Superintendent Glasspool promises changes for PENNCREST

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

Glasspool, Tim (1)

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.”

 

 

 

Seniors find life-changing inspiration in ‘This I Believe’ essays

by Kaity Gage, design editor

Sometimes in life you just have to “Be Your Own Sunshine” or “Always Find Your Rainbow” to lift yourself out of darkness, and other times you have to force yourself to keep “Eating Your Humble Pie.” That is exactly what the class of 2018 is doing by finding a metaphor related to their experiences during childhood, adolescence, or young adulthood and writing about the strength and wisdom they have gained from it.

The seniors were given the “This I Believe” personal essay assignment by senior English teacher Mr. William Hetrick. It involves writing a 500 to 600 word essay about an experience that has changed their lives for the better. The title of the essay is a metaphor that has an overarching theme, and some of the seniors have been very creative with their writing. Themes range from death and depression to picking the right path for yourself or remembering that love will always win.

Many of the seniors have deep-rooted connections to their essays. Taylor Schultz wrote her essay with “Be Your Own Sunshine” as her metaphor. In it she shares that no matter what is going on in your surroundings, you have to allow yourself to be a “glass half full” individual. She starts her narrative referencing Vincent Van Gogh swallowing yellow paint to try and paint his insides happy, but ultimately, each person has to create that happiness for herself. “It’s something that I think about a lot and I don’t really get to share it with anyone, but this project gave me the chance to write about it,” Schultz said.

Wesley Fleischer, who will be enlisting in the Army, used this opportunity to write about his grandfather, who was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Fleischer had not talked much about experiencing his grandfather’s death until he wrote “I Just Had to Try.” He took his moment to completely process everything that he has dealt with from the passing. “It made me feel better to share with the world what great things my grandfather did,” Fleischer said.

These essays have been written by people all over the world and they all give a message that states their mantra toward life. Famous individuals such as boxer Muhammad Ali, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, journalist Gloria Steinem, and Microsoft Corporation founder, Bill Gates, have all written “This I Believe” essays. Starting in 2005, a website was created for people to publish their essays as well as listen to an MP3 of them reading what they wrote. Unfortunately, new essays cannot be published to the This I Believe website any longer.

Still, eager to write, the seniors wrote about their mantras and Mr. Hetrick had all of them record what they wrote into an MP3, which will be accessible through QR codes. The QR codes are posted on the Panther Hallway bulletin board for students, faculty, and community members to scan and listen to what the seniors have to say. Each story is completely unique and offers a lesson to be learned.

Jenna Galt chose to write her essay “Always Finish the Song” to emphasize that you can never give up. “I know too many adults who wish they would have done things differently in their lives, and I’ve been trying to convince myself to not give up on going to college because I’m so nervous about it,” Galt said. She wants to use her message to push herself to pursue a degree in psychology. “I want to be a clinical psychologist and work with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) patients and/or kids who have been affected by substance abuse.”

Dominic Steiger wrote his metaphor “Penguins in the Mud” about his time on the football team. The essay includes a story about his football brothers and himself taking advantage of a gloomy practice with lots of rain to make themselves some literal mudslides. They chose to slide down the large hill behind the scoreboard as a way to remember that records are not important and to have some fun during a dreary season. Steiger said, “I believe in taking the little moments we’re given and making them memorable. Even if it’s as simple as that [the mud sliding].”

Reflecting on the impact of the assignment, Mr. Hetrick said, “I think seniors who are about to graduate have a lot to say and have developed powerful philosophies, and this is their outlet.” He also noted that it offered a chance for everyone in the class of 2018 to speak their minds and talk about what keeps them moving everyday.

To listen to the essays, visit the display in the Panther Hallway and use your iPad or phone to scan the QR codes.

IMG_5599

All members of the Saegertown community are invited to listen to the “This I Believe” essays of the class of 2018.

 

Coach Greg Molnar takes technical for Iroquois teen

By Bailey Kozalla, Kaity Gage, and Stevie Siple, Editor-in-Chief, Design Editor, Staff Writer

Molnar

Coach Greg Molnar

Doing the right thing when the opportunity presents itself is one of the unspoken rules of being a coach. That is exactly what Saegertown boys basketball coach Greg Molnar did on Dec. 22 at Iroquois High School.

With a definite loss in sight for the Panthers, Iroquois basketball coach Brad Breese substituted physically challenged junior Jared Anderson into the game, hoping he could score his first points in his varsity career.

With less than two minutes left on the clock, and the score 71-32, Molnar told Breese to call a timeout. He knew that Anderson’s best chance at scoring was to shoot from the foul line.

Molnar spoke to the official, “If he misses the shot, and we get the rebound, then give me a technical.”

Working according to plan, Saegertown recovered the ball, and the referee blew his whistle signaling a technical foul. Anderson went to the foul line.

Screen Shot 2018-02-12 at 12.17.34 PM

Iroquois player Jared Anderson takes his first of two shots at the line after Saegertown Coach Greg Molnar receives a technical foul.

At this moment, the atmosphere of competition in the gym transitioned to one of emotional camaraderie. After Anderson missed the first free throw, the gym fell silent for his final shot. Once the ball left Anderson’s hand, it banked off the backboard, and swished.

Before the ball even hit the floor, the crowd erupted in cheers that lasted for what seemed like minutes.

Anderson also scored the final shot in the game, taking his total points for the evening to three. 

Coach Molnar described the moment with characteristic humility:  “It was an opportunity to provide a memory and normalcy for a kid who obviously loved basketball but faces challenges no one of us can understand.”

Anderson has been playing the game since he was four years old. Thirteen years later, all of his hard work paid off. “I felt awesome. I’d like to thank your coach and your players being so nice about it. It was a Christmas present for being able to get in and score a basket.”

Anderson plans to attend Edinboro University for either sports medicine or management while also playing on a wheelchair basketball team.

A devoted fan, Charles Curtis expressed his viewpoint in a letter to Principal Tom Baker: “I was very impressed by the way your coach allowed a disabled boy on our Iroquois team to take a shot following a requested technical on Molnar’s part. It was a very emotional moment for me and the people in the gym went wild.”

Curtis has followed local basketball teams for many years, and has never witnessed anything like it. “The young man will remember this moment for the rest of his life. This is what high school sports is all about. Your coach should be recognized for his courtesy.”

Iroquois Assistant Principal Jeannene Willow was also impressed by Saegertown’s sportsmanship. “That was certainly my favorite game of the season this year. I really thought it showed a lot of class on Saegertown’s part. I’m going to remember that game for a long time,” Willow said. 

Experiencing the emotion of the crowd, Willow said, “There weren’t too many dry eyes in the gym that night.”

Karen Anderson, Jared’s mother and biggest fan, was speechless. “I was holding my breath. He’s played wheelchair basketball before. That’s been basically all he could do. He managed last year, and I convinced him to play this year.”

Mrs. Anderson has been anticipating his first moments of playing, “When they put him in finally, it was the greatest thing I have ever seen. He works hard at everything he does.”

She described her emotions while watching her son: “When I saw him out on the floor, I wanted to cry and I wanted to scream and I wanted to cheer all at the same time.”

Mrs. Anderson expressed her gratitude to Saegertown as a whole. “I thank the coach, I thank the fans, and I thank the players. I appreciate your school and how they reacted. The sportsmanship they showed means so much.”

(This story was originally published in the Feb. 14 issue of The Panther Press.)

 

Saegertown scientist schools students in chemistry

by Hannah Nicholson, opinion editor

048EF762-A9D4-4726-9E23-ADF6E70EE583

Saegertown alum Joe Braymer, who is a chemist in Germany, returned to share his experiences with the chemistry students  in Mrs. Kelli Peters’ classes on Dec. 20.

On Dec. 20, Saegertown High School chemistry students had the opportunity to learn about what they could do in the science field from alumni Joe Braymer who graduated from Saegertown in 2004.

Chemistry teacher Mrs. Kelli Peters organized his visit. She contacted Braymer through his mother, who she sees often during the summer. “It’s nice seeing how successful our kids are when they leave here,” Mrs. Peters said. Mrs. Peters was aware that he was doing research, and even being a chemistry teacher could not prepare her for the kind of research he does. “It’s way beyond me,” she said. In the future Mrs. Peters would like for him to come back to talk more about his research, and to talk to Mr. Greco’s advanced biology class as well.  

After his graduation from Saegertown, Braymer went to Edinboro for his bachelor’s degree in chemistry. Then he moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan to attend the University of Michigan for his doctoral degree in organic chemistry. While he was getting his PhD, he began to do his own research at Michigan where he researched the development of small molecules that could be used to treat Alzheimer’s Disease. After receiving his doctorate, Braymer attended Indiana University Bloomington for his post-doctoral research position to expand into biochemistry.

Braymer now lives in Marburg, Germany and is working on a second post-doctoral at Philipps University Marburg. “I call myself a bioinorganic chemist,” Braymer said. He works with trying to understand how transitional metals are important to life. “You need these metals to live, and I try to understand why,” Braymer said. “I work at understanding how proteins fold and function, and how that function relates to a cellular function.”

Braymer mainly works with yeast cells which serve as a model cell for understanding human physiology. Braymer hopes that in the future his research could create medicines to help correct metabolic disorders.

“I look around me, I see colors, I see lights and I really want to know why something is red or has a certain form. That’s chemistry. I want to know why things are the way they are,” said Braymer, while talking to students in Mrs. Kelli Peters’ class about why he became a chemist.

While he was studying in Michigan, Braymer met his girlfriend from Germany. “That’s the main reason I am there,” Braymer said. “I am visiting for Christmas of course.”

Being a Saegertown alum, Braymer has some fond memories of high school. “What I remember most about Saegertown is wrestling. I wrestled every year and although I never reached my goals, I learned a lot about myself through wrestling,” Braymer said.  

I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to SHS. From what I saw, there was a lot of positive energy in the school.  My advice to students is to heed advice from others but to never be afraid to make your own path.”

 

Lip Sync 2017: All the photos!

Photos by Hannah Myers, photo editor

Winners of the Lip Sync were: first place, Aaron Brown and Carson Jones with “You can call me Al” by Paul Simon; second place, Elijah Campbell with “Simple Man” by Shinedown; third place tie between Kat Diesing with “Crazy Train” by Ozzy Osbourne and Colton and Kylie Beck with “The Campfire Song” from SpongeBob Squarepants. Thanks to Student Council for coordinating this event.