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Willow Lane students serenade school board

The East Penn Board of School Directors was delighted by a performance by the Willow Lane Elementary School Songwriters Club at the May 22 regular meeting.

Lead by fourth grade math and science teacher Ryan Peters and accompanied on guitar by the district’s tech specialist Dylan Peters, the young songwriters sang “All Are Welcome Here.” The songwriting club has been around since 2013 at Willow Lane Elementary School. There are 24 fourth and fifth grade student members involved for the 2022-2023 school year.

“All Are Welcome Here” is one of many songs the youngsters created together as a group effort.

Although they share the same last name along with a passion for music and working with kids, the two adult musicians are not related.

Getting back to business, the board renewed School Superintendent Dr. Kristen Campbell’s contract for a further term of five years until June 3, 2028.

They also reappointed Dr. Douglas Povilaitis and Laura Witman as assistant superintendents for a further term of three to five years each.

Voting was unanimous.

In other personnel matters, the board accepted the retirements of Willow Lane Elementary School Head Custodian John Hammel, effective Aug. 1 and Darla Masters, food service support staff at Macungie Elementary School, effective May 15.

Campbell noted Hammel had been with the district for 26 years and Masters for 25 years.

The board approved newly-hired employees Marissa Notte as a Spanish teacher and Ada Patterson to teach Earth and Space Science at Emmaus High School.

Other new hires include: Elementary teacher Rebecca DiGiacinto for Lincoln Elementary School; ESL Teacher Laura Stauffer for Jefferson Elementary School and Lincoln Elementary School; Robyn DiStefano as an elementary teacher for Shoemaker Elementary School, Courtney Gross as an elementary teacher at Macungie Elementary School and John Guignet as an elementary teacher at Alburtis Elementary School.

Sandy Nguyen was approved to teach Instructional I: Grades PK-4 and Special Education PK-12.

All are effective August 2023.

In their final board meeting for the school year, EHS Student Government Association Student Representatives Maggie Machulsky and Maddie Hess reported on recent academic, musical and sports accomplishments. These include the Freddy Award nominations for “Fiddler on the Roof” and updates on the school’s volleyball, lacrosse and track seasons.

Campbell and Board President Dr. Joshua Levinson thanked the student representatives for their service and presented each with a gift. Both are graduating seniors with Machulsky moving on to Penn State Main as a communications major and Hess attending the College of William & Mary in Virginia to study history.

In her district update, the superintendent proudly listed each of the 15 Freddy Award nominations EHS received for “Fiddler on the Roof” from outstanding use of lighting through outstanding overall production of a musical. She expressed appreciation for Director Jill Kuebler and others on the production staff.

Campbell announced June 9 is the last day of school for students with commencement scheduled for June 11 at the PPL Center.

There are still openings for students in grades 5-8 interested in Lehigh Career & Technical Institute’s Camp LCTI scheduled for June 20-23.

Director Paul Champagne added a reminder LCTI is holding its senior recognition night May 31 at the PPL Center.

Campbell appealed to local businesses to partner with the district for the upcoming school year’s activity calendar.

Carbon Lehigh Intermediate Unit board member Dr. William Whitney reported Dr. Gregory Koons has been hired to replace retiring director Dr. Elaine Eib.

“Thank you for your support,” visiting trustee Ann Thompson said as she updated the directors on happenings at Lehigh Carbon Community College. She mentioned 927 students graduated in the Class of 2023, with 482 receiving their diplomas at the recent PPL Center graduation ceremony.

The community college has hired “success coaches” to advise students and possibly provide them with financial assistance to keep them from dropping out. These are in addition to the college’s “academic coaches” who council students on academic matters.

Thompson described a program the college offers where high school juniors and seniors can earn college credits at LCCC at the same time they are still attending high school. Upon graduation they receive their high school diploma as well as an associate degree.

She also mentioned LCCC has relationships with 60 colleges and universities where students can transfer credits, including Drexel University.

Levinson mentioned an executive session was held before the public forum 6:30 p.m. on “personnel, negotiations and other confidential matters.”

District schools will be closed May 29 in observance of Memorial Day.

The next regular school board meeting is scheduled 7:30 p.m. June 12. The public can access documents through BoardDocs via a link on the district website. Live streaming of meetings is available on the district’s YouTube channel.

PRESS PHOTOS BY ED COURRIER Lead by fourth grade teacher Ryan Peters, right and accompanied by district's tech specialist Dylan Peters, left, the Willow Lane Songwriters Club sing “All Are Welcome Here” at the May 22 school board meeting.
Emmaus High School Student Government Association Student Representatives Maddie Hess and Maggie Machulsky attend their final board meeting May 22. Both graduating seniors are college bound.