You can register for the summer camp sessions here. The deadline for registering is March 13, 2015.
More camp information is available here
The 2015 Multimedia Journalism Summer Camp will be held July 12 to 17th on the Penn State campus in State College. We are adding an extra day, so camp will run Sunday through Friday.
You can find out more information here
Feel free to contact us using the contact page if you have any questions or need more information.
Penn State’s legendary mailman, Mike the Mailman
~ by Aaron Sortal
At the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts Children and Youth Sidewalk Sale
by Kait Miller, Julia Hall & Amanda Hoyos
By Jada Baity
The past four days, students from all over the United States learned about every aspect of journalism through experienced teachers and passionate counselors. Every day was a new adventure. From AccuWeather to Mike the Mailman to lounging in the press box during an MLB baseball game, it can be said that these students learned more than their fair share of journalistic writing and photography. It was an experience for the kids as well as the counselors who watched them learn and grow along the way.
by Judy Neemeyer
A Screech Owl swivels its head and fixes an eye — its only eye — on the crowd of children gathered around it at the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts. The owl is one of 22 birds of prey residing at Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center that have injuries that prevent them from being released into the wild.
Shaver’s Creek was founded in 1976 and is an outreach program of The Pennsylvania State University. The center offers credit courses to university students as well as tours and camps for public attendance and education. Arts Festival is one of many programs the center visits in order to educate people, especially children, about animals and conservation.
The Screech Owl was of particular interest to 9-year-old Aubrie Thomas. She empathized with the bird because she temporarily lost sight in one of her eyes, causing her difficulty when she tried to go up flights of stairs.
“It was really weird. It gets kind of annoying,” she said, adding that because the owl only had one eye and cannot see properly it “could be frustrating” when he tries to fly. Without both eyes, the owl has no depth perception.
A big part of the center’s mission is “getting people out into nature, [and] giving them a chance to see what’s out there,” said Jon Kauffman, interim program director of the Raptor Center at Shaver’s Creek.
For the birds of prey that no longer get to live “out there,” some are trained to a glove and taken to the center’s presentations.
At Arts Fest, a Barred Owl, Screech Owl, and Peregrine Falcon were shown as groups came by the center’s tent. These birds come from external rehabilitation centers, including Center Wildlife Care. Shaver’s Creek also houses two Bald Eagles and a Golden Eagle, as well as vultures and hawks — all five types of birds of prey. Some of the birds have been with the center for more than 20 years. The Peregrine Falcon is the newest addition to the center, having arrived in May.
The majority of the resident birds have wing or eye injuries, which prevent or greatly hinder their flight. Many of these birds received their injuries when cars struck them as they hunted small rodents that live along roadways.
Graduate assistant Emily Carrollo, who works with the center, said that the best way to prevent more birds from getting injured is to avoid throwing food scraps out the window, as litter attracts the mice and voles, which the birds eat.
Video by Aaron Sortal and Sarah Gardner
By Sarah Gardner
Ashley Farahani was exhausted and shy after her very first baton twirling performance. She is a member of the Nittany Dreamers, a local baton and flag corps who performed on Wednesday as part of Kids Day for the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts.
In stark comparison, 11-year-old Jessica is full of energy. “I had been working on my two-spin trick for a really long time, and I finally caught one,” she exclaims. “That was my best performance.”
The Nittany Dreamers have more than 30 girls from kindergarten through high school who perform at parades and events throughout the year. The confidence that the girls develop as they grow older is astounding.
The growth of the girls is flag instructor Erika Lieberknecht’s favorite part of working with the Dreamers. “I love watching the girls grow throughout the year,” she said. “When they finally get it, their eyes just light up.”
Those moments of brilliance do not come easily. Jackie Gordon struggled to keep a smile on her face after dropping her baton during her routine.
Even the older majorettes have their fair share of struggle. Fifteen-year-old Gabrielle had to audition two years in a row to earn her place with the advanced group of the Dreamers.
“Last year I actually went home and cried,” Gabrielle said. “But I’m kind of glad I didn’t get it then. I wasn’t really ready for it. Auditioning the second time around was easier.”
The support of the people around them, however, makes the difficult moments a lot easier. “I love watching her get better and better, and when she throws the baton and catches it, her face is just amazing,” one mom of a young majorette said of her daughter.
The beauty of the group is that as the girls develop their skills, they also develop their confidence. Many of the performers laugh at the idea of stage fright.
“Sometimes I get nervous,” 11-year-old Molly finally admits. “I just really don’t want to drop the baton.”
Even when the baton does fall, though, the show must go on. Jessica Gordon says that her favorite part of performing is smiling at people. True to her word, when she drops her baton, she retrieves it gracefully with a grin on her face, and her mom is ready to remind her to stay positive afterward.
The positive attitude is what brings the girls together. “I love how friendly and open the group is,” advanced twirler Malaya said. “My favorite part of it is spending time with my friends.”
Although she seems a little overwhelmed by the end of the routine, Ashley Farahani still smiles for a group photo with the arms of older girls around her. It is not hard to picture her a few years from now, full of the knowledge and confidence the Dreamers give their girls.
By Hannah Franklin and Sydney Jones
During Children and Youth Day at the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts, two sword makers dueled for supremacy.
Bows and arrows, popguns, swords, and marshmallow shooters were some of the many types of playful weaponry showcased during the Youth Day at the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts.
By Thomas Kendziora, Alex Murphy and Josh Ward
Ken Hickman, director of the All-Sports Museum at Penn State talks about the school mascot and more.
by Joshua Ward
By Chelsea Swift
At the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts on July 9, the streets of State College were filled with admirers of the arts and crafts of young entrepreneurs. Séamus, a 10-year-old boy from Ontario, Canada, attended his first Arts Festival Children’s Day. Selling hand-crafted pendants, Séamus explains how he makes his art.
“First, I form the clay, then I roll it and cut it in a circle with a knife,” he said. “I take a clay knife, shape it, stamp it, and then it goes in to the kiln. I apply glaze and then layer the glaze and paint it.”
It’s quite a complicated process.
His business partner, April, a resident of State College, sells cat and dog toys. This year marks April’s third time participating in the Arts Festival.
Her mother explained that the reason behind her crafts is the toy’s design. April is allergic to cats, so she wanted to make a toy that allowed her to play cats, but not have to pet them.
In addition, 50 percent of her profits go to the charity organization PAWS, which helps protect the welfare and safety of animals.
Both artists agree that in addition to being fun, Arts Festival brings the community of State College together.
Sydney Michelle Jones
“He was the pillar within the community.”
-Ken Hickman on Joe Paterno
A well-known figure in his community, and the man behind the team, Joe Paterno lead the Nittany Lion Football team for 55 years at Pennsylvania State University. Coach Paterno started his career in 1966 and drove the team to 409 wins while creating a community bond that became the essence of State College.
After Paterno’s death, sorrow was brought to a campus that just months before was rioting in the streets after a scandal that tore not only a campus but also a town apart. Hannah Byrne, a senior at Penn State, commented on how the atmosphere had instantly changed from when the scandal first broke out, to when Paterno was fired and to his death. It went “from destruction to such a somber and sad and peaceful demonstration,” she said.
Paterno’s death brought a division to campus, said Madeline Chandler, a recent graduate. “There was a divide of people who said that the scandal doesn’t matter and we have to honor this man, but he also did something awful and for me personally, it trumps everything else,” she said.
As time went on, the grieving period ended, and the Nitttany Lions went through two more coaches, Bill O’Brien (2012-2013) and current Coach James Franklin, who was hired in 2014. “He is really passionate about what he does,” Byrne said of Franklin. “He seems to be really concerned and really involved in the players lives and genuinely wants to get to know them.”
Legacy is a massive aspect of football, especially for a coach like Paterno. “He was the pillar within the community,” said Ken Hickman, Penn State All-Sports Museum director.
By Alice Kang, Sarah Negash, and Alexandra Vigil
The Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts is an annual event held in State College, Pennsylvania, that gives artists an opportunity to display and sell their hand-made creations. The first day of Arts Fest is exclusively reserved for children. An eye-catching element shown throughout the course of the festival was a “bow-tique” theme that featured hand-made bows of various colors and designs made by young children. Ariana, a young child vendor at Arts Fest, explained her creative process of making uniquely styled bows. The Arts Fest provides Ariana and many other children the chance to exercise their artistic, social and entrepreneurial skills.
By Judy Neemyer
From 1947 until 2012, there was no such thing as the Penn State Varsity Men’s Ice Hockey Team, but the Penn State Icers were one of the most successful club-level sports teams in the country. That was mostly because though there were many pay-to-play options for hockey players who attended Penn State, there was no official NCAA varsity team. The Icers played at the highest level available on campus starting in 1971.
Penn State tried twice to field a varsity hockey team in the past, first in 1909 for two games and again for a stretch in the 1940s. Those teams were dropped due to a lack of adequate facilities. That will not be a problem anymore, allowing hockey to become a fixture at Penn State for the future.
Currently, Penn State’s hockey teams play in a brand new, $100-million arena funded by a donation from alumnus Terry Pegula. According to The Daily Collegian hockey writer Darian Somers, Pegula Ice Arena is rated to last 100 years. “People will support it, mainly because Pegula Ice Arena is new,” he said. “It will always be around now that Pegula is here.”
The next challenge is to establish hockey as a serious and competitive varsity sport. As an NCAA Independent team in 2012-13, the men’s team’s win-loss-overtime loss record was 13-14-0, but when the Nittany Lions moved to the newly-established Big Ten hockey conference, their record was 8-26-2 overall, including 3-16-1 against the other Big Ten teams.
Those teams were based on recruits and fleshed out with members of the 2011-12 Icers, whose final season was “essentially a try-out” to make the varsity team, according to Somers. Several players were true freshmen and sophomores. Playing against some of the best teams in the country in their second season, the Nittany Lions were often outplayed late in games. However, Somers doesn’t believe that competing against some of the elite teams of the Big Ten hindered the team.
“They’ve been really open to the whole idea and haven’t been reluctant at all. In some ways, the exposure thanks (to) the Big Ten Network … will help the program grow,” Somers said. “People want to play with and against the best and the Big Ten will be the perfect place to provide that opportunity.”
In addition, the Big Ten will be a kind of measuring stick for the team; when they can hold their own in that conference, then they can have success.
“At first it was obviously a little growing pains … but I think we grew a lot as a team, and as players individually, throughout the year and just going into next year we have to build off of what we did, don’t take a step back, continue on our growth,” team captain Patrick Koudys said of the team at a press conference held at the development camp for the Washington Capitals of the NHL. The interview was posted on monumentalnetwork.com. Koudys, a fifth-round draft pick in 2011, is one of six Nittany Lions attending NHL camps, two of whom were drafted by their camp’s host team.
Two additional players were drafted by NHL teams but will not be attending development camps, and NHL scouts attend games on occasion, looking to find the next big talent for their team.
Penn State Men’s Ice Hockey isn’t big yet, but with head Coach Guy Gadowsky recruiting the best players possible — including players from Florida, Nevada and as far abroad as Finland — and a built-in fan base as passionate as the university’s students, the pieces are in place for it to get there.
By Hannah Franklin
When people think of government workers, they don’t usually picture a happy, smiling employee who is in love with his job. But once in awhile you find a person who is genuinely joyful and loves every minute of his life. “You should have fun at your job,” Penn State mailman Mike Herr said.
Herr, otherwise known as “Mike the Mailman,” has been working at the Penn State post office for the last 46 years. That takes extreme commitment and passion. Nowadays, college students and young adults change their major, career, and whole life direction at least once or twice throughout the early years. Herr hasn’t even considered a job change and doesn’t plan to retire anytime soon.
“My favorite thing to do is open those post office doors every morning,” he said. “My worst memory was the one day I had to leave work an hour early, I felt horribly guilty and just wanted to come back.”
Herr isn’t your typical cookie-cutter mailman. In 2000, he was almost fired for decorating the post office with Penn State memorabilia, but after the entire school rallied behind him, he became one of the first government workers to break out of the conformity of the rules. Even today, Herr strays off the path by not wearing the required uniform. Usually, mailmen must wear long pants, and the US postal service shirt, but Herr shows his love for his job by wearing “stamp” ties and cargo shorts. “The key is to relax, I mean I’m around college students for Pete’s sake,” Herr said.
The Penn State mailman has become a campus icon of sorts, and he exudes the spirit of the school.
“No matter where I go, people know me,” Herr said. “I try to make (coming to the post office) a positive experience. I really did have the best parents, they taught me to be kind and my positive attitude follows me wherever I go.”
Herr’s attitude is contagious. When a customer walks in, he tries to relate to them until they feel as though they’ve been friends for years. “I’m still laughing, and I hope they’re still laughing, too,” he said.
By Grace Hanlon, Hannah Betz, Sarah Hanlon & Kaitlyn Feringa
Bustling crowds, food stands and music. No, it’s not a Penn State football game, it’s the Children’s Day Sidewalk Sale during the opening day of the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts.
The festival is a nonprofit organization that supports local artists, performers and Penn State clubs and athletics. Held every year since 1967, the program strives to share the talent of the diverse community members of central Pennsylvania.
“Each year about 100,000 people come out to support the arts,” said Connie Schroeder, a volunteer at the Arts Fest. “It’s great for the community, because things get slow — especially in the summer months. This is a great opportunity for alumni to return and for the community to come together.”
However, it’s not only alumni who come back to support State College for Arts Fest, as locals often call it. Families, fans, students and Penn State student-athletes attend the festival.
“The community gives so much to Penn State sports,” explained Penn State football center Tom Devenney. “It’s a great way to give back.”
In order to celebrate Penn State and the arts, the State College downtown area is filled with booths and tables that belong to young artists every July. These crafters get the chance to showcase their hard work and passions with the festival visitors.
The homemade items of are diverse, but the most popular include photography, paintings, duct tape art and wind chimes. Despite their age, these children are on their way to becoming successful entrepreneurs.
Among the hordes of children trying to sell their creations, Julia Smith and Jolie Oakman were sure that their puppets would not disappoint customers.
With the help of Julia’s mom, Lisa, the girls showed off the sock puppets that were adorned with glitter, feathers and googly eyes.
“Everyone needs imagination,” said Jolie as she explained the process of creating and decorating the puppets.
Together, the friends share the responsibilities of designing, sewing and decorating their creations. Even though they love making puppets, they said the sewing was their least favorite aspect.
“Sewing is definitely the boring part,” Julia said. Jolie agreed, saying, “My favorite part is decorating. It gets boring when you’re sewing millions and millions of puppets and then the machine breaks.”
The girls had an impressive assortment. From glitter braces to feather hats and even unicorn horns, there was no shortage of imagination from Julia and Jolie.
By Amanda Hoyos
Beaver Stadium, like other stadiums, has gone under construction again. Every year Penn State University does some major and minor adjustments to the stadium to make it more convenient for their students, fans, athletes and alumni.
The stadium became the second largest stadium in the nation after Michigan’s when they added more than 12,00 seats to make a total of 107,282 seats. In addition to the new upper deck seating area, Beaver Stadium has invested in new scoreboards to better accommodate instant replay with high definition and a larger screen compared to their latest one.
The high definition scoreboards are starting to make more appearances in stadiums of different kinds. Not many stadiums do have these high definition scoreboards with the exceptions of the Cowboys Stadium and several others in the nation. These new scoreboards give the fans a better overall experience of viewing replays and serving as another viewpoint for those seating up high in Beaver Stadium.
The stadium has also made other minor improvements. Adding more restrooms and concession facilities to make it more convenient and accessible for its variety of fans.
“Beaver Stadium is always adding new, replacing old, and fixing current to give the fans the best experience possible,” said Ken Hickman, director of the Penn State All-Sports Museum located in Beaver Stadium. Another noticeable change in Beaver Stadium is the 60 enclosed skyboxes located on the west side of the stadium.
The new and improved Beaver Stadium now gives the fans and athletes an experience of a lifetime. “The thrill of having almost every seat in the stadium filled and everyone enjoying their time is what is so great about Beaver Stadium. We all come together as one in this stadium and we are Penn State,” Hickman said.
By Daniella Ignacio and Allison Lightner
Cecilia Leskowicz, 16, has her own doll clothes-making business. She has been selling at the Arts Fest for five years.
By Elizabeth Winter
Ken Hickman is the university employee charged with showing the history of Penn State varsity sports. He’s an alumnus, too. He says that gives him a particularly close connection to the university experience.
“You become a part of the campus,” Hickman said.
Like many families, the university has had its bumps and bruises. As the director of the Penn State All-Sports Museum, Hickman says he has seen how those challenges have helped to define the Penn State experience.
For example, in 1947 the Nittany Lions football team, led by head coach Bob Higgins, was headed to Texas to play in the Cotton Bowl against Southern Methodist University.
Segregation was still common in the South. The Lions had two African Americans on the team and bowl officials made it clear, Hickman said, that those two players weren’t welcome at the game. Instead of leaving their teammates behind, the tram voted to decline the bowl game invitation. Hickman said that legend has it that a player stood up at the team meeting. Gesturing to include everyone in the room, including the two black players, he said, “We are Penn State.” An iconic chant was born.
Hickman said the museum is waiting to see how a more recent challenge plays out in court before deciding its place in Penn State history, and how it should be depicted in exhibits. Former Penn State football defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky was indicted – and convicted – in a 2011 child sex abuse scandal. Whether university officials conspired to cover up Sandusky’s actions has yet to be decided in court. The scandal cost university president Graham Spanier, head coach Joe Paterno and two other university officials their jobs. The football team had victories and records erased.
On January 22, 2012 Joe Paterno passed away. The Penn State community is divided over how Paterno should be remembered, Hickman said. The head coach did not face criminal charges, but with other cases still in court, his legacy is unclear.
“There was a sense of loss,” Hickman said. “Joe was a pillar within the community.”
Like other members of the close-knit Penn State community, Hickman is waiting to see how history will remember the man who coached the Nittany Lions nearly as long as Hickman has been alive.
By Lindsay Jones
On a street in State College, kids from all over come to share their artistic talents. Each one of them finds a way to express their individuality in a unique way. Taking a walk down the sidewalk, one might come across a booth set up by Séamus Kaip and April Staab.
Each of them made a different craft. Séamus, who is only 10 years old, made terra cotta necklaces. The jewelry take a long process, and he puts a lot of time into his hobby. The necklaces are made out of clay, which involves refining, molding and firing. Séamus molds it into shapes such as hearts and then paints the shapes for a better effect.
“I like to think of it as a hobby, but maybe even a profession because I have all of the equipment,” he said.
Séamus came down to State College all the way from Toronto, Canada. It was his first year at the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts, and he loved every second of it.
“I really like it. Arts Fest is so much fun, I think it brings so much creativity and is a way of bringing the community together,” he said. “I am just wowed by all the art, it is really amazing.”
His partner and friend, April Staab, creates pet toys and treats. This was her third year at Arts Fest.
“I love Arts Fest because I love to make things,” she said. “It is a very creative thing for kids to do and a good way to make some money.”
She has a sign on her stand that reads, “April Showers … It’s Raining Cats and Dogs.” While the booth attracts many customers, it’s the dogs that are especially drawn to the treats she has for sale.
April has a cocker spaniel named Sophie at home, which inspired her to give 50 percent of her profits to PAWS. The rescue organization finds homes for cats and dogs and educates citizens on responsible pet ownership.
April also created a toy for her to play with cats so that she does not have to physically touch them. She thought of this idea because she is allergic to cats. Her mom, Kathy Staab, is very proud of April’s success.
“Since she was 18 months, she was picking up crayons and markers and was always drawing,” Staab said. “She is just always making something.”
By Angelica Jones
The Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts is the place where only the most talented, creative, and artistic children and teens under the age of the 18 come to display their beautiful creations. From selling arts and crafts, portraits, trinkets, hair and body accessories, everyone expresses their work in unique ways.
People from all over the country, probably even different parts of the world, come to State College, the center of Pennsylvania, to this well-known event.
Among many of the young talents, Drew Spielvogel, a 13-year-old incoming eighth-grader, who started doing custom charcoal drawings a year ago, blew the minds of many people who passed by his wonderful art booth.
“I didn’t really have a talent, and I wanted to start developing one,” Drew said when asked about his talents.
Dedication surely came into play because after a year, his work is simply amazing. Drew also added that people also inspire him in his family, too.
“I wanted to do a piece on my grandpa who passed away,” he said. “We were really close, and I look up to him.”
It is evident that his family members are proud of him because they all share the same excitement for the wonderful opportunity that Drew has at Arts Fest.
“He is an incredible young man and very loving, he hasn’t let his ego get in the way with the work that he does,” said Drew’s grandmother, who was present.
For now a hobby, but asked if he wanted to do charcoal drawings as a profession, Drew said it’s a possibility.
“I see myself doing drawings in future, he said. “I’m not sure if I want to be an artist, but I definitely want do so something art related.”
By Justine Douglas
The competition in college football has increased, not only on the field, but also on the looks of their stadiums. Millions of dollars are being spent to have the newest technology and capacity numbers. Penn State, Ohio State and Michigan are three Big Ten rivals that are going all in to create the best stadium in the nation.
Penn State All-Sports Museum Director Ken Hickman, who has spent a career collecting Penn State memorabilia for the museum, said the schools are in an “arms race” of sorts.
Just this year, Penn State spent $10 million on the new replacement scoreboards. The Centre Daily Times in State College, Pennsylvania, reported last month that the scoreboards would have high definition video panels with full screens. New logos made of LED lights are also facing outside the stadium.
Michigan State also made technology advances to their stadium. According to mgoblue.com, “$7.9 million was spent on electronic innovations, including new video scoreboards at the north and south ends of the stadium, a revamped Bose sound system” and other upgrades.
Keeping up with its rivals, Ohio State spent $7 million on an “improvements project at Ohio Stadium, replacing the 11-year-old scoreboard and audio system,” ESPN reported. The scoreboard will be 42-feet by 123-feet with LED ribbon boards to show the score.
Michigan’s Big House has 2,000 more seats than Penn State’s Beaver Stadium, even though Beaver Stadium itself is much larger. Ohio State is trailing behind with 102,329, but will be updating this upcoming season.
“Michigan’s seats are 14-16 inches wide and Penn State’s seats are 16-18 inches wide,” Penn State’s Hickman said. “If we were to go by Michigan seat sizes, we would have 9,000 more seats.”
Ohio State “is currently undergoing a $13.7 million renovation,” reported Cleaveland.com reporter Ari Wsserman. It will be adding 2,600 seats and other upgrades to its stadium and field.
Hickman describes this competiveness as the “war in college football.”
By Kait Miller
Mike Herr is a mailman on the Pennsylvania State University campus in State College, Pennsylvania. However, “Mike the Mailman” is far from your average mailman. He is kind, carin, and truly loves his job. He loves his job so much that when he was asked his favorite event that happens on the Penn State campus, he said, “when I get to come in the post office and open the door another day.”
The students are the main reason why Mike claims that he is “the luckiest guy.” Most people do not enjoy going to work at the beginning of the week, but Mike’s favorite day of the week happens to be Monday. He tackles the workweek with a positive attitude and instead of thinking “I can’t wait until Friday,” he thinks: “Thank God It’s Monday.”
Mike does not need any certain motivation to have this positive approach at work. “I just do it naturally, I don’t need the motivation,” he said. “I like coming to work.”
Mike is more than just a mailman to the students on campus. To most, he is a smile that can brighten any dark day. He cares about the people of the community in State College and tries everyday to bring out the best in people.
“If my kindnesses could bring more kindness, that’s a good thing,” Mike explained. These kindnesses have impacted students and members of the community greatly, and it is evident that if there were no “Mike the Mailman,” going to the post office on campus at Penn State would not be nearly as exciting.
By Julia Hall
Penn State University’s mailman doesn’t have what might be thought of as a typical mailman temperament. Mike Herr, or “Mike the Mailman,” projects positivity and kindness to the campus’ students and facility. His corky contributions to the school have shaped the university atmosphere and the people. Herr is a joyful and positive man who makes a point to brighten each customer’s day and make the post office a warm and welcoming place.
Herr is very involved with the students and facility on campus.
Not only does Herr decorate his office walls with Penn State posters and compliment his customers, he also puts students baking skill to the test with a “Cookie of the Month” competition. However, this contest has one rule, the cookies cannot contain chocolate. Herr believes that it is much harder to make a good cookie without chocolate. The contest is a long-lasting legacy at Penn State and is only one of the many ways he interacts with people on campus.
Herr’s contribution to the college community has deeply impacted the student and faculty life on campus.
“Without Mike the Mailman campus would be a lot more dull. He does a lot with the students even outside of the post office,” said Senior Hannah Byrne.
Herr brings a positive and refreshing attitude to the campus and has made an impression on alumni from Penn State. “I get wedding invitations from alumni all the time,” Herr laughs. “Everywhere I go someone always recognizes me.”
Without Mike the Mailman, Penn State would not be the same. He is not only a trusted mailman, but also a consistent friend to the college community. All tend to agree that the campus would not be the same without him.
By Sarah Horbacewicz
When the USPS told Mike Herr that he would have to take down the hundreds of pieces of memorabilia plastered all over his walls, Penn State students felt a responsibility to defend the man whom many students, including alumna Madeline Chandler, consider “the most famous person on campus.”
Students took to the streets as well as sent in hundreds of cards and emails in protest in what would be known as “The Great Rally of 2000,” eventually winning the battle against USPS for their favorite mailman.
Mike Herr is a one-of-a-kind mailman who brightens his customers’ days when they walk in his door, and he has created a strong bond with many Penn State students and faculty. Whenever a person with new sneakers walks through the post office door, Herr rings a tiny bell and holds up a poster chanting, “New sneakers! New sneakers!”
Herr has such an impact on students that when the stress of college seems too much, some students will find themselves, “buying stamps just so he can put me in a better mood,” said Madeline Chandler, a recent Penn State graduate.
Underneath Herr’s goofy jokes is a caring man who, “has only let three people walk out of (his) post office in a bad mood,” he said. Herr connects with people on a personal level so that he can really bond with each of them. In fact, he runs a “Cookie of the Month” competition in which students are invited to bring the mailman cookies for a chance at the title. “Oatmeal-Rasin are my favorite,” he said.
Herr’s love of his job only strengthens the bond between him and anyone who enters the post office. “My favorite time of the day is opening the doors to the office in the morning,” he explained. The combination of Mike’s kindness and the students’ relationship with him separate this post office from the rest and make every letter worth sending.
By Rosannie Calderon, Elizabeth Winter and Sarah Horbacewicz
by Chelsea Swift
By Sarah Horbacewicz and Elizabeth Winter
Nittany Dreamers Baton and Silk Corps peform at the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts
by Aaron Sortal & Sarah Gardner
Jenna Pietrucha, Kyle Edelman and Carter Bruns
There’s liquid nitrogen ice cream, elephant tooth paste and a whole lot of fun on Children’s Day at the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts.
“It’s awesome,” exclaimed Mallory, an eager nine-year-old day camper who was attending the festival with 22 other kids from Wee Wisdom Summer Day Camp, sponsored by Centre County Christian Academy of Bellefonte.
The counselors as well as the kids laughed and played as they wandered from booth to booth.
They sampled activities like sun paper imprinting, which included a hands-on lesson on the effects of UV lights. The campers placed a stencil on top of a sheet of chemically treated paper. Paper exposed to UV lights grew paler, as the color beneath the stencil remained unchanged.
Melissa Diamanti, one of the volunteers assisting in the experiment, talked about how UV lights affect human skin, no matter the amount of sun exposure. “The UV lights come through the clouds,” she said.
After experiencing UV light, the campers excitedly headed toward the liquid nitrogen ice cream activity, though none of them knew what liquid nitrogen was.
Sometimes the most seemingly mundane job can end up affecting the lives of many people. Mike Herr, otherwise known as “Mike the Mailman,” has been working as a mailman for on the Penn StateUniversity campus for 46 years and has been a positive influence to the students with the constant, optimistic vibe he brings to work everyday.
Although Herr graduated with a major in computer science, he veered off his expected career path by starting to work the night shift as a mailman. He initiated his mailman career by working at the State College Post Office on April 1, 1968, but later moved to the Penn State campus. As time passed, the Penn State community fostered a sense of respect and a welcoming attitude that led Mike to become quite content with his current job.
“Being here, the students … everything’s upbeat and good around here,” Herr said. “[Penn State] is a good place to be.”
However, Herr’s current job does not solely consist of packaging and sending off mail for the students, but plays a much more significant role within their lives. Whenever a student comes into his office, he or she is always greeted by a string of positive compliments.
He comments on anything from customers’ shoes to their packing abilities. Once, Herr even began a routine of ringing a bell whenever a student walked in with a pair of new sneakers. Whatever method he uses, Mike always tries his best to turn the students’ frowns upside down before they walk out the door.
“Being positive brings positive,” he said. “It’s always better to be positive.”
Herr’s optimistic attitude is also reflected by his vigorous participation in promoting school spirit. He attends the Nittany Lions’ sporting events whenever he can and consistently participates in THON, a student-led dance-a-thon that aims to raise money for child cancer patients. He says that is his favorite. Additionally, Herr is also in charge of a monthly cookie-making contest and jokingly offers “package-wrapping lessons” to his students every Tuesday at 6:03 a.m.
“At first, I was really surprised that some people didn’t know how to address a package,” Herr said. “But later, I learned that it was because they had never gotten exposed to it before.”
Wherever Herr’s career goes in the future, his lasting legacies will undoubtedly remain within the heart of the Penn State community for a long time. He hopes to continue bringing smiles to many students for years to come.
by Harrison Malkin, Byron Tollefson and Wyatt Geller
Counselor, matchmaker and, of course, mailman: Mike Herr wears many hats. Being a consumer of cookies, however, seems to be the role he takes most seriously.
“Cookie connoisseur. I like that,” he said Tuesday. On the wall behind him in the University Park post office is a whiteboard with a list of his “cookie of the month” winners, nearly buried behind the other lighthearted posters, including one that reads, “No shirt, no shoes, no sweat.”
“No sweat” is clearly Herr’s philosophy at his position at the post office in the heart of Penn State’s campus. He loves to tell stories about the romantic couples he has tried to set up over the years, and his favorite tools of the trade are the rubber stamps for outgoing envelopes with amusing sayings for the recipient.
“Mike the Mailman” is full of similar tricks up his sleeve. He jokes about his idea of holding Wednesday morning sessions for remedial package wrapping, where he also apparently plays rap music throughout the room. “The postal people weren’t always happy, but that doesn’t matter. What’s important is that the people are happy,” he said.
Even the dress code is more like a set of guidelines to him. Herr consistently wears shorts instead of pants. “When I grow up, I’ll actually do that,” he said with a wave of his hand. “But when important visitors come, I have a pair of pants I just throw on real quick.”
This playfulness is what makes visiting the post office comfortable rather than arduous. It all comes back to his belief in positivity and fun. “I have a good time doing it. That’s all I can tell you,” he said.
His talk about college sports, too, is far more relaxed than the attitude of most fans. “I don’t talk serious football. I just talk fun football.” He recalls joking around with a Penn State football player who used to visit the post office every Monday after a big game for some friendly feedback.
Herr’s happiness is contagious. The visitors to his famous post office Tuesday morning were all smiles as he struck up conversations with them. It is hard not to be cheerful around a man whose favorite time of the week is opening the office on Monday mornings.
“People say this isn’t like other post offices, and I think that’s a bad thing. I think the post office should always be a positive experience,” he said.
Somehow, despite Herr’s 46 years of delivering both happiness and mail, he still believes he has more work to do. “I’ve got to loosen up a little bit, I guess,” he said with a smile.
If the grins on the faces around him indicate anything, it is that he has more than accomplished this goal.
For many, a trip to the post office seems like a mundane, unmemorable hassle, but here in State College, students and locals would beg to differ.
Mike Herr, better known as Mike the Mailman, works at the US Post Office located on the Penn State campus, and he is anything but mundane, unmemorable, and does anything to make sure that a trip to the post office is not a hassle.
Upon walking into his famed post office, it is clear that the small office offers so much more than just envelopes and stamps. Various Penn State posters and memorabilia adorn the walls, along with photographs of students, cards, and even a list of things to do at Penn State.
“I don’t like to be in the cookie cutter,” Mike says of his curious office. “I’m not about that.”
But colorful walls do not define this mailman; what Mike is best known for his is positive attitude. Mike’s optimistic outlook on life is something he strives to spread to everyone that passes through his office, as he believes that everyone should feel happy each day.
For all but 3 customers, he recalls, his mission has been a success.
“I try to be a good person; we don’t see enough kindness in the world. If my kindness can bring another kindness I’ve done my job.”
Mike proves that achieving community-wide compassion is not as daunting of a task as it may seem. He does this by performing simple benevolent acts, such as ringing a bell to gather the attention of those in the office and holding up a sign that says “nice sneakers.”
Mike says that just merely admiring someone’s clothes or complimenting someone’s wrapping job puts a smile on his customers’ faces’ and creates an environment of pure friendliness unlike no other on campus.
He even jokes about “remedial wrapping classes” on Tuesday mornings at 6:03 for students lacking wrapping skills.
For the more than 30 years that Mike has been working at Penn State, his positivity has been relentless. Many would find it a difficult task to maintain happiness for even a month, but Mike finds no reason to live life any other way.
“I can’t not be positive,” Mike explains. “I am so lucky…I like coming to work; it’s fun.”
And there is no doubt that Mike’s efforts are fruitful. Students make a point to regularly visit the office, and ask to hang pictures of themselves on Mike’s wall.
Students, faculty, and alumni alike also love to pay Mike back in cookies, his favorite treat. Mike even has a Cookie of the Month list on his wall, and his donors vie for the coveted title.
Students have also stood up for Mike, when in 2000 the post office in downtown State College told Mike that he had to take down his post office décor, as it was the property of the US Postal Service, not Penn State.
Supporters rallied and marched to the downtown office, emails with the Penn State president and the postmaster were exchanged, and the legendary walls were saved.
There is no doubt that Mike the Mailman is the epitome of mailmen, and embodies the positive attitude that every Penn State student should aspire to posses. The void that will be left after Mike retires seems impossible to fill, but the spirit of Mike the Mailman must endure.
Some have suggested that Mike should have an apprentice to continue the positivity on campus.
“If I had an apprentice, I would tell them to just relax and be nice to people.”
Simple and to the point, Mike’s advice is something everyone, not just a future mailman, should take to heart.