In The Q

November 2, 2018 newsletter

A unique Shakespearean experience

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Students received tips from professional actors in workshops and then watched them perform

A touch of Broadway came to Quakertown Community High School Oct. 25 as professional actors led workshops for more than 100 students and then performed Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

“Many students never get to see something like this, so it was really cool to be exposed to it,” QCHS senior Emma Geiser said after participating in the workshops. “It brings Shakespeare to another level.”

Classmate Jenny Starzecky added, “Everyone in our class was really going for it. It was fun to see all of us doing this.” Jenny said working with the actors “helped us make a connection with Shakespeare, rather than just reading his work.”

For the fifth consecutive year English teacher Nick Burch wrote the grant that brought the Linny Fowler WillPower Tour, the centerpiece of DeSales University-based Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, to the high school.

“Our kids really love this experience,” Mr. Burch said. “This is a memory that after they’re away from here for a year or two, they’ll get together and remember this. We have great kids and they need an experience like this.”

Please click here for the full story.

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Strayer students get the facts about illegal drugs, vaping from SRO

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Each Strayer Middle School students learned about the dangers of illegal drug use, vaping and smoking from School Resource Officer Brian Hendrzak.

“It’s important for the kids to know what they’re going to come in contact with,” Officer Hendrzak said. “We’re giving them the tools to help them make the right choices. Education is the key.”

He spoke to the students about drug trends and gave them statistics that point out the risks of taking illegal narcotics, including the growing number of overdoses in Pennsylvania.

“We let them know what’s out there now, what they’ll likely be seeing and what not to touch,” he said. “I felt it was important for them to know the repercussions to them socially, emotionally and academically and to their family.”

Strayer Principal Dr. Jennifer Bubser said the school’s administrative team and counselors believe that the SRO’s presentation will help build on what students have learned in health classes.

“The kids often rely on peers for what they think are the facts,” she said. “It’s important to hear the facts from an adult, which we have done with our educators and now law enforcement. Of course, we want them to talk to their parents, but at this age not all of them will do that. The most important thing is for them to have the right information.”

Important presentation on drug abuse, trends

Wednesday, Nov. 7th, 6:45pm

600 Park Avenue

Quakertown, PA

Last spring, Superintendent Dr. Bill Harner invited David Fialko of the Council Of Southeast Pennsylvania to speak before his Parent Council about drug abuse and trends. Mr. Fialko's presentation was such a hit that Parent Council suggested the entire district have an opportunity to hear it.

Additionally, Director of Pupil Services, Janet Pelone, will provide a short presentation on the results from our Pennsylvania Youth Survey (PAYS). Please, if you can, plan to attend this important presentation.

Here's the link to the PAYS survey.


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District Students explore work of artist-in-residence Arla Patch

Each student in the Quakertown Community School District had an opportunity to learn a variety of art skills from artist-in-residence Arla Patch.

Ms. Patch is a teaching artist and writer. Having been around the world twice by age 21, and living in Maine for 30 years, she recently returned to Bucks County where she grew up, settling right here in Quakertown. She has been teaching art for more than 45 years and uses art as a tool for healing.

“It is incredibly heartwarming to get to be an artist-in-residence in my own community,” said Ms. Patch, who moved to Quakertown just over a year ago. “This is my home and I’m so pleased to share what I’ve learned with students.”

An assembly was held in each school for Ms. Patch to speak with students. She also spent time in art classes working with students in the Sixth Grade Center, Strayer Middle School and Quakertown Community High School. The program is sponsored by the Quakertown Community Education Foundation.

“Our goal for the artist in residence is to introduce and provide students an opportunity to explore an artist's work,” said Erin Oleksa-Carter, Supervisor of Literacy, Fine Arts, and ELD. “Our collaboration with Arla has allowed us to meet this goal, while engaging and inspiring students. Across the district, our students have all had the opportunity to meet her and learn about her work. Next, many of our students are enthusiastic and eager as they work with Arla and their teachers to create pieces using her method. Many of our art teachers are continuing this work with their students to leave a lasting piece in the schools across the district.”


SGC student two-time finalist in essay contest

For two years in a row, Annabelle Troup has been a Pennsylvania Finalist in the Library of Congress “A Book That Shaped Me” summer writing contest. The program asks rising fifth- and sixth-graders to reflect on a book that has made a personal impact in their lives.

“I feel a lot of pride that people think it’s that good because I’m picky about my work,” said Annabelle, an 11-year-old student in the Sixth Grade Center.

In 2017, she read “I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up For Education And Was Shot By The Taliban.” In 2018, her essay was on “All The Light We Cannot See.” “My mom read it and knows my reading level is really high and I can handle it,” she said. “It’s a topic that we both like.”

Annabelle said she is considering studying pediatrics in college, “because the idea of helping others is really important,” she said. Becoming an immigration or civil rights attorney is also a consideration. “My mom says I can make really strong points when I want to,” she said.

Her essay on "I Am Malala" can be found on here on page 29. For “All The Light We Cannot See,” her essay is here on page 31.


Students receive ALICE counter training

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SRO Lee: “We don’t want them to be sitting ducks.”

A sergeant in the Marine Corps Infantry with deployments to the Middle East and Africa, Sean Burke never thought he’d be using any of that training as a high school social studies teacher in the Quakertown Community School District.

“I didn’t expect I’d be instructing students on stuff like this, the idea of force protection in the schools,” Mr. Burke said after a recent ALICE counter training session. The district adopted ALICE training three years ago, in the summer of 2018. ALICE stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate.

The ALICE philosophy is to use technology and information in a way that staff and students can make informed decisions in a crisis, remove as many people as possible from the danger zone, and provide realistic training so those involved in a crisis have a better chance of surviving. Students in each grade receive some form of ALICE training.

About two dozen students have signed up for training during their PRIDE period with Mr. Burke and School Resource Officer Bob Lee. The training takes place about every two weeks in the wrestling room, which has mats wall-to-wall. Props include tennis balls and two fake red guns -- a handgun and assault rifle. The adults talk to the students about the weapons, and then allow them to hold them.

Both Officer Lee and Mr. Burke talk to students about different strategies to protect themselves and their classmates should an armed threat enter the school. “There’s a lot of thinking outside the box,” Officer Lee said. “We don’t want them to be sitting ducks. There’s a different game plan.”

Using himself as a prop, Mr. Burke shows students how to hold his arms and legs to take him down. They’ve also used tennis balls to show how an armed intruder -- on separate occasions played by Officer Lee and a student -- can be distracted.

Recent back-to-back sessions had nine and 11 students. “With smaller groups it’s a high level of training,” Mr. Burke said. “There’s been a core group of kids interested, and it’s starting to expand out. As we give more classes, we’ll get into the escape and evade. We want them to know the best course of action for their situation.”

“We want to help students reduce their own fears and build confidence,” Officer Lee said. “We’ll be getting into more specifics about protecting ourselves and countering the bad guy. Each week we elevate the process a little more.”

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Trumbauersville students salute our veterans

5th graders write letters to the men and women in the armed services

Trumbauersville Elementary School fifth graders and their parents wrote thoughtful letters to veterans, thanking them for their service to our nation. What an inspired idea!


SGC science students ace 'catastrophic' project

Sixth Grade Center students in the science classes of Tony Carty and Judy Maccarone were given a catastrophic event (tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis) to research and complete a Google Slides presentation, a video, and a multimedia review of the important facets of these natural phenomenon.

Each group was led by a student project manager. The rest of the team was chosen by identifying the preferences and gifts of the other students in the class and assigning them to different groups. The project managers were responsible to keep the project moving and complete the requirements on time.

"Every day I met with the project managers and we set goals for completion and worked through challenges," said Mr. Carty, who credited Ms. Maccarone for spending lots of time tweaking the final product before rolling it out to students. "The students did a fantastic job. They were incredibly thorough and the leadership and teamwork of the students was amazing."

Afterwards, students reflected on the process and offered suggestions on the things they liked and want to improve on for next time.


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strayer Students receive key lesson in spanish and costa rican culture

Diego Sedar spoke with Strayer Middle School students, and invited all of them to study Spanish and in his home country of Costa Rica.

“For me, it’s an honor to talk about Costa Rican culture,” Sedar said in between classes of Spanish and World Geography students. “Language is the best way we can comprehend each other. It’s a way for us to build bridges and not walls. That’s what the world needs right now. I really believe in this program.”

A tour guide in Costa Rica, Sedar is part of an organization called Centro Panamericano de Idiomas, or Pan American Language Center. It recruits students and adults to study in or travel to his home country. “Costa Rica is a place everybody is welcome,” he said. Sedar spoke to Strayer students as part of the school’s Career Talk program, which helps suggest potential fields of study or careers for students.

“This gives our students exposure to another culture, and helps them understand the importance of learning another language,” said Kim Finnerty, Strayer’s assistant principal. “Costa Rica embraces diversity. That’s an important message for our students to be given.”

One of the theme’s throughout Sedar’s presentation was his focus on “dedication” and “practicing to get better,” particularly when learning to speak Spanish. “With more than 400 million people speaking Spanish, you’re going to have the opportunity to talk to these people,” he said.

He complimented the students on their correct responses, saying many college students aren’t able to answer his questions. “You guys should be in college,” he said. Sedar also told them that anytime they travel “You guys are cultural ambassadors. Always behave.”


ASPIRE students on the job!

Our ASPIRE students getting the job done at Swann's Pantry.

ASPIRE stands for Acquiring Skills Professionalism, Independence and Responsibility for Education/Employment. The mission of this program, taught by Elizabeth Alvino, is to prepare students ages 18 to 21 to be competent, confident and caring in managing their personal, family and public lives. Students are taught daily living skills, how to gain and retain employment and are educated in self advocacy and interpersonal skills.

Great work everyone!


Advanced Chefs making masterpieces

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Shout out to high school assistant Principal Stephen Kimball for this glorious photo. Mr. Kimball was watching students produce what he described as "Genuine works of art in Mr. Polk's Advanced Chefs class. Really fun to watch the process!" We thank him for sharing the photo, though we wish he would have gone one step further.


diversity and inclusion steering committee

Monday, Nov. 12th, 6:30pm

100 Commerce Drive

Quakertown, PA

Please join us at an upcoming QCSD Diversity and Inclusion Committee meeting. The committee will be analyzing our district’s mission and vision statements, discussing our community’s changing demographics, learning about how we can make our infrastructure even more equitable for every student, and starting work on our strategic plan. This meeting is for all interested administrators, teachers, parents, students, and community members. All are welcome!


Community School Safety committee continues work

The Community School Safety Committee continued its important work with discussions about Act 44 and speaking with high school students at its last meeting.

Assistant Superintendent Nancianne Edwards led the Act 44 discussion, giving the committee information on the future implementation of a Pennsylvania sponsored Safe2Say tip line. Expected to be ready after the new year, it will involve a mobile app, website and hotline to make anonymous reports of people who show signs they have the potential to carry out school violence. Training on how to use the tip line will be scheduled when available.

Also discussed was ideas for potential training of students, parents and staff to help promote school safety.


Former Panther QB sets record at Ursinus College

Congratulations to former Panthers quarterback Tom Garlick for becoming the all-time leader in completions at Ursinus College.

Only a junior, Garlick completed 60.8 percent of his passes for 1986 yards with 12 touchdowns and six interceptions.

The Bears, who play in the Centennial Conference, finished 6-4.


Welcome Brian Horn, information technology

Brian Horn is a new employee in the Quakertown Community School District. Brian is a graduate of Southern Lehigh High School and has a B.S. in audio production from The Art Institute of Philadelphia.

Asked for a list of his interests, Brian responded:

  • I play drums in a band called Above The Mendoza. I love writing and performing music. I play drums, guitars and bass.
  • I enjoy playing video games and board games with friends.
  • I enjoy reading comic books.
  • I enjoy working on cars. I own a 1986 VW GTI and 2008 VW GTI.
  • I enjoy spending time with my friends, my family and my fiance.

If you see him, please say hello.


Upper Bucks County Technical School

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Stress free dinner available at UBCTS

If you visit the open house, please consider purchasing Homemade Footlong Hoagies. Choose from Turkey with American cheese or Italian with provolone. Condiments are provided.

One for $5.50 or two for $10

Chips and Beverages also available for purchase. Proceeds benefit Future Farmers of America.


Shop with a cop Tuesday, Nov. 6

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Save the Dates: QCHS fall play, Nov. 15-16

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1998 High School Reunion

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For information of the Class of '98 20th union, please click here.


Custodians needed: Here's how to apply

The Quakertown Community School District is in need of custodians. SSC Services, which services the district, is seeking full and part time permanent and seasonal custodian positions.

Candidates may contact Laird Ihle, director of SSC, at 610-392-1059 or via email at


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School Bus drivers needed

The Levy School Bus Company is seeking drivers.

The position has flexible hours, a positive environment and is conveniently located in the Quakertown area.

Levy offers a competitive wage package, 401(k) benefits with company matched funds, bonus incentives, training and development, career opportunities, extra hours available evenings and weekends (optional), and community involvement.

This is a perfect job for people who love children, stay-at-home parents, college students looking for education experience, former teachers and anyone in need of extra income.

If you’re interested in becoming a school bus driver or want to hear more, please call Len at 215-536-4567 x121 or email


VFW seeks students for audio/essay contests

The Veterans of Foreign Wars is holding its annual essay contest. The competition promotes patriotism, and awards $30,000 in college scholarships to high school students and $5,000 to middle school students.

For high schoolers, the 2018-19 theme is: Why My Vote Matters. For middle schoolers, the title is: Why I Honor the American Flag.

For more information on the project, please click here or contact John Rivers Memorial VFW Post 11322 Commander Paul Gerhart Jr., 267-992-4973.

Quakertown Community School District

Gary Weckselblatt, QCSD Director of Communications, writes about the people and the programs that impact the Quakertown Community School District. Find more District topics of interest on the website by clicking here.