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Retired teacher trades windsurfing lessons for charity donations

Retired windsurfing teacher trades lessons for charity donations

PUBLISHED IN THE CENTRE DAILY TIMES

SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 18, 2011

HOWARD — Standing up to his waist in Sayers Lake, Bill van den Berg watched Tom Gabrielson clamber onto the windsurfing board.

Both were bearded men with doctorates — van den Berg in biophysics, Gabrielson in acoustics.

But one of them was new to the sport. “I want you to get on the board and just walk around a little bit,” van den Berg told him. “Just get a feel — whoa.”

Gabrielson had slipped over and splashed into the water.

“All right,” said a laughing Gabrielson. “Got to get the first one out of the way.”

Van den Berg, 65, is a retired high school physics teacher, an amateur photographer and a budding windsurfing instructor. He first took up the sport 1996. In 2007, he retired from State College Area High School, bought a house about 500 yards from Sayers Lake and got certified by U.S. Sailing as a windsurfing instructor.

In lieu of a fee, he asks clients to make a donation of between $60 and $100 to Centre Volunteers in Medicine, the American Red Cross, or about 20 other nonprofits.

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Arborist reflect on role in Flight 93 cleanup

PUBLISHED IN THE CENTRE DAILY TIMES

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 10, 2011

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Rising Stars

 

PUBLISHED IN THE CENTRE DAILY TIMES

There are several team captains, club presidents and academic all-stars. There’s a chemistry tutor. A chef. A violinist. A dairy princess. A national anthem singer. A cheerleader. A counselor. A go-kart racer.

All 11 of these graduating seniors have already made an impact on their schools and communities. Together, they represent the accomplishment, potential and excellence of the class of 2011.

They were selected as Rising Stars by the Centre Daily Times and are featured in a 24-page special section in today’s edition. In that section, we also salute the graduates of each Centre County high school.

Rising Stars is a new program for the Centre Daily Times, coordinated by Ed Mahon.

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State College band directors marching into retirement

PUBLISHED IN THE CENTRE DAILY TIMES

SUNDAY, JANUARY 9, 2011

BY ED MAHON

On a cool November night, with two hours till kickoff, Richard Victor and John Kovalchik went through a routine they’ve performed most fall Friday nights for the past 35 years. This would be the last time they’d prepare for a home game in front of thousands of fans at Memorial Stadium in downtown State College.

Victor, the director, went high. And Kovalchik, the assistant director, went low.

From atop a ladder, Victor could look at the big picture, see if the almost 200 teenagers — clad in maroon and white uniforms and carrying tubas, drums, trumpets and other instruments — were marching in sync when they spelled out “ELVIS” while playing “Can’t Help Falling In Love.”

He reviewed a few last-minute details. But mostly he tried to get them psyched up, praising the enthusiasm with which they played a C major chord during warm-ups.

“Oh, is that a gift for me? I appreciate that,” he said, speaking through a microphone and sporting a Cheshire cat grin. “I was just looking down that trumpet line, and gosh, there were feet coming off the ground there.Wow. It was noticed.”

Kovalchik, meanwhile, walked among the students. He checked in with the rank leaders, made sure there were no unexpected absences, and checked that everyone had a pencil to mark their sets. He adjusted the drummers’ equipment. He tried to get into the middle of sections, to pin down any sour notes that can sometimes get lost in such a large band.

If students lost focus, he’d bring them back to attention with a sharp whistle, loud enough to cut through French horns, saxophones and chatter.

“How ’bout we play as a section, drums?” Kovalchik called out after one such whistle. He had no microphone and no grin, and could be heard throughout the parking lot.

Read more: State College band directors marching into retirement.

CDT PHOTO/MICHELLE BIXBY

State College Area marching band director Richard Victor, left,  chats with assistant director John Kovalchik during Victor’s last  home football game Nov. 5, 2010. Both are retiring after many  years with the school district.

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Woodlyn activist has got game(s)

PUBLISHED IN THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER

SUNDAY, MARCH 16, 2008

BY ED MAHON

Here’s who Lorre Jackson is: He gave himself the nickname “Sage” so long ago that one friend went years without knowing his full name. He caps most goodbyes with an “I love you, man.”

And when talking about the kids he mentors or most topics, he starts off serious, makes a joke in the same tone, pauses for a reaction, and then laughs with his whole body tilting back.

For instance: “They listen to me. They love me,” Jackson said of the youths, before adding the punch line. “They’d kill  a dead tree over me.”

Read more: Woodlyn activist has got game(s).

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Opposing viewpoints on the war

PUBLISHED IN THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 25, 2007

BY ED MAHON

The first day Rich Davis and Karen Porter knew there would be a large turnout for both their pro- and anti-Iraq war demonstrations, the two leaders said a prayer together over the phone.

Five weeks later, on the fifth anniversary of the Chester County Peace Movement’s first Saturday protest at High and Market Streets in West Chester, the two groups stood on opposite corners. In between, hundreds of people had turned out on both sides, the decibel level increased and relations soured.

Porter, whose Peace Movement has been protesting since before the Iraq war began, said she felt betrayed by a speech Davis gave in September in which he said, “the terrorists love it when they see protesters on TV.”
Davis was offended by the way an e-mail Porter sent out referred to members of his group, the Chester County Victory Movement. It described them, some of whom brought their motorcycles and wore jeans and leather, as “thugs” and “dressed up in costumes that only say, ‘I won’t hurt you because those cops are here — but I would if I could.’ ”

They’re both passionate people influenced by the Vietnam War, who say their movements would have eventually started without them.

But they’ve become the face for their causes, and have given up on trying to convince, or even talk to, each other. Here are their stories.

Read more: Opposing viewpoints on the war

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Beekpeeing is sweet deal for honey queen

PUBLISHED IN THE CENTRE DAILY TIMES

TUESDAY, APRIL 7, 2009

BY ED MAHON

SMULLTON — A sheet of newspaper separated Maya Althouse’s hand from 3 pounds of bees — totaling somewhere between 10,000 and 15,000 stingers. She later encouraged neighbors, who had stopped by to watch her set up the hive, to also touch the newspaper covering the hive. Her parents and 11-year-old sister Raven had done that about 15 minutes earlier, and emerged sting free.
“Put your hand on it, you can feel the heat they make. They’re all in a big mound right now on top,” said Althouse, clad in jeans, a sweatshirt and a beekeeper’s top that screened her face. She only took off her white gloves when trying to feel the heat that the swarm produced.
She quickly pulled up the newspaper, revealing to four neighborhood children the pile of bees, burrowing down into the hive, and a separate cage containing the queen. Althouse then fielded a question on stings.
It was the first large hive she has set up, but she’s growing used to teaching others about honey bees.
The Pennsylvania State Beekeepers Association named her the 2009 honey queen. It’s not a beauty pageant, but a search to find a honey industry spokeswoman and an advocate for honey bees, whose numbers have been dropping drastically in North America.

Read more: Beekeeping is sweet deal for honey queen.

This story was also picked up by the Associated Press and ran in The Philadelphia Inquirer: Honey Queen’s task to stir up buzz.

2009 Pennyslyvania Honey Queen Maya Althouse, of Smullton, sprays a swarm of 10,000 to 15,000 honey bees with a sugar-water solution to calm them before putting them into thier super. CDT/Michelle Bixby

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State High grad dies in helicopter crash

PUBLISHED IN THE CENTRE DAILY TIMES

FRIDAY, OCT. 30, 2009

BY ED MAHON

After his third tour of duty in Iraq, Michael Edward Weston wanted to decompress. So in the summer of 2007, he decided to kayak about 2,300 miles down the Mississippi River, from Minnesota to New Orleans.

“He had planned it to take two months, which was sort of reasonable,” said his mother, Judy Zarit, of State College. “He did it in one month.”

Friends and family members say Weston, 37, of Washington, D.C., brought that same devotion, dedication and passion to every aspect of his life: as a student at Harvard Law School; as the writer of the family’s humorous Christmas letters; as the minister at his brothers’ weddings; as a Marine major leading troops in Iraq; and as a Drug Enforcement Administration agent fighting the opium trade in Afghanistan.

“He cared about love of country, and ultimately, living life to the fullest,” said Damon Stevens, 36, who served with Weston in southern Iraq in 2003, during the beginning of that war.

“He always had to complete what he started,” Weston’s mother said in a telephone call from Washington, D.C.
Weston, a 1990 graduate of State College Area High School, was killed Monday, along with nine other Americans in a military helicopter crash in Afghanistan. He was among three DEA special agents deployed with troops returning from a drug raid in the western part of the country.

The cause of the crash is still under investigation.

Read more: State High grad dies in crash.

Friends and family said Mike Weston was always in motion and left a law career for Marines. Photo provided.

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He shows how managers line up

SUNDAY, APRIL 6, 2008

PUBLISHED IN THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER

BY ED MAHON

Most fans have two criteria for judging baseball managers: wins and losses.

Steve Wang has 23, and counting.

The Swarthmore College statistics professor became interested in numbers — which he once described as “condensed stories” — while a Yankees fan growing up in Rochester, N.Y.

Now, between trying to prove that most dinosaur species have yet to be discovered and teaching classes, Wang is creating a system to make it easier to describe a manager’s strengths and weaknesses the way runs batted in, on-base percentage, and errors do for players.

Read more: He shows how managers line up.

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