All posts by Emma Knight

Humans of Etown – Grace Gibson

Grace Gibson in her dorm room.

Grace Gibson, a first-year biology and English double major, knew she wanted to come to Elizabethtown College after attending an accepted students day at Villanova.

“It was between Villanova and here, and I didn’t want to go to Villanova,” she said.

She followed up with her first memory of the College: November 2016, at an open house event. After driving the two hours from her home in central New Jersey, her parents were convinced that they were going the wrong way because they claimed that there were too many farms.

But upon seeing Leffler Chapel, they knew they were in the right place; that did not stop them from exclaiming, “We’re in the middle of nowhere!”

After her first week here, Gibson was in the mindset of wanting to impress everyone and showing them that she was cool. She interjected that she was still obsessed with the Broadway musical Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812 and was upset that it was closing. Her love of the musical was also shown by a poster for the musical hanging above her bed along with a beautifully detailed drawing of one of the actors, Grace McLean.

“I wanted to be the most impressive person my professors had ever seen, and I was excited about meeting new people, but I still wanted to focus on my schoolwork,” Gibson said, looking at the homework splayed across her desk.

She also said that while college is overwhelming, slightly terrifying at all times, and full of repressing all of her issues, it is mostly fun and she has many memories of good times, even in her first year.

“The most memorable moment so far has been Schlossmas, especially when we stole trays from the Marketplace and tried to go sledding before winter break,” Gibson said.

The name “Schlossmas” comes from a combination of the dorm she and her friends live in, Schlosser, and Christmas, since it was a celebration of winter break. She also recounted the movie night following snow-filled activities, like singing “Frosty, the Snowman” around a “sad and dirty” snowman wearing one of her friend’s hats and one stick arm.

“One day, my friend drove me and another friend to a pet store and one of my friends impulse-bought two small Fiddler crabs,” she said, followed by a few chuckles, when talking about funny moments at Etown.

Gibson also told the story of the not one, but two times her and three other friends stood in one of the very small service closets near the stairwell in Schlosser. They just hung out in the closet for at least 20 minutes, scaring half of the people walking by and receiving worried and confused looks from the other half.

“The second time we did it, we played music and one of my friends who was able to see into the stairwell kept making eye contact with the people walking down the stairs. I think we played the trap remix of the yodeling Walmart kid for most of the second time in the closet,” she said.

As I walked out of Gibson’s room, she turned back to her homework with a small sigh, resuming the never-ending studying for organic chemistry.

Humans of Etown: Ryan Runkle

View the video for this post here.

Video Transcript:
Emma: Hi! So what’s your name and your year?
Ryan: Hello, my name is Ryan Runkle, I’m a freshman.
E: And what is your funniest or most memorable moment here at Etown?
R: Um, I don’t think there is a singular one. I think my favorite moments at Etown are just sitting down here in the lobby with friends and having a good time.
E: So, nothing ever funny has happened or –
R: Nothing specific.
E: – something really memorable?
R: Not that I can remember.
E: Alright, well thank you!

View Stephanie Miller’s interview with Dana Morykan here.

View Samantha Seely’s interview with Kelly Armstrong here.

Standardized Testing: Is It Worth It?

Schools and states have forced students to take standardized tests since elementary school to test skills in reading and math so that the government and other organizations can compare the supposed knowledge of their students to others nationwide. In Pennsylvania, it is known as the PSSA’s. The most important of these standardized tests are taken in high school: the SAT and the ACT. They have the power to determine whether or not a student gets into college.

Many places of higher education require either an SAT or ACT score for comparison to their pre-determined cut-off number. But with more and more colleges and universities moving towards being test-optional, and the popular opinion among many students that their test scores do not represent their academic ability, these tests have become obsolete and need to go.

The SAT became a universal testing tool in 1946 with the founding of the College Board after being introduced in the U.S. Army to test I.Q. The College Board’s “About Page” claims that the SAT helps students successfully transition to college because of the knowledge it tests and the programs offered to help prepare them for the test.

The ACT began in 1959 at the University of Iowa, pioneered by professor E.F. Lindquist and Registrar Ted McCarrel and focused on academic achievement as opposed to the SAT’s test of aptitude. Like the SAT, the ACT is supposed to test a student’s college readiness and offers programs and practice tests to prepare them for college.

The organizations that created and run these tests acknowledge that the tests are difficult and require a lot of preparation so that students do well on them and can get into college. But these organizations are the ones who imposed the tests on students in the first place instead of trusting the education system to prepare them for higher education.

Reason one to eliminate standardized testing: more than 1,000 colleges across the country are test-optional, and more colleges are following their lead. The first to eliminate the requirement for SAT or ACT scores was Bowdoin College in Maine in 1969, following a Bates College study showing that those who submitted test scores did not show any higher rates of graduation or better academic performance than those who did not.

Though the SAT was meant to level the academic playing field for all students, it was created in a time before admissions counselors had details about the academic rigor of the high schools of prospective students.

Reason two to eliminate standardized tests: grades are a better predictor of success in college, according to Robert Schaeffer from FairTest, an organization that addresses fairness in student test taking and scoring. This makes perfect sense; being tested on subjects that students actually learned is a much better indicator of how well they understood the topics they learned instead of testing them on irrelevant knowledge that they may not have covered in class. Furthermore, according to a 2016 survey by the National Education Association, 70 percent of educators say that their primary state standardized test is not developmentally appropriate to their curriculums. Plus, colleges now have detailed information about the rigor of high schools, so they can look at how well a student did at their school in relation to their grading process. We do not need some randomized test that covers what these organizations think students are learning anymore.

Reason three to eliminate standardized tests: many students feel that they are poor test takers; I know many of my peers in both high school and college have said that they do not think they are strong test takers. Furthermore, a majority of my fellow students, including myself, have said that they do not feel that their SAT and ACT scores accurately represented their academic abilities or their abilities in general outside of the academic realm. For example, some students are able to figure out the test, thereby bypassing the need to study and learn the knowledge that they supposedly need in order to be prepared for college. Other students are more creative and have artistic abilities that these standardized tests ignore.

Eliminating standardized testing will allow students to focus on their classes and learn the information that they are being taught instead of worrying about what happens if they haven’t learned something that is on a standardized test. Colleges are also concerned with grades, co-curriculars and in many cases, the personal essay. It sounds to me like colleges have plenty of material to make a decision about whether or not to admit a student, so why worry about a score that may or may not represent their applicants?


Etown women’s lacrosse loses 18-13 against Marymount

Etown women’s lacrosse team plan strategies during a timeout.

Senior attack Carly Thompson scored her 100th career goal during the Feb. 28 game against Marymount University; on the opposing team, senior attack Abby Wescott also scored her 100th career goal.

“It started to pick up our momentum as a team and was a huge success for her personally since she was injured for the majority of her junior year season,” first-year midfielder Kate Ziegler stated in an email about Thompson’s 100th goal.

In the first half, Etown began with the ball after the first draw, but Marymount scored the first point of the game. Thompson and junior attack Madelyn Baker each scored two goals after a streak of Marymount goals. Both sides called time outs in quick succession about halfway through the first half.

Close to the end of the first half, Etown senior defense Courtney Shaffer was flagged with just minutes left. With only five minutes left, Marymount’s team suffered two two-minute penalties for juniors Kelly Campbell, attack, and Alex Delgado, defense.

Many players fell for one reason or another during the first half, so much that it prompted an official from the sidelines to yell, “Stay on your feet!”

In the last few minutes of the first half, Etown first-year attack and midfielder Lexie Sharp switched out with Baker. At the end of the first half, Marymount was in the lead 8-7.

“We came from behind and took the lead to show that we were willing to fight, even though unfortunately we did not end up on top in the end,” Ziegler said.

After halftime, Ziegler scored two goals. About halfway through, Marymount called another timeout, Etown quickly following suit.

With 10 minutes left, sophomore attack Mirthe Berends had a two-minute penalty, quickly followed by two two-minute penalties for senior midfielder Katie Thompson. Close to the end of the game, Carly Thompson also got a two-minute penalty. Marymount junior attack Jessica Crew had a very painful-looking fall in the second half.

Etown lost the game 18-13, though it was very close throughout most of the game.

“I think we did play well together,” Carly Thompson said after the game. “I think that we wasted some time when we shouldn’t have, but I think that it’s just a learning experience.”

She was not too worried by the loss, stating “This wasn’t a Conference game, so everything is awesome.”

Ziegler stated that being on a collegiate team is exciting, saying, “I can’t wait for what the rest of this season and the next 3 seasons hold for our team!”

Listen to a brief podcast with senior attack Carly Thompson:




Groundbreaking Ceremony for New Student Center

President Carl Strickwerda, the Bowers and the Board of Trustees at the groundbreaking.

President Carl Strickwerda and the Board of Trustees held the groundbreaking of the Bowers Center for Sports, Fitness, and Well-Being on Feb. 2 in the Jaywalk of the Thompson Gym.

Strickwerda announced the plans for the new student center on campus in his opening speech, stating that it is both the largest construction project and the largest financial and recreational contribution in Elizabethtown College’s history.

Much of the Elizabethtown community came out to the event in support of the project. In an email interview with Caroline Lalvani, director of the Elizabethtown Community and organizer of the event, she said that she was thrilled by the turnout for the event. Lalvani thought that the speakers clearly articulated their enthusiasm for the project. She stated that the event received much media attention and that people are now more aware of the design of and plans for the building.

“Overall, I think it was a wonderful event and hopefully it has sparked excitement in the current student body as well as future prospective students,” Lavlani wrote.

The center is named for alumni of the College Kenneth L. ’59 and Rosalie E. ’58 Bowers. They will contribute $5 million over time to the building of the center. At the ceremony, both spoke and expressed their excitement about the project. They are impressed with the construction and activity plans. As further thanks, they were presented with a commemorative golden shovel.

According to Marianne Calenda, Vice President for Student Life and the Dean of Students, the new center will convey a strong commitment to all aspects of wellbeing, encourage recreational program growth, foster healthy social activity and engage all students and faculty. The design is projected to be distinctive and “edgy” enough to compel students to visit. She stated that it is more than a fieldhouse recreational center and hopes that it will strengthen alumni relationships and encourage new partnerships.

Robert J. Dolan of the Board of Trustees said the college’s fundraising goal is currently $60 million and that the campaign is up to $49 million, not including a $2.5 million endowment to support the building in future years. There have been 209 donors, and the Class of 2018 is dedicating a fire pit that will be included outside of the building.

“I’m excited for the smoothie station that will be in the center,” first-year student Keri Edwards said.

Another student, first-year Janelle Barna, stated, “I am excited for a brand-new place to go and work out and spend time in. Now [the college] will be split up for workout centers.”

Outside, Strickwerda, the Bowers, the Trustees and even students ceremonially shoveled dirt from a pre-dug patch since the ground was frozen. After photo ops, Strickwerda gave one final thanks for everyone who is involved in the project.