News Writing

Hershey Pennsylvania: The Fun and the Impact
by Chris Shearer

HERSHEY, PA — While walking beneath the candy-shaped street lamps that illuminate the pristine sidewalks here, it’s hard to ignore the screams of the roller coasting thrill-seekers as the warm smell of chocolate demands your nose’s attention. Even though the factories here no longer produce chocolate the way they used to, the excitement of visiting Hershey, Pennsylvania still remains. Beyond the monolithic boundaries of Hershey Park are many different attractions. The town even houses a national name in medical research; Penn State College of Medicine. Hershey is a globally-known town with a robust history to back it up.

As hersheypa.com tells it, Hershey was founded by entrepreneur and philanthropist Milton Hershey as a residence for the workers at his newly established chocolate plant. This allowed him to bring chocolate to the United States market place, a luxury item that was previously only enjoyed by the Swiss upper classes. As Hershey Chocolate took off, Milton Hershey opened Hershey Park in 1907 as a place for his workers to offset their labor with recreation and enjoyment. Since then, Hershey has seen a number of other upgrades with the help of Milton Hershey’s legacy such as the Hotel Hershey and the Milton Hershey school for kids without adequate financial resources. The trust he established eventually led to the formation of the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and the Penn State College of Medicine as well.

“Hershey isn’t just about the chocolate,” said Debra Shearer, a researcher at Penn State College of Medicine, “the research done here impacts real people. The work in [obstetrics and gynecology research] and the rest of the college helps to develop treatments for many different illnesses.” According to her, the college also helps to train future doctors in a hospital environment. “This gives the students an up close look at the process behind treating diseases.”

Even if a visitor’s only ailment is a hungry stomach, Hershey also has a collection of fine dining along its main strip and side streets. Fenicci’s Italian restaurant, Devon seafood, and Houlihan’s provide comfortable environments and quality food to guests. For those seeking a fast casual experience, Hershey recently allowed a Chipotle to move in on the main strip as well. Several miles down the road there’s also the Hershey Pantry, a cozy restaurant which is a favorite break-time stop among the locals.

Whether someone visiting Chocolatetown USA wants to soar across the sky on the Lightning Racer or sit down and enjoy fine cuisine, Hershey is a place worth visiting. Although the challenges of a fledgling economy have pushed much of Hershey’s chocolate production out of the country, the town’s history is still very much alive and well. A stroll down Chocolate Avenue is all it takes to feel the energy of Milton Hershey’s vision. The Milton Hershey School still stays true to its original mission today. Hershey Park continues to attract people in droves. Milton Hershey’s company town is still the runaway success in ways he never could have dreamed possible.

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Crowds Flock to Annual Arts Festival in Hummelstown

by Christopher Shearer

HUMMELSTOWN, PA – Hundreds of community members and vendors attended the Hummelstown Arts Festival on Saturday, September 13th, which commands attention every year by closing down several blocks of the small Central Pennsylvania town. A sea of white tents could be seen dotting Main Street as craft makers, artists, photographers, and more were featured this year at the event which frequently includes food and music as well.

The Arts Festival creates a favorable environment for adults, children, and family of all ages to explore the best of local art. The event included about 100 different vendors, all offering a different piece of Pennsylvania art and craft.

The event was founded in 1981, and has drawn crowds every year since. It is an event that bolsters a sense of community, drawing people from all walks of life to enjoy the festivities. “My favorite thing[s]… the pottery-coffee mugs, fruit bowls. Homemade chapsticks,” said Katie, a resident who has attended the arts festival nearly every year, “I liked the kids craft section they always have. They had a spot on the road just for sidewalk chalk drawings, how cool is that?” She says it often has the same feel year to year, but that she always notices new things. She also looks forward to her newborn enjoying the event when he gets older.

One vendor, photographer Katie Wenrich, spoke about her experiences with the Arts Festival in the past. For several years she has featured her photographic work. She’s been surprised by the turnout, despite inclement weather in the past. “Last year it poured and it was amazing all the people who still came out to support the artists and look around,” she said. “This year was my best year so far selling-wise. I sell my photography.” She has attended the Arts Festival for many years she says, ever since she was a little girl.

According to the event’s Facebook Page, the mission of the event is to “…provide scholarships for Lower Dauphin seniors continuing their education in the arts and to promote arts in the Lower Dauphin School District and the Hummelstown Community by providing a fun, quality, Juried Arts Festival in Hummelstown, Pennsylvania.” The festival breathes live into the arts found around the area, and gives local artists a chance to be recognized and to distribute their work.

“I look for it every year,” says Katie Wenrich, “it’s just mind blowing all the people that come check it out.”

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Man Brought to Hearing for Breaking Terms of Parole
by Chris Shearer

Editor’s Note: The names in this article have been changed for the purposes of this portfolio. The rest of the details of this case have remained unchanged.

HARRISBURG, PA – A man currently incarcerated at Cumberland County Prison on charges of stalking and harassing his ex-wife at appeared before a judge at the Dauphin County Courthouse on Wednesday, November 18th. John Alexander Bard, a 38-year-old New Jersey native, will remain in prison without further parole. The hearing was the result of Mr. Bard’s contact with the victim in the case, his ex-wife Jennifer Kent, despite court orders barring him from making contact with her.

Bard was initially incarcerated in November of 2014 on multiple charges of stalking and harassment. The defendant and his ex-wife were in the midst of a divorce and was ordered by the court to have no contact with Kent. While on parole this past summer, he was found to be contacting Kent repeatedly via text message and over the phone in direct violation of the court order.

Relatives of Mr. Bard were present at the hearing to give statements of character. Both spoke of him as being someone who has made mistakes, but who does not deserve to be where he is now. They claim he made contact with Kent with the goal of being able to talk to Kent’ and Bard’s child. The counsel representing the Commonwealth refuted that by saying Bard called Kent’ work phone the most, a time when the child would not be present.

The Commonwealth’s characterization of Bard was strongly contrasted with his family’s statements. The victim statement submitted by Kent alleges a pattern of physical, sexual, and mental abuse from Bard.

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Crushing the Teen Mom Stereotype
by Christopher Shearer

So long as there are adolescents dealing with the trials and awkward moments that come along with the transition into adulthood, there will be those who find themselves having to grow up at high speed. What follows is an interview with one of these young women named Sara who has gone through having a child at a young age but has somehow managed to make it all work despite forces pushing against her. We sat down for a casual interview at Penn State University’s Harrisburg location

Chris
Hello, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me. How are you doing today?

Sara
It’s my pleasure. I’m doing just fine today, thank you. How are you?

Chris
I’m also doing well. Thanks. I appreciate you talking to me about this. I know it can be a sensitive subject. Things seem to be going pretty well for you though. How long have you been at Penn State?

Sara
I’ve been at Penn State for a year.  Before I started Penn State, I attended HACC for four years; I graduated in December of 2014 with my associate’s degree in Language, Humanities, and the Arts.

Chris
How much longer do you have until you graduate?

Sara
I have about three semesters to go. Then I’ll be graduating with my bachelors in Interdisciplinary Humanities and English.

Chris
Some might wonder how you hold that all together and have a daughter, as I understand it. Is Wonder Woman a role model of yours?

Sara
Haha. It’s definitely not easy. But I know i have to do everything I can to give my daughter the life she deserves. I wouldn’t say Wonder Woman is a role model, per say, but if I had a dollar for every time someone compared me to her, I’d be able to pay off my student debt!

Chris
I’m somehow not surprised by that. And how old is your daughter?

Sara
She just turned seven in June, but she acts more like she’s sixteen.

Chris
That’s all part of the charm I think. If you’re 23, that would’ve made you quite young when you had her. How would you describe your experience after you had her?

Sara
Charm – that’s one way to put it. Haha. Yes, I was young. I was fifteen when I found out I was pregnant and sixteen when I delivered. It definitely wasn’t easy. I was still in high school and had every intention of finishing and graduating with the rest of my class. I had to learn to balance my schoolwork when I was home with taking care of a child, and I quickly learned that the best way to do that was to put my class work off until after I’d put her to bed for the night. Needless to say, I had to pull some all-nighters.

Chris
How would you compare your experience of taking care of her then to taking care of her while in college?

Sara
It was a lot more difficult then only because she was so dependent upon me. Thankfully now it’s a bit easier. Being as she’s seven, she’s more independent. Or she tries to be, anyway. And she’s in school. It’s a lot easier to say, “Okay, let’s do some homework together.” and she’s content to sit and do her homework while I do mine. There are still times when I put my homework off until she’s busy playing or until she’s in bed. That way I’m able to play with her, help her practice piano, or work on her school work.

Chris
What was the overall reaction from your friends and family when you told them about her?

Sara
Most of my friends were in complete shock. In high school, I was the straight A student. An active members of the SADD club and the marching band.  No one expected me to end up pregnant in high school. Some of them thought I was lying just to add a little excitement to my life, and more than I had expected stopped being friends with me.

My family was shocked as well.  For more or less the same reasons. But they were supportive none the less.

Chris
I’m getting the impression that you’ve beaten the perception that teenage mothers are automatically doomed to fail. You graduated high school and are about to add a second and third degree to your credentials. Do you feel like you’ve achieved a lot despite having to care for a child?

Sara
I do. More than just academic success, I feel that I’ve accomplished a lot personally. Having a child at such a young age made me grow up much faster than a lot of my peers, but I think that’s helped me in the long run. I’ve had to learn about sacrifice and putting someone else’s needs before my own, and I feel like that’s not something a lot of 23-year-olds are able to fully grasp. I’ve had the chance to see the type of person I want to become and slowly shape myself into that person – someone my daughter (and future children) can see as both a parent and a friend.

Chris
I really appreciate your time. I just want to ask you one more question. I’m sure you’re familiar with the various teenage pregnancy shows like “Teen Mom.” What do you think is the biggest myth shows like that put forth about teenage pregnancy?

Sara
I’ve watched a few episodes of “Teen Mom” in the last few years, and I have mixed feelings about that show in particular. They do show a lot of prominent problems that occur when you have a child as a teen – the struggle with a lack of support from family, the shaky nature of relationships at that age, and the difficulties of having to balance motherhood – and fatherhood, for that matter – with raising a child. But they also fail to make mention of the fact that there were young fathers involved in the process as well. The show always seems to pick the couples where the father has no desire to be a part of something he created. Not that I’m saying that doesn’t happen, because I know for a fact that it does. But “dead beat dads” aren’t the only teen fathers out there. I also feel that there are some aspects of that show that really over glorify teen pregnancy and teen parenting. It’s not glorifying. Yes, you are part of the reason another beautiful human being is in the world, but it isn’t easy and it isn’t something to rush into. Especially because most teens aren’t mentally prepared to take on that kind of responsibility.

Sara
Not a problem! It was a pleasure talking with you.

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