Penn State Altoona to host MLK Jr. activities

Penn State Altoona will host activities during the week of Jan. 20 to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

A reflection luncheon and conversation will take place Monday, Jan. 20 at noon in the Slep Student Center. Attendees will hear about forms of protest used by King, then break into small groups to discuss current challenges and how to address them. Organizers hope participants will leave the event with tools to use today, this semester, and this year in combating racial inequality.

The luncheon is sponsored by the Office of Institutional Equity, Diversity, and International Student Services. It is free and open to the public. An RSVP to is recommended.

Also on Jan. 20, Penn State Altoona students have the opportunity to volunteer for an MLK Day of Service event. Hosted by the Office of Student and Civic Engagement, students can volunteer to sort items donated to Blair County’s recent Share the Warmth drive, including hats, gloves, coats, and blankets. Sorting will take place from 3:30 – 5:00 p.m. at the United Way of Blair County.

A showing of the film Selma will take place Jan. 22 in Slep Student Center at 6:30 p.m. The showing is free and open to the public.

Lady Lions Upended by Hilbert

Penn State Altoona women’s basketball had its five-game winning streak halted on Wednesday afternoon, as the Lady Lions suffered an 83-74 loss to Hilbert College in the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference Game of the Week at the Hafner Recreation Center.

Penn State Altoona (7-4, 5-2 AMCC) held a lead in the fourth quarter, but Hilbert (9-3, 6-1 AMCC) used a 28-point performance in the game’s final period to overtake the Lady Lions’ lead and win by nine.

“Small, yet very vital pieces to the game got us. We gave up 19 offensive boards, which Hilbert converted into 17 points. You just can’t do that against a talented and experienced team,” said Penn State Altoona head coach Casey Wilt. “We also committed 17 turnovers, most of which were unnecessary. We need to do better.”

Finnley Christine (Tyrone, PA/Tyrone) led all scorers with a season-high 26 points to go along with six rebounds and two assists. Christine shot 9-for-14 from the field, and she finished a perfect 7-for-7 from the free throw line. For her collegiate career, Christine currently sits in second place on the Lady Lions’ all-time scoring list with 1,127 points, just 64 behind all-time leading scorer Courtney Carroll (2007-11).

Alexis Cannistraci (Tyrone, PA/Tyrone) contributed 18 points and seven rebounds, and she posted team-highs with five assists and three steals. Sydney Snyder (New Enterprise, PA/Northern Bedford) finished with 12 points, three rebounds, three assists, and two blocks, and Kaley Strittmatter (Williamsburg, PA/Penn Cambria) added 10 points and three rebounds. Paige Burk (Claysburg, PA/Claysburg-Kimmel) grabbed a team-high eight rebounds while also recording five points, two assists, and two blocks.

Hilbert got 23 points from Taylor Corts, as well as 19 points apiece from Emily Gawlak and Macy Kisner.

Hilbert built a 23-18 lead by the end of the opening quarter. Three-pointers from Corts and Demi Battin started the scoring, and another three by Corts gave the Lady Hawks a 9-4 lead at 7:02. Penn State Altoona got to within one point later, as Cannistraci’s three-point play and Strittmatter’s jumper narrowed Hilbert’s lead to 17-16 with 2:17 left in the period. But three-pointers from Gawlak and Ashley Schroeder helped the home team to a five-point lead by the conclusion of the quarter.

Penn State Altoona bounced back with a strong second quarter, taking the lead midway through the period and holding a three-point advantage by the intermission. After Gawlak’s basket and Corts’ layup and free throw gave Hilbert a 28-18 lead early in the period, Penn State Altoona used a total of five free throws from Cannistraci, Snyder, and Sarah Huston (Coatesville, PA/Coatesville) to get back to within five points, 28-23, by the 6:30 mark. Cannistraci and Snyder each hit three-pointers to put the Lady Lions ahead 29-28 by 4:06, and a layup and two foul shots from Christine made it 33-30 by 2:27. A foul shot and jumper from Strittmatter closed the Lady Lions’ scoring for the half, and Penn State Altoona headed into the locker room up 36-33.

Penn State Altoona maintained its lead in the third quarter, posting a narrow 23-22 scoring advantage during the period. Two jump shots by Christine and a free throw from Cannistraci increased the Lady Lions’ lead to 41-37 early in the quarter, and a pair of baskets from Snyder made it 47-42 at 5:14. Hilbert rallied for an 8-0 run, including back-to-back layups by Kisner that gave the home team a 50-47 lead at 3:37. But the Lady Lions reclaimed the lead late in the period, when Cannistraci’s basket at 1:08 put her team up 56-54. Burk’s three-pointer with 36 seconds left in the quarter increased Penn State Altoona’s lead to four, 59-55.

The Lady Lions nursed a modest lead into the middle of the fourth quarter, but Hilbert outscored Penn State Altoona 19-7 over the game’s final 5:06 to come from behind and take control.

Cannistraci made two free throws at 9:45 to boost her team’s lead to 61-55, and after Hilbert briefly took a two-point lead on Emma Fredo’s layup and foul shot, Strittmatter hit a three-pointer at 6:29 to give Penn State Altoona a 64-63 advantage. A layup by Huston and free throw from Snyder put the Lady Lions’ lead at 67-64 by the 5:26 mark.

But Hilbert got a three-pointer from Corts at 4:10 to jump in front, 70-67. The Lady Hawks increased their lead to 76-69 by 2:32 following baskets on consecutive possessions by Kisner and Corts, and another Kisner bucket at 1:31 made it 79-69. Kisner and Gawlak combined for four free throws in the final 1:20 of the game, and Hilbert held on for the win.

Penn State Altoona was not helped by its rebounding performance, as it was outrebounded 44-38 by Hilbert – including allowing 19 offensive rebounds by the Lady Hawks. The Lady Lions also finished minus-5 in the turnover battle, committing 17 turnovers compared to Hilbert’s 12.

“I hope this game ignites a fire within us to take care of the fine details,” said Wilt. “We’re a skilled team, but we were not efficient today, especially when we needed to be in the fourth.”

Penn State Altoona women’s basketball will look to get back on track this Saturday, January 11, when the Lady Lions travel to Bradford, Pa. to face AMCC opponent Pitt-Bradford at 4:00 p.m.

Penn State Altoona to hold eighth annual Winter Plunge event

Take the plunge with Penn State Altoona and raise funds to support our students.

On January 25, participants in the Penn State Altoona Alumni Society’s eighth annual Winter Plunge will test their tolerance for cold conditions in a fundraiser for the college’s Ivyside Eats food pantry, which offers non-perishable items to students facing food insecurity. It is run by the campus ministries in conjunction with the University to make certain all students at Penn State Altoona can focus on their studies rather than where their next meal is coming from.

The event will be held at Canoe Creek State Park. Registration begins at 11:00 a.m. There is no cost to participate.

Please consider partnering with Penn State Altoona to make a difference in the lives of our students. For information on becoming a sponsor, visit To register for the event as an individual or to create a fundraising team, please go to To make a gift, text WinterPlunge to 71777

Questions may be directed to Karen Helsley at the Penn State Altoona Office of Development and Alumni Relations at 814-949-5189 or


The Penn State Altoona women’s basketball team is making its annual push to raise money to support the fight against breast cancer. As in years past, the team will be selling special t-shirts in support of the cause, with all proceeds being donated to UPMC Altoona for its efforts to fight breast cancer.
Prices are as follows:
Small – XL: $10
XXL: $12
3XL: $14
4XL: $15
T-shirts can be ordered the following ways:
Text Message: 814-935-8408
Inter-office Mail: Women’s Basketball, Adler Athletic Complex
Venmo: Lindsey-Lea-1
Checks can be made payable to Penn State Altoona Women’s Basketball. An order form for the t-shirts is attached.
All orders and money must be turned in by Friday, January 17. The team’s annual Breast Cancer Awareness game will be held on Monday, February 17 at 8:00 p.m. in the Adler Arena, for any fans who would like to support the team in person.
The Penn State Altoona women’s basketball teams thanks you in advance for your support!

Penn State Altoona announces 2020 African American Read-In events

The annual African American Read-In at Penn State Altoona will take place
Feb. 16–17, 2020. This year’s theme is Black Theatre through a Black Lens, celebrating the African American dramatic literary tradition—its themes, forms, and playwrights—from slavery times through the first two decades of the 21st century.

Events begin Sunday, Feb. 16 at 2:30 p.m. in the Port-Sky Café with a community gathering featuring short performances and a special program component for children. A dinner will also be served. Attendees are invited to share a short reading from a work by an African American author or just listen and enjoy. Advanced reservations are required. RSVP to, call 814-949-5288, or register online at by Jan. 27.

The Read-In continues Monday, Feb. 17 with “Monday Marathon,” an Open Mic Read-In held in the Misciagna Family Center for Performing Arts. From 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., various presentations, readings, and performances will take place to celebrate African American plays and playwrights. The Penn State Altoona and Blair County communities are invited to drop in any time throughout the day to participate and/or listen and enjoy.

From noon – 1:00 p.m. the keynote presentation “How August Wilson’s Decade Series Changed the American Narrative” by Charles Dumas will take place in Misciagna.

Dumas is a professor emeritus from Penn State, where he was the first tenured African American professor in the School of Theatre. In 2002, Dumas was a Fulbright Fellow at Stellenbosch University in South Africa. A professional writer, director, and actor, Dumas is a Pennsylvania Council of the Arts recipient for playwriting and twice a semi-finalist for playwriting from the National O’Neil Festival. He has directed and written over 50 plays. He is a winner of the best actor award from the Hollywood/Beverly Hills NAACP and a winner of an Emmy for Ensemble Acting for his portrayal of Bob Ming in the television miniseries Separate but Equal, starring Sidney Poitier.

At 5:30 p.m., the featured author of the 2020 African American Read-In at Penn State Altoona, Denise J. Hart, will give a reading and talk in the Titelman Study of Misciagna. Hart’s plays are grounded in the African American experience and explore the intersection of race, class, and identity and its impact on memory, personal integrity, and family. As a scholar, Hart is driven by a commitment to document and preserve under researched narratives in the history of black theatre, particularly black playwrights.

Hart is a commissioned playwright with Plowshares Theatre Company in Detroit, one of the oldest continuous nationally recognized African American theatre companies and Michigan’s only professional African American theatre company.

Founder of the playwriting program at Howard University, where she currently teaches as an associate professor, Hart is the recipient of several national playwriting honors and awards. She is also a screenwriter, a dramaturg, and a director.

All events are free and open to the public and sponsored by the African American Read-In at Penn State Altoona with additional support from the Blair County NAACP.

If you’d like to sign up to read or have questions about the Monday Marathon, contact Robin Reese at

Find out more at Follow the African American Read-In at Penn State Altoona on Facebook: and