Oliver Smith takes seventh at PMEA All-State Chorus


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.  


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 


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. 


Singers set for region chorus competition

By Morgan Radwick, design editor

After a remarkable performance at District Chorus, four Saegertown students will be moving on to regions taking place this week.

The 2019 PMEA (Pennsylvania Music Educators Association) Region Chorus competitions will be held at Clarion High School from March 21-23.

Participating students from Saegertown this year are as follows; junior Carson Jones (Tenor II), junior Oliver Smith (Bass I), junior Sam Shelenberger (Bass ll), and senior Madison Morgan (Alto l). They will be accompanied by Mrs. Susan James. Each of the four advancing singers are members of Chambers Singers at Saegertown. “Regions is just a more technical version of Districts, It’s time to see who can put the passion and the intricacies into their music,” Jones said.

The students had to place in the top ten out of approximately twenty-five other contestants at District Chorus. Auditions and competitions will be held shortly after arrival on March 21.

The singers will then warm up in a group while a meeting for the directors is held. After a quick warm up, they will gather in their respective sections and be summoned, one at a time, into a room with three judges and a Sergeant of Arms.

The auditioning students are not to talk to the judges (their backs are turned to the student auditioning) so if they have a question, they ask the Sergeant of Arms.  The SA is also there to help students stay calm.

The students then audition with two pieces of music from their folder, which they received before the competition. Participants are expected to sing their part from the music with only a starting pitch. They are judged on correct pitch, rhythm, intonation, breathing, diction, etc. If the singers receive a high-enough score from the judges, they will move on to the State competition in Pittsburgh on April 3.

Rehearsals for the concert will be held Friday, March 22 and the concert will Saturday at Clarion High School at 2 p.m. Results from the Saegertown student auditions will be available on Twitter @PantherPressSHS.

‘Alcatraz’ and ‘The Liberator’ prepare for Robobots battles

By Jake Reisinger, Web Site Editor

On March 30, Meadville Area Senior High school will host the 2019 RoboBots competition. Two teams of students in the robotics class, advised by George Nahay, are preparing to make sure their bots are ready to enter the battle arena. “We hoped to be finished with our bots sooner,” Mr. Nahay said. “But we should have both bots complete by next week.”

Junior Josh McWright works on making sure “Alcatraz” is ready for battle.

Team one is “We The People” with their bot The Liberator. Team members include: Jaden Reagle, Josh Weaver, Ashley Merritt, Ben McWright, Darian Kaye, Tim Senovich, and Wesley Price.

Team two is “Prison Break” and with their bot Alcatraz. Team members include: Drew Hunter, Josh McWright, Devin Steiger, Ryan Washburn, David Deets, Zane Schlosser, and Jordan Bush.

The action begins at 9 a.m. Check out the March 29 Panther Press for full details about the Saegertown teams.

Membean gives new boost in learning vocabulary

By Bree Snyder, staff writer

“Have you done your Membean?” and “When is Membean due?” are now common questions in the halls of Saegertown High School. Enter any English classroom, and you’re likely to see students hard at work on their laptops and iPads. So what is Membean?

Membean is an online learning tool centered on vocabulary, combining differentiated instruction, personalization, and active memory reinforcement. Membean is not available on the App Store; however, it is available to any student via membean.com through a school-based subscription.

According to the website, Membean’s purpose is to provide “web-based tools to help students excel.” Its aim is to bring “evidence-based, well-researched instructions [as Membean] passionately believe[s] that the measure of what you learn is what you retain over the long term.”

Membean contains over 4,000 vocabulary words, all of which are divided among three different categories: Lower Middle School, Middle High School, and High School. The Lower Middle School list contains 500 words, the Middle High School consists of 1,630 words, and the High School list has 2,156 words.

After learning about the program through her daughter’s school, Assistant Principal Kylene Koper brought Membean to Saegertown earlier this school year. Mrs. Koper chose to use Membean because of its “differentiated vocabulary practice,” meaning that Membean provides students words matched to their learning ability.

There are over 4,700 schools, including area schools like Millcreek and Fairview, in the United States, that use Membean. “I hope students will increase their vocabulary usage and their vocabulary levels,” Mrs. Koper said. She has pushed out Membean to all English classes in grades 7-12 as a pilot.

Although teachers grade Membean differently, many seem to be impressed with it. Mr. William Hetrick records a Membean grade in every two weeks whereas Mrs. Stacey Hetrick grades Membean weekly. Mr. Hetrick prefers Membean over “traditional vocabulary study because it is more individualized. It has a lot of potential for student growth.”

Students have formed a variety of opinions about the program. Some prefer Membean over standard vocabulary learning methods while some dislike Membean altogether.

“I prefer Membean over vocabulary journals because I can learn words that match to my ability of learning as opposed to looking up random vocabulary words just to appease our teacher,” senior Taylor Munce said.  

Hayley Moore, eighth grade, agrees with Munce. “I learn from it. It teaches me some good words, and I know what the words mean. It teaches me words that I don’t know that I should know.”

While Munce and Moore like Membean, other students feel pressured by the grading aspect of the program. Eighth grader Kylie Thompson said, “I don’t like it because we get grades put in. If I forget about it, I don’t get a grade. I always remember the last day, so I have to do it the night before it’s due.”

Mrs. Hetrick appreciates the site. “I’m very impressed with Membean’s ability to match the kids with the level of words they need. I think it’s very effective at teaching word parts and growing vocabulary. I’m excited to see results on year-end tests.”

Woodcock Lake Park: Community gem in risk of closing its gates

By Kaitlyn Kozalla and Nick Archacki, features editor and news editor

Every summer, countless families travel to local hot-spot Woodcock Lake Park to spend some time away from home. Located just south of the Woodcock Dam, the campground is popular for camping, boating, picnics, fishing, and walking on trails.

However, Woodcock Lake Park is in jeopardy of closing its gates at the end of the summer due to insufficient funding.

Since the mid-1970s, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been operating and maintaining the park. The 25-year lease ends in May 2024, but the funds required to keep the park operating caused the county to notify the Corps of Engineers that they want to end the lease by January 2020. Commissioners say that expenses exceed revenue, costing the county around $65,000 annually.

The other option commissioners are considering is imposing a user fee for park visitors from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

“Would that be enough to offset $65,000? Maybe. Maybe not. We don’t know that yet, but these are the things we’re looking at,” said county commissioner Francis Weiderspahn in a report from Erie News Now.

Weiderspahn took to social media to garner public opinion on a possible fee of $2 per car and $5 for a vehicle with a boat. The response was largely positive.

“I’m disappointed and sad because it’s a very good campground,” junior Dariann Beebe said. Beebe testified to the popularity of Woodcock Lake Park by revealing that she usually has to book a spot during Memorial Day weekend.

Unfortunately, nothing regarding the park’s status is official yet. For now, we are left to speculate about the fate of an area treasure.

Saegertown enters ‘What’s So Cool About Manufacturing?’ contest: Voting begins Monday

By Will Phelan, social media editor

Students met with Greenleaf employees to learn about manufacturing.

What’s so cool about manufacturing?  With the help of teacher-coach Mr. George Nahay, several junior high students decided to find out.

Eighth graders Lynna Brenizer, Brennen McWright, Quincy Zook, Michael DeJohn, Logan Fritze, and Joseph Perry teamed up to study the intricacies of manufacturing at Greenleaf Corporation as part of the “What’s So Cool About Manufacturing?” video contest sponsored by the Northwest Industrial Resource Center. The contest is meant to raise awareness in schools and communities about interesting manufacturing careers.  

“Mrs. Koper brought the idea for this project to my attention at the beginning of the school year,” Mr. Nahay said.  “I liked the idea of getting eighth-grade students into a shop like Greenleaf to learn about manufacturing, so I decided to get involved.”

One of many Erie and Crawford County schools included in the Northwest contest, the Saegertown team was tasked with examining the operations at Greenleaf and filming them to show what the company is all about.

“Our goal with this project was to create an interesting video that represents Greenleaf and manufacturing well, so that students can see what a career in manufacturing could look like,” Mr. Nahay said.  

The students designed, filmed, and edited the video with some assistance from Mr. Nahay. Michael DeJohn is particularly proud of the video editing that includes fast forward sequences, voiceovers, and music.

Although this is the second year for the contest in our area, this is Saegertown’s first year as a participating school. For DeJohn, the lessons went beyond the shop floor; “I learned that work ethic can benefit you later in life, especially at your job.”  

He also emphasized the significance of meeting the Greenleaf employees; “The people were the most interesting. They could tell you everything. They could tell us what the machines were, and how they worked. They knew their stuff.”

However fun the project was, it was not easy work. “I found out that teaching and having students create a film outside of class can be very time consuming, but I feel that the finished product is great,” Mr. Nahay said.  

The SHS team is up against 17 other schools for awards in several categories including the Viewer’s Choice Award. Last year, nearly 40,000 votes were cast online, and 400 attended the awards gala. This year’s Gala will be March 21.

Voting for the Viewers Choice Award will take place March 11-13. You can view the video and vote  on the WSCM website. (With additional reporting by Sam Hetrick and Grant Anthony)

Sophomores set for Business Week

By Sam Shelenberger and Dustin Steiger, broadcast editor and arts and entertainment editor

Saegertown sophomores will take a brief recess from their regularly scheduled classes for Saegertown’s 12th annual Pennsylvania Business Week from March 11-15. They will be divided into three teams (companies), supervised by Mr. Steve Simcheck, Mr. Brian Costa, and Mr. Richard Rutkowski. Each group will also have a business adviser from the community.

The majority of the week is devoted to developing product ideas, prototypes, and marketing strategies. On Friday, team members will present their efforts to panels of judges and participate in a trade show in the gym. Each member of the winning team will receive $100 cash at the end of the day.

Thanks to the sponsorship of ACES (Americans for Competitive Enterprise System, Inc.) and the hard work of coordinator Mr. Tim Houck, Business Week has been a successful event at Saegertown High School since 2007.

“When I was first hired [at Saegertown], I had the opportunity to go to Fort LeBoeuf and see their Business Week,” Mr. Houck said. “I thought that we should try it at PENNCREST, and more specifically, at Saegertown. Cambridge was the first school to try it, and we followed the year after.”

“I loved watching our visions become reality,” said senior Claudia Fetzner, CEO of the winning company ‘Lifted Shoes’ two years ago. “I thought it was a lot of fun once it came together.”

Fetzner shared a nugget of wisdom with the sophomores: “Work together. Everyone has their specialties.”