Students react to rumors

By Brooke Swinehart

Penn Manor High School is operating like normal schedule today after rumors circulated about gun threats in school.

According to Lancaster Online, a male student said on Thursday that he was going to bring a gun to school and use it against the administration. Another student heard the threat being made and reported it.

Currently, the student who made threats has been removed from school and faces disciplinary and legal action.  

“If a situation like this happens, the first focus is safety for everyone. We may notify family, but there is a different method for every issue and if everyone needs to be aware. If students don’t need to be aware we will deal with it as a disciplinary action. If students don’t hear any news, just trust the administration,” said principal Dr. Phil Gale.

Students had a range of reactions about the rumors today.

“I didn’t know about it till after second block. My sister’s first block talked about it the whole period. I wasn’t nervous at all because other schools had bomb and shooting threats, and that was taken care of,” said senior Olivia Hertzler.

“I heard about it yesterday night. I saw something about a shooting on facebook, and then someone posted something about it on snapchat. I was kind of nervous. When I heard the kid was arrested, I wasn’t as scared. It was also good to see cops here,” said junior Candace Leaman.

“I wasn’t that nervous because some kids just say stuff and don’t mean it,” said junior Jaymie DeJesus.

“I heard about the threat on Facebook. Yes, I was nervous because I didn’t want to get shot. My one friend didn’t even come in because he didn’t want to risk it,” said junior Scott Thatcher.

“I was nervous when walking from my car when I saw the police car sitting outside administration that kind of made me a little nervous,” said junior Parker Wales.

“A kid on my bus said that there was a gun threat. Yes, I was nervous; nobody notified anybody. There wasn’t a call home and I didn’t find out about it till I was at school. My mom would of kept me home,” said junior Vincent Fiorella.

“I found out in first block, and I believe they had already caught him. I was nervous because it was right after the shooting in Oregon. I was stressed because we could be next,” said junior Zachary Holsinger.
The district published a statement late Thursday night that acknowledged that an incident had been reported and dealt with.

Penn Manor administration reacts to local school threats

By Brooke Swinehart

School districts around Lancaster County have been receiving bomb threats. According to Lancaster Newspapers, students at Cocalico, Donegal, and Ephrata high schools were arrested due to the bomb threats. Incidents are still being investigated at Conestoga Valley High School, Lampeter Strasburg High School, and Smoketown Elementary in the Conestoga Valley School District.

On September 24, a male, 15, was charged with 20 counts of terroristic threats, causing false alarm, and three counts of making threats to use weapons of mass destruction. The charges including a total of 20 threats between September 10 and 16 with 13 schools involved. On September 30, a female student was arrested for making threats to Manheim Township High School by writing threats on the bathrooms stalls, which caused the school to be evacuated twice within a week.

“A shame it happens, and is such a waste of resources and energy,” said Dr. Phillip Gale.

Although there have been threats at a number of neighboring school districts, Penn Manor has been unaffected and administrators don’t expect an issue.

“I would like to think I know my students, so no.” said Officer Jason Hottenstein, school resource officer. “The reality is there is always a possibility, but as an administration we make sure we’re prepared, and have our policies in place, if it were to occur.”

“Its very concerning that that kind of behavior (is happening).” said Mr. Hottenstein.

But if a threat were to be made, the administration is prepared to keep Penn Manor faculty and students safe.

“We would follow the policy whatever the situation dictates. That could include evacuation, bomb sniffing dogs, and letters home.” Mr. Hottenstein said.

Mr. Hottenstein said the consequences for a student who made a threat would be a “criminal catastrophe.”
“That’s 1,800 kids at risk from one threat that may not be true. Then there’s also the school side of it which would be the student being expelled.”

Penn Manor changes cell phone policy

By Brooke Swinehart

Students at Penn Manor High School are now allowed to use cell phones in the hallways between classes.
Students at Penn Manor High School are now allowed to use cell phones in the hallways between classes.

Students attending Penn Manor High School are now allowed to use their cell phones and other devices during the day.

The Penn Manor school board revised the cell phone policy to adjust to the the rise of technology. Students are now allowed to use cell phones during lunch and in the hallways. The student body is allowed to have one earbud in for music in the hallways. In case an emergency happens the student will still be able to hear and be in a more safe situation versus having both earbuds in.

The former policy was that students were only allowed to use their cell phones when permitted by teachers for school-related purposes.

Dr. Gale explained that the revision was needed.

“I felt it was necessary because (as an administration) we were saying here’s a laptop, but put your cell phone away.”

When asked their opinions, students reacted positively to the new cell phone policy.

“I think it was a good choice because people can wake up more by listening to music,” said sophomore Rayssa Velez.

“I believe the environment has changed in the hallway. People who listen to music are more tolerable of others,” said senior Angela Wood.

Out of the students’ questioned most agreed that they gained respect for the principals and Penn Manor faculty for reevaluating the cell phone policy.

“I did gain respect for the principals and faculty, because it shows that they trust us more, and that they have the expectation for us be responsible,” said senior Olivia Hertzler.

“I gained respect because it showed that they cared what the students had to say, worked together, and constructed a new policy,” said senior Daniel Bleacher.

Teachers also commonly agreed that the revision of the cell phone policy was essential here at Penn Manor.

“The new policy is fair and reasonable. I’m not anti-technology I’m just anti- distraction,” said English teacher Mrs. Saylor.

Teachers have the choice to have a cell phone free zone sign in their classroom.

Mr. Staub poses with his no-cell-phone sign.
Mr. Staub poses with his no-cell-phone sign.

Math teacher Mr. Staub is one of the many teachers who decided to display a cell phone free classroom sign. He explained that he had the sign, “… as a reminder to not have cell phones out.”

English teacher Dr. McGough does not display a sign that doesn’t allow cell phones.

“No, never have. I encouraged students to bring your own devices (B.Y.O.D) before the school provided laptops.” He also had a positive outlook about the new policy. “[The school has]… started to recognize handheld and digital devices in our everyday lives.”

Teachers were also asked if the students’ overall attitudes changed since the new policy was put into place. All of the teachers asked thought the students’ attitudes did not change.

In order to make the revision many opinions were considered, and discussed.

Dr. Gale explained how the decision was made. “[We] talked as an administration team, met with students and surveyed teachers.”

Despite the positive comments, some don’t believe the policy will stay the same for long.

Dr. McGough stated that although he thought the policy was fair for the teachers, faculty, and students, “ (the policy will)… continue to evolve as things change. As technology changes the policy has to change.”

Kramer to take over as high school principal

One would think that this man would be able to withstand a coup from math teacher Doug Kramer; however Kramer was able to overthrow Dr. Gale on April 1.
One would think that this man would be able to withstand a coup from math teacher Doug Kramer; however Kramer was able to overthrow Dr. Gale on April 1.

By Matt Tulli

Penn Manor math teacher Doug Kramer announces he will be taking over as head high school principal, effective tomorrow. Current principal Philip Gale’s tenure will end today, April 1, 2015.

After just under six years at the helm of the high school, Gale’s position will be overtaken immediately.

Though it may seem like a coup d’etat, Kramer insists that he thought he was the right man to take the position ever since it opened up in 2009.

Under Phil Gale, state-wide standardized testing scores have been well above state average. Also, over 70 percent of students have pursued post-secondary education, and student dropout rate has been far below state average.

“Mr. Kramer is going to make a good principal. He always comes to work with a positive attitude and is always willing to help any student who needs it,” remarked a Penn Manor sophomore.

Doug Kramer has taught math to students of all ages, ranging from ninth to twelfth grade, so he has experience with kids of all ages.

“Well, I would say it’s a good decision but I’m just not sure how kid-friendly Mr. Kramer is. Everyday I would come out of his classroom with a headache from his lessons. Who even needs to know what the asymptote is of the trinomial on the board, or the sine of negative two-thirds pi?” remarked another Penn Manor student.

“Dr. Gale can sometimes be intimidating, and Mr. Kramer just doesn’t come off as that. I think that’s a good thing,” explained another student.

Sony Hacked by North Korea

By: Claudia Pluck

After Sony was hacked on November 24th, people set out to find out  who was responsible for infiltrating this big time movie company and why. According to Johnson and others from USA TODAY, when Sony was hacked on November 24th, red skeletons glowing appeared on screens in Culver City, California on Sony grounds.

USA TODAY says that it has been determined that North Korea was behind the elusive attacks. Johnson and the others also say that the U.S. investigators say that the attacks might not have taken place in North Korea, but outside of the country and was still coordinated by the North Korean leaders. They also say that on Tuesday of last week the hackers, who officially call themselves the Guardians of Peace, would attack all movie theaters that would play the movie The Interview, in a 9/11 type of attack. The reason for not wanting the movie to be released in theaters is that it depicts two American TV journalists, played by Seth Rogen and James Franco, who travel to North Korea to assassinate Kim Jong-un. The movie was to be released on Christmas day, but Sony has decided to not release the film now.

According to USA TODAY, the hackers stole more than 38 million files and put them on to websites where people could see the movies, some of which were not yet released. They say that the files included things like Sony films, the script to the newest James Bond movie, and personal information such as staff salary reports.

Johnson and the others also say that this is something that they haven’t seen since around the 1990’s when people would hack into places and laugh later on about how cool they were for doing it. They also say that this is not the first time North Korea has been suspected for hacking into places because they didn’t agree with the people .


Shooting at Floridia State University

by Jordan Higgins

On November 20th at about 12:30 AM 3 students were injured at Florida State University’s library. The University made an announcement that the students should find shelter. The police also announced to the students and faculty that a shooting has occurred, and that they would search the library building. The Tallahassee Police Department said that the gunman fired 4 gunshots at the library. The police had ordered him to drop his weapon on the stairs to the library, but the gunman opened fire at the police and they shot him to his death.

John Thrasher the University President had this to say, “The Florida State University community is extremely saddened by the shootings that took place early this morning at Strozier Library, in the very heart of campus, and our thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of all those who have been affected.” The situation has appeared to be under control after 2 AM. The Police confirmed that the 3 students were taken to the hospital. The University remained open on November 20th, but all classes were cancelled due to this shooting that had gone on earlier this morning. The security on and around the campus was immediately increased.

Information from Circa news app 

Comet Nation

by Matt Tulli

In the lower right corner of the south stands of Biemesderfer Stadium resides the NUMBER ONE student section in the Lancaster-Lebanon League. We call ourselves Comet Nation, and we’re louder and prouder than the competition.

Recently, Penn Manor was voted as the number one fan base in the L-L League, as Mr. Roth told us at the Homecoming pep rally on October 10th, and a large part of that is because of Comet Nation who shows up game in and game out, even going as far away as Dallastown to cheer on the Comets.

It all starts with the “Comet Boys”, who bring the energy each Friday night. Every year, the craziest and most spirited incoming seniors are designated as the “Comet Boys”; they write “COMETS!” across their chests and scream and yell their heads off for 48 minutes a game. The 2014 Comet Boys are: Jack Elliot (C), Mike Coakley (O), Nate Deberdine (M), Wyatt Barnett (E), Joey Dell’Estate (T), Nick Kirk (S), and Colin Groff (!). The Comet Boys are the leaders of chants, like “Let’s Go Comets,” “Move the Chains,” and of course, “Comet Nation!” Usually, the Comet Boys declare a theme for the members of Comet Nation to follow; for example, at the McCaskey game, we all wore silly hats. At the Lampeter-Strasburg game, the theme was Red, White, and Blue night in honor of the armed forces (it was Military Night), and at home against Manheim Township, the theme was pink for the district-wide breast cancer awareness week.

Not to mention, of course, how would these experiences be remembered if it wasn’t for our photographer, Will Forrey?

“I got asked to take pictures, and I wasn’t really up for the idea because I would have to focus on that more than the game itself,” Will says. “But I got a free Comet Nation T-Shirt for doing it and I was promised to be picked as a Comet Boy for next year, so I decided to do it.” Will takes hundreds of high-quality pictures per game and posts them on the Comet Nation 2014 Facebook page. The Comet Boys also run a Twitter account, @CometNation2014.

The game at Hempfield, in particular, was amazing. The theme was orange in memory of Greg Frey, and Comet Nation got a very large turnout, about the size of most of our home games. The Comets fell behind 17-7, but roared back in the second half. We were going crazy.

“I got so hype just because: number one, its Hempfield, but number two, it was a great game. Even though we didn’t play well in the first half, we bounced back and took over in the second half. But also the theme was in memory of Greg, so it was cool to see his parents taking pictures of us and seeming so happy of what we were doing,” remarked junior Jacob Herr.

Last year, as a freshman, I didn’t experience Comet Nation as much as I should have. I would occasionally venture into the back rows of it and stay there for only about a quarter per game. But this year, I’ve come to every game I could and screamed my throat sore (the only aftereffect of Friday nights). But freshman: I promise you this: Standing in the student section the entire game is much more fun than anything else you can do at a Penn Manor football game. But this year, I’ve been in the student section for every game except for the CV game, when I was on vacation. The atmosphere is amazing: you’ll meet new friends, support your Comets, and overall just have a good time.

The only thing that I don’t like about Comet Nation is that there is a very small turnout for basketball games. I remember back in many recent seasons (especially 2006-2007 when the Comets made it the whole way to the State Quarterfinals) when our basketball team was always at the top of the section, the Student Section almost always took up nearly the entire two section on the left side of the bleachers. The gym was packed with reporters, students, and fans alike. The atmosphere was always amazing in the East Gym. Now, we only take up maybe twelve rows of stands and we aren’t loud at all.

So this winter, I challenge Comet Nation to get the East Gym looking like this again:

America’s Precuations for Ebola

by Jordan Higgins

The U.S. government is responding to citizen’s concerns about the spreading of Ebola. They’re trying to think of new steps and ideas that will keep this disease from spreading. On October 21st, Homeland Security announced that all flights from West Africa should arrive at 5 U.S. airports. The planes are going to Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea. West Africa has the highest cases of Ebola. The world wouldn’t have ever heard of Ebola if it wasn’t for West Africa. Since Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea are in West Africa, they have it the worst. In these 3 countries there have been 13,700 confirmed or suspected cases of Ebola. About 4,800 people have died there and it’s still growing.

Jeh Johnson, Secretary of Homeland Security said, “We are working closely with the airlines to implement these restrictions with minimal travel disruption. If not already handled by the airlines, the few impacted travelers should contact the airlines for rebooking, as needed.” An estimate of 150 people each day arrive in the U.S. from those 3 countries. Not only is the U.S. taking precaution; the U.K has also amplified its screenings at its airports to check for Ebola.

On October 22nd the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) enforced new rules on the travelers arriving into the U.S. from these 3 countries. The rule for the passengers is that they need to have their temperature checked each day for 21 days and report back to the health officials to see if they’re ok to travel. This new rule will begin on October 27th.


The Idea of Arming Teaching Will Be Shot Down, Eventually

by Matthew Tulli

A proposed Pennsylvania bill by State Sen. Don White (R-Indiana) would allow school employees, after obtaining licensing and certification, to carry concealed weapons at school. And by “school faculty”, I don’t just mean teachers. By “school faculty”, I mean teachers, principals, counselors, custodians, lunch ladies, etc.

This is obviously getting a lot of backlash from Democrats, who stand far apart from the views of many Republican Senators. Sen. Anthony Williams, D-Philadelphia, said, “It is a bad idea to place such a grave responsibility on people whose principal interest is educating children,” according to The Washington Times.

At first reading that statement seems ridiculous, and that’s exactly what it is. Obviously a reaction to recent massacres like Aurora, Colorado, Columbine High School and Sandy Hook, the solution will not be found in arming teachers. Although tragedies like this do happen, putting a gun in the hands of an individual takes a lot of trust, more than I think we are able to invest for such a rare occurrence. Instead of giving teachers weapons, we should hire more qualified, highly screened security guards, if more security is necessary.

There are many problems with the idea of allowing faculty to carry weapons. First off, the ability for schools to put a firearm in the hands of all school faculty at the over 3,290 schools in Pennsylvania sounds to me like a very dangerous proposition. The guns are being put exactly where we do not want them: in schools. It seems to contradicting the point of the the bill, which is to supposedly to protect students. What happens when a seemingly sane teacher pulls a gun on a student? Or what happens when a student gets his hands on one of these guns? This proposal brings up many more ramifications that exist now. I think it would be natural for students to feel uneasy about knowing their teachers are in possession of a deadly weapon. I’m sure that feeling would wear away within a little while, but it’s still going to sit in the back of our minds.

Secondly, Adam Lanza, the shooter at Sandy Hook Elementary used a fully-automatic military grade assault rifle to murder those 26 people. I’m not sure he would be too fazed about some teachers carrying around small pistols, considering he committed suicide after first responders arrived at the scene.

Third, with school budgets already tight, and the money spent on the certification and training programs would just make education costs tighter. Would it costs the school district to buy the weapons? Would it costs schools to train the faculty? If the answers to these questions are “yes”, it brings me back to the question: Is this really necessary?

Why do you think we have an armed officer, Mr. Hottenstein? Why do you think our doors are locked at all times? Why do you think there’s a 2-way mirror in the office? These innovations are here to keep all 2000 students and faculty safe throughout the school day in today’s dangerous world. So is putting a deadly weapon in the hands of over 125,000 teachers reasonable? My answer is no.

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.

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.”