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Middletown students get hands-on lesson in borough government




studentphoto4 22 15Press And Journal Photo by Dan Miller--Serving alongside Middletown Borough’s elected officials on Monday, April 20 as part of the YMCA’s Youth in Government Program are, from left, Middletown Area High School students Zac Gates, Zeryab Ibrahim and Jordan Smith.



Three Middletown Area High School students took over Middletown Borough Council’s meeting on Monday, April 20. But it was a peaceful takeover.

 All three students are involved in the YMCA’s Youth in Government program, which gives students opportunities to learn about the political and legislative process at the local, state and national level.


Senior Zac Gates was given the gavel of president and ran the council meeting, side-by-side with Council President Chris McNamara.


Freshman Zeryab Ibrahim acted as mayor. Ibrahim even cast a tie-breaking vote, in consultation with Mayor James H. Curry III.


Junior Jordan Smith sat in with Councilor Anne Einhorn.


Gates and Ibrahim are among 25 students chosen throughout Pennsylvania to attend the Youth in Government Conference on National Affairs in Asheville, N.C., on June 27.


Gates is now an intern with the Joint State Government Commission. This summer he will work for Greenlee Partners, a lobbying firm on State Street in Harrisburg. In the fall he starts school at Shippensburg University in pursuit of a degree in political science.


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Last Updated on Tuesday, 21 April 2015 16:46

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NO EXCUSES: For Kyle Maynard, failure was not an option

softballteam4 22 15WEBPress And Journal Photo by Jim Lewis -- Kyle Maynard poses for a photo with the Penn State Harrisburg softball team.

Born without arms and legs, Kyle Maynard can do anything you do. He brushes his teeth with a regular toothbrush. Shaves with a regular razor. Writes with a regular pen. Types e-mails on a regular computer keyboard.

His car, an Acura, is the only place where special accommodations are made for him – the gas and brake pedals are raised toward the driver’s seat so he can reach them. Otherwise, he drives, like you do – with passengers who, he jokingly admits, “get scared when I answer my iPhone when I’m driving.’’ In fact, his physical accomplishments would astound you. A wrestler and weightlifter, the 29-year-old Maynard climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in 2012 – without the use of prosthetics. He tossed aside synthetic arms and legs while still a child.

Now a motivational speaker and New York Times best-selling author, he discarded a wheelchair he uses at the bottom of a two-tiered stage in Penn State Harrisburg’s Capital Union Building on Wednesday, April 15 and crawled up to a chair before a large crowd of at least 300 people, who were prepared to be awed by a speech on his seemingly super-human accomplishments. Instead, he told them about his failures.

How, at the age of 15, he struggled for a half hour to put on a sock for the first time. How he lost every wrestling match he entered when he first took up the sport. How he cried in his tent part way up Kilimanjaro, his body aching from his climb.

How, as a child, he sometimes prayed to God, begging for arms and legs like yours.

Behind the accomplishments are “a lot of failure,’’ Maynard told the crowd. Then he told them why he decided he would not let failure stop him – because “we want to live a life we’re capable of living.’’ “It has nothing to do with physical ability – I mean, a little bit – but everything to do with your mindset,’’ he said.

“If you have a big enough purpose, a big enough context of your life existence, all of that will fade away. If you really believe in yourself, you’re going to look for all that evidence why you are going to succeed.’’ To Maynard, success depends on “how we think about a situation – are we making excuses about it it? Are we becoming a victim to it? Are we procrastinating?

“There’s not top to that mountain," he said of making excuses. “We could be on that climb the rest of our lives."

Instead, Maynard hoped to convince the audience to drop their “baggage’’ and go for the life they want.

“I guarantee there are people in this room who are capable of changing this planet in a way I can hardly imagine,’’ he told the crowd. “It’s just a choice – and sometimes making choices to do big things is scary."

For Emaan Agha, a humanities major at Penn State Harrisburg, the chance to meet Maynard was a dream come true. A native of Pakistan, where women and members of the lower social castes often don’t get the same opportunities as males in the higher social classes, Agha first learned about Maynard’s mountain climb in school. The teacher’s intended message – you can accomplish anything you want.

When she heard he was coming to Middletown, “I was over the moon.’’ She was the first in line to greet Maynard after his speech, and posed for a cell phone selfie with him.

“He showed us that if you push for something hard enough, you get it,’’ Agha said.

For Zack Ottobre, a member of the university’s baseball team, the speech gave him “a different outlook on life, and definitely on the field."

“It makes me want to work harder when I take the field," he said.


Last Updated on Tuesday, 21 April 2015 14:59

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Pump station proposed for Londonderry site


The Londonderry Twp. Planning Commission could review plans for a Sunoco pipeline pump station near Vine Street in Londonderry as early as May 18, according to Jeff Burkhart, the township’s zoning officer.

A 27-acre site will be used for one of 16 pump stations along Sunoco’s Mariner East 1 pipeline, said Jeff Shields, a spokesman for Sunoco Logistics. The pipeline is being updated to carry liquid ethane and propane 350 miles from Houston, a town in western Pennsylvania, to Marcus Hook, along the Delaware River.

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Last Updated on Tuesday, 21 April 2015 14:46

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TEACHER'S PET: Steel-High will use fish to grow crops in a unique farming program

teachers pet graphic

Students in a small urban school district will be raising fish while planting and growing produce in the region’s first high school sustainable farming program of its scope.

The resulting food – the “Roller Harvest” – will be available in Steelton and Highspire, the boroughs that are home to students involved in this new program.

Steelton-Highspire School District is plowing new ground with its “School to Table Project,” housed in a greenhouse just outside Steelton-Highspire High School.

In one greenhouse, the students and faculty will raise the equivalent of 24 acres of crops due to the continual growing season using sustainable agriculture. The district plans to kick off the effort in June.

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Last Updated on Tuesday, 21 April 2015 14:40

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HIGHSPIRE STRIKES BACK: Coalition refutes Middletown's concerns for taking Highspire students


The Highspire group behind the proposed transfer of 229 borough students from the Steelton-Highspire School District to the Middletown Area School District rebuked arguments against the transfer by both districts in a response it filed with the state Department of Education.

Quite simply, the Highspire Education Coalition, as the group is called, focused on the educational merits of a secession by Highspire to Middletown Area, claiming that it would provide Highspire children with a better education.

It refutes Middletown’s claims that the transfer would cause overcrowding in Middletown’s schools or a financial burden to the district, and asserts that Middletown’s fears that Highspire students are behind academically proves their point about the move’s educational merits.

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Last Updated on Tuesday, 14 April 2015 14:57

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