Some parents in Lehigh County want to know why Emmaus High School’s championship rifle team was not included in the school’s new yearbook.
They hoped to find out what happened at Monday night’s school board meeting. But no explanation was offered by school board members, the superintendent or other administrators at the meeting.
“This is a high school issue,” said Superintendent Thomas Seidenberger after the board meeting.
Chris Donatelli, a Republican candidate for school board in the November election, was the only parent to address the board about the matter. But he was accompanied by two other “disappointed” parents of rifle team members.
Donatelli said 10 high school rifle teams competed in the 2012-13 district competition, which Emmaus High School won in February. “The team went undefeated in the league and in the district,” he told the school board.
After the meeting, Donatelli said parents don’t know if the rifle team was not included in the 2013 yearbook because of an oversight – or if someone was afraid to include anything about its victory because of the national debate over gun control.
“I’d hate to think it would be that,” he said. “We’re just trying to get answers.”
His son Stephen was a member of the rifle team before graduating in spring. When Stephen got his yearbook two weeks ago, he saw it did not even mention the rifle team and there was no photo of the team.
A photo of the rifle team was taken by Don Herb, a professional photographer hired to take pictures for the yearbook. It shows 21 team members posing with their advisors. Most of the students are holding rifles.
Parents said Andrew Moxey, the high school’s yearbook advisor, suggested that Herb did not turn in the picture on time. They said that angered Herb, who told one of them: “I’m really upset. I feel like I got thrown under the bus.”
The parents said Herb told them the rifle team photo was one of the best he took for the yearbook. He’s offered to send it to all rifle team members for free.
Donatelli said some families purchased the yearbook even though their children have not yet graduated, because they fully expected the rifle team’s accomplishments would be in it.
He said parents trying to find out what happened first contacted Dennis Ramella, the high school athletic director, “who claims no involvement. Mr. Herb says he fulfilled his requirement and Mr. Moxey, to date, has not come back with a satisfactory answer.”
He asked the school board for the name of the person who oversees Moxey’s position as yearbook advisor.
Donatelli suggested that everyone who gets a yearbook should receive a supplemental page showcasing the accomplishment of the rifle team.
“This issue, if not addressed, will only fester,” he warned the school board.
“I’m not going to let it lie,” said Donatelli after the meeting.
“Me either,” said parent Lorraine Husack, whose son Jonathan, an EHS junior, is on the rifle team.
Husack said she was shocked that the team’s photo was not in the yearbook.
Rochelle Bachman said her daughter Siera also is a junior on the rifle team.
Bachman said Moxey told her he never received the photo of the rifle team to include in the yearbook. She then contacted Herb, who assured her the picture had been sent.
Seidenberger said the high school’s co-ed rifle team has been winning routinely for the last couple of years. He said not many high schools still have rifle teams, adding: “We go hither and yon to have a shooting match.”
Also during the board meeting:
* Kristen Campbell was sworn in as assistant district superintendent by Lehigh County Judge Douglas Reichley.
* Seidenberger announced that on Friday a new ticket booth -- designed and built by Emmaus High teacher Scott Didra’s students -- was moved to Memorial Field. He said Didra’s students now are considering constructing a new press box for the football stadium.
* Seidenberger told the board he has begun writing pieces for the district’s web site in a section called Superintendent’s Timely Messages. He plans to write at least one every week. He said he will stick to pertinent themes that focus more on fact than opinion.
* He also announced East Penn School District now is on Facebook. He said Facebook will be used to celebrate student success and tell unusual human interest stories about things happening in the district that people otherwise might not learn about.
* The superintendent reported slightly less than 8,000 students are enrolled in the district for the 2013-14 school year, which he said is a little surprising. He said he’ll have a better idea of enrollment by early October, explaining the numbers often fluctuate until then. He also will present the board with an update on class sizes in October.
He reported the district hired two additional special education teachers this year “and we’re going to be looking at more staff,” because its population of special ed students is increasing. “These kids are coming and it’s our obligation to serve them.”
“For the first time in a long time, not a great number of students are going to cyber charter schools,” said the superintendent. “Maybe the publicity is starting to make an impact.”