Council Rock South Winter Guard wins top honors at WGI South Brunswick Regional

In only its second year of existence, the Council Rock High School South Winter Guard is having a banner season. On Saturday, March 1st the team appeared in their very first Winter Guard International (WGI) Regional competition held at South Brunswick High School in Monmouth Junction, NJ. With teams representing Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York in their division, the 20 young ladies and gentlemen of the Council Rock South Winter Guard were one of only three groups in the Scholastic Regional-A division to be selected to perform in Finals. CR South delivered an impressive performance, and went on to win first place with a score of 76.43.

Advancing to finals at a WGI Regional is a quite an accomplishment. Only the top scoring teams in each division are selected to advance.  Most nationally competitive teams from the Mid-Atlantic region were present. Winning a WGI Regional is something that will only be experienced by a select few winter guard students in the entire worldwide winter guard activity!  

CR South’s 2014 production is entitled “Boxed In,” with original music and choreography by Director of Bands John Burns, and color guard instructor Lauren Moffatt Burns. The students work on basic dance and learn to spin rifle and flag. 

Looking ahead, on Saturday, March 29th the team goes to Somerville High School in New Jersey, and their 2014 season comes to its climactic finish on Saturday, April 12th at the MAIN Championships at South Brunswick High School.


Do you love butterflies?

If you would like to work with butterflies, the Churchville Nature Center Butterfly House is looking for you.

In this volunteer position you may put in as many or as few hours as you prefer. Available positions include raising or feeding the butterfly caterpillars, watering and pruning the plants in the butterfly house, and helping lead tours of the Butterfly House when it is open to the public. The Butterfly House will open for volunteers in the spring, and remain open until the end of September.

Some butterfly knowledge is preferred but CNC is happy to train. For more information, contact Stommy Blauth at


Marine Corps League holds Officer installation

The Patriot Detachment of the Marine Corps League held its installation of Officers and Trustees at its meeting on February 19th. Presiding over the ceremony and swearing in the new Detachment officials were Division 2 Vice Commandant Bill Miller, assisted by Division 2 Assistant Vice Commandant Joe Kier. New Detachment Commandant Richard Weaver was sworn in and the gavel was transferred by outgoing Commandant George Kelly.

In addition, a Distinguished Service Award was presented by Kelly to Iwo Jima Veteran Henry Apice.  The Detachment meets the third Wednesday of each month at the Tri-Hampton Rescue Squad building, 140 Township Road, Richboro. 

For further information visit their website at


A Phillies Ballgirl close to home

by Matt Snider

If you are an avid Philadelphia Phillies fan you have probably kept up with all the recent big-name signings the team has made. In addition to Marlon Byrd, A.J. Burnett and Bobby Abreu, the Phillies have also welcomed the addition of college freshman and Holland resident, Michelle Hedricks, to the Philadelphia organization. Although Michelle isn’t a professional baseball player, she is one of the 20 young women to be named to the 2014 Phillies Ballgirls.

“It is literally the best feeling,” said Michelle of being one of the final 20 women to make the squad. “It is something that not everyone gets to do obviously, and I am just really excited for the summer.”

Michelle graduated from Archbishop Wood High School where she played softball for all four years. In addition to being a captain of both the softball and the track teams her senior year, she was also a part of a Philadelphia travel softball team that made it to the 2012 United States Specialty Sports Association Nationals in Florida. As she moved on to college, she made the Widener softball team as a freshman.

“I’ve been playing softball since I was five,” said Michelle. “It’s a big part of my life and I’m happy to continue it.”

Her love for the game on the diamond will take center stage this summer when she will be attending games as a Phillies Ballgirl. Although being named to the yearly roster is no easy task.

To begin with, applicants must submit a video to the Phillies organization about why they want to become a Ballgirl. After those countless submissions are viewed, the recruiters select a number of the women to come and physically tryout for the team as well as conduct an on-camera interview. “The actual tryout involved a lot of basic baseball skills,” said Michelle. “It involved hitting, throwing and fielding.”

After the interviews and tryouts, the final cuts are made for the roster following a personal, one-on-one interview. “You sit down and interview with the head recruiter. And after that they told me I had got the job,” said Michelle.

In addition to the job you see on television and at the stadium, the Ballgirls do a lot of work behind the scenes as well. According to the Phillies website, the Ballgirls make over 150 off-field appearances.  These include television and radio spots, as well as school visits, nursing home visits, golf and bowling tournaments and fashion shows. They also play a minimum of 10 softball games, which benefit various charities in the Philadelphia area.

“We do a lot of community service as a Ballgirl and it is something that I really love,” said Michelle. “When you are giving back to the community you know you are helping others and it is such a rewarding feeling. It is one of the reasons I want to be a pediatric nurse after college.”

With Opening Day quickly approaching, Michelle will soon be balancing her work as a Phillies Ballgirl and nursing major. Fortunately for her, the position of Ballgirl comes with the perk of free admittance to Phillies games. Something she says is easily one of the highlights of the job.

Keep an eye out for Michelle during Phillies’ home games this season.

PHOTO CAP: Michelle Hedricks


Sam’s Hope: A shining light for pets in need

by June Portnoy

Every year an estimated eight million animals nationwide enter shelters. Nearly 50% never find homes and are euthanized. About six to eight percent of pets surrendered are due to a pet owner’s financial inability to care for them.

Citing these statistics, Marianne Iaquinto explains why she established Sam’s Hope, based in Richboro, one year ago. 

“I read how so many shelters are suddenly overflowing since the economy has been adversely affected, and I wanted to do something to help,” says Marianne, who has always been an animal lover.

“When money is tight, and you have to choose between feeding your family, paying your utility bills or caring for your pets, your pets become your last priority, which is why so many of them end up in shelters.”

[Read more...]


BuxMont Organic Gardeners Club digs soil testing

by Patricia Cangelosi

“Don’t Guess; Soil Test!” This slogan epitomized the message behind the BuxMont Organic Gardeners Club’s meeting on March 10th, and raises an important point about what to know before you grow.

They share an enthusiasm for organic gardening and engage in open, casual discussions about their planting experiences. Members also share a passion for healthy, locally grown food, sustainability, and protecting the environment from harmful pesticides.

At their gathering, Doylestown resident Anna Marie Chiofolo led an interactive conversation about soil testing. Since gardeners cannot truly know how healthy their soil is without getting it tested, Anna Marie provided informational handouts and spoke about the soil testing process.

A fact sheet published by the Consumer Horticulture Center at Penn State University explains that plants cannot grow properly without fertile soil that contains the right elements in the right amounts. Sources of critical nutrients include nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium; Penn State offers a soil test that will measure all three, among other ingredients.

Anna Marie, who sits on the planning committee of the club, explained in a broader sense what soil is: an anchor for plant roots, a holder of nutrients, a mixture of sand, silt, and/or clay. In Bucks County, gardeners encounter soil containing mostly clay.

Penn State’s soil test is run through Extension, an initiative sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to educate communities about managing and protecting resources, among other goals. The test measures nutrient levels and detects the presence of various elements in soil.

According to Anna Marie, “You dig down about six inches into the soil and get a one-cup sample. Put it in a bag and send it off to be tested. You also fill out a form and tell them what you intend to use that garden bed for.” The testers will send a detailed report and make recommendations about how to use the soil to its full potential.

The BuxMont Organic Gardeners Club sponsors several programs each year. On the agenda for April is a presentation about container gardening by master gardener Bonnie Oliver. May marks the group’s annual plant exchange, a members-only event that many look forward to, explains Joan Brown, another planning committee member. “People bring extra seeds to swap. It’s exciting because you get different varieties of plants that you might never have heard of,” she says.

In June, a representative from the Bucks County Department of Health will present about the hazards of summer, including Lyme disease, West Nile Virus, and heat exhaustion. July and August are reserved for tours of local garden centers. Later in the year, the club will offer programs on growing garlic, fermenting (such as sauerkraut), and juicing of fruits and vegetables.

“We’re a close-knit group,” Joan says, and members are not shy about openly sharing stories and ideas. One idea that was discussed at the March meeting was laying down newspapers beneath a future garden bed to kill the weeds beneath it. Another suggestion was to do the same thing, but with cardboard. Both materials will eventually decompose and leave behind a solid foundation for a healthy garden.  

The club’s members meet on the second Monday of each month at 7:15pm at the Churchville Nature Center, 501 Churchville Lane, Churchville. The next club meeting is scheduled for Monday, April 14th. E-mail for more information. Meetings are open to the public; donations are requested to fund speakers and events throughout the year.

For more information about Penn State’s Extension soil testing program, visit

PHOTO CAP: Anna Marie Chiofolo discussed soil testing at the BuxMont Organic Gardeners Club’s March meeting.


Villa Joseph Marie holds Mini-THON to help conquer pediatric cancer


by June Portnoy

On Friday, January 10th, Villa Joseph Marie High School in Holland held its second annual school-wide, student-run Mini-THON fundraiser, which to date has raised over $59,000 to fight pediatric cancer. All proceeds of the 10-hour dance-a-thon go straight to The Four Diamonds Fund, which sponsors groundbreaking pediatric cancer research at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital, supports the hospital’s team of pediatric oncologists, and effectively offsets the cost of treatment and other expenses for patients’ families.

Tess Plummer, Campus Minister and Mini-THON Coordinator, explained that the idea for the THON came from students who last year wanted to replicate Penn State’s very successful annual THON by holding a smaller scale dance marathon.

“Many of these students had friends or siblings at Penn State who had participated in THON, a 46-hour, no-sitting, no-sleeping dance marathon,” said Tess.  

In 2013, the college’s THON raised a record-breaking $12.37 million. Although there are currently more than 100 schools participating in the Mini-THON Program, to the best of Tess’s knowledge Villa Joseph Marie was one of the first high schools in this area to hold a Mini-THON.

“They (Mini-THONs) started in Central Pennsylvania at high schools nearby Penn State and spread from there,” added Tess.

Approximately 340 Villa Joseph Marie students, practically every student at the school, participated in this year’s Mini-THON. In order to take part in this fundraiser, each student was required to raise $75, and Mini-THON captains were expected to raise $125 in order to dance. In contrast to last year, when the Mini-THON lasted eight hours, this year’s dance was 10 hours, from 1:00pm until 11:00pm.

“The students were determined to beat last year’s Mini-THON total of $45,000,” stated Tess, who was delighted to achieve this goal.

According to Tess, planning the Mini-Thon was a “huge undertaking” that students began organizing immediately following last year’s event. Tess and four Mini-THON co-chairs went to Hershey this past August for a Mini-THON conference led by Penn State.

In addition students ran various committees, such as a corporate committee that solicited donations from local businesses. A food committee was responsible for getting food donated for the dance. A family affairs committee reached out to local families who have been affected by pediatric cancer.

Although the Mini-THON offered lots of fun with line dancing and group dancing, in addition to games like musical plates and a toilet paper challenge, this event was much more than a typical school dance. For starters, it opened with an emotional video of students’ family members who have been touched by pediatric cancer. In addition, each of the 10 hours of the dance was dedicated to a different child who had either overcome, was struggling with, or had died from cancer. That child or child’s family member came to the Mini-THON to share their story of triumph or despair with the students.

A total of 14 families with children at various stages of cancer spoke during the dance.

“Once you meet these families and hear their stories, you become so inspired that you just want to join in the fight against pediatric cancer,” said Jaclyn Newns, Villa Joseph Marie’s Mini-THON coordinator during its first year. “When you have people in need and people willing to give, a true community is formed.”

Some highlights of the Mini-THON included an alumni hour, an incoming freshmen hour, and special guest Sister Theresa Dabulis, of the Sisters of St. Casimir who founded the school, who flew in from Chicago to dance with the students and teach everyone how to dance the polka.

The Mini-THON was open to the community after school hours when family members and local high school students also came to support the cause.
The dance culminated with each of the senior Mini-THON captains holding up a poster board with a single number, revealing the fundraising total to the hundreds of onlookers.

“When students, teachers and guests saw the number go up after all of that hard work, everyone exploded with cheers of excitement,” said Tess.
Said Jaclyn, “These Mini-THONs just go to show you what you can accomplish when so many people come together to each give a little bit of time and money to a united cause.”

PHOTO CAP: Allison Trzaska, Molly McGurrin, Taylor Stevens, Kristin Glaum, Colleen Coleman, Akexa Fabbri, and Sam Baran at the Mini-THON.


Katherine Barkman wins first place in Youth America Grand Prix Semi-Finals

On January 12th, Katherine Barkman, 17, of Richboro, was awarded first place in the prestigious Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP) Philadelphia Semi-Final Classical Dance Category. Her teacher, Nadia Pavlenko, received the Outstanding Teacher Award.

In April, Katherine will go to New York to compete in the YAGP Finals. YAGP is the largest ballet competition in the world, and gives out more than $250,000 in dance scholarships every year.


Scouts hone skills at Klondike Derby


While the adults in Bucks County were stocking up on milk and bread in anticipation of yet another snowstorm, over 200 Boy Scouts and Webelos hit the snow covered hills and trails of Tyler State Park in Newtown on February 1st for the annual Playwicki Klondike Derby.  The all-day event tests the knowledge, leadership, cooperation and patrol spirit of each sled team in a range of activities from traditional Scouting skills like knot-tying, wildlife identification and first aid, to more novel pursuits like hatchet tossing and launching an ancient hunting tool called an atlatl.

“It is a perfect day for Klondike,” said Playwicki District Chairman Bill Pitts. “We even have snow.”

Dave Clark and George Worth, who organized the event, led a team of adult volunteers into the park at daybreak to set up the course and stations for the competition. Each of the 18 units that participated in the derby hosted a station on the trail.

Troop 153, which is chartered by Assumption B.V.M. Catholic Church in Feasterville, took first place in both the “13 and Under” category with the Emerald Dragons Patrol, and the “14 and Up” division with the White Tiger Kingdom Patrol. The Stallions from the First Presbyterian Church of Morrisville’s Troop 3 took first place in the Mixed Age Division. The Hawks from Troop 5, which meets at North and Southampton Reformed Church in Churchville, won the Sled Race.

PHOTO CAP: Brothers Miguel and Josh Mills of Troop 5 try their hands at tossing hatchets.


Foundations appoints Thomas Hanna to Board of Directors

Foundations Community Partnership (FCP), a non-profit foundation supporting the behavioral health and human service needs of young people and their families in Bucks County, has welcomed Thomas M. Hanna, P.E., LEED® AP to its Board of Directors for a three-year term.

Tom is a resident of Holland, and Vice President of Gilmore & Associates, an engineering firm in New Britain, where he serves as co-manager of the Land Department. He earned a Master of Science in Water Resources and Environmental Engineering from Villanova University and a Bachelor’s degree in Science-Civil Engineering at University of Delaware.
“We are glad to welcome Tom to our Board of Directors,” says Joseph Stella, M.D., Chairman of the FCP Board. “His knowledge of Bucks County and consulting experience will help us make informed decisions in addressing human service needs in our community.”

“I’m looking forward to helping Foundations continue its mission to make a difference in the community and advance the lives of the young people in Bucks County, especially among students facing difficult challenges,” says Tom.

To learn more about Foundations and its mission visit their website at or contact them at 267-247-5584.

PHOTO CAP: Thomas M. Hanna