Sem’s “Fob”ulous Security

By Ms. Miller’s Journalism Class 

Security and safety has always been an issue in schools all across America. With more and more violence everyday it has never been a more pressing problem. The question remains are some schools being careful enough?


View of the outside of the KCCA, bordered by a public sidewalk. Photo courtesy of Alex Peck ‘17.

View of the outside of the KCCA, bordered by a public sidewalk. Photo courtesy of Alex Peck ‘17

As a school within a city, Wyoming Seminary (SEM) tries to take as many precautions as possible. With Security guards patrolling the ground day and night as well as a fob system of electronic access keys only given to students and faculty. Students also utilise a text program where they are alerted of possible security issues and lockdowns.

However, being in a city does have its consequences. Sprague Avenue, a street that goes directly through campus and although cars cannot access it, the street is technically public property. This allows anyone to walk on Sprague freely but not the rest of campus as it is private property.

Members of SEM’s faculty believe the school is safe right now, but previously, security was an issue. Mr. Randy Granger, Dean of Academics, said: “There was an issue before the Sprague doors were fob protected. People who shouldn’t be inside Sprague walked in the building sometimes. Faculty members immediately recognized that they shouldn’t be here so they escorted them outside of the building.” Since then preventive measures have been improved.


Cameras in the KCCA parking lot. Photo Courtesy of Connor Evans ‘17.

Cameras are a relatively new security addition that Mr. Jay Harvey ‘80, Upper School dean, insists are monitoring everything. He said: “Every entrance has one security camera so we can look who’s coming and going. The school is working on… [putting] more external cameras on campus.” Hopefully new cameras can be placed on some of the older buildings as well.

On the use of fobs, that are used to access every building on the SEM campus, there is mostly positive feedback. Granger states: “They’re annoying sometimes, but are a necessity in order to ensure safety.” The downsides of these keys is how they are easy to lose and how they must be shut off if lost.

Perhaps one of the most overlooked preventative measures at SEM is simple common sense. “I have been on campus for 13 years and I can just recognize some people that just don’t belong, ” says Jeff Sims, the head groundskeeper, “I report it to the security, and they take care of it.”

Despite all these measures, there are still occasional questions raised about the security of the campus. “Many people who live around Kingston walk around Sprague Ave at night,” said Quang Phan  ‘17. “I didn’t know most of them.” This is because of the previously mentioned fact that the public sidewalks on Sprague Avenue are technically public property, enabling anyone who wants to to wander down them freely.


James Reilly ‘17 using SEM’s Fob System. Photo courtesy of Connor Evans ‘17.

However, most feel that the measures are enough to prevent any issues in campus safety. “I don’t think I have encountered any security issue,” said Sims. “ I have been living in the area for 13 years, and I feel really safe here.”


Comfortable With Concomitants

By Ms. Miller’s Journalism Class


Pictured here is Ms. Brennan Twardowski ‘10, speaking on her benefit from concomitants. Photo courtesy of Noah Hammerman ‘17.

Do concomitants add to college applications, or just complicate scheduling? Health, Bible, Public Speaking, Art History, and Music History are Wyoming Seminary’s required classes to graduate.

“Our goal is to have students graduate with the most academic discipline possible. That includes an appreciation for the arts, religion, our bodies, and being able to effectively spread ideas to a mass of people,” according to Jay Harvey ‘80, Academic Dean of the Upper School.

It may seem that every one of your classmates is saving health until the spring term of their senior year, but, many students think that there are benefits to the mandatory courses. “Yeah, I believe there are benefits to taking public speaking and health. Learning about anatomy… I use public speaking whenever I give a presentation in class,” said Liam Gilroy ‘17.

These courses help kids in other classes as well, “In bible, I’ve learned about stuff in the Bible, of course, but that’s helped me in english classes since there’s so many references to the Bible in [other] courses,” said Samir Singh ‘17.


Photo of Mr. Harry Shafer 04’ speaking about the positive aspects of concomitants. Photo Courtesy of Noah Hammerman ‘17.

SEM is not the only school in the area which requires “concomitants”. At Scranton Prep, all students are required to take a religion class to “understand better and live out their own traditions and their personally developing faith” according to the Scranton Prep website. Studying religion allows students to process and develop their own religious views.

The Phillips Exeter Academy, a top prep school in the US, also requires courses, including: arts, health, and religion. The Academy believes that these courses “will provide a well rounded education to their students”.

It helps you become more well rounded and that is what college wants to see.” said Mary Lou Clemente, SEM’s learning support coordinator and parent. Because SEM is a college prep school, these mandatory classes are much like those in college. “It exposes you to something you might not have paid any attention to otherwise… At King’s [College in Wilkes Barre] you still have to take a certain amount of classes outside of your major.” said Patrick Corcoran ‘15. These extra classes make a college application more appetizing. Concomitants may seem like a hassle to schedule around, but you’ll be glad you took them come October of your senior year.



By Ms. Miller’s Journalism Class

Concomitant courses are rigid, schedule-binding classes that impede students to take the courses they actually feel passionate about. While some people may be interested in courses such as Art or Music History, the truth is that the vast majority have no particular attraction to them. This creates a lack of interest in class. These classes teach to the test and students are not focused on retaining the information.

Students dislike classes that get in the way of classes they want to take. Supporters of the concomitant schedule say that these required courses help to create a more well-rounded student. Students are coerced into taking these classes. These classes could be revamped to reflect student interest.

Paige Allen 17’ is a “con-comitants” student. She spent her summer before sophomore year taking health and public speaking, and now has to take the last three concomitants her senior year. Allen admitted that the classes were pointless and, with how expensive they are, should not have been required.

Because of the great number of concomitants, these required courses impact everyone’s schedule, especially in the senior year – when students should be able to choose their classes based on interest and to look competitive on college applications. Schedules can be overwhelming with intense AP classes and it can be difficult to plan around classes such as creative spirit, which is only offered one bell.

What about new students? The student body grows every year – in all grade levels, not only freshman. Students who come to Sem in their sophomore, junior, or even senior year are still required to take concomitants that do not transfer over from their previous schools. Justine Marseille 17’, a transfer student, stated that, in coming to Sem, she was “clueless” and did not know which classes she had to or wanted to take. She ended up fitting in art history, music history, and public speaking in one school year. For new students especially, the concomitants do more harm than good.

Making concomitants graduation requirements just adds more stress to students, mentally and financially. Each course over the summer is an extra $700 that is not included in the school year tuition. Boarding for the classes is even more – $3,200. If these classes are required to graduate, why should students have to pay so much extra when their busy schedules during the year don’t permit them to take as many concomitants?

Other schools have similar required courses, such as Scranton Prep, which has a four-year requirement of Religious Education. Although, according to its website, this Catholic school reasons that the courses are designed to help students to “recognize, discuss, and fulfill their spiritual and religious needs,” many students dislike being forced to take them. “The main thing though is that everyone is required to take four years of theology no matter what. Most people don’t have a problem with it[,] but there are a few atheists or people of a different religion that would prefer not to take them.” Wyoming Seminary students feel similarly about our required Bible course: that instead of taking it, a study of world religions and beliefs would be more practical at a school that boasts its diverse population.

Instead of being required classes, concomitants should be fit into other classes. For example; health could be incorporated into biology, public speaking into English classes, art and music history into history classes. Ms. Ellen Hughes, a teacher as well as Sem alumna, shared these ideas with us in an interview. She hated concomitants during her time in school and could attest to the fact that they were not very useful after graduation.

Jeff Rickey, the vice president and dean of admissions and financial aid at St. Lawrence University, stated in an interview with the New York Times, colleges are more drawn to students choosing schedules based around their interest. The required courses do not prove Wyoming Seminary students to be as competitive or passionate about subjects as they could be by challenging themselves with electives that they can choose based on their interests.



“Concomitants? Oh I hate them! I basically didn’t use any of them…” (Photo courtesy of Angel Xu)