Oliver Smith takes seventh at PMEA All-State Chorus

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Smith pictured with friends he describes as “step-bros” in Pittsburgh.

By Claudia Fetzner, photo editor

On the weekend of April 3, junior Oliver Smith competed at the PMEA All-State Chorus Festival in Pittsburgh. Smith was the only Saegertown musician to advance to the state level.

During the four days he was in Pittsburgh, Smith worked under American choral conductor and two-time GRAMMY winner Dr. Jerry Blackstone.

Smith performed a variety of songs including “Hallelujah,” “Come to Me, My Love,” and ”Your Voices Tune.”

Chorus teacher Mrs. Susan James describes Smith as  “an all-around good student and singer who is willing to do and sing anything.” Smith beat 24 students at Districts, 20 at Regionals and 30 at States. “It was all him,” Mrs. James said. “He’s a really hard worker when it comes to music.”

Smith placed seventh out of 30 in the Bass One category, which means he won’t advance to nationals. However, he still considers his time at states a success. “The friends I made and the music I created was a gift. I wouldn’t give that away for anything,” Smith said.  

 

Anderson speaks powerfully in her new book “Shout”

 

by Sam Shelenberger, Broadcast Director

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Shelenberger read SHOUT for his locker lit display. 

Nearly two decades after publishing her critically acclaimed novel “Speak,” author Laurie Halse Anderson has published a memoir written in free-verse poetry titled “Shout.”

The book delves into the mind of Anderson and the trials and tribulations she’s faced in life. Covering everything from having a father with PTSD to being raped at thirteen, Anderson does not hold back. She empowers her audience to speak against injustice in the world.

Overall, the book was incredibly moving. Her anecdotes may help those who have experienced sexual abuse to be empowered, and it allowed those who are naive to realize the heinous crimes some people have committed.

The use of free-verse poetry to convey her point was effective as there were fewer words distracting the audience. Her use of colorful figurative language made the book much more enjoyable and gave power to her message. 

 

Photo story: To Washington D.C. and back in one day

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Photos by Sam Shelenberger, broadcast director

Departing at 2:15 a.m on Friday, April 5 and returning at 1:35 a.m. on Saturday, April 6,  fifteen Saegertown students took a whirlwind tour of Washington D.C. that included the Newseum, lunch at Union Station, and a walking tour of the monuments.

Members of the Panther Press staff and the AP Language classes (along with Principal Tom Baker and Bill and Stacey Hetrick) were invited to accompany Cambridge Springs History Day Club students and their teacher Mr. John Werkmeister for a day filled with education and reflection in the nation’s capital.

Highlights of the trip included Panther Press staff members reciting the First Amendment at the Newseum, listening to the wisdom of Mr. Werkmeister as he narrated the tour of the monuments (Jefferson, Lincoln, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Marine Corps, Martin Luther King Jr., FDR), and marveling at the beauty of the cherry blossom trees in full bloom.

The trip also included a lunch stop and tour of Union Station. Although the day was drizzly, the students agreed that they would most definitely do it again.

(Special thanks to Mr. John Werkmeister from Cambridge Springs High School for organizing the trip and sharing the story of our country on the monuments tour. We look forward to traveling with you again.) 

 

Bridge to re-open by end of week

By Nick Archacki, news editor 

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The bridge has been closed since Jan. 16, 2019. 

On January 16, a Lincoln Recycling truck extension boom arm collided with the Route 6 and 19 bridge over French Creek between Saegertown and Meadville, damaging the structure and rendered in unusable. Four overhead metal cross beams, side support beams, and the deck of the bridge were damaged in the collision.

With the heavily used bridge being closed for over two and a half months, local residents have had to use alternate routes to reach work, school, or other destinations. Thankfully, the bridge’s repair phase is coming to an end.

An article in Wednesday’s Meadville Tribune stated that the bridge is anticipated to be open “[at] the end of the week.” The same article listed the cost of repairs at roughly $400,000 and claimed that if the bridge is not complete by April 9, Advantage Steel & Construction will face fines of $7,500 every day the bridge is not open.

Saegertown students have had to make adjustments to their normal commutes. “I had to get used to a new route when I go to Meadville, and I had to remind myself that I couldn’t go my normal way there,” senior Will Phelan said. The bridge is open to Black road.

“I am a bit upset about it being closed because I always go over that bridge to get to Allegheny College for my college classes,” senior Kassie Boyd said. “I miss the easy access to town.”

According to the Meadville Tribune, an average of almost 7,000 vehicles travel over this structure per day and an average of 2,555,000 vehicles travel over the bridge per year.

Surprisingly, the driver of the Lincoln Recycling truck only had to pay $807.50 in fines.

With Saegertown’s tumultuous relationship with its bridges, many are holding their breath until the next round of unexpected road repairs. 

 

The value of a coach: Greg Molnar

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By William Hetrick

Coaches have banquets.  It has become a time-honored tradition with nearly all sports at all schools.

Athletes get awards, gifts, and accolades.  I suppose it’s a nice way to wrap up the season.

The coach gets a gift and thanks from the booster club, the season ends, and life goes on.  But not always.

Greg Molnar retired as boys basketball coach at Saegertown High School at the close of this past season, a season that saw him register his 100th win, one of only four coaches in our school’s history to achieve that feat.  Longevity.

He spent a decade and some change coaching our boys.  He’s coached pretty much consistently since his first gig in 1984.

It’s not easy sticking with something so long, especially in today’s environment where your credibility is measured in the win-loss column, and you have twenty or more “assistant coaches” in the stands at every game.

Coach Molnar stuck it out–through losing seasons, some good ones despite his record, and through winning seasons, ones he felt could have been better, I’m sure.  It’s the way of the true coach.

You can always do better, get better.  Usually, you remember the close losses more than the dominant wins.  The kids more than the outcome.  And that is why I’m telling you about Greg Molnar.

Sure, he teaches next door to me in the English department at school.  Yes, we’ve had discussions about coaching as we’ve been doing it, though in different sports, for a long time.

We both see the value in sport as a way to see to the core of what kids are capable of doing.  We both see how character is built one drill at a time.

Coaches come and go.  It’s the way of it, the way it’s supposed to be, in fact.  When you leave, the slow ebb of time washes away your achievements, your records, even your legacy.

The full body of your day in the sun becomes a shadow fading into the distance.  But I would be remiss if I didn’t say some things of value about our coach.

I saw him take a technical foul at Iroquois so a unique athlete on their team could make a basket.

It was one of the most selfless and thoughtful acts I’ve seen in my years of coaching.

I’ve seen him play athletes who should have never seen the court because they earned the right in practice.

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Coach Molnar received the game ball from his 100th win at the banquet. 

I’ve seen him allow players to miss practices to attend other activities, like go hunting with a grandfather or attend a school trip; many coaches I know think the world revolves around their practice schedule.

How dare you do anything other than my sport during our season!  Not Coach.  He is a small town coach in charge of small-town athletes.  And he sees the value in each small-town kid.

At his final banquet, Coach complimented his athletes, apologized to many, told his final story. I was there.  It was awesome.  He will go the way of all great coaches.

But I will remember.  His former players will remember.  They are better for having had him teach them basketball.

And life. And that is the real measure of a coach.  Greg, it was a great banquet.  And career.  You deserve to be remembered.

(William Hetrick  coaches cross country at Saegertown High School. He also teaches next door to Greg Molnar. Both are veteran English teachers and coaches.)

SHS Track Club is up and running

By Mason McClure, staff writer

SHS Track Club is just that–a club.  There are no varsity letters to earn or Region titles to win.  Runners participate in track just to see if they can meet the qualifying standard for the District 10 Championship held at Slippery Rock University on Saturday, May 8.

The runners, including seniors Gabe DeYoung and Ben Crowl, as well as several other returners like junior Maddie Mondi, are hard at practice to get ready.  They are able to run at MASH’s home meets and various invitationals in the region, such as at Franklin, Fairview, and Hermitage.

Coach Bill Hetrick said, “We are really just a great group of kids who run various distances from the 100-meter dash to the 3200-meter run, to see if they can make Districts.”  Senior captain Gabe DeYoung said, “I want everyone to work towards their goals and work hard during practice.”

Lady Panthers looking for redemption

By Nick Archacki, news editor

Last spring, the Saegertown softball team was on the prowl to win their first state title after having an unbelievable season on the diamond. Sadly though, the Panthers lost a battle to Mount Union 4-2 in the second playoff game of the PIAA Championships.

Even though the season ended in a grind against Mount Union, the Panthers had a year to remember as they posted a 20-5 record, led the Class AA rankings and won the Region 3 title for their fifth straight year.

Now that the season has officially started for the ladies, they are ready to conquer the field once again with leadership from four returning and very talented senior players: Elizabeth Hasko, Courtney Hess, Carlie Schlosser, and Sarah Swartout. The team also includes four juniors, two sophomores, and eight freshmen.

Hess, one of Saegertown softballs’ best pitchers ever, is confident about the upcoming season and her teammates: “I think we’ll be a good team this year, we just have to keep working at it and reach our goals.” Swartout, who is a dominant force on the infield, is also in good spirits about this year’s campaign. “I think we’ll do good if we work hard because we have a young team. I also believe we will do well if we all work together and complete the plays to win games.”

Both Hess and Swartout have goals for their final softball season: to have a good batting and fielding average and to improve [their] defensive skills. Hess also mentioned that she is going to try her best to continue to be a leader for the younger girls, inspiring them to work hard at the game of softball.

However, the team will have to cope with the loss of a beloved coach this season. Tom Brunot, who coached Saegertown softball for over a decade recently passed away at the age of 62 after a courageous battle with cancer.

Hess and Swartout both experienced Coach Brunot’s love for coaching and his players: “He’ll always be with us no matter where we go and no matter how good or bad we’re playing. He’s our driving force to do well and keep playing, we’re going to dedicate this season to him. He always had a positive attitude, always had your back, and made you feel like a great person.”

The Lady Cats are currently in Kissimmee, Florida for Spring Training and will return April 1. The Panthers’ next game is on April 3 at Rocky Grove and their next home game is on April 4 vs. Northwestern at 4 p.m.