The Penn Post



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.

Leaving a Legacy: Senior Legacy Project Impacts the Community

By Marie Gourdet

About three or four years ago an idea was introduced to William Penn, which was mostly for the seniors.  This project, which became the Senior Legacy Project, was to help seniors strive for success in the future.

These projects urge students to work with their communities.  It gives students the chance to create a successful path for them at Penn. It is important for students to do because these seniors represent William Penn. It’s important for seniors to start somewhere which will get them ready for the next challenge in life beyond high school.

These students have more opportunities given to them and it’s up to them to grasp every one of them. Students tends to think that they’re not old enough to leave a mark so they could be well remembered. They believe that they still have time pursue their dreams, either going to college or with them graduating and being in the “real world.” Honestly, isn’t this the real world? Ever since we became a high schooler we were in the real world. This high school experience is an eye opening experience that should push us to the edge where we create and learn so much about ourselves.

With the project being presented, many wonder who was the one that found this living idea? Daniel Becker, a senior English teacher at William Penn High school, was one of the teachers responsible for bringing the project that each senior has to do every year before they graduate.

The senior legacy project is about being productive and helping the community however they can. Teachers want to help students to leave Penn with a legacy whether they will stay in Delaware or not. It’s not guarantee that kids will be remembered forever because of the community service hours they did maybe a day or two, but it’s about continuing influencing the community they live in.

Becker stated, “I don’t want say guarantee but it [the senior legacy project] would increase the likelihood that kids pursue endeavors that could become legacies, be it an actual project that gets picked up in later years or maybe some kid does a project they end up pursuing for their whole life because they love it so much or they decide to open a non-profit these are viable routes to success, and I think we increased the likelihood that a student pursue something that could lead to a true legacy now versus years ago.”

Becker stated that not all students wanted to complete this project and this is something he usually tell them to convince each one that it’s worth doing.

He said, “One it’s for grades, that’s usually pretty convincing for most kids. But any kids that actually tell me that they want to do it just for a grade, I try to explain to them It’s an opportunity beyond than just a grade, it’s a resume write-off. I had a girl wrote a Paws for people project last year by herself and she was able to put it on her resume for both college and job applications. That’s just one example. The personal gains are tremendous. Gaining confidence and speaking with adults, just confidence in yourself. There’s so much potential for this project to help a student grow.”

This project also helps improve people’s perspective of Penn.

“At this point, with pushing kids into the community to do things and assert themselves, we’re hopefully creating more positive impact, more positive opportunities and examples for community members to see William Penn students at work as opposed to before which was happenstance. Now we actually have a project that pushes them to be that positive role model in the community,” Becker said.

Overall, this project is tied to Penn’s own legacy, especially in it’s 50th anniversary.  nonetheless and Becker explained how the project connects with Penn’s legacy over the 50th anniversary. William Penn has continued to create more opportunities for students over the years and that’s what makes William Penn successful.


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.

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.

Colonials Celebrate Art

By Lesliann Boucher and Stephanie Castillo

Photo by Stephanie Castillo Kim Davis, art teacher at William Penn, greets people at the Colonial Art Festival May 7. 

The Colonial Art Festival was held on Friday May 6  from 6pm-8pm, and Saturday  May 7 from 10am-2pm. The show was created to celebrate talented students from Kindergarten to12th grade in Colonial School District. 

The celebration of this festival was to represent heart. “Some people see art as a great outlet. It’s a sign of our humanity, that we create the art so it gives us something to do, in that sense of keeping us real, keeping us human,”  Kim Davis, one of the art teachers at William Penn, said.

In order to be featured in the art festival, work was selected by an art teacher in each Colonial school that was considered the “best of the best”. There were more than 1,000 pieces of art that were displayed in the festival, each teacher bringing in at least 80-100 pieces of art.

Winkler shared, “It represents a year’s worth of teaching for each teacher in the district. It is to celebrate all the creative students in the colonial school district. It’s a time to shine.”
Senior Kylie Wierzbicki played the piano during the Art Festival,  on the right hand center of the entrance.  And along with the pieces of art and music there were William Penn Culinary students walking around with a cart full of small fancy sushi dishes, white rice and spicy sushi right on top. It was indeed “a time to shine,” said Winkler.

Introducing William Penn’s New Innovation Center

By KImberly Cushwa

This summer William Penn has the plan of bringing the library into the 21st century. Through many exciting modifications, the modernization of this space will leave it happily deemed as an Innovation Center. As it has been over a decade since the last full remodel, many members of the staff and student body have brought to the district’s attention the need for an overhaul. Funding for this project is currently being secured through private corporations.

Kristen Barnello stated, “Dr. Erskine has decided to approve the decision to remodel the library, but has been seeking input from a variety of people, at WP, the district, and other schools and libraries that have undertaken the transition to a 21st Century library model [to gain ideas on how to best update this space to benefit the students.]”

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The current plans entail many exciting additions, one of which includes a small cafe so students can sit and enjoy a latte as they read a book – others may just grab an espresso shot between classes if they need a little pick me up after a long night of studying. Four soundproof rooms are also in the plans. These rooms will be able to be used by students and staff to record podcasts, webinars, videos, etc. to be used as in class teaching material or for projects.

The biggest change to be implemented is the online course catalog that current social studies teacher, Mr. Kevin Wright, is putting together. This new selection of online classes will allow students who are interested in a topic not taught in a traditional classroom setting to gain original credit to be put toward their transcript for this subject. Others can take advantage of these online classes by adding them to their schedule when they are unable to take a traditional class due to it being filled or only being taught at a time when they have a previously scheduled class.

Wright said, “Many students are excited about the opportunity to access new courses and materials.  Students that are passionate about classes, but that have reached the top levels currently offered can use the new space to pursue independent studies. I sincerely believe that students are excited by the potential of a new challenging and rewarding program.”

Things such as the fiction section of the library will remain the same as students will be able to check out both recent titles and popular classics which spark their interest. The changes on this space are expected to be completed by the spring semester of the 2016-2017 school year.

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