 at Huesken Middle School.

Seven students from Manor and Marticville Middle Schools and 32 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 teams from the high school and middle schools placed first in both Biotechnology and the Problem Solving. Penn Manor also had first-place finishes in Children’s Stories and Materials Processing at the middle school level and in Photographic Technology and Prepared Presentation at the high school level.

In all, 37 Penn Manor students qualified to compete in the state conference April 18-21 at Seven Springs.

Here are the qualifying students: 

Manor Middle
Mitchell Jackson and Kieran McFall, qualified.
Tech Bowl, Written
: Kieran McFall.

Marticville Middle
Biotechnology: 1st – Jaden Smith, Javan Reigner; 2nd—Sophie Groff and Grace Fafel.
Challenging Technology Issues: 2nd—Grace Fafel and Sophie Groff.
Children’s Stories: 1st—Jaden Smith.
Digital Photography: 3rd—Grace Fafel.
Flight: Qualified—Mitchell Jackson, Kieran McFall and Javan Reigner.
Problem Solving: 1st—Sophie Groff and Jaden Smith.
Materials Process: 1st—Jaden Smith; 3rd—Sophie Groff.
Snapshot: 4th—Grace Fafel.

High School
3rd—Morgan Cooper, Josh Gerlach, Aliya Trussell and Christopher Trussell.
Biotechnology Design: 1st—Morgan Cooper and Jordan Schucker; 3rd—Ryan Buchwalder, Bryce Eberly, Trey Erisman, Max Minnick, Zach Schucker and Erik Starry; 4th—Kaylee Jackson and Isabella Price-Dubble.
Digital Video Production: 2nd—Ryan Buchwalder, Bryce Eberly and Trey Erisman; 3rd—Alex Detter and Garrison Webster.
Extemporaneous Speech: 2nd—Ray Gerner; 7th—Max Minnick.
Fashion Design and Technology: 2nd—Morgan Cooper, Kaylee Jackson, Isabella Price-Dubble and Jordan Schucker.
Flight Endurance: 4th—Hannah Smith; 6th—Cole Shenk; 7th—Nick Rahe.
Music Production: 3rd—Ethan Getz, David Jachimowicz, Aidan McFall, Ben Rorabaugh and Simon Schoelkopf.
On Demand Video: 3rd—Meredith Reed, Ethan Getz, Calle MacDonald and Erick Starry.
Photographic Technology: 1st—Jordan Schucker; 3rd—Alex Detter.
Prepared Presentation: 1st—Alex Detter; 6th—Audrey Ritchie.
Software Development: 3rd—Aliya Trussell and Christopher Trussell.
Structural Design & Engineering: 6th—Nicholas Fafel and Trey Erisman.
System Control Technology: 3rd—Bryce Eberly, Nicholas Fafel and Max Minnick.
Technology Bowl: 6th—Cole Shenk, Nicholas Fafel and Max Minnick.
Technology Problem Solving: 1st—Ray Gerner and Zach Schucker; 9th—Kaylee Jackson and Isabella Price-Dubble.
Transportation Modeling: 2nd—Josh Gerlach.
Video Game Design: 3rd—Josh Gerlach, Audrey Ritchie, Joshua Adams, Simon Schoelkopf and Christopher Trussell; 4th—David Jachimowicz, Aidan McFall, Ben Rorabaugh and Kevin Ward.
Webmaster: 2nd—Aliya Trussell, Aidan McFall, Ben Rorabaugh and Kevin Ward.
Safety Illustration: 2nd—Ray Gerner.
Technology Bowl, Written: 8th—Neel Mahapatra.

Congrats, students, for representing Penn Manor so well, and best luck in state competition!


PM students place in top three in Governor’s STEM Competition

A team of Penn Manor High School students placed in the top three in the regional Governor’s STEM Competition, held Feb. 13 at Lancaster-Lebanon IU 13.

Team members include senior Kevin Ward, sophomores Seretta Kelly and Ryan Buchwalder and freshmen Aidan Lewis and Moses Buckwalter.

Their project was Smartpack, a backpack equipped with a built-in scale to alert users when it becomes heavy enough to cause physical problems.

According to research by the students, the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons recommends backpacks, when filled, weigh less than 10 percent to 15 percent of a user’s body weight. Carrying more weight can result in neck, back or shoulder pain.

The team’s design utilizes a low-cost Raspberry Pi computer that displays the weight and also features a programmable schedule, clock and GPS capability. A scale is attached under the handle of the backpack, which features an “SP” Smartpack logo designed and created by the students with a 3-D printer.

Members had to demonstrate their design to a panel of judges and explain how they researched, designed and built the prototype.

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PMHS’s Maria Vita named Teacher of Year semifinalist

Penn Manor High School psychology teacher Maria Vita has been named a semifinalist for Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year for 2019.

Vita, who has taught at Penn Manor since 2003, was nominated for the award by Superintendent Mike Leichliter and his wife, Mary Edith, whose three children all had Maria for class.

“We could not have asked for a more caring and capable teacher for our children,” they wrote in their letter. “She is truly extraordinary.”

Vita said she is “both honored and humbled to be considered” for the award.

“When Dr. Leichliter nominated me, I felt very grateful of his praise and the opportunity to apply. He called me the moment he learned I made the semifinals, and I was both surprised and delighted,” she said.

Maria, who teaches Advanced Placement Psychology, recently was named chair of the American Psychological Association Committee of Teachers of Psychology in Secondary Schools.

She helped establish an Aevidum student club at Penn Manor that seeks to create an atmosphere in which all students feel accepted, appreciated, acknowledged and cared for. Aevidum also works to increase awareness of depression and prevent teen suicides.

The Teacher of the Year finalists for 2019 are expected to be named at the end of March.

Congrats to a deserving teacher!


PMHS students earn academic, writing awards

Two Penn Manor High School students have received recognition for academics and writing.

Senior Kevin Ward has been named a National Merit Scholarship Finalist – one of only 15,000 students (out of 1.5 million) from across the United States to earn the award.

Junior Peyton Cassel has earned three Scholastic Writing Awards in poetry, personal narrative and “flash fiction.”

Kevin qualified as a National Merit Finalist based on his academic record, PSAT and SAT scores, activities, leadership qualities, a personal essay, and a principal’s recommendation.

“It’s pretty amazing to be a semifinalist and then to advance as a finalist,” said Kevin, who hopes to major in robotics, computer science or mechanical engineering in college.

He is hoping the national recognition of being named a finalist “paints a good picture” of him in the eyes of college admissions officials. About half of all finalists go on to receive National Merit college scholarships.

Kevin is the first Penn Manor student to be named a Finalist since 2014.

Peyton won a Scholastic Gold Key, the highest award, in flash fiction (under 1,000 words) for her story “The Apology.” which has now been entered into consideration for a national award.

She also won a Silver Key for a collection of five poems and an Honorable Mention for her personal narrative “The Hatching,” about watching sea turtles hatch along the coast of North Carolina.

“I’m honored and thrilled to have received these awards,” Peyton said. “Scholastic provides young writers with so many incredible opportunities.”

She credits her parents, both elementary school teachers, with instilling in her a love of writing. “In fourth grade, I was introduced to poetry, and it just took off from there,” said Peyton, who received her first writing award in fifth grade.

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

Congratulations to both these talented students!

Peyton Cassel and Kevin Ward
Peyton Cassel and Kevin Ward







2018-2019 kindergarten registration now open

Online registration is now under way for all new students entering kindergarten for the 2018-2019 school year. A child is eligible to attend if he/she will be 5 years old on or before September 1, 2018.

Registration for new students in upper grades will open in June.

Please note that a child’s kindergarten school placement is based on both physical address and class size. You will be notified if your child’s assigned building changes after registration.

To begin the kindergarten registration process, please click here.

Penn Manor hosts Kindergarten/Preschool Information Night February 6

On Tuesday, February 6, Penn Manor School District will sponsor a Kindergarten Information Night and Preschool Expo at Hambright Elementary School, 3000 Charlestown Road, Lancaster 17603.  The snow date is February 7.

   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. 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. If you have a child who will be 5 years old on or before September 1, 2018, he/she is eligible to enroll in kindergarten.

Please join us for these important events. Child care will not be provided, and registration is not required.

Lunch & Learn program for preschoolers begins Jan. 17

Penn Manor is again offering the Lunch & Learn program from January through April to help preschoolers and their parents transition to kindergarten.

Held at all seven Penn Manor elementary schools, Lunch & Learn includes a story and craft time, library visit and lunch for participants ages 3 and older. The program runs from Jan. 17 through April 30. Starting times vary by school, and activities run for about an hour. Pre-registration is required.

Children must be accompanied by an adult, and siblings are welcome.

Click here for  a printable schedule with all the details, including dates for each school through April 2018.

Lunch & Learn is offered through Tiny Comets, a program for parents of children who are less than 5 years old on or before Sept. 1 of the school year.

You can find out more about Tiny Comets here.


Penn Manor superintendent, board director named to CTC posts

Congratulations to Penn Manor superintendent Mike Leichliter and school board director Chris Straub, who were recently appointed to leadership positions at the Lancaster County Career & Technology Center.

Straub was named chairman of the CTC’s Joint Operating Committee, and Leichliter was named Superintendent of Record at the CTC’s Dec. 11 JOC meeting.

The committee, which includes school board directors from the 16 Lancaster County districts whose students attend CTC programs, functions much like a school board.

This is the first time in recent history that Penn Manor has held both the chairman and superintendent of record positions at the CTC, which enrolls more students from Penn Manor than from any other district in the county. For 2017-2018,162 Penn Manor students attend CTC programs.

“The Career & Technology center has been such a positive experience for thousands of Penn Manor students over the years that Mr. Straub and I consider it both a privilege and an honor to serve in leadership positions,” Leichliter said.

He and Straub will serve two-year terms.

Mike Leichliter and Chris Straub
Mike Leichliter, left, and Chris Straub.



Manor FFA members earn honors at National Convention

Congratulations to the team of five Manor FFA members who earned a silver medal in poultry judging at the National FFA Convention and Expo in Indianapolis on October 26.

During the National Poultry Judging Career Development Event, the students took a written exam on poultry management, evaluated live hens and broilers, graded and evaluated processed poultry products and eggs, and identified carcass parts.

They also worked together to problem solve a chicken tender processing scenario during which they measured and evaluated tenders and developed a verbal presentation of their solutions.

The team consisted of Marshall Ebersole, who earned a bronze individual award; Kylie Kreider, who earned a silver; Madeleine Denlinger, silver; Colin Smith, silver; and Lauren Sensenich, the team alternate.

Also at Nationals, three Manor FFA alumni received their American FFA Degrees, the highest degree achievable in the national FFA organization.

They are Brad Groff (Penn Manor Class of 2014), Samantha Bleacher (Class of 2016) and Katey Bleacher (Class of 2016).

Nice work, alumni and current FFA members!

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PM Ed Foundation awards $50,000 in grants to teachers

Penn Manor students will be building toys for a pediatric hospital, planting a vegetable garden at their school and using computer programs to help hone their violin playing skills, thanks to Venture Grants awarded this month by Penn Manor Education Foundation.

PMEF has awarded 52 grants totaling nearly $50,000 – both record numbers this year – ranging from $38 for plant mazes for second-graders at Central Manor Elementary School to $4,800 for toolboxes for Penn Manor High School Agricultural Mechanics students.

In between are grants for books, news magazines, light tables, field trips, digital photography equipment, therapeutic games and mindfulness training sessions.

Several classroom teachers and librarians will use their money to purchase “breakout boxes” – collections of locks, boxes and clues that challenge students to collaborate and use critical thinking to solve hundreds of different puzzles.

Other teachers received grants to make their classrooms more appealing to restless learners by adding new seating options – including camp chairs, yoga mats and exercise balls. Manor Middle School received a $2,000 grant for training a therapy dog, Wrangler, to help calm students in distress.

And the district’s counseling department received a $2,500 grant to implement mental health training programs.

In all, the grants will enhance the school climate and learning experience for hundreds of students at all 10 Penn Manor schools.

“The fact that we have had the highest number of applicants indicates that innovation and collaboration among our staff continues to grow,” said Anne Kinderwater Carroll, PMEF executive director. “To be able to finance these projects is a credit to our amazing base of supporters.”

Since 2000, the Education Foundation has awarded more than 750 Teacher Venture Grants totaling nearly $800,000.

In addition to its grant program, PMEF supports Penn Manor students and families experiencing financial and emotional difficulties through its Strong & Healthy Families initiative. The Foundation also administers more than 45 annual scholarships for graduating Penn Manor High School seniors.

A full list of approved grants for 2017-2018 is available here.

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Architects present design proposals for Penn Manor HS

District architects CrabtreeRohrbaugh & Associates presented high school design proposals to Penn Manor school directors Monday night that provide a sneak peek at what Penn Manor High School might look like when construction is completed.

The school district 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 proposals unveiled Monday were based on focus group meetings with academic and athletic department heads, students and district administrators held over recent months, and are subject to change. Additional meetings will be held before the basic floor plan of the school is finalized early next year.

The school directors Monday also approved the purchase of a property at 66 E. Cottage Ave., adjacent to the school site, to create additional space for the project. The purchase price was $90,000.

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

Here are slides from Monday’s presentation:

High School presentation 11-6-17



PMHS freshmen to learn ‘soft skills’ under new Comet Credential program

Penn Manor ninth-graders were introduced this week to a new initiative designed to help them develop the “soft skills” employers say are needed to succeed in the modern workforce.

All freshmen will complete online courses toward earning a Comet Credential, a certificate indicating they have completed training on a series of essential interpersonal skills and practices to help them succeed.

The courses include such topics as “Time Management: Quit Making Excuses and Make Time Instead,” “Making and Carrying Out Tough Decisions,” “Communication Methods that Make Sense – and Make Your Point” and “Difficult People: Strategies to Keep Everyone Working Together.”

The training won’t just help students who intend to join the workforce after graduation, but will give all students the tools to more successfully navigate their four years of high school and transition to college, training or a job, said Melissa Ostrowski, a Penn Manor High School counselor.

This is the first program of its kind targeting an entire high school class – more than 400 students – in Pennsylvania. Students will complete the courses in addition to their regular academic work.

The Comet Credential program is a collaborative effort involving local business representatives, the Lancaster County Workforce Development Board and CareerLink of Lancaster County, a partner of the American Job Center network.

The courses Penn Manor students will complete are the same ones that Lancaster County employers are offering to their workers as part of SkillUp Lancaster, an initiative designed to bolster the skills of the local workforce.

The Comet Credential program kicked off Sept. 27 with an assembly that included a presentation by Scott Fiore of Tri-Starr Staffing on the skills students will need to succeed in the job market.

“When you complete this training, you will be much better prepared for a job than your peers at other schools will be,” Fiore told the students.

Penn Manor freshmen will begin completing the courses Oct. 11 and will work on them throughout the school year.

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More than 200 celebrate re-dedication of Conestoga Elementary

More than 200 people turned out Sunday, Sept. 24, to mark the re-dedication of Conestoga Elementary School and tour the newly renovated school.

State Rep. Brett Miller addressed the crowd in Conestoga’s new multipurpose room, recalling the school’s rich history and pointing out that new facilities are important, but it’s the students and staff that make schools like Conestoga great.

Conestoga alums Hailey Fafel and Logan Connelly sang the National Anthem, and Conestoga teacher Heather Fellenbaum and her son, Chase, a first-grader at the school, cut a ribbon to mark the reopening.

Architect Larry Levato of Crabtree, Rohrbaugh & Associates, which designed the renovations, presented a ceremonial key to the school to Penn Manor school board president J. Kenneth Long.

Conestoga Elementary was closed in 2016-2017 for completion of an $11.7 million construction and renovation project. Upgrades include a new entrance, lobby, media center, Academic Commons, kitchen, playground and instructional spaces and new HVAC, communications and security systems. Other areas of the school received comprehensive renovations.

Following the ceremonies, visitors enjoyed refreshments and toured the school. Among the visitors was Leo Heiland Jr., who was one of the first students to attend Conestoga in 1954. He was visiting from Sunlakes, Ariz., to attend the Penn Manor High School Class of 1967 reunion.

Many thanks to the many people who helped make Conestoga’s transformation possible!

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Penn Manor HS welcomes 52 students into National Honor Society

The Penn Manor chapter of the National Honor Society welcomed 52 new members during an induction ceremony Sept. 20 in the high school cafeteria.

To qualify for NHS, the Penn Manor High School juniors and seniors had to maintain a cumulative grade-point average of at least 3.85 and demonstrate strong leadership, service and character traits.

The 2017-2018 inductees include:

Gabriella Abreu, Ricky Knapp, Ivy Barley, Nicole Krahulik, Robert (Mitchell) Barr, David Kramer, Raj Bhattarai, Brandon Le, Gabby Bitts, Evan Lyon, Elise Borys, Madison McCanna, Billy Briegel, Charlotte Molitoris, Peyton Cassel, Chanel Musser, Shauna Charles, Riley Neuman, Emma Deberdine.

Hannah Nguyen, Erin DeVitry, Gurleen Pal, Kyle Echterling, Lisa Schaefer, Emily Flexman, Matthew Schaefer, Ray Gerner, Annie Shepherd, Ryan Glenn, Mark Smith, Logan Graves, Haide Sorial, Alexandria Harnish, Emma Spearing, Joshua Heckman, Erik Starry, Madison Henry, Jared Stephan.

Rebecca High, Joel Stoner, Aydan Hinkle, Anna Sugra, Chad Hoglund, Tabitha Swope, Sameeha Hossain, Arilyn Tegtmeier-Oatman, Kara Huber, Elise Thyrum, Diane Imboden, Natalie Whiteside, Anna Katherine Kirk and Julia Young.

Congratulations for earning this distinguished recognition!

Photos courtesy of LifeTouch

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Conestoga to celebrate reopening at 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 24

You’re invited to celebrate the reopening of Conestoga Elementary School.

The school will host an open house and re-dedication ceremony beginning at 2 p.m. Sunday, September 24, in Conestoga’s new multi-purpose room.

State Rep. Brett Miller will address the audience, and Conestoga students and staff will cut a ribbon to mark the re-dedication of the school, which was closed for renovations for 2016-2017.

The $11.7 million project added a new entrance and lobby, media center, Academic Commons, kitchen, playground and instructional space, HVAC systems and communications and security systems. Other areas of the school received comprehensive renovations.

Visitors will be able to tour the upgraded facility until 4 p.m. Sunday. Light refreshments will be served.

Please join us in celebrating the rebirth of Conestoga!