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.) 

 

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.)

Superintendent shares 18-month vision with community

By Kassie Boyd and Nick Archacki, editor-in-chief and news editor

Members of the PENNCREST community can expect to see big changes next school year if the 18-month plan proposed by the district’s administrative team and Superintendent Dr. Timothy Glasspool passes a school board vote slated for March 14.

These modifications (originally proposed at the Jan. 10 school board meeting) were presented again during a public forum at Cambridge Springs High School on Jan. 24. Dr. Glasspool shared the administrative vision for PENNCREST and took feedback from students, staff, and parents.

One major change suggested by the administrative team is the transition from a traditional eight-period day to seven-periods with a hybrid block schedule in order to increase instructional time and eliminate the scheduling complications of double lab periods for upper level science classes.

On Wednesdays, students will have four 85 minute periods, while the remaining three periods and a tutorial block will follow on Thursday. Monday, Tuesday and Friday will resemble a traditional schedule with 52-minute periods, an increase in class time from the current 42-minute periods. According to Dr. Glasspool, this new schedule will provide the equivalent of an additional 15 days of educational time.

However, before this one-year hybrid block pilot is implemented, it must be approved by teachers belonging to the PENNCREST Area Education Association (PAEA) because it would require a modification to the current teaching contract.  

Pennsylvania mandates a minimum of 21 credits to graduate, while PENNCREST has long required 28.5. The proposed plan includes a three-credit reduction in the requirement to put the district more in line with the other schools in Crawford County (Cochranton 25.7, Meadville 26, Conneaut Area 26.5).

A new, district-wide uniform grading scale is set to be introduced alongside the new student information system PowerSchool. The new grading scale will be based on increments of ten: 100-90, 90-80, 80-70, 70-60.

The district intends to combat declining enrollment by offering students options like AP classes, credits for volunteerism, and co-op and dual enrollment opportunities. “We have to leverage out our smallness,” Dr. Glasspool said. It is also hoped that the proposed plan may convince some of the 152 students currently enrolled in cyber schools to return to schools in the district.

Juniors in Mrs. Hetrick’s AP Language and Composition class weighed the pros and cons of the administration’s vision. Concerns include the direction of the music program and students’ ability to focus on one subject for 85 minutes. Several students commented that the new schedule would permit them to take more electives as it would eliminate the issue of scheduling around double lab periods.

It is important to note that the proposed hybrid block schedule is quite common. Members of the Panther Press contacted every district within the IU5 and inquired about their bell schedule, and a majority of schools employ some variation of a block.

The proposed changes will be put voted on during the March 14 school board meeting at Cambridge Springs Elementary School at 7 p.m. provided that the plan is approved by the PAEA. If you have questions or concerns, the next school board work session is Feb. 11 at 7 p.m. at Central Office in Saegertown. You can also send your thoughts to Dr. Glasspool at tglasspool@penncrest.org.

Infographic by Kaitlyn Kozalla, features editor

Superintendent Glasspool promises changes for PENNCREST

By Kassie Boyd and Braeden Kantz, editor-in-chief and managing editor

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Dr. Timothy Glasspool

Students and staff at PENNCREST can expect to see changes in their schools starting in early October. Over summer break, new superintendent Dr. Timothy Glasspool worked to reduce standardized testing in the elementary and high schools, increase opportunities for students across the district, and work closely with administration and outside sources to modernize PENNCREST.

One of Dr. Glasspool’s initiatives is to decrease the amount of standardized testing in both the elementary and high schools. “We need to reduce the frequency of lengthy standardized assessments in grades K-12 and spend more student instruction time engaged in purposeful teaching and learning,” Dr. Glasspool said. He also suggested the possibility of the district paying for the PSATs, and reimbursing students who receive a 3 or above on their Advanced Placement exams.

One change that may be indicative of the district’s future direction has already been implemented at Saegertown High School. As many students at SHS have noticed, French class is now being taught online by Mr. Nathan Youngblood from Maplewood. Dr. Glasspool plans to expand upon the idea of online classes by working closely with the Virtual Learning Network, one of the largest networks of district-based virtual academies in the United States. By partnering with VLN, students at PENNCREST will be able to take classes not offered inside their buildings.

Dr. Glasspool also plans to improve upon electives and activities already offered at school. In order to increase participation, Dr. Glasspool suggested “school activity buses” to provide students with transportation. This option will be explored.

Another of Dr. Glasspool’s objectives is to balance the budget without raising taxes for the second year in a row. “We can spend the money we have in a better ways,” Dr. Glasspool said. He wants to achieve this without the loss of any teachers or faculty, noting that, “Staff makes the difference at schools.”

Earlier this year, Governor Tom Wolf signed Act 44, which created the committee that will develop the criteria to measure school safety, and help administer grants based upon preparedness. At the September work session, the PENNCREST school board revealed that the district received $25,000 towards ALICE training, possible visitor management, exterior door upgrades and portable metal detectors.  Dr. Glasspool and Principal Tom Baker are slated for ALICE training in Pittsburgh on Sept. 24-25 of this year. “I don’t know what to expect,” Mr. Baker said. “But I hope it will be beneficial to not only our school, but the whole district as well.” PENNCREST is also in the process of applying for a competitive grant that would award the district more funds to be put towards security.

The PENNCREST website will also be receiving a makeover. Dr. Glasspool plans to streamline the graphics and increase social media like Facebook and Twitter in order to keep community members up to date. Community members that follow the PENNCREST Facebook page may have already noticed the updated profile picture. More updates will follow. In addition, students may soon be able to receive texts about buses and two-hour delays rather than the traditional phone calls.  

Dr. Glasspool promises to bring new ideas and perspectives to PENNCREST. He will remain a visible figure in the administration and maintain an open line of communication. “Actions will speak louder than words,” Dr. Glasspool said. “And I’m excited to see what students and staff have to say.”

 

 

 

School board election today: PENNCREST filling six seats

 

by Erik Murphy, web site editor

penncrest logo.jpegUnbeknownst to many of the students in the PENNCREST School District, a hotly contested election among school board candidates is taking place today and could result in huge implications for students, faculty, and taxpayers alike.

Nine candidates are currently running for six positions on the school board. Mark Gerow, Gerry Deane, Timothy Brown, and Travis Porter are seeking reelection while Bob Johnston, Jeffrey Brooks, Staci Porter, Terrance Deane, and Robert Gullick are seeking their first term on the board.

Timothy Brown is a Crawford County native and is married to Saegertown Elementary teacher Mrs. Brown. He seeks to update the curriculum and manage the budget while acknowledging that “micromanaging every penny of the budget is almost impossible.” Bob Johnston served eight years on the board of the now closed French Creek Valley School Board. Despite its closure, he claims that they were able to work through the issues at the time.

Travis Porter is a Saegertown graduate and local business owner. His children attend Cambridge Springs. He intends to make changes in regards to the declining enrollment and spend more time breaking down the budget. His wife, Staci Porter is also seeking a position on the board. She has an accounting degree and is employed at two tax offices in Meadville. Notably, she said that she seeks to run the school board “like a business,” at the candidate forum on Oct. 25 at Saegertown, but she later said, “Kids are not dollar signs.”

Gerry Deane, current vice president of the school board, spent 38 years in Education and is concerned with the the lack of teamwork in the board and student preparation for the global economy. Her husband, Terrance Deane, worked in the district since 1983. He is well-known in the community as Saegertown’s former junior high basketball coach. Deane seeks to gain a better grasp on the concept if elected and will try to lower expenses if at all possible.

Robert Gullick spent 25 years in retail and 17 years as an elementary teacher until he retired last year. Gullick shares similar viewpoints with Mr. Deane and said that the board should discuss what fellow boards are doing right and follow in their footsteps. He related this concept to compromising among board members. Mark Gerow graduated from Cambridge Springs and, like Mrs. Porter, possesses a degree in accounting. He discussed what things used to be like in the district in regards to community boards, clubs, boosters, etc.

Navy veteran Jeffrey Brooks spent time as a student teacher and a social worker. He became more involved in the school board and parent committee after proposed cuts to school libraries were made. At the candidate forum, Brooks suggested that a functioning board will attract good superintendents.

Many have vocalized concerns involving incremental, year on year tax increases. Increases of $50-$60 per year have become commonplace in nearby school districts such as General McLane. Such increases have been cited as the way of the future for PENNCREST, for better or for worse. Moreover, some have criticized spending in PENNCREST. At the October 12 school board meeting, citizen Art Hoffman said the school board lacks a system of “checks and balances” and “is not a dictatorship.”

All nine candidates stated that they are opposed to consolidation of two or all three schools into a singular facility. However, Mr. Porter and Mr. Gerow discussed the fact that it may come to that if something isn’t done.

Regardless of who is elected, the new board could certainly bring about a huge change in direction for the future of the district.

Election results will be posted on Twitter @PantherPressSHS.

Spanish students strut in fashion show

By Kassie Boyd and Cami Reynolds, staff writers

On Jan. 19, students from Maplewood, Cambridge and Saegertown went head to head in a Spanish inspired, Spanish speaking fashion show. PENNCREST Spanish teachers Miss Nova Dinsmore and Mrs. Brooke Lewis orchestrated the fashion show as a new, direct way to learn. “The most difficult part was correlating everything,” said Miss Dinsmore. “Students really didn’t know what to expect with a performance-based project this time.”

This year has been ripe with change for Spanish students at Saegertown High School. Following the retirement of Mrs. Janyce Brawn, Dinsmore joined the Saegertown staff, and she has brought some new and exciting changes and traditions.

At the fashion show, students had the chance to meet new people and watch their peers on stage. “I feel like it went better than expected,” said Saegertown sophomore Gabe DeYoung. Students from Maplewood and Cambridge joined together in the auditorium for a large-scale collaboration. “It’s kind of embarrassing, but I don’t really care,” said sophomore Layla Joseph from Maplewood. “I know these people, they know me, so it doesn’t really matter.”

Groups of students took turns walking across stage in their best outfits for a fashion show, or al desfile de moda. One member controlled the microphone and described the outfits, personalities, interests, and physical attributes, all in Spanish.

Afterwards, each student who had participated in the fashion show wrote a short review of what they enjoyed, what they didn’t, and how performance based projects could be improved in the future. “Even students agree it should’ve been more creative,” said Dinsmore. This suggests the first of more to come for current and upcoming Spanish students. 

Clay target shooting becoming a new sport at Saegertown

By Bailey Kozalla, sports editor

Students are now being recruited to join the PA High School Clay Target League, a new sport just approved for PENNCREST students in grades 7-12. Registration began Jan. 15 and ends March 10. To participate, the student must have completed a hunter safety course or firearm safety certification and pay one-time dues of $35. The practice start date is April 2, and competitions will begin April 23 against teams in the PENNCREST conference. A total of five competitions be held through May 21. An informational open house will be held Jan. 26 at 7 p.m. in the SHS cafeteria.

There are three main divisions of clay target shooting which include trap, skeet, and sporting clays. In trap shooting, the targets are launched from a single “house” or machine, going away from the shooter. The targets are launched from two “houses” in sideways patterns that cross in front of the shooter during skeet shooting. Sporting clays are the most complex; clays are thrown from many different launch points. The layout of the field is determined by what type of shooting is being employed. For instance, the layout for a trapshooting field has different components and strategies than a skeet or sporting clays field. In the league, the kids will be shooting trap, with the organization providing the shotgun shells.

The league is looking for new members, so join the fastest growing and safest high school sport. For more information visit http://paclaytarget.com/ or contact Mary Ann Birchard at (814)398-2262.