Here's what it was like staying at the newly renovated Yorktowne Hotel

EDITORIAL: Free Christmas meals brighten the holidays

York Dispatch
  • Hybrid learning takes root in South Eastern District
  • Mighty Ants founder a leader in the community


Volunteers provide a warm meal and Christmas cheer at the Feed the Vets York County annual event at Reliance Fire Co. in West York, Sunday, December 25, 2016.  John A. Pavoncello photo

Thumbs up: To the many organizations that provided free Christmas meals during the holidays.

Organizations such as the Local Feed the Vets York County, which hosts charitable events and services for local veterans throughout the year, hosted an ever-growing guest list this year.

The veterans meal was moved to Reliance Fire Co. to accommodate the guests, which included 147 vets and their families.

Vietnam veteran Charlie Gusler and his wife, Sharon, attended the dinner last year and had such a great time they decided to come back again this Christmas.

"Everyone is so friendly and courteous; they make you feel welcome," Charlie Gusler said.

Christmas with the vets

St. Matthew Lutheran Church served its ninth Christmas meal this year, feeding more than 1,000 people with the help of more than 120 volunteers.

The church also offered donated clothes, hats and scarves for those who needed them, and "elves" took children to a room filled with toys for them to choose from.

Volunteers Mike Rowe, left, and Daryll Perkins hug in greeting while taking a break from serving dinner at St. Matthew Lutheran Church, Sunday, Dec. 25, 2016.  John A. Pavoncello photo

And A Christmas Smile offered meals and party atmosphere for the 14th year.

The event, founded by Coombs Tavern bartender and server Jeff Crouse, offered a full buffet, live music and a Santa who brought gifts for every child attending. Adults could take a gift bag filled with warm-weather clothing items.

Although we can’t list all the holiday dinners in this space, thanks to all who volunteered and donated to brighten Christmas for the community.

Thumbs up: To South Eastern Middle School for finding success with hybrid learning.

The hybrid-learning model showed increases in PSSA test scores at the fifth-grade level since its implementation three years ago. The program has been expanded to include other grades.

The concept essentially encourages teachers to implement learning stations in their classrooms to accommodate individual and group learning.

There's a lot of flexibility, according to Principal Jon Horton. Students usually have a station where they can work independently, a station where they work collaboratively and a station where they receive instruction from the teacher.

"Watching them thrive with peers is interesting to see," English teacher Jillian Watto said, adding most of her students tend to prefer a collaborative setting now.

Horton said that while the program has been an adjustment for teachers and students alike, it has been received favorably.

South Eastern school sees results with hybrid learning

"It’s working, so I’m real pleased with the direction we’re going here, and I think a lot of it has to do with the hybrid learning, and I think a lot of it has to do with the teachers," Horton said.

Thumbs up: To Mighty Ants founder Seth Leonard, who melds his love for basketball with a deep commitment to the community.

Quinn Howard, left, and Seth Leonard, right, of the York Mighty Ants cover Robert Dinkins of the Diamond City Playaz during the 2014 season. The Ants reached the Eastern Basketball Alliance finals in 2014 and 2015. The EBA suspended operations after the 2015 season. The Ants, owned by Leonard, have been on hiatus since then, but Leonard is hoping to revive the team in the near future.

Leonard was a mentor to many children in the community via his community-service oriented Kingdom Abound, LLC, a vehicle aimed at teaching and creating leaders in the York area.

“We’re all about helping out people in the area in trying to have the best life that they can,” he said. “We’re just the engine that feeds that. But we do love basketball.”

Although the team is currently inactive since the Eastern Basketball Alliance suspended operations, the team continues its community outreach.

Leonard's Mighty Ants on hiatus, but hope to return

“The Mighty Ants, as a business, is still attractive,” Leonard said. “And we used that brand to bring positive change to the community. Even though we haven’t been active as a basketball organization, we’re still doing all of the same hard work behind the scenes.”

Those interested in contacting Leonard about assistance with Kingdom Abound or Mighty Ants programs can contact him at