Elementary STEAM Bowl

Eight teams of students in grades three and four participated in the annual District Elementary STEAM Bowl, on Thursday, January 17.  Prior to the event, over 650 third and fourth grade students answered preliminary STEAM-related questions to determine who would represent their elementary schools on each STEAM Bowl team.

The teams each participated in a half-day competition, where Clay Elementary School finished as the top fourth grade team and Highland Elementary School was named the top third grade team.  Both teams will represent the District in the annual IU13 STEM Bowl.

Students Create Holiday Cookie Jars

A group of Ephrata Area School District students is making the season even sweeter after completion of a new holiday learning activity. The group, comprised of students in grades 1–5 with special needs, created 139 cookie jars that contain all the dry ingredients necessary to make cookie dough.

District Special Education Consultant Nicole Flora come up with the idea as a way for students to work together and enhance the skills they work on throughout the school year. “It is important for students to start working on job-related skills as early as possible,” she said.

The activity specifically engaged students’ fine motor and collaboration skills. Each student had his or her own job at different stations from measuring and pouring the ingredients to placing the lid and finishing touches on the jar. “Additionally, following multi-step directions and practicing patience were important parts of the activity,” said Kristina Runyeon, District Autistic Support teacher.

While this is the first time the students participated in this activity, Ms. Flora and Ms. Runyeon expect to implement it again in the future. “The students did an excellent job completing this task, and they really enjoyed it,” they said. The jars were sold to Clay Elementary School staff for $5 this year, but the group hopes to expand the project in the future.

Annual STEAM Night a Success

Over 225 Ephrata Area School District families attended the third annual Elementary STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) Night on Wednesday,December 12.  Students and their families from all four District elementary schools participated in a variety of STEAM activities.

The evening began with an opening presentation by representatives of the Whitaker Center entitled “It’s Shocking” for families to learn more about static electricity.  Families then rotated through STEAM stations to participate in a variety of collaborative activities:

  • Case New Holland provided an interactive activity illustrating the workings of an assembly line.  Students built LEGO tractors to simulate the process.
  • The Whitaker Center encouraged exploration with coding spheres and caterpillars.
  • The Ephrata Borough Water Treatment Authority helped families discover where water comes from, what water is used for, how to keep water clean, and how pollution affects water.
  • WellSpan engaged families in a Wellness Health Fair.
  • Families were introduced to the 2019 District Coding Contest while participating in the “Build a Zoo STEM Challenge” and using District LEGO kits. 

“We are thrilled the annual Elementary STEAM Night engages so manyDistrict families every year.  It is a greatopportunity for family members to work together and learn together throughmeaningful 21st century STEAM activities,” said Dr. Jacy ClugstonHess, District Assistant Superintendent of Elementary Education.

EMS Student Writes & Publishes Book

Paige Reddig, a seventh-grader at Ephrata Middle School, is having an exciting start to her school year.  She wrote and recently published a book before also being named the 2018 Distinguished Middle School Student of the Year by the Pennsylvania Association for Gifted Education (PAGE).

“Three Sisters of Doom”

It all began last spring when Paige attended an Ephrata Intermediate School assembly with author and publisher Stephen Kozan.  Mr. Kozan challenged students to write a one-page book pitch.  The student with the most creative entry would have the opportunity to complete his or her story and have the book published.  Paige submitted a start to a story she entitled, “Three Sisters of Doom” and was notified in May that she was the winner.

Over the summer, Paige worked with a publisher, editor, and illustrator to complete her book.  The 165-page story has 13 chapters and is geared for readers ages 8 to 15.  She used inspiration from her own family members when writing the book, specifically noting her grandparents and cousins.  She also found a way to incorporate some of her hobbies, including sewing. 

“Three Sisters of Doom” depicts a magical place between the Known and Unknown, where each character represents something specific. Hope, the youngest royal daughter, discovers that her sisters, Greed, Envy, and Sickness, plan to seize control of the kingdom. Hope searches for a way to stop her sisters and finds an ancient spell that she believes will save her family. With a heavy heart, she casts the spell altering the princesses’ lives unexpectedly sending them somewhere in the Known but as objects, not themselves. Elsewhere in the Known, a young girl named Phoebe is visiting with her grandmother. Everything in Grandma’s house has a story, from the furniture to her jewelry. On this visit, they come across things that Grandma does not remember, and when Phoebe touches them, the objects seem to be telling her their own story, pulling her into their lives.

Paige said her ideal writing surroundings are at a computer, silent and uninterrupted.  “I wrote the whole thing in about six weeks,” she said.  “I really had nothing but an outline guiding the story.  It all just came to me as I wrote.  I would sit down at my computer and write whenever I had time, whether it was for a couple of minutes or hours.  My longest stretch writing at one time was four hours,” she continued.

It is not hard to believe that Paige is an avid reader in her spare time.  “I read five or six different books at the same time.  The book I pick up to read just depends on the mood I’m in that day,” she said.  While she considers her love of reading and writing a hobby, her favorite school subjects are math and science.

2018 Distinguished Middle School Student of the Year

Just days before “Three Sisters of Doom” was finished being printed, Paige was notified by the Pennsylvania Association for Gifted Education (PAGE) that she was named the 2018 Distinguished Middle School Student of the Year.  She will be presented with an award and a $100 cash prize at the 66th Annual PAGE Conference in Pittsburgh at the end of November.

Paige completed an application process with four letters of recommendation, including one from her book publisher, Mr. Kozan and one from an Ephrata Intermediate School teacher, Mrs. Marcie Lloyd.  “Paige is very eager to learn and gives her all in everything she does.  She is a very talented writer and a positive school leader,” said Mrs. Lloyd.

“I feel super proud but am also a little nervous about it all,” Paige concluded.

Book Signing

JavaTeas at Doneckers will be hosting a book signing on Saturday, November 17 from 10:00 AM to noon.  Books will be available for purchase at the event or can be ordered on Amazon or iVisitYourSchool.com. 

EHS Media Center Grand Opening

The recently renovated Ephrata High School media center is now open and inspiring 21st century learning.  A full renovation of the media center and surrounding areas of the school began as part of an interactive student design challenge in 2017.  Students collaborated in small groups to create plans for a renovation and worked alongside District administrators and architects to bring their ideas to life.  The finished project includes more areas to facilitate small-group and project-based learning, technology, collaboration, communication, and more components of 21st century learning. 

“We are excited about this design process, which included our students every step along the way, as well as the final product,” said District Superintendent Dr. Brian Troop.

A grand opening was held on October 3 for District families, staff, and community members to tour the space.  Approximately 25 High School students served as informative tour guides, greeters, and musicians.  Students highlighted different areas of the media center, including the interactive green room, café, Mounts Tech Support, learning stairs, vertical garden, flexible furniture, and much more.  Attendees were encouraged to “leave their mark” on the writable surfaces – walls, tables, or windows – with one word to describe the new areas. 

Pennsylvania Education Secretary Pedro Rivera also attended the event and spent time talking with students and administrators while touring and learning more about the space. 

“The new Library Media Center is able to promote collaboration, creativity, and independence while reflecting the wants and needs of our high school students. The variety of flexible seating, private and group spaces, learning stairs, and coffee shop are sure to make this the centerpiece of our high school,” concluded Dr. Troop.

District Embarks on MakerBus Project

What is the Maker Movement?  Sweeping schools and educational institutions nationwide, the Maker Movement inspires students to create without limits. 

After the implementation of a student-designed Maker Space at the Intermediate/Middle School two years ago and elementary STEAM carts last school year, Ephrata Area School District officials are ready to take the Maker concept on the move with the creation of an elementary MakerBus. 

“We value learning opportunities for our youngest learners to work with their hands and experience trades at an early age.  The MakerBus is the next step in providing these types of opportunities,” said Dr. Brian Troop, District Superintendent.

“When students have success working with their hands or ‘making,’ we believe they are more likely to see themselves in a trade later in life,” he continued.

Once completed, the MakerBus will travel to each of the four District elementary schools for students to experience hands-on, project-based learning.  The MakerBus will offer students learning opportunities beyond the classroom and inspire students to create and work collaboratively.

“We also realize not everything can be measured on a test.  Programs, materials, and learning opportunities –  like a MakerBus – are a direct reflection of our Life Ready Graduate profile that aims to prepare students and measure success beyond traditional markers,” concluded Dr. Troop. 

Plans are currently underway to begin the complete transformation – interior and exterior – of a traditional school bus into a MakerBus.  EHS students are working alongside District teachers and staff to repurpose a donated school bus to include a variety of hardware, technology, craft supplies, and an exterior vehicle “wrap.”

Additionally, Astro Machine Works Inc. is a project partner and will be working with students and staff through each phase of the project to offer support with the planning, design, and construction.  Not only will EHS students’ ideas guide the plans for the MakerBus, working directly with professionals from Astro will give students an authentic learning experience outside of the classroom. 

Approximately 100 students have shown initial interest in working on the MakerBus project, which is scheduled to be completed in March 2019. 

Funding for the project is being provided by the Ephrata Area Education Foundation.  To learn more about the Foundation and the programs they support, visit www.EphrataEducationFoundation.org, call 717-721-1598, or e-mail foundation@easdpa.org.

Patriot Day

September 11, 2018 – Students in all Ephrata Area School District schools participated in activities and lessons to recognize Patriot Day on Tuesday, September 11. 

District administrators and teachers developed age-appropriate content to help students learn more about Patriot Day and the many heroes who took part in the national response to the tragic events of September 11, 2001, many of whom continue to keep us all safe today. 

“As a District, we recognize the importance of our students having an age-appropriate understanding of the significance of 9/11, Patriot Day.  Through the events of that tragic day there were so many stories of heroism, resiliency, and grit – dispositions we want all of our students to embody,” stated Mr. Josh McCracken, Fulton Elementary School Principal. 

The scope of the content looked very different at each age level.  While some High School activities may have included watching news coverage from the morning of September 11, 2001 and discussing how the effects of that day impacted the world, students in elementary schools had a much broader experience recognizing heroes who go above and beyond in times of need, including our military, emergency responders, and more.  

Highlights of the activities in the District, included elementary students wearing red, white, and blue, a special school-wide assembly coordinated by Akron Elementary School second-grade teachers, and participation in the national Patriot Day moment of silence at the Ephrata Intermediate and Middle Schools. 

Ephrata High School Social Studies Teacher and Department Supervisor Mr. Larry Hagan said recognizing Patriot Day is important for two reasons.  “On a human level, our students are reminded of the bravery and the courage of the heroes who risked their lives to help others that day.  On an academic level, students are reminded of the importance of our institutions, our form of government, our history, and our freedom,” he said.

Patriot Day also provided an opportunity to discuss the importance of living a life with Resiliency and Grit – a key component of the Ephrata Area School District Life Ready Graduate profile.  “The inspiring stories of resilience and service associated with Patriot Day is something I am proud to have teachers elevating across the District,” said Dr. Brian Troop, Superintendent.

Back To School Donation Drive

September 12, 2018 – Ephrata Area School District students in need of school supplies will benefit from a recent donation by the Akron/Ephrata and Lincoln/Ephrata branches of Fulton Bank.  Backpacks, notebooks, binders, and much more will be distributed to students who have a need.

This is the fourth year both Fulton Bank branches have organized a donation drive of school supplies for District students.  A donation table is simply placed in the bank and customers generously drop off donations throughout July and August.

Seen above are Ephrata High School students and Aevidum Club members – Jacob Welsh, Jazmyn Spangler, and Carsyn Greene – who will help distribute the items.

Back To School Info


Please check the online District calendar for all important school events, closings, athletic events, and more.


The District launched a new website in July.  While the web address remains the same – www.easdpa.org – the new-and-improved site has been redesigned to better organize the information commonly used by students, parents, staff, and community members.  The site is also more image-driven which will provide a nice platform to highlight students’ accomplishments and classroom activities.


New electronic signs were installed at each District building.  The digital display provides a more eye-catching and efficient way to communicate timely information, upcoming events, and student achievements.


Mrs. Amanda Calhoun – Ephrata High School Assistant Principal 

Mrs. Calhoun most recently served as the Lancaster Catholic High School Instructional Support Coordinator for students in grades 9-12.  She has a Principal Certification and a Masters of Education Degree in Teaching and Curriculum from Pennsylvania State University and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Special Education and Elementary Education from Millersville University.

Mr. Nathan Upham  – Ephrata High School Assistant Principal 

Mr. Upham was the Reading Intermediate High School Dean of Students and previously worked at Garden Spot High School in a variety of positions, including Dean of Students, Physics and Chemistry Teacher, Department Manager, and Summer School Coordinator.  He obtained a Principal Certification and a Masters of Education Degree in Leadership for Teaching and Learning from Millersville University.  He also has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Adult/Young Adult Education with an emphasis in Physics from Cedarville University in Ohio.

Dr. Crystal Loose – Ephrata Intermediate School Assistant Principal

Dr. Loose was appointed the Ephrata Intermediate School Assistant Principal.  Dr. Loose previously served as the Ephrata Area School District Coordinator of Learning Development from 2011 to 2013 before transitioning to Cocalico School District where she was an Assistant Principal, Title I Reading Coordinator, and most recently their Director of Reading.  Her education includes a Superintendent Letter of Eligibility from Edinboro University; Doctoral of Education Degree, Principal Certificate, and Masters of Education Degree from Pennsylvania State University; Elementary Education Certification from Millersville University; and a Bachelor of Arts in Rhetorical Communication from the University of Pittsburgh. 


The District will now be using SchoolMessenger as their rapid communication system, which has replaced Blackboard Connect 5.  District staff will use the system to continue to communicate information pertaining to student attendance, weather-related schedule changes, school events, and more.  Additionally, parents and guardians will be given the opportunity to opt-in for text message alerts and reminders. 


A full renovation of the Ephrata High School Media Center is nearly complete.  The finished project will include more areas to facilitate small-group and project-based learning, technology, collaboration, communication, and more components of 21st century learning.  The renovation incorporated elements from students who were part of the 2017 Media Center Design Challenge.  Students shared many ideas to improve the old media center and worked alongside District administrators and RLPS Architects to incorporate many of their concepts.


The District will be expanding its social media presence beyond Twitter to include Facebook and Instagram.  Follow the District on Facebook and Instagram @EphrataAreaSD and Twitter @GoMounts.


Link Crew is a program focused on supporting freshmen students socially, emotionally, and academically as they transition to high school.  Large and small group activities are designed to address students’ needs and concerns in a fun and enjoyable way. 

Important dates are below.

Freshmen Orientation – Friday, August 24, 8:00 AM – Noon, EHS Gymnasium

Students will learn more about Link Crew, meet Junior and Senior mentors, and participate in small-group meet-and-greet, team-building activities.


Parents, guardians, and students are invited to attend the following events to walk the student’s first semester schedule:

EIS – Thursday, August 16, 6:30 PM, Please enter via the Ephrata Middle School main entrance.

EHS – Friday, August 24 Noon – 2:30 PM, immediately following the Link Crew Orientation

Please check the online District calendar for additional opportunities to Cruise the Halls at EHS. 


All begin at 6:30 PM.

Grade 5 – Wednesday, August 22

Ephrata High School – Tuesday, September 4

Fulton Elementary School – Thursday, September 6

Grades 6 and 8 – Tuesday, September 11

Clay Elementary School – Thursday, September 13

Highland Elementary School – Monday, September 17

Akron Elementary School – Tuesday, September 18

Grade 7 – Thursday, September 20

Please check the online District calendar for all important school events, closings, athletic events, and more.


Current Ephrata High School students will be among the first to have the opportunity to earn a Life Ready Graduate certificate upon graduation.  The Ephrata Area School District Life Ready Graduate program aims to enhance students’ knowledge, skills, and dispositions beyond traditional content mastery and standardized assessments, including civics, financial literacy, collaboration, integrity and much more.  To learn more about the Life Ready Graduate program, visit www.easdpa.org.  Additionally, if you are part of a business that recognizes preparing students to have a positive impact on an ever-changing world requires knowledge, skills, and dispositions that extend beyond standardized assessments, please e-mail LifeReadyGrad@easdpa.org to join area businesses – including Astro Machine Works, Ephrata National Bank, and WellSpan – as a public endorser of the program.


Two Code Carts are now in each District elementary school to enhance STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, math) for students in grades 1-4.  “The Code Cart is a mobile learning tool that is highly engaging for students,” described Mr. Nick Crowther, District Computer Science Supervisor.  The cart includes various materials, including robotic devices, coding technology, Legos, and additional STEAM elements.  Teachers may sign out the carts to use as part of classroom lessons and projects.  Additionally, Districtwide Instructional Coaches use the carts for grade-level learning challenges. 


Saturday, August 25, 6:45 PM

Enjoy a night of baseball and fireworks!  Gather your fellow Mountaineers, wear purple and gold, and watch the Phils take on the Portland Sea Dogs.  Tickets are $9 and available on the District website.



Saturday, September 22,

7:00 AM Registration, 8:00 AM Start

Participate in the annual Foundation 5K and support Ephrata Area School District students.  Learn more at www.ephrataeducationfoundation.org.