Junior high students take on the new school year

by Dayna Woodruff, staff writer


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Seventh graders Savanna Manross, Kylie Beck, Trinity Umland, and eighth grader Brittany Houck (left to right) have settled in to the new year.

School is back in session, and the junior high students are loving the change. The transition from the elementary school to the junior high is challenging, but the new seventh graders are handling it well. Most kids like the freedom  they have now. Seventh graders Trinity Umland and Kylie Beck say that their favorite part of school is sitting with their friends at lunch, and having the opportunity to eat lunch outside.

As for classes, both Beck and fellow seventh grader Savanna Manross love English class. Beck said, “Mr. Wise is such a funny person, and I love to be around him.” Umland prefers music. “Mrs. James always seems to make the boring things more fun,” she said.  Eighth grader Brittany Houck said, “The teachers are more comfortable talking to us,” due to some teachers having the eighth graders in class last year.

The junior high is also gearing up for the homecoming dance, which seems to be a big event for the seventh graders. Beck said, “I’m really looking forward to homecoming and how fun it will be.” Umland is excited about the homecoming dance and the snowball dance that will take place in the winter.

Although the work and responsibility can get tough, the students seem to be loving the new school year so far.  


Saegertown Area Library hosts Teen Read Week

by Morgan Radwick, staff writer

Do you like using your imagination? Do you like to read? If you said “yes” to these questions, or even if you didn’t, come to Teen Read Week, which will be celebrated at Saegertown Area Library next week.

TRW-color-logoIn 1998, the Young Adult Library Services Association created Teen Read Week to encourage teens to engage in reading books while also enjoying reading. The Saegertown library began to participate in Teen Read Week approximately six years ago.

This year’s theme is “unleash your story” which encourages teens to let their imaginations run wild as they tell their own stories. Teens will also have the opportunity to find other stories including biographies, autobiographies, folktales, and so much more.

This year, teens can write reviews on their favorite books. Just stop at the library and pick up a blank bookmark and write your review on it. The reviews will then be placed in the book and put on display in the “reviewed by teens” area.

At the end of the week one of these bookmarks will be randomly selected, and the winner will receive a $15 Amazon gift card. Take time to have fun, use your imagination, and read a book! Additional details can be found on the library’s teen blog.

Homecoming dress code unchanged for this year

By Autumn Jones, marketing director

With recent changes in the dress code, many are asking: “What about homecoming?” Many girls are fretting over whether they will be allowed to wear the dresses with which they fell in love when they tried them on. The Panther Press has the answers to all of your homecoming dress code questions.

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Seniors (left to right) Haley Hess, Marissa Henry, Autumn Jones, and Courtney Delizio before their junior year homecoming in 2016.

“I spoke with Mr. Baker and Mrs. Keller about what has been done in the past, and it has never been a problem,” said Assistant Principal Kylene Koper. She added that the previous dress code is going to remain in place for this year’s homecoming dance. This means that strapless and two piece dresses are acceptable. If you have a two piece dress, the showing of your stomach is required to be no more than 3 inches between the top of the dress and the skirt.

With regard to any inappropriate attire, Mrs. Koper said, “It will be handled individually. Your dress may be a little shorter than I would like, but if you handle yourself appropriately, it won’t be a problem.” However, the homecoming assembly dresses must follow school dress code of two inch straps and no more than three inches above the knee.

Mrs. Koper also noted that if there is a large group of inappropriately dressed students at this year’s dance, then there will be a stricter, official dress code for all other school dances.

Saegertown welcomes new assistant principal

by Hillary Twiford, news editor

At the beginning of the 2017-18 school year, Saegertown welcomed a new assistant principal, Mrs. Kylene Koper. The position has been vacant since Mrs. Laurie Kantz left the building in 2015.  Mr. Phil Young and Mr. Brian Lipps temporarily occupied the office, but now a full-time assistant principal has returned to the building. 

Mrs. Koper has previously worked at two other schools in various teaching positions. She spent 12 years at McKinley Elementary School, always teaching fourth or fifth grade in predominantly literacy. She then transferred to Emerson-Gridley Elementary School where she was hired as an instructional coach and handled professional development and learning for faculty. Mrs. Koper switched to Roosevelt Middle School and taught math for one year before earning the assistant principal job at Saegertown.

“I think all teachers should have the opportunity or attempt to try to work with kids from all different walks of life, so that landed me here,” Mrs. Koper said. Her previous positions have been in larger schools, so Saegertown’s size represents a change of pace for her, and she indicates that she is enjoying the atmosphere.

“It’s like there are no kids that get lost or that are just a number. I love how you have the relationships through your extension periods to stay with the same teachers through those years,” Mrs. Koper said. “The relationships that you could build, would be amazing, but being a smaller school, there’s so many of those relationships already, and that’s one of the things I’m most looking forward to- getting to know everybody. Right now, I’m really the outsider.”

This is Mrs. Koper’s first year as an administrator, so she is adjusting to the new position as well as the students. Even though her experience at Saegertown has just begun, she plans for an extended stay. “I feel like in order to initiate change, it takes time. You can’t go into some place new and try to change everything and get everybody to understand and want to do it. It takes time,” Mrs. Koper said.

She also wants to build relationships with the students and staff before implementing many changes. “It’s very different from where I came from, so I think it’s going to take some time of getting to know people and building that rapport so people trust and are willing to try changing things,” she said.

However, there is one major change that has already affected the study body- the dress code. “The teachers told me all of the issues of the dress code and problems that we’ve had in the past, so we discussed it as a faculty and staff how we wanted to change it,” Mrs. Koper said. “There were a lot of loopholes or problems where kids were able to get by not following the past dress code, which is where we made a few of the new changes to make it more consistent for everybody.”

Most of all, Mrs. Koper wants everyone to know that she is always available. “If you ever want to have your voice heard, my door is open. Come down, let me know.”

Fast facts about Mrs. Koper:

  • Graduated from McDowell High School.
  • Graduated from Edinboro University with degrees in elementary education and reading specialist.
  • Married to her husband, Jason, for fourteen years.
  • Has three children- Brooke, Casey, and Allie.
  • Participated in color guard in high school.

Erie General Electric moving to Texas – thousands of local jobs lost

by Kaitlyn Kozalla, staff writer

We all saw this coming. Yet, holding onto hope, many believed it would pass. During last year’s layoffs, General Electric in Erie cut nearly 1,500 employees, with another 575 positions lost as of August 2017.

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Union protesters rally on State Street in the Labor Day Parade in Erie in September.

The plant currently employs more than 2,500 people, but there are claims that by 2018 all work except for prototype development will be terminated. During past years, the General Electric company has been shifting to Fort Worth, Texas, where workers are not represented by a union.

“I’ve worked at General Electric for 12 years, and in this round of layoffs I will probably be affected. I guess I do not understand why the CEO of General Electric makes $81,000 a day more than I make in an entire year. I understand that companies need to be competitive in the work market, but with a company that has 20 percent of growth market each year, that’s more than any stock market or savings account you could possibly be in,” said Saegertown resident Daniel Kozalla, a machinist at General Electric.

For many, all the hope they have is in the union. On Labor Day, over 600 union members rallied down State Street in Erie to spread hope, and show their commitment to the union.  

Tom Daniels, a union member of 28 years said, “It’s an assault on the working people of Erie, Pa. They are trying to beat us down, but they can’t break our union.”


Eighth graders visit Tom Ridge Environmental Center

by Dayna Woodruff, staff writer

On Friday Sept.15, the eighth grade students visited the Tom Ridge Environmental Center (TREC) at Presque Isle. The students learned about the wildlife, weather, and historical elements of Presque Isle in Erie. “We have a rare and natural resource within driving distance, so it is great thing to be able to share it with students,” said Mr. Mike Brenneman, seventh grade reading teacher.

The grade was split into two groups; girls with Mrs. Kara Bechtel and Mrs. Anne Motter, and boys with Mr. Brad Wise and Mr. Brenneman. The girls’ part of the trip began with going inside the TREC and a movie about extreme weather while the boys explored the outdoors. While outside, the students waded in the water, caught fish with fishing nets, and they learned about the history of Presque Isle. The two groups then switched activities. Eighth grader Josie Deeter said, “My favorite part was when we caught fish and when they played a science movie about tornadoes, glaciers, and forest fires.”

The trip was funded by a grant from the TREC, which helped make the trip affordable and easy to plan. Mr. Brenneman said, “I fully expect that the eighth graders will have this opportunity next year.”

Overall, the response from students was positive. Deeter mentioned that she would like to visit the TREC again. Mrs. Bechtel said, “I think most of the kids enjoyed the trip.”

“I was thanked by many students for planning the trip, and I feel that they enjoyed and appreciated the experience,” Mr. Brenneman said.

(Photos contributed by Mrs. Kara Bechtel.)

The world welcomes baby O’Shea

by Laura Monico, social media editor

Saegertown learning support teacher, Mrs. Casey O’Shea and her husband Miles welcomed a baby girl, Quinn Catherine O’Shea, on Sept. 1, at 7:43 a.m. The new addition weighed in at 8 lbs. 15 oz. with dark hair and blue eyes.

Although the gender was a surprise, Mrs. O’Shea said, “I thought it would be a girl.” She also shared how the name Quinn was chosen.  “We wanted something uncommon and with us both being teachers, we hear every name.”

Quinn joined her two-year-old brother Mac. When asked about his reaction to the new arrival, Mrs. O’Shea said, “He loves her.” Now as a party of four, the O’Sheas are not sure if their family will continue to grow just yet. “The jury is still out on thatMaybe three, but it is hard to imagine right now with a two-year-old and a newborn.”

In today’s ever changing world, Mrs. O’Shea has high hopes for her children. “I hope that my children will be able to grow up in a loving, caring, and safe environment. I hope they will grow to be caring and thoughtful people who have a positive influence on the world around them.”

Mrs. O’Shea is enjoying her time with Mac and Quinn at home while she can. Although she she’ll be nervous to leave them, she is excited to return to school in January 2018 at the semester break.

(photo contributed by Mrs. O’Shea)