The Penn Post

Dancing Keem

By Fantasia Hernandez

Dancing can benefit people of all ages physically and mentally. It improves muscular strength, endurance and motor fitness, muscle tone and strength. It can also give a person greater self-confidence, self-esteem, and better social skills.

At William Penn High School, there are many dancing opportunities such as dance troupe and step team, but many students seek the opportunities outside of school. One of those students is junio Dakeem Blackiston.

In the 7th grade, Blackiston was first introduced to dancing from William Penn’s dance troupe. He joined when he came to Penn, but gained more experience and became more skilled because of the dance class he teaches at Rose Hill Community Center . During these classes Blackiston makes choreography, teaches the dances, and works on his free-styling.

It’s beneficial to both the teachers and the learners. It teaches them how to dance and it makes me feel like a better person.” Without this experience and opportunity, Blackiston says he would not be the person he is today.

Those interested in dance have the opportunity to try out for the dance troupe at the end of this school year. They can also check out Blackiston’s hip hop classes Tuesdays from 7 – 8 p.m.


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. 

Armed with Art

By Trish Vo

The thing about students in the art field is that they are never done learning.

Being an artist means that one has to continually practice their skill, continually learn, continually improve, continually get experience, continually create.

William Penn offers visual arts courses to those who are interested in developing their inner artist,“artist” referring to anyone who practices any of the various creative arts, and includes fields such as Graphic Design and Art.

“Most of our students come to us with limited experience and exposure to many differing aspects of Art as a whole, so the courses are designed to give them a range of opportunities,” Kimberly Davis, one of the art teachers at William Penn, said.

William Penn provides many opportunities for students to present their work and gain real-world experience.  Students have the option to take Graphic Design or Art when they are a freshman, or whenever they decide to pursue the visual arts field. Each class has levels 1, 2, 3, and 4, and there is an AP Studio course for art..

Davis stated that William Penn joined the Artisans Gallery, which she said gives students the opportunity to “work and gain hands on experience to be an independent artists, and working in a business to meet clients, communicate and conduct sales.”

Graphic design students have access to professional programs to develop their skills, and can complete commissions from clients right inside the William Penn’s computer lab.

Annmarie Novack, who teaches graphic design, said that while William Penn provides equipment, guidance, and opportunity, it is still largely up to the student whether they will succeed or not. “The field is competitive and, with any career, a student who is passionate about what they are involved in and is willing to put in the effort will succeed,” she said.

Just passing the courses does not mean success in the future, Davis believes. “Too many think: just take classes and that’s enough. Never!”

Like any other field, job security is not guaranteed. “There are hundreds of others out there doing the same thing,” Davis said. “So ask yourself: what am I doing to make myself stand out? If you don’t, you won’t!”

If it is truly the path that the students want to follow, William Penn High School will be sure to pave the path for them, to give them the tools for success.

Lights, Stage Crew, Action!

By Samantha Stevenson

Controlling the lights, making the props, fixing the mics, dressing the actors: all of these are jobs done by members of the stage crew.

There are at least 10 people in the room that all help out and put on a show. The teacher that works with stage crew is one of the art teachers in William Penn, Kimberly Davis.

“It’s important because, yes, the performers are the “stars,” [but] the show would not go on without us. , We build sets and run things that are needed to run the show,” junior Macie Murdaugh said.

Murdaugh, a junior at William Penn, is one of the students who is on stage crew. She did the lighting in the show last year called The Wiz. Macie has  done one show, but has also worked with other programs like the Penn Fashion Show.

“Before shows are always nerve wracking but after you feel very accomplished and hyped up,” Murdaugh said.

A way that students can join stage crew by contacting Davis. If anyone is interested, they run everything to help put on a show. It’s a great opportunity for those who don’t want to be on stage, but still be involved in the show.

A Wintery, Musical Event

By Sandy Soriano

At William Penn High School, the concert choir will be holding a winter concert December 1st and 7th to help the music department. This show is an opportunity improve not just the music department but the members of the choir themselves.

Sierra Carol, a sophomore choir member, described the song selection process and how every year the song selection is different.

“The teacher has all of us write down three to five song choices and then she looks over them next class period and then whichever songs that most of us chose that were the same we go through and they have to be school appropriate,” Carol said.

When there’s a big group of people in a room, throwing different ideas, there tends to be some crashing opinions, but surprisingly not so much in the choir room.

“People’s opinions are different from each other so we do kind of argue a little bit on what songs to chose but other than that we pretty much agree with everyone else and what everyone else is saying,” Carol said.

There is a lot of preparation that has to be done in order for them to be on that stage. Carol said choosing the songs to sing is just the first part in preparation of the performance.

“She teaches each section soprano, alto, tenor their part and then after that we just keep practicing over, over, and over again until the concert and then we have to practice posture and how we stand and how we act,” she said. 

Carol as well as some other member of the choir are serious about a career in singing and performing. They want a career after high school and while they’re here they try their best to join clubs in the music department in school and maybe things their community may be doing to give them that push or jump start to a serious career.

“We get help with things like that. Our teacher wants to do a songwriting class. We can teach each other how to play instruments, or write music together, read music, and we work together to figure out what we want to do.”

Performing this winter concert may be more important than just standing on stage and singing words, it means something to them that may impact their lives outside of schools.

Carol said, “ Music can help relieve stress and it’s fun so I think it makes them a little happier. For me, I think it helps me learn a lot personally I learn how to read music and you can experience emotion with music so it’s helpful and fun because you get to sing and have fun.”

The concerts William Penn have always raise money for important matters going on in school, and this year the money is going towards the music department to help them with new clubs they are hoping to have and with possible field trips being planned that the choir members truly deserve. Hopefully, people in the community will give the time to get more into the Christmas spirit and go out to see this wonderful concert at William Penn.


Mock Trial Team Offers Real-Life Experiences

The mock trial team at William Penn is lead by Francis Lusch, the criminal justice teacher. It is comprised of students who are split into two groups of six; one the prosecution, the other the defense to simulate a court case in the real world. The team helps students to just get a feel for the world of law and how it works but it builds public speaking skills, organization skills and it also helps the students make coherent arguments, all skills students need for the future.

“Mock trial team is now a statewide program where students are given either a criminal or civil case and compete against other schools legal teams to mock court 20 years,” Lusch said.

Lusch has been teaching in Colonial School District since 2001 and has been at Penn for 14 years. He teaches all students who major in legal studies at William Penn with Criminal Justice 1 & 2, Forensic and Genetics with a science teacher Jeffrey Bosco and Applied Legal Studies.

Students who are thinking of joining mock trial should possess certain interests and qualities.  “The students need a sense of commitment, a willingness to speak publicly and they must also have academic eligibility,” Lusch said.

The mock trial team can also help students to just get a feel for the world of law and how it works but it builds public speaking skills, organization skills and it also helps the students make coherent arguments, all skills students need for the future.

The mock trial has one competition they prepare for. This competition is in February over at the courthouse on 6th and King Street in New Castle County from early morning until 3 or 4 in the afternoon. The competition is over a two day period.

The competition include four rounds of court cases, with either defense or prosecution team competing. Lusch said, “Students also get an opportunity to meet a bunch of bright kids from other schools.”

In addition to the students getting these real life skills, William Penn gets to show off some of its students. Lusch said, “It strengthens the rep when schools get an opportunity to see what some of our students are capable of doing particularly since we are competing against charter schools, private schools and the like.”

Mock trial is a good opportunity for students who are interested in law to get experience in the field. Mock trial is open to all students grades 9-12. In order to sign up all the students would have to do is listen to the announcements in the morning or they can have teachers recommend it to them. However students do not have to be in the legal studies major in order to take his classes, the students would just have to sign up for the classes when the scheduling process starts at the end of the year.

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