Column: President’s visit reinforces the ‘Divided States of America’

By Taylor Munce, sports editor

(Note: This is the third in a three-part series on the Trump rally in Erie on Oct. 10.)

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Taylor Munce, sports editor, The Panther Press

President Donald Trump came to Erie for a rally focused on promoting his campaign and fellow Republicans. Thousands of supporters, as well as many protesters, took to the streets of Erie to share their beliefs. I came as a journalist for the Panther Press and to experience how a Trump rally would feel for a Democrat like me. My experience can mostly be summed up in one word: uncomfortable.

The first person I interviewed was a protester. The woman was very pleasant when my colleague Dustin Steiger asked her opinion of the president. She calmly stated why she was upset with the president, citing things like his racism, sexism, and bigotry.

The next thing I encountered was getting to skip the long line of supporters trying to get in. Showing our press credentials, Dustin and I were instantly admitted and security checked us for any metals. Personally, I found this to be refreshing as I was panicking a few hours before about security and safety. I was worried about the possibility that I might be involved in a violent affair, such as the ones I’ve witnessed on television, where people have actively heckled and threatened journalists covering the event, many times at the urging of the president who has called them “dangerous and sick” and “the enemy of the people.

As soon as I arrived at the press area, I took note of my surroundings. Among the journalists present were reporters from the Washington Post, Fox News, the Erie Times-News, the Meadville Tribune, and many others. It was exciting to be in the midst of so many professional journalists from so many outlets. I also noticed the overhead display that flashed messages for those in attendance.

“If there is a protestor, simply hold your sign above your head and shout TRUMP TRUMP TRUMP. Do NOT touch the protestors and the police will take them out.” I found this unsettling. Though it may seem reasonable to President Trump, shouting at protesters does not seem like a good choice. Yelling in general does not get through to people as it causes chaos and misunderstandings, and angry people say things they later regret. Though I did not witness any protesters being removed, if this situation had occurred, I would have wanted to leave due to the mayhem that could have erupted and quickly become violent.

The overhead display also proclaimed: “Trump wants to protect your First Amendment along with your Second Amendment rights.” Of course, the First Amendment protects speech and the Second Amendment protects the right to bear arms; however, it is well known that this president commonly refers to members of the press as  “enemies of the people.” I spoke to Paul Farhi of the Washington Post about this issue: “We are not the enemy of the people. We are the friend of the people. I believe that he [Trump] likes the attention; it helps his campaign. He only says things like that because it riles them [supporters] up,” Fahri said. It seems contradictory for President Trump to claim that he protects First Amendment rights, even though he himself cannot seem to accept that media outlets have the right to publish whatever they want.

During the rally, Trump emphasized that he isn’t focused on “putting money into Washington’s pocket.” This claim seems interesting in light of the fact that many sources have recently reported that Trump himself has already raised more than $100 million for his 2020 campaign.

Then he claimed that Democrats “are a party of crime” and they “only act out of anger and rage.” He mentioned them banging on the doors of the Supreme Court after Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed as an Associate Justice, and he claimed that Democrats don’t like the “principles this country was made on.” Shortly after this, he stated that he loves “all of America.” How can this be true if he condones and encourages hatred against an entire political party? More Americans voted for Hillary Clinton (about 2.9 million), but Trump won the election due to the electoral college vote. What about those 65,845,063 Americans who voted for Hillary Clinton? Does President Trump love them too? And if he does, then why demonize them and their party by calling them the “party of crime”?

At each mention of the Democrats or anyone closely related to them, the crowd would boo and Trump would nod in agreement. Now, it’s fine to disagree with people, but spreading hate in order to push your agenda is ridiculous, especially when both parties came together to create the principles our democracy was founded upon.  

There may not have been parties exactly like we have today when the Constitution was written, but the seeds of agreement and dissent that have made America great and led to compromise and progress were present, and to speak so negatively of those who disagree with you seems unnecessary.

Prior to the president’s arrival, Glenn Thompson, U.S. Representative for Pennsylvania’s 5th congressional district, said: “That’s what Americans do. We stand up for each other.” If that is what Americans do, then why is it that we are at a war with each other when it comes to politics, race, and gender, just to name a few divisive issues?

There were also instances during his speech where Trump encouraged his audience that they needed to vote an all Republican Senate. That seems odd to me, too. If it’s understood that not everyone can get along, then how would having an all Republican Senate reflect the country? If senators were all from the same party, would the United States turn into an oligarchy? If this were to happen, only the laws Republicans wanted would pass, and this would most decidedly not reflect the will of the people.  

In the midst of all this uncomfortable rhetoric, there were two moments where I felt positively connected to the people in the arena. One was the praying for those in the path of Hurricane Michael and the other was the honoring of veterans. All veterans were asked to stand up as everyone honored and praised them for their service. Pennsylvania Senator Michele Brooks said, “It’s because of them that we can be here today and that we can enjoy the freedom we have today.” Even though I disagree with most of what the candidates said at this event, I will admit that it was very fulfilling to have the veterans recognized for their service and to know that we were united in praying for those affected by the hurricane.

When the rally ended, I felt unsettled. Although I gained valuable insight into how to cover a political event, I was left feeling as though I was not wanted in the arena due to my opposing political views. In fact, I left feeling like the president should not be making people like me feel so disconnected. As the President of the United States of America, he should be uniting, not dividing, all Americans.

Column: Covering presidential visit was ‘positive and exhilarating’

By Kaitlyn Kozalla, features editor

(Note: This is the second in a three-part series on the Trump rally in Erie on Oct. 10. Taylor Munce’s column will be published Friday.)

As a student journalist interested in the presidential agenda, I decided to take to the streets of Erie to find out what a “MAGA rally” was all about. Upon arriving at the Erie Insurance Arena on October 10, I saw a sea of patriotism and “Make America Great Again” apparel. Protesters waved signs which said “Promises made, promises broken” and “Liar-in-Chief,” standing up for their beliefs. Regardless of partisan opinion, President Trump attracted crowds Wednesday night in Erie.

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Kaityln Kozalla, the Panther Press, with Jim Acosta, Chief White House Correspondent for CNN

As soon as I stepped into the long line outside the arena, I noticed an overbearing number of vendors swarming the huge crowd. Loud music played, and I watched people dancing and singing, excited for the coming event. As the line moved forward, protesters continued to chant “Trump has got to go,” and “Impeach Trump.”

Although the rally almost didn’t take place because of Hurricane Michael’s impact on Florida’s panhandle, President Trump stated that he did not want to let down the thousands who had probably lined up to attend in advance. That being said, the nine-thousand seat arena was packed and thousands more watched on the big screen outside.

President Trump’s  speech focused primarily on his victories and foreshadowed a “red wave” in the upcoming election. One of the most rehashed topics of the night was the creation of jobs and the drop in the unemployment rate. “Under Republican leadership, America is booming, America is thriving, and America is winning like never before, because we are finally putting America first. Just two days ago, the unemployment rate has fallen to the lowest level in 50 years. It was just announced that manufacturing confidence is at an all-time high,” President Trump said.

He also included his initiative to bring back American-made steel. “We don’t need this product coming in untested from other countries,” Trump said. “We don’t need it, folks. We’ve got it here. We don’t need it.” And he covered the recent confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. This controversial topic drew mixed reactions, with both boos and cheers coming from the crowd.

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Kaitlyn Kozalla with Glenn Thompson, U.S. Representative for Pennsylvania’s 5th Congressional District.

In addition to hearing the president speak, I also had the once-in-a- lifetime opportunity to meet Jim Acosta, CNN’s Chief White House correspondent. As a right-wing conservative, I was impressed with the friendliness of this noted journalist from what most consider a liberal news outlet. I also met Glenn Thompson, U. S. Representative for Pennsylvania’s 5th Congressional District, who asked to have his picture taken with me. He mentioned that this was the first time he had requested to be photographed with any member of the press.

And in what was probably the most random and interesting thing to happen, I was approached by a Saegertown alumni who works for the Secret Service. The agent, upon seeing the Panther Press shirts my colleagues and I were wearing, presented us with commemorative secret service pins.

As the rally came to a close, I was not disappointed. Covering the president’s visit to Erie as a student journalist was a positive and exhilarating experience.

Column: President Trump stops in Erie to ‘Make America Great’

By Dustin Steiger, arts and entertainment editor

(Note: This is the first in a three-part series on the Trump rally in Erie on Oct. 10. Columns by Taylor Munce and Kaitlyn Kozalla will be published Thursday and Friday of this week.)

When I got into my car after school last Wednesday and headed towards Erie for President Trump’s rally, I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know how large the crowds would be, how fiercely the protestors would oppose, or how ecstatically the supporters would cheer. I didn’t know what our great President Donald Trump would say or what he’d do. I didn’t know if he’d leave with a rallying cry and thundering applause echoing from the stands or if he’d leave with a defiant resistance booing him off the stage.

There were a lot of unknowns tumbling through my mind as I headed into Erie. But by the day’s end, I wasn’t disappointed.

One of the first things I noticed as I arrived was the massive line that stretched out from the doors of the arena. Thousands of supporters stood there, with miscellaneous vendors selling Presidential apparel to the eagerly awaiting crowds. Protestors stood around sporadically, holding signs with sayings such as “Super-Callous-Fascist-Racist-Sexist-Braggadocious” and growling at Trump supporters, such as my colleague Kaitlyn Kozalla. Though we wanted to look around, we didn’t have time to see the sights. We were there to work.

We were handed our official press passes by security and led through the building to our specified area, a fenced-off section for registered journalists and other important guests. There were news anchors dressed in suits and ties, security guards, massive camera crews, and the whole nine yards. As far as I could tell, we were the only high school journalists in attendance. There we sat, with journalists from notable news outlets such as CNN, The Washington Post, and FOX NEWS mingling and working all around us. Although I did notice a few college journalists, one thing was certain: we were the odd-ones-out.

We still had quite a while to wait before Trump gave his speech. It was only five, and Trump was to speak at seven, so I had time to get some interviews.

Zachariah Lofgren, a high school junior from General McLane, was eager to see President Trump. “I would say Trump has made a positive impact in society,” he told me. “He is strong and stands up for the American people in the world and in the country itself. He is smart and knows how to keep America safe and build the economy.”

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Dustin Steiger, The Panther Press with Paul Farhi, The Washington Post

Possibly the most impressive conversation I had at the rally was with Paul Farhi, a journalist for The Washington Post. “He [Trump] knows how to get the crowd going,” Farhi said. “There’s always this sort of call and response like you hear in church.” He cited Trump’s campaign against Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election, and how even now people love to shout “Lock her up!” “It’s formulaic,” he explained, “but they eat it up. These people love him, and he gives it back to them.”

A short time later, an excited roar filled the stadium, and I knew that the president had arrived. He talked about a wide range of subjects, covering everything from Kavanaugh to coal to “Crooked Hillary” (at the mere mention of her name, there arose from the crowd a nearly unanimous “boo,” just like Paul Farhi had predicted). The midterm elections were something he discussed with fervor, encouraging the people to vote Republican. He mentioned the drop in taxes and how it has improved the lives of the American people.  Then he talked about the massive drop in the unemployment rate since he took office. He also expressed his concern about the dreaded Hurricane Michael with a moment of silence before continuing.

“This has been the greatest revolution ever to take place in our country,” President Trump said. “This election is about keeping America safe… strong… proud… and free.”

It was inspiring. You could see it in the crowds, an admiration for the most influential man in the country, and most likely in the world. There was no restraint or fear in President Trump’s voice. He didn’t hold back. His words struck at the arguments of his opposition, his influence radiant with his promises and power.

“We will never give in,” he told us. “We will never give up, we will never back down, and we will never surrender, and we will always fight for victory. Because we are Americans. And our hearts bleed red, white, and blue.”

And, just like that, the speech was over. His final words echoed in my ears as he left. It all seemed so short in hindsight, though there was no denying the impact he had on those in attendance.

Our president has made an evident and positive change in America. He has provided for the people by offering them protection and bolstering the booming economy. He has enforced laws that have been ignored for so long and has expounded on them, working to make our country great. He has moved our nation’s money back to where it belongs- the pockets of the people- and, according to promiseskept.com, he “removed the red tape” that has held our country back. He’s kept his word, and, with any luck, he will continue to keep America great.

Overall, it was an incredible experience. We heard viewpoints from all over the country and all over the political spectrum, standing beside nationally acclaimed journalists and listening to the words of our powerful and prominent president. Our president showed us who he truly is at the rally; he’s a Titan, a powerful and influential force standing for justice, rallying for prosperity, and fighting for a better America.

Above: Taylor Munce, Dustin Steiger, and Kaitlyn Kozalla. 

YSU English Festival registration due next week

By Morgan Radwick, design editor

YSU English Festival

The YSU Festival will be held on April 10, 2019. 

As many Saegertown students may remember, senior Ben Shelenburger got his arm signed by author Laurie Halse Anderson at the YSU (Youngstown State University) English Festival last year, and this year will no doubt be equally as exciting.

Any student in grades 9-12 can attend the festival which will be held April 10, 2019 at YSU. Students will have a chance to meet famous authors Neal Shusterman and Steve Sheinkin and take part in various literature-based activities with students from Eastern Ohio and Western Pennsylvania.

The YSU English Festival was founded in 1978 by Professor Thomas Gay and Dr. Carol Gay of Youngstown State University’s Department of English in memory of their daughter Candace who passed away from cancer when she was thirteen years old.

According to the YSU News Room, more than 100,000 juniors and seniors from high schools in more than 300 districts have attended since the festival’s founding 41 years ago.

To participate in the activities, students must read all seven of the required books: Thunderhead, and Unwind by Neal Shusterman, The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights, and Undefeated: Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team by Steven Shienkin, Through the Woods by Emily Carroll, The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds, and Piecing Me Together by Renee Watson. All activities in the festival relate to the books listed.

In addition to the festival activities, there are also three optional pre-festival contests: The Candace Gay Memorial Essay Contest, The Festival Art Contest, and The Jeremy Salvner Memorial Music award.

The fee to participate is $30 per student, which pays for bus transportation and festival registration. Permission slips and full payment are due to librarian Betty Litke by Wednesday, October 24. More details about the festival can be found on the YSU English Festivals’ website or from Mrs. Litke.

Phelan’s outstanding year continues into Western Regionals

by Nick Archacki, news editor

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Senior Will Phelan and Coach Brian Hanley (file photo)

Saegertown Senior Will Phelan has had a successful year on the links, winning the Region 3 Player of the Year, and advancing from the District 10 Individual Championships to the Western Regional Golf Championships to be held next Monday at Tom’s Run golf course in Blairsville.

Phelan qualified for regionals last Friday at The Country Club of Meadville with a fantastic two-day, 36-hole total of 150, shooting 73 and 77 to place second at districts. Phelan made a substantial improvement from last year’s performance at the event, where he shot scores of 82-82 to qualify for regionals, advancing from there to the state finals where he placed twenty-eighth.

“I’m more than satisfied with my performance because golf isn’t a sport in which I think highly of myself,” Phelan said. “I’m no Ryan Peters, and golf isn’t my main sport, but considering what has developed over the past four years in high school golf, I’m elated to have competed for SHS.” Keys to Phelan’s success are simple: “I don’t overthink it, and I try to be as consistent as possible.”

Phelan’s advance to the regional competition marks the fourth straight year that a Panther has advanced beyond the district level. He has turned heads and is becoming a local star with his golf skills. There is no doubt that the fierce Phelan will bring his all to the Tom’s Run course on Monday. 

Saegertown soccer primed for playoffs

by Sheena Byham, sports editor

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Saegertown boys huddle during a recent game.

 

The Saegertown Panthers soccer team has started its season strong. Over the summer, the team struggled to find a head coach who was willing to take on the mantle. Alex Escalante, who was previously the assistant coach, stepped up and filled the position. One of his first initiatives was to increase team numbers with boys from Maplewood, Cambridge, and Saegertown.

The boys started the preseason with a 6-0 win over over CASH. Their record is currently 4-10 including a thrilling win over rival team, the Meadville Bulldogs. The boys have not let their losses define them, and they rallied to beat Eisenhower 6-1 on Sept. 24. “Our players are connecting off the field, but sometimes we have a little difficulty getting it together when the pressure rises,” said Logan Bill, one of the senior captains from Cambridge. “I feel that we have a chance in the playoffs if we take it seriously and focus. I hope that we can really get our passing and finishing down, so we can score easier and with more accuracy.”

The Panthers are progressing as the season continues. Coach Escalante said: “The team is good, but surely improving.” Escalante has put effort into substituting top scorer Iain Scott (who graduated last year) with senior Ainsley Kissel from Cambridge and Saegertown junior Andy Rockwell in the offense. “The season had a rough start because we had such little time to practice and get to know new players,” said Escalante. He has high hopes for the team and anticipates the boys will be playing more cohesively by playoffs.  

They Panthers will be in action again against Seneca tomorrow, Oct. 11, at French Creek Valley School at 4 p.m. 

Girls soccer team defends turf

by Morgan Radwick, design editor

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Lady Blue Devil seniors with coaches

The Cambridge Springs Lady Blue Devils soccer team has once again proven its grit with four wins this season. Coach Geoff Bristow, and assistant coach Alex Escalante are helping the ladies do their best on the field.

Senior captain Brenna Repko loves the sport. “It clears my mind, and has boosted my confidence throughout the years,” Repko said. Captains Brenna Repko and Lexie Burdick are helping the team work together while representing them as a whole.

The ladies of Saegertown and Cambridge Springs have worked very hard to get where they are now. Even though their athletic abilities are a key factor, teamwork is what really helps them succeed. “Teamwork is everything,” Burdick said, “One hundred percent.”

The Lady Blue Devils celebrated senior night on Oct. 4 with a victory against Maplewood 1-0. Honored seniors include; Sydney Morelli, Sheena Byham, Brenna Repko, Erin Fizer (from Cambridge) and Mylena Hernandez. This does not mark the end of their season, however. 

The ladies are set to play in the 2018 playoff competition that will begin in late October, and they will be in action tomorrow night against Iroquois at French Creek Valley School in Saegertown. The match starts at 4 p.m.

 

Cross Country team continues ‘Family Business’

by Chloe Luchansky, staff writer

This past week the Cross Country team traveled to compete in the Cochranton meet. Varsity boys went 0-2, and varsity girls went 2-0.

Overall, the senior high boys are 2-4 and the girls are 4-2 in the region. The junior high boys are 6-0, and the junior high girls are 0-3 in the region.

“Family Business” has once again been chosen as the team motto. From the beginning of camp the team has formed unbreakable bonds with each other. The team is a family.

“Running is about building character and discipline,” said Coach Bill Hetrick. With the countless hours of training put in, the team hopes for qualifiers in the state championship taking place in November.

Last year, the junior high boys were region champions and are on track to achieve the same goal again this season. At the only home meet this season, eighth grader Sam Hetrick, beat the junior high course record that was set in 2007 by Nate Talleda. “I was very excited and pleased with myself,” Sam Hetrick said. “Beating a record was one of my all time goals.”

Senior captain Gabe DeYoung works to keep the team pushing towards excellence. The members of the team help motivate each other during each practice and meet to achieve their personal goals.

This season the team hopes to have the varsity boys at .500 or better, and the varsity girls to have a top two or three finish in the region. The runners will be in action again on Tuesday, Oct. 9 in a tri-meet with Conneaut Area and Rocky Grove at CASH. 

Plaza Lanes under new ownership, creating hopeful future for local bowling

by Nick Archacki, news editor and avid bowler

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Plaza Lanes in Meadville is under new ownership.

As a high class bowler, I have seen all types of bowling establishments across the United States in my sixteen years of competing in the sport. There are many definitions that can describe the appearance of a bowling center, but three significant words that stand out to me are: uniqueness, attributes, and downfalls. Throughout the years, I have seen centers rise and fall, thrive or fail. Theoretically, the appearance of a bowling alley affects customers’ and bowlers’ attitudes the moment they walk through the door, which can directly affect the bowling center’s profit and popularity.

Unfortunately, Plaza Lanes in Meadville has struggled over the past five years to bring in both revenue and bowlers. Many attribute this to the lack of funding put into maintenance after a fire burnt Plaza Lanes to the ground in April of 2001. Along with the lanes being closed multiple days of the week for two straight summers, the center has struggled with the additional loss of a fully functional restaurant and bar inside the building.

However, a brand new chapter of our community’s history has already begun, and the center’s future looks promising. After finalizing the anticipated sale on Aug. 24, Kurt Baird and Ramon Rodriguez are the new owners of Plaza Lanes. Baird and Rodriguez moved from Miami to Meadville and are excited for their new future as the owners of Plaza Lanes.

We were looking to change our living situation from big city to a small town, and being the new owners of Plaza Lanes is just what we were looking for,” Baird said. “Buying the center fits well into our prior job experiences and this new start to our lives has combined many of our goals together, it’s a dream come true for both of us.” 

Baird and Rodriguez mentioned that they have large shoes to fill with the purchase of Plaza Lanes, but they are ready to handle the new challenges and opportunities that will be presented to them in the upcoming years. “Our priorities are to make the bowling center the best it can be for our league/recreational bowlers and employees by making the building a clean, fun, family environment,” Baird said. “Seeing people having a good time is golden for us and when they thank you back for what you’ve provided for them, it feels great.”

Baird and Rodriguez, along with their family members, have resolved many of  the center’s previous aesthetic issues. “We have pressure washed the outside of the building, acquired brand new bowling pins, rearranged the seating, cleaned the carpets, cut tall grass, trimmed bushes and trees along with building a new restaurant menu,” Baird and Rodriguez said.

The Plaza Sports Den, the restaurant located inside Plaza Lanes, will return with a full food menu, bar, many new beverages, and a new chef to accommodate the rebirth of the restaurant. “We hope to make our restaurant a place for non-bowlers to eat and socialize with friends and family like the Found Lounge at Cambridge Springs’ Lost Lanes.” Additionally, the front parking lot will be repaved and a new, modernist floor has been added in the front entrance.

“We need to meet all of our customers’ requirements and being here every day shows our commitment to the bowling center. We want to keep the center going and improve it,”  Baird and Rodriguez said. They added that they are happy to be part of Meadville’s history with the purchase of this historic location. 

“Moving here was a challenge for us and the local community has been wonderful, supportive, and appreciative to us during this process which we are very thankful for,” Baird and Rodriguez said. “We’re excited to be here. If you haven’t been to Plaza Lanes lately, stop on by and see what’s going on. We would love to meet and talk with you.”

Current hours for Plaza Lanes can be found on their website at plazalanesmeadville.com and don’t forget to like their Facebook page at Plaza Lanes Meadville.

(Nick Archacki has been bowling since he was one and a half years old.)

 

Saegertown band marches towards success

by Morgan Radwick and Amanda Crowl, design editor and staff writer

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The Saegertown Marching Band will perform at the North East Festival on Saturday, Oct. 6 at 6:30 p.m.

The Saegertown Marching Band is working on being the best it can be. The band chose the theme “More or Less” this year due to the small number of students in the program.  With only 21 members, they are striving to do more with less.

Despite a number of challenges, the band is working hard to gain an edge over the competition. Director Jason Papinchak wrote the music his students are performing, and color guard director Robin Oakes completed the performance with choreography. So far this season the band has participated in one competition through LMBA (Lakeshore Marching Band Association), placing third at McDowell High School on Sept. 15. In addition, they appeared in exhibition at General McLane on Sept. 8.

The twelve instrumentalists and seven color guard members have been working through the summer, including practices and a week of camp at Edinboro University in hopes of improving. Freshman Nicole Oakes believes that camp was beneficial to her and her peers. “I feel like we’re going to do better,” Oakes said. “At band camp, we got a lot done.”

The band is ready to take on their competition, and take first place. “It seems like a close race between us, Erie, and Corry,” said junior and drum major Sam Shelenberger. “But I think if we fix all the changes that need to be made and get everything ironed out, we will hopefully take home first.”

This Saturday, the band will perform at the North East festival at 6:30 p.m.