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.

Wert honored for 20 years of service to Penn Manor school board

Congratulations to Donna Wert for being named to the Honor Roll of School Board Service for her 20 years serving on Penn Manor school board.

Karen Devine, of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, presented Wert with a certificate of appreciation at Monday night’s school board meeting.

Wert, a retired teacher who joined the all-volunteer board of school directors in 1998, said it has been “ultra fulfilling” to serve on the board.

Since 1983, the PSBA has been recognizing school board members who have served for eight years or more.

The honor roll “is a way of saying thank you to those individuals who exemplify leadership and statesmanship, giving unselfishly of their time and talents for the future of our public schools,” according to the PSBA.

Thanks, Donna!


Wellness is focus of Opening Day for 400 Penn Manor staff

More than 400 district staff members participated in Opening Day activities at Penn Manor High School on Monday, in advance of the start of the new school year on Thursday, Aug. 23.

Attendees enjoyed a hot breakfast before superintendent Dr. Mike Leichliter and school board president Ken Long talked about the important role they play in supporting and inspiring students. In his talk, Leichliter cited the example of Mr. Rogers, who always made children feel comfortable, even when discussing difficult topics.

John Baker, safety and security officer for Lancaster Lebanon Intermediate Unit 13, addressed the group on school safety strategies. And after lunch, staff members participated in workshops and activities with a focus on wellness.

Activities included Zumba, mindfulness training, healthy cooking strategies, juggling, CPR training and personalized workouts.  Participants also could get health screenings and advice on nutrition, healthy food choices, finances, health insurance and other topics in the high school library.

Thank you to all the staff members who attended, and best wishes on a successful 2018-2019!

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Penn Manor school board adds two new directors

Two new members — both alumni of Penn Manor High School — have recently joined the Penn Manor board of school directors.

Mitchell Sweigart, a 2014 Penn Manor graduate, was sworn in February 5 to fill the unexpired term of former member Jeff Lyon, who stepped down last month. Sweigart will serve until December 2019.

In December, Nickole Nafziger, a 2000 Penn Manor graduate, was sworn in to a four-year term, following her election to the seat formerly held by Johnna Friedman. Nicki will serve until December 2021.

Nafziger is president of Agape Care Inc., which provides in-home care services for senior citizens, people with disabilities, and those recovering from injury or illness. She is active in several community organizations. She and her husband, Jeremy, have two children attending Penn Manor schools.

Sweigart, who played football at Penn Manor and at Princeton University, will graduate from Princeton in May with an economics degree. He plans to work for BeneFix, a software company in Lancaster, after graduation. He also has interned with the PMF Group financial advisors in Harrisburg.

Welcome, Nicki and Mitchell, and thank you for dedicating your time to the all-volunteer board of directors!

Nickole Nafziger and Mitchell Sweigart.
Nickole Nafziger and Mitchell Sweigart.


Applicants sought to fill school board vacancy

Applications are being accepted through January 19, 2018, to fill a vacancy on the Penn Manor school board resulting from the resignation of Jeff Lyon on January 8. A replacement school board member will be appointed to fill out his term, which expires in December 2019.

Applicants should submit a cover letter, application (at, resume and references to Cindy Rhoades, school board secretary, P.O. Box 1001, Millersville, PA 17551. Applications must be received by 4 p.m. Friday, January 19. The school board intends to appoint the new member at its February 5 meeting.


School board directors sworn in to new terms

Four members of the Penn Manor board of school directors were sworn in Monday to serve four-year terms on the board.

District Judge Joshua Keller administered the oath of office to Christopher Straub, David Paitsel, Dr. Rich Frerichs and newcomer Nickole Nafziger. All will serve through 2021.

Nafziger replaces Johnna Friedman, a 14-year veteran who decided not to run for re-election this year. Nicki is a 2000 Penn Manor graduate with two children in Penn Manor schools – Mackenzi at Eshleman Elementary and Isiac at Manor Middle School.

Also Tuesday, the school board re-elected Ken Long as president and Herk Rintz as vice president.

“The Penn Manor community is fortunate to have nine dedicated board directors who are committed to providing a quality education to our students,” said superintendent Mike Leichliter.

“Congratulations to both Ken and Herk on their continued positions of leadership and to Nicki on her new position.  Penn Manor continues to be in excellent hands!”

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Johnna Friedman honored for 14 years of school board service

Congratulations to Johnna Friedman, who served her final board meeting as a Penn Manor school director Monday, Nov. 20, after more than 14 years of service.

The school board honored Johnna with a resolution commending her for serving in leadership roles. She chaired the facilities committee during a crucial period of school construction in Penn Manor and was board liaison to the technology committee. She also served on the judicial review committee.

Johnna joined the board on March 8, 2004. Her seat will be filled next month by a new member, Nickole Nafziger.

At her final board meeting, Johnna was joined by her grandchildren, Maxim, Stella and Gianna. She and her husband, Stuart, have three daughters – Jessica, Stefanie and Jamie Lynn, all Penn Manor graduates.

Many thanks, Johnna, for your years of dedicated service. You will be missed!

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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



Board members honored for years of service

Penn Manor school board members Dr. Rich Frerichs, Chris Straub and Jeff Lyon were honored Monday by the Pennsylvania School Boards Association for their years of service on the board.

Frerichs has served for 20 years; Straub has been a board member for eight years; and Lyon has served for eight years.

Nathan Mains, PSBA executive director, presented Honor Roll of School Board Service certificates to Frerichs and Straub at Monday night’s school board meeting. Lyon was not in attendance.

Mains praised Frerichs for helping mentor him when he transitioned to the executive director’s post while Rich was president of the PSBA board of directors. Mains also pointed out that Penn Manor school board members have a cumulative 101 years of experience serving the Penn Manor community — an incredibly high number.

Frerich’s daughter, Melissa Mealy, and granddaughter, Addy, were on hand to witness the presentation.

Congrats, gentlemen, and thanks for your service!


Board member holding grandchild.
Dr. Rich Frerichs, left, with granddaughter Addy Mealy and Nathan Mains, executive director of PSBA.

More than 400 in Class of 2017 receive diplomas

More than 400 Penn Manor seniors earned their diplomas Tuesday night before family and friends during a joyous graduation ceremony for the Class of 2017.

Held at Franklin & Marshall College, commencement celebrated the many accomplishments of the graduates, including state and national recognition in the fields of technology, performing arts, athletics and academics. Principal Dr. Philip Gale commended the graduates “for collectively becoming a very talented class, one that will be remembered for making a significant impact on Penn Manor High School and the Penn Manor community.”

He pointed out that seniors received 132 academic awards and scholarships totaling more than $120,000 and more than $3.4 million in outside scholarship money and financial aid to continue their education.

Gale also praised the seniors for helping Penn Manor High School earn its third straight silver award as one of the best high schools in the country and, this year, its status as the highest rated high school in Lancaster County.

Members of the Class of 2017 took 455 advanced-placement exams in 21 different subjects and 39 college classes while enrolled at Penn Manor. In addition, 73 seniors graduated with honors, 62 students graduated with a grade-point average of 4.0 or higher, and 52 seniors earned a GPA of 4.0 or higher and graduated with honors.

During the ceremony, Doug Kramer was named Student of the Year and six students — Mark Battle, Ryan Barnett, Alyssa Ames, Mark Bowman, Jordan Higgins and Adeline Long — were recognized for near-perfect attendance.  Also honored were the 19 graduates who have enlisted in the military.

You can view a video of the ceremony here.

Congratulations to the 440 members of the Class of 2017, and best wishes as you embark on the next chapter of your lives!

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Five students to speak at June 6 commencement

Five student speakers have been named for Penn Manor High School’s 2017 commencement, scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 6, at Franklin & Marshall College Alumni Sports and Fitness Center.

They are Mark Battle, Christine Bye, Brooke DeBerdine, Danielle Althouse and Jordan Martzall.

  • Mark, the son of Catherine and Thomas Battle of Lancaster, is class valedictorian. He participated in National Honor Society, Science National Honor Society, soccer, the Junior Engineering Technical Society (JETS) and rec basketball. Mark plans to study electrical engineering at the University of Delaware.
  • Christine, the daughter of Matthew and Jeanne Bye of Pequea, is class salutatorian. She participated in National Honor Society, was a member of the cross country team and played violin and piano. Christine plans to study English and Spanish at Messiah College.
  • Brooke, the daughter of Mike and Deb DeBerdine of Millersville, is senior class president. She participated in National Honor Society, Varsity Club, Relay for Life and Student Council and played field hockey for Penn Manor and the Under 21 National Team. Brooke plans to play field hockey at the University of Maryland. Her field of study is undetermined.
  • Danielle is the daughter of Edward and Traci Althouse of Conestoga. She participated in National Honor Society, Science National Honor Society and dance. Danielle plans to study biology at the University of Pittsburgh.
  • Jordan is the son of Lori and Bob Martzall of Lancaster. He participated in soccer and the Grace United Methodist Youth Group and works part-time at Willow Valley. Jordan plans to study chemical engineering and math at the University of Delaware.

Admission to commencement is by ticket only, eight 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 5 and 6 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. June 1 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. The schedule is: June 5, 2:30 p.m. – Martic, Hambright and Pequea ES; June 7, 9 a.m. – Central Manor ES, and 10:45 a.m. – Letort and Eshleman ES.  Conestoga is closed this year for construction.

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 2017 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.

Commencement speakers for the Class of 2017 are, from left, Jordan Martzall, Brooke DeBerdine, Danielle Althouse, Mark Battle and Christine Bye.
Commencement speakers for the Class of 2017 are, from left, Jordan Martzall, Brooke DeBerdine, Danielle Althouse, Mark Battle and Christine Bye.

Former Penn Manor school leaders honored

Former school board members and administrators with ties to Penn Manor spanning more than 50 years were honored Monday night at the Penn Manor School District Leadership Dinner.

Held in the Manor Middle School cafeteria, the event brought together a wide range of former school directors and administrators, including Dr. Elmer Berkebile, Penn Manor’s first superintendent following school consolidation. He served from 1967 to 1983.

The guests included 12 former school board members, two former superintendents and a former school board secretary. Joining them were current Penn Manor board members and administrators.

The dinner is held every other year to honor those who have helped guide the school district by serving in leadership roles.

In addition to Berkebile, attendees included former superintendent Don Stewart and former school directors Kirk Schlotzhauer, Jeffrey Kreider, Frank Hoke, Willis Herr, Alice Ahfield, Bob Kindig, Jane Barley, Dick Bauder, Amber Green, John Wenzel, Ken Greider and Frank Geist. Also attending was former school board secretary Paula Howard.

To all who have served leadership roles in Penn Manor School District over the years, our heartfelt thanks!

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Penn Manor school director receives PSBA Advocacy Award

Penn Manor school board member Dr. Richard Frerichs has been named recipient of the Timothy M. Allwein Advocacy Award for advancing the cause of public education in Pennsylvania.

Frerichs received the award Oct. 13 at the School Leadership Conference, sponsored by the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators and the Pennsylvania School Boards Association.

“I am honored and humbled to have my efforts recognized by PSBA,” said Frerichs, who is serving his 19th year on the Penn Manor school board. “It is the responsibility of every school board director to be a strong advocate for public education.”

The award is presented annually to a school board or individual school director for demonstrating outstanding leadership in legislative advocacy efforts on behalf of Pennsylvania public education and public school students.

Frerichs earned praised for being “a leader, mentor, team builder and advocate for a just cause.”

Since 2011, he has been active in leadership roles at PSBA and served as president of the statewide organization in 2014. On several occasions, Frerichs has testified before the state Legislature on behalf of the association.

“Over the course of his career, Rich has contributed to a wealth of advocacy efforts aimed at promoting policies and advancing initiatives that benefit students, instructors and all education staff in Pennsylvania,” said state Sen. Lloyd Smucker, chairman of the Senate Education Commission.

The Allwein Award was established in 2011 by PSBA in memory of Tim Allwein, the association’s former assistant executive director for governmental and member relations.

Frerichs lives in Millersville and is the retired chairman of the Education Foundations Department of Millersville University.

Congratulations, Rich, on being honored for all you do on behalf of public education!

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School board chooses Option 3 for high school

It’s official: Penn Manor school board has unanimously approved Option 3, a proposed $87 million renovation/reconstruction for Penn Manor High School. The June 20 decision means design work for the project will now begin, with construction expected to start by summer 2019.

Thanks to all who provided feedback over the past school year as the district carefully considered its options for the high school. The public input was invaluable, and we will be seeking more input as the planning and design stage moves forward.

In the coming months, this site will provide important updates on the project, so please stay tuned!

SNIP Option 3 with label

411 members of Class of 2016 receive diplomas

On a pleasant, breezy Tuesday night, more than 400 Penn Manor seniors earned their diplomas before family and friends during a joyous graduation ceremony for the Class of 2016.

Held at Franklin & Marshall College, commencement celebrated the many accomplishments of the graduates, including state and national recognition in art, writing, technology, business and athletics. Principal Dr. Philip Gale thanked the graduating class for helping Penn Manor High School receive national recognition for the second straight year from U.S. News & World Report.

He pointed out that seniors received 154 academic awards and scholarships totaling more than $113,000. In addition to grants and other scholarships, the graduates will receive more than $3.4 million in scholarship money to continue their education.

Gale also praised the seniors for their enthusiastic support of the school’s first MiniTHON. Held in April, the event raised more than $19,000 to fight pediatric cancer, nearly quadrupling the original goal of $5,000.

“When the first request came to me, I was a little skeptical that this type of event could be done at Penn Manor,” Gale admitted. “I guess I need to have a stronger belief in our Penn Manor students. The lesson that I took from the MiniTHON is to never sell yourself short.”

“I am not going to tell you that you can do whatever you want, because that is not true. However, I do believe than in order to accomplish big things, you have to set your sights on big things.”

The ceremony featured a new version of the Penn Manor alma mater, written and conducted by senior Will Torres, and honored members of the Class of 1966, several of whom who were in attendance. There also were six sets of twins receiving their diplomas Tuesday.

The ceremony had special significance for senior Ryan Atkinson. His father, Tom, is seriously ill, but was able to watch the ceremony from a hospital bed on the balcony. Afterwards, he handed his son his diploma.

Congratulations to Ryan, and all our graduates, and best wishes as you embark on the next chapter of your lives!

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