Written By Ricky Sayer
—-Seven Springs Resort – Champion PA—This year at The Pennsylvania Technology Student Association’s State Conference, 4 members of Harriton’s TSA delegation completed a feat never before attained in such great numbers. For the first time, the 8 person PA-TSA State officer team will have a voting majority controlled by Harriton Students. The officer team president does not vote which allows Harriton to take a majority. In the past, the biggest number of Harriton Students that were members of the state officer team was 3. The 4 Harriton Students that were elected by their peers at the state conference and will be serving on the 2016-2017 PA-TSA state officer team are Catherine Liu (Vice President), Etan Ginsberg (Secretary), Francis Chalissery (Treasurer), and Ben Abt (Reporter).
Success at States
At its fundamental level, TSA is a technology competition with 35 events. In this area, Harriton was able to have overall success at the State Competition as members of the team had 22 top 10 finishes, including two 1st places in Chapter Team (Etan Ginsberg, Francis Chalissery, Ryan Krieser, Ron Nafshi, Hunter Sporn, Sarah Xi) and Desktop Publishing (Francis Chalissery), as well as four 2nd place finishes in Technology Bowl, PA- Robotics, PA-Safety Illustration – Computer and, Chapter Team Written. Harriton students also attained one 3rd place finish in Webmaster. Read Harriton’s full top ten results at the conclusion of this article. It is important to note the TSA has no team ranking. Individually the most Trophies in Harriton TSA were won by Etan Ginsberg with his 4 trophies in Chapter Team, Chapter Team Written, Tech Bowl, and Webmaster.
Harriton’s TSA President Chris Walsh had this to say “I think we gave it 110%, as they say in the sport world, and we came home for the win.”
Harriton’s two 1st place finishes came in Desktop Publishing and Chapter Team.
Desktop publishing was won by Harriton Freshman Francis Chalissery who was tasked with making a poster, newsletter, and news release for a community service organization. Chalissery told me that “it’s my favorite event because it incorporates a lot of graphic design principles and i get to use pretty cool software, so it’s fun.” Francis most notably went up against back to back to back (3-time consecutive) state champion Lina Shi from the powerhouse Plymouth Whitemarsh High School. Lina has displayed a wide range of excellence in graphic design events and was entering her senior year compared to Francis’s freshman year.
via GIPHY – Chapter Team celebrates first place
The biggest of Harritons celebrations came at the end of the night for the the final and arguably most prestigious TSA event: Chapter Team, an event that involves using strict parliamentary procedure and Roberts Rules of Order to run a business meeting. Harriton’s first place Chapter team win beats one of the greatest chapter team school’s of all time LM. LM has been a top 3 team in the nation for several years in a row and two of the current members competed on the team that won nationals two years ago. Harriton’s Chapter Team group was led by reigning National Champion of Chapter Team- Written, Etan Ginsberg, who as he told us, has aspired to compete on this level with LM for years. He, Francis Chalissery, Ryan Krieser, Hunter Sporn, Sarah Xi, Ron Nafshi, were able to do this in perfect fashion, running the best meeting they had ever ran.
Directly after the awards ceremony I spoke to Etan to get his reaction. “It was a great competition and we did what we can do, and we’re going to continue what we can do and we are going to continue with our goal now of getting a top 3 at nationals. When I have a goal our team can make that goal [a reality] when we all put ourselves in and we work for it, and we [did] work for it. We had 5 of the 10 spots for the individual (chapter team-written] tests were taken by our team members. We came together at the right time, we peaked exactly at the competition, and we ran the best meeting we have ever ran the entire time at that competition, we’re meeting our goals and we are going to keep on rolling.”
Winning Chapter team capped off memorable night for Harriton’s chapter who now prepares for nationals in June/July.
Above: Catherine Liu, Francis Chalissery, Etan Ginsberg, Ben Abt
But the bigger story for Harriton over the course of the conference was the unprecedented amount of Harriton Students Elected into state office. I asked Harriton TSA’s Advisor, Mr. Lehman about the purpose of the PATSA State officer team “The state officer team is responsible for a number of things, one of them being just organizing and preparing next year’s state conference. They will spend a fair amount of time on that, and they will continue to try to grow TSA as a whole and try to get more schools involved, get more students involved in TSA, that’s going to be their primary focus. When asked specifically about why so many Harriton Students were elected to state office Lehman told me that their wins can be credited to their confidence and leadership skills as well as how they communicated with all of the other students at the conference. “They obviously have a good grasp of the key issues that are going on in TSA and were able to strike a chord with the TSA general membership and earned their vote.”
I also asked Mr. Lehman about what the amount of State officers from Harriton says about not only students at Harriton but as Lower Merion School District Students as a whole. “We ended up with 4 state officers this year, more than we’ve ever had, we actually have a majority of the [elected] state officer team, what that shows is that Harriton and Lower Merion students have a good grasp on leadership and communications skills and are are going to become great leaders someday.” Mr. Lehman went on to say that the state officers from Harriton are “really a testament to all our students, the advisors really didn’t have a lot of input. They wrote their own speeches and gave their own speeches, and did it all on there own, which is something I always encourage. It makes you feel proud, and it makes you feel good to know that they did it all on there own without a lot of coaching.”
At the conference, Harriton Junior Catherine Liu was elected PATSA Vice President. Over the past year, Catherine has served as PATSA Secretary. When she was elected last year she promised that one of the things she would do was to bring a printer station to the conference so students would be able to print out things that they needed to compete. She was able to fulfill that promise this year, saying in her speech that the printer has “magically appeared.” I asked her what becoming vice-president means to her. “For me Vice-President means taking care of the membership committee, which the vice-president chairs. Most of the responsibilities are actually pretty fluid in that we[officers] all help each other with all our proposals and all of our responsibilities throughout the conference and throughout the year, I am really excited to be running membership [committee] because I have been on it for 2 years, I am familiar with the responsibilities and I am excited to see where it’s going to go.”
In order for Junior Etan Ginsberg to become PATSA Secretary, he first had to beat 3 other candidates including the popular 2015-2016 state reporter Zach Chan. Etan had run for state office and lost 2 years ago and attempted to win the appointed position Parliamentarian last year, which also failed. Etan in his campaign speech talked about how he wanted to bring TSA an online forum, which is something he has been in contact with the National TSA Executive Director about as well as reforming the process for attaining corporate sponsors by relying more heavily on TSA alumni which he said has not been tapped into.
Immediately after learning he had been elected Etan told me how ecstatic he was to become a PATSA state officer after his six years of dedication to TSA “I have this quote “you have to learn to fail before you learn to succeed” I honestly had to learn to fail when I wasn’t elected 2 years ago, and last year when I wasn’t appointed [parliamentarian] and from that I was able to build a lot greater platform. That’s why I was able to succeed.”
Francis Chalissery faced the steepest road in his Campaign to be TSA Treasurer as he went up against 6 other candidates. The Freshman told me that running for TSA state office was something he wanted to do “from day 1.” Considering that Francis has been in TSA since 6th grade, that is a long time. I asked Francis why he joined TSA and why he is still part of the club 4 years after he joined. “I like TSA because of its competitive element. I guess Science Olympiad has it too but TSA is good also. This year Harriton has about half of the total state officers, that’s important because it’s shows how much harriton has improved and how powerful Harriton is.” I asked how Francis how it feels to become a state officer. “It feels good because i worked hard for the past few months and i guess my work has payed off.”
Ben Abt, who is set to become the next PATSA Reporter (nothing to do with news, otherwise i would be jealous) campaigned on the idea of online forums and polls as well as bringing in new Technologies that will allow TSA to be more innovative instead of using the current older technologies that TSA uses today. Ben told me that “I was a little bit excited, it’s a goal I had. 2 years ago I decided I would try it eventually, I wanted to be part of the bigger thing.”
With Harriton’s control of half of the state officer team, controversy has already sparked with TSA members recalling that a few years ago, when Lower Merion School DIstrict had control of 75% of the state officer team (3 from LM, 3 from Harriton), a TSA student filed a motion that would have limited the amount of students that can run for state office from a School District to 2. That year when the officers were asked to state what school they attended during the business meeting, students actually booed the officer team. The motion failed to pass but Harriton’s elected officers this year worry about how they may be perceived next year by other schools. When I asked Francis Chalissery about concerns of Harriton’s power he immediately was reminded of the LM situation, he worries the same thing could happen next year “In the future there could be a rule where only 2 people from a school can run for state office.”
I asked other officers if it was a good thing that 4 students from Harriton are members of the state officer team. Ben Apt told me that “I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily a good thing personally because we [the officer team] need other people with other views with more ideas” Catherine Liu offered a similar thought “We have to be careful in that we don’t want the rest of the state to think that we are in any way trying to control the state officer team because obviously it is still an election by the delegates all throughout the state. So we just have to be careful in our decisions to make sure that we are considering every person, not just people in our area.”
Ben Apt also noted that it doesn’t give Harriton more influence because the officers are not delegates which means that they are not the only ones voting on topics, “I am going to do what I think is right and what other delegates and other chapters think is right and what they say throughout the polls and forms, I am not going to use this to give Harriton power because i don’t think that is right, I am not going to let it happen and other harriton state officers aren’t going to let that happen, it’s not going to be as easy as it looks for it to happen.”
I asked Mr. Lehman how he thought the officers and Harriton TSA would use their newly gained influence and he answered possibly in the most optimistic way. “Hopefully in a positive way, but that is difficult to tell.”
Another positive of Harritons 4 state officers is that “We can maintain the high percentage of officers from harriton because we can give better advice to harriton students who want to become officers” said Francis Chalissery.
Ryan Krieser said that Harritons officers will use their influence to “Make TSA as great as it could possibly be.”
For years it seemed, students that were part of Welsh Valleys dominant TSA squad have been deterred from continuing their TSA legacy at Harriton, instead choosing to play sports, join Harritons dominant Science Olympiad squad or most unfortunately, going to Lower Merion which has for years been considered the superior TSA squad to Harriton. It was clear something would be changing this year at regionals when for the first time, Etan Ginsberg of Harritons Chapter Team squad beat LM for the first place position allowing Harriton to become the Region Five officers. At the time Etan Ginsberg remarked “I want a top 10 at nationals and I want to win states.” Now it appears Etan has changed the team goal to be a top 3 at nationals.
After winning 1st place in Chapter Team Etan Ginsberg, one of the students who has led in Harritons rivalry vs LM remarked that “After regionals I said our goal would be to win 1st at states and finally beat LM [in chapter team], Well we just won first at states and LM got second. I don’t think anyone is ever going to say Harriton is taking a backseat to LM in chapter anymore”
An unidentified Harriton student then quipped “LM is irrelevant.”
Francis Chalissery, a member of the 1st place winning Chapter Team had this to add “This year Harriton beat LM in many events including chapter team. This year we beat LM in chapter team, it’s probably the most important event in TSA, they usually always beat us in this event so beating them is nice.”
As Harriton’s team has grown and matured, their rivalry with LM has skyrocketed. At this years State conference Harriton out-scored LM by 7 top ten finishes with Harriton grabbing 22 top ten finishes vs LM’s mere 15. Students at Harriton greatly celebrated this on the bus ride back to Harriton.
Ryan Krieser told me “we won, we basically killed LM, so that’s good. We won these elections and we won these events cause were good.”
When asked why students should go to Harriton over LM francis told me “it’s simple, Harritons better. Better resources, better access to tools, better people.”
Harriton TSA president Chris Walsh probably put it best. “We took them off the throne at regionals, and now we put them in there place at states, it’s fantastic”
Now with the team’s success at states both politically and trophy wise, Harriton hopes to continue the momentum by convincing Welsh Valley students to continue on with TSA at Harriton instead of going to LM or joining Harritons science olympiad team.
“I think it goes to show the amount of dedication the Harriton TSA has, and furthermore why we are not a inferior club to Science Olympiad, so that rising 9th graders should know that we as TSA are a perfectly suitable club and do not need to go to Science Olympiad, although Science Olympiad club is still a good club, we are better” said Harriton TSA President Chris Walsh.
Ryan Kreiser added “keep in mind when choosing between TSA and science olympiad that Harriton TSA controls the PATSA officer team.”
The 4 day TSA Conference took place from wednesday the 13th to Saturday the 16th at Seven Springs Resort in Champion/Seven Springs Pennslvania. 1,861 students competed in the conference that drew 139 schools from all across Pennsylvania
This year in Champion Pennsylvania, Harritons TSA team became champions.
Mr. Lehman explained the draw of TSA. “The greatest thing about TSA is that it’s different than a lot of other competitive curricular activities because it really encourages those leadership skills, running for those officer positions. It’s not just about the competitions, it’s about leadership, communication skills, and encouraging and growing those skills in the students.”
Harriton Top Tens
7th place: Henry Kohl-Drucker, Danila Nilov, Max Wang, Kevin Zhai
9th place: Sarah Hertzfeld, Catherine Liu, Ariadne Marg Bracken, Sarah Xi
9th place: Xinke Chen, Ron Nafshi, Anna Spade, Levi Rovner
1st place: Francis Chalissery, Etan Ginsberg, Ryan Kreiser, Ron Nafshi, Hunter Sporn, Sarah Xi
CAD 3D, Engineering
8th place: Christopher Walsh
1st place: Francis Chalissery
5th Place: Kareem Majid
10th place: Etan Ginsberg
7th place: Francis Chalissery, Etan Ginsberg, Henry Kohl-Drucker, Danila Nilov, Max Wang, Kevin Zhai
6th place: Ryan Herdler, Blake Mickman, Niels Terwiesch
System Control Technology
6th place: Ryan Kreiser, Ron Nafshi, Ben Siderowf
Technical Sketching and Application
10th place: Christopher Walsh
2nd place: Team A, Etan Ginsberg, Ryan Kreiser, Ben Siderowf
3rd place: Emma Anisman, Francis Chalissery, Etan Ginsberg, Ricky Sayer, Hunter Sporn, Will Haist
2nd place: Filip Barun, Zach Silberstein
2nd place: Portia Maidment
4th place: Ariadne Marg-Brackmen
2nd place: Etan Ginsberg
4th place: Hunter Sporn
5th place: Ryan Kreiser
7th place: Ron Nafshi
8th place: Francis Chalissery
Harriton students also elected next year’s local officer team, on the team will be Emma Anisman, Etan Ginsberg, Portia Maidment, Hunter Sporn, Zachary Manlin, and Kareem Majid
Etan Ginsberg, who helped to fact check this article, asked that the following statement be added.
“I do wholeheartedly belief that one of the keys to success is humility. While at the moment it appears we have reaped success, I have also seen a very interesting repeat phenomenon. Teams that win at the state level let the success get to their head and fall short of their goals at the national level. On the other hand, I can recall five different occasions where a team that has gotten 2nd at States has gotten 1st at nationals
I do not want to see short term success ruin the long-term goal. From the beginning of the year, I have wanted Harriton to be nationals focused… and nationals is still many months away.
Two years ago, Harriton got the most awards of any team in the state and got blown out at nationals by both LM and every other school. I do not want to see that happen again. I still have the utmost respect for my fellow competitors (former teammates) at Lower Merion High School as well as for the other teams at the State Conference, especially the state officer candidates.
This is why many commentators feel that in order for an undefeated team to win the ultimate prize (I think of the New England Patriots, Kentucky Wildcats, and Carolina Panthers) they need at least one loss along the journey so that they can actually experience failure. “You have to learn to fail before you can learn to succeed”.
I want to remind everyone not to get cocky because there is far more left in this season. The true results that will mark this year of Harriton TSA history still lie in the balance. They lie 800 miles South in Nashville TN at the site of the 2016 National Conference.” -Etan Ginsberg
Ricky Sayer is a student at Harriton High School, he is member of the Harriton TSA team and placed 3rd in webmaster. RickyReports.TV is in no way affiliated with Harriton High School or Lower Merion School District