When one gets to senior year in high school, one tends to reflect on events that happened to this point in the final year and wonder how it all came to this. This first semester of what will be the last year of my high school career was by far one of the craziest I have experienced at Southern Huntingdon County High School (SHCHS). From mold outbreaks to new chances for students to get help on school work, a lot has happened so far this year.
The 2018-19 school year had a bit of an ugly start when it was found mold had taken over a small portion of the school. As a result, the students of SHCHS were delighted to hear they had an extension to their summer vacation that became known as “moldcation.”
Soon after, it was learned that Joel Snyder, a math teacher at SHCHS, was diagnosed with testicular cancer. The district supported this veteran educator and various clubs, including the National Honor Society decided to raise funds to pay for hospital bills and other expenses. Thankfully, Snyder returned to school on January 22 and was welcomed back by students and faculty alike.
In an interview, Snyder stated, “So far, the classes have been moving along smoothly, and we have been able to return to some sort of normalcy. I return to Hershey for scans and blood work at the end of March. I hope that the blood clots will be dissolved and that the lymph nodes and tumor markers will still be at a normal range, which should help me finish the year without too many health-related interruptions.
“My faith in God has been strengthened. I have also been so impressed with how caring and supportive our community is, which was an important component in my recovery. Count every moment you have as a blessing and make the most of every opportunity God gives you,” said Snyder.
With the new school year came a few new additions designed to help students who may be having trouble with their courses. A writing lab, overseen by Jessica Keim, has been designed to help students enhance their abilities to write essays, providing things such as peer edits and suggestions to help students amplify their writing capabilities. “The writing lab has had the most impact on seniors at this point, having helped with some college admission and scholarship essays. I do not feel as though the writing lab is utilized to its fullest potential, most likely due to time constraints of students and possible procrastination. I would be thrilled to have more students come for assistance with their essays, whether they are for a class or for college scholarships,” Keim commented.
A math tutoring service, organized by high school math teacher Shannon Mowrer, was devised to help students struggling with math classes. Those who have trouble with lessons or need tutoring can get help or explanations on how to do their work, helping them to succeed in their class.
The SHCHS National Honor Society welcomed new members at its fall induction ceremony. Sixteen new members joined the ranks of National Honor Society members at the school. Jeffrey Mills, the adviser of the National Honor Society at SHCHS, commented, “The annual induction ceremony is a public event and formally recognizes high school students who have academically attained the opportunity to apply for membership. Becoming a member is a privilege earned, not just given. Each of the fifty-six members is held to high standards for scholarship, character, leadership and service.”
The science department has been active this year. The advanced biology class performed field tests on the Aughwick Creek. Various aspects of the creek were tested, including chemical aspects such as dissolved oxygen concentration and turbidity, physical aspects such as length and depth and biological aspects such as invertebrate populations. From these areas, students were then given a chance to test relationships between the different factors in the environment and draw conclusions similar to field scientists.
Multiple assemblies have emphasized important topics such as bullying or speaking up about problems in school. A representative from the state Attorney General’s office presented statistic-based findings about bullying and its effect on its victims. A presentation was then given in January by a representative of the Sandy Hook Promise on speaking up about bullying and other issues and how to submit tips about problems anonymously.
Preparation has already began for the regional Science Olympiad event to be held at Millersville University. Numerous students from the high school will be representing SHCHS while competing against schools from other counties in Pennsylvania in a range of science-related events. These events can range from tests of knowledge, building or solving problems. Participants are then scored on various criteria and placed accordingly.
The music program at SHCHS has also introduced two new bands, jazz band and pep band. Both bands will give students new outlets to try if traditional concert band does not interest them. Jazz band is a concert band that steers in a direction away from traditional concert band and utilizes different instruments for a different style of music, while pep band is a smaller marching band performing at events such as boy’s and girl’s basketball games.
As a senior, the teachers have been very supportive in trying to help the Class of 2019 toward graduation. There have been a few rough patches, especially with threats of extreme snowstorms and ice. There was one thing that came about this year that surprised this reporter, and that was the rise in popularity of Rubik’s cubes. For a challenging puzzle, a lot more people seemed capable of doing it than you’d expect.
With the second semester in progress and winter almost behind us based upon Punxsutawney Phil’s recent prognostication, the year will go by quickly. There are many events to look forward to, including the upcoming musical “Once Upon a Mattress” and spring sports. As a senior, there are final things to prepare for, including prom and graduation.
According to SHCHS principal Clint Heath, , “I think, considering all of the setbacks with mold and heat, the students and staff adapted to the difficulties very well. I think the community and students were very accepting of the situation and appreciated the clear communication, making sure that the students were put first. Because of the changes made from the first half, everyone is trying to make the second half as normal as possible. I anticipate that it will go well and the teachers plans will help to fill in from the first half of the year. What surprised me was how much communication has meant to the year. Despite how many setbacks there were, everyone stayed calm and clearly communicated with one another, which helped it seem like nothing bad was happening.”