“The Fault in Our Stars,” from bestselling novel to world-wide phenomenon

By Lizzie McIlhenneytfios

One of the most-loved novels today is one you’ve probably already heard of, either in a magazine article, in the newspaper or on television: ‘“The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green. It’s one of those rare books that will have you laughing or crying hysterically, depending which page you’re on.

One of the first scenes is set in a church in Indiana, in Hazel’s support group for teens with cancer, or the “Literal Heart of Jesus”. Here, she meets Augustus Waters, and (to use a well-worn cliche) her life changes. From here, Hazel and Gus share an adventurous relationship that takes them across the world, from Indiana to Amsterdam. The book is about their complicated, rollercoaster relationship.

“The Fault In Our Stars” is one of those books that you keep with you forever, in the back pocket of your heart. What makes the book so special is that it blatantly confronts and defies the stereotypes surrounding cancer and the “typical” cancer patient. Hazel and Augustus are not less whole because of their diseases, quite the contrary. The book emphasizes how their sicknesses are just a “side effect.” It’s not a story about cancer, it’s a story about Hazel and Augustus’s “little infinity.”

But “The Fault In Our Stars” is not one of those books that you can capture in a single review. This book is so much more complex. It’s something you have to experience yourself. One so fantastic and brilliant, that it has turned into a phenomenon.

Since its publication on January 10, 2012, the novel has become a New York Times bestseller. On March 2, 2014, The Fault In Our Stars is still #1 on the Young Adult list after a 64-week reign. Now, the book has been made into a highly anticipated movie, due to release June 6.The trailer, released last month, already has more than 11 million views on YouTube.

The author, John Green, has a huge fan base. People of all ages adore his books, most of which are bestsellers. “Looking for Alaska,” third on the New York Times Young Adult Bestseller list for 64 weeks, and “Paper Towns,” sixth on the list for 50 weeks, are two other popular books of his. Green collaborated with David Levithan, another well known young adult author, for the novel “Will Grayson, Will Grayson.” Also, he shares a YouTube channel, Vlogbrothers, with his brother, Hank Green, that boasts more than 1 million subscribers and hilarious and insightful videos every week.

Comet boys basketball wraps up season, looks ahead

By Matt Tulli

The 2013-2014 boys basketball season came to a conclusion on February  6 with a 54-19 loss against Lancaster Lebanon League Champion Cedar Crest.

“There were some good points of the season, like beating Lebanon, but there were also some bad points, like last night [Cedar Crest game],” said senior guard and captain Micah Brown.

The Comets started three sophomores for most of the season: Nick Lord, Sam Greenslade and Ryan Atkinson. The rest of the sophomore class will play a big role for next season’s team, since there was only one junior on the roster, Jack Elliot. This means another young team is expected next year.

The JV team also had three freshman: Cameron Lovett, Doug Kramer and Alex Krahulik. All three started the majority of their season. The younger players on both Varsity and JV had a ton of playing experience. Because of that, you can expect some big things from the boys basketball program in the upcoming years — one player to watch out for who was on the JV team is Micah Brown’s younger brother, sophomore guard Nate, who averaged 18 points per game on the season.

The team ended up with a 8-14 record this season, including wins against Lebanon and Warwick. The team was led by Brown, who will attend Messiah College next year and averaged 16 points per game, including games of 30 and 27 points. He also poured in 32 threes on the season.

Six- foot, nine-inch senior center David Carmichael averaged 11 points per game in addition to his multiple blocks per game. Sophomore forward Lord contributed 46 three pointers this season, helping him average eight points per game. Lord had four games in which he hit four threes.

Greenslade showed growth in his first season as a starter, averaging four points per game. He played a big part in holding down the middle with Carmichael, with his many blocks and rebounds. Atkinson was solid in his first year as a starting point guard and averaged three points per game.

Senior Brett Caggiano was excellent, both starting and coming off the bench for the Comets. In his 10 games played, he put up five points per game, and brought energy to the court with his hustle and nonstop motor. He was mainly utilized as a defensive stopper, as he was typically matched up against the other teams’ best player.

On the JV team, Nate Brown, Micah’s younger brother, scored 18 points per game.

The young players who will return next year have potential and will face increased expectations.

“I think the team is going to be really good in a few years,” said Micah Brown. “They will have a shot at going to states.”

History teacher ends run for state representative

By Cassie Kreider

Cynthia Lonergan, a history teacher at Penn Manor High School, ran for State Representative of the 41st district, but as of February 18, she is no longer in the race.

Lonergan withdrew from the race during a meeting of Lancaster County Republicans intended to select a candidate to receive the party’s endorsement.

Lonergan was running against Brett Miller, an East Hempfield Town Supervisor. The seat for the 41st district representative was occupied before by state Rep. Ryan Aument, who is now running to replace outgoing Sen. Mike Brubaker.

Lonergan decided to run after she was selected to represent the United States at an international governing seminar last summer. She traveled to Honolulu, Hawaii, then to Seoul, South Korea and Beijing, China, in two weeks.

Meeting with leaders from other countries inspired her.

“I joined representatives from 10 other countries to discuss problems and most importantly, solutions to issues like health care, economic development, public pensions, poverty, housing, education and fiscal impacts on social changes,” said Lonergan on her international trip. “Many of the problems we face are not unique to the world and it is incredibly beneficial to have a global network of knowledge to work together, combine ideas and find solutions.”

In addition to her international work, Lonergan is involved in local politics.

Lonergan was the campaign manager for the re-election of  Lancaster County Commissioners Scott Martin and Dennis Stuckey in 2011. She said she’s always been in a supportive role, helping others run for offices and seats.

A straw poll, or a poll to figure out which person a party is most likely to endorse, took place on Monday, January 20. Lonergan received six votes and her opponent, Miller, received 42 votes.

Lonergan said that without the endorsement from her party, she was not going to run.

Lonergan said from the beginning her chances of receiving the endorsement were almost nonexistent but that the feedback she has received from the community is very positive. She’s received phone calls and emails encouraging her to “stick with it,” and informing her that it took some of the best politicians years before they were elected.

“It’s political suicide to run without an endorsement,” said Lonergan. “It’s best to respect the endorsement.” She also explained that it is hard to raise money for your campaign if you have no endorsement.

She has no plans in the near future of running again and said it all depends on the timing.

Lonergan concluded with some words of wisdom for Penn Manor students.

“Nowadays with all the social media sites, everyone’s willing to speak their ideas and opinions, but no one is willing to do anything about them,” said Lonergan. “Go beyond that, don’t just talk, act. Take advantage of the opportunities that come your way, even if they’re unexpected.”

Live production of “Sound of Music” disappoints many

By Lizzie McIlhenney

The 1965 film “The Sound of Music” is everyone’s childhood favorite. Many of us remember watching Julie Andrews as Maria teaching the Von Trapp children to sing, and learning to sing right along with them. That’s why the “The Sound of Music Live!,” which aired live on NBC on December 5, 2013, was so heavily criticised.

Everyone’s a critic. Especially when it comes to a classic like “The Sound of Music.” Hopes were high for a flawless production, since a misstep or flat high note was left for the 18.6 million people that tuned in for the three hour show to see and hear.

And during the three hours that the production aired a tsunami of tweets poured in. Every note, dance, and flaw was recounted and highlighted a hundred times. Even the original film’s Von Trapp children responded to the production, but they were much kinder critics than those on Twitter.

Angela Cartwright, who played Brigitta in the original film, was quoted in EW that she felt that some of the acting “didn’t come across as sincere.”

Most of the criticisms were not that off base, even if some were unkind. The production had its moments and was enjoyable to watch, but when held by the standards that a Broadway musical is held to, some of the acting and singing just didn’t mesh.

The most scrutinized casting was Carrie Underwood as Maria, and when it was announced that she was to play the iconic role many fans were outraged. She had large shoes to fill and big expectations, and Underwood didn’t exactly deliver exactly what everyone wanted. Her vocals were wonderful, but her acting didn’t measure up to her musical talent. She just couldn’t compare to Julie Andrew’s Maria.

What many people might not know is that “The Sound of Music Live!” was not actually based on the 1965 film . According to NBC, the live production was actually based on the Broadway musical.

NBC seems to be forming a new holiday tradition, because the network has already committed to airing another live musical production in 2014. According to Entertainment Weekly, the next musical event is “Peter Pan,” which will air on December 4.

Addressing rumors about new driving rules

By Olivia Hertzler

The most exciting thing for many teenagers turning 16 soon is finally being able to start driving.  If you’re like many Penn Manor students, you might have heard that if your birthday is after December 31, 1997, then you have to have your learner’s permit for a year.

Fortunately for those about to turn 16, this rumor isn’t true.

“I’ve heard some students say that we need our permits for a year, but there doesn’t seem to be anywhere to find that.” said sophomore Emily Thryrum.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation website ,“a six-month skill-building period to practice and gain experience is required before a young driver may take the road test for a junior license.”

Act 81 of 2011 increased the number of supervised hours teens are required to spend behind the wheel from 50 to 65.

After six months of driving with your permit you are eligible to take the test for your junior licence.  According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation website, a junior license will include some of the following restrictions:

  • Nighttime driving restriction beginning at 11 p.m.

  • A limit on the number of passengers in the car who aren’t immediate family members.

For more information about requirements for new drivers, see the Pennsylvania Young Driver Law fact sheet.

School board to vote on proposed redistricting

By Abbey Bailey

Next year, Hambright Elementary, Eshleman Elementary, Martic Elementary, Pequea Elementary and both middle schools could experience a shift in class sizes in the 2014-15 school year due to the redistricting and expansion of Hambright Elementary School. The school board is scheduled to vote on the proposed layout tonight. A total of about 60 children could be affected by this shift in district borders.

Penn Manor Superintendent Dr. Mike Leichliter explained that the redistricting project is not a full-scale ordeal. It has been enacted to help balance class sizes at both Eshleman and Hambright Elementary schools, as well as at the middle school level.

“We initially considered moving all of Georgetown Hills to Hambright,” said Dr. Leichliter. “However, that would have required that add teachers at Hambright. … Therefore, that plan would have cost more money. We opted to recommend that we move 21 students from Eshleman to Hambright. This will alleviate some larger class sizes at Eshleman.”

Elementary class sizes are the main focus of the redistricting proposal. Under this plan, Eshleman Elementary would lose around 21 students to Hambright Elementary, and Pequea Elementary would lose about 14 kids to Martic Elementary. These changes in the elementary level would not impact current fifth grade students, who would be allowed to stay at their current elementary school to finish out their sixth grade year next school year.

The neighborhoods that could be affected by the change in district borders at the elementary levels are Georgetown Hills and Springdale Farms in the Manor Middle School area and Lakewood Estates in the Marticville Middle School area. Crossgates, which is currently a swing area for Eshleman Elementary and Conestoga Elementary students would become a swing area for Conestoga Elementary and Pequea Elementary students. At the middle school level, Wood’s Edge and Parkfield will alter the class sizes at both Marticville and Manor Middle School.

Boundary changes around the Marticville Middle School area will result in half of the sixth graders at Letort going to Marticville Middle School, and the other half attending Manor Middle School for the 2014-15 school year. But current seventh grade students at both middle schools will be permitted to stay at their current middle school to finish out eighth grade.

The district has also hypothesized that if growth continues as is within the next three year, the school board will revisit the idea of moving all Letort Elementary students to Martic Elementary.

About 30 people attended a public meeting held on December 16, 2013 to inform the public of the possible changes to the school district boundaries. The meeting was advertised on Twitter, Penn Manor’s blogs and websites and in the Lancaster newspaper. Certain families impacted by these changes were also informed by letter of this meeting and encouraged to attend.

“Out of the people that attended the meeting and spoke, most did not like the idea of changing their development to a new school. Two people spoke who said they do not have a strong feeling either way but understand the district’s reason for recommending the change,” said Dr. Leichliter. “I’ve also heard from some families who also said they understand that there is currently an imbalance and this is the most cost effective way to handle balancing class sizes between Manor and Marticville.”

The final verdict for Penn Manor’s proposed redistricting plans will be determined at a school board meeting held tonight.

FCCLA sells Candy Grams

By Bart Huber

FCCLA is selling candy cane Candy Grams, which come in peppermint or fruity flavors. The cost is one for $ .50 or three for $1.

FCCLA is selling candy cane Candy Grams, which come in peppermint or fruity flavors. The cost is one for $ .50 or three for $1.

The Family Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) at Penn Manor High School are selling Candy Grams to get in the holiday spirit.

The Candy Grams are on sale from December 16-20, and they will be delivered on December 20 to the first block of the student.

You can buy one for $ .50 or a bunch of three for $1 at lunch this week.

The money earned will go to help Penn Manor families in need, and a small proceed will go to the club itself to fund their first conference trip, said Mrs. Sheerer, the FCCLA Advisor.

The FCCLA Club has a total of 40 students. Students from each grade are involved with this club. This is the club’s second drive to raise money for families in the Penn Manor School District.

The Candy Gram includes your choice of a peppermint or fruity candy cane and a place for a message to send to a  friend for the holidays.

Changes to “The Bush” at Millersville causes controversy

By Harrison Wallace

The Bush’s plowed land where the new dorms and parking lot will be constructed. (Photo by Harrison Wallace)

The Bush’s plowed land where the new dorms and parking lot will be constructed. (Photo by Harrison Wallace)

The Bush, a wooded plot between Creek Drive and Centennial Drive or between Pucillo gym and Millersville’s new student parking lot, has been used to help students learn, getting job experience in the field and, now,  a living area. Now, the future of this plot of land is the subject of some debate.

The university created new dorms and a parking lot next to the bush property, and within this caused a bit of plowed area for a drainage pond.

Some at the university are unhappy with the changes to this piece of land.

Robert T. Smith, dean of MU’s science and math departments, told LancasterOnline, “I wish we had known in detail what was going to happen.”

“We’re trying to channel our anger, not unleash it,” said Daniel Yokom, a biology professor at Millersville University, to a staff writer at LancasterOnline.  “I saw people weeping in the hallways when they heard the news.”

This is also the underlying anger with this new construction to the Bush which is that faculty, staff and students were not let in on the construction until after the decision was made.

“It was in the Bush where I learned about the invasive qualities of non-native plants and what types of removal and restoration techniques are best,” said Rebecca McCabe, a student at Millersville university.

Dr. Ken Miller, a retired biology professor from Millersville University, told LancasterOnline, “Taking field trips out here brought people together with the beautiful wildflowers in the spring.”

The biggest difference will be finding in ways to use the Bush for the biology classes.

“For the short term, the Bush has lost some species diversity, and it is likely that weedy, non-native plants will grow up in their place unless we actively manage and restore the Bush, but in the long term no major effects will occur,” said Dr. Chris Hardy, a botany professor at Millersville, in an email.

“We can monitor what begins to grow in newly formed edge habitats,” said Andrew Wolfgang, a student at Millersville university.

Another good reason to do this is for the student’s living arrangements.

“Well, the Bush was hurt because of construction of new dorms. The new dorms should attract new students to the university,” said Dr. Hardy.

Some students and faculty criticized the way the project was handled.

“So many departments and classes could have assisted with the design and planning, for example Aquatic Biology could have designed water infiltration methods from pervious surface to rain gardens,” said McCabe.

“There could have been a better way to do this,” Hardy said.

Music Fridays bring musicians to downtown Lancaster

By Elizabeth McIlhenney

Many people know about Lancaster’s First Friday, but what about Music Friday? On the third Friday of every month, the musicians of Lancaster County come out to the city and play on the sidewalks and street corners, or are hosted at select restaurants, stores and galleries.

A plethora of music styles are represented,  and with every turn, there is a new melody. Meandering the streets of Lancaster, walking down Gallery Row or maybe North Queen Street, one might hear a one man band on one street corner and a folk singer just down the way, with a vibrant sunset as a backdrop. During Music Friday, especially popular in the summer, people of all ages come to listen. Children accompanied by their parents play with the toy instruments set out by some musicians, and small crowds gather around to hear the artists’ music.

Next, stop by Building Character or Art and Glassworks. Art and Glassworks, for example, pays musicians to come and play in their courtyard, and opens their doors to the public for a free concert. One employee at Art and Glassworks, when asked about what she liked most about Music Friday, she said that she “liked to see the recurring faces.” This seems to be a common theme with Music Friday. People stop make sure to stop by and see their favorite musicians, and regular listeners are always greeted with a smile and a hello.

Another event, though not free, is the Signature Concert at Tellus360. This concernt features more acts, or special guests each Music Friday. Tickets are $10.

Partners and sponsors who make Music Friday is a long list, including the Mayor’s Office of Special Events, Music for Everyone, Series 42, Millersville University, and many more. On the the Mayor’s Office of Special Events website, www.lancastercityevents.com and the Music Friday link http://www.lancastercityevents.com/events/event-music-friday.asp there is more information about the events taking place in Music Friday, and some of the artists that are to play. The December Music Friday is set for December 20.

“The Walking Dead” contributes to zombie popularity

By Abbey Bailey

As long as you don’t live under a rock and have some sort of access to modern-day technology, you’ve probably heard of the “The Walking Dead.” The show is based on the comic book series written by Robert Kirkman, who also writes the show. It is on AMC, which have brought you other hits such as “Breaking Bad” and “Mad Men.”

The show is based around a Georgian sheriff, Rick Grimes, who falls into a coma due to an injury on the job and wakes up about three months into the zombie apocalypse. He survives by being locked inside his room; when he wakes up, he discovers the hospital graffitied, blood-spattered and utterly wrecked. One of the most iconic images of the show is the hospital doors that say “DON’T OPEN. DEAD INSIDE.” We see a pale, long-fingered zombie hand reach through the gap in the padlocked entryway towards Rick.

Season one is a mad scramble to stay alive, but seasons two and three build up an extensive plotline behind the “illness” that turns people into zombies, and how to keep protected, if it is even possible.

Currently in its fourth season, “The Walking Dead” has developed a large, almost cult-like following of obsessed viewers, myself included. After each episode, comedian Chris Hardwick does an hour-long segment called “Talking Dead” where cast and crew members of the show, celebrities and other superfans discuss the plot line and deeper meanings of that night’s episode.

Zombies have taken the place of vampires over the last couple years. People’s interest in zombies peaked in the summer of 2012 when reports came out of Miami, FL of a man mauling another man while on bath salts, a drug that has similar effects of cocaine and meth. The man was rumored to behave in a zombie-like manner, and this event got the public thinking about zombies and their behavior, or the possibility of a zombie apocalypse. Their increased popularity has resulted in movies like “World War Z” (June 2013) and video games like “Dead Rising 3” (November 2013) for Xbox One.

Penn Manor senior Caitlin Mahoney is a devoted follower of “The Walking Dead.” When asked why she loves the show so much, she said “It’s different from all of the other shows and movies about zombies. I like the way they presented the apocalypse. It gives the image of zombies a new perspective, and I think it helped to bring in a lot of new fans of the creatures.”

What would you do in the zombie apocalypse? Photographer Beth Cardwell of Lampeter-Strasburg is another avid “Walking Dead” fan and has a zombie survival kit her husband put together for her as a Christmas gift.

“I keep it in the front of my closet. This was put together as a zombie survival kit but it can also be useful in case of other emergencies,” says Cardwell. The supplies are pulled together in a handy waterproof backpack. It contains:

  1. hunting knife – it’s better to stab the zombies in the head. Gunshots attract them.

  2. tarp, duct tape, poly rope – for making shelters

  3. baseball bat

  4. waterproof matches and fire starter

  5. sewing kit

  6. MREs – made-ready meals

  7. solar powered radio + flashlight + phone charger – it gives your phone enough charge for one phone call

  8. first aid kit and handbook – because someone has to play doctor

  9. extra blanket, hand towels and bandana

  10. batteries

  11. face guard – because getting zombie guts on you is gross

The first three seasons of “The Walking Dead” are available on Netflix. The show is on every Sunday night at 9 on AMC. On October 29, the program was renewed for a fifth season.