First Reads

PHS Students Experience What It's Like to Run a Business

posted Oct 11, 2018, 10:42 AM by Joe Ferry   [ updated Oct 11, 2018, 10:59 AM ]

If Pennsylvania businesses are to remain competitive in the world marketplace, it is crucial that our workforce have an understanding and appreciation of the challenges that face the business community.

That is the goal of Pennsylvania Free Enterprise Week, an annual opportunity for incoming high school juniors to see for themselves what it takes to run their own business.

This summer, 21 PHS students participated in Pennsylvania Free Enterprise Week. It was our largest contingent in recent years and earned the school membership in Platinum Club.

During PFEW, participants create a management team whose task is turning their failing company into a financial success, said business teacher Chris Dyer.

"They develop their own marketing strategies, design a website and in essence, make all of the decisions that are demanded of real-life company executives," he said.

PFEW helps to dispel myths about business as students and business owner work together, said Dyer. Participants are challenged with a wide variety of economic concepts, terms, facts, figures, and projections for the future, he said, while Inspirational speakers creatively address subjects concerning marketing, business and government cooperation, supply and demand, and the role of business in our economy.

Six students who participated in PFEW recently shared observations about their experiences at a breakfast sponsored by the Upper Bucks Chamber of Commerce. Emma Foster spoke on behalf of her PHS classmates.

Students gain fresh insights into the intricacies of the free market system," said Dyer.
While all students performed well during the week, Daniella Marinacci and Evan Carey did a great job serving as Chief Executive Officers for their teams, said Dyer.

Jordan Betts              Phoebe Mang        
James Boyle               Daniella Marinacci
Cole Cannistraci         Paige McHugh
Evan Carey                 Kevin Moyer
Walter Elliott             Angelica Reader
Emma Foster              Shane Sparling
Steven George            Katherine Trivino
Elizabeth Keddie        Gillian Wenhold
India Kettle                Courtney Wood
Quinn Landherr          Alison Yourchak
Ann Lanzi

Egg Day at Pennridge High School

posted Oct 8, 2018, 12:00 PM by Joe Ferry   [ updated Oct 8, 2018, 12:01 PM ]

Student sitting at a table sorting eggs
Every Monday is Egg Day in the Life Skills Program at Pennridge High School. 
As part of their curriculum, students weigh, clean and sort eggs for a local farmer. 

Egg Day is one of many jobs our Life Skills students hold both inside and outside the classroom, including operating a coffee shop/market (with delivery service), folding towels for the Athletic Department and bedding for the Nurse's Office and working in community businesses such as Landis Market, Doylestown Hospital and the Ivy Hill Equestrian Center. 

How One PHS Student Spent His Summer Vacation

posted Sep 27, 2018, 10:00 AM by Joe Ferry   [ updated Sep 27, 2018, 10:00 AM ]

Henry Leopold on a camel in the desert
While many of his classmates spent their summer working or passing time at the shore, junior Junior Henry Leopold was halfway around the world studying the Arabic language and immersing himself in the culture of Morocco.

As far as anyone can tell, Henry is the first Pennridge student ever to participate in the National Security Language Initiative for Youth, a U.S. State Department program. Only 200 students were chosen from among 3,300 applicants for the program and only 24 went to Morocco.

The aim of the program is to encourage students to learn the language that our country needs for security and diplomacy. Ultimately, these students will be able to act as citizen ambassadors on behalf of the U.S. government.

During his six weeks in Morocco, Henry spent up to six hours a day studying Arabic and participating in civic and cultural projects, including a refugee camp. As part of a group of just 24 students in Morocco, he traveled to Tangier, Marrakesh, Casablanca and other cities. The group also traveled to a small town near the Sahara, where they rode camels for more than hour into the desert to sleep in the Sahara for a night. 

At the conclusion of his classes, Henry made a five-minute presentation completely in Arabic and in full native dress. 

One of the lessons Henry learned firsthand was the power of language to create bonds of friendship, respect and understanding across cultures.

The experience fueled Henry’s interest in language and history and he hopes he can apply some of what he experienced to his AP World History class this year. It also made him reaffirm his commitment to continue learning Spanish, and he is currently reading a book on Lawrence of Arabia in Spanish.

Apply Now for Free Pre-School Program

posted Sep 24, 2018, 11:15 AM by Joe Ferry   [ updated Sep 24, 2018, 11:49 AM ]

Pre-K Counts Logo
Did you know there is a free, high-quality pre-kindergarten program offered by the Bucks County Intermediate Unit thanks to a 2018-19 state grant?

The Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts program is open to children ages 3 and 4 living in families earning up to 300 percent of federal poverty guidelines (e.g. a family of four earning up to $75,300 annually). 

Pre-K Counts classes meet for six hours a day on a calendar that mirrors that of the school district in which the school operates. In Pennridge, classes are held at West Rockhill and Deibler elementary schools. Students do not have to live in those areas to be eligible.

A limited number of spots (80) are available throughout the county. 

For questions or assistance in applying, please contact Joan Pfender, Bucks IU Family Engagement Specialist, at 215-348-2940 EXT 8911 or email her at

For Penn North Counselor, Summer Travel Is a Learning Experience

posted Sep 21, 2018, 12:11 PM by Joe Ferry   [ updated Sep 21, 2018, 12:16 PM ]

Group of students and chapperones in front of a Peruvian Mountain
For Nickie Marchese, traveling during the summer is more than just a pleasant diversion from her duties as a School Counselor at Pennridge North Middle School.

“Travel is a way to learn more about yourself and conquer fears,” she says.”

That’s why this past summer, Nickie led a group of Pennridge students on an 11-day tour of Peru. In 2017, it was 14 days in Australia and in 2016 it was 9 days in England, Ireland and Wales. Next June, she will take a group to Italy and Greece for 13 days.

Nickie says her goal in running the trips through EF Tours is to “help students explore the vast world we live in and grow into world citizens.

“It makes me so proud to be able to say that in three years I have taken the Pennridge community to three different continents,” she adds.

With the help of chaperones (mostly Pennridge teachers and staff), Nickie took 35 Pennridge community members this summer on a whirlwind tour of Peru. Their trip started with a couple of days in Lima, Peru’s largest city. After Lima, the group headed to Cusco to start their journey to the Sacred Valley, which was highlighted by climbing Machu Pichu.

"The beautiful imagery is only slightly captured in the photos," said Marchese. "Seeing the ancient site with our own eyes was truly a once in a lifetime experience."

From there, they headed to Puno, specifically Lake Titicaca, which is the largest and highest navigable lake in the world. The group had the opportunity to visit the Uros Islands in Lake Titicaca, which is probably one of the most unique cultural experiences a person can have. The Uros Islands are 96 floating islands that the communities build themselves and live on.

They continued back to sea-level to Paracas, a city located in the desert but more uniquely where the desert meets the Pacific Ocean. The group trudged through the deep desert sand to reach an oasis and had the opportunity to enjoy sand tobogganing down the massive sand dunes.

The group was able to experience many different aspects of Peru from the country’s food, culture, and magnificent scenery.

“Everyone was grateful to return home to the simple luxuries we often take for granted in our country," said Marchese. "But it was truly a pleasure to be able to share this experience with many from the Pennridge community. I look forward to providing more opportunities each summer for international travel opportunities."

Summer Reading Challenge at WRE

posted Sep 21, 2018, 12:02 PM by Joe Ferry   [ updated Sep 24, 2018, 9:46 AM ]

Over the summer, West Rockhill’s Title I Reading Specialist Marisa Bell and building Reading Specialist Kim Giuliana hosted two summer reading reward celebrations. To qualify and participate, students had to complete six activities from this reading log. 

At the July reading celebration, students were treated to soft pretzels and received a coupon for a free small treat at Kool-Licks. They were also allowed to borrow books to read.

At the August reading celebration, students were treated to a rocket popsicle and brought a white shirt to tie-dye red and blue, an event called “Blast off into a new year!”

August Reading Challenge

High school hosts CNC STEM Electric Guitar Building Institute workshop

posted Jul 31, 2018, 11:09 AM by Joe Ferry   [ updated Jul 31, 2018, 11:13 AM ]

Group shot of teachers who designed and fabricated  their own electric guitars.

Pennridge High School's award-winning technology education teachers recently hosted a workshop as part of the National STEM Guitar Project.

Allen Androkites and Matt Peitzman joined Hanford High School (Richland, WA) teacher Ed Ufford in presenting the application of CNC technology as it relates to the manufacturing and design of guitar components. The five-day workshop allowed 14 educators from around the country to design an electric guitar using Fusion 360 software and a CNC router to create the components.
Man in Metallica shirt holding electric guitar he made.

Pennridge High School grad Steve Gillen, now a teacher in the Blue Mountain School District, participated in the CNC Stem Electric Guitar workshop.

In addition to leaving the workshop with a custom guitar body they designed and fabricated, participants also received a modularized curriculum they can use in their classrooms.
Among the participants were two former PHS students Adam Killion and Steve Gillen. Killion teaches at Hatboro-Horsham High School while Guillen works in the Blue Mountain School District.
PSD middle school teachers Ryan Ruckle and Steve Smith also participated.
Funded in part by a grant from the National Science Foundation, The STEM Guitar Project is addressing the "skills gap" by engaging high school and college faculty and students in hands-on guitar design, manufacturing and construction and incorporating the technical subjects into kinesthetic learn
ing. The project motivates students to learn STEM subjects and explore career interests in technical fields, thereby impacting the skills gap found in industry.

Last year, the PHS Technology Education program was awarded “Program of Excellence” in Pennsylvania by the Technology Education and Engineering Association of Pennsylvania. With support from the School Board and administration, teachers have incorporated STEM tools and concepts into their traditional woodworking and metalworking classes without sacrificing hands-on craftsmanship. They still have plenty of table saws, planers and routers in the shop but have supplemented them with 3D printers, plasma cutters, CNC routers, laser engravers and other hi-tech tools.

Thompson, Reiss Appointed to School Board

posted Jul 11, 2018, 2:45 PM by Joe Ferry   [ updated Jul 12, 2018, 12:09 PM ]

District Judge Regina Armitage swearing in new board members Sherry Thompson and Dave Reiss
Two District residents with long ties to the community have been appointed to seats on the Pennridge School Board.

Sherry Thompson and Dave Reiss were appointed on July 10 to fill vacancies left by the resignations of Ada Miller and Christine Yardley. 

Thompson and Reiss, who will serve through 2019, were among 15 people who applied for the openings. Board President Megan Banis-Clemens said she appreciated the level of interest expressed by people willing to serve on the board and is looking forward to working with the two newcomers.

"Sherry and Dave both have special skill sets that will be very valuable in our deliberations as we tackle difficult issues as a board," said Banis-Clemens.

Thompson, a Perkasie resident whose two children gradated from Pennridge High School, is Director of Operations for a small land development company in Sellersville. She has a Master in Public Administration degree and is pursuing a Doctorate in Business Administration specializing in strategy and innovation.

Thompson is also a certified mediator.

"I love my community," she said after being appointed to the board. "I am really excited to serve here and be part of the process."

Reiss, a West Rockhill resident and 1987 PHS grad, has worked in the information technology industry for 23 years. He also has been a volunteer with the Pennridge Little League and the West Rockhill Parks and Recreation Committee for many years. Two of his three children have graduated from PHS while third is still a student in the District. 

"I believe in community service," Reiss said after being appointed. "I look forward to being part of this great school district."

Banis-Clemens said she hopes others who applied to serve on the board find other way to become involved.

“We really had a tough choice," she said. "I know there were many of you that I would have supported tonight, and I’m sure others feel that way as well.”

PSD Senior Takes Second Place in SkillsUSA National Competition

posted Jul 3, 2018, 8:00 AM by Joe Ferry   [ updated Aug 21, 2018, 10:11 AM ]

High School student sitting on a motorcycle
For the first time in three years, an Upper Bucks County Technical School student has a earned a medal at the highly competitive SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference.

Putting his skills up against technical school students from around the country who won gold medals at their state competitions, Pennridge High School Senior Dylan Miller took second place (Silver Medal) in the Motorcycle Technology in Louisville, Kentucky.

"Dylan worked very hard to prepare himself for the competition," said teacher Bill Young. "His attention to detail and ability to use service manuals paid off at the National competition and helped to earn him a medal."

As a Silver Medal winner, Dylan earned a brand new 2018 Harley Davidson motorcycle for the UBCTS Small Engine Technology program.

"This is an amazing donation that will be used to help educate future students on the motorcycle repair industry. Thanks to Dylan and Harley Davidson, we have the most up-to-date tool for kids to learn from. We are all so proud of what Dylan has accomplished while here at UBCTS and excited that he has been rewarded for all of his hard work.” Tracey Hill, Skills Administrative Advisor at UBCTS.

In addition to the motorcycle for UBCTS, Dylan also won several prizes for his personal use, including:
  • A Snap On roller cart toolbox and tools valued at more than $2,000;
  • Tools from Southwire
  • A Harley Davidson socket and wrench set 
  • Harley Davidson bike manuals 
  • Gift cards from Cabellas ($250) and Lowes ($50).
Dylan will use scholarships totalling more than $27,000 he earned at states and nationals to attend Ohio Technical College in Cleveland this fall.

Dylan was one of four UBCTS students to compete at nationals by winning gold medals at states. While Jordan Meyers, Sarah Liebel and Josh Langenber did not win a medal, they performed well under extreme pressure.

Final General Fund Budget Approved With No Tax Increase

posted Jun 27, 2018, 12:36 PM by Joe Ferry   [ updated Jun 27, 2018, 4:21 PM ]

Budget approved artwork
The Pennridge School Board recently approved the 2018-19 General Fund Budget that holds the line on property taxes. Thanks to solid fiscal planning by the Administration and School Board, it is the second year in a row and fourth time in seven years the District has not raised taxes.

The $138.1 million spending plan calls for using a $587,898 Fund Balance commitment to balance the budget. With the property tax rate remaining at 135.2555 mills, the owner of a property assessed at the Median Homestead Average ($30,800) will continue to pay $4,161 in real estate tax to the District.

Board President Megan Banis-Clemens said she is proud the budget continues to provide students and educators with the resources they need while being mindful of the community’s inability to handle a tax increase.

“Throughout the entire budget process, our Administration has been responsive to the Board’s priorities,” she said. “We must always balance our duty to provide an education that prepares all students for a successful future without putting an unnecessary burden on our residents. This budget achieves both of those goals.”

In addition to holding the line on property taxes, the budget also calls for keeping the Local Services Tax ($5), the Earned Income Tax (1%) and the Real Estate Transfer Tax (.5%) steady in the coming school year.

Even without increasing taxes, the 2018-19 budget includes several significant expenditures to meet educational and security needs, including:
  • 10.6 FTE (full-time equivalent) professional staff members;
  • Four support positions, including an additional athletic trainer, increased technology support and a teaching assistant;
  • Two part-time security officers and funding for a School Resource Officer.
  • Support for a literacy initiative at the elementary and middle school levels;
  • The addition of World Language and STEM curriculum in the elementary schools;
  • Updated Social Studies resources in our middle schools;
  • Revamping the Library Special to include research and technology curriculum;

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