Marching band headed to LMBA championships this weekend

by Samantha Thomas, staff writer

The Saegertown Marching Band heads for the LMBA (Lakeshore Marching Band Association) championships this weekend. Drum Major Sam Shelenberger and section leader, Morgan Murphy, both juniors, have led the band through another successful season, along with directors Jason Papinchak and Jared Schaffer.

There is one tuba player, one flutist, four percussionists, six color guard, one trumpet, one flugelhorn, two clarinets, two saxophones, and one manager. Even with a small group, the marching band makes big sounds, which plays into this year’s competition theme: “More or Less.” Jason Papinchak, who writes the music the band performs said, “We are showing that more isn’t always more, and less isn’t always less.”

As many know, the marching band has been affected by a lack of members in recent years. “We need more dedicated, mature people,” Murphy said. “When I saw the band was in desperate need of players, I joined.” Despite these setbacks, longtime band member Sam Shelenburger is committed to keeping a positive and enthusiastic attitude. “Nothing about band is the best part,” Shelenberger said. “Band is the best part of band.”

The band has competed at General McLane for exposition, earned third place at McDowell, second place at North East, and performed at Harbor Creek on Oct. 20, where a panel of judges offered tips. They will take the field at the LMBA championships at 4:15 p.m. on Oct. 27 at  Erie Veterans Memorial Stadium.

 

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.

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.

Saegertown welcomes back Mr. Justin Hayes

By J1 students

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Mr. Justin Hayes

Third time’s a charm for Mr. Justin Hayes, who has returned to Saegertown to teach senior government and economics and provide ESL (English Second Language) services after being previously furloughed from the district. He replaces Mr. Brian Lipps who took a leave of absence for this year.  

Mr. Hayes graduated from Edinboro University and started his teaching career in an alternative education school in Erie in 2007. Then he went to East High School in 2009, where over a third of the student population comes from outside the United States. For five years, he helped refugees and other international students learn English as a second language. Students from all over the world, including countries like Somalia, Nepal and Iraq, were represented by flags that hung around his classroom. From 2015-17, he worked for PENNCREST: first as an ESL specialist for the district, then as the technology education teacher at Saegertown Elementary. However, due to budget constraints, he was furloughed the for the 2017-18 school year.

Mr. Hayes chose to look on the bright side of what many would have viewed as a career setback. “It was totally amazing,” Mr. Hayes said. “I got to hang with my daughter for the first year of her life. I don’t take that opportunity for granted.” According to Hayes, family is his highest priority. He lives with his wife Adrienne, his 11 year old step son, Trent, and his 13-month-old daughter Teighan. They also have two small dogs (Bishop and Kingston) and a Maine Cat named Rook.

Outside school, Mr. Hayes enjoys watching and playing sports. He played both tennis and basketball in high school and remains an avid fan to this day. Another passion of his is cooking, especially on his electric smoker, where smoked wings are one of his self-reported specialties. He also enjoys listening to reggae music and his favorite band Sublime.

Mr. Hayes looks forward to forming relationships and connections with students and staff. “I feel like a new teacher [at Saegertown],” Mr. Hayes said. He noted that this is his first time teaching classes with a majority of students whose native tongue is English.

Here he strives to connect with his students in ways that he could not at East High, and he has a willingness to learn from his students. “Please take my mistakes and learn from them. Please take my experience and apply it,” Mr. Hayes said. “I definitely don’t have all the answers.”

(This web post is the first completed by the J1 students as a collaboration. Look for future bylines.)

 

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.”

 

 

 

New superintendent outlines plans for PENNCREST

by Kassie Boyd and Braeden Kantz, news editor and sports editor 

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Dr. Timothy Glasspool

On Monday June 4, Dr. Timothy Glasspool was announced as the new PENNCREST superintendent, replacing Mr. Brad Whitman, who filled the position since mid April of 2018. Glasspool, a former superintendent of Plum Borough School District, was chosen by a committee assembled by the IU-5.

Dr. Glasspool attended Gannon University, then went on to receive his masters at Carnegie Mellon in 2003. He then earned his doctorate in education from the University of Pittsburgh in 2006. He served at New Kensington-Arnold and Burrell school district, before becoming superintendent of Plum Borough in January 2012.

During a recent interview, Dr. Glasspool shared four areas of focus for PENNCREST: curriculum, communication with stakeholders, school safety, and fiscal stability. He also aims to boost the district’s Future Ready PA Index profile by altering the curriculum and instruction that affect standardized test scores.

School safety is another matter that Dr. Glasspool intends to tackle during his tenure at PENNCREST. He advocates for active shooter preparation (ALICE training) that would better prepare students and staff in the event of a threat. Dr. Glasspool addressed the issue of firearms in school buildings by acknowledging the potential ramifications. “As soon as a firearm is brought into a school, it is a potential weapon for someone to use,” Dr. Glasspool said. “The person armed must know how to use and defend that weapon and must be mentally and physically stable.” He intends to work closely with law enforcement to improve security.

Former superintendent Mr. Whitman was closely involved in the search for the new superintendent through his work at the IU-5. He cites Dr. Glasspool’s leadership style and personable nature as what set him apart. Mr. Whitman will remain at PENNCREST for the next week or two to help Dr. Glasspool transition into the position. “The district is in good hands,” Mr. Whitman said. “It will continue to move forward in a positive direction. The beginning of next school year will be very exciting.”

During his time at PENNCREST, Dr. Glasspool vows to listen, remain visible, and share and exchange thoughts with the community. He plans to add opportunities for students and to work with the board and community as a cohesive unit. “There is not a one size fits all for education,” Dr. Glasspool said. “I believe that the best place to educate a student is in a public school.”

Saegertown welcomes 2018-19 student council officers

By Hillary Twiford, news editor

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Payton Brooks

The 2017-18 student council members are wrapping up their duties and saying goodbye to Saegertown High School. While they will be remembered for organizing many events, it is time for the 2018-19 seniors to take over the helm. “It has been an honor to serve the Saegertown community this year,” outgoing president Payton Brooks said.

In the fall, Saegertown welcomes Mikayla Balog as student council president, Braeden Kantz as vice president, Sheena Byham as secretary, Carlie Schlosser as treasurer, Kassie Boyd as public relations officer, and Gabe DeYoung as historian.

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Mikayla Balog

“I have ideas to help improve the school,” Balog said. “I think I could make a positive change.” Her ideas include ways to boost school spirit and build a positive environment.

This year, the process of electing new members to student council was different. Normally, candidates create different parties and deliver speeches to the student body. Afterward, the student body votes to decide which students will represent them the following school year. However, this year only one group of students ran, resulting in them being named to the positions. Despite the unusual process, the new officers are ready to hit the ground running next year.

 

Ms. Tracy Lobins sees success in her first year

By Jake Reisinger, staff writer

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Ms. Tracy Lobins has completed her first year at Saegertown.

Junior high science teacher Tracy Lobins arrived in late October for her first year at Saegertown. In previous years this position was held by Mr. George Nahay, and the position was filled temporarily by Ms. Alicia Weiss at the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year.

Ms. Lobins felt that her first year went well. “The kids got to know me, which was nice,” Lobins said. “It was great. The staff is super friendly.”

The events Saegertown had to offer also pleased her. “The building had many fun events like the ice cream social, and the field day for Junior High Students.” While she enjoyed those events, her favorite one from the school year was the lip sync contest in December. “It was fun seeing all the kids join in and dance.” Most will remember that Lobins participated in the amazing junior high teacher lip sync to “YMCA” by the Village people. 

Ms. Lobins plans to get married to Jake Moore in October 2018. Her wedding will take place at a YMCA Camp named Camp Coffman. One of her best friends who also happens to teach at Saegertown, Ms. Kara Bechtel, will be married over this summer as well. “I’m excited for Ms. Bechtel and me both getting married this year,” Lobins said. 

Ms. Lobins did find a few differences from her old school compared to Saegertown. “There is a lot more school spirit here, and it seems that the kids like to be here.” Overall, she has enjoyed her first year at Saegertown. “It was a successful year for me, everything went well.”