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PENNS MANOR: Children's author visits elementary students

by CLAIRE KIRSCH and ALEX BERKAVICH, Gazette Student News Reporters on May 02, 2014 11:00 AM

KENWOOD — John Manders, author and illustrator of countless picture books, visited Penns Manor Elementary on April 23.

Manders’ work has been featured in more than 30 children’s books and many more magazines. He is also a member of the Society of Illustrators, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and a founding member of the Pittsburgh Society of Illustrators.

While at Penns Manor he did a series of three presentations. At his presentations he read to the students from books he illustrated, including one of his favorites, “Jack and the Giant Barbecue,” written by Eric A. Kimmel. The book tells the story of a boy named Jack who went on an adventure to hunt down his father’s barbecue recipe book after it was taken from his family by a giant.

[PHOTO: John Manders, author and illustrator, visited Penns Manor Elementary School on April 23. (Submitted photo/Penns Manor High School)]

After the story was completed, Manders explained the different tools he used to bring his ideas to life on paper: the easel, paints and brushes.

Finally, the moment had come and the students were going to get to see the artist at work. Manders turned to the audience and asked their ideas for a painting. He received everything from dinosaurs, dragons, cats, dogs and baby pandas to sharks. From a stroke of pure inspiration, Manders decided he would combine two ideas in a contrast, the adorable fluffy baby panda and the dinosaur.

To begin, he sketched a basic outline of where the character would be on paper, commenting, “I’m not sure what I’m doing yet, which is how I get through life most of the time.”

After finishing the painting, Manders deemed it a baby “pandasaurus,” and then opened the floor for a quick question-and-answer session. He commented how he illustrated books for a number of years and then decided to try and write his own. He closed out the program by encouraging the students to write their own story about the pandasaurus and to continue to read, write and draw.


Penns Manor’s junior high volleyball team has been working hard to keep its winning ways going. The volleyball team has two brackets: a Heritage team and a Blue team. Inside the Heritage team there is a varsity team (5-4) and a junior varsity team (6-2). Inside the Blue team there is a Navy team (0-1) and a Royal team (0-1).

The girls get ready for practice every day after school by stretching and running. Once the girls are warmed up and ready to go they begin their practice. Sit-ups and push-ups are done each day. They participate in many drills such as passing, hitting and serving. Once the girls have practiced their skills, they compete against each other in scrimmages.

[Alternate photo, click to view: Members of Penns Manor Junior High School’s volleyball team, front row from left, are Hannah Ellis, Laken Engel, Samantha Fedder, Katie Johnston, Alexis Zack and Brittany Stapleton; second row, Haley Brooks, Kara Weiland, Kateri Johnston, Lena Watson, Joanna Sprankle, Alanna Strong, Jade Abrams, Isabella Berkavich and Ashley Learn; third row, Ashlynn McCullough, Alecza Remaley, Gwyn Keith, Yanessa Shabbick, Erica Kendra, Sarah Russell, Madeline Weaver, Cheyenne Hilty, Karissa Hill and Lauren Domino; and fourth row, Jodilyn Stiles, Krystina Bronick, Cassie Keith, Abby Tomayko, Montanna Smith, Rebecca Yeckley, Caylee Eshelman, Patricia Montague, Madison Coy and Kate Polenik. (Submitted photo/Penns Manor High School)]

The girls have home games along with away games, which they must dress up for. Once the girls are dressed and on the court before a game, they begin practicing with sprints, stretches, passing between each other and then wish each other and the other team good luck and good game.

If the games continue to a third game they only need to reach 15 points to win. During the game the girls work hard to deliver as much of their hard work as possible on to the floor.

The team members are continuously cheering each other on and doing cheers like “hoorah” when they get a kill or “ace,” which is when a serve is not touched. To win the first two games the team must reach 25 points and be beating the other team by at least two points.

Even if the girls do not win, they only talk about getting better.

Players are freshmen Krystina Bronick, Laken Engel, Sam Fedder, Chey-enne Hilty, Ashley Learn, Montanna Smith and Kara Weiland; eighth-graders Jade Abrams, Isabella Berkavich, Madison Coy, Lauren Domino, Caylee Eshelman, Karissa Hill, Kateri Johnston, Katie Johnston, Cassie Keith, Erica Kendra, Ashlynn McCullough, Patricia Montague, Kate Polenik, Alecza Remaley, Sarah Russel, Yanessa Shabbick, Johanna Sprankle, Rebecca Yeckley and Madeline Weaver; and seventh-graders Haley Brooks, Hannah Ellis, Gwyn Keith, Brittany Stapelton, Jodilyn Stiles, Alanna Strong, Abby Tomayko, Lena Watson and Alexis Zack.

Coaches are Barb Thorton, Lauren Smith and Sarah Alman.

[Alternate photo, click to view: In celebration of Earth Day, the fifth-grade class at Penns Manor Elementary School picked up trash around the school. PennDOT supplied gloves and vests for all of the students. Earth Day is a great reminder that we can all do something whether big or small to save our Earth. (Submitted photo/Penns Manor High School)]

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