Saturday, July 24, 2021

Bend Your Elbow, Support Edgewood Cemetery!

Photo and graphic by Bronwyn Photography
Edgewood Eddie is the unofficial “mascot” of Edgewood Cemetery, where he makes his home.

Blogger's Note: The following was submitted by Edgewood Historic Cemetery.

Supporting ongoing maintenance of Edgewood Historic Cemetery on High Street is as easy as sipping your favorite IPA or lager, seltzer, or soft drink at The Alley, 228 E. High St.

The Alley beer garden is graciously hosting a fundraiser on Saturday, July 31, from 3-6 p.m. A portion of all proceeds will be donated to help keep the grass mowed at the cemetery.

All care at this previously abandoned resting place depends upon contributions and volunteer efforts.

The event will include raffle prizes and a 50-50 drawing. To date prizes will include gift certificates for the Colebrookdale Railroad, Three Daughters Inn, 422 SportsPlex, and Jack Cassidy’s Irish Pub, as well as several themed baskets including a scratch-off ticket basket donated by Wolf, Baldwin, and Associates; original “Words of Art” by Ali Jacobs; Hill School as well as Hobart’s Run swag; and a beautiful wood pellet grill donated by Monastra and Grater.

Event planners greatly appreciate additional gift card or basket donations toward this cause! Email or call or text 610-906-7872 to arrange a drop-off or pick-up. Questions? Contact

Friday, July 23, 2021

Hill Essay Winner Writes Play About Pottstown

Matthew Saylor
Blogger's Note: The following are specifics about one of two winners in the annual Shandy Hill Essay contest sponsored by the Greater Pottstown Foundation, which submitted this information. This post focuses on Matthew Saylor, a 2021 graduate of Owen J. Roberts High School.

Mathew Saylor wrote an essay in the form of a three-act play entitled “Our Together Home - a Pottstown play”. Act 1 introduces the main character, who is in fact, the author himself. He is portrayed as a boy taking the audience on a guided tour of Pottstown “through a lens most may not look through – theater.” 

The boy tells us that “Pottstown is home to many, but a home for all.” That point is illustrated throughout the play by several examples of how the author perceives Pottstown as an inclusive community with opportunity for all residents who want to avail themselves of it, regardless of their ethnicity, economic background, or other differences they may exhibit.

Act 2 begins with a look at Steel River Playhouse on East High Street, during the summer. The marquee outside reads “Summer Camps for All Ages.” 

We see the boy at 10 years of age attending a summer camp with other children of elementary school age from various backgrounds and communities within the Greater Pottstown area. This is where he learned the skills of the theater - how to perform, and how to sing. Suddenly we see him again two years later at age 12. 

After having had many opportunities to act in summer camp productions, he now has landed a part in his first real mainstage show, “The Miracle Worker” (the Hellen Keller story), where he really felt that he came into his own as an actor. There were opportunities for many Pottstown folks to participate in that play. 

The Steel River Playhouse has a tradition of offering opportunity to local people, regardless of their talent level, instead of going outside the area to recruit participants for their shows. They offer support and encouragement to all who want to participate. (Because of his successes at Steel River at such a young age, Matt will also be invited to participate in “A Christmas Story – the Musical”, an adaptation of the 1983 movie with the same name, at Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia just a few months later.)

Matthew Saylor is congratulated
by Paul Prince.
Next, we move forward almost four years, where we see the boy again at Steel River. He now has his first main lead role as Jack Kelly in the Disney musical “Newsies.” 

The narration goes on to show us other opportunities for Mathew, and other local students, in venues other than Steel River. Mathew has played various roles in both community theater and high school productions over the years, earning lead parts in several. When he was a high school junior, the Hill School recruited him to play a lead role in their 2019 production of Hair Spray. Mathew was impressed that they reached out to a student at a nearby local school, rather than paying for talent elsewhere. The welcoming and encouraging attitude at The Hill, toward a local public-school student, also impressed him – especially how they treated him “with kindness, compassion, and encouragement… and as a part of the Hill family.”

In Act 3, “the boy” shows us the future. We see him as an established Broadway actor, winning a Tony Award for “Best Actor in a Musical”. During his acceptance speech he attributes whatever ability he may have to his having been raised in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, a small ethnically and economically diverse rural community where inclusiveness, acceptance, opportunity, and encouragement is available to everyone, especially in theater, if one simply accepts the opportunity.

Mathew will be attending Cornell University in Ithaca, NY this Fall, where he currently plans to undertake a major in Mathematics and a minor in Performing and Media Arts. When asked about his unusually diverse study choices, Mathew discerningly replies that he enjoys both areas of study, and that he wants to keep all his opportunities open.

Thursday, July 22, 2021

First Hill Essay Winner is Focused on Veterans

Submitted Photo
Sarah Kopec's conceptual design for a veterans memorial in Royersford.

Blogger's Note:
The following are specifics about one of two winners in the annual Shandy Hill Essay contest sponsored by the Greater Pottstown Foundation, which submitted this information. This post focuses on Sarah Kopec, a 2021 graduate of Owen J. Roberts High School.

Sarah Kopec’s essay was in the form of a letter entitled “Dearest American Soldier.” The greeting is a synecdoche representing anyone currently serving, or who has served, in any our country’s armed forces. 

In the letter Sarah addresses the agony, grief and trauma that are often experienced by our great heroes who have fought for our country. She also addresses the difficulties that many experience after coming back home, such as PTSD, latent feelings of grief and/or depression, as well as the hardships faced resulting from the endurance of physical injuries. 

She reminds us that these conditions often lead to the inability to successfully fit back into society and the inability to maintain gainful employment. Such conditions also lead to homelessness, in numbers far greater than many of us would imagine.

Sarah Kopec is congratulated by
Paul Prince of the Greater
Pottstown Foundation.
In her essay Sarah acknowledges the many programs and memorials within the Greater Pottstown Area that honor and help veterans of the armed forces, like the Southeast Veteran’s Center, other local veterans volunteer outreach programs, special events dedicated to honoring veterans and raising funds for various support programs, and Pottstown’s Memorial Park with its Walk of Honor that recognizes those having served in WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and more. 

Kopec attributes these positive attributes of our local veteran programs to the unity and inclusive spirit of the people who reside in the Greater Pottstown Community. However, at the same time, she reminds us that there is so much more that needs done to help support our veteran heroes. To that end, Sarah herself is personally active in veteran support groups, and has attended events and meetings in various communities around the Pottstown area.

Graphic art is a talent and a hobby of Sarah’s, so when a local Vietnam veteran recently asked if she could help implement a veteran’s memorial in Royersford, Sarah dug right in. She went so far as to learn some digital design techniques so that, working with a professional architect, she was able to design a realistic schematic for the project, including landscaping, pathways, flags, lighting, and the memorial itself. The project has been approved by the borough council with current plans to locate the proposed memorial along 1st Avenue, near the Schuylkill River bridge connecting Royersford and Spring City. Fund raising for the project is currently well underway.

Sarah has been accepted at Messiah University, in Mechanicsburg, where she intends to undertake dual majors in Business Administration, and Nutrition and Dietetics, including a minor in Health and Exercise Science. 

She also intends to participate in the University’s National Championship Women’s Soccer team. One cannot help but wonder how any student can successfully accomplish all of that at the same time. 

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

2 OJR Seniors Tie for Shandy Hill Essay Contest Win

Two Owen J. Roberts High School seniors from the Class of 2021 have tied in the annual Shandy Hill Essay Contest sponsored by the Greater Pottstown Foundation.

Matthew Saylor
Sarah Kopec
This year's winners are Sarah Kopec, daughter of Michael and Pamala Kopec of Spring City, and Matthew Saylor, son of Paul and Kathleen Saylor Chester Springs.

Each year the Greater Pottstown Foundation sponsors the Shandy Hill Essay Contest for senior students from The Hill School, Owen J. Roberts, Pottsgrove and Pottstown High Schools. The essay contest and award honor Shandy Hill, the Foundation’s founder, and the original editor of the Pottstown Mercury from 1931 until he retired in 1967. 

Hill was an ardent believer in supporting education opportunities for students within the Pottstown Community. The Greater Pottstown Foundation strives to continue that worthy objective through various education related grants and student scholarship awards.

Each year senior students from the four area schools, compete in the writing of an original essay which is to focus on some aspect of life in the Greater Pottstown Area. The Foundation seeks the writer’s original and personal interpretation of how any aspect of life is affected by living in this area as opposed to somewhere else. In any year that a winning essay is chosen, the writer is granted a $30,000 college scholarship to be used over four years. This year the Foundation received a total of 21 essays from the four schools.

The scoring formula that the Foundation Board uses resulted in two students both earning the highest score this year. Therefore, two winners have been selected for the 2021 Shandy Hill Essay Contest. 

In the 24 years that the Essay Scholarship Contest has been active, that has only happened in one other year -- back in 2004 when winning essays were chosen from students of both Pottstown High School and Saint Pius X High School.

This year a four-year $30,000 scholarship will be awarded to both Kopec and Saylor. 

Because there are two winners, we at The Digital Notebook have decided to divide our posts on this subject into two subsequent individual posts, each with information about the winners.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

YWCA Names New Chief Advancement Officer

Elise Chesson
Blogger's Note:
The following was submitted by YWCA Tri-County Area.

Elise Chesson has joined YWCA Tri-County Area as its Chief Advancement Officer.

Chesson obtained degrees in Cultural Anthropology, International Relations and Peace & Conflict Studies with a certificate in nonprofit management. Most recently she served as the Executive Director of a local chapter of a leading national nonprofit addressing family and youth homelessness. 

She is skilled in building collaborative partnerships, critical decision making and cross-cultural communication with a proven record of successful relationship building, project management, strategic planning, development and advocacy.

"Championing for social and racial justice is not always popular but always needed. For those who take on the challenge it is rewarding,” Chesson said. “YWCA's mission is something I have been passionate about my whole life. I finally feel like I am in the right place at the right time, where the quest for equity is celebrated. I am truly excited to see all we can do and look forward to working with the community to create meaningful change.”

The marketing and development departments support YWCA's goal of making positive change in the community and advancing its mission of eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all.

Chesson leads a team comprised of:
  • Jennifer Rojas, Development Director, joined YW3CA in January 2021. She oversees the implementation of corporate and individual fundraising, marketing, and communications strategies.
  • Jean Kowalski, Manager of Institutional Giving, joined YW3CA in 2017. An experienced fundraiser and former journalist, she oversees foundation and government grant projects, and contributes to other fundraising, marketing, and media relations initiatives.
  • Elizabeth ‘Liz’ Sitkowski, Marketing and Communications Coordinator, joined YWCA in February 2021. She oversees YW3CA’s marketing efforts, media relations and outreach, and supports special projects and events.

YWCA Tri-County Area serves more than 1,500 women, girls, and families annually through early childhood education, youth empowerment programming, adult education, workforce development, and a Foster Grandparents Program. Mission-based advocacy efforts raise awareness, offer issue education, and build social capital around wome/s empowerment,

racial and social justice, and safe and healthy communities.

Monday, July 19, 2021

Local BMX Olympian Getting Pottstown Send-Off

Submitted Photo
Payton Ridenour in the lead.
Blogger's Note:
The following was submitted by the Pottstown Parks and Recreation Department.

The Borough of Pottstown is proud to announce a public event recognizing local Olympian Payton Ridenour to be held at Trilogy BMX Park, located in Memorial Park, beginning at 6:30 p.m. tonight. 

Payton 'P-Nut" Reidenour
Payton Ridenour, age 19 of South Pottstown, has been named to the U.S.A. Olympic Team as a competitor in the BMX Racing event taking place at the 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.

As a resident of the Greater Pottstown Area, Payton has been a rider at the Trilogy BMX Park since its founding in 2004. Since the age of 7, Payton has been racing at Trilogy BMX, and Pottstown is proud to welcome her home for a brief visit before she leaves to compete in the Tokyo Games.

From her formative years riding in Trilogy BMX Park, she has developed a love of the sport, and in being named to the 2021 Olympic team, she has excelled to the highest level of accomplishment in her field to date.

Payton ‘P-Nut’ Ridenour is a professional BMX racer, published children’s book author, graduate of Owen J Roberts High School and college student.

As an amateur racer, she was a 7-time BMX racing national champion and the 2019 Red Bull UCI Pumptrack World Champion. 

In 2021 at the age of 19, Payton turned pro and represented Team USA at World Cup events held in Italy and Colombia where she made three of four finals. During the second day of racing in Colombia, Payton had her best finish (2 nd ) which earned her the final spot on Team USA for the Tokyo Olympics. 

Payton is beyond excited to be competing in her first Olympic Games, but she hopes also to attend Paris 2024 and Los Angeles 2028. After Tokyo there won’t be much downtime since Payton will be traveling to the Netherlands to compete for Team USA in the World Championships in August and defending her pumptrack world title in Portugal in October.

When not competing, Payton usually spends her days working hard on and off the bike between gym, sprints and going to the track. When she isn’t training, she is either furthering her education toward a college degree or spending time with friends and family. In 2020, during the pandemic,

Payton wrote a children’s alphabet book with a BMX-racing theme, A to Z: BMX Style. She successfully completed a Kickstarter campaign that covered the costs of illustrations and printing. 

With this book, Payton would like to introduce kids to bikes as well as get them interested in riding and reading. The book is available at

At the July 19 event in Memorial Park, Payton will be meeting fans and signing autographs and accepting all well-wishes before departing for Tokyo the following day. 

We invite everyone to come and make her feel appreciated and let her know that the entire region is behind her as she travels the world to proudly represent her country in the most important sporting and cultural event of the year. 

The Tokyo Olympic Games will be held from July 23 to Aug. 8. The BMX racing event will be held July 29 and July 30 at Ariake Urban Sports Park.

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Royersford Recognizes Local Hero for Saving Girls

Submitted Photo
Michael Smith is congratulated by Limerick Police Sgt. Patrick Roache during a ceremony presenting his hero award outside 7-11 in Royersford.

Heroes come in all shapes, sizes and ages and sometimes you don't know there's a hero within until its time to act.

That's what Michael Smith found out on Thursday, May 20.

At about 1 p.m. he saw two 3-year-old girls run out into the street at the intersection of Washington and South Lewis roads in Royersford.

He pulled them to safety before they could be run over by passing vehicles at the busy intersection.

Recently, he was honored for that act of heroism with awards from both the Spring-Ford school police, as well as by 7-Eleven for "going the extra mile.

Congratulations to Mr. Smith and we applaud his heroism.