In a major win for LMSD and Stoneleigh, the Lower Merion Township Building and Planning Committee voted to end the process of designating 1860 Montgomery Ave (Islamic Center) as a Class 1 Historic Resource, paving the way for Lower Merion School District to build a middle school on the property and “very likely” ending the district’s possible attempt to acquire all of the Stoneleigh Natural Garden which members of the community have protested. The vote breakdown of the committee was tied 7-7, which came after nearly 3 hours of comment and debate.
Following the meeting, Lower Merion School Board President Melissa Gilbert told me that as a result of the commissioners decision that it “makes it very very likely that Stoneleigh is off the table.” At the time, Gilbert did not specify if “off the table” referred to all of Stoneleigh or just the 6.9 acres that Gilbert in the past said the district needed for athletic fields. The next day, District Spokesperson Amy Buckman said that the 6.9 acres of Stoneleigh were still on the table as a last resort.
Wednesday’s vote would have allowed for the township to draw up an ordinance to make 1860 Montgomery a Class 1 Historic Resource. The vote on the ordinance would have taken place next month. Some commissioners said they believed it was possible for the district to preserve part of the Clairmont building, such as part of the facade. Some commissioners said they thought that they would be able to prevent LMSD from building on Stoneleigh because they still have to approve the Districts plans at 1860. In theory, the commissioners could stop the district from building at 1860 if they still planned to acquire part of Stoneleigh
Tensions were high during the meeting and the outcome was unclear until the final vote took place at 10:40 pm. Before the vote, four members of the committee expressed that they were undecided during their comments or that they would simply wait until the vote itself to make their final determination known. President Bernheim cast what was essentially the deciding vote when he voted nay. Just moments before he had presented a plan that would have postponed the vote on reclassification to a later date. Voting yes to the main motion in question would have has a similar outcome where commissioners would have another month to decide on reclassification.
Some commissioners said that there has been misinformation, some from the district, that has led to the current views of members of the community.
By Ricky Sayer (Note: This is a breaking story, check back for updates.)
The Harriton High School Science Olympiad Team have captured second place for the second year in a row. With a score of 211, the Harriton team actually tied with the third place team Solon. Harriton was awarded second on a tiebreaker.The Harriton team has a long history of success and owns the Pennsylvania record for the longest Academic or Athletic Championship streak. This year at the state competition, the team scored a record low 39 points where they medaled in every event. At this year’s national competition, held at Wright State University, the team medaled in 10 events (out of 23). Harriton took home two 1st places in the events remote sensing and invasive species.
The Harriton team is known for their hard work and dedication. Students begin working on their events at the beginning of the school year. Many students stay at school every day after school until 5:30 preparing for competition. Harriton is led by Advisor Brian Guavin. Something unique to Harritons team is that regardless of if a teammate is competing or not, the team member is invited to come to all competitions. The team believes this fosters members to work together so the student who is competing can be the most prepared for competition.
According to a press release published on the Science Olympiad Website “Recognized as one of the nation’s most prestigious science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) competitions, Science Olympiad brings together 120 winning middle school and high school teams advancing from state-level competitions this spring. Rigorous hands-on and lab events led by experts from government agencies, top universities and Science Olympiad state chapters cover topics in physics, epidemiology, astronomy, chemistry, meteorology and engineering.”
Harriton medaled in the following events:
Remote Sensing – 1st
Optics – 2nd
Microbe Mission – 3rd
Materials Science – 4th
Invasive Species – 1st
Electric Vehicle – 3rd
Dynamic Planet – 4th
Disease Detectives – 3rd
Chemistry Lab – 3rd
Anatomy and Physiology – 3rd
This story will be updated soon with more information.
Ricky Reports is not affiliated with Harriton High School
Following a town hall meeting with constituents in Lower Merion, U.S. Representative Dwight Evans answered questions regarding issues important to high school students such the future of education, the cost of college, standardized testing, and the direction of the democratic party. The congressman, serving in his first term, represents Pennsylvania’s second district which includes Lower Merion as well as parts of North and West Philadelphia.
During the 2016 presidential election, many high school and college students found themselves supporting Bernie Sanders, whose liberal ideas on social and fiscal issues resonated with young americans. When asked if the future of the Democratic party was moving farther to the left, the congressman said,”thats a good question. I don’t know if it is, but whats most important is that Bernie ideas, like Hillary Clinton ideas, like Tom Perez and Keith Ellison, that we all come together, because were better and stronger together when we work together.” The congressman continued, “we need to have young people. I think its important for folks like yourself to be involved either in the media, public office, run for office whatever because this is your democracy, this is your future, and this is what were fighting for. We’re fighting to have a society that is inclusive that has everybody, everybody has a chance. And thats what we want to have, a better society.”
Another issue critically important to high school and college students is the price of college. The total cost of going to a public college or university has risen 10% in the past five years, according to the College Board. Evans said that the way the government could curb the cost of going to college is to make the first 2 years of community college free. Evans explained that “the way you can try to pay for that is through a financial transaction tax, through transaction, that would pay for it.”
Evans stressed the importance of education in a democracy where the citizens are knowledgable.”Education is extremely essential to move the country forward but also to protect our democracy because a educated voter is extremely important as we try to have a better society,” he explained.
Another topic that affects high school students is high stakes standardized testing. In 2015 the Lower Merion School Board took a stance agianst standardized testing in a resolution, specifically calling on legislators “to strive to minimize the amount of mandated testing and the use of standardized testing for teacher and school evaluation” That same year, 272 students opted out of PSSAs in Lower Merion School District. When asked about his views on the issue of high stakes standardized testing, the congressman responded, “I think it should be more than just testing, it should be all around, testing should be one part of it, but testing should not be the sole determining factor in terms of if a student moves forward.”
The congressman spent much of the Town Hall talking to constituents about effects of Donald Trump’s proposed policies, most notably healthcare. Donald Trump’s education secretary, Betsy Devos, was confirmed only because of a Mike Pence tiebreaker vote. Devos was criticized for having a lack of public school experience and for supporting school vouchers which could take money from public institutions. When asked about the future of education in the country even with Betsy Devos in office, the congressman said, “I belive that we have to make sure that we make sure that that education, particularly pre k school, elementary school, Kindergarten, those are extremely essential. Public education is the best idea that as a country we have come up with, cause you don’t have to pay for the education. I think its important that we maintain a system that works for everybody and we have everybody included no matter what your zip code is we have to make sure everybody is included.”
Ricky Sayer is a Harriton High School senior who will be attending Syracuse University in the fall of 2017.
Lower Merion Police confirmed that on Tuesday, detectives took a 15 year old Harriton High School Student into custody as part of an investigation into an alleged threat the student made on the social media app Snapchat.
Lower Merion Police Superintendant Micheal McGrath told the Main Line Times that “The school district was contacted and took appropriate steps to advise the school community of the ongoing issue. While the student will not be able to attend school until this matter is resolved, the school and police department will be providing additional security at [Harriton High School],”
Police also confirmed with the Main Line Times that Wednesday morning, a Lowe Merion High School student was taken into custody after a similar incident.According to NBC10, “The second alleged threat at Lower Merion High School occurred the following day in which a student at that school “essentially copied what the Harriton student had done and posted it on Snapchat with the words ‘just joking,'” according to an email sent to parents by Harriton High School principal Scott Weinstein.”
Additionally, police told the Main Line Times that both students will undergo mental health evaluations.
More than 150 students did not attend school on Wednesday because of the threat as well as the icy road conditions.
Previously: A student sent a message to a friend using Snapchat that warned them that they would use a gun to commit a violent act at Harriton High School on Wednesday. Lower Merion Superintendent Copeland said that the student would not be allowed to attend school on Wednesday and that police are investigating. The student who sent the message claims that it was a joke.
On Tuesday, March 14th, a Harriton student sent a photo to one of his friends with the caption “Don’t come to school tomorrow.” The text was followed by 3 gun emoji’s. The photograph, included with the caption, showed the student’s face with his middle finger sticking out towards the camera. The student who received the photograph took a screenshot of it, as most snapchats disappear after a few seconds, and shared it with this friends. Along the way, students added captions that warned students that Harriton may not be safe on Wednesday. These images were widely circulated among students Tuesday evening. Students reacted with concern that Harriton may not be safe Wednesday, with some saying they would not attend out of fear. A number of students who received the image alerted the Harriton Administration and the Lower Merion Police.
Harriton Administrators have confirmed that they are aware and that the LMPD is investigating. Superintendent Copeland sent an email out to all parents that read in part “Earlier this evening we were advised of a threatening message posted by a student on Snapchat about committing a violent act at school.” It went on to read “While the investigation is still ongoing, the police have advised us that the situation does not pose an imminent threat to the safety of students. Along with law enforcement, we have addressed the Harriton student who posted the message and that individual will not be permitted to attend school until resolution of the investigation and any disciplinary actions.”
In an email, Harriton Vice Principal Mrs. Marcuson encouraged students to attend school Wednesday.
The student wrote in a follow up snapchat that “Uh that got blown way out of proportion. Just a joke. Not funny my bad.”
RickyReports.TV has decided to withhold the name of the student as they are a minor.
The email sent by Superintendent Copeland also read “Please know that we take these matters extremely seriously and have no tolerance for violent threats of any kind. Student safety is always our top priority. Moving forward, this situation will continue to be addressed in accordance with school district policy and in consultation with the authorities. This incident also serves as an important reminder about the appropriate use of social media. It is essential that students have clear parameters about social media use and a full understanding of the implications of their words.”
Superintendent Copeland also thanked students and families for quickly reporting the situation to the police.
The full text of the email sent by Superintendent Copeland can be found below.
“Dear Harriton and Lower Merion Families, “Earlier this evening we were advised of a threatening message posted by a student on Snapchat about committing a violent act at school.” Upon receiving this information, we immediately notified local law enforcement and they have been directly handling the matter. While the investigation is still ongoing, the police have advised us that the situation does not pose an imminent threat to the safety of students. Along with law enforcement, we have addressed the Harriton student who posted the message and that individual will not be permitted to attend school until resolution of the investigation and any disciplinary actions. Please know that we take these matters extremely seriously and have no tolerance for violent threats of any kind. Student safety is always our top priority. Moving forward, this situation will continue to be addressed in accordance with school district policy and in consultation with the authorities. This incident also serves as an important reminder about the appropriate use of social media. It is essential that students have clear parameters about social media use and a full understanding of the implications of their words. Finally, we would like to express our appreciation for how quickly the matter was reported by students and families in the District. We are grateful for your continued support in helping to ensure the safety of our school community. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Principal Scott Weinstein at Harriton at (610) 658-4950 or Principal Sean Hughes at Lower Merion at (610) 645-1819. Sincerely, Robert Copeland Superintendent.”
Ricky Sayer is a senior at Harriton High School. He will be attending Syracuse University in the fall. RickyReports.TV is in no way affiliated with Harriton High School or Lower Merion School District
Lower Merion police have released surveillance video that shows two people stealing Kobe Bryant memorabilia Sunday evening at Lower Merion High School.
Police have released surveillance images that show two people breaking into Lower Merion High School Sunday evening where they stole multiple pieces of Kobe Bryant memorabilia.
A statement that was released with the photos says that two actors forcibly opened an exterior entrance to the building. “One actor disables the lock and removes the glass door from its track.” The thieves wore latex gloves in an attempt to not leave fingerprints and scarves to conceal their faces.
Police gave a description of the thieves that read
Actor #1 is wearing a dark colored winter hat, black or blue jacket with a scarf, dark pants and dark colored shoes with white trim. Actor #1 is wearing blue latex gloves and conceals their face with a multi-colored scarf. Actor #2 is wearing grey “Jordan” sweatpants labeled on the left pant leg, a dark colored hooded jacket or sweatshirt, a Brooklyn Nets hat with a pom pom on top and grey New Balance sneakers. Actor #2 is wearing gloves and conceals their face.
Lower Merion police believe the thieves who stole Kobe Bryant Memorabilia were able to enter the school by breaking into the locker room, according to a Lower Merion School District official. While there were multiple security cameras that recorded the theft, the thieves covered their faces. The mask could hinder efforts in determining who stole the ‘priceless’ memorabilia. Police attempted to get fingerprints off the display case; it is unclear if they were successful.
Doug Young, Director of School and Community Relations for Lower Merion School District, said that the incident occurred Sunday evening between 6:30 and 7:30 pm. “There were custodians in the building, so it was actually a custodian who noticed someone had broken into the case and removed the items from it.”
It was earlier reported that thieves broke locks on the glass display case in order to get in. Items stolen from the “Kobe Shrine” include a framed replica of Kobe’s high school jersey, the 1996 PIAA Boys Basketball State Championship trophy and net, programs from the state and district title games, a proclamation from the Pennsylvania State House honoring the 1996 team as well as several pairs of signed Nike sneakers.
The theft occurred as other events were going on inside of the high school. At the time of the theft, the school’s theater company was holding a rehearsal. Earlier in the day a large rowing competition was held inside the school’s gymnasium. A district employee told us that everything looked normal as those events were going on. They said that they even saw people take pictures in front of the “Kobe Shrine.”
Despite the fact that doors were open, thieves still opted to force their way into the school. “They forced entry through a side door…. there actually were some doors open at that time,” said Doug Young.
Doug Young played with Bryant on the 1996 Lower Merion State Championship team. He said that Coach Downer, who still coaches the LM team, spoke Monday with Kobe to discuss what happened, “I think we’re all, Kobe included, pissed, you know, that someone would come in and do this.”
Doug told us that they could possibly replace the stolen trophy but that it would be “not quite be the same as having the original.” Alumni have already offered to donate things like programs from the 1996 championship game. “It’s more of a punch in the gut that someone would come into your school, vandalize school property, take things from a place that, as a community, is a pretty sacred spot… It’s frustrating. It’s sad,” he said.
We asked Doug if the display case was locked at the time of the theft. He told us “anybody who wanted to get in there could probably get in there. I think any thief who is determined to get something will have a plan for it. It was not Fort Knox, there was not a great deal of security, but there were a lot of cameras around that did catch video of whoever was who was doing it… Hopefully the police will have enough to go on to try to find someone.”
An earlier statement from Lower Merion High School said that police are currently reviewing the security footage “in an aggressive effort to identify those responsible for this crime.” The Main Line Times reports that both school and township officials say they hope to have surveillance images available.
At 8pm Monday night, a Lower Merion custodian cleaned the display case for the first time since the theft, removing the caution tape, and wiping down the inside and outside of the case.
On Monday evening, the main doors to the gymnasium were locked around 8 but the doors to the pool were left open. The door that opens to the boys’ locker room was locked, but appeared to open farther than usual while still locked. It is unclear if the door was broken and is also unclear which locker room the thieves were believed to enter into. The locker rooms are located down the hall from the “Kobe Shrine.”
The items were displayed in the “Kobe Case/Shrine” pictured above before thieves broke in. In email sent to parents, Lower Merion principal Mr. Hughes said that the case “has become a unique point of pride for our school and even a tourist attraction; many basketball fans from all over the world visit our school each year to take photos in front of the display.” Everything that was in the display was stolen.
The items that were stolen are not worth much, but are sentimentally important to the school. “They represent a wonderful time of accomplishment, unity and pride for our school community — the 1996 state championship — and celebrate an alumnus who has made lasting contributions to our school and the sports world,” wrote Sean Hughes.
“I’m not sure what someone is going to do with a state championship trophy,” said Doug Young.
Kobe Bryant graduated from Lower Merion High School in 1996, going straight to the NBA. He finished his high school career with 2,883 points, which is more than any other Philadelphia area basketball player including Wilt Chamberlin (2,252.)
Doug Young said that while he was angry that someone had come in and dishonored a space so important to him and other alumni, “you can take all the stuff away but you’re not going to take the memories and those exciting moments.”
School Officials asked that if anyone has any information related to the incident, to please contact them or Lower Merion police.
Ricky “Reports” Sayer is a journalist at Harriton High School where he is founder and president of the TV station. He will begin attending Syracuse University in Fall of 2017.
Lower Merion police ask that if anyone has any information regarding the identity of the suspects, to please contact Detective Gregory Pitchford at GPitchford@lowermerion.org or 610-645-6236.
Starting in the summer of 2016 I covered the 2016 election. Here is all of my coverage as either a reporter or producer.
Written By Ricky Sayer
Bryn Mawr PA — The mystery surrounding the creation of a website that exposes Harriton Students of illegal behavior has dominated the discussion among students in the opening days of the school year. While students speculate, Harriton’s administration has confirmed to RickyReports.TV that they, as well the police are aware, but only the school is actively investigating. Thanks to swift detective work by students, the site has been taken down though the archives still remain online.
On Monday September 5th, the day before school started at Harriton High School of Lower Merion, an individual (or individuals) using the pseudonym of Greg Stephenson created a website that shared media depicting Harriton students engaging in illegal activity. According to the website, the purpose of exposing students engaged in illegal activity is that it would allow them to be punished and stop them from going to college. “I think that the site in itself is terrible, but I think what is worse is that someone is trying to ruin Harriton students chances of getting into college” said Senior Jon Diamond-Reivich.
As of Friday, the site shared 6 images that depict students smoking marijuana and drinking beer. Harriton students have taken measures to track down the creator of the site. These attempts have led to the current realization that the creator of the site may have framed another student for the sites’ creation.
A Harriton administrator told Ricky Reports on Thursday that they first became aware of the website on Wednesday, the second day of school. A letter to parents from Harriton Principal Scott Weinstein explained that “We received an anonymous email notifying school administration about the site. In turn, we immediately contacted the families of students involved.”
A school administrator told Ricky Reports that no students have been disciplined by the school as a result of the published images as they could have been manipulated to make it appear as if the student was engaging in an illegal activity. The letter which was sent to parents on Friday made note that “As this is an external website, it is likely beyond the District’s capacity to assist in removing the content in question.” More of the email is included toward the end of this article.
Students criticized the administration’s response, saying that “They clearly want no affiliation with it and nothing to do with it.” Senior Jack Turner told me the District should take a more active role in remedying the situation. “Even though these events occurred outside of school, it doesn’t mean that administration just gets to step out of the situation. We have countless assemblies on bullying and cyberbullying and they mean nothing when something like this happens and they don’t take action.” Jack went on to say that he believed that the administration’s response and their email implied that the school “Blamed the victims who did nothing to deserve this.”
Senior Will Hoffman made note that “The people involved were not even contacted by administration and were put on blast to the entire district, they did little to help with the removal of the website, other than warnings of “being careful”.”
Anna Fleming was slightly more forgiving “It’s a tricky situation for the school to be in, but for all they preach about “No Place for Hate”, I think they could have put more effort into getting to the bottom of the situation and punishing the culprit.”
In a “welcome” message on the website, the sites creator makes it clear why they created the site (asterisks have been used to censor the name of the website and protect students involved):
“Hello! Welcome to ******** *****! This website is used to leak out any pictures or videos of Harriton High School students doing illegal/bad things! We created this site for a few reasons reasons:
1. To expose students who do illegal things so they can get punished for them.
2. To expose students who do illegal things so colleges can really see what A+ students look like when not in school.
3. To expose students who do illegal things so they can see that nothing can “disappear from the internet”.
4. To show that “snitches” who expose other students online cannot get “stitches” when done correctly.
Disclaimer: This website is operated by anonymous personnel affiliated with Harriton High School of Lower Merion, PA. All media posted on this site has been gather through legal methods, meaning that our content is not “hacked” out of people’s phones.”
The website has made 2 postings. The first shows 2 female students allegedly smoking marijuana. Only 1 image shows the face of a student. No physical marijuana can be seen in that image but the image does display a “puff of smoke” near the mouth of the student in the image. Other images, which do not show faces, do have what appear to be marijuana in them. The creator of the site claims that these images were “ripped from” a student’s Vsco page. Vsco is a photo-sharing website. A second posting on the site shows a group of friends smiling and laughing as they pose for a picture at a party. One of the students in the image is seen holding an Eagles Beer Can. The post includes a second image, which is a cropped out picture of the Beer Can. Along with the image the site creator included the caption:
“This photo is ripped from Vsco, uploaded by user ***************. This photo shows (from left to right), **** *********, *** *******, ***** *******, ***** *********, and ***** ***** at a house party. ***** ********** has a can of Bud Light in his right hand. We can also assume the two females on the left are under the influence of alcohol, because of the way they are laughing, however, this cannot be confirmed. ********* however is clearly drunk: just look at his eyes.”
It is important to note that some of the students included in the pictures are athletes who are committed to playing at Division 1 schools. The website allowed for readers to anonymously send in pictures of Harriton students engaged in illegal activity so they can be posted on the site. It is unclear if images posted on the site came from a reader or the site.
In a defiant response to criticisms and outrage the creator of the site ‘Greg Stephenson’ wrote that “This site will not get taken down…. Also, I wanted to mention that this site is backed up on http://archive.is/ and http://web.archive.org/ in case anything were to happen to this site.”
A message to ‘Greg Stephenson’ has not resulted in a reply.
Students Act As Detective
News of the website first spread among Harriton Seniors on Facebook Wednesday evening. By mid day Thursday it became impossible to walk around Harriton and not hear someone talking about the website. As Senior Kristen Cooney put it “Everywhere you went, there were people discussing “******** *****” with friends, even teachers.”
As soon as students learned of the sites existence they set out to find the creator of the site. In a matter of hours students were able to figure out that ‘Greg Stephenson’, if he was a real person, was not a student of the Lower Merion School District. Many used their knowledge of technology to determine facts that would help them pinpoint the sites creator. This directly led to a key piece of information being discovered.
For a short time on Thursday it appeared as if the culprit had been caught by his fellow students. In the cafeteria at lunch, a group of students were able to find the email address of the owner of the website. They attempted to break into the account by using a feature on Google that helps you recover a password if you have the phone number that is associated with email account. The group of students did not know the phone number, but google gave them the last two digits of the number as a hint. Junior Max Hopko explained to me how he and his friends were able get those 2 digits.
“I was able to locate the email address used within the website through a broken Subscribe Feed button found on the website. In the code was the email address (email@example.com). With this information I found the last 2 digits of the creator’s phone number.”
A friend of Max realized that those 2 numbers were the same 2 numbers as a friend of theirs who was sitting at the table. They had asked their friend to tell them his entire phone number. He complied and the group entered the number into the password recovery system. To their surprise this worked and a message was sent to the student giving him a confirmation number to re-set the password for the Google account that the website is controlled through. The group of students then proclaimed that they had found the creator of the site causing a stir in the lunchroom as students learned what was going on. A crowd had formed around the student when I confronted him to ask for an explanation. He told me that the phone number associated with the site was his but denied that he created the site. Things became heated when some in the room began yelling at the student who claimed he had been framed. The student was escorted out of the lunchroom for his own safety. The student claims that the actual creator of the website must have used his cell phone number when registering the Google account. He claims that when you enter a phone number, you don’t actually get a text saying that your phone number is now associated with that account. The student told me that following this he met with a school vice principal, and during this meeting the student told the vice principal, who had the IP address of the website, that the IP address associated with the site was not the same as the students phone or computer and that he was framed. The student told me that the vice principal agreed that it would not make sense for the creator of the site to use their actual phone number. Ricky Reports has not independently been able to confirm this. According to the student who says he was framed, school administration advised him not to use the power given to him by the recovery password phone number to set a new password, allowing him to delete the site. On Friday evening, after mounting pressure from students in the Harriton community, the student had reversed course and deleted the site. He wrote online that he video recorded the entire process.
School administration told me they cannot discuss ongoing investigations regarding students.
Harriton Students united this week to condemn the actions of the websites creator and express how they felt. Some students expressed anger toward the websites creator, telling me “I think that it is absolutely worthless and ridiculous and that whoever created this is a low life loser who has nothing better to do” said a Harriton junior, who asked not to be identified for fear of retaliation by the websites creator. Pearce Flanagan, a Harriton Senior told me that “The fact that someone would go out of their way to do all of this is scary. It’s scarier to think what else they feel the need to do.” Junior Kristin Cooney told me “Even though the site is now down, it’s definitely concerning that it existed in the first place, and that someone had so much bitterness toward the people to create it.” Other students, such as Benji Martin, had a different view of the situation. He told me, “While I do think it is concerning, I don’t think it is such a big deal as the student body is making it. Maybe I’m the only who is thinking this but it’s not like the pictures were taken through spy cameras, and the people did not know about it. The people in the pictures knowingly took them, and then chose to post them on social media. Of course the site was made for only exploitation, but is it that big of a deal that the pictures were basically just “retweeted”?”
Students all week speculated who and why someone would create this site. At first, many students came to the conclusion that the creator of the site was a junior girl, jealous of her friends for one reason or another (as the majority of those in the pictures shared on the site are juniors). “My suspicion is that they were trying to ruin Juniors college lives by posting pictures of them doing bad things so that they don’t get into a good college. Definitely seems like something that would happen in a competitive district.” said Noah Salmanson. Others, like Ava Sophia Brown and Kristen Cooney told me they believe that whoever created the website was driven to do so because of something that had happened to them. “The only reason why someone would make a site like this due to his or her own insecurity. The entire thing reeks of fragility” said Ava. Kristen told me that she thought there were 2 possibilities why someone would create the site. “Either whoever made the site was bullied and this was their revenge, or they were the bully.”
All of the Harriton students I talked to believe that this one incident was not representative of the Harriton community. Senior Miranda Ivy Wager told me that she didn’t think that this was representative of the whole school but rather “a representation of what’s wrong with the social structure in our building. The amount of cliques and closed groups in our environment makes it uncomfortable for pretty much everyone. In my experience, you couldn’t even speak to someone outside of your own “group” without getting a strange feeling. We all know each other as seniors this year, yet I’m sure half of us have never talked to each other or given the other the time of day. The whole reason this happened was because someone felt hurt or left out enough to attack others outright.” Senior Ava Rostami had a similar line of thinking. “Something to this extreme is so immature and out of place at this school. If it was representative the entire school, there would not have been in such an outrage at the website’s creation and there may have even been more people to post leaks. If this had happened in Middle School I think that some people might have participated in ‘leaking’ photos, but luckily the entire school saw what was wrong with the website and tried to figure out who would want to do something so immature. People outside of this school need to realize that this was just one person.”
Other students like Zach Alfred Levow, shared similar sentiments “The leaker is a social outcast looking to vent their frustrations out on what they perceive to be the cause of their troubles: the popular kids. No matter if you agree with the leaker’s actions or not, we must look at the bigger issue they illuminated: our entire social dynamic. Something is fundamentally wrong with the hierarchy at Harriton. I don’t exactly know the specific issues and how to fix them, but something has to be broken on a basic level for someone to feel that much anger against those kids to ruin their lives. What is the real pecking order at Harriton? What are our groups and cliques? How do these cliques interact and not interact? How much room is there for being in multiple groups? These are only some of the questions we have to ask ourselves. And we might have to do this ourselves. The administration is silently jumping for joy. All their warnings about online safety have just been validated. They will make no attempt to find the leaker. If they have, they probably sent them off with a pat on the back. Maybe the administration is waiting until the year is in full swing to address the issue to us, but in a week or so, I believe that the administration shouldn’t simply drag us out for another assembly on online safety, but instead divide us up into focus groups to try and solve these social problems. I understand how uncomfortable this will be, and probably unpleasant, but now we have a culture of paranoia and fear at Harriton. How much longer before this reaches a boiling point? We have to come together to solve this issue. A final thought: if there was ever a time to reach out to others (and I realize I definitely have not done that), to invite the kid sitting alone to join you, to strike up a conversation with a random freshman on the bus, it is NOW. Finally, and I hate to end it on a pessimistic note, but if the administration lets our clearly toxic social structure continue without even trying to fix it, they, with all their talk of No Place for Hate and Olweus, are hypocrites.”
The Ripple Effect
Many students I spoke with told me that they had deleted many photos from their social media accounts. One student told me “I took down a lot of posts on my finsta” Meaning that they had taken down images posted to their fake Instagram account (Finsta.) Fake Instagram accounts are used by students to post pictures to an social media account that does not have the students name connected to it, allowing them to post pictures that may not be the most appropriate, that only their close friends can see. In the email to families, Harriton’s new principal, Scott Weinstein wrote that:
“This incident serves as a cautionary tale for our students with regard to their digital citizenship – and the decisions they choose to make with regard to drugs and alcohol. The reality is that every image they post online and every action they take in public (or even at a “private” gathering with friends) can be easily documented and shared with the world. The best way to avoid situations like these is simply to make good decisions and be incredibly cautious when crafting a digital footprint.
Clearly, this is a topic of interest to our students that has the potential to spark various emotions, opinions and debate. It is likely that it will come up in discussion in our classrooms and hallways. We have encouraged staff to support constructive dialogue and reaffirm the importance of good decision-making. We encourage your support and cooperation in doing the same at home. If your children need additional support in navigating these issues, please feel free to reach out to our counselors.”
The site may be down but the students I talked to are in no way relieved. Anna Flemming told me that she felt that effects stemming from the mystery would continue to be present in Harriton hallways. “Though the site itself is gone, it’s effects still linger. Accusations are flying every which way. People were scared while it was up, and now they’re angry and it’s hard to avoid scapegoating people when they know they might never track the real culprit. In this way, The site isn’t really gone.” Emma Johnson pointed out that a new site could pop up and that the posts could continue, “Is the site truly down? I mean someone could easily remake the site and post more pictures of anyone doing anything. I don’t think it can truly go away. At least not yet.”
The mystery surrounding the website looms and is likely to be the highlight of chatter among students at Harriton for some time to come.
Check back with RickyReports.TV for updates on the situation.
RickyReports.TV is run by Ricky Sayer, a Harriton High School Senior who has been reporting news for 6 years. RickyReports.TV is in no way directly affiliated with Harriton High School or Lower Merion School District. You can email Ricky at his school email account firstname.lastname@example.org
RickyReports.TV has decided to withhold naming the website or any students directly involved.
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