by Theresa Schuetz

GS Mini-THON members attending Penn States THON. Photo submitted by: Mr. Matthew Boe

On March 25th, Greensburg Salem High School’s annual Mini-THON will be taking place to aid in the fight against pediatric cancer.

According to Four Diamonds Pediatric Cancer Care Center, cancer affects about 16,000 kids each year and according to AARP, treatment costs an average of $150,000. The National Cancer Institute states that out of the children afflicted with pediatric cancer, 1 in 5 are already living in poverty and are unable to pay for hospital bills, so Mini-THON fights to reduce these costs.

“Coming out of Mini-THON, I hope we raise a lot of money for the families and children affected by pediatric cancer, so no family has to pay a bill and so a cure can be found,” senior Madelyn Andolina said.

GS alumna Elsa Breakey started Mini-THON in 2015 to help fund Four Diamonds Pediatric Cancer Care Center after being inspired by Penn State’s THON.

“Having gone to Penn State I was kind of bouncing around the idea of bringing a replication of what they did to Greensburg Salem and it just kind of seemed to match Elsa’s vision,” history teacher Mr. Matthew Boe said.

Mini-THON is a fundraising event that consists of standing for 12 hours from 7 pm to 7 am. But it’s not just standing there; attendees play games with peers, dance and have a great time with friends.

“This year we have planned a few new games and brought back a few classics,” senior Sam Spigarelli said.

It is also open to the community from 7 pm to 10 pm. Community members are welcome to bring their children and introduce them into the tradition that has been built for the past eight years.

“I think it is the best community event that we have,” Co-Principal Mr. Adam Jones said.

 GS’ Mini-THON hosts many smaller fundraisers in the community and the school leading up to the main event. Some of those fundraisers include Doughnuts with Santa, No Shave November, Paint and Sip and more.

“My favorite of this year that this team came up with is the Doughnuts with Santa,” Mr. Boe said.

The Mini-THON team has been working hard to put together this event and many smaller events they hosted throughout the year. They have also reached out to businesses to obtain sponsorships to help with funding Four Diamonds.

“I have reached out to multiple businesses to sponsor Mini-THON and donate money to us,” Andolina said. “I also have organized painting sponsor banners and have reached out to businesses for food donations.”

Mini-THON is always welcoming volunteers for any of the many events they host throughout the year.

“The easiest way to get involved is to come to Mini-THON community hours on March 25th from 7-10 pm,” Spigarelli said. “It is free and open to the public. There you can speak with Mini-THON members and learn when we will hold more events. We always welcome more volunteers. Additionally, we post all of our activities and meeting dates on Instagram.”

Who Will Be Crowned Mr. GS?

by Leah Kaylor

Mr. Congeniality Gibby Prikoszvich, Fan Favorite Ethan Wilson and Mr. GS Cole Willcox (From left to right). Photo submitted by: Ethan Wilson

The guys battled it out in hopes that their charm and humor would catch the audience’s eye, but only one took home the title of being Mr. GS. 

“I wanted to be in Mr. GS because I saw it in previous years and it looked like such a good time,” senior Cole Willcox said.  

Willcox took the time outside of school to practice his own act and the dances the guys had been practicing as a group. 

Senior Evan Malie focused on his talent act where he read a poem to the audience about his dream experience at GS. 

“I enjoyed watching my brother Liam Malie who won Mr. GS last year by singing a song, so I definitely had to step it up,” Malie said.  

Senior Gabriel Prikoszovich, a foreign exchange student from Austria, grabbed the audience’s attention with stories of his encounters so far.  

“I thought it would be a fun experience and I looked forward to telling a story about my experience in America,” Prikoszovich said.  

Mr. GS took place on March 9th in the school auditorium with this year’s theme being Survivor, inspired by the popular TV show.  

“This is our 5th Mr. GS, and I looked forward to it because of the excitement it brings the audience,” Physics Teacher Mr. Christopher Gazze said.  

Mr. Gazze looked to bring a new event into the school, and discovered another district performing something similar on YouTube. 

“I think Mr. GS is such an entertaining thing, not only for the students, but for the parents,” High School Co-Principal Mr. Adam Jones said. “We will definitely be continuing Mr. GS because of the joy and excitement it brings to the students and audience.” 

Lights, Camera, Action!

by Luke Shevchik

The SpongeBob musicals advertisement poster. Photo submitted by: Mrs. Sue Glowa

GS is preparing for the upcoming production of The SpongeBob Musical, which takes place from March 3-5th

“I’m super pumped for this performance and being able to perform with this cast,” sophomore Wesley Heverly said. 

Heverly is taking on the role of SpongeBob and is prepared to show off his hard work on the stage. 

“When I was 5 years old my dad took me to Stage Right and I fell in love with it right away,” he said. 

Heverly looks to continue performing after high school while senior Ian Bortz is performing his last show in GS theater. 

“Musical has given me so much by allowing me to form and strengthen relationships within the cast,” senior Ian Bortz said. 

Bortz is cast as Squidward and is excited to show what the cast has put all their hard work into.  

Musical theater has been a main part of Bortz’s life; he was inspired by his Dad and sister to join the musical theater life.  

Since elementary age, senior Liz Houston also fell in love with musical theater.   

“In the past, we have done really morbid or dark musicals, but this one is different,” senior Liz Houston said. “This musical feels so much different with all the upbeat dance and music.” 

Houston was skeptical when she was told about the musical being SpongeBob, but after practicing it, and the cast performing, she, along with the musical director Mrs. Sue Glowa, are very excited to show people what it really is. 

“The cast of SpongeBob is a highly motivated group who is doing so much work on the production,” musical director Mrs. Glowa said. “They take stage directions well and strive to all do their best.”  

Glowa earned 36 credits in Theater Arts attending Thiel College. She has performed as an actor, a costume designer, musical director, set designer builder and her current roles as a director and producer. 

The SpongeBob Musical will be the 12th musical she has directed. The last two productions were historical musicals: “Phantom of the Opera” and “Les Misérables” which have a serious tone to them.  

“The production staff selected SpongeBob since it is a fun and creative show,” Mrs. Glowa said. “It has been a pleasure working with this group of students.”  

GS Holocaust Electives First DC Trip

by Theresa Schuetz

Holocaust museums hall of remembrance. Photo by: Theresa Schuetz

Mr. Matthew Boe’s Holocaust elective, along with Mr. Jeremy Lenzi’s AP Language and Composition class went to DC’s Holocaust Museum Friday, February 24th in order to learn more about the 13 million lives lost during the Holocaust. 

Students who attended the DC trip went mainly to the Holocaust Museum, however the field trip offered plenty of freedom in the first half of the day which captivated many students who attended. 

“I’m excited to have relatively free reign over what I can do, and what I get to see; in field trips in the past we didn’t really get to do that,” junior Emily Lehman said. 

After the freedom in the morning and the students enjoyed time walking around with their friends, they then met back up after lunch at the Holocaust Museum. 

“We’ll all meet up after lunch and all are required to go to the Holocaust Museum,” Mr. Boe said. 

The basis of the field trip is the Holocaust Museum and its effect on history as a whole. Boe’s hope for this field trip is to open eyes to the horrors of the Holocaust and understand the unsettling reality for people during that time frame. 

“To use resources outside of the classroom can only, in my opinion, help(s) students relate better,” he said. 

People who are in Mr. Lenzi’s AP Lang and Comp class were excited to be able to learn more about artifacts and pieces of history that hold a significant meaning to the Holocaust.  

“I think the Holocaust Museum has a lot in it I can learn about,” junior Thomas King said. 

This trip included students from either class. However, it was also opened to people outside of those classes. After outsiders were allowed to join the field trip many thought it sounded interesting or had friends going and came along. 

  “It seemed like a really cool experience and a lot of my friends are going so I thought it’d be fun,” sophomore Anna Spigarelli said.  

The reason that the spots were offered to students outside of the Holocaust elective and AP lang and comp were due to keeping prices for the trip down. 

“If we weren’t to take those 10 additional students the price for our other students would increase,” Boe said. 

This is the first year this trip is offered from taking the Holocaust class, and hopefully, it’s not the last. 

“We have not, we have tried to, but this is only our third year working with the Holocaust course,” Boe said. “So it’s still in its infancy.” 

Go With the Flow

by Leah Kaylor

Rubee Stillwagon accompanied by Sophia Demorest at the sams club fundraiser for feminine products. Photo submitted by: Tiffany Smietana-Lysell

Freshman Rubee Stillwagon raised $11,000 and filled countless carts with feminine hygiene products for the Blackburn Center. 

“I wanted to help women in need who aren’t as fortunate as us, and who don’t have these everyday resources we can go out and get,” Stillwagon said.  

Located in Greensburg the Blackburn Center, is an organization that provides services for victims of domestic or sexual violence. 

“My goal was $6,000 and right now we have a total of $11,000 which is well beyond my initial goal,” she said. 

Stillwagon held an event at the Greensburg Sam’s Club where she collected feminine products such as tampons, pads, diva cups, feminine wipes and money. 

“I did a lot of research about the Blackburn Center and what they were looking for,” she said. “A lot of things such as deodorant, tooth paste and hair products were donated, but I feel like people forgot necessary menstrual products.” 

Stillwagon reached out to companies such as First Quality, who is donating feminine products, and a staffing agency who donated $1,000.  

“It’s amazing for her to do something like this all by herself,” sophomore Karma Schall said. “It’s such an amazing thing to see.” 

The FCCLA club was in total support of her idea and was willing to do whatever Stillwagon needed.  

“I’m very proud of her for doing something like this because it is such an amazing cause,” sophomore Emily Ruggieri said. 

Stillwagon is looking to continue to do more to help the Blackburn Center.  

“I think it’s a wonderful thing that Rubee is only 15 and is assisting women in the community,” FCCLA sponsor Mrs. Tiffany Smietana-Lysell said.  

Mrs. Smietana-Lysell is very proud of Stillwagon’s accomplishments and hopes she inspires others within the community.  

“It’s amazing that she is so passionate about this, and I was very supportive when she presented it to the school board,” High School Co-Principal Mr. Adam Jones said.  

Mr. Jones hopes for more projects like this that help connect people throughout the community and that make a difference in someone’s life. 

“I love to see student led projects and ones that give back to the community,” Mr. Jones said. 

NHS Students Continue Non-Traditional Fundraiser

by Theresa Schuetz

Matchomatics results await being passed out to those who purchased them. Photo by: Theresa Schuetz

February’s here, bringing with it Matchomatics, the National Honors Society’s fundraiser to uplift the month. 

Physics teacher and NHS advisor Mrs. Cheryl Harper supervises Matchomatics each year to bring students together and raise money for the NHS. 

“We needed a fundraiser, we didn’t want to go door to door and sell stuff, and it was fun for people to see some different names,” Mrs. Harper said. 

The Matchomatics is a nontraditional fundraiser aimed at bringing students together. 

“I think it was designed as a fun way to fundraise and bring the school together,” senior Sejah Franklin said. 

  Harper and Franklin weren’t the only ones to get Matchomatics together; they had help from fellow seniors Brianna Campagna, Cailey Craig and Emily King. 

“I assisted in reviewing each form from each advisory to make sure each student filled it out correctly, Such as name in the right spot and bubbles filled in completely,” King said. 

Matchomatics takes in answers and matches them with someone else’s to see how many questions were answered similarly. 

“The company takes those and figures out a percentage of how many questions were answered the same,” Harper said.  

The percentage matched with someone determines compatibility with another person. The back of matchomatics brings in your birthday in relation to your peers, your zodiac, and your birthstone. Matchomatics aims to interest many different people and attempts to introduce you to peers you may have yet to think of connecting with. 

“I think it’s used for building connections,” junior Avaya Postlethwait said.  

Matchomatics are on sale February 8th, 9th and 10th for only $2. 

“I think people should buy them because they are really fun to look at and it’s honestly fun to see what friends you’re compatible with,” Franklin said. 

The Matchomatics results include information about a variety of subjects. Photo by: Theresa Schuetz

Wrapping Up Winter Sports

by Leah Kaylor

GS students are preparing to grind out what is left of the winter sports season.

Boys’ Hockey    

Members of the Boys’ hockey team pose for a portrait. Photo submitted by: Noah Outly

The GS boys’ hockey team now holds a record of 13-2, with their minds set on playoffs.  

The team put in work on and off the ice by continuing to play as a team, but they also made it a priority to bond outside games and practice. 

“The most memorable thing to come out of this season is how well we played, and all of the wins we achieved,” Outly said. “After our first loss, we all came together to take accountability and discuss what we could do better individually or as a team.” 

The boys took a loss and used it as motivation to keep their heads up every game, as well as for the practices. Practices weren’t a blow off to them; they took them seriously and used them to benefit themselves. 

“The team has had a super successful season and I see more beyond this one,” Athletic Director Mr. Frank Sundry said. 

The GS hockey team had a boost in confidence this season; their ability to play and perform this season improved, which showed on the ice. 

“This year is the first year we’ve had the most players selected for the All-Stars Game,” Outly said. 

Carter Cherok, Tristan Gonzales, Colten Humphrey, Chase Kushner, Landon Morrison, Noah Outly, Sam Spigarelli, Dylan Swierczynski and Owen Tutich were all chosen to play in the 2023 PIHL All-Star Game.  

  Girls’ Swim 

James Hugus and Emily Lehman after a swim meet. Photo submitted by: Emily Lehman

The girls’ swim team has had a successful season so far, and has shown off their hard work in the pool. 

“Overall, we had a good season and have built relationships, which has helped our performance in the water,” junior Emily Lehman said. 

This year, the girls have focused on start times and turns. They prepared for this season by bonding and putting work into their preseason.  

“We brought in some GCC swimmers, which enhanced what we could do in the pool,” Mr. Sundry said. “They have had a pretty successful season so far and they’re a young team, so I look for more successful future seasons.” 

The Girls’ team had some new faces this season which benefited them as a whole. 

“Focusing mentally and having a better attitude is how we could improve overall,” Lehman said. 

The team not only was dedicated to their performance, but to their team as well. They were a family and continued to support each other throughout the season. 

“Even if we lose as a team, there is always a positive coming out of it like going out to eat after,” she said. “We don’t think of it has a loss but rather something to improve on.” 

Boys’ Swim 

A loss never took away from the Boys’ swim team’s ability to perform individually and as a team. 

“I’m sad to see our seniors go because I looked up to them and they set an example for not just me but all of us,” sophomore James Hugus said. 

The team was a supportive environment; they were there for each other, which helped their performance in the water. 

“The boys’ numbers are up, and we have two seniors leaving us, Donald Dunmire and Ethan Telford, who showed leadership for the team,” Sundry said. 

The boys worked to build up strength by conditioning before the season started. Practice consisted of 4,000 yards worth of swimming daily. 

Girls’ Basketball 

Paytan Henry prepares for the rebound. Photo submitted by: Paytan Henry

The GS Lady Lions are wrapping up their season with playoffs on their mind. 

“We started off the season with a winning record, “senior Paytan Henry said. “We prepared by drills and stretching every practice.” 

The girls currently have a record of 13-7 with a section record of 5-5. 

“Anytime there was a loss, we went into practice watching how we played, and addressed what happened to work on fixing it,” Henry said.  

They won as a team and took a loss as a team. The girls kept their heads high no matter what the outcome was; it was always a win getting to play together.  

“We’ve had a good season, and a good team,” she said. “It’s going to be hard to leave because it’s been a really good team to be on,” 

  Henry will be continuing her basketball career at Juniata College.  

“The girls came out and surprised a lot of people this season with their early successes,” Sundry said. “I’m proud of how they are playing after losing Abby Mankins, but they have answered the bell and I see a lot of successes coming in February and March.” 

The girls have continued to give their all in pursuing every game. There is never a dull moment on the court when they are all playing as a team. 

Boys’ Basketball  

Members of the Boys’ Basketball Team warm up before their game with Ringgold. Photo submitted by: Julian Stevens

The GS students continue to support and motivate our Boys’ basketball team, while they continue to develop towards their full potential. 

“The Hempfield Game at home was my favorite memory because of the fun environment around us,” junior Julian Stevens said. 

The student section made it a priority to be there in the stands to support the team. 

“Our games consisted of a lot of mental focus,” Stevens said. “We made bonding a priority this season.” 

Stevens tries to focus during his games and keep his mindset strong. 

“We could always work towards getting better by focusing on scoring,“ he said. “If we had a loss, it was as a team, and we talked about it as a team.” 

The boys currently have a record of 5-15 with a section record of 1-7. 

“Changes are happening with the new Head Coach Cameron Auld, where I can see improving weekly in our players,“ Sundry said. “With strong work in the summer and fall, I see some eye-opening things coming next winter.” 

The boys have continued to improve weekly and do not take this for granted. They know there is always room for improvement and never settle when there is more work to be done. 

“The seniors leaving this year is definitely going to be hard because of everything they did for me,” Stevens said. “I just hope to make it fun our last few games with them.” 

Boys’ Bowling 

GS bowling team holds the Penn-Ohio championship trophy. Photo submitted by: Katie Frick

The GS Boys’ bowling team is looking forward to making it to states and possibly nationals after their successful season.  

“Having a better attitude and positive mindset can help us improve,” sophomore Sammie Demine said. 

The bowling team currently has a record of 5-3 with sectionals coming up. 

“The bowling team is annually one of our most successful teams, and they are continuing to show up and win,” Sundry said. 

The boys practiced at Main Bowling Center 3-5 times a week. 

“To prepare for this season we practiced as a team and on our own time,” Demine said. “A memorable thing for us this season was winning a tournament at North Versailles.” 

The team focused on drills such as footwork, with initial spare practice on their own time. 

“Overall, we’ve had a good season, but it will be tough and hurt us when our seniors leave,” Demine said. “Our captain, Luke Shevchik, was a role model for me, and I looked up to him.” 

Girls’ Bowling 

Girls bowling team. Photo submitted by: Katie Frick

The GS Girls’ bowling team qualified for the WPIBL team tournament with two qualifiers, junior Shelby Frick and senior Raeann Record for the single sectionals.  

“To prepare for this season, I took the time during the summer to go out and bowl more than four times a week,” Frick said. 

Frick focused on her form when she practiced, and she also worked on learning more about the equipment she uses when bowling.   

“As a team, I think we did amazing this season,” she said. “I personally could have focused on my mindset, and not getting in my head as much.” 

Frick took a loss as “new game, new frame,” meaning the past is behind us, and we can focus on the future to win.” 

“There were two qualifiers for the individual tournament, which is one of the successes I have seen this season,” Sundry said.  

The Girls’ bowling team currently has a record of 5-3. 

“I have had fun season with my team, and I plan on seeing us make it the whole way to nationals,” Frick said.  

Boys’ Wrestling 

Kaidyn Gonder gets ready to take down his opponent from Derry. Photo submitted by: Kaidyn Gonder

The Boys’ wrestling team started off their practices strong. They focused on warming up and drills they specifically needed to be prepared for any upcoming match. 

“We started off this season weak, but we really came back together,” senior Kaidyn Gonder said.  

Gonder focused on his mindset during his last season. He focused on his ability to perform and in doing so he continued to succeed. 

“We went into every match with a mindset to win because if you don’t think you can win, then you won’t,” he said.  

They used all their drills and methods on and off the mat. They worked on the intensity of drills and techniques to improve for every match.  

“I feel like I had to push myself this season to achieve the goals I set,” he said. “I pushed to set an example for our younger wrestlers.” 

The team lifted in preparation for this season, and came in prepared with a positive mindset. 

“Any loss we were faced with we learned from and applied what we learned to the next match,” Gonder said. 

The boys have an upcoming individual section tournament February 18th

“Wrestling is historically one of our most successful programs,” Mr. Sundry said. “We have a young team and I’ve seen significant growth.”  

New Teachers Added to the Roster for GS High School

by Luke Shevchik

Mr. Braden Hoffer stands in his room. Photo by: Luke Shevchik

As the second semester has gotten going, the four new teachers at GS seem to have settled in. 

These four new teachers took a job at GS in the fall of the 2022-2023 school year. 

“When we hire somebody, we have a very structured interview process and questions to ensure it aligns with our district beliefs,” GS High School Principal Mr. David Zilli said. 

The four new teachers are as follows: Mr. Tyler Brinton, who teaches business classes including marketing and entrepreneurship; Mr. Lou Downey, who teaches Accounting, Financial Literacy and Freshman Seminar; Mr. Braden Hoffer, who teaches English 12, English 9 and Creative Writing; and Mr. Scott Shirey, who teaches geometry and Math for Trades. 

Mr. Tyler Brinton stands in front of a locker in the business wing. Photo by: Luke Shevchik

“I’m an Alumni, I graduated from here,“  Mr. Brinton said. “It was always my goal to teach here and give back to my community.”   

Brinton grew up and attended GS, where he was inspired by the teachers to continue his studies in the education field. 

“He’s a good teacher, understanding and passionate about his job,” senior Riley Burkholder said. 

While Brinton teaches business classes, next door in accounting and financial literacy is Mr. Downey. 

Mr. Lou Downey poses for a picture. Photo by: Luke Shevchik

“I mostly enjoy the people at GS,” Downey said. “I remember a lot of students from my days at the elementary school and I know a lot of the staff from my student teaching and substitute teaching here at the high school.” 

He taught at Greater Latrobe for three years, but also taught at Nicely and Metzger elementary schools for two years as a long-term substitute. This is his first year at the high school.  

“He’s a very relatable guy, knows how to make his class enjoyable and interesting,” junior Kenzie Span said. 

Downey takes part in teaching multiple classes like Mr. Hoffer, who also teaches three different classes at once.  

“Some of the positives I have experienced so far during my time here would include a high involvement,” Hoffer said. “It seems, at least for me and many of my seniors last semester, there was a lot of involvement in extracurriculars, which can certainly have an impact on student achievement and school pride.” 

Hoffer went to college at St. Vincent and graduated in 2017. He wanted to return to the Greenburg area because this is where most of his family and friends live. 

“He was thrown into a tough situation and handled it well,” senior Patrick Galvin said. 

Mr. Scott Shirey stands in his classroom. Photo by: Luke Shevchik

While Hoffer replaced a long-term sub, Mr. Shirey replaced Mrs. Gibbon. 

“I like the more mature students; the admin is very present and supportive compared to my last school,” he said. “I do plan on staying at GS for the foreseeable future.” 

Before coming to GS, Shirey taught in Manassas, Virginia for nine years as a middle school teacher. He moved to Pennsylvania to be closer to family and soon got a job at GS.  

GS has been continuing to bring in fresh staff as there are a lot of positions to be filled in the education field. 

“It’s refreshing to see new ideas build into our courses,” Mr. Zilli said. “I know that as we continue to work to support our staff that even better things are ahead.” 

Girls’ Basketball Making Their Way to Playoffs

By Emma Helmick

The girls mid-game against Highlands. Photo Courtesy: Bri Campagna.

The Lady Lions go onto the court with one thing on their minds: playoffs.

“I am really happy with this year’s team,” Girls’ Basketball Coach Rick Klimchock said. “We are very engaged in what we do each day. We have great leadership and an outstanding culture. I appreciate our staff and all of our players.”

The players practice using many drills. Cycles is a drill to help them with game like scenarios and determine their positions in the game.

“I think we are able to make it far and I think we all desperately want it to be a good season,” junior Ashlan Price said. “Every game is hard, but we all push through to make it through the game, win or lose.”

The girls are currently on a losing streak, but they still have time left in the season to make a difference.

“The varsity team is good,” Price said. “We have a lot to work on, but we all want to be better. We all look to improve our game individually and as a team.”

With each game all kinds of different strategies can be used. The players need to be prepared for anything to happen on the court.

The JV team in a huddle discussing what to do next. Photo courtesy: Josselyn Blawas.

“The JV girls are very willing to learn from the varsity, they always play hard against us in practice and work hard in their games,” she said.

The JV team can use the examples that they are learning from the Varsity players to improve their skills and push themselves further in the future.

“My expectation for the end of the season is to make it further than we did last year,” sophomore Blessing Gantt said. “JV had a tough year last year. Varsity secured a playoff spot when we beat Gateway at home, but our first playoff game was really tough because we were scheduled to play South Fayette who went on to win it all. I believe we can make it further this year.”

Last year the team was in a 5A section and played against teams such as McKeesport, Woodland Hills and Latrobe. This year they dropped down to 4A, but still play against many tough teams.

“Our culture on the team is strong and Coach makes sure to tell us that every day,” Gantt said.

The players have spent months practicing together to build strong connections and friendships with each other.

“One thing we never do is quit,” Price said. “Whether we are winning or losing, we always keep our chin up and play our hardest until the last whistle. We can take pride in that.”

GS Students Win Regional Kennametal Competition

By Ari Case

Will Thomas, Taylor Werts and Lexi Mutchler posing with their winning project. Photo courtesy: Mrs. Harper.

On January 5, three GS teams competed against seven other teams at the Kennametal Facility in Latrobe, and two teams placed in the top three for points.

Through the Kennametal Young Engineers Program (KYEP), students from several schools in the area are given the opportunity to work with real-world engineering problems and professional engineers themselves. The hands-on tasks in class involve research, problem solving, design and building.

“The Kennametal Young Engineers program is an opportunity sponsored by [the] Kennametal Corporation in Latrobe that allows students to delve into the world of engineering and gain skills that are necessary for that and other careers,” science teacher Mrs. Cheryl Harper said.

Many skills can be learned through the class, in the classroom and at KYEP sessions.

“There’s the opportunity to connect with current engineers and [to] work on resume skills [and] leadership skills,” Mrs. Harper said. “And as the students work on their projects throughout the semester, there are a lot of group projects where they have to be organized and communicative and such throughout.”

Ashley Smith and Patrick Galvin beside their design. Photo courtesy: Mrs. Harper.

The team tactics and connections built can be extremely beneficial for any student, and in addition to these general skills, students learn engineering principles and gain understanding of processes and problems in the engineering field.

According to Harper, the class “isn’t just for students interested in engineering,” at all.

Several KYEP participants over the six years of the program have been completely uninterested in pursuing a career in engineering, but benefitted from the class greatly, nonetheless.

“It can be a deciding factor as to whether that’s really what you want to do,” Harper said. “But some people enter the class without any desire to do engineering. They just want a hands-on class that is relevant and allows them to work closely with others in a group setting. It certainly is an experience that can be expanded upon.”

Other students, though, are bound for the engineering field.

“I plan on doing aeronautical engineering through the Air Force,” senior Emily King said. “I’ve been interested in engineering for a very long time. [I] just never had the opportunity for [a] hands-on experience.”

Cole Willcox, Emily King, Ethan Telford and Bri Campagna standing proudly as a team. Photo courtesy: Mrs. Harper.

This year, three teams of students have been working for almost three months to create contraptions to aim and launch ping pong balls. This may sound like a simple task, but there are specifications and restraints that make it complex to design.

King is a member of the group that placed 3rd in the competition by points. Their design involved a motor blowing air through adjustable PVC pipes that shot out the ping pong balls. She was responsible for the computer-aided design (CAD) throughout the process.

In addition to presenting the actual build at the competition, each team had to create a binder with detailed entries and diagrams following the entire process.

“With the binders, it was pretty stressful because it made everyone contribute,” senior Lexi Mutchler said. “It wasn’t just one person’s job. [And it] was a lot of hours outside of school.”

Cole and Ethan putting their technical skills to use in the STEM lab. Photo courtesy: Mrs. Harper.

Mutchler was the leader of the 1st place group. They created a “caveman-like” design with a golf club and elastic band. Though they had less power to make it the longest distance, the accuracy was higher than any other team.

Harper said that the work required for the binders showed “incredible professional growth” for every student.

Each team had strengths and weaknesses, and varying successes and failures along the way.

“I won’t forget the shock we had when we actually made it into the cup,” King said.

Mutchler’s team also wasn’t expecting the success they had. There were some disappointments as well.

“For our project, we couldn’t make the five meters,” she said. “We made it to four meters, but that’s it. That’s the only disappointing thing; it couldn’t go as far as it should have.”

A team working together to put together their project. Photo courtesy: Mrs. Harper.

King’s team encountered an issue with their cooling fan shortly into the competition that set them back a bit. Before this, though, there were some hiccups throughout the development process.

“I think our group kind of forgot about all that was required [until] the last week before it was due,” King explained. “So, we were running around and worried it wasn’t [going to] get done. So maybe if we worked on more time management, and just making sure we check everything off that checklist, we would have been on better footing.”

Despite these regrets, both felt they truly benefitted from the experience.

“In the end, though, it felt really good [because] seeing all of our hard work pay off it felt so good to see them work,” Mutchler said.

There was one thing both agreed upon fully: Harper was the reason for their success.

“Without her I don’t think I would have had the self-discipline or self-responsibility to get everything done that needed done,” King said.