Boys Basketball Wins Home Opener Against Ephrata: Analysis


By Jake Herr

The sea of white slowly fills into the bleachers as Penn Manor’s boys basketball team prepares for their first home game of the 2015 season on Dec. 10 against the Ephrata Mounts. “White Out” was the theme of the game for Penn Manor’s student section.

It was also Penn Manor’s annual “Box Out Cancer” game to show respect for the victims who had lost their lives to the disease or who are fighting it. After a moment of silence, the starters took the floor.

As word got out that Ephrata’s  star guard, Matthew McGillen had been placed on the disabled list, Penn Manor’s chances of coming away with a win only grew higher. Penn Manor dominated the first half, racking up 31 points and only allowed Ephrata to score 16.

Charlie Fisher, Ephrata’s first year head coach, must have given the Mounts a great pep-talk during halftime. The Mounts came out strong in the second quarter, silencing Penn Manor.

Ephrata went on a 15-0 run, controlling the whole court and put the Mounts within grasp of the Comets.

Seniors Eric Snyder and Sean Borden knew they could stop the bleeding Ephrata was causing. Snyder assisted Borden for a three point basket. After this shot, the Comets went on a 7-0 run answering to the Mounts.

Senior guard Nate Brown made a large contribution to the Comets win. Brown was the team’s leading scorer with a solid 12 points.

“We were sloppy at times but we found a way to win,” said Brown. “That’s what we came to do.”

Junior Cameron Lovett was right behind Brown’s stats with 11 points.

The Comets flew ahead of Ephrata to wrap up the game with a showing of solid offense and defense. The final score was 46-41, Penn Manor.

Ephrata fell to having a 0-3 overall record so far this season.  Penn Manor capped its second win and advanced to a 2-1 record. Their current record, after another win on December 16, is 3-2 overall, 2-1 league.

Penn Manor’s JV team won large with a final score of 29-49. Sophomore Roman Ali led the team with baskets, racking up 12 points.

Consumerism Overshadows Christmas

By Maria Lopezchristmas shopping

December has arrived, and with it all the magic of the season. Christmas is known for been the holiday that brings happiness and joy between families and friends, but what type of happiness are we looking for this time of the year? Many people see Christmas as the perfect moment to buy presents and most of all receive them. People also enjoy being surrounded by plenty of food and many of us forget the real meaning of the holiday.

It all started decades ago, when the marketing started to play with our heads. Christmas songs, lights, photos with Santa, and of course, presents, are part of the Christmas spirit that make customers spend every year more money.

Did you know that in the holidays of 2013, according to “The Center for Retail Research,” the United States retail industry generated around $3 trillion, which was 19.2 percent of the retail industry total sales for the entire year? Plenty of people start their spending in September and other people even earlier.

Christmas trees are a major thing that people buy during the holidays. In 2012 there were about 33 million real Christmas trees that were sold and each one costs an average of $35.30. Just imagine how much money is there!

People spend on gifts, food, drinks, decorations and Christmas travel. On average, people spend 59.2 percent of their money on gifts, 27.9 percent on food and drinks, 9.9 percent on Christmas travels and 3 percent on decorations. published a survey about the estimated Christmas spending of U.S. consumers from 1999 to 2015, and the result for 2015 was an average of $840.

This consumerism has change the holiday. Every year there is more spending and the real meaning of Christmas stays in the background. Each person decides how to celebrate the season. Don’t let the marketing make you forget the real meaning of Christmas.  

Seven Reasons Why Fantasy Football is the Worst Thing Ever

By Matt Tulli

Every fall, a large percentage of the American population enjoys playing football. It may be high school, college, professional, flag, whatever. Then there are those dummies who play fantasy football. Fantasy football isn’t even a sport. Also, it’s probably the worst thing ever. It takes no skill whatsoever, and you can play it sitting on your couch. It kinda sounds like poker that you play on those online-poker websites. Speaking of poker, why is it on ESPN all the time? People who call poker a sport probably also call tomatoes vegetables. They’re fruits. Culture yourself, people.

Anyway, what was I talking about? Oh yeah, fantasy football. It stinks. Here’s why, presented in list format:

  1. The draft. All fantasy football leagues require drafts before the season starts. You can choose to do either an auction draft, or the more popular draft that is like the regular NFL draft. Both are stupid. Basically, what happens is you either spend hours upon hours researching the best strategies and players to draft for the upcoming season, while your weird aunt (who nobody talks to, but you needed an extra player) will log on five minutes late but still end up picking Tom Brady (GOOD STRATEGY: Just put that thing on auto-draft. You might end up with 3 kickers and 4 tight ends, but hey, depth is the key to success.) At the end of the draft, you feel like you have the best team and you’re gonna win the whole thing Guess what? Don’t do that! Because… 
  2. Bad luck. … your quarterback will break his leg, your running back will tear his ACL, and your defense will be single-handedly beaten by rookie Tyroil Smoochie-Wallace. It’s inevitable.
  3. The player that nobody knows about.  The absolute worst. The aforementioned weird aunt’s 7th round pick, Tyroil Smoochie-Wallace from Northern Alabama Tech A&M, will put up 50 points in the first week, conveniently handing you a 15 point loss.

  4. The bench. Alternatively, you’re going to pick Tyroil Smoochie-Wallace, but since they’re playing the Seahawks week 1, you decide to bench him. Nice move! He puts up a 50-burger in the first week, but you didn’t play him. Turns out, this dude actually stinks in real life with the exception of his first game and you drop him after week 8.

  5. The bench, cont. Maybe you’re actually in a good position (i.e. you’re the weird aunt) and you have the luxury of starting one of two competent football players. Chances are, 11 out of 10 times you’re going to pick the wrong one. So, what I like to do is just not start either of them. Just have an open spot on your roster. You may not gain a physical victory, but you’re going to gain a moral victory since you saved yourself from the hurt of making the wrong decision.

  6. When another player gets points yours should have had. Imagine this: you need 7 points to beat your opponent. This is your last chance. Your running back takes the ball, and promptly gets tackled at the one yard line, leaving you literally a yard away from a victory. Okay, that’s fine, he’ll get the touchdown on- wait. What is this. He’s being taken out of the game? What do you mean he “broke his leg in 4 different places”? No excuses. Rub some dirt on that thing and get me my win.

  7. The fact that you’re going to play again next year. You may not want to, but you WILL be sucked into playing again by your cousin, i.e., the guy who goes all-out for the draft. This especially counts if you happen to be a Philadelphia fan, in which you’re just desperate to enjoy some sort of sport, even if the sport isn’t a sport altogether. Trust me, no matter how miserable you were watching your team fall apart this season, just wait until your weird aunt takes home the crown again next year.

Staff share interests and hobbies

By Brooke Swinehart

Students don’t always view staff as individuals, instead viewing them as  a whole. Teachers and staff members are people with interests and hobbies just like you and me.

Just knowing people in a work or school environment doesn’t necessarily depict what their interests are and some people might surprise you.

Percussion ensemble: What is it?

By Peyton Cassel

Senior Caleb Breidenbaugh plays a marimba.
Senior Caleb Breidenbaugh plays a marimba.


Percussion ensemble is a group that uses marimbas, vibraphones, bells, and other keyboard instruments to rehearse and perform during the school year. Directed by Luke Helker, the ensemble plays a variety of contemporary classical music. The group has 18 members total, and its participants are Penn Manor High School students.

According to Mr. Helker, “the percussion ensemble itself is a relatively new type of performing ensemble … but has grown in popularity.” It’s resulted in an “abundance” of things to play, and focuses on “providing musicians of all ages and skills the opportunity to be exposed to a new world of contemporary chamber music.”

Despite how new percussion ensembles are, this is not Penn Manor’s first year at it.

“I actually founded the ensemble in the fall of 2012, and we had our first performance that following spring,” said Helker. “It’s taken a while for it to get up and running, but it is now functioning like a well-oiled machine.”

Helker enjoys teaching students who are eager enough to try something new and helps them learn musical “history, theory, and etiquette” to prepare them for a musical career or path they might choose in the future.

Katherine Green, a freshman in the ensemble, described it as, “a great experience to learn multiple percussion instruments.”

Musical skill or background is not required, but is recommended if you’re looking to join. Caleb Breidenbaugh, a senior in the ensemble, said, “we have several students who were not percussionists before they joined, so whether you’re an experienced percussionist or just someone who’s interested in learning the basics, there’s something here for everyone.”

While there are no openings for students to join this semester, the group will have openings available for the spring semester.

“If anyone is interested in performing with us next semester, you’re more than welcome to get in touch,” said Helker. “Not all of the music has been selected, so we can take as many interested students as possible.”
The ensemble rehearses at the high school every Thursday from 6-9 p.m. during the school year. Rehearsals are held in the band room (249). 

Interstellar provides sneak peek of future

By Parker Wales

interstellarDirector Christopher Nolan becomes the all-seeing eyes into our future in his new movie Interstellar. Planet Earth meets its greatest environmental disaster. The Earth suffers blight and a gigantic dust bowl that slowly causes it to become uninhabitable.

Joe Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), the main character of the movie, is a former member of NASA now living with his daughter Murph (Jessica Chastain) and father-in-law Donald (John Lithgow). Murph was getting in trouble at school claiming that the moon landing was fake to justify the “wasting” of important resources on the space program.

NASA has gone underground and came up with a plan to save the Earth’s population. This top-secret operation requires Coop to be the commander along side of his former mentor Dr. Brand (Anne Hathaway). The operation requires the use of a worm-hole to another galaxy where Brand thinks there is intelligent life.

There are major sacrifices that Coop has to face with his family. Decades pass on earth with messages coming from Murph. Coop plays them back, and creates one of the best scenes of the movie.

The height of the movie presents itself with the exploration into the wormhole. This mind-blowing scene shows the sheer extent of our imagination. Interstellar is movie of suspense and emotion reveals a “sneak peek” into what could be our future.

Penn Manor High School prepares for fall musical

By Peyton Cassel

The fall musical is more than it seems   a comedy, a spelling bee, a play. The 25th Annual Putnam Spelling Bee is a production with audience participation that changes from show to show. According to Mrs. Melissa Minzter, co-director of the play, Penn Manor High School has never done a performance like this before.     

The show features nine different characters, and each is known to have personalities that affect the outcome.

“There is such a wide range of characters: from monotone, to crazy … to the snottiest person you will ever meet,” said Gabby Martino, a sophomore cast as Marcy Park.

Cast members and directors are not the only ones excited.

Aly Whiteman is a sophomore involved in sound crew, a group that is in charge of sound effects and other technicalities during the play. “We know that many people might not know this play, but give it a chance!” said Whiteman. “It’s a hilarious musical filled with audience participation and funny characters that pull you into the story.”

Alex Patterson, another sophomore cast in the musical, describes the show as “funny, entertaining, and a hands-on experience.”

The 25th Annual Putnam Spelling Bee won’t perform just in Penn Manor. The theater department is taking its “show on the road” to the Pennsylvania Thespians State Conference December 3-5.

“It’s a get-together of all of Pennsylvania’s theater groups, where we get to do different activities that help us progress and become better in our theater program,” Martino said. “Only a couple schools are chosen to perform.”

According to Mrs. Minzter, this is the third time that Penn Manor will take its show to the conference. However, it’s been nearly four years since the last one.

The musical takes place in the high school auditorium on November 20-21, starting at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $8 for adults and $6 for students and senior citizens.

Is going to a four-year university worth it?

By Matt Tulli

For seniors, this is the time of your educational career that you’ve been preparing for since kindergarten: college applications. Since 9th grade, you’ve been getting nagged by administrators to research colleges, majors, and careers, fill out résumés, complete graduation projects and everything else that comes with those repetitive class meetings. You are now entering into one of the most important, memorable and expensive times of your live.

With so many different post-secondary opportunities students are given, like technical schools and community colleges, it seems as if university is getting less and less necessary to obtain the skills that are needed for a career. Many jobs are available to people with just two-year degrees, and the student loan debt is just a fraction of what it would be at a four-year school. So, is college actually worth it?

Well, that’s a tough question to answer. It all depends on where you go to college and under what circumstances. Some students are lucky enough to have their parents pay for college, some are good enough athletes to get scholarships, some get financial aid, you name it. But let’s assume that a student is paying for his or herself and going to a four-year university.

A student going to a public, four-year, in-state college is looking at paying about $9,139 tuition per year, on top of about $9,804 for room-and-board and other fees, bringing the total to $18,943, according to And for four years, this total is $75,772. This student will have to take out a student loan of about $45,000, and this will build interest, to let’s say $55,000. So, in total, this student will be paying $85,772 for college.

So while the fun of college is happening to this guy, he could actually have been working in a career that he could have gotten right out of high-school, or at a career that he could have gotten after just two years of college. This is called opportunity cost.

Let’s estimate here and say that this student has to make $160,000 dollars more than he would have if he wouldn’t have gone to college (factoring in cost for college, opportunity cost, and inflation).

So let’s do the math: this student has to make up $160,000 of earnings in about 50 years to have college pay for itself. An average work year consists of 2,000 hours. In fifty years, this is 100,000 hours. $160,000 divided by 100,000 is $1.60. So, this guy needs to make $1.60 more per hour than he would have had he decided not to go to a four-year university.

On average, a person who doesn’t go to college makes an average of $35,030 ($17.52/hour). A college graduate makes an average of $57,655 ($28.83/hour). In these cases, college has paid for itself plus about $9.70 per hour. 
Now, I realize that these are rough estimates and that this is based on averages. There are plenty of cases where these statistics would not apply. But, for all intents and purposes, this says that college is well worth it. Also, I realize that the career field you would like to go in to requires or doesn’t require college. I’m not saying you must go to college to enjoy your career; I’m just showing that based on median tuitions, salaries, and work hours, college does indeed pay for itself.

Penn Manor acknowledges National Bullying Prevention Month

By Brooke Swinehart

October is National Bullying Prevention M

Students were encouraged to wear blue on Friday, October 30 to “ Boo The Bullies.”
Students were encouraged to wear blue on Friday, October 30 to “ Boo The Bullies.”

onth. The purpose is to unite, and raise awareness in communities nationwide to educate and raise awareness of bullying prevention.

Penn Manor has an Aevidum club that creates a positive mental health environment, where all students feel accepted, acknowledged, appreciated, and cared for in schools.

“ Aevidum has helped (with bullying), but just to make everyone feel comfortable,” said senior Jacob Herr.

“I believe the programs should be continued and supported. I’ve seen an impact,” said senior Jack Whalen.

Senior Michael Campion believes that to stop bullying, the school needs “to give harsher punishments for bullying happening in school.”

Aevidum tries to encourage students to reach out if they are being bullied or see a classmate being bullied.

“Sadly, we know there are students in this building who are bullied or treated poorly by others. There are students who feel alone. But Aevidum wants those students to know they are not alone and each student deserves dignity,” said Ms. Maria Vita, psychology teacher and one of Avevidum’s leaders. “There are adults and caring students who want to assist anyone struggling with bullying or psychological stress. Speak out if you are being bullied or if you feel alone. Aevidum cares and we have your back.”

Other Penn Manor staff members addressed what they do about bullying as well.

“I like to think I can contribute to installing positive mindsets and behaviors in our students. Anyone can be a victim and anyone can become an abuser. I will continue to teach caring, consideration, compassion and being sincere as contribution to students while they become mature young adults,” said Mrs Barbara Trostle, library aide, also adding,” A negative mind will never give you a positive life!”

What I wish my teacher knew: many students struggle with anxiety

By Brooke Swinehart

Mrs. Gail Ulmer is one of the counselors available to assist students who are struggling.
Mrs. Gail Ulmer is one of the counselors available to assist students who are struggling.

Penn Points recently surveyed Penn Manor students to ask what they wish their teachers knew about them. Participation was voluntary and anonymous and included students from all grade levels. Here are some responses:

“I have panic attacks because of school sometimes.”

“ That I’m severely depressed and I have a hard time getting work done on time.”

“How bad my anxiety and depression affect me sometimes.”

Notice the similarities?

Out of the students who responded, 27 percent mentioned struggling with stress, schoolwork, anxiety and depression.

“We’re seeing much more of school avoidance and anxiety within the past two to three years,” said guidance counselor Mrs. Gail Ulmer.

Anxiety and depression are difficult topics to cover considering many individuals don’t know how to start the conversation.  Removing the stigma of mental illness is something not only necessary for Penn Manor, but as a community.

“One third of the students I see are struggling with anxiety or some form of mental health distress. All of these we see regularly and we’re not surprised when it comes up,” said guidance counselor Mrs. Melissa Ostrowski.

“How much stress seniors are under, ALL THE TIME.”

“That not everyone has a good home life, before you label someone as a “druggy” maybe consider they use that to cope.”

“How to handle the personal hardships of students.”

Papers that are available to students in the counseling office.
Resources that are available to students in the counseling office.

“Everybody is struggling, and nobody is talking about it.” said Tere Villibrandt, who is a therapist at Samaritan Counseling Center and screens Penn Manor freshman for signs of depression.

Students can always schedule an appointment to talk to a counselor for any reason. There are different documents available to students in the counseling office concerning topics like depression, anxiety, self harm, substance abuse and eating disorders.

“They don’t have an adult to talk to,” said Mrs. Ostrowski, explaining what she commonly hears from students that concerned her. “The older I get, and the more I grow as a person, I wish every single kid had one caring adult to talk to. We all need that in this world. It’s only natural that that kid would experience insecurities and anxieties.”

The responses that were received should show students and others in the community that they, in fact, are not alone, and other individuals feel the same way.

“Students can be more comfortable with it to understand that everybody at some point in their lives experiences anxiety and experiences depression. That it’s normal, to talk about it but not make it a small thing. I say normalizing without minimizing” said Villibrandt.