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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Resources available regarding school shooting

We are all deeply saddened by the recent school shooting in Florida.

If you or your child(ren) are having difficulties in the aftermath of this tragedy, we have posted resources on our website that may help.

There you will find a letter from Penn Manor superintendent Mike Leichliter, along with advice about talking with children and coping with distress. Also posted is information about responding to violent intruders.

Please go to this page  by clicking here.

Manor FFA members earn multiple awards at PA Farm Show

Two dozen Penn Manor High School students, along with three sets of parents, won several awards recently at the Pennsylvania Farm Show representing Manor FFA.

Keystone Degrees

Ten students – Emily Aukamp, Tanner Bauman, Kenny Barley, Jonathon Eshbach, Hannah Gerberich, Clara Hess, Damian Kreider, Isaiah Smith,  Abby Reiff and Elizabeth Broderick – earned Keystone Degrees.

The Keystone is the fourth of five degrees FFA members can earn.  Only 357 members out of 12,771 in the state received the degree.

To earn a Keystone Degree, FFA members must hold the Greenhand and Chapter FFA Degrees; perform at least 25 hours of community service; earn or invest $1,000 or work 300 hours outside of school in their SAE program; participate in 15 FFA Activities, five of them above the chapter level; and demonstrate leadership and advocacy of agriculture and FFA.

Jacket recipients

Five students – Jordan Arms, Rebecca Barley, Jolene Fields, Theodore Ney and Renee Eshbach – earned a blue jacket, the iconic symbol of FFA membership.

The first-year member jacket campaign is sponsored by the Pennsylvania FFA Alumni, which provides the jackets and a scarf or tie free of charge.  To qualify, students must write about what the jacket means to them and what they plan to achieve while wearing it.

Honorary Chapter Degrees

Three Penn Manor couples received Honorary Chapter Degrees for raising three or more children who have earned Keystone Degrees.

The recipients were David and Starla Hess (Clara in 2018, Katie in 2016, and Caleb, 2014); Warren and Kim Reiff (Abby in 2018, Katrina in 2013, and Brandon, 2012); and Jay and Bonnie Bauman (Tanner in 2018, Tyler in 2014, and Jessica, 2012).

Poultry Team Recognition

The Manor FFA poultry team was recognized for its silver medal performance at the National FFA Convention. The team includes Marshall Ebersole, Kylie Kreider, Madeleine Denlinger, Colin Smith, and Lauren Sensenich (alternate).

Junior Market Swine Placement

Abigail Reiff placed fifth in her class, Lauren Sensenich earned a third in her class, and Colin Smith was reserve champion Hampshire. All made a sale.

Lamb Placement

Berklee Perry placed second in her class and was the Reserve Champion Suffolk. She made a sale.

Keystone Star interviews

Kenny Barley and Damian Kreider both interviewed for the State Star Keystone award after being selected Eastern Region stars. Damian interviewed in the agribusiness category for his tomato production and sales business; Kenneth interviewed in the agricultural placement category for his work experience at Walnut Hollow Farms.

Agriscience Fair

Arilyn Oatman exhibited her Agriscience Fair research project entitled “Raw Food Diets in Animal Nutrition” in the state Agriscience Fair.  She earned a second in the Senior Animal Systems Division.

Tractor Restoration Project

Jonathon Eshbach, Kenny Barley and Mike Brumbaugh gave a 15-minute presentation on the Farmall 200 tractor they restored with help from other Manor FFA members.  Lancaster Farming awarded the chapter $800 for completing the restoration.

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Penn Manor HS to present ‘Mary Poppins’ March 2, 3, 9 & 10

You’re invited to the magical musical “Mary Poppins,” to be presented Friday and Saturday, March 2, 3, 9 and 10, in the Penn Manor High School auditorium.

Show times are 7:30 p.m. all four days, with an additional 2 p.m. matinee on Saturday, March 3.

“Mary Poppins” is an enchanting mixture of irresistible story, unforgettable songs, breathtaking dance numbers and astonishing stagecraft, based on the stories of P.L. Travers and the Walt Disney Film.

In addition to the musical, the cast will participate in a Supercali-Social from 1:30 to 4 p.m. Saturday, February 24, in the auditorium. The event will include a sneak peek backstage, refreshments in the parlor, sing-alongs with the cast, photo opportunities with characters, crafts, activities and dancing.

Advance reservation is recommended for the social by emailing pennmanortheatre@gmail.com.

Tickets to the musical and social are $10 for students and senior citizens and $12 for adults. Tickets to the social only are $5; tickets to the musical only are $9 for adults and $7 for students.

To order tickets, call (717) 872-9520, ext. 1958, or place your order online at http://pennmanor.seatyourself.biz (click here).

“Mary Poppins” cast members include, back row, from left, Kassidy Pontón (Mrs. Banks), Max Minnick (Mr. Banks), Garrison Webster (Bert), and Hailey Fafel (Mary Poppins); front row, Joy Perkins (Jane Banks) and Max Pontón (Michael Banks).


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







22 Penn Manor seniors commit to college athletics

Family and friends gathered Thursday in the Penn Manor High School library to honor 22 seniors who will participate in collegiate sports at 19 different colleges and universities next year.

The National Signing Day ceremony featured students who participate in 11 different sports. Four students plan to play field hockey or football, three will play soccer, two will participate in track & field, lacrosse or softball and one each will participate in gymnastics, cross-country, basketball, volleyball and baseball.

Five students will attend Division I schools, five are headed for Division II, and 12 will attend Division III colleges and universities.

According to Penn Manor athletic director Jeff Roth, the student athletes excelled in the classroom as well as on the playing field, earning a median grade-point average of 3.7.

Four of the five Division I athletes participated in two sports at Penn Manor, and the group includes four members of the Comets’ undefeated state and national championship field hockey team. Eleven students were part of a League, District or State Championship team at Penn Manor.

Congratulations and best wishes to these outstanding student athletes:

Division I 

Taraje Whitfield – Princeton University, track & field
Brittany Hook – University of South Florida, softball
Hannah Brown – James Madison University, field hockey
Casey McCollum – Lafayette College, football
Mischa Kolibas – Longwood University, lacrosse

Division II 

Mia Clancy – Kutztown University, field hockey
Autumn Gager – West Chester University, field hockey
Jared Harvey – Millersville University, soccer
Thorean McElheny – Seton Hill University, track & field
Brianna Reitnauer – West Virginia Wesleyan College, gymnastics

Division III 

Brooke Spezialetti – Alvernia University, field hockey
Brianna Ulaky – Eastern University, cross-country
Conlin Groft – Cabrinia College, soccer
Susan Porambo – Stockton University, soccer
Nasheyla Greggs – Alvernia University, basketball
Sydney Duplissey – Salisbury University, softball
Allison Hege – Lebanon Valley College, lacrosse
Ben Wright – Franklin & Marshall College, football
Mikiah Sangrey – Lebanon Valley College, volleyball
Paisun Harris – Delaware Valley University, football
Dylan Crook – Elizabethtown College, baseball
Cole Heckaman – Franklin & Marshall College, football

Group photo caption: Back row, from left: Paisun Harris, Ben Wright, Cole HeckamanTheoren McElhenyTaraje Whitfield, Brittany Hook, Mikiah Sangry, Casey McCollumConlin Groft, Dylan Crook and Jared Harvey.
Front row, from left: Susan Porambo, Brianna UlakyNesheyla Griggs, Sydney Duplissey, Allison Hege, Hannah Brown, Brooke Spezialetti, Mia Clancy, Brianne Reitnauer and Autumn Gager. (Missing: Mischa Kolibas)

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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.


PMHS singers qualify for District, Regional honors

Congratulations to Penn Manor High School singers Sierra Echavarria and Diane Imboden, who qualified to participate in the Pennsylvania Music Educators’ District 7 Jazz Festival in April.

In addition, Penn Manor senior Alison Murphy qualified for Region V Chorus after auditioning at the PMEA District 7 Chorus Festival at Susquehannock High School Jan. 25-27.

Sierra, a senior, and Diane, a junior, auditioned along with students from several high schools in Lancaster and surrounding counties earlier this month and qualified as vocal jazz sopranos.

The vocal jazz festival ensemble consists of just 16 students, with four on each voice part. “The fact that we had two sopranos from Penn Manor qualify for two of the four soprano spots is huge,” said the students’ vocal teacher, Lauren Ciemiewicz.

Sierra and Diane will participate and perform at the Pennsylvania Music Educators District 7 Jazz Festival April 6-7 at ELCO High School. Alison is not able to participate in the Region V Chorus Festival due to a conflict with the high school musical.

Nice work, ladies!

Diane Imboden and Sierra Echavarria.
Diane Imboden, left, and Sierra Echavarria.
Alison Murphy
Alison Murphy




Emma DeBerdine, Matt Soto named Player, Coach of Year

Add two more honors to Penn Manor’s outstanding 2017-2018 field hockey team — it boasts the national coach and player of the year!

Max Field Hockey this week named Penn Manor junior Emma DeBerdine the National Player of the Year and the Pennsylvania/New Jersey Region Player of the Year.

It also named Penn Manor coach Matt Soto the National Coach of the Year and the PA/NJ Region and Pennsylvania State Coach of the Year.

Coach Soto led the Comets, the top-ranked team in the nation, to a perfect season in the toughest high school field hockey conference in the country, according to Max Field Hockey.

The Comets finished the season 28-0 as the PIAA AAA State Champions, District 3 Champions and Lancaster-Lebanon League Champions. It was the third state title in program history and the first time the team went undefeated.  The state title win over No. 3 Downingtown West was one of six victories by the Comets over teams that ranked in the Final National Top 25 Rankings.

Emma DeBerdine, a first team All-American and PennLive Player of the Year, contributed 27 goals and 30 assists for Penn Manor this fall.

“I believe Emma is the very best player in the country, and a complete player,” Soto said. “She recovers and plays defense with the same passion and urgency as any player I have ever seen or coached in 33 years.  She also is a great goal scorer.”

“Emma could have easily scored many more goals in our games, but she has such a keen awareness of developing the entire team, she often passed when she could have gone to goal,” Soto said.  “She scored when she needed to, and she distributed when she needed to. This really helped with our overall success.”

Emma’s speed and quickness are “unmatched,” he said. “Her recovery speed helped break down the opposing teams’ best players, which allowed our defenders more time and space to make defensive plays.  Emma is the consummate team player/leader.”

Soto pointed out that the Comets did not give up a goal in the district or state playoffs and allowed only three shots in their last seven games.  “Emma is a key part of that,” he said.

Congratulations to two deserving members of one amazing team!

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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.

PM schools now in session 2/16, 3/29 and 4/3

Because of recent school cancelations, Penn Manor schools will now be in session on the following days:

  • Friday, February 16;
  • Thursday, March 29;
  • Tuesday, April 3.

Please make a note of the changes. We will post any additional schedule changes as they occur.

Three Penn Manor musicians named to District Orchestra, Band

Congratulations to Penn Manor High School students Madeline Claus, Elise Thyrum and Shannon Peachey, who were named to District 7 Band and Orchestra.

Elise (French horn) and Shannon (trumpet) were named to District Band and will participate in the District 7 Lower Band Festival Jan. 12 and 13 at Kennard-Dale High School and perform in concert at 7 p.m. Jan. 13.

Elise and Shannon also were named to District Orchestra, along with Madeline (violin). They will participate in the District 7 Orchestra Festival Feb. 9 and 10 at Cedar Cliff High School and perform in concert at 7 p.m. Feb. 13.

The students were selected to participate based on auditions that included other students from Lancaster, Lebanon, Adams, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Perry and York County schools.

Best wishes to these three outstanding musicians!


District Band and Orchestra musicians
From left, Shannon Peachey, Elise Thyrum and Madeline Claus, who were named to District Band and Orchestra.

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.