Bob Marley Fans Accused of Being Potheads?

If you find yourself wearing a hemp necklace, pacifier, mushroom beads, or even a Bob Marley t-shirt you are a pothead. If you find yourself wearing a hemp necklace, pacifier, mushroom beads, or even a Bob Marley t-shirt some people may perceive you as a pothead.

These two sentences are not that different from each other, yet half of the junior class heard the first sentence, from Student Assistance Program Director, Darrin Donmoyer, and the other half heard the second sentence from the exact same information at an assembly held for eleventh grade students on Tuesday, October 6.

Monica Drumm was one of those students who happened to hear the first sentence. “It offended a lot of people,” said Drumm who later reflected that, “anyone hearing those things (referring to Donmoyer’s comment) had a problem.”

The anger of many students could be easily seen from the sudden outburst of Facebook comments, and the planning of a “hemp day” where students planned to protest Donmoyer’s comments.

A clarification: Mr. Donmoyer insists he did not call anyone a pothead. In fact, the topic of Tuesday’s speech, he said, was how some people make perceptions and that it is a fact the people wearing hemp necklaces are sometimes perceived as potheads.

This was all meant as a warning to students, said Donmoyer, about how easy it is to make a perception.

Principal Phil Gale explained that if students had actually listened to the entire message, they would have found that message fine as it was presented.

According to Gale, the problem was “kids stopped listening.”

The following Wednesday, the senior class trudged into the auditorium, with their coffee and their breakfast, and heard that same message. However, there were fewer misconceptions of Donmoyer’s intent than there were at the junior class assembly.

In response to the sudden uproar among students, Mr. Donmoyer said, “no one is accusing anyone of drug use, unfortunately some have assumed that.”

Donmoyer also believed, “I made it very clear. I made it very clear” just exactly the message he wanted juniors to get. “These are assumptions people still make.”

Gale added, “Appearance gives perception and no one wants to be falsely labeled.”

Donmoyer summed up his message by clarifying that the intention of the speech was to warn students of perceptions that people continue to make to this very day. It is something that continues to happen and that those perceptions do affect you as a person, your future, your family, and your integrity.

On the question of a “hemp day,” Gale responded that if that day would occur, and if it did result in a disruption in education, then the administration would, in fact, be forced to take disciplinary measures, and this could possibly include the banning of hemp necklaces.

By: Tyler Barnett

L-L Champs in Field Hockey!

The Penn Manor field hockey team has won its first section title since 1986.

The Comets beat Donegal 3-1 at an exciting game Oct. 22,  avenging last year’s loss to the Indians in the section title game.

The Comets scored their first goal when Nancy Stehman assisted Jill Witmer in the first sixteen minutes of the game with the team’s first shot on goal.

2009 L-L league field hockey champions
2009 L-L league field hockey champions

Coming into the game after halftime,  Kirsten Gochnauer scored the Indian’s first goal and tied the game.

Witmer then scored her second goal of the night, assisted again by Stehman with only six minutes into the second half.

Kelly Harsh then put the Comets in the lead for good, when she scored off of a tipped corner shot from Witmer.

By: Damien Oswald

Just Call It More Testing – Pa. Goes to Graduation Testing

Current eleventh grade students better get studying.  Pennsylvania today approved a plan to test students before they graduate.

They don’t pass, they don’t graduate.

The good news for students is they will no longer need to pass the PSSA tests; instead, they will be taking a series of tests, known as the Keystone Tests, in order to graduate.

The first tests will be on the subjects of biology, algebra and literature and are taking place next year. Thus, all current juniors will be forced to pass this test in order to graduate in 2011.

“We already have to pass classes and take finals and SATs, we shouldn’t have to take another” complained Penn Manor High School Junior, Emily Land.

According to a report in the Philadelphia Inquirer, the new tests offer little-to-no room for error. Any student that receives a grade score of “D” or lower receives a score of zero on the test.

And the tests come with a large price. It will take a reported $176 million to develop and administer the tests for the first year they take place. The following years, it will cost an estimated $31 million.

Junior Lauren Ressler, who will be among the first to take the Keystone Test, had this to say: “We do enough work as it is.”

And junior Jeff Ford was in agreement, “We shouldn’t have to take it.”

One advocacy group, Pennsylvania State Conference of NAACP fears that this new technique of testing will deny students diplomas just simply because they fail the test.

Along with the draft of this testing process, the State Education Board included that if a student would happen to fail the test, and re-fail the test a second time, what is being called a “special project” would be included in order to help students reach the credit needed.

Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate tests would also count toward the scores.

Though the tests are mandatory, the qualification for graduation is pending an individual school district board vote. If the school district decides not to include the tests mandatory to graduate, they will be forced to design their own way to measure the students’ skills.

“I knew it was coming, I think we are trying to show our students are growing in school,” said Mrs. Cox, who is also concerned about the cost of the tests. “I think we compete with a lot of countries and I wouldn’t be surprised if a universal curriculum isn’t created soon.”

By: Tyler Barnett

Witmer makes cover of ESPN Rise Magazine

From the Coop (nickname of her gym) to the hockey field, Jill Witmer has her sky blue eyes set on the stars.

Climbing her way to the top, Witmer, featured on the cover of this month’s “Rise” magazine, an ESPN high school edition, will try and reach the summit tonight as the Comets enter the L-L league championship game against Donegal at 7 P.M. at Manheim Central High School.

Witmer, who was never into field hockey in her younger years, already has a state championship under her belt, All-American honors and is the number one recruit in the nation. (Committed to Maryland)

“When I first tried it, I didn’t really like it much,” she says in the magazine “My dad said, ‘Just one more year, see how it goes when you get into ninth grade,’ so I went to play for Coach Soto. He was great, and I was hooked.”

Heading into her senior year Witmer has scored a total of 59 goals, 54 assists, and a team record of 71-11-3.

By: Damien Oswald

Wild Thing -There’s One in All of us

“Inside all of us is… hope. Inside all of us is… fear. Inside all of us is… adventure. Inside all of us is… a wild thing.”

Where the Wild Things Are is a heart-warming movie for all ages.  Maurice Sendak, is the author and genius of the classic children’s book, written in 1963 and adapted by Spike Jonze into a movie.max carol wild things

Though the text of the book contains only nine sentences, the pictures and emotions  say more than a thousand words ever could.  The movie turns the adventures of Max into a 94-minute movie, blended with humor, and based on the theme of escape.

The story is focused on Max, a creative and adventurous little boy, who constantly feels that he is alone in the world.  He runs away from home and escapes to an island where the wild things are.  They make Max their king, and they become friends.  In the end, it is obvious that home really is where the heart is.

The movie unites people.  It explores feelings that everyone can relate to, the loneliness of childhood and feeling like no one understood you.  The movie returns to a time when you felt alone and just wanted to run away to your own little world with no cares.   It is a fantastic movie for teenagers, adults, children and grand-parents.

The movie theater audience  was roaring with laughter almost the whole way through the movie.  The only time they were silent was the emotional and pensive parts.

All in all, this movie may be one of the best movies of 2009.  You just have to see it to believe it.

By: Alyssa Funk

When Pigs Fly at Penn Manor: fighting flu fears and flying phlegm

As the air gets colder and the wind gets stronger, more and more kids are coming into Penn Manor High School sick as dogs.

Parents have called with concerns to the nurses’ office with fears of a Swine Flu epidemic and Penn Manor nurse, Anne Butterfield, has calmly answered their calls of anxiety.

Photo Credit: Alex Geiger

Yes, this is flu season but no, not every sick kid has Swine Flu, known officially as H1N1, explained Butterfield.

However, Butterfield did note that she has been getting one to two calls a day from parents saying that doctors have diagnosed students with Swine Flu.

“Physicians are diagnosing H1N1 in our community,” she said, describing that flu strain as peculiar because of the way it hits people from ages 5 to 25.

Some of those students had come to Butterfield complaining about fever, body aches and a sore throat. As soon as she hears those symptoms, classic of Swine Flu and other influenza, she quarantines the students and sends them home.

“It’s a very contagious virus and it can make you feel very bad and can lead to secondary infections,” said Butterfield. “I think we need to do things to prevent it.”

As a nurse, Butterfield cannot diagnose Swine Flu on her own but she can give some helpful hints to stay in tip-top shape. Plenty of rest, good nutrition, washing your hands as much as possible and the most important one, stay away from sick people, no matter what the sickness, she advises.

“If you would get a sudden onset of high fever, see your doctor, because you can get an anti-viral medication that will lessen the severity of the symptoms and the length of time you have them,” stated Butterfield. “Stay home until you are FEVER FREE for at least 24 hours.”

People who are sick with the Swine Flu could be out for several days at a time, since Swine Flu typically lasts four days, according to Butterfield.  Students can email teachers and have family members or friends bring home work

Vaccinations are now available in other states and when it comes to Pennsylvania, Butterfield supports them.  She gave some advice. “Get vaccinated.

“Nothing is 100% but you’ll get pretty good coverage.”

Written by: Jake Shiner and Alex Blythe

Young Humanitarian League

The Young Humanitarian League was born at Penn Manor last year during a discussion in a modern world history class taught by Donna Brady.

The students were right in the middle of a class discussion about world poverty when they decided, then and there, they wanted to do something about it, recalled Brady.

The students felt that they could work toward their goal to help world poverty by contributing to the Heifer International organization – a  65-year-old initiative that sends pairs of animals to poor farmers around the world.

With a goal of  raising $5,000.  The club plans on sending between thirteen and sixteen pairs of animals around the world to poor farmers in need of livestock.

Last year the club raised $3,000 and is trying to raise more by selling gummy bears, hosting a  teacher dress-down day, having a stand at spring fling, and holding sub sales.

The original group has grown a lot from last year to this year, according to Brady.   The group has an active group of officers and a president. The current president of the club is Will Shipley.

The students have not yet met formally during club this school year but the gummy bear sale in Brady’s room is going strong.

Last year a student, Cody Diehl, donated $500 of his own money to the club.

Diehl is a young student who works on his great uncle’s farm. He worked on the farm for six months in order to donate the $500 to the club.

He sets aside 10 percent of his paycheck to donations every week.  He also donates to his church, Manor B.I.C. (Brethren In Christ).

“I feel great and thankful to help the less fortunate,”  said Diehl.

By Patrick Miller and Tyler Keith

Penn Manor Leading County Schools in Graduation Rates

Penn Manor’s graduation rate is top in the area and darn near perfect – 97.4 percent.

“A big credit goes to our teachers,” Phil Gale, Penn Manor’s head principal said about their top rate.

Gale was pleased to see Penn Manor at the top of the list for the second year in a row. The high school improved their rate by 0.5 from last year’s 96.9%. Their lead is only 0.2% ahead of Garden Spot, but it’s not a race or a competition. According to Gale, it’s about getting students on the right track after high school.

“No matter what, you need a high school diploma,” Gale noted, “We don’t want kids leaving, already set for failure.”

Other schools also have made progress, like McCaskey and Elizabethtown. Two years ago, McCaskey was in dead last with only 65 percent of their students graduating. Last year, the graduation rate jumped almost 17 percent to 82 percent.

According to the Lancaster New Era and Intelligencer Journal, they still rank low in the county but McCaskey Principal Dwight Nolt said, “For us to exceed 80 percent takes a lot of personal contact and many options for students.”

Elizabethtown is doing their part in trying to increase their graduation rate by hiring a student outreach worker to help troubled students, according to the same news report.  Also, they joined with Lancaster County Career and Technology Center to enroll more students in CTC evening credit programs.

Along with those schools and others, Penn Manor has many programs to help students with troubles. One option is twilight school. Twilight school is offered in the evenings and is for students who are unwilling or unable to go to school during the regular school day. The classes are smaller which helps students continue to work on their education and get a diploma at the end of their high school years.

Another option, even though it is used primarily for punishment, is Saturday school. While Saturday school may not be fun, it is a way for a student to get their detention hours over more quickly. Another useful point of Saturday school is to allow students to work on their graduation project which is a requirement to graduate. The new and improved graduation project now focuses on life after high school and what career fields students plan on entering into once they do graduate.

Not only do the school’s programs help struggling students to graduate, the staff themselves are encouraged to reach out to students and lend a helping hand, Gale explained.

“In some cases, (Mindish) would call them to make sure they were out of bed and meet with some kids,” Gale said about the ex-head principal he replaced this year, Dr. Jan Mindish, “I think we (head principal and all of the assistant principals from last year) all do.”

Gale intends to continue all of the programs that Mindish created to help students graduate, but plans to put a stronger emphasis on kids who are struggling with staying in school or just want to drop out for whatever reason. He wants to work one-on-one with students to convince them that dropping out is not the way to go and make a plan with them so they feel more confident about staying in school.

Gale said attendance, or the lack of it, is the main indicator that a student may be in trouble. Once any student’s absences go through the roof, then they may be seriously thinking about giving up on high school, he said.

Also, once they rack up the absences, their grades might go down and things just keep toppling down on them, Gale explained.

Whether it’s getting kicked out of the house and having to work a lot, alongside with going to school or a loss in the family, etc., Gale and the staff will, like Mindish would do, try and talk with them to change their mind about dropping out.

“I think we’ll maintain a high rate,” said Gail, who expects the district to push it even higher in the upcoming years.

By: Alex Geli and Jake Shiner

Penn Manor Gets a Touch of Color: Editorial

As more minorities roll into mostly white schools, the monster of racism recedes to the shadows, away from the unsuspecting innocent eye. Here in Penn Manor, a high school set in a small, rural college town in Millersville, Pa., opinions and views are growing more and more liberal in a community once immersed in conservative backgrounds.

When I came to Penn Manor School District several years ago it was a life-changing experience for me and a big cultural shock as well. I was born in Philadelphia, Pa., and I was educated in both Delaware County and Philadelphia city schools, two districts where the number of African American students exceeded all other races. I didn’t know what to expect of my new school.

According to Penn Manor’s own race-relations consultant, Quay Hanna, “A black student coming from a mostly urban area will struggle more, since he is not only trying to adapt as a minority student, but also because he is coming from a completely different cultural background.”

I couldn’t have agreed more with this comment.  The first day I came to Manor Middle it was me, my mom, aunt, grandmother. A counselor at the middle school had just gone over the rules and regulations with us and I was, at first surprised, at how lenient the school was. There was no dress code, no school security, and recess after lunch. I thought I’d just arrived in my picture-perfect school. Then within a week, reality hit me and the struggle began.

As I walked through the halls of Manor Middle that first week, I couldn’t help but notice all the attention I was getting. Eyes following me from class to class, at first I wondered, were they just curious as to who the new student was or were they staring at me because I was black. I decided it was both.

I can’t say I had trouble making friends in my new school because everyone seemed really friendly and helpful. But I also cannot say I didn’t have serious problems at the school either. A couple of months into the school year,  a racial incident sprung up one time during lunch. I was called the “N” word multiple times by a student while sitting at a table with some friends. Although this wasn’t the first time someone called me the “N” word, it was the first time it happened here for me. I reacted by pouring water on the student and giving them some words to remember. I felt this to be a fair response especially because this student was female.

As I stormed out of the cafeteria, heated and on the edge, I marched into the office of the middle school demanding to talk to somebody. The first person I saw was the vice principal.  I explained what happened, the principal was informed, my parents were contacted.

Throughout my first year in this school district, I started seeing different sides of people. But instead of thinking that all white people are racist like many of my peers do, I realized that judging a whole race on a few people is unfair and incorrect. I had to hate the concept of racism from both sides.

As time went by, I began having less racial incidents in school. Although I’m not having racial problems anymore, I’m not so sure the problem of racism has ceased. I think Penn Manor has come a long way but from what I see and hear, it still has a mile or two to go.

By: Robert Henry