State College

This I Believe: I Believe In Storytelling

May 23, 2019

I believe in storytelling and bringing attention to those who live outside the limelight.

In the summer of 2017, I collaborated with my great-aunt and godmother, Marie-Edith Douillard, who has lived in Paris for 40 years and works for a human rights organization called Amnesty International. She introduced me to two refugees and helped me create a short documentary that has since been successful at various international film festivals.

John Zesiger, superintendent at the Moshannon Vally School District, says he makes drills more realistic by getting rid of the orderly lines and having some students not where they're supposed to be.
Emily Reddy / WPSU

This story originally aired on March 18, 2019.  

Moshannon Vally School District Superintendent John Zesiger said to make intruder drills more realistic they’ve added some complications. 

“We block exits,” Zesiger said. “We have some students who are not where they're supposed to be. So that the staff and the students have to kind of think on their feet and say, ‘Geez, here’s where I'm supposed to go out, but I can't get out that way.’ And they look for the next best option.”

State College Borough Manager Tom Fountaine gave a presentation on creating best practices for collaboration between universities and local communities at Penn State on Monday, May 20.
Min Xian / WPSU

In college towns, the large student population can complicate relations between universities and local communities. This week, the 2019 International Town and Gown Association Conference is at Penn State talking about how the two can coexist.

The conference is hosted by Penn State and the Borough of State College and features topics like Greek life reform, public safety and diversity.

Panelists discussed potential solutions to the rural broadband crisis as a part of the Influencers Project hosted by the Centre Daily Times at the State Theatre on April 24, 2019.
Min Xian / WPSU

A variety of potential solutions exist to address the widespread lack of broadband internet access, such as community cooperatives and “white space” technology, which delivers internet similar to that of 4G, according to 14 panelists who participated in discussions of the rural broadband crisis on Wednesday. The “Influencers Project” was hosted by the Centre Daily Times at the State Theatre in downtown State College.

I believe in talking about important political issues in school.

School shapes children’s lives in a major way. School teaches children about the world around them, about how things work. So what better place to teach kids about politics than school?

Kristine Allen / WPSU

Artist Amy Frank is the winner of WPSU’s Art for the Airwaves Contest. She is also owner and founder of The Makery in State College. She won the contest with a collage painting of a stylized, Pennsylvania landscape titled “The Road Home.”

“It’s a long country road that’s kind of ebbing and flowing over several hills,” Frank says, “with kind of a patchwork field. It’s very candy-colored. It’s very bright, and very cheerful. So it doesn’t look like a traditional landscape. It’s kind of like a traditional landscape meets a candy store.”

Joanne Shafer is the Deputy Director at the Centre County Recycling and Refuse Authority.
Maddie Biertempfel / WPSU

Recycling authorities that used to depend on China to take their materials need new ways to dispose of or sell the material. Some communities have resorted to using landfills, incineration or stockpiling.

But in Centre County, China’s new policy hasn’t been an issue for a simple reason.

We don’t export material to China. We never have,” said Joanne Shafer, Centre County Recycling and Refuse Authority deputy director. 

Shafer said the national concerns about recycling haven’t affected Centre County in any major way.

Pastor Pamela Haddon Ford begins the event with a prayer.
Maddie Biertempfel / WPSU

 

Dozens gathered in downtown State College Thursday night to recognize the 51st anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination.

Reverend Pamela Haddon Ford started the event with a prayer.

“We stand in community with one another in this place of sacred remembrance. Receive our gratitude as we remember the life of Dr. King,” Haddon Ford said.

The event was marked by singing, prayer and speeches at the Fraser Street Commons where community members could listen, sing along and enjoy refreshments.

Several hundred people showed up for the funeral of Osaze Osagie at State College Alliance Church.
Min Xian / WPSU

Speakers at the funeral of Osaze Osagie talked about his smile, his hugs and his deep faith in God. Several hundred people attended the funeral on Saturday of the 29-year-old black man shot by State College police on March 20. 

Attendees were given a white rose as they entered State College Alliance Church. 

The crowd filled the 500-seat worship space and more than 100 people watched the service through a video feed in the lobby of the church. A band sang worship hymns. 

This I Believe: I Believe In A Good Cup Of Coffee

Mar 29, 2019

This essay originally aired on Oct. 25, 2018.

I believe in a good cup of coffee.

I was about five years old when I brewed my first pot of coffee. I remember reaching for the red plastic container labeled Folgers, lifting the lid and appreciating its rich aroma.

I carefully counted the spoonfuls of Folgers, while my brother, who’s just a year older, measured the water. The counter the coffee pot sat on was barely reachable, but we made it work.

Several hundred people gathered at the Allen Street Gates in State College Thursday for a vigil for Osaze Osagie, who was fatally shot by police officers on Wednesday, March 20, 2019.
Min Xian / WPSU

When the State College group Community and Campus in Unity met Monday night, the focus was on the fatal shooting of Osaze Osagie and rebuilding community trust.

“Thank you for everyone’s comments so far and questions. I’m warmed by the fact that so many people are here, because Osaze has been heavy on my heart," said State College resident Eric Ian Farmer. "One hundred and three years of a police department without killing any resident. What about this particular event or incident, was so unique?”

Gathererers at vigil hold picture of man shot by police
Min Xian / WPSU

Several hundred people gathered for a vigil at the Allen Street Gates in State College Thursday evening for the man who was fatally shot by police Wednesday. 

“We are gathered here tonight to honor the life of 29-year-old Osaze Osagie,” said Danieltta Pantoe, a Penn State junior and president of the Student Black Caucus, as she led the vigil to remember Osagie.

Osagie was fatally shot by State College police Wednesday. Police went to his apartment for a mental health check, and he reportedly confronted them with a knife.

Corl Street Elementary, in State College, is receiving extensive renovations, all done with safety in mind.
Emily Reddy / WPSU

Martha Sherman has two kids at Mount Nittany Elementary School in State College. On a recent morning when she was dropping them off, office staff wouldn’t let her go beyond the front office. She wanted to walk her son Zane to his kindergarten class, but his school, like many others, has a safety policy that says parents can’t do that.

Police Chief Gardner at a podium
Anne Danahy / WPSU

State College police fatally shot a man in an apartment on Old Boalsburg Road Wednesday while attempting to serve a mental health warrant. The case has been turned over to Pennsylvania state police.

“I stand before you with a heavy heart to provide you with a statement regarding a 29-year-old African-American male who died in a police-involved shooting today," State College Police Chief John Gardner said during a press conference Wednesday.

Tiffany Myers reads a children's book out loud to a class of about 20 fifth graders. She said the idea is to teach the basics of mental wellbeing just like other school subjects.
Min Xian / WPSU

 

On a recent school day at Mount Nittany Elementary School in State College, Tiffany Myers read a children's book out loud to a class of about 20 fifth graders.

“The story we’re going to read today is called, ‘Red: A Crayon’s Story.’ Just right off the bat, what are you noticing about this crayon that make it different than what you might expect?” Myers, a school counselor, asked.

The state has approved $40 million in grants for school districts to improve safety. These competitive grants are in addition to $25,000 that most districts received last year.
Min Xian / WPSU

A State College Area High School student brought a bullet to school on Wednesday and showed it to classmates. Although the high school’s resource officer found that no firearm was involved, a rumor of a gun in the school prompted a parent of another student to call 911, resulting in a 10-minute lockdown at the high school, according to the State College Area School District.

Elaine Meder Wilgus served as emcee for Nerd Nite (wearing a dress she made from a book).
Bill Arden / Bill Arden

“Nerd Nite” has come to Central Pennsylvania! The first event in a monthly series took place last week State College.

Semih Eser, a professor of Energy and Geo-Environmental Engineering, started off the evening with Turkish music on guitar. He played to a capacity crowd, gathered for the inaugural Nerd Nite at Webster’s Bookstore Café.

“I’m at Nerd Nite because I want to be surrounded by my fellow nerds,” said Bill Arden of State College, a retired college astronomy teacher. He sat at a table in the back.

What does Arden think of when he hears the word “nerd?” 

Kyle Hynes of State College won first place in the central region's youth division.
Arthur Goldschmidt

State High sophomore Kyle Hynes is taking home $5,000 for his first-place finish in the Draw the Lines PA’s youth division.

The 15-year-old said he’ll be practical with the winnings.

“Probably put it away for college and just further in life," Hynes said. "I don’t have as much of a need for it right now.”

The competition asked participants to submit maps outlining congressional districts. Contest organizers announced the statewide winners Wednesday during a ceremony at the Capitol in Harrisburg.

Kristine Allen / WPSU

A vigil was held in downtown State College Monday afternoon for the victims of last week's mass shooting at P.J. Harrigan's and at a home near the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in State College.  More than 50 people attended, bundled against the cold, to honor those affected by the tragedy. 

John Gardner at podium
Min Xian / WPSU

State College police are still trying to determine the motive behind a shooting Thursday night that left three victims and the shooter dead. 

The incident began at P.J. Harrigan’s Bar & Grill on South Atherton Street in State College. The shooter, Jordan Witmer, had been at the bar with Nicole Abrino since about 8:30 p.m. According to police, before 10:15 p.m. Witmer shot Abrino, 21; and Dean Beachy, 62, and his 19-year-old son, Steven.

BookMark: "The Female Persuasion" By Meg Wolitzer

Jan 24, 2019

Meg Wolitzer’s new novel, “The Female Persuasion,” is ambitious. It follows the feminist movement from its naïve, optimistic swell in the sixties ­to its present incarnation: a much more complicated, uneasy movement. The novel opens as Greer Kadetsky, a college freshman, hears second-wave feminist Faith Frank speak on her college campus. Greer is captivated by Faith, who is as charismatic as she is persuasive. Greer’s life course is fundamentally altered by meeting Faith after her speech, which sets the stage for the development of their complicated mentor-mentee relationship.

Shutdown protest signs in Washington, D.C.
Andrew Harnik / AP

With a federal government shutdown that's the longest one in U.S history, some Pennsylvania businesses and agencies are stepping in. At Somerset Trust Company, that means offering furloughed federal workers no-interest loans.

“The workers are simply caught in the middle. It’s not their fault. They didn’t do it. And a lot of them live paycheck to paycheck," said bank President Jeff Cook. He said the loans are his bank’s way of trying to help people in that community.

It's almost too obvious to be worth pointing out, but healthcare impacts everyone. And it seems like there's one thing everyone can agree on. Healthcare is expensive, whether we're talking about drug prices or insurance premiums. It wasn't always like this. The story of how healthcare got this way is the subject of Elisabeth Rosenthal's book “An American Sickness: How Healthcare Became Big Business and How You Can Take it Back.” I'm always interested in current events, and with the battles over healthcare on the national stage, this book seemed particularly timely.

Two men testing out voting machine
Anne Danahy / WPSU

Zane Swanger tapped on the screen of a voting machine to make his elections choices, including a write-in candidate, before printing out his ballot.

“OK, so it won’t even let me vote for overvotes, so good.”

Swanger was testing out one of the new voting systems that Pennsylvanians could be using in elections starting next year. He's the director of elections in Mifflin County, and that was third time he’s seen the equipment.

Wideline Seraphin and Ana Díaz.
Jim Carlson / Penn State College of Education

 

 

Since 2014, Wideline Seraphin and Ana Díaz have been collecting narratives from members of marginalized communities about their experiences living in State College and Centre County. A few of these stories will be featured in the mini-documentary “Schooling Narratives,” which focuses on the experiences of three families in the State College Area School District.

Seraphin said the student narratives have been used at the State College Area High School to rethink inclusion in a classroom space.

This I Believe: I Believe In Music

Dec 6, 2018
Essayist Audrey Shu.
Audrey Shu

 

I believe in music. Sweet melodies make me feel radiant and free.

I play the piano. As I’ve learned to play, my mom has been with me every step of the way. I remember her sitting next to 6-year-old me, sharing the same bench, the same music, as I progressed from playing single notes to mini-recitals.

My mom is a passionate classical music lover. Music takes both of us to another world.

In Mozart’s “Horn Sonata,” Mom and I are attending an extravagant royal ball.

Two people discussing voting machine
Anne Danahy / WPSU

Patrick McDaniel  said elections in the United States have historically been fair and secure, but there are challenges.

McDaniel is the Weiss Professor of Information and Communications Technology at Penn State and one of the organizers of the Symposium on Election Security, held Monday at the Penn Stater Conference Center. At a time when the integrity of elections is in the headlines, the conference drew experts and national leaders in election security.

Rendering of renovated Memorial Field
Image provided / SCASD

The State College Area School District is looking at revamping Memorial Field’s support facilities at an estimated cost of about $13 million.

Located next to downtown State College, Memorial Field is historic. But, it’s also short on many of the features most high school athletic stadiums have.

Ed Poprik, the school district’s director of physical plant, notes the field doesn’t have locker rooms, is lacking when it comes to public restrooms and doesn’t have a permanent area to buy food.

BookMark: A 'Baker's Dozen' Of Children's Books

Nov 29, 2018

 

Since 2004, the Pennsylvania Center for the Book has named a Baker’s Dozen of books each year that support family literacy.

The books chosen for the Baker’s Dozen list aim to turn preschool children into lifelong readers and lovers of books. Among the thirteen books chosen this year are “Bulldozer Helps Out” by Candace Fleming and Eric Rohmann, “I Want That Nut!” by Madeline Valentine and “Who Am I? An Animal Guessing Game” by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page.

Penn State's Beaver Stadium
Emily Reddy / WPSU

Penn State’s plan to renovate the president’s suite in Beaver Stadium and install an exclusive elevator has been shelved. The project had been slated to be completed in time for the fall 2019 football season.

A Penn State physical plant spokeswoman said in an email that the project is on hold as the university evaluates options. She did not provide details about why the project has been shelved.

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