News

Bathroom “Breaks”

By: Amelia Dibert

Tussey Mountain students were left baffled by bathroom closures at the high school. Following the destruction of a sink in the middle school hall bathroom, students wondered if these two events could be correlated. Also in question was if this act of vandalism was part of the “Devious Lick” TikTok trend. Dr. Shoemake has come forward to say that the two events are unrelated and, luckily, not part of the trend.  

Photo Credit: Amelia Dibert

The vandalism that occurred in the middle school has been dealt with. Shoemake mentions that “…one of [the] sinks in [the] bathroom was hit and pulled away from the wall doing some damage to the sink and the tile behind it.” Administrators have determined who caused the damage, and they have been disciplined appropriately. Shoemake notes that despite not having video evidence, the people involved are plausible and likely engaging in horseplay. He also disclosed that if it were deliberately part of a TikTok trend, the disciplinary action would have been handled differently. If harm should come to the property or people of the school on behalf of an internet trend, those involved would be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

The bathrooms located in the middle hall that were subject to closures were unrelated to the incident in the middle school bathroom, and the actual reason is correlated to an uptick in vaping. With current vaping issues, administrators have been looking into purchasing vape alarms to be installed into the bathrooms. Once the devices detect vape, cameras located outside the door immediately start to take a continuous stream of photographs, capturing who was in the bathroom at the time, and offers a starting point for subsequent investigation. At this time, the bathrooms remain closed.

Students voiced their concerns about the bathrooms being closed. Among these students is Joshua Defibaugh who said, “I’m incredibly angry [about the bathrooms] because you have to run around to find an open bathroom.” He brought up the inconvenience of having to wander the hallways in search of a place to relieve oneself, and many others share his distress.  

Food Shortage Plagues Tussey Mountain High School

By: Ruthie Saylor


In the last few weeks there has been a clear supply shortage in the cafeteria at the Tussey Mountain High School. This has been affecting not just the students, but it has also affected the cafeteria staff that is employed at the high school. It has led to a shortage of some of the students’ favorite options.

Sophomore, Tyler Lambing clenches an empty cafeteria tray in disappointment of another day without a chicken patty sandwich. Photo Credit: Shelby Lear

One of the most popular choices in the school is the chicken products that they make, but they have been seeing a shortage in them. Renee Giselman, the Food Service Director at Tussey says, “We haven’t got any chicken in … this week. There is none available.” That is why the students and staff could only purchase sandwiches with chicken strips or nuggets in them, or no chicken sandwiches at all. Timothy Winnick, a freshman at Tussey Mountain says, “They replaced the chicken patty with nuggets. What’s the school coming to?” One of the reasons that the school has been having such a chicken shortage is because Tyson, the company from which Tussey buys their chicken products, has raised its price on chicken. This isn’t completely the company’s fault though. Tyson’s company spokesman says, “[We] are working diligently to address the demand and supply challenges the industry is facing to make sure students are fed.”

One of the other important things that the school has been running out of has been pizza dough. A week ago the school had completely run out of pizza, and the cafeteria didn’t have any left for the rest of the week due to this shortage. 

Is Change Really Necessary?

By: Amelia Dibert

Sapphire Software, a virtual gradebook, recently updated their site, and this change has been met with mixed reviews. However, students’ responses have been mostly negative with 44.7% of questionnaire respondents saying that they did not like the new update, and only 36.8% of respondents saying they like it. These responses come for a variety of reasons, but most share a common theme.

Majority of respondents that said “no” mentioned their biggest issue with the site was navigation. Before, Sapphire showed all of one’s percentage grades at the top of its homepage. With the update, this has been moved below multiple other sections. On the topic of navigation, Ruthie Saylor, a sophomore, noted that she didn’t favor it and said, “You have to look for your grades instead of them being [at the top] when you open up Sapphire. It was something to get used to.” This change made it harder for students to monitor their work and maintain their grades. 

woman in white shirt showing frustration
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Multiple students disclosed that their biggest struggle was finding out what work they’d missed and needed to turn in. Among these students is freshman, Daniel Black, who shared that, “I was not able to know what I was missing, therefore, I never turned in anything missing. Which resulted in my grade dropping.” This combined with the end of the marking period creates stress on students that may need to catch up on previous assignments. 

In the wake of Sapphire’s update, many found it to be confusing, difficult, or downright annoying. Considering all the negative comments students had made about said update, it makes one wonder whether change actually means improvement.

Preparing for school after COVID-19

By: Chloe Ritchey 

Going back to school this year is different for everyone.  Some are going online for the first time while others are going back to school in person. Either way, this school year looks completely different than it did last year. Every student and staff member puts on a mask, there are now hand sanitizer stations in the hallways, and students can not sit directly beside each other.

Michael Ritchey applies hand sanitizer has he waits for the school bus.

So how did the students of Tussey Mountain prepare for this year? Michael Ritchey grade 7 prepared physically by “buying new masks, stocking up on hand sanitizer and getting my computer set up for school.” All things that “I never had to do or even really think about doing until the pandemic hit,” Ritchey explains.  He also had to prepare himself mentally for how different this year would be. He did this by “reminding myself that everyone would have a mask on, and that the school is doing everything that it can to keep me and everyone safe.” Although school is a lot different this year, Ritchey felt well prepared and safe to go back. 

This year the number of in person students has decreased. Out of 572 students that are enrolled in Tussey Mountain middle and high school 138 of them are enrolled in online classes. 

Challenges of Organizing TM Online


By: Tyler Lambing

Mrs. Browell has been teaching online since 2011 and she’s good at it, but this year Mrs. Browell has more online students than usual. Normally she would have around 20 online students, but now because of COVID-19 she has around 130 which brings a lot of problems having to manage them all on her own. When Ms. Jenkins, Mrs. Miller, and Mrs. Allison volunteered to help her out with the online students, of course she accepted. 

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Mrs. Browell conducts a Zoom call with a TM Online student. Photo Credit: Tyler Lambing

On a day to day basis, she checks attendance, looks to see who is behind or not online, gives students help with quizzes by emailing, messaging, or meeting them online. To find out if students need help or if they are not even doing their work, she uses edgenuity.com to monitor them. Browell also checks to see if people are doing their physical education document, and she answers questions about technical issues.

Some problems she faces are the students not getting online, not doing enough work each day, and having difficulty passing tests. She cannot meet them face to face, so giving them instructions can be more difficult. She overcomes these challenges by using Zoom meetings, calling home, and if needed, having a 1 on 1, face to face meeting with masks of course. 

Mrs. Browell is so dedicated to helping the online students that she even works on weekends because it’s hard for her to get everything she needs to get done in a school week. “I am glad that we have been able to stay in school for 7 weeks and that most of the online students have been working daily and completing their work, while about 25% of them need to be more diligent in completing their class work.”  Browell goes on to explain, “online learning is not easy, but students can be successful if they put time into their work”.

A Socially Distanced Cafeteria

By: Ruthie Saylor

This new year is full of all new obstacles and challenges. One of these is the social distancing policies in the lunch room. In this new year all students must socially distance in the cafeteria. This is because of the Covid-19 outbreak last spring. The whole student body wears  masks and tries their best to socially distance themselves. They have to sit one seat away from each other. There are kids that sit at desks on the stage of the auditorium. After they are finished eating, they dump their trays. Then they go and sit in the auditorium. Those students also have to sit at least one seat away from each other. 

When asked if it was hard to adjust to the change in the cafeteria, freshman Denisha Fessler responded with, ”Yes, because I like to sit close to people.” When a teacher was asked the same question, Joe Frederick said, “It is an adjustment because the kids have phones. Maybe that’s a good thing because if they are distanced [without electronics] it would be harder for them to stay apart. Technology has really helped with this situation.” 

One thing many people overlook is the work the lunch ladies put in to keep the children safe. There are also new rules while gathering food. There are places roped off so that students don’t touch the pizza because it is not wrapped. The lunch ladies hand out food differently too. When asked if this made her job harder Renae Vanaelstyn said, “Yes, in every aspect of it. Preparing food is much harder, because [fruits and vegetables] have to go in containers, and you can’t grab your own pizza.” The fruits and vegetables are not allowed to be touched unless you intend to eat them, meaning you can’t pick it up then put it back. This is so that they don’t touch it and set it back down and potentially infect other students. The lunch ladies are working very hard to keep all of the students buying lunch safe. They have to clean things more. Dawn Blair says, “I take this whole machine [dishwasher] and we clean it … We clean the machine with delimer.”

Times like these call for change to keep us safe. Students must also wear masks when they are not eating and while sitting in the auditorium. The students must wait and sit until the bell rings. The teachers watch from the front of the auditorium to make sure no one violates the guidelines. These teachers keep the students safe to the best of their abilities. Students try their best to follow the rules, and students are taking it very well for this first marking period. Joe Frederick said, “The kids are doing real good with it.”

Henderson heads for Colorado

By: Chloe Ritchey

The students, faculty and staff bid farewell to Principal.  Janell Henderson has been Tussey Mountain Senior High School principal for 4 years, but on the 20th of March she will be leaving Tussey and moving to Colorado. The position of principal will be passed down to Matthew McCahan, who currently serves as the middle school principal. In Colorado, Henderson will not be working in education; instead, she will be working for CCMC a property management company. The community Henderson will be managing is called Heritage Todd Creek. “It’s a fifty-five and over resort style living community,” explains Henderson.  In a way she will be like the principal of the community. There are 3,000 homes there and much like school, Henderson will have to report to a board. One of her responsibilities will be to “make sure everything is safe just like I do here [at Tussey Mountain],” said Henderson. 

Principal Janell Henderson leaves Tussey Mountain and heads for the mountains of Colorado.

While working at Tussey, Henderson helped update the schools safety procedures. She changed the master schedule adding a tenth period “for students to get tutored, retake tests, and utilize that instead of study halls during the day, so that we can have maximum academic exposure during the school day periods one through nine,” explained Henderson.  Henderson also added a double math period in pre-algebra and algebra, “so that they [the students] could use one period for instruction with their teachers and the second to gain practice skills on those new lessons and hopefully not have as much homework,” she said. 

Henderson says, “I have so many great memories [from] working at Tussey Mountain.” Her favorite memory and biggest accomplishment would be helping to create the PRIDE team, seeing what the PRIDE team does, “and how they really changed the culture of our school.” When she first started working at Tussey Mountain, Henderson said, “I didn’t feel the culture was as positive as it is now.” 

Henderson found her position as principal challenging, but she enjoyed it. She has learned that you need good communication skills and good problem-solving skills to be the high school principal. Henderson feels that her past jobs working in alternative education, being a juvenile probation officer, and then being a guidance counselor really helped her prepare to be a high school principal. While this is the only principal position that she has had, Tussey Mountain just felt like the right fit for her at that time. Now she is off to new adventures!  Her Titan family wishes her all the best!

Tussey’s drama club breaks the fourth wall

By:  Caleb Sopher

The stage is set, curtains pulled, and as the light fades, the annual Tussey Mountain musical begins. It’s that time of the year again. This year’s choice is Into the Woods. The stress levels are on the rise and the curtains are closing in. Sophomore Dylan Stone and Junior Kieran Gresko had much to say about their stress levels and experiences throughout the years. Gresko has been acting in plays for 7 years and Stone for 4 years. Time runs short for drama people; Gresko says, “Typically practices are two and a half hours long.” In that time, drama members work on the dance routines, scenes, and memorize lines.

Junior Nathan Estes rehearsed his song for the March 6, 2020, opening of Tussey Mountain’s presentation of Into the Woods. Photo Credit: Amelia Dibert

The light doesn’t only shine on the stage, it also reflects on a student’s grades. Gresko made it clear that grades are very important for the play. He explains, “Grades are affected not because we are busy, but we are pressured to do better because if we fail a class, we could be ineligible for the show.” Students depend on each other to work hard in the classroom and on the set to remain eligible just like sports.

There is no play if there is no stage to act upon. The set crew builds, paints and eventually deconstructs the set. Sophomore Amelia Dibert has 3 years of experience on the set crew. Spending hours at school on a Saturday for set-creation is time consuming, but Dibert explains the schedule.  “Fridays are 6pm-10pm and Saturdays are 1pm-10pm, after the 9am to noon rehearsal. Including the practice itself, I work 13 hours.” She explains her weekend time disappears quickly, “It’s always a rush to get homework done.”

The time for the show is fast approaching, and the actors and crew are on edge. It’s not always easy working with others.  Stone explains, “Fights do happen and are resolved; what’s a crew when we are all fighting? Some people do better than others, but you have to work together as a team.” Drama club is currently working on Act II.

Stepping into the light and having every eye on you would immediately turn some people off. As Stone says, “Before I joined Drama, I was insecure about myself.” For anyone who may want to participate in Drama Club, the door is wide open to you. You may ask, “What if I’m too shy or not confident enough?” Gresko states, “I would highly encourage anyone to join Drama Club. Come to a practice sometime. Audition because you might not know it now, but you might love it.” You will never know until you try.  

“The graveyard is the richest place on earth because it is here that you will find all the hopes and dreams that were never fulfilled, the books that were never written, the songs that were never sung, the inventions that were never shared,” stated Les Brown. 

The drama wheel keeps turning and the show must go on. For the Tussey Mountain Drama Club, the curtain goes up at 7:30 pm on March 7 & 8, with a matinee performance Sunday, March 9 at 2:30.

Titans come out of the shadows to learn about careers

By: Chloe Ritchey

On Monday, February 3, Mahala Scott along with the rest of the Tussey Mountain 8th grade class went job shadowing.  Each student was in charge of getting in touch with the person they wanted to shadow. Most people that the students chose to shadow “are close by or a relative,” explained junior high guidance counselor Ms. Taylor Shoemaker. 

Scott job shadowed Mr. Angelo at the elementary school.  Mr. Angelo teaches second grade. Scott picked Mr. Angelo to shadow “because he’s my little brother’s teacher.” Scott is thinking about being a teacher after high school. “I liked working with the little kids,” said Scott. After shadowing, Scott had to complete a packet with questions about the person that they job shadowed. When asking Mr. Angelo these questions Scott learned “that you need 180 [credit] hours every 5 years [to maintain a teaching license].” 

Eighth grade Titan, Abbie Saylor, consulted with art teacher, Adam Baughman, during her job shadowing experience at Tussey Mountain High School. Photo Credit: Amelia Dibert

Alyssa Horton is another 8th grader who participated in job shadowing on Monday. Horton shadowed Dr. Carlson from the Allegheny Vet Hospital in Mount Union. She chose Dr. Carlson to shadow because Horton would like to become a vet after she graduates school. During her time working, Horton learned that “helping people’s pets can be hard, especially when having to explain everything to them.” Even with these challenges, she still wants to be a vet because she “loves animals.” Horton’s favorite part of the day was “helping the vet perform surgeries and helping with appointments.”  

At the end of the day, both Horton and Scott had a good job shadowing experience and are both thinking of pursuing these jobs after school. 

TMHS Marching Band performs at Disney World

By:  Alivia Melius

On the afternoon of Dec. 3, sounds of a familiar Pennsylvania based marching band filled the air at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. The Tussey Mountain “Titan” Band played the famous Christmas tune, “Jingle Bells” as they led the parade down Main Street in the Magic Kingdom.

Originally, the marching band was not sure they would be performing in Disney World. “The last trip was five years ago when this year’s seniors were in 7th grade,” marching band director Bonnie Jenkins said. “Many were unable to attend the trip at that time and asked if there was a possibility of going [during] their senior year, and we were able to make it happen,” Jenkins said.

After reaching a decision to try out, the group auditioned for a place in a Disney parade last fall with a video from their annual appearance at the Saxton Halloween Parade, Veteran’s Day Parade, and this year’s Fireman’s Convention Parade in Six Mile Run, Pennsylvania. In early September, the marching band was informed they would be able to perform in Disney. Much preparation went into the trip such as extra practices and several fundraisers. This year, the band boosters decided on a raffle to raise money for costs as their main project for the school year. Students were provided raffle tickets to sell for prizes that included a kayak, power tools supplied by Saxton Surplus, a pellet smoker grill, cornhole game, Michael Kors handbag, fire ring, and various cash prizes. The band made a grand total of $4020 from the raffle. The band members also held their annual Peanut Butter Meltaway sale and Christmas candy sale through Gardner’s Candies. 

Some students had saved money through fundraising since they were in seventh grade in hopes of going on this trip. For many students, this opportunity gave them their first Disney experience. This was my first time in Disney,” senior color guard Cierra Yochum said. “This year, I put in a lot of time fundraising and saving up. [The trip] was better than I could’ve ever imagined.”

The band departed on a charter bus from Tussey Mountain High School on the evening of Dec. 1, and arrived in Orlando the next afternoon. The following day, the band headed to Magic Kingdom to play in a parade march. Before going out for their performance, cast members distributed official Disney Performing Arts Mickey Mouse ears for the musicians to wear during the parade and take home as souvenirs. The ears are exclusive to Disney Performing Arts acts only. After the parade ended, Tussey Mountain was given a recognition award for performing in a Walt Disney World Parade. “Our Disney guide for the parade complimented them on their preparation and professionalism,” Jenkins said.

“Since I come from a very small school, being able to have this chance to perform at Disney World was amazing and a once in a lifetime opportunity that I’ll always remember,” junior drum major Ethan Schneider said. “I was very proud to represent my school, area, and state in the parade.”

“Being a small school, I think that it’s really cool that we got to go to a place like Disney,” seventh grade saxophonist Alexis Sumner said.

Throughout the trip, they visited Epcot, Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and Disney Springs. “My favorite part of the trip was the parade and going to all the parks with my neighbor, Emma,” Schneider said. “Animal Kingdom was my favorite park because of the Avatar ride and Expedition Everest.”

“Marching in Disney is always a magical experience and this year proved no different. As you march through Magic Kingdom, the people are everywhere cheering you on. It is the best feeling in the world when you make the curve around the castle and head down main street,” Jenkins said. “The students did an amazing job.”

Concerts Ring in the Holiday Season

By:  Rylie Jacobs

On December 13th, at 7:00 PM, Tussey’s choir and bell choir students sang and played in their annual Christmas concert.

There has been a concert choir at Tussey since this school was first built in the 1960s, but the choir did shut down for quite some time. Choir teacher Sarah Johnson has worked here since 2008, and it started up again three to four years prior. The choir sings a variety of choral pieces. They typically sing some traditional music and some recent pop songs, and even songs from the Renaissance. “[Concert Choir]  has many advantages,” Johnson said. “[Concert Choir] brings out your innate musical talent, improves the way you hear music. It can make you more confident and gives you a sense of belonging.” 

This year, the choir sang a modern pop Christmas arrangement by Acapella group Pentatonix. They also sang, “He Is Born,” arranged by famous composer Dan Forest. 

Along with the choir performance, Tussey also hosted their Christmas  handbell choir concert the same evening.  

In 1994 the hand bell choir at Tussey Mountain was originally a section of the marching band. During home games, the marching band set up the hand bells at the old football field at Saxton Liberty. 

The bell choir requires 11 students for all three octaves of the bells. Bell choir instructor Bonnie Jenkins recommends bell choir to students because, “Everyone has their own part and they are all equally important. Students learn individual accomplishments and are responsible for their parts.” 

Both concerts were a success. “[The students] all stepped up to the plate,” Jenkins said, and did a great job.”

“I thought we had a wonderful performance,” Johnson said. “Many, many thanks to the performers for one of the more polished evening of chorus music I can remember. What a great concert!” 

TMHS’ Plow Captures 4th Win

By: Alivia Melius

Tussey Mountain High School “plowed” the competition in PennDOT’s annual “Paint the Plow” contest, taking home their fourth consecutive win. On Nov. 11, 2019, surveys closed for District 9’s plow voting, naming TMHS as the “Fan Favorite” and the judges’ choice.

Paint the Plow is a community outreach program founded by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation geared towards spreading public awareness about snow plows and promoting overall safety during the winter season. The competition began in the 2015-2016 school year originating in Cambria County. Eventually the program spread throughout the state and is currently held in almost all counties across Pennsylvania. Bedford County first participated in the Paint the Plow competition in the 2016-2017 school year, deeming Tussey the victor every year since.

“[In 2016], Dr. Shoemoke had seen the contest through an email, and he sent it to me suggesting maybe we ought to try it out,” Adam Baughman, the art teacher, said. “He was excited about it.”

Each year, PennDOT assigns a theme for the plow designs. This year’s theme was “Don’t Rush in Ice and Slush.” Tussey based the main portion of their plow on Mount Rushmore as a play on words to the design prompt.

“I thought it was a pretty good idea since the name was ‘Don’t ‘Rush’ in Ice and Slush,’” sophomore Bradley Spitler–a second year art student–said. “It’s patriotic and it’s a big landmark in America.”

Planning begins as early as spring considering the amount of time the design process takes.

“We actually had to submit the design before the school year was even over simply because the other schools were committing copyright infringements,” Baughman said. “Our design was totally original, and it was composed by about twelve student submissions that were sketched out; and the ideas were torn into different pieces and reassembled on a piece of paper that was the same shape as the plow… It was kind of like a patch-work quilt of ideas,” Baughman said. 

After approving the layout of the painting, students waited for the plow to arrive in the fall for the painting process to commence. Each year, Baughman’s art students base their plow on a form of art. This year, they chose surrealism, a style that creates the illusion of a fantasy reality. Baughman’s art students focused on the work of famous surrealist Salvador Dali for reference.

“We use a multitude of paints, preferably outdoor enamel. We use whatever type of paint we have available simply because it takes a lot of money to buy the right paint,” Baughman said.

Students soon found their niches in what part they played for creating the painting. Many students donated extra time to advance progress on the plow.

“When we were actually sketching the design I copied the [design of] Mount Rushmore,” senior Kaegan Thompson, who has assisted in completing the plow for all four years said. “Since I was unable to have an art class in my schedule, I worked solely on it during 10th period.”

“I mainly stuck with shaping Mount Rushmore, specifically George Washington and also the snow on the mountains, making it seem more realistic than it was,” Spitler said.

Sketchers and painters worked together during the month of October to complete and perfect the plow, until Oct. 17 when PennDOT took it for display outside the Bedford County PennDOT maintenance building. Previously, PennDOT hosted their fan voting through Facebook but switched to Survey Monkey this year. Community members were encouraged to follow the link to vote on their favorite plow.

Tussey Mountain plans to continue to participate in the Paint the Plow contest for years to come.

“I’m happy that we continue this streak of winning the plows, and I’m excited for next year’s ideas; and I can’t wait to be part of it and help develop a new plow idea next year,” Spitler said.

“I think we’re leaving it in the hands of some confident students. I hope that we will continue to win it, and I will support our plow and our art students in years to come,” Thompson said.

“I couldn’t be more proud of the students that worked on it. They really came together as a team to accomplish another win for the school,” Baughman said. “It’s something that everyone can be proud of whether the person is a student who worked on it or is just part of the school community.” The decorative plows from participating schools will be visible throughout their counties clearing the roads this winter.

TMHS hosts annual food drive.

By:  Alivia Melius

Giving is an essential part of the holidays. At Tussey Mountain High School, students participated in a food drive to spread cheer during the holiday season. Tussey’s Student Council held their annual food drive event the week of Dec.16 to 20. Students in grades 5 to 12 were encouraged to participate in the food drive. Proceeds went to Hopewell Food Pantry in Saxton, Pennsylvania.

This is the fifth year Tussey Mountain’s Student Council hosted the food drive. Each year, students in the club pick a theme for the drive and offer a movie incentive to help drive interest in donating. Once the theme is chosen, flyers are placed around the school to advertise for the event. This year, the movie shown was the 2018 animated film The Grinch. Students were asked to donate a minimum of five items to qualify for viewing the movie on Dec. 20.

As goods began to come in, Student Council members helped sort and package the products into boxes for later shipment. Juniors Abigail Neff and Katelynn Hoover, both third year Student Council members, and several other students took time out of their day to assist in this process by working through study halls and enrichment periods. Until sendout, the dry goods were held in advisor Christopher Carrier’s classroom, where students met to lend a hand in the packing operation.

“We were put into leadership positions by sorting [goods], getting them from students, putting them together and telling them when the cans were due,” Neff said.


Student Council member Abigail Neff sorted donations into boxes during the food drive.
Photo Credit: Alivia Melius

“It really made me feel good about myself to help people in need during the holidays,” Hoover said. 

Other parts of the community also pitched in for the event. Junior Elizabeth Folk, a cashier at the Saxton Market, donated extra boxes from her workplace. “I was thinking of other ways to contribute to the drive,” Folk said, “so I gathered up some cardboard boxes from my work to take to school.”

Tussey Mountain plans to continue hosting their holiday food drive in years to come. “It’s important to be a part of the community,” Carrier said. “All of the coordination between students of how to collect the food and sorting the food [brings students together].”

Students at Tussey were also moved by the experience. “It made me realize how during the holidays a lot of people are less fortunate than others,” Neff said. “It made me feel important, and I was helping a bigger cause.”

Tussey Mountain High School students collected and donated over 1000 dry goods to the pantry.

Oil Leak Detected at Tussey Mountain

By:  Alivia Melius

Talks of an oil leak potentially headed to the Juniata River are “heating up” at Tussey Mountain High School. On the early evening of Nov. 4,  Dr. John Snyder alerted the Saxton Volunteer Fire Company of the scent of fuel near his dentist’s office. Firefighters rushed to the scene of a creek that appeared to be collecting some sort of fuel near Snyder’s office in Saxton, Pennsylvania.

Prior to the 2006 and 2007 school year, Tussey Mountain High School utilized oil-fired boilers for heat. Even after the building was fully renovated and switched to a more eco-friendly alternative, the old pipe lines remained. Currently, the heating oil is only used to warm the water in the institution and fuel the school’s generator. During the renovation, however, a line was left plugged but still holding oil.

“That oil line got a hole in it, and then the oil went into a drain,” Maintenance Supervisor Jim Mitchell said, “and it ended up going down into the creek.”

“Around 2:00 PM that day, we were dispatched for a fuel investigation at Dr. Snyder’s.” volunteer fireman senior Camden Rininger said. “I looked at my phone; and since [we didn’t have enough people to crew up,] I went down to the office to go help assist. Come to find the creek was red and full of heating oil, and we began the process of tracking it down to find where it was.”

PIG containers and caution cones are used to mark the site of cleanup following a fuel spill at Tussey Mountain High School. Photo by: Amelia Dibert

Mitchell, who was called to the scene around 4:00 PM that day, assisted firefighters in locating the origin of the leak. They were eventually led to the boiler room in the basement of the high school. After finding the source of the leak, they were able to isolate it and begin the process for cleanup. Clear Creek Company, an environmental emergency company out of Altoona, Pennsylvania,  was contacted and continues to provide, place and replace PIG mats, which are hydrophobic mats that collect oil and repel water, to clear the waterway affected. An estimated 200 gallons of heating oil was lost.

“We managed to stop it before it made it to the [Juniata] river,” Rininger said.

“The fire company did a wonderful job,” Mitchell said. “They were on it and stayed on it, and they helped with putting the mats in the boiler room, even down to the creek. They had PIG mats of their own and were using stuff they had until the environmental company got here.” 

“DEP has been here, and they’re satisfied with what we are doing,” Mitchell said. “The fish commission has also been here, and they’re satisfied with what we are doing to clean the oil up. None of it has reached the Raystown branch of the Juniata River.”  DEP commended the district for its quick action once the leak was found.  

Most students were unaware of the leak. “I never heard about it, except from one of our teachers, and I usually know most of the things that go on throughout Tussey,” sophomore Caleb Sopher said. “[When I drive to school in the morning] I see them exchanging things and putting them into big trucks. I just thought it was trash from the football games, but I was eventually told it wasn’t.”  Crews worked around the clock on the night of the discovery to make sure the interior school environment was safe for students the next day. Large fans were brought in to ventilate the building throughout the night. There were no interruptions to the school schedule due to this incident.

“It’s an unfortunate thing that happened as a result of the refit,” Interim Superintendent Jerry Shoemake said during an interview. “Certainly we had no indication that this was even a concern. When it happened we reacted as quickly as we possibly could, and we will continue to react to make everyone whole,” Shoemake said. 

The cleanup process is expected to take approximately two more weeks to complete. The total cost for the operation has not been made public at this time.

Students dress up to shine a light on drug and alcohol use

By: Trista Lemin

Every year students at Tussey Mountain celebrate Red Ribbon Week for drug and alcohol awareness.  Students participate by dressing in varying outfits throughout the week. Each day has a designated theme chosen by members of Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) and both Jr./Sr. High guidance counselors, Mrs. Megan Schneider and Ms. Taylor Shoemaker.

Many students have learned the hard way that you never know when you are going to lose someone due to drugs. They could walk out of a building and be gone. Some teenagers think it is okay to drink and do drugs, but little do they know that drugs can affect so much, like their public image and how people view them. One in five teens have abused prescription medications,” according to the Centers for Disease Control.”

At Tussey Mountain High School they do their best to prevent the use of drugs in school. Instead of celebrating just 1 day, they celebrate a whole week of drug prevention. October 21st through October 25th is their Red Ribbon Week. The themes for the week were: Monday: Pajama Day, Tuesday: Camo Day, Wednesday: Wild West, Thursday: Neon Day, and Friday: Jersey Day. There were many students helping to prevent drugs. Tussey Mountain had theme days because that is how they celebrate and show Titan Pride. The outfits the student wore were to show students there are better things to do than use drugs and alcohol.

Many students were excited for Red Ribbon Week not only to increase awareness and stop drugs but also because the students got to wear pajamas on Monday. Many students wish they could do that every Monday for the school year. There were many onesies, including a Rudolph onesie, Jack the Pumpkin King onesie, and a dinosaur onesie. 

Sophomore Kyle Williams said Camo Day was his favorite because “No one could see me.” Some of the student body wore their hunting attire for school. Williams also said his favorite themes were “Camo Day and Neon Day” because for Jersey Day he had no choice but to wear his [Titan] jersey because he plays football He liked Camo Day because “no one could see me,” and Neon Day so he could be bright. ” I actually had outfits for those days,” said Williams. Sophomore Dekin Woolnough also said his favorite theme for Red Ribbon Week was Camo Day because “some of the boys are country boys.”

Some students brought it upon themselves to talk about drugs and how bad they are, not just for your health, but for how the public sees you. “Many kids communicated about drugs,” said Williams. Students communicated to each other to “keep students from dying,” Woolnough said.

By the sounds of it, Tussey Mountain Red Ribbon Week celebration was a success. Many students went all out just to make Red Ribbon Week 2019 an absolute success!

Students and community “run for their lives” at the Zombie 5k Race

By: Alivia Melius

Freshman Jayven Ritchy gave a dead stare before heading out to chase down the runners at the Zombie 5k. Photo By: Angelina Smith

Tussey Mountain High School and local community members rose from the grave and to the occasion to participate in the first ever Zombie Run held on the evening of Nov. 2, 2019, at Warriors Path State Park in Saxton, Pennsylvania. The event began at 6:30 PM, at dusk, giving participants a truly spooky experience. Tussey Mountain’s PRIDE Team–the school’s citizenship organization–sponsored the community-wide event and encouraged students and their families to join in on the fun. 

The Zombie Run was a 5k long distance run. The cost to enter was $20.00. Participants in the run were given the option between playing the role of a zombie or a runner. Zombies came dressed in chilling attire to the event. Their goals were to “infect” the runners by grabbing all of their flags before they finished the race. About 25 zombies and 15 runners took part in the run. “I volunteered myself as a zombie for the run,” freshman Chloe Ritchey said. “My favorite part was crawling across the ground to attack people. It was really fun.”

A lot of preparation went into the Zombie Run event. “A lot of people tossed around wanting to do a run at some point,” Amanda Adams, a PRIDE advisor, said. “I was the one who really wanted to do a ‘zombie’ run. We also had a color run in mind and a couple other ideas, but I love Halloween so that’s the one I pushed for.” Robert Hummel— another advisor for the PRIDE Team— planned out the trails. On the day of the event, the PRIDE Team visited the location to remove any obstructions on the path. “We set up a canopy where we had registration. We did zombie makeup and organized the students to decide who was doing what,” Adams said. “We had to reserve the state park and do all the paperwork for that; there was a nominal fee of about $25. We designed t-shirts as well.”

There were no defined winners, but those who completed the race without getting infected received medals proclaiming them “survivors.” Those who completed the race but did get “bitten” were awarded medals that deemed them “infected.” “I felt really accomplished! I was so shocked that I survived,” 6th grader Michael Ritchey said. “[My favorite moment was] whenever I came up to my sister Chloe–she was one of the zombies. I would totally participate again.”

The Zombie Run was a non-profit event, and any proceeds raised went back into the costs of the function by the PRIDE Team. “I think that everyone who came out had a really, really nice time.” Adams said. The PRIDE Team plans to host another run in the future.

Tussey’s Tremendous Tailgate

By: Chloe Ritchey

The Tussey Mountain P.R.I.D.E. team held a tailgate in the high school student parking lot on Friday, October 25, as the first marking period incentive. Games including life-size Jenga, spike ball, can jam, and big cup pong were provided by the P.R.I.D.E. team members. Tug of war tournaments between the grades was also held. According to Alyssa Horton, the 8th grade class was undefeated. During the middle school tailgate, the teachers lost to the 5th graders.  

Photo by: Chloe Ritchey

Buffalo chicken dip, pulled pork, hot dogs, hamburgers, huggies, soda, and oreos were sold by Sandy Kay Rickabaugh. Estelle Miller, a P.R.I.D.E. team member, helped give temporary tattoos and sold socks and t-shirts. “It was fun and a good way to bring the school together,” explained Miller.  

The idea for the tailgate was created by the P.R.I.D.E. students, then was brought to life with the help of the P.R.I.D.E. teachers and students. Alyssa Horton’s favorite part of the day was “the fact that I got out of class, but I liked being able to talk to my friends during a school day.” Horton paid seven P.R.I.D.E tickets to attend the event and said, “ I think it was a fair amount.” 

The tailgate seemed to get the students excited for the P.R.I.D.E. carnival which is coming soon in the spring. 

Internet woes have Tussey students disconnected and distraught

This article won for Writer of the Week in the Huntingdon Daily News.

By:   Alivia Melius

Student learning at Tussey Mountain has hit an internet speedbump frustrating students and teachers alike. Tussey Mountain Junior/Senior High School has been one among several schools within the Appalachian Intermediate Unit 8 to experiences changes in internet service providers in the 2019-2020 school year.
Through the Regional WAN program, the IU8 was able to distribute internet services to schools within the region of their unit. Previously, the company known as Affiniti provided these schools with sufficient internet access.

“[Affiniti] closed its doors in June and didn’t file for bankruptcy or anything,” said Tussey’s technology coordinator Jeremie Jessee. “The state came in and said, ‘you can’t just close your doors and stop providing internet,’ so they had to find other providers.”

Forced into service, In The Stix, a limited liability company out of Sankertown, Pennsylvania, was issued the contract and drafted as the new service provider. Since then, internet users at Tussey Mountain High School have encountered slower speeds and outages on a daily basis, although the school still has to pay the same price for the quality that was originally written in the contract.

“Essentially, what happened was that we lost a piece of equipment and [In The Stix] couldn’t necessarily fix it correctly,’ explained Jessee, “so they had to then put in their own equipment which now we are getting a slower internet speed and it is [not consistently connected]. There could be other equipment problems too; they’re constantly working on that, and I’m working with them.”

The difficulties with the internet have affected the faculty immensely in regards to daily lesson plans, prompting most teachers to improvise classwork.

“I realized that I had to be extremely flexible,” said English teacher Bree McCahan. “It’s been a constant struggle throughout the year so far. I basically had to resort back to pencil and paper. I have worksheets available that [the students] might’ve been doing online instead.” McCahan’s curriculum is almost entirely based on platforms including Canvas and Google Classroom, much like many other classes at Tussey. “Not utilizing online platforms, like Canvas, at the high school level would be a disservice to students planning on attending college,” McCahan said.  “In the long run, experience with online tools will only help students become more comfortable with navigating their way through a virtual learning environment. Unfortunately, the unreliability of the internet at Tussey Mountain poses a threat to that learning.”

Along with teachers, the students have also been greatly affected. “None of my assignments in English have submitted fully, which kind of reminds me of my internet struggles at home,” said senior Gage Russell. “The home provider I have is so off the grid, I doubt anyone has even heard of it. It’s borderline dial up. I believe that we are missing out on valuable information because we live in a rural community.” 

“I wasn’t able to access my online classes,” explained senior Samantha Blackstone. “In an urban area, we would probably have access to more resources.”

Due to the contract’s standards not being upheld, the high school is currently searching for other providers such as Comcast–which is utilized at Tussey Mountain Elementary School. Despite both institutions belonging to the same district, the two buildings are separate, and only the high school was part of the Regional WAN program since it is deemed the “core” facility. It is not certain if the current contract is able to be terminated at this time, but the high school has taken Comcast and other companies into consideration for potential providers.

Unexpected Lockdown at TMHS Sparks Concern

By: Tiffany Black

On the morning of October 2, Tussey Mountain High School’s student picture day, the Tussey Mountain High School went on an unexpected lockdown. The lockdown before homeroom was not a drill, and a possible threat was occuring outside the high school. Students, teachers, and other staff members were shocked, and some students shed some tears and smeared some mascara right before getting their pictures taken for the yearbook.

Officer David Buseck, the school’s resource officer, was present at the school when he got the report to put the school on lockdown. “I got a call from one of the teachers; they heard something that sounded like gunshots. We were told to get the kids into their classrooms.” Although the call was shocking to say the very least, Buseck did not succumb to the pressure and possible severity of the situation. “I think it was good for us to experience this at a different time other than class times [to be prepared].”

One of Tussey Mountain’s many math teachers and PRIDE team representative, Robert Hummel, explains the situation as he was on duty at the back door of the school that morning. “A teacher came in from the back parking lot and claimed that they heard three gunshots; I radioed Mr. McCahan [Junior High Principal] and Officer Buseck to come to the back parking lot.” Hummel continues to explain his experience of the situation, “We heard the shots, and we went on lockdown.”

High school senior, Alivia Melius explained, “I was in the locker room talking with my friends when I heard the school was on lockdown; my homeroom was on the other side of the school, so my friends and I just looked at each other, and we booked it to homeroom.” Like many other students, Melius explains that she was in a combination of shock, confusion, and fear. “My homeroom teacher was out, so there was a substitute, and the substitute wasn’t there when I arrived. [Needless to say] I was scared.”

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

There are differing opinions as to the source of the suspected noise. Some teachers and students believe it was a couple gunshots. Concerned parents and other adults in the Tussey Mountain area claimed they saw a bus “backfiring,” which caused the explosions to go off.  According to Interim Superintendent, Dr. Jerry Shoemake, the findings of the Pennsylvania State Police confirmed a bus backfiring was the source of the disruption.

Nonetheless, the situation was handled well, according to both Officer Buseck and Hummel. Amy Snyder, English teacher and Titan Media Adviser, was impressed with the quick reaction of her TV Crew students who enter the building at 7:30 AM to prepare for the daily broadcast. “I was returning from checking on the school photographers in the gym when the lockdown announcement came over the PA system.  I rounded the corner to the TV studio to find the students had engaged the nightlocks on the classroom door and went into hiding. This is exactly what they were supposed to do. I was proud of them.” SRO Buseck says, “There are things we can improve and situations I’d like to see change, [but] we handled it well.”

VIP Program Ends Before it Begins

This article won for Writer of the Week in the Huntingdon Daily News.

By: Amelia Dibert

Photo by: Josh Defibaugh

Recently, controversy struck the Tussey Mountain High School PRIDE program. The PRIDE team introduced a new component to the system rewarding positive behavior among students, but one of the deciding factors sparked concern in some people. Parents questioned the requirement that called for students to have paid off lunch debts from last year, calling it “lunch shaming” for said students. 

The VIP program debuted after the PRIDE team attended their yearly conference in Hershey and took notice of other schools which had created a similar program. “The thought process behind the VIP program was that [Tussey Mountain has] a lot of kids [who] do the right thing every day, all the time, but they weren’t getting enough [PRIDE] tickets because they never stood out…. We wanted to create a program to reward those kids [who] just weren’t getting many tickets,” said PRIDE adviser, Robert Hummel. The four pillars of the VIP program are: no grades below a C, no office referrals for discipline, no overdue library books and no lunch debt. Some parents suspected that the use of a student’s lunch balance against them was a form of stigmatization referred to as lunch shaming. 

As defined by the American Bar Association, lunch shaming is “the overt identification and stigmatization of any student who does not have money to buy a school meal.” The criteria the PRIDE team incentivized did not point out any specific students publicly in their attempt to lessen the cafeteria’s financial burden. The lunch debt was only one factor out of four which determined entry into the VIP program.  According to PRIDE member Tiah Masood, “It was not the goal to exclude anyone. [The PRIDE team was] just trying to incentivise the students [who] were doing the right thing” with their school responsibilities. VIP incorporated the lunch balance requirement to follow suit with other schools that run a similar program. “A lot of other schools had put it in there, and they had seen an enormous drop in their negative accounts for the cafeteria,” said Robert Hummel when asked how the criteria was chosen. 

Both students who were and were not in the program had no complaints with the program’s criteria, saying that none of the requirements felt inappropriate because the program was put into place to promote positive behavior. Maranda Mutzabaugh, who was not a member of the VIP program, said in response to the requirements, “it’s perfectly equal. It’s the same thing for sports. If you flunk out of classes, you’re benched.”  Aside from a handful of concerned parents at the board meeting on September 17, 2019, most student responses to the initial implementation of the VIP program were positive, if not neutral. 

Since the disbandment of the VIP program, plans to introduce a similar program are being discussed, and there’s a chance a new project will be implemented in its place. After a thorough evaluation, the revised criteria will create a rebranded program.

Change in Schedule Brings Lunch Upgrades

By: Rylie Jacobs

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Tussey Mountain High School has had a change to the bell schedule and the cell phone policy during lunch. Lunch has been extended by 10 minutes. To make middle school lunch smaller, Principal Janell Handerson put grade 10 in third lunch with grades 11 and 12. Because she wanted all periods to be the same length with no overlap periods, every period of lunch got 10 minutes added to it. She wanted all the periods to be the same length so we could have a better snow day and 2 hour delay schedule. She had to make the bell scheduleMath teacher Bob Hummel helped figure out the bell schedule. 

The schedule is not the only change to this year’s schedule.  Students are allowed to have their phones during lunch because Principal Janell Henderson thinks that it will make students less likely to use them during the rest of the day, during class, or when in the bathroom. Though they allowed phones during lunches, there are still some details being worked out.  According to Middle School Principal Matt McCahan, one problem with having phones at lunch for the junior high (first lunch) is that they are doing inappropriate things and getting on [sites] they aren’t supposed to. As a result, phone privileges may be revoked for first lunch, if the situation is not resolved. Another problem with having longer lunches is the lunch ladies can’t get the trays clean or clean the tables in time for the next lunch period. 

Overall Principal Janell Henderson “likes the new bell schedule. Students and teachers  getting longer lunches simplifies master schedule.” Most students also like the new school schedule because there is an enrichment period at the end of the day, which allows them to do homework. Ninth grader Trista Lemin says, “If you didn’t get your homework done the night before, you have 10 extra minutes to do it in homeroom. Having two of the same math periods, you can get extra one on one help and get your homework done that period, for example, math. I am a slow pace problem solver so if I do not get all my math done, and if I need extra help, that second period will be a mega life saver.” Over all, the students and the teachers like the new bell schedule, having their phones at lunch, and the longer period to eat.

“Shazam” comes to Tussey

by: Chloe Ritchey

On Saturday September 14,  the Tussey Mountain School District held a movie night on the football field. Approximately 150 people attended. The PRIDE team narrowed down their choices, then took a vote and found that the movie “Shazam” interested the most people. The football boosters, teachers, and PRIDE students worked together to make it all possible.  The boosters focused on the food, while Hummel took care of the projector and hiring a sound technician. The projector that was used was bought by the PRIDE team with a grant.  

When asked how the evening went, Katie Lashinsky, a PRIDE Team member replied, “Everything went well for the first time doing it.” Hummel agreed.  There are hopes to do it again in the spring. Student Amelia Dibert would like to attend another movie night with her friends.” I think that it would be a good idea to have a movie in October before or after Halloween.” The PRIDE Team wanted to hold a movie night because “They wanted something that included the whole community and not just the school district,” according to Katie Lashinsky.