The Superb Six: Hail to our 3 state champion mappers and the 3 runners-up

Chris Satullo| February 6th, 2019

State College and Drexel Hill rocked the house in Harrisburg as Draw the Lines named its 2018 champion mappers

Community involvement played a key role. (Video By: Noah Dickinson)

A baby-faced high-schooler from Happy Valley.

A rambunctious crew of taco-gobbling undergrads from that same Happy Valley.

And a political reform geek from Delaware County.

These are your state champions in the very first citizen mapping competition of Draw the Lines PA.

They learned the good news and got their $4,500 prize checks today (Feb. 6) at an ceremony in the State Capitol’s Main Rotunda attended by about 100 people, including several lawmakers and most of the regional honorees cited by the contest.

In the same order, the new champs are:

Kyle Hynesa sophomore at State College High School, the top winner in our youth division, whose map our judges termed “astounding” and “remarkable.” 

Professor Christopher Fowler’s Geography 421 Class from Penn State, whose team entry, backed up by an energetic opinion survey and funny video, took first in the higher education division.

Philip Hensley, a 29-year-old nonprofit and political consultant from Drexel Hill, who took top honors in the adult age group with an elegant map that somehow managed to snare top-percentile scores in three mapping metrics that are very hard to coordinate: competitive districts, compactness and equal population.

The judging of final winners was done by five of Draw the Lines’ six co-chairs: former Gov. Mark Schweiker, former state Sen. Mike Brubaker, former U.S. Attorney Frederick Thieman, former Superior Court Judge Maureen Lally-Green and the Rev. Sandy Straus, director of advocacy for the Pennsylvania Council of Churches. 

They chose three state champions and three runners-up from a pool of 20 regional honorees.  That group was picked by judging panels composed of other members of our three regional steering committees.

Three other entrants also learned this morning that they’d been named runners-up, earning $2,000 apiece, on top of the prizes they’d won as regional honorees.

They are:

Youth: Jack Rosenthal, a student at Allerdice High School in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill section.

Higher ed: Team Wilkes, a joint effort by three Wilkes University students: William Billingsley, Geraldine Ojukwu and Gregory Chang.

Adult: Blyden Potts, a sociologist and social network analyst from Shippensburg.

The judges also decided to give a special award for creativity to the map drawn by a pair of undergrads from Mercyhurst University in Erie: Sophia Jensen and Logan Ford

Their moniker of Team Bullseye derived from how their distinctive map make Pittsburgh as a tight, round district inside an encircling suburban district.

You can meet all the regional honorees and see their maps, with judges’ comments and personal statements, on our winners page.

The awards ceremony in the Rotunda was emceed by David Thornburgh, president and CEO of Draw the Lines’ parent organization, the Committee of Seventy, the state’s oldest good-government nonprofit.

The 100 attendees heard a message of greeting and praise from Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, speaking on behalf of Gov. Wolf.   All the lawmakers whose constituents were there to be honored were invited.  

Also honored at the event for exemplary academic engagement with Draw the Lines were two Catholic high schools: Delone in McSherrystown, Adams County, and Roman Catholic in Philadelphia.

The teachers who turned their schools into hotbeds of citizen mapmaking, Julia Fuhrman of Delone and John Corrigan of Roman, each accepted a $500 donation to their school in honor of their efforts.

At the end of the ceremony, Draw the Lines’ director, Chris Satullo, announced the launch of a new citizen mapping competition, which will run through May 20.   Mappers will be challenged to draw a valid, 17-district congressional map of Pennsylvania on the projects digital mapping tool, DistrictBuilder.

The 318 entries in the fall contest, from whose ranks today’s winners were draw, offered 18-district maps – which is the number of seats in the U.S. House that the state currently has.

The next mapping challenge looks ahead to 2021, when a new map will have to be drawn, probably with 17 districts.  Pennsylvania is expected to lose at least one seat in the congressional reapportionment that will follow the 2020 Census.

To view the rules for the new competition, to see a demo video and user guide for DistrictBuilder, or to log on and start mapping, please go to our Draw a map page