LMT Commissioners Vote Not To Designate Islamic Center as Class 1 Historic Resource – LMSD Moves Forward With Middle School Plan

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In a major win for LMSD and Stoneleigh, the Lower Merion Township Building and Planning Commitee 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, 4 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.

Harriton Science Olympiad Repeats as Second Place Finisher at National Competition

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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

Ricky “Reports” Sayer Interviews U.S. Representative Dwight Evans at Lower Merion Town Hall

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

New Information: Harriton Student Who Made Threats About Using A Gun In School Was Taken Into Police Custody Tuesday – Similar Incident At LMHS

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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

 

Police Release Video of Theft of Kobe Bryant Memorabilia at Lower Merion High School

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Lower Merion police have released surveillance video that shows two people stealing Kobe Bryant memorabilia Sunday evening at Lower Merion High School.

Watch the video here: https://social.newsinc.com/media/json/69017/31954369/singleVideoOG.html?type=VideoPlayer%2FSingle&widgetId=2&trackingGroup=69017&videoId=31954369#.WJsjGfFTaqg.twitter

More information: Update: Police Release Surveillance Images of Kobe Bryant Memorabilia Thieves at Lower Merion High School

Update: Police Release Surveillance Images of Kobe Bryant Memorabilia Thieves at Lower Merion High School

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Additional update: Police Release Video of Theft of Kobe Bryant Memorabilia 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.

Previously:

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

Update:

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.