TVEC Students Shine at Evening of the Arts

Photo by Brenda Maguire
Photo by Brenda Maguire

By Brenda Maguire
For 21st Century Media

On Tuesday, May 21, art and music joined forces in the Twin Valley Elementary Center’s Evening of the Arts.

“It’s a culmination of a year of work. It’s a collaboration of the art and music department to show how creative and artistic the children at TVEC are,” said music teacher Melissa Ebling.

The night included 1,000 piece of student artwork on display varying in medium and skills students have gained over the school year.

The theme of the art show was “The Earth without Art is just ‘Eh!’”

The children of Twin Valley Elementary Center performing as part of the ‘Evening of the Arts’ event which was held at the school on the evening of May 21, 2013.

A slideshow of many different pieces of art that was on display at the Twin Valley Elementary Center’s ‘Evening of the Arts’, a celebration of art and music which took place on May 21, 2013.

“It’s a way to show off everything they’ve done this year and how it connects to what they’ve learned this year,” said art teacher Meghan LeClair.

LeClair gives each of her students the chance to pick two pieces of their work to show off in the show.

For kindergarten student Anthony Chrisi the piece he was most excited to show was one in which his face was imposed on a character from “The Cat in the Hat.” Chrisi chose this piece because, “I worked hard on it.”

“It’s exciting to see what he’s been doing in school all year and the other projects he’ll be doing through his schooling,” said Anthony’s mother, Cathy.

Brooke Allan, another kindergarten student, chose a piece depicting a city with a large monster in it to be shown.

“It’s fun,” said Brooke’s mother Amy. “It’s neat to see what they’ve been doing in art class all year.”

LeClair couldn’t be more pleased with her student’s work.

“It’s a really proud night for everyone,” she said, adding that the pieces shown were “phenomenal artwork” and “beyond what’s expected of elementary school students.”

Principal Craig Sell added, “The pieces are absolutely incredible.”

Photo by Brenda Maguire
Photo by Brenda Maguire

The night also features a music portion through the musical concert entitled “Americans We”. The third graders started off the show singing the “Battle Hymn of Gettysburg” followed by “When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again” on the recorder.

See a video of some of the performances here:

The American theme to the concert reflects the curriculum from the school year as the students were taught early American history and the songs performed were inspired by the Gettysburg address, The Declaration of the United States and the foundations that America were built upon.

“Students don’t always have tangible work from the music room, so tonight shows what they’ve been learning,” Ebling said. “It’s a proud moment for me as a teacher to see them achieve and excel so much.

The fourth grade chorus performed songs ranging from “America We” to “Once Nation” while the fourth grade band dazzled the crown with “You’re A Grand Old Flag” and “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Over 150 students performed in the musical concert.

“It means a lot to come together as a community and support the arts,” Sell said, adding, “Arts are a very important part to the education.”

LeClair noted that the annual Evening of the Arts is a highlight of every school year, and at times in the night she even tears up a little.

“Seeing the pride on the students faces as they show their work,” she said, “it’s emotional.”

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A Boston Account: Five days of fright, of love and of strength

Photo by Brenda Maguire

By Brenda Maguire
For Journal Register News Service

I woke up early on April 15, 2013. I turned on the T.V. to check on the progress of the Boston Marathon. I watched with a friend as the wheelchair race winners crossed the line. Just before noon we started walking towards the race to cheer them along. We settled in on the corner of Massachusetts Ave. and Commonwealth Ave. The sun was shining and we joked about how lazy we felt standing around drinking Dunkin Donuts while the runners were on mile 25.

After standing there for a while, we made our way to the finish line. I texted friends and family telling them I was at the Marathon, partaking in the greatest annual event in Boston. The crowd was too big, and we were stuck about half of a block away from the finish line. Then, just before 2 p.m. we left the Marathon and made our way back to my friend’s apartment in Cambridge.

It was five years ago that I came to Boston to attend Northeastern University. Over the last five years Boston has become my second city and my second home. I have cheered my lungs out at Red Sox games and have attended the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Southie. I’ve been known to throw the Boston-stylized version of the word “wicked” into conversation here and there and I have cheered on the runners on Marathon Monday. Although I will always be a Philly girl, Boston has become a huge part of me.

At 2:50 p.m. on April 15, 2013 something happened that would change my second city forever.

I first saw the news of the explosions on Twitter. I grabbed my phone right away, which had been in my purse since we left the Marathon. I was greeted by 10 texts, two missed calls and a voicemail from my sister practically in tears, thinking I was still at the Marathon. I quickly assured all that I was okay, but the calls and texts never stopped. The rest of the day was spent watching the news and responding to at least 40 texts and calls from my family and friends.

Where the bombs exploded is about a mile from my dorm. When I finally mustered up the courage to come back to campus it was devastating. There were military men with huge guns lined on the streets I walk every single day. I couldn’t walk ten yards without encountering a big group of policemen. This was not the Boston I’ve lived in. This was not the Boston I’ve loved.

On Wednesday afternoon I decided to walk around the perimeter where the police had blocked off. As I walked past my grocery store, I saw the first blocked off area. Walking closer, I saw the Marathon tents were still set up. Any other year, those would have been taken down by Monday afternoon, but not this year.

At each end of the perimeter there were makeshift memorials set up. People left flowers, notes, stuffed animals, Red Sox hats and various other mementos to honor those who were lost or injured. I’ve visited these three times now. Each time the memorial has grown bigger and bigger, showing the love in this city.

Thursday night I received a similar text to those on Monday: “Please tell me you’re not at MIT right now” with a screenshot of the report there was a live shooter on campus. The text came from my sister, who knows I spend a lot of time with friends at MIT. Thursday night I was up until 3 a.m. watching the situation in Watertown unfold. I woke up at 6:30 a.m. on Friday to learn school had been closed, so I put the coverage right back on.

Gov. Deval Patrick urged all Boston residents to stay inside, so that is what I did. The day was spent glued to the television just waiting for the second suspect to be caught. It will easily go down as one of the longest days of my life.

Finally, while hiding in a boat, just seven miles from my apartment, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was taken into custody. And then, we celebrated.

Hundreds from my campus gathered. I dressed in my green Boston t-shirt and my Red Sox hat. We chanted “USA! USA! USA!” Students thanked Boston Police, asked for pictures with them and cheered loudly anytime a police car would drive by.

April 15 through April 19 was only five days. Five days of fright, of love and of strength.

Looking back, I couldn’t be happier with the city that adopted me back when I was an 18-year-old, wide-eyed freshman. Over the past week, this city has shown togetherness and a compassion I have never seen before. The way everyone has pulled together, within my school and the city as a whole, is something I’ve found to be nothing short of amazing.

I could not be prouder of this city and can say, with no doubt in my mind, that I will forever be Boston Strong.

Brenda Maguire is a senior journalism major at Northeastern University. She is currently working as the Web Editor of The Huntington News and as a freelance correspondent for the Tri County Record. She is currently living in Boston, MA and is originally from Bucks County, PA.

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ChesCo Student Enjoys ‘Far Out’ Learning Experience

By Brenda Maguire
For Journal Register News Service

Growing up, children are told to “reach for the stars.”

And as it turns out, Downingtown STEM Academy Sophomore Eric Wan might already be half way there.

Wan, a 16-year-old Chester Springs resident, was awarded a scholarship to the Honeywell Leadership Challenge Academy (HCLA).

The scholarship, which was awarded to 227 students across the world, made it possible for Wan to attend two programs, each a week long, from February 23 to March 8 at the United States Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

“I was really excited,” Wan said, reminiscing on when he learned he would be attending HLCA. “I didn’t know what to say.”

Wan’s mom, Yonghong Chen, added, “I think it’s wonderful and he got an experience he never got before.”

HLCA, which is a part of Honeywell Hometown Solutions’ corporate citizenship initiative, was open to the children of Honeywell’s employees so when Wan’s mom asked him if he wanted like to put in an application to the program he said yes.

The program gave students an opportunity to engage in sessions addressing current issues in science, technology and engineering. HLCA offered interactive activities including, simulating jet-fighter pilot training and scenario-based space missions, to develop students’ capacities and build leadership skills.

“The program was solely based on learning to work with people around the globe,” Wan said, adding that they focused on not just being a team member but a team leader as well.

Wan noted that his favorite part was working as a team with the space simulators. Wan was acting in the role of the mission controller for his team and said he learned the functions of “a lot of buttons” and “what to do when things went wrong.”

HLCA also gave students the chance to meet with top scientists, engineers and former astronauts who provided first-hand accounts of their professional experience.

The speaker that resonated the most with Wan was a space shuttle pilot who he, incidentally, did not remember the name of.

“It was interesting to see him because he wanted to be a pilot when he was a kid,” Wan said. He added that the speaker spoke of his interest in science and aviation that started when he was a kid and it was interesting to see how that interest led him to a career.

“I enjoyed hearing his experience and story,” Wan said.

There were students from 30 countries and 26 U.S. states at HLCA, and Wan enjoyed meeting people from other places and hearing about what it was like where they were from.

“I did enjoy meeting new people,” he said. “It was just great to talk to people form around the globe.”

Wan, who hopes to major in an applied science field in college, noted that learning to work in groups was an important skill for him to learn.

“As a scientist in real life you have to work with people,” he said, adding that he is glad he now knows that he can work in a real science environment with others.

Chen believes that attending the program increased her son’s interest in science.

“He learned real world applications from the technology he learned in school,” she said.

In addition to the academic benefits Wan received from attending HLCA, he will definitely always look back at the two-weeks as being a great time.

“It was a great experience. I had a lot of fun,” he said.

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Elverson’s McBride raises nearly 4k in post surgery marathon

By Brenda Maguire
For Journal Register News Service

ELVERSON, PA – For many, the feat would sound impossible: run a full marathon just six months after having open-heart surgery.

But this was not the case for Elverson resident Jeff McBride, who completed the challenge on March 17 while raising $3,835 for the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP).

McBride, 27, had open-heart surgery to replace his aortic valve and aorta after he was diagnosed with a bicuspid aortic valve with severe regurgitation and stenosis, a condition which caused his heart to enlarge to the point where medical action was necessary on September 17.

Inspired by the birth of his son, McBride ran this marathon to raise money for CHOP.

Before the run McBride raised $2,335 and because he was able to finish, additional sponsors matched his original fundraising goal of $1,500, bringing him to a total of $3,835 for CHOP.

“Seeing how my original goal was $1,500 total – I’m quite happy with out it turned out,” he said via e-mail.

McBride exceeded the traditional marathon distance of 26.2 miles and ran a total of 27.67 miles in 7 hours, 13 minutes. He started in Oaks, PA and ended at CHOP, 3401 Civic Center Blvd, Philadelphia, PA.

McBride said he started the first six or so miles off strong, feeling physically fit while running outside for the first time since his surgery and feeling emotionally strong because of what he was accomplishing.

“As the miles built up my lower body started to lock up completely, muscles cramps all the time and my knees felt like they were two bricks smashing into each other with ever step. I also ran out of water in my camelback when I got near Norristown and didn’t find any shop or drinkable water source until I reached Manyunk where I took a one-block detour from the trail to buy ten bottles of water from a cafe,” he recalled.

Although McBride experienced his body shutting down after mile six, he still kept going, saying it was as if his body was on auto-pilot.

He did note that there was one fun part of the run. In true Philadelphia fashion, when McBride reached the Art Museum, he ran up the iconic stairs just like Sylvester Stallone did in “Rocky”.

“I always wanted to do that but never (had),” he said.

Right before finishing the run, McBride ran right by the University of Pennsylvania Hospital, the same hospital where his surgery was performed. In fact, he even noticed the window to the room he was in just six months ago.

“I had a bit of nostalgia set in since I remember standing on the inside of the window, still having chest tubes and all in me, telling myself I would be fine, fit and healthy again and run past here one day,” McBride said.

Visit McBride’s fundraising website, Motivated Heart, to learn more about his journey at

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Six months after heart surgery, Elverson’s man to run for charity

By Brenda Maguire
For Journal Register News Service

For most people, the idea of running a marathon is too much. For Elverson resident Jeff McBride, who will be running a benefit marathon just six months after heart surgery, running a marathon is the first step in returning to life as he knows it. Continue reading “Six months after heart surgery, Elverson’s man to run for charity”

Grandparents’ Day at Honey Brook Elementary Center

By Brenda Maguire
For Journal Register News Service

It was a gathering of young and old on Friday, May 25, when Honey Brook Elementary Center held its Grandparents’ Day. The school has held the event every year for over 16 years as a way for kids to celebrate their grandparents.

“Grandparents are very special people,” said Principal Jamie Whye.

This year, over 500 grandparents came to the event some traveling as far as from North Carolina and Florida. One grandparent even came down from Canada. Continue reading “Grandparents’ Day at Honey Brook Elementary Center”

Elverson Man to compete in Spartan Death Race

By Brenda Maguire
For Journal Register News Service

Jeff McBride was not always an athlete.

“I couldn’t even stand gym class,” he said via e-mail, reminiscing on his high school days. He later added, “It became a huge passion of mine when I joined the Army right after high school.”

Now, at the age of 27, McBride will be participating in The Spartan Death Race on June 15 in Pittsfield, VT.

The Spartan Death Race, which has been held every year since 2005, involves a mix of mud runs, obstacles, trail racings and mental challenges that could go over 48 hours. The obstacles change every year, so runners do not know what to expect. Continue reading “Elverson Man to compete in Spartan Death Race”

Cancer Survivor says ‘ditch the dip’ to Twin Valley Middle School students

Photo by Brenda Maguire

By Brenda Maguire
For Journal Register News Service

At the age of 42, Ken Miller had to tell his grandparents, parents and four children that he had been diagnosed with cancer because of one decision he made at the age of 15.

That decision was to chew tobacco with his friends, and it was one small decision which led to 27 years of smokeless tobacco use.

On May 17, the American Cancer Society and Relay For Life had Miller visit Twin Valley Middle School to talk to students about the consequences of chewing tobacco. He shared his experience with throat and tongue cancer. Continue reading “Cancer Survivor says ‘ditch the dip’ to Twin Valley Middle School students”

Welcome Homecoming: Local soldier returns from Iraq for the holidays

NOTE: Front page story

By Brenda Maguire
For Journal Register News Service

The song says, “There’s no place like home for the holidays,” and this year nobody knows that more than SPC Ricky Geiger, whose deployment in Iraq ended on November 30, just in time to head to, “Pennsylvania for some homemade pumpkin pie.”

“It’s relaxing. It’s nice to just sit down and not be told what to do,” Geiger said, adding, “I can relax and be me and enjoy the time with my wife and my friends.”

“It’s very fortunate because originally he wasn’t supposed to be home until the end of January,” Richard Geiger, Ricky’s father, said. Continue reading “Welcome Homecoming: Local soldier returns from Iraq for the holidays”