Spring 2024 Teacher Impact Awards, Round 2

Superintendent Dr. Jerry Thacker handed out the second round of district Spring 2024 Impact Awards on Thursday, May 23rd. The awards were given to teachers who had the most significant individual student growth with DIBLES, ILEARN, and SAT assessments for Spring 2024.

Dr. Thacker, along with Assistant Superintendent Dr. Heather Short, Director of Professional Development and Student Learning Dr. Lavon Dean-Null, and Director of Literacy and Title I Ryan Towner, visited three schools to surprise three teachers letting them know that they were the latest winners.

Principal Gary Gardner helped surprise 3rd grade teacher Katie French. Ms. French’s students had the highest student growth in 3rd grade Math scores–out of all six P-H-M Title I schools! Congratulations to Ms. French and her students!

As this school year comes to a close we want to thank all our teachers and students for their commitment to academic excellence this school year. The hard work really paid off!

Thank you to the P-H-M Education Foundation for covering the cost of the awards for purchasing the beautiful crystal awards given to the teacher award recipients.

P-H-M’s DVT & Planetarium Renamed Arthur M. Klinger Planetarium

Mr. Art Klinger, the man credited with being the “father” of P-H-M’s DVT & Planetarium, was honored today when the facility he helped create 44 years ago was officially renamed in his honor. The new P-H-M Arthur M. Klinger Planetarium sign now hangs on the exterior of Bittersweet Elementary School, where the facility is housed. It was unveiled to cheers and applause on the afternoon of May 14, 2024. Click to watch the video below.

On hand for the unveiling and dedication were Klinger’s wife, son, and longtime friends. Also present was P-H-M Superintendent Dr. Jerry Thacker, Executive Director of P-H-M Education Foundation Jennifer Turnblom, members of PHMEF Executive Board, P-H-M School Board Members Jim Garrett and Ryan McCullough, P-H-M Administrators, and current Planetarium Director Melinda O’Malley. P-H-M former Superintendent Dr. Dean Speicher also attended. It was under Dr. Speicher’s leadership that Bittersweet school and the Planetarium opened in 1980. Bittersweet first grader teachers and students added to the celebration. The students made a banners to mark the occasion.


PHM School Trustee VP Ryan McCullough, former PHM Superintendent Dr. Dean Speicher, Art Klinger, current PHM Superintendent Dr. Jerry Thacker, & PHM School Trustee Jim Garrett

Click to see the full photo gallery on P-H-M’s website.

Klinger began his 45 year career with P-H-M in 1970.  He taught Earth and Space Sciences at Schmucker Middle School, a position held for 10 years before taking over the Planetarium as its first director. Klinger’s interests in astronomy, aviation, and space travel made him a natural for the position. He was a pilot receiving his private pilot’s license in 1974. He was a member of the Great Lakes Planetarium Association and the International Planetarium Society. Klinger even authored an Introductory Astronomy text book that was used in Penn High School and IUSB astronomy classes; the last revision was August 2020. 

It was Klinger’s interest in the space travel history and NASA that really transformed the Planetarium. Astronaut Col. James Irwin, Lunar Module Pilot of Apollo 15 (8th man to land on the Moon), was the honorary speaker at the Planetarium’s public dedication in February 1981. He was the first of six astronauts to visit the Planetarium over the years; a Russian cosmonaut even visited in 1994. With every visit, personalized autographed photos were donated.

The Planetarium’s Space Museum came about through a connection Klinger made with the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum because of his application for the “Teacher in Space Project” in 1984. From that connection, 47 artifacts, including 16 that have actually been on the Moon, were loaned to the museum. Klinger eventually secured autographed pictures of all flown astronauts. He even obtained the autographed photos of the scientific minds behind the “Space Race,” like Wernher von Braun and Yuri Gagarin. Klinger states that according to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, P-H-M is the only public school district that not only has artifacts from the space program, but also has items that have been on the Moon. Click here to watch a video of Klinger talking about the importance of space exploration.

Klinger served as Director of P-H-M’s DVT, Planetarium Space Museum for 35 years retiring in 2015 after working at P-H-M for 45 years.

Dr. and Mrs. Thacker donated $10,000 to the Penn-Harris-Madison Education Foundation to rename the Planetarium the Arthur M. Klinger Planetarium.

This $10,000 donation is among four donations to PHMEF that Dr. and Mrs. Thacker have made as part of the Naming Rights Campaign. All recognize the contributions P-H-M employees have made to the community:

Per PHMEF’s Naming Rights fundraising initiative, 80 percent of the donation will go into Foundation’s endowment, which will in turn provide alternative and additional funding for various co-curricular and extracurricular programs. The remaining 20 percent directly funds professional development initiatives for
P-H-M teachers. Continuing the education and training of teachers is a major priority the School Corporation.

The mission of the Education Foundation is to develop alternative sources of income to support education initiatives in the School Corporation by strengthening partnerships between the community and the District. PHMEF supports education through awarding innovative teaching grants, staff development and other corporation-wide initiatives.

Free Preschool Academy for Qualifying Students

Penn-Harris-Madison is excited to share our offerings for full-day preschool opportunities for eligible families: Madison and Meadow’s Edge Preschool! 

The preschools are currently available for families living in the boundaries of Elm Road, Madison, and Meadow’s Edge Elementary Schools. 

Students who are four years old by August 1st, and in the year before kindergarten are invited to enroll.  

Eligibility is income-based, with funding grants available through Indiana’s Child Care Development Fund, and the On My Way Pre-K grants.  

Information Session

Tuesday, April 9

5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Meadow’s Edge Elementary, 16333 Kern Rd, Mishawaka

Click here to RSVP for Information Session

 

See Preschool State Voucher Income Eligibility Chart below. This is Pre-Tax Monthly Income, total family members, including parents.

Preschool State Voucher Income Eligibility Chart

 

To receive enrollment information, please contact:

Ryan Towner, Director of Literacy: rtowner@phm.k12.in.us

Meadow’s Edge Elementary: (574) 255-9347

Meadow’s Edge Student Artist Wins RIE T-shirt Design Contest

We have a winner! Fourth grade Meadow’s Edge student Carter Matson came up with this year’s winning T-shirt design for P-H-M Education Foundation’s upcoming Running is Elementary annual race.

Running is Elementary T-shirt design

With the help of Principal Gary Gardner, Jennifer Turnblom, Executive Director of PHMEF, surprised Carter in class this morning with the good news that his design had been chosen for this year’s student shirts. Director of Professional Development & Student Learning Dr. Lavon Dean-Null was also on hand for the fun.

Running is Elementary is Monday, May 6 (Rain Day is Wednesday, May 8) and will be run at Elm Road Elementary School starting at 3:00 p.m.

All P-H-M 4th & 5th grade students are invited to participate. Students will practice at their home schools and the culminating race is is the Running is Elementary event.

Check out the video below.

2024 PHM Elementary Spell Bowl Results

Tuesday, March 19 was P-H-M’s annual Elementary Spell Bowl event. Student 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade teams from all 11 elementary schools compete. Click here to see the photo gallery below.

Below is this year’s “leaderboard”:

3rd Grade Winners:

3rd gr. winners, Northpoint

  • 1st place- Northpoint with 29 points, coached by Nichol Monday
  • 2nd place- Prairie Vista with 27 points
  • 3rd place tie – Bittersweet, Horizon and Mary Frank each with 22 points

4th Grade Winners:

4th gr winners, Northpoint

  • 1st place- Northpoint with 30 points, coached by Jen Payne
  • 2nd place- Bittersweet with 29 points
  • 3rd place- Prairie Vista with 27 points

The 5th grade competition was very close with Northpoint and Bittersweet neck and neck. The tiebreaker words were: panache, soup du jour, fluorescence, pharmaceutical and Albuquerque.

5th Grade Winners:

5th gr winners, Northpoint  5th gr 2nd place, Bittersweet

  • 1st place- Northpoint with 38 points, coached by Ros Morehouse 
  • 2nd place- Bittersweet with 37 points
  • 3rd place tie – Prairie Vista and Horizon each with 26 points

Overall Bittersweet did so well that when the 5th grade team came out on stage to be recognized, the other students and parents cheered, clapped, and gave them a rousing round of congratulations!

Bittersweet team recognized  Bittersweet recognized

The teams spend weeks preparing for Spell Bowl with their teacher coaches. They may study word lists, learn about derivations (e.g., Latin roots) and rules (e.g., capitalization, pluralization), and how to spell correctly under pressure.

The format of the Spell Bowl is more like a written test. The emcee reads a word and uses the word in a sentence, the students listen and then write it on paper within a 15-second time limit. The students’ written entries are reviewed by a panel of judges and then their score is posted in front of the audience. Each correct word spelling is worth one point.

The annual event is held in Penn High School’s Center for Performing Arts to not only accommodate all the student teams, but also the students’ “fans,” which are their family, friends and other staff from their home schools!

Mrs. Cassie Scarsella, P-H-M’s High Ability Coordinator, manages the Spell Bowl and works to assure that it is a positive and enriching experience for students. Academic competition can give students confidence, increase their motivation to sharpen their skills and abilities, and expand their opportunities to receive recognition.

2024 Penn Musical, “The Music Man”

Penn’s school musical this year is “The Music Man.”

You won’t want to miss Penn’s talented student performers as they act out the play that follows fast-talking traveling salesman, Harold Hill, as he cons the people of River City, Iowa, into buying instruments and uniforms for a boys’ band that he vows to organize – this, despite the fact that he doesn’t know a trombone from a treble clef!

This year’s musical also includes the talents of a few P-H-M elementary and middle school students:

  • Mary Cortes, 5th grade, Prairie Vista Elementary School
  • Maxwell MacMillan, 5th grade, Mary Frank Elementary School
  • Anniston Steele, 7th grade, Grissom Middle School
  • Ezra Carrico, Katherine Hawkins, Benjamin Robertson and Noah Rohde, all in 8th grade, Schmucker Middle School

Click here to see the playbill.

   

This isn’t the first year Penn’s musicals have included students from younger grades. In 2016, younger students also participated in “Mary Poppins.” But this is the first year in recent memory to have this many!

Visit bit.ly/PennMusicMan to purchase tickets.

 

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FIRST-IN District Robotics Competition, March 2 & 3

The 2024 FIN Mishawaka FRC District Event will once again be held at Penn High School March 1st – 3rd (open to the public on Saturday, March 2 and Sunday, March 3). The event will be held in Penn’s Main Arena. See below for a daily schedule:

Saturday, March 2

  • 10:30 – 11:00 a.m., Opening Ceremonies
  • 11:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m., Qualifying Matches (No matches during Lunch, 1:00 – 2:00 p.m.)

Sunday, March 3

  • 9:30 – 10:00 a.m., Opening Ceremonies
  • 10:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., Qualifying Matches
  • 12:30 – 1:00 p.m., Alliance Selections
  • 1:00 – 2:00 p.m., Lunch
  • 2:00 – 5:00 p.m., Playoff Matches & Awards Ceremony

Click here for the detailed daily schedule.

For elementary aged children, there’s also the Next Gen event from 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. on Saturday. The event will be upstairs–above Penn’s Main Arena–in the Fitness Center. This event is open to all children, not just P-H-M students. Children have the opportunity to do hands-on STEM activities, even operate a robot! Click here for pictures from last year’s event.

This year’s game is CRESCENDOSM presented by Haas; click here to view a video about the game. FIRST© Robotics Competition teams will use their STEM skills and creative power to turn up the volume as they design, build, and program their robots for action-packed game play. Watch the game animation to inspire ideas.

During our 2023-2024 arts-inspired robotics season, FIRST® IN SHOWSM presented by Qualcomm, FIRST Robotics teams will celebrate the roles STEM skills play in the arts and design, and how these skills help build a world of endless possibilities for students. Click here to learn more about FIRST® IN and the District event being held at Penn High School.

2024 Young Authors’ Conference, Books & Bots

This year P-H-M Education Foundation’s Young Authors’ Conference is partnering up with the Next Gen Robotics event to bring you Books & Bots!  This event blends literary innovations with robotic creations. It’s a wonderful opportunity for P-H-M students in Kindergarten – 5th grade. Click here to view photos on Facebook from last year’s Young Authors’ Conference; click here to view photos of the 2023 Next Gen event.

The event will start at 9:15 a.m. in Penn’s Fitness Center.  There will be the three rotations at three locations within Penn High School. Families and students will visit each station for 45 minutes, with a 15 minute break in between. The rotations will be an author visit, reader’s theater, and fun with the bots! Next Gen (the bots area) will be open until 1:00 p.m. Registered participants will receive a S’more with confirmation details the week of February 26. You and your student’s rotation schedule and starting location will be provided in the S’more.  If you have any questions after receiving the email, please contact ccussen@phm.k12.in.us.

Please enter Door D. Parking is available in the front of Penn, at Schmucker Middle School, and in the parking lot near River Valley Church. Click here to access a Penn Building Map. Once inside Penn, look for “Books and Bots” signage and please arrive at your room between 9:00-9:15 a.m. With record attendance expected, plan plenty of time to park and walk to your designated area.  

Books & Bots is completely FREE! Thank you to the P-H-M Education Foundation and P-H-M Superintendent Dr. Jerry Thacker and his wife Donna Thacker for covering the cost of the YAC for the second year in a row from the proceeds of #GivingTuesday donations.

NEW THIS YEAR … both events will be held at Penn High School!

While the events are FREE, registration is required! 

Registration is NOW OPEN! Click here to register today!  Registration closes Friday, February 23.

One parent only must accompany students! Younger siblings may not accompany adults.  Due to the planned activities and available space, this experience is for your young author and one parent.

As part of the morning activities, students will participate in two rotations: one with well-known children’s author and speaker, Carolyn Crimi; and the other with Jocelyn Dupuis.  Following these rotations, students will enjoy spending time exploring technology, with an opportunity to share a piece of their piece of writing on a FlipGrid or online writing platform. 

Thanks to Better World Books, parents can purchase ahead of time Carolyn Crimi books online and then bring them to the March 2 event. Click here to preorder your student(s) books.

As a way to support Better World Books’ mission of providing books to children around the world to do their part in achieving global literacy, a collection box will be set up near Penn’s Door D for families to donate their gently used books.

BACKGROUND ON CAROLYN CRIMI:
Carolyn Crimi enjoys snacking, pugs, Halloween, and writing, although not necessarily in that order. Over the years she has published 19 books for children, including Weird Little Robots, Secondhand Dogs, Don’t Need Friends, Henry and the Buccaneer Bunnies, Where’s My Mummy?, There Might Be Lobsters, and I Am The Boss of This Chair.  When she’s not snacking, Carolyn enjoys giving author talks to elementary schools all over the country.

BACKGROUND ON JOCELYN DUPUIS:
Also as part of Young Authors’ Conference, participants and parents will also enjoy an interactive experience with P-H-M’s extraordinary Jocelyn Dupuis.  Jocelyn has a passion for music education and the performing arts. As a music teacher, she has taught many students to enjoy music as well. 

*Questions, please contact Candace Cussen at ccussen@phm.k12.in.us.

25th Anniversary Celebration

The 25th Anniversary Celebration held Wednesday, Oct. 11 was awesome! We celebrated 25 years of memories while also making new ones.

Dr. Thacker and other P-H-M administrators joined Principal Gary Gardner and Assistant to the Principal Emily Breeden to help kick things off with the ribbon cutting for our school’s new expansion which opened for use this school year.

Everyone enjoyed the music, face painting, bounce houses, balloon figurines, and of course the food trucks! 

It was so nice to see the familiar faces of former Hawks and staff all wearing the commemorative t-shirts.

Thank you to our PTO President Amanda Turnwald and the entire PTO, staff, and other volunteers who made last night a night to remember–for another 25 years at least!

Relive some of the sights and sounds in the video below:

What Fans Need to Know Before Heading to Penn Homecoming Parade & Game

Friday, September 29 is Penn’s Homecoming Parade, Fun Zone, Food Trucks & the Penn football game versus St. Joe. The P-H-M Education Foundation is once again sponsoring all the fun and new this year–FIREWORKS after the football game!

The entire P-H-M community is invited to come out for this fun-filled family event. All the fun starts with the Homecoming Parade. Be sure to grab your spot on the route by 5:00 p.m. Parade starts at 5:30!

Here are some things that will be helpful for families as they head out for all the festivities.

Parking:

  • Paid Parking ($3 cash) at these lots:
    • Penn High School (Front Lot & Jefferson Rd. Lot)
    • Softball/Tennis Lot
    • Bittersweet School Lot
  • Free Parking at these lots:
    • Soccer Lot (Bank Lot)
    • Pennway Lot
    • Schmucker Lot (front, Sides & in Back of School)

Penn 2023 Homecoming Map

Fun Zone:

  • 5-7:00 p.m.
  • Penn Baseball Field
  • Teacher Dunk Tanks, Jumpies for elementary students
    • FREE for EVERYONE!
  • Food Trucks:
    • Ben’s Pretzels
    • Junbuggies
    • Keim’s Elephant Ears
    • Kona Ice
    • Prized Pig
    • REAL Grille
    • Rulli’s Pizza
  • Fans will be allowed to take food purchased at the Food Trucks into the stadium. However, no other outside food will be allowed!

Gate & Ticket Info:

  • Penn vs. St, Joe, Kickoff is 7:30 p.m.
  • P-H-M students K – 5th grade get in FREE with paying adult!
  • Tickets are on sale now-Thurs., Sept. 28 online, ticket price is $6 (students & all other age groups same price)
  • Tickets on Friday, Sept. 29 are $7 (online or at the gate) 
  • PHM Employees plus one guest get in FREE, but you must have ID badge & the guest must be with the employee
  • Please remember middle schoolers cannot be dropped off unsupervised. Once in the game, the students are free to walk around. At least one responsible adult must be onsite.
  • Tickets are sold at the North & South gates only!
  • Penn All Sports Passes and tickets (hard & online) are accepted at all gates
  • The Center Gate is reserved for Penn All Sports Passes and online ticket holders only
  • No Reentry!

Fan Safety:

Rules to Remember:

  • No reentry to Everwise Field; once you leave, you are not allowed back in.
  • No outside food or beverages, no insulated cups
  • No backpacks
    • Diaper bags & large women’s purses are allowed
  • Penn does not have a clear bag policy
  • No electronic noise makers
  • No Footballs or Beach Balls
  • No weapons of any kind
  • No alcohol
  • No Smoking/Vaping products of any kind. All PHM school property is smoke free.
  • No open flames at private tailgating

Info on the Penn Student Homecoming Dance on Saturday, September 30 can found on PHMEF’s website. CLICK HERE.