The Penn Post



Culinary Prostart Heads to Nationals

By Samantha Stevenson 


Chef Matthew Vaughan and Prostart competitor Kaitlin Luciano pose in front of the culinary classroom March 20. Luciano has been taking culinary classes since her freshman year. 

Since October the culinary room has been filled with delicious smells produced by William Penn’s Culinary ProStart team. The state competition held on March 10 in the Chase Center on the Wilmington Riverfront featured high school culinary teams from across the state.  Both Penn teams placed first out of the 11 schools that competed.

ProStart is the culinary curriculum that is taught to high school students. Tryouts for Penn’s team were held in September and the team officially started in October. Kaitlin Luciano, a senior in William Penn’s culinary program stated that for tryouts they each had to make a dish with gnocchi.

“For you to join, you have to be devoted on Tuesdays and Thursdays and any other kind of additional practice. You also have to work long hours and to work hard,” Luciano said.

This dedication has helped with the future skills of students who wish to pursue the career. “It gave me a reason to come to school,” Luciano said.

In addition to the motivation, it has impacted her career choice as well. “In fall I’m going to Johnson & Wales University for Culinary Arts,” said Luciano. 

William Penn have three chefs that guide students in the culinary program: Matthew Vaughn, Kip Poole, and Ian  Baker. These chefs help students prepare for the intense competition. For the competition, students are broken up into two teams: cooking and management.

“Culinary team has to produce 3 dishes in one hour. They have to do an appetizer, entree and a dessert. They are only allowed to have 2 camp stove burners and no refrigeration. No electricity, no battery operated. It’s very hard,” Vaughan said. “

Students made an octopus appetizer (Spanish octopus over a heresa quinoa with puffed masa tortillas), a lamb entree (lamb loin over top of a potato risotto, pea and mushroom ragu), and  a donut dessert (a beet glazed donut with a goat cheese creme and orange whipped cream and a raspberry sauce and pistachio). 

Since the Colonials won first place, the Culinary ProStart team made it to Nationals held on April 28 in Charleston, South Carolina. Students will be gone for a week and they will compete against schools from all over the country. Last year the students got to go to Las Vegas to eat at restaurant run by famous chefs. The prize for winning is scholarships to help the students further their career in cooking.


French Students Expand Horizons

By Jeremy Krakowski

French students at William Penn get to experience not only the French language and learn about the French culture in the classroom, but also for just $800 dollars students get the opportunity to travel to Quebec, an area heavily influenced by the French.

Both students and parents have the change to take a long bus trip. Lefort Petit and Antonia Strickland, world language teachers at Penn, will be taking the students who sign up..With the everlasting French people’s occupation of Canada could be a great learning opportunity for French students.

Petit believes this particular trip which occurs in May could be a yearly occurrence if the trip goes well. “We’ve always thought about what trip could teach students a good amount about the French culture in general,” Petit said.

This is the first year this field trip is available, but William Penn students in other courses have the chance to travel to Spain, England, and South America.

Students Use Saturday School To Get Back On Track

By Nina Giberson 

Some students feel that school is too long, while others feel as if they don’t have enough time for school and the course work.

Seeing this, Principal Erskine initiated the idea of Saturday School. He believed that students might be more productive in an alternate learning environment.

Saturday school is an opportunity for students to bring their grades up. It gives the students a chance to retake a test or complete missing work. Teachers feel as if some of these students are so far behind in their classes, they can’t keep up with the assignments and the students feel the exact same way.

Kristi Dionne is a special education teacher who dedicates her time at Saturday School. She says that there are sometimes complications with it. “One of the challenges is that sometimes you expect more kids to show up than who do.” The kids who do show up actually complete the work that their teachers assigned, though. “The only problem I find is that some students are behind in so many classes that they can’t keep up with each of their missing assignments,” Dionne said.

Though Principal Erskine was the one who brought it to everyone’s attention that they needed teachers for Saturday School, the staff seemed to appreciate the idea.

“I think the staff likes it. I find when the kids come in, that, believe it or not, they work a little bit harder for that teacher. It’s interesting to see,” Dionne said.

Latavia Todd, a student who takes part in Saturday School, explained that her attendance at saturday school had improved her grades. “Saturday School has helped me get my grades up in all of my classes. I was influenced because my grades were really low and I wanted to raise my GPA,” Latavia said.

When asked if she would continue a regular attendance at saturday school, she responded with a confident, “as many times as they have it.”

Saturday school can benefit many who attend. Those students who are struggling in one or more of their classes are very much welcome to attend. It’s been shown that students have benefited from the program.

Insight into Penn’s Innovation Center

Any individual that has walked up the main staircase to the right of the entrance and down the N2 hallway knows that the library is under construction. However, not many students actually know what is going into the new library.  

There has been a lot of speculation going on about the library construction. However, most of this speculation is not true and many students do not know what is true and what is not.

Tynahja Savage, an 11th grade student at William Penn, said that the only thing she knows is that they are building a cafe inside the library. “But no one really talks about it,” she said.

Misconception 1:There was little effort to inform the student body.

Truth 1:  Kevin Wright, an instructional technology teacher at William Penn, said, “We did make an effort to get word out to students and parents at the back to school nights, open houses, board meetings and through the Principal Newsletter and social media pages.”

Misconception 2: That there will only be a cafe in the library.

Truth 2: Wright described what is going into the library including the addition of new furniture with modern tables and chairs, along with more work spaces and computer desk. There will be alcoves along the walls which will be the new collaboration rooms with collaboration tables, and the rooms will be enclosed in glass. These collaboration tables will be equipped with smart screen monitors and in table hookups for students to use while collaboration on school work. There will also be new glass enclosed class that will be occupied by the “distant learning courses.” The students will be able to participate in new courses that the school can’t put in full time. The area where the circulation desk was will become the student run “Bistro-lite.” The Bistro-lite will offer healthy snacks that will be available to both staff and students. The library will of course have books as well. The book count for the fiction genre will be an estimated 46,000 with new orders happening in the spring and summer.

Misconception 3: The school got rid of all the books and there will be no more.

Truth 3: The truth is that they had only gotten rid of the books that were deemed inaccurate. “We did have to downsize the library’s collection, but we did our best to save the books that were commonly used and checked out. Clearing books out of circulation is a common process called weeding and while ours was large scale we did our best to preserve books that were newer and still accurate,” Wright explained.

Misconception 4: The district does not have enough money for this project.

Truth 4: In actuality the district is not paying for most of this project. The district and Discover bank card are in a community partnership to cover the cost. Wright had said that their investment in the library is designed to help the students get the most out of what they will do with their life, whether it be college or a career after graduating.

The old library was a very popular place for many of students to hang out and complete a lot of work and print that work off before class would start. Savage said that she had used the library before and once it is complete that she would continue to use it. The library is a very important place for most students who don’t have printer or anything at home and once all of the additions are made, these additions will make it even easier for students to complete work online.

Penn JROTC Builds Leaders

By Davinson Ariza

The Junior ROTC group at William Penn High School is a great way to gain leadership, honesty, responsibility. The JROTC group, stands for Junior Reserve Officer Training corp, students build character education, student achievement, wellness, leadership and diversity. This can also help students gain disciplinary military experience.

One of the requirements  for students in ROTC is  to wear uniforms specific days they are told. They have to have to have their shoes polished and their uniform fresh and clean. They also have to learn military commands which many people find difficult to do in order to become a member of the rotc group

For example, ROTC sophomore Abdoul Konate said, “There are a lot of commands to remember, they all sound very similar”.

Students in  ROTC can receive ribbons to show their rankings. The rankings are C/Airman, C/Airman 1st Class, C/Senior Airman and the final highest ranking is a C/Staff Sergeant.The ROTC student says his current ranking is a C/airman 1st class.

To be in the program it takes a strong mentality because the discipline is that serious, there are moments when students are unmotivated but still have the support from sergeants.

C/airman 1st class man  Konate said, “My commander is very understanding when I mess up. She motivates me to work harder so I can make her proud”.

Although when you first arrive to ROTC it is not as easy as some  think there may be a couple of times where students need to keep cool because they may not be used to the discipline.

When speaking about his freshman year Konate said, “The commanders are always complaining and nagging so it’s very difficult to keep my cool and listen.”

Even though Konate has said he does not want to have any future in the military he is taking this as a learning experience by saying “The people around me have made me a better leader.”

Struggling Students With Jobs

By Josie Taraskus

As a student with a job, keeping up with school work and actual work may be difficult. There are plenty of these students throughout William Penn experiencing this struggle called “growing up.” 

A school wide survey was conducted collecting data from 120 students. 30.8% of those students have jobs and out of that approximately 40.7% have had their grades drop since getting a job.

Junior Amanda Hopkins, who works at California Pizza Kitchen, works 2-4 shifts per week and her hours can include getting off anywhere between 8:30 and 10:30pm.

She can reach up to 20 hours a week which meets minors laws but for some students that isn’t the case. A small amount of the students, around 4.1%, reported working 30 hours a week. Those who selected the other option in the survey had hours per week varying from 25-60 hours a week. That was selected by 49% of the students who completed the survey. Actually with the amount of hours per shift only 20.8% said they work 5 hours per shift. The larger outcome for this was the 56.3% of students who chose other. Within that, two students said they work seven hours, five said they work eight, and two said they work nine per shift.

Working this much has to somehow affect the work of students. Students are able to find time to squeeze in for projects and homework assignments.

Most students get off from work pretty late at night. Many of them are faced with a decision: to stay up and do the work and be tired in school or not do it at all and get the sleep. Choosing sleep leads to the bigger problem. That’s when you ask yourself, “Do I just face the consequence of not turning it in?” or “Should I try to finish it in another class or in the beginning of the class?” No matter what, there is a consequence in there somewhere. 52% of students turn the work in late some of the time, 14% turn the work in late pretty often, and 8% turn work in late all the time.

“Teachers assign homework, but when they do on the nights I work, I am just way too tired to do it,” Hopkins said.

This leads to another point. Are students getting a good amount of sleep? A poor amount of sleep can lead to a pretty rough day at school the next day, from not being able to focus to just plain falling asleep in class.

It is a known fact that on average a human being should be sleeping 8 hours a night. A small 10.2% of working students are getting 9 hours of sleep each night. 32.7% of working students get 5 hours a sleep a night.

“I only get 2-4 hours a sleep a night,” Hopkins said. A small amount of sleep is accomplished after a night of working and completing homework and projects.

Something else that these students face is whether or not they get the opportunity to do after school activities. Would they rather be working or doing a sport? Although only 37.3% of working students are not able or cannot handle doing after school activities, it is still a difficult task to accomplish. The average schedule for a working student in one day could be getting up at 6 a.m., going to school, getting off at 2:15 p.m., going straight to practice, and by 5:30 p.m. they are working and not getting off till much later that night. Finally going to bed but just to wake up and do it again. Being able to have a weekend with your friends or family can even vanish. From either practicing all Saturday or even working all weekend around practice. Where is there time for a life, let alone school work?

Hopkins says she is able to do it by “working with teachers and the managers to get around hard scheduling.”

But not all things that result from being a student worker are bad. Some students reported better grades after starting working. It may have come up as just 8.2% of the students, but that shows with the right amount of effort it gets better. You hear many students in the halls complaining about dealing with the newest assignment in their English class and then having to go to work before getting to have the chance to do it. But in many cases working has led to having the motivation to do it, having the motivation to keep pushing. If you can juggle school, sports, and work then you’re going be just fine. If you work harder, besides the lack of sleep, you’re focused to keep going. You learn the lesson and what it is like growing up and doing things for yourself being independent.

Hopkins says her grades got better as she began working. In fact, she stated, “The way work is impacting my school performance is that it makes me do better. I am working harder.”

We need more students who can get to this. The question is not if students should be working, but what can be done to make students have an easier time being able to work and succeed earlier in life. Isn’t that what is expected? We as teenagers to finally grow up and become independent and mature? To be given more responsibility. 49 of 52 students said that there should be something done in order to help students maintain having a job and going to school. Some say there should be a program in school to help with studying and homework that work around your schedule, maybe even have teachers give out less homework in general, others just want a way to keep up motivation in general.

Having a job and going to school should not be something a teenager dreads having to deal with, but something a student thrives in doing and feels confident enough in themselves to do.

The Healthy Lifestyle

By Kayla Oats

165 students are impacted weekly during health corps class workshops. HealthCorps is an organization whose purpose is to decrease childhood obesity, and create a healthy environment.

At William Penn High School, Amber Rideout has been the head of HealthCorps for the last 2 years. Rideout identified the biggest issue related to health. ”From my experience the two biggest things teens face in regards to their health is being able to cope with life challenges and how to manage their stress in a healthy way. Another big issues is the access to outlets to explore physical activity and fitness. If students don’t participate in sports they are not being active and this is resulting in an increase in sedentary behaviors which lead to a number of chronic illnesses,” she said. 

Some of the activities in HealthCorps include Ambassador Club, Cooking Matters, Classroom teachers, Staff wellness, and Cafe O Yeas. These activities help HealthCorps achieve their mission.

“The best thing for me is being able to show youth that health is not just about counting calories, eating salad, or being the skinniest or bulkiest person around. Health is about the whole person and it is something that can be fun and attainable for any and everyone,” Rideout said.

Currently there are 25 students in HealthCorps Ambassador club and 12 students in Cooking Matters. At William Penn, HealthCorps can be found in the S2 staff center in the back office, and HealthCorps Ambassadors Club meetings are typically held after-school in Rm W100 every other Thursday.

October Tech Teacher of the Month

By LaTiyah Jones


Technology is the new thing, so why not be awarded for incorporating it into teaching? At William Penn High School,  teachers are awarded for their outstanding use of technology.

Economics teacher Carol Dunn won the “Tech Teacher of the Month” for the month of October. Because she won, she displayed the Golden Keyboard in her room for the month and received a gift card to Penn Bistro.

In Colonial School District, technology has become a big part of learning. For learning, it can be used in many different ways.

I’ve been using Schoology to not only access work, as well do formative assessments. I also use Kahoot to make learning more fun, for review,” Dunn said.

She is not the only teacher approaching learning like this. Many other teachers are also. Technology can help make students and teachers more efficient, but not all kids have phones, sometimes there aren’t enough computers, or even the wifi doesn’t work.


“The only issue is you don’t always have an access to technology,” Dunn said. “I struggled with using technology for years. One day, I was like let just go ahead and learn, because it’s not going anywhere. It’s just the expectation with kids. This is their world. Especially with the subject I teach economics, it is a fluid subject. Using technology help students to get the most up to date information. For example, on the economy and how it’s changing.”

Although Dunn admitted it takes her out of her comfort zone, she said using technology makes the learning more engaging and provides students with the most current information. Dunn’s nomination for this award was based on this willingness to work outside of her comfort zone to improve her use of it.

Sports Help Students Excel in School

By Chris Brown

High school sports can benefit students academically. They can help students get better grades by giving them organization and a reason to do well in school.

In many cases, the coaches offer their athletes opportunities to get help with the academics. William Penn senior athlete Dasir King said, “Coach offers study hall, personal tutor sessions, and time to go see teachers instead of studying. He wants us to understand that we are student athletes and student comes first.”

King has been in the program all four years of high school and is pursuing playing in college. Colleges pay attention to students academics especially the good colleges. “The higher GPA you have the better chance you have in getting into a good college.”

“It motivates me to keep my grades up because I want to be eligible and help my team win,” King said.

School sports can also help a student athlete manage his time and be more focused in the classroom because he knows he has no time to waste so you complete your work on time. “I know I have limited time to do assignments so I make sure I set up times to get them done.”

Student athletes devote so much time into  practices and games that they have very little free time. They have to take advantage of their time in the classroom. This helps prepare them not only for collegiate athletics, but also life in the real world. 

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