‘Common Grounds’ continues to flourish

By Dustin Steiger, arts and entertainment editor

Since its founding in September of 2016, Common Grounds has lived up to its mission statement, acting as “a gathering place where young people can socialize free of negative influences and where they connect and find common ground.”

For those who don’t know, Common Grounds is a café located at the old Grotto Park in Saegertown.

On Monday nights, the café hosts “Campus Life,” a youth-group for high school teens from 7 to 10 p.m.

On Friday nights, high schoolers can also gather for a teen café night with ping-pong, pool, board games, free WiFi, and, of course, coffee.

“Common Grounds has been continually expanding as new groups continue to meet there,” said Frank Tipping, the Campus Life Ministry Director. “Besides our high school age groups like Campus Life and Friday Night Cafe, we have a men’s group that meets there on certain Saturdays, and a young adult group that meets on Tuesday nights. We are also open to other groups that are looking for a place to gather.”

“I believe that it allows a safe space for everyone- not just Christians- to come together and be in an environment that is very promoting and positive!” said Jennifer Chamberlain, a Maplewood senior who regularly attends Campus Life.

“It helps our community come together as one,” said Ashley Merritt, a Saegertown junior. “It gives people a chance to feel safe.”

Common Grounds continues to provide the young adults in the area with a place to hangout, to meet new friends, and to grow in fellowship and in friendship. “We are all created in the image of God,” Tipping said. “And I think we have so much more in common with each other than we realize. We need to take the time to get to know one another and build relationships on Common Ground. Then we can begin to build bridges instead of tearing them down.”

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

Super Bowl LIII teams set for showdown on Sunday

By Nick Archacki, news editor

On Sunday January 20, one of the most important days of the NFL season occurred for the NFC and AFC divisions as the Los Angeles Rams faced the New Orleans Saints, and the New England Patriots faced the Kansas City Chiefs to determine which two teams would advance to Super Bowl LIII (53).

The first game of the day, a battle between the Saints and Rams, transpired at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. The Saints held a comfortable lead at the end of the first quarter 13-0 until the Rams came back in the second quarter to close the gap 13-10 at the end of the first half.

The Saints had firm control of the game at the closing of the fourth quarter until an inexplicable no-call was made by the referees as the pass interference and hitting a defenseless receiver contact play was considered, by many, as the worst no-call in playoff history and one of the worst no-calls in NFL history. The result of this no-call led to the Rams tying the Saints at the end of regulation, 23-23.

The Saints got the ball at the start of overtime and the Rams connected for an interception off Saints quarterback Drew Brees. The Rams brought the football within reach of the field goal and the Rams kicker sent L.A. to the Super Bowl with a 57-yard field goal conversion, winning 26-23.

Later that night, the Chiefs and the Patriots faced off in frigid temperatures at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. The Patriots took an early lead 14-0 at the end of halftime. But the Chiefs answered New England’s call by tying the game at the end of regulation, 31-31, with the Chiefs kicker making a 3-point conversion.

The Chiefs scored 31 points after halftime and the Pats maintained by scoring 17 points in their third and fourth quarters, respectively. This was the first time in NFL history where both NFC and AFC championship games resulted in a tie at the end of the fourth quarter.

The Patriots received the ball in overtime and the Chiefs didn’t get the ball again the rest of the game. The Patriots running-back scored the game-winning touchdown with a 2-yard run into the end zone, ending a thriller, 37-31.

Now the excitement builds for the big game this Sunday. The Patriots and Rams will duel at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, which will begin at 6:30 p.m. EST. The Patriots will be looking for their record-tying sixth Super Bowl victory (The Pittsburgh Steelers currently hold the record), and the Rams will be looking to capture their second Vince Lombardi trophy.

History is also on the line for this game. If Tom Brady wins, he will be the oldest starting quarterback to win a Super Bowl at age 41. If Jared Goff wins, he will be the second youngest starting quarterback to win a Super Bowl at age 24. If Goff starts, he will be the youngest quarterback to start the Super Bowl since Tom Brady in 2002.

The last time the Los Angeles Rams were in the Super Bowl was 2002. Their opponent? The New England Patriots. The Rams lost the game, 20-17. Coincidence? That question will be answered on Sunday.

‘Safe2Say’ comes to Saegertown: school receives first anonymous tip

By Samantha Thomas, staff writer

Last January, Governor Tom Wolf signed Act 44 of 2018, which created a School Safety and Security Committee, established mandatory training, and further secured public schools in the state. Part of this act mandated a statewide launch on January 14 of ‘Safe2Say Something’ an anonymous reporting system for school related safety concern.

The program was created by the Sandy Hook Promise, a non-profit organization formed after the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting in 2012. Pennsylvania is the first state to roll out the program statewide.

“The goal of the program is to help someone before they make the tragic choice to carry out violence,” said Nicole Hockley, who helped create ‘Safe2Say Something’ after losing her six-year old son Dylan at Sandy Hook.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said tips to this hotline will go to specially trained agents in his office who will analyze them. Shapiro’s office has hired people specifically for the ‘Safe2Say Something’ program. These agents are not crisis counselors and have only been trained for this program. According to a press release from the Attorney General’s Office, 615 tips and calls were received statewide in the first week of operation.

All Saegertown students were trained on Safe2Say on January 22 during fifth period. The training covered warning signals, signs, and threats as well as how to use the site or mobile app to submit a tip.

On January 22 at 6:29 p.m. the first tip from Saegertown High School was reported through the mobile app. The tip was received by Saegertown Principal Tom Baker at 6:10 a.m. on January 23. “The reason the tip took so long to be received is because it was deemed not life-threatening,” Mr. Baker said. He also noted that the system appeared to work as it was designed to do.

If you have serious concerns about your own safety or the safety of your peers, you may report through either the Safe2Say mobile app, website or on the mobile tip line at 1(844) 723 2729.

Mrs. Keller receives grant for microscopes

By Claudia Fetzner, photo editor

Biology teacher Mrs. Nicole Keller received a $250 grant from the Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools to put towards new classroom equipment.

Mrs. Nicole Keller

Over the past ten years, Mrs. Keller has been working to finish her collection of updated cordless microscopes for each of the 12 tables in her room. “I only get about $500 a year for my 100 students, so I had to find money elsewhere,” Mrs. Keller said. She applied for the grant earlier in the school year.

The PARSS acts as an advocate for over 150 small schools in Pa., and “provides resources to help in management of the unique issues faced by small schools and schools in isolated locations.”

“I’m grateful that there are companies that think public education is important and are willing to invest,” Mrs. Keller said.

Saegertown basketball coach credits players with 100 win milestone

By Braeden Kantz, managing editor

Coach Greg Molnar celebrated his 100th win on January 12.

Saegertown Basketball Coach Greg Molnar recently claimed his 100th varsity basketball win against the Tidioute Charter on Jan. 12. The 2018-19 season marks Coach Molnar’s eleventh season at Saegertown and his team is currently 8-7. With the win, Coach Molnar takes his place among three other varsity basketball coaches in Saegertown’s history to achieve 100 career wins.

Despite his recent achievement, Mr. Molnar has not enjoyed the spotlight. “It’s like this. I’m not the one who plays. I just pick five people to play, and they are the ones who win the games,” said Coach Molnar. “It’s nice to have people congratulating me but it’s just weird and it makes me uncomfortable.”

The Saegertown community, however, responded enthusiastically. After Saegertown’s win over Tidioute 48-43, Coach Molnar was surprised by players and fans who attended the match with a confetti cannon and a sign recognizing his accomplishment.

Mr. Molnar joins famed Saegertown basketball coaches Merle Darcangelo, Chuck Swick, and Dean Henderson as a part of the “100 win club.” Coach Molnar currently has 103 wins and has the chance to potentially challenge the current coaching win record of 109 wins held by Merle Darcangelo (109-42) and Dean Henderson (109-104).

Coach Molnar attributes his recent milestone at Saegertown to “the great athletes” that he has coached during his tenure, and is optimistic about his coaching future. “I’m just enjoying this as much as I can,” said Molnar. “I know that my time is very limited here. It’s going to come to an end, and I’m ready to move on to the next phase in my life.”

For more information on the history of Saegertown basketball, click here. The Saegertown varsity boys basketball team will make its next appearance tonight at 7 p.m. at Union City.

Accident closes Hayfield Township bridge

Story and photos by Nick Archacki, news editor

News spread quickly across Facebook and other social media about a baffling event involving a Route 6 and 19 bridge which crosses French Creek and is located south of Black Rd. On Wednesday Jan. 16, a truck collided with the bridge, affecting a heavily-used route between Saegertown and Meadville.

Lincoln Recycling, a Meadville based recycling business, had a company truck approaching the bridge at around 8:30 a.m. when the extension boom arm on the truck remained in an upward position as the truck departed from U.S. Bronze. The operator of the vehicle was not aware of the boom arm being in this position before he reached the bridge and struck the 82-year-old structure, causing extensive damage to the bridge, which will remain closed till further notice.

The boom arm ripped a gaping hole through the first and second upper-support beams on the bridge before striking a third beam and ripping the boom arm off the truck. The third beam was severely damaged as well with the impact caused a significant bend in the beam.

Emergency crews arrived at the scene shortly after the accident occurred to assure no other vehicles attempted to cross the bridge because the extensive debris made it unsafe, and PennDOT conducted an inspection that deemed the bridge in need of repair. PennDOT is currently formulating a plan for repairs to the bridge, and it will remain closed for the foreseeable future.

Road closed signs were placed throughout the area to warn drivers that the bridge was inoperable, which will cause many headaches for travelers to Meadville on Route 6 and 19 and for students who live south of the bridge.

However long the repair process takes, it appears Saegertown’s bridge debacles will continue.

Saegertown Students dance their way to blue ribbons at the PA Farm Show

By Sam Shelenberger, broadcast director

On January 7, students from Saegertown High School traveled to the Pennsylvania State Farm Show in Harrisburg to compete in the Square Dance Competition for the ninth consecutive year.

Saegertown students brought home blue ribbons in the square dance competition from the 103rd PA Farm Show.

Seniors Seth Lang, Ben Shelenberger, juniors Nathan Barner, Sam Shelenberger, Marli McGowan, Emily Barr and sophomore Amanda Crowl are all members of the ‘Wild Country Dancers’ club.

“My favorite part is being out there on the floor at Farm Show with all of my friends,” said Crowl, who has been square dancing for four years. “I like dancing with my friends, and our instructors make it fun.”

The square dance team is instructed by Brenda Schmidt and Don Yosten. Starting in October, the club meets every Sunday at the VFW to practice. This year, the songs the club danced to were “Wagon Wheel,“ “Just Keep Rolling Along,” “Fancy Free,” “The Best is Yet to Come,” and “Write Your Name in the Sand.”

“The hardest part was taking the time to learn the new calls,” said five year veteran Emily Barr. “It wasn’t too hard because Brenda and Don are excellent instructors.”

Each of the seven SHS students received a blue ribbon, and are eager to return to the floor. “I can’t wait for next year,” Crowl said. “I’m ready to see what awaits us.”