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Local students show off aquaponics skills at Farm Show


Will Korsak inspired a teacher to research the possibility of adding a new educational tool to her classroom Saturday, Jan. 7, at the Pennsylvania Farm Show.

What’s impressive is Korsak isn’t a fellow teacher. He’s a third-grade student at Kunkel Elementary School. 

“I liked that I inspired adults,” Korsak said. “It was awesome because they educate us and now we could educate them.”

Zoe Handwerk and Will Korsak explain the intricacies of an aquaponics system to a curious visitor at the 2017 Pennsylvania Farm Show on Saturday Jan. 7.Zoe Handwerk and Will Korsak explain the intricacies of an aquaponics system to a curious visitor at the 2017 Pennsylvania Farm Show on Saturday Jan. 7.Korsak and other members of Janelle Brojakowski’s class were educating visitors about an aquaponics system, as student ambassadors for INTAG Systems. INTAG is a company that produces agriculture systems for commercial and educational purposes. One of the systems is an aquaponics system, which where fish waste is used to fertilize a garden grown in a non-soil environment.

“They are truly invested in the students that they work with,” Brojakowski said of INTAG.

Brojakowski’s class has a small aquaponics system in their classroom and have been studying and learning from it all year. Saturday, they were able to use their knowledge and intellect to articulately answer questions from the public about the system, how it works, and how it could be the future of farming.

Brojakowski took a hands-off method Saturday, sitting back and letting her students to answer the questions and run the program. Occasionally, if there was a question that reached beyond the students’ range of expertise, they had INTAG members there to aid them, but the majority of the time, the students could answer the questions.

“They applied everything they’ve learned all year long and were able to educate others,” Brojakowski said. “Just to see them apply the knowledge and educate others is something I feel we as teachers don’t get to experience. It was a very unique and wonderful opportunity.” 

Brojakowski heard about the aquaponics system at another teaching job, and brought it to Middletown. This is the first year she has had an aquaponics system in her classroom and it has been an educational tool for more than simply the science curriculum. 

Students have been able to incorporate what they’ve learned about it into their math, reading and writing lessons, as well as develop their critical thinking and problem-solving abilities by diagnosing, discussing and researching solutions to problems the system has presented them.

“I’d love to see more opportunities like this for the students. They inspire me to provide them more opportunities,” Brojakowski said.

While students could answer questions from adults, they could also field questions from audience members their own age.

“It was fun because you could teach people that were older than you and were younger than you,” student Nicole Brion said.

“It’s pretty cool that a child gets to explain something to an adult and a lot of adults didn’t know about it,” student Zoe Handwerk said.

Brojakowski said she “absolutely” would take her class back to the farm show next year if given the opportunity by INTAG.

“I’m sure our partnership will continue,” Brojakowski said.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 11 January 2017 11:13

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Middletown Area High School Students of the Month: January 2017

Elizabeth DeVelin and James Fitzpatrick are the Middletown Area High School Students of the Month for January.

DeVelin is the daughter of Ed and Lori DeVelin. She is involved with Key Club, National Honor Society, cheerleading, color guard, an internship at PinnacleHealth Hospital, and the Epidemiology Challenge. 

Develin.ElizabethShe is a student mentor at Vista School for Autism, a volunteer for Challenger Baseball, Special Olympics volunteer, and a KasCare volunteer.

She is on the distinguished honor roll and earned a certificate of achievement as part of the Color Guard and first place in the Tournament of Bands championships. She works with Respite Aid and in babysitting.

After high school, she plans to attend Messiah College and major in nursing.

“I am honored, grateful and excited to receive this award,” she said.

Fitzpatrick is the son of Bridget and Jim Fitzpatrick. He is a four-year varsity baseball player; a two-year member of the basketball team; a four-year Student Council member, including serving as president; class vice president his senior year; and class president his freshman-junior years. He is involved with MiniTHON and Link Crew.

Fitzpatrick.JamesHe volunteers at Bethany Village Retirement Community, Middletown Baseball Camp, Little Dribblers and Seven Sorrows Church. He started an annual fundraiser at MAHS for Crohn’s Disease Awareness.

He was the Lions Club Sophomore of the Year and has been on the Honor Roll/Distinguished Honor Roll all four years.

He is employed at Middletown Swim Club.

After graduation, he plans on attending Millersville University and majoring in mid-level education.

“It’s an honor to be chosen by the faculty for such an award. Thank you,” he said.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 11 January 2017 11:09

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Students of the Month: Lower Dauphin High School, November 2017

Lower Dauphin High School seniors Logan Grubb and Sarita Walters recently were recognized as Students of the Month.

Grubb L 10562 0020Grubb was honored by the Rotary Club of Hummelstown.

He is the son of Amy Clark-Grubb and Steven Grubb and is an accomplished thespian, student and community member. In school, he is a four-year member of the Thespian Society, acting in the fall plays and playing the role of Pop Bailey and Uncle Billy in this year’s production of “It’s a Wonderful Life.” He is also a four-year member of the cast of the spring musical, last year playing Gomez Addams in “The Addams Family.” 

He has participated in Lower Dauphin’s choral program for four years and was in the band for three years. He is president and a three-year member of the National Honor Society. He is a co-vice president and two-year member of the National English Honor Society. He is a two-year member of the National Science Honor Society and a four-year member of the National German Honor Society. He serves on the school board as a student representative and was a member of the track and field team for four years.

In the community, he attended the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards Conference this past summer. He works as an intern at the Hummelstown Area Historical Society and as an instructor in the Learn to Swim program at the Hummelstown Pool. He also held a summer job as an office assistant with Caldwell & Kearns, attorneys at law.

He hopes to attend Gettysburg College and major in political science/public administration.

Walters was recognized by the Hummelstown Women’s Club.

Walters S 10729 63 rtThe daughter of Justine and Scott Walters, she is an outstanding athlete, student and community member. She is a four-year member of the girls soccer team and a two-year member of the National Math Honor Society, the National English Honor Society and the National History Honor Society, for which she is vice president.

In the community, she has played club soccer with LDC United Galaxy since third grade. She also volunteers on mission trips and is active in her church. She is also a mentor in Lower Dauphin Communities That Care’s Study Buddy program.

She plans to attend Virginia Military Institute and major in international studies and she has verbally committed to play women’s soccer.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 04 January 2017 13:39

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Lower Dauphin seventh-grader honored for ‘doing the right thing'

12 14 do right thingContributed photo -- Rick Blair with Commonwealth Financial Associates; Hannah Murray; Hummelstown Police Officer Eugene Spencer; and LDMS dean of students Ken Kulina share a moment after the awards ceremony in the school cafeteria last month.

Hannah Murray, a seventh-grader at Lower Dauphin Middle School, was recognized by Hummelstown Police and Lower Dauphin Communities That Care in the Do the Right Thing program.

Hannah was recognized by Lori Schaefer, a school counselor, who says that she meets a special needs student at the bus every day and walks with her to her homeroom and then escorts her back to her bus at the end of the school day. “Hannah is one of the most friendly, compassionate and personable students I have had the opportunity to work with,” she said.

For her willingness to help another student, she was recognized with a $25 gift card, a Do The Right Thing T-shirt and certificate, and Papa John’s pizza coupons. This month’s program sponsor was Commonwealth Financial Associates.

The Do the Right Thing program is modeled after a successful national program. Now in its 10th year, the program recognizes students in the Lower Dauphin community who have distinguished themselves through their accomplishments, attitude or outstanding efforts.

School staff members and police officers typically nominate students whose positive actions come to their attention, but any adult over the age of 18 can nominate a child. A volunteer committee reviews the student nominations on a monthly basis and selects a winner for each month. For more information, contact Kathy Peffer at 566-6096.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 03 January 2017 11:52

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LD Falcon Foundation to honor Witmer at gala

The Lower Dauphin Alumni Association and Dr. Judith T. Witmer will be honored by the Lower Dauphin Falcon Foundation on Saturday, Jan. 21, at the foundation’s ninth annual Blue and White Gala.witmer judithWitmer

In recognizing the Alumni Association, foundation President Patricia Gordon said LDAA represents thousands of Lower Dauphin High School graduates and serves as a focus for them to stay connected to their school and each other.

“Lower Dauphin alumni represent our school and community wherever they go, bringing honor and acclaim to the Blue and White,” Superintendent Sherri Smith said. “We thank our Alumni Association for providing this link to our traditions and proudly serving their alma mater.”

The Falcon Foundation will honor Witmer, whose energy and creativity helped successfully launch the Alumni Association in 1989, according to a press release.

Witmer has served Lower Dauphin since 1960, literally writing the book on the high school with her landmark 500-page history of Lower Dauphin High School, “Loyal Hearts Proclaim.”

From classroom teacher of English literature, composition, and public speaking, Witmer rose through the ranks as a principal at the high school, director of the Coalition of Essential Schools, and assistant to the superintendent.  Following her tenure at LD, she managed programs for the Department of Education, taught for Temple University, served as a consultant to many projects at the Milton Hershey School, and edited the National Arts Standards and other federal programs.

She is the director of the Capital Area Institute for Mathematics and Science at Penn State Harrisburg and is the owner of Yesteryear Publishing.

Among her many other contributions to Lower Dauphin was the initiation of the original English Enrichment program, which placed one cohort of students with the same two teachers for three years. She was the director/producer of eight high school musicals, a member of the three-person pit orchestra for the first two school musicals, director of seven drama productions, and yearbook adviser for seven publications.

She was the director/producer and script-writer of 24 student-centered commencement and baccalaureate programs. She also initiated the inclusion of alumni participation and junior class marshals in the graduation ceremonies. She started the practice of class gifts as well and was the “voice of the morning” in the high school from 1963-1990.

LDAA initiatives include being the originator of the Alumni Showcase and the originator and chair of the LDHS Golden Jubilee with numerous activities throughout the year, culminating in several celebratory major events in one fall weekend.

Her administrative contributions included, among others, several student assistance programs, creation of the Student Advisory Board, development of a School Governance plan, initiation of a Senior Awards Family Night, founding of Parent Advisory Boards and a student Spirit Club.

Her service leadership included chairmanship of the board for Pennsylvania’s Governor’s Schools, member of the national Goals 2000 Initiative, fund-raising co-chair for the Alexander Library, publication chair for Hummelstown’s Bicenquinquagennial and editor of its commemorative publication. She also served as LD Field House co-chair for fundraising.

Other honors include, among others, LDAA’s Distinguished Service Award (2010); Outstanding Alumni Award, DuBois Campus of Penn State (2016); and the Dissertation Award (1990) by the Association for Moral Education at Harvard.

Witmer is the author of 19 books and co-author of three others as well as seven book chapters, 48 journal articles, 23 dramatic scripts, 78 proposals and strategic plans, more than 100 grant proposals, as well as evaluation reports, presentations/workshops, 14 national speeches for clients, 244 book reviews, and other writing, including non-disclosure projects for the federal government.

Tickets for the event are $100 each and are still available.

Reservations may be made online at the foundation website ( For information, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or get in touch with any Falcon Foundation board member.

“The Lower Dauphin Falcon Foundation provides our students with opportunities which they might not otherwise be able to enjoy,” Smith said. “The foundation also enhances opportunities for our students to get the most out of their educational experience here in Lower Dauphin.”

Last Updated on Tuesday, 03 January 2017 11:35

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