Penn Manor student follows sister, plays in New Year’s Day Rose Parade

When Elise Thyrum marched in the Rose Parade in Pasadena, California, on New Year’s Day, she was continuing a family tradition.

Four years ago, Elise’s older sister, Emily, marched in the same band as part of the Rose Parade, an annual New Year’s Day event. Emily played the piccolo.

Elise, a senior horn player, represented Penn Manor, which was one of only 20 school districts with students participating in the Cavalcade of Bands Rose Parade Honor Band. In all, about 20 different bands from across the country performed in the parade.

Elise auditioned by submitting videotapes of her playing the mellophone, and of her marching while playing the instrument, to the Cavalcade of Bands organization, which formed the band for the parade.

A New Year’s Day tradition for 130 years, the Rose Parade features elaborate flower-covered floats, marching bands and equestrian units. Elise’s marching unit played “Stars and Stripes Forever” along the 5.5-mile parade route.

Elise received another recent honor when she was selected to participate in the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association District 7 Band Festival, to be held Jan. 25 and 26 at Lancaster Mennonite High School.

Congratulations to Elise and the Thyrum family!

Alumni return to PMHS to share advice on college athletics

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

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

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

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

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

   Many thanks to our alumni who participated in the event:

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

HS students headed for state Future Business Leaders competition

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

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

Penn Manor’s top finishers were:

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

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

Congratulations, and best wishes as you compete at States!

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

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

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

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

The snow date is February 6.

Preschool Expo:  Beginning at 6:15 p.m., Penn Manor families will have the opportunity to network with representatives of local preschools to learn about pre-K options in our area. Penn Manor does not currently offer a preschool program.

Enrolling your child in a pre-K program helps build a solid foundation for learning and eases the transition to kindergarten.

Kindergarten Information Night At 7 p.m., our Penn Manor kindergarten teachers will provide an overview of our curriculum and explain how you can help ensure that your child is ready to attend kindergarten.

Parents may attend one or both events. Registration is not required, and child care will not be provided.

Please join us!

Penn Manor/Hempfield team places second in HackHershey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “Bright futures are in store for this group.”   

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

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

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

Happy Holidays from Penn Manor School District

The entire Penn Manor staff would like to wish our students, staff members, parents and community members a safe and happy holiday season!

Penn Manor schools will be closed from December 24 until classes resume on January 2, 2019. The district office will be open December 26, 27, 28 and 31, with limited hours and staffing. Please call (717) 872-9500 for more information.

Thank you for a great year!

HS project construction costs higher than anticipated

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Completion is expected by summer 2022.

PM students to participate in county, district music festivals

More than two dozen Penn Manor students have been selected to participate in upcoming county and district band, orchestra and chorus festivals. Here are the festivals and the participating students:

Lancaster-Lebanon Music Educators Association Middle School County Band South Festival, Jan. 19 at Lampeter-Strasburg HS.

    Jerica Strohmeyer, Lexi Wilson, Allison Burkholder, Drew Lebo, Abigale Nesmith and Griffin Sweigart from Manor Middle School; and Natalie Myer, Paige Bland and Claire Eckroat from Marticville Middle School.

    Students were nominated by their director, Skip Reddig

LLMEA High School County Band South Festival, Jan. 19 at Lampeter-Strasburg HS.

    Anna Aston, flute; Hannah Stork, clarinet; Morgan Naylor, clarinet; Ally Sauers, clarinet; Julia Young, bass clarinet; Ethan Esterly, tenor saxophone; Reid Buffenmyer, baritone sax; Elise Thyrum and Jordan Stum, French horn; Josh Brandt, trombone; and Peyton Cassel and Devon Keene, trumpet.

    Student were nominated by their director, Andrew Johnson.

LLMEA High School County Orchestra Festival, Feb. 16 at McCaskey East High School.

    Julia Young, trumpet; Elise Thyrum, French horn; Eleanor Helm and Collin Lively, violin; Jesse Kanagy, viola; and Nolan Stauffer and Evelyn Weaver, bass.

     Students were nominated by their director, Sara Masten, based on proficiency in performing a solo piece.

LLMEA High School County Chorus Festival, Feb. 2 at Donegal High School.

    Adelyn Beans, Soprano 1; Janae Beiler, Alto 1; True Herbert, Bass 1; Diane Imboden and Briana Shyver, Soprano 2; Jordan Stum, Bass 2; and Leilani Torres, Alto 2.

     Students qualified by competing against other students from high schools throughout Lancaster and Lebanon Counties in an audition process Sept. 22.

Pennsylvania Music Educators  District 7 Chorus Festival, Feb. 7 to 9, Cedar Cliff High School.

    Diane Imboden, Soprano 2; Leilani Torres, Alto 2; and True Herbert, Bass 1.

    Students qualified following an audition process.     

PMEA District 7 Orchestra, January 11 and 12, Central Dauphin High School.

    Julia Young, trumpet. She qualified following an audition process.       

PMEA District 7 Band, Jan 25 and 26, Lancaster Mennonite High School

    Julia Young, trumpet; Elise Thyrum, horn; and Hannah Stork, clarinet. They qualified following an audition process.                        

Chickenpox reported at Letort Elementary

A student who attends Letort Elementary School has contracted chickenpox. To prevent the spread of illness, parents and students are urged to follow recommendations from the Pennsylvania Department of Health, which are outlined  in a letter sent home with students.

The letter from Letort principal Carly McPherson is posted here.

JA STEM Summit exposes Penn Manor freshmen to real-world STEM careers

For the third year in a row, Penn Manor High School freshmen got to experience firsthand how science, technology, engineering and math principles are put into practice in STEM careers.

They participated in the Junior Achievement STEM Summit, held Dec. 11 and 12 in the high school gymnasium and classrooms. The day-long program included science experiments, engineering and math competitions and career explorations for every Penn Manor ninth-grader.

Students got to knock cups off each other’s heads by firing smoke rings of air from a giant trash can and pour chemicals into latex gloves, watching the chemical reaction transform them into colorful solid hands. They also were challenged to repair plumbing fixtures, manipulate a 3D printer, conduct medical tests and maneuver motorized robots to stack cones.

Professionals who work in STEM fields volunteered to lead the exercises, and students got to work directly with them to complete activities based on civil engineering, biology, physics, chemistry, design and math principles.

Many thanks to Junior Achievement, which provided the program free of charge to Penn Manor, with the assistance of volunteer professionals and Penn Manor students.

In all, more than 400 students got a taste of STEM in thought-provoking, stimulating ways!

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Ms. Vita honored as finalist for Teacher of the Year award

Congratulations to Maria Vita, who was honored this weekend as a finalist for Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year award for 2019.

Vita, who has taught at Penn Manor since 2003, was one of 12 finalists who participated in the Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year Conference in Hershey.

She was introduced at the conference by former student Grace Rhine, a 2017 Penn Manor graduate.

Vita teaches Advanced Placement Psychology at Penn Manor and 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.

She was nominated for the Teacher of the Year award by Penn Manor Superintendent Mike Leichliter and his wife, Mary Edith, whose three children all had Maria for class.

“Maria exemplifies the mission of every teacher who wishes to make an impact on children by inspiring her students to love learning and instilling in them an appreciation for compassion and hard work,“ Leichliter said

“We could not have asked for a more caring and capable teacher for our children.”

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

The 2019 Teacher of the Year is Marilyn Pryle, an English teacher from Abington Heights School District.

Many thanks, Ms. Vita, for representing Penn Manor as a finalist!

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PM’s Slates earns regional Outstanding Early Career Teacher award

Penn Manor agricultural education teacher Meagan Slates has been honored as the Outstanding Early Career Teacher for the Northeastern United States.

Slates, who has taught at Penn Manor for four years, earned the award – one of only six in the nation – from the National Association of Agricultural Educators during its annual convention in San Antonio, Texas. She previously was named Outstanding Early Career Teacher for Pennsylvania.

The award was established to encourage young teachers to remain in the profession and recognize participation in professional activities. It is sponsored by John Deere through the National FFA Foundation.

Applicants are evaluated on their teaching philosophy, effective classroom instruction, experiential learning and leadership development qualities. Teachers also are evaluated based on their professional growth and community engagement.

“Meagan is well deserving of this award,” said Neil Fellenbaum, who heads the agricultural education department at Penn Manor. “Her passion for teaching and making students better people, along with her desire to prepare them for careers after high school, make her an outstanding educator.”

Slates teaches Introduction to Ag Mechanics, Plant Science 1 and Wildlife and Natural Resources classes at Penn Manor.

In 2016, she was one of 36 teachers nationwide to be honored with a Teachers Turn the Key professional development scholarship from the National Association of Agricultural Educators.

Congratulations, Meagan!


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Three Penn Manor students qualify for District Band, Orchestra

Congratulations to Penn Manor High School students Julia Young, Elise Thyrum and Hannah Stork, who were named to District 7 Band and Orchestra.

Seniors Elise (horn) and Julia (trumpet) and sophomore Hannah (clarinet) were named to District Band and will participate in the District 7 Lower Band Festival Jan. 25 and 26 at Lancaster Mennonite High School. They will perform in concert at 7 p.m. Jan. 26.

Julia also was named to District 7 Orchestra and will participate in the Orchestra Festival Jan. 10 to 12 at Central Dauphin High School. She will perform in concert at 7 p.m. Jan. 12.

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.

Julia had a particularly strong audition, placing second out of 46 students playing trumpet.

Way to represent Penn Manor, ladies!

From left, Julia Young, Elise Thyrum and Hannah Stork.
From left, Julia Young, Elise Thyrum and Hannah Stork.



Former board members, superintendents honored at Leadership Dinner

Former Penn Manor school board members and superintendents were honored Monday night for their service as Penn Manor hosted its biennial Leadership Dinner.

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

Other guests included nine former school board members and one former superintendent, along with their spouses. 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. The group that gathered Monday amassed more than 150 years of service to Penn Manor.

In addition to Berkebile, attendees included former superintendent Don Stewart and former school directors Kirk Schlotzhauer, Frank Hoke, Alice Ahlfeld, Bob Kindig, Dick Bauder, John Wenzel, Pete Alecxih, Johnna Friedman and Jeff Lyon.

After dinner, a plaque commemorating former school board presidents was unveiled. It will be displayed in the board room.

To all who have served leadership roles in Penn Manor School District over the years, we appreciate your service!

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Penn Manor introduces new Comet Man mascot

There’s a new Comet Man in town!

Penn Manor’s official mascot has a new look for the first time in six years.

The athletic department recently unveiled a new Comet Man outfit, which features a large, tapered head that resembles a streaking comet, a bold Penn Manor chest logo and oversized gold boots and gloves.

The costume is more durable, breathable and comfortable than the old Comet Man gear, according to Penn Manor athletic director Jason Mattern.

The new Comet Man is believed to be the fifth variation to entertain fans at Penn Manor sporting events since the Comet mascot name emerged in the 1950s.

A Comet Man apparently first appeared in 1992 or 1993 and was redesigned in 1997. That version gave way to the Comet Critter in 2006, then reverted back to Comet Man, with a new design, in 2012.

That costume was so worn out that when Mattern tried to get it cleaned, he was told it might not survive the process. So he started the search for a new outfit.

Mattern contacted Hogtown Mascots of Toronto, and the company proposed two designs. The winning design was chosen by the Penn Manor community through a Twitter poll. It took about seven weeks for Hogtown to build the costume, which was unveiled at the Nov. 19 school board meeting.

Penn Manor sophomore Morgan Taylor is the student inside the new Comet Man. He was chosen following an audition process, along with an understudy who will fill in if Morgan is not available.

To serve as Comet Man, Mattern said, a student must be “reliable, energetic, coordinated and dedicated to enhancing the athletic experience for our athletes and fans.”

The mascot is not allowed to speak, but Comet Man can get the crowd pumped up without words!

Look for the new mascot at athletic competitions, senior nights, middle school recruitment events, athlete signing days, pep rallies and other Penn Manor events.

Go Comets!

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