News Features

An eye for detail: Judges look for perfection among entries




CENTRE HALL — Michele Morgan lifted the towel close to her eyes. She rubbed her hands across the picture cross-stitched onto the front. Then she flipped the item over.

“The back should be almost as neat as the front,” she said. “Here they put a fabric over it, but you can see the strings. That should have been clipped off.”

Morgan was one of more than a dozen judges at the Centre County Grange Encampment and Fair tasked with selecting the best items submitted in hundreds of categories; apple pies, canned vegetables, photographs, crocheted sweaters and collections are just a few examples.

In all, close to 6,000 items are submitted annually, and the winners were picked Friday.

Morgan, of Newport, Perry County, was judge in the needlecraft category. She’s been involved with fairs since she was 9, and she has a judge certification from Pennsylvania State Association of County Fairs.

On Friday, while looking at embroidered towels, she eyed the different techniques: One had French stitch, one had a simpler knot stitch, and the other had a cross-stitch combined with a running stitch.

“1142 is first,” she told Amy Eckley, a Grange Fair volunteer from Bellefonte. “Second is 199. Third is 157.”

Read more: An eye for detail.


Distance Learning: Boy with cancerous tumor keeps in touch with classmates from the hospital




PLEASANT GAP — In the classroom, third-grade students studied an egg carton full of rocks, trying to identify a hard, glassy-looking mineral with six sides.

On a computer screen was their classmate — Austin Stitzer, an 8-year-old boy with blue eyes and glasses. He was sitting in a hospital bed 95 miles away.

He had a bandage under one eye, and his head was red and scarred from radiation treatment and surgeries.

He also was examining rocks, trying to identify a hard, glassy-looking mineral with six sides.

“Austin, we’re doing quartz. Which one do you think it could be?” said Vincent Lawrence, a 9-year-old wearing a Superman T-shirt. “You said B? We agree, because it’s really the only six-sided crystal.”

Austin was born with a genetic disease — neurofibromatosis — that causes tumors to grow on nerve cells.
Read more: Distance Learning: Boy with cancerous tumor keeps in touch with classmates from the hospital.

Hannah Wallander, left, and Vincent Lawrence work with Austin Stitzer on a rocks and minerals science project through Skype. Pleasant Gap Elementary third grader Austin Stitzer has cancer and is being treated at Hershey Medical Center. Stitzer is continuing his education while getting treatment by ”Skyping” with his class on assignments. CDT/Nabil K. Mark March 1, 2011


Marcellus Shale: Workers finding a futre in drilling


TUESDAY, FEB. 15, 2011


PLEASANT GAP — This time last year, Eric Klinger, 19, made his living delivering pizzas. His friend, Matt Bartholomew, 20, worked in a factory that manufactured pharmaceutical products

Now, after a six-month course, they work for Halliburton, driving trucks, hauling supplies and doing some manual labor at natural gas drilling sites. They both started at salaries of between $45,000 and $55,00 a year — higher than the wages of most Pennsylvanians, according to U.S. census data.

“Nothing wrong with that,” Klinger said with a laugh.

Added Bartholomew: “The company that we’re in with, they’re saying 30 to 40 years they’ll be here. So it should be a reliable job.”

Klinger and Bartholomew are two of the thousands of workers hoping to make careers out of Marcellus Shale gas drilling.

Eric Klinger checks the oil level on an excavator during his Heavy Equipment Operations class at the Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology on Wednesday, January 12, 2011. CDT/Christopher Weddle

Read more: Workers finding a future in natural gas drilling.


High school anti-gay taunting gives way to acceptance for Penn State students


MONDAY, OCT. 25, 2010

By Ed Mahon

n seventh grade, one of Tom Bierly’s Bellefonte classmates put thumbtacks in his hand, then patted Bierly on the shoulder, causing him to bleed down his back. The pushing, tripping and shoving continued for years.

In middle school, Yvette Lerma’s basketball teammates called her a dyke repeatedly. She became depressed and attempted suicide at the age of 12.

Teasing and verbal abuse throughout high school led Julian Haas to try and change who he was. He joined the football team and changed how he dressed, talked and acted.

“I became a person I didn’t like, a person I didn’t even know,” he said.

All three were bullied because of their sexual orientation — or before they acknowledged being gay, for their perceived orientation.

Read more: Anti-gay taunting gives way to acceptance for Penn State students.

Julian Haas talks on the phone while working at the Penn State LGBTA Student Resource Center on Friday, October 22, 1010. CDT/Christopher Weddle


New teachers tested in tough economy


SUNDAY, JUNE 27, 2010


STATE COLLEGE — Tim Pawloski tackled several challenges during his yearlong internship at State College Area High School:

Make 18 students care about Shakespeare’s “Othello” — try comparing Iago’s frustration about being passed over as a chief lieutenant to a high schooler being passed over for a promotion at Weis.

Create a sense of community in the classroom — try “Yellow Fridays,” when every student in third period wears the same color.

Find a full-time job while districts across the state and country are eliminating teaching positions — Pawloski was still working on that one earlier this month.

“There are a lot of steps involved in looking for a teaching job. I’m still in this process, and it’s still very new and confusing and exciting,” Pawloski said.

And a challenge. School districts across the state are scaling back as they face decreasing local tax revenue and increasing health care and pension costs. Districts are also bracing for the last year of funds from the economic stimulus.

“A lot of jobs were saved this past year by the stimulus money,” said David Passmore, a Penn State education professor who studies labor markets. “I would not want to be on the finance committee of a school board right now.”

Read more: New teachers tested in tough economy.

Jessica Lehmann teaches an advanced tenth grade english class at State College Area High School South Building on Tuesday, June , 2010. CDT/Christopher Weddle

Read more: New teachers tested in tough economy.


The Great Math Debate: Parents, community, administration at odds over elementary curriculum


MONDAY, MAY 4, 2009


First-grader Matthew Allgeier wrote out the problem — 126+59+42 — in red marker on a large sheet of white paper. Instead of stacking the numbers, then carrying the digits, he broke the problem down. His answer, 227, was correct. On that much, everyone can agree.

But the curriculum behind Matthew’s technique has become a point of contention in the State College Area School District.

As of Sunday, about 385 people had signed an online petition calling on the district to eliminate its elementary math program, “Investigations in Number, Data and Space,” and a similar middle school program.

Read more: The Great Math Debate.


Teens give peace a chance

Four-week program helps Chester-area youth find healthy ways of resolving personal conflicts.


SUNDAY, JULY 20, 2008

Ali Richardson went aroundthe room in Chester, asking a dozen pre-teens and teens two questions: What do you say tostop two guys from shootingeach other? And how can youturn that statement into a song?

Cynthia Clark, 15, who hadbeen quiet for most of the first50 minutes of the lesson, popped out some lyrics, saying: “Have control. Be bold. Putdown your gun. And live for your son.”

Some “oohs” and applause broke out, and one studentcalled her M.C. Cynthia.

“That’s a good connection. That’s yours. You wrote that,”said Richardson, a 32-year-old musician from West Philadelphia and one of the presenters during this month’s Youth Arts and Peace Camp, organized by the nonprofit “Peace in the Streets … Peace on Earth!”

Read more: Teens give peace a chance.


A tribute to a soccer standout


SUNDAY, APRIL 13, 2008


In a struggling city that will have its own Major League Soccer team in a few years, Neal Regino is starting a league for amateurs.

The 22-year-old Prospect Park resident is trying to create a youth soccer program in Chester, a city of about 37,000 people, and ensure that a former teammate, William Trippley III, didn’t die in vain.

“For us, it’s not just about the soccer,” said Regino, who spent part of last weekend teaching 10 children, all 8 or younger, the basics: Stay in bounds, don’t use your hands, and shoot at the right goal.

“We need to reach these kids early, and make sure this kind of thing doesn’t happen again.”

Read more: A tribute to a soccer standout.


Practice makes perfect: Penn State music majors, State College fifth-graders share learning experience



MONDAY, OCT. 19, 2009

UNIVERSITY PARK — Kimberly Jones, 27, waved her hands, conducting the about 50 State College Area fifth-grade students as they performed Michael Sweeney’s “Imperium.”

In the back row, Penn State music professor Linda Thornton and one of Jones’ classmates performed what they jokingly called “triage.”

They helped the trumpet players find the right seats, told the drummers to slow down and knocked two cymbals together. Later, when it was their turn to stand at the podium, Jones returned the favor.

“Our job when we’re not conducting is just to help where it’s needed. … So that’s just what we do for each other,” said Thornton, “because six rehearsals is not a lot for fifth-graders.”

Read more: Practice Makes Perfect.

Penn State music education grad student Charles Weise, right, works the Radio Park Elementary students Owen Wing, left, and Jacob Pammer, middle, on the drums. Penn State music students have teamed up with the State College Area School District to get the students more experience. CDT/Nabil K. Mark October 14, 2009.

Park Forest Elementary student Ryan Hartman, left, and Penn State music education student Derek Rohaly, right, piay their trumpets together. Penn State music students have teamed up with the State College Area School District to get the students more experience. CDT/Nabil K. Mark October 14, 2009

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