WSSD Board Grateful for Foundation Gift

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Receiving a check from the Foundation for Wallingford-Swarthmore Schools are (back row, l. to r.) incoming Superintendent Dr. Lisa Palmer, Interim Superintendent Dr. Michael Pladus, WSSD Board president Dr. Richard Sonntag, WSSD vice president Beth Ross and FWSS president Frannie Reilly. Joining them were students (l. to r.) Claire Ross (9), Aidan Ross (12), Molly Reilly (3), Anne Reilly (6), Emily Reilly (9), Ethan Ross (7), and John Reilly (7).

By Katie Crawford

The focus topic of the Wallingford-Swarthmore School Board meeting was the acknowledgment of another significant donation from the Foundation for Wallingford Swarthmore Schools. Foundation president Frannie Reilly and vice president Beth Ross informed the school board that foundation board members voted unanimously to allot $18,550 towards fully funding major initiatives at all schools, while $6,500 will be set aside to support 2016/2017 teacher grants. The recent Arts4Smarts fundraiser raised in excess of $25,000 with over 200 people attending the annual signature event.

Reilly emphasized the foundation’s mission to support innovation and excellence in district schools and highlighted the $130,000 that the foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization, has raised over the past five years. She credited multiple fundraising sources in addition to the Arts4Smarts event, including the Panther Run and Pancake breakfast, foundation sponsors, and donations directed through United Way. Given the increased pressure on school funding, Reilly noted certain programs could be at risk for cuts without the foundation’s financial support. Board member Paul Schregel echoed this observation, thanking Reilly and the foundation for their work, agreeing that certain initiatives have only become possible and sustainable through these additional funding streams.

Reilly described the major initiatives that foundation monies will support, which include programs at each district school. The three elementary schools’ robotics programs with additional, updated kits purchased for each school, will be allotted $9,500. Approximately, $4,050 will be put towards the creation of a Strath Haven Middle School multimedia studio with the goal of airing a weekly program, “This Week at SHMS,” throughout the school. Strath Haven High School will receive $5,000 for the creation of an interdisciplinary garden, which will incorporate a sustainable source of healthy foods, and a meditation garden.

Interim superintendent Dr. Michael Pladus commented that it appears there is finally a 2015-2016 state budget. Although Governor Tom Wolf did not sign the budget bill, neither did he veto it, so the budget was allowed to become law. The district stands to receive in excess of $149,000 shortly with the passage of this budget, however just under $500,000 still hangs in the balance from the state reimbursement plan, PlanCon (Planning and Construction Workbook).

PlanCon provides partial reimbursement to school districts for construction projects. Given the state’s budget issues, however, state government issued a moratorium on reimbursements despite having already granted approval of these projects. Many districts, WSSD included, structured their borrowing for construction based on receiving these funds.

Board president Dr. Richard Sonntag announced his resignation from the board of the Delaware County Intermediate Unit effective April 7. The school board unanimously voted to nominate board member Dr. Allison Karpyn in his place.

Lemons and Aid

In other district news:

• Wallingford Elementary School reported raising $1,800 in three days at Mrs. Gaur’s LemonAID stand for Relay for Life.

• Swarthmore-Rutledge School broke another attendance record at their now annual International night with over 350 people attending to sample foods from around the world.

• SHMS has raised over $16,000 to date for CADES, and students are looking forward to their next fundraiser, a night out at the Phillies.

• SHHS student Isabel Nonemaker was the 2016 recipient of the High School Leadership award from Widener University. The award recognizes “one current high school junior who has demonstrated courage by standing up for what is right, found a way to address a wrong, or made a difference in a significant way at his or her school or community.” Candidates are nominated by their principal and winners are recognized at the Constitution Center in Philadelphia.

• Finally, 120 students in grades K-12 have created artwork that will be displayed at the Community Arts Center in Wallingford through April 23.

Trump Organization Acquires Naming Rights to Inn at Swarthmore

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Innvestment, or Message Board?

The Trump Organization, headed by billionaire presidential candidate Donald J. Trump, has acquired naming and display rights to the nearly completed Inn at Swarthmore.

“They made us a very attractive offer,” said Greg Brown, Swarthmore College’s vice president for finance and administration. “Mr. Trump was specifically interested in the display potential of the Inn’s unique and expansive ‘cat-slide’ roof.”

A Trump Organization spokesman said that apart from installation of a 150-foot Diamondvision display screen atop the inn, only minor changes are planned for the operation of the new hotel/restaurant/store complex, which will be renamed Trumpworld. When apprised of Swarthmore’s restrictions on sign size and location, the spokesman predicted smooth sailing, saying: “The Quakers love Donald. He’s gonna make Swarthmore great again,” but noting that Trump would sue the Planning Commission if his signage plan is delayed.

“Despite certain cultural differences, the Trump Organization and Swarthmore College represent excellence in their fields,” Greg Brown said, “We are just more modest about it.”

It is speculated by at least one political observer that Trump acquired the building for its potential as a billboard to target political messages to shoppers in Swarthmore’s “ville” and to passing Delaware County drivers lazily circling the Chester Road roundabout.

“As crazy as it sounds, the Trump campaign is targeting Swarthmore as the linchpin of its Pennsylvania strategy,” said Rick Valelly, Smith Professor of Political Science at Swarthmore College. “The thinking is that Swarthmoreans are exceptionally influential, and can help deliver the decisive delegate block in the April primary to put him over the top as the party nominee. And then, by force of personality and relentless messaging, he will convert enough Democrats to win Pennsylvania in the fall. It’s going to be huge!”

Valelly may be onto something. The Swarthmorean was unsuccessful in its efforts to reach chairman Donald J. Trump, who was campaigning in Wisconsin, but in a prepared statement, Trump was quoted as saying “This is a major, major acquisition for me and the Republican Party, folks. I guarantee you that nobody can make Swarthmoreans turn red faster than I can.”

Breaking the Ice With New Policy at SSC

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Winter members of SSC will receive a stylish black wetsuit (with navy blue accents) as well as a rubber mallet to break the ice without damaging the pool deck. The “Sea Sharks” logo will be added at no additional charge for swim team members. Solar-heated swim goggles will be available for purchase or rent.

The board of directors for the Swarthmore Swim Club has announced its unanimous approval of the recommendation by members to remain open year-round, extending its traditional summer season.

The new policy takes effect after Labor Day 2016. Members who wish to swim throughout the year will be charged an additional $75 fee per family on top of their summer season dues. A winter-only membership will be made available to nonmembers on a month-to-month basis for $37 per month.

An avid lap swimmer herself, board president Beth Resweber is very excited about the extended season. “Now even members who are away for part of the summer can earn their ‘1000 Lap’ t-shirts” said Resweber. The board expects to attract additional members from area swim clubs that are only open during the summer months, Resweber said: “Swarthmore Swim Club will become known throughout the Philadelphia region for its commitment to fitness and swimming – even when other pools are drained and forgotten.”

In its inaugural 12-month season, only the Swim Club’s lap pool will be open after Labor Day. However, board treasurer Tom Runiewicz said, “The board will evaluate keeping the L-Pool, diving board, and toddler pool open, based on interest from people who wish to maintain their swimming skills and stay in shape year-round.”

As a bonus, all winter members will receive a stylish black wetsuit with navy blue accents. The club will also issue rubber mallets to help break the ice without causing damage to the pool deck. A SRA/SSC joint “Polar Plunge” is also planned for the finish of the New Year’s Day 5K run.

The SSC Sea Sharks swim team will also take advantage of the 12-month pool operation. Practice for the 2017 season will commence on March 1, allowing swimmers to reach top competitive shape by the time meets begin in the summer. Instead of using the Swarthmore College indoor pool for preseason practice, the team will don customized wetsuits emblazoned with the Sea Shark logo and be fitted with specially designed, solar-heated swim goggles.

The Board hopes the 12-month season will delight members and nonmembers alike. “The magic of our water will now be enjoyed all year long,” Resweber said, with a smile.

For more information or to reserve your winter membership, please address inquiries to:

SwUKEsrta Plays 78 RPM Record Release Party Tonight at Hobbs

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If vinyl is back, can shellac be far behind? Not if the 16 or so members of SwUKEsrta have anything to do with it.

One of Delaware County’s premier ukulele ensembles, SwUKEsrta has just signed a multi-record deal with Polymer Records of Woonsocket, R.I. “This is just the beginning for these guys, even though some of them are kind of old,” said Polymer vice president of artists and repertoire Artie Fufkin. “But that’s OK – our records sound kind of old too.”

SwUKEsrta will be one of the first bands signed to Polymer’s Old & Scratchy brand, which distributes music recorded straight to metal masters and pressed into 78 RPM shellac records. “We have to play fast, because the recording capacity of each side of the record is only about two and a half minutes,” said band spokesman and Swarthmore mayor Tim Kearney. “We’re fortunate to have veteran pro musicians like Jerry Getz, Tommy Pinto and Jim Ericson to keep us in rhythm and on pitch, although you really can’t tell from the records.”

Despite its poor audio quality and the inconvenience of its heavy, brittle discs and windup players with thorn needles, the 78 RPM format is the cat’s pajamas among college students and hipsters, some of whom install car Victrolas in their ironic 1970s station wagons.

Polymer’s Artie Fufkin said: “Their brand of music fits right in with what the kids today want to hear,” Fufkin said. “They’re gonna make us a lot of money. At least I hope so. Or we’re gonna drop the SwUKEsrta like a bad habit.”

SwUKEsrta plays tonight, First Friday and April Fools’ Day, at Hobbs Coffee at 1 Park Avenue. Showtime is 6 p.m., but plan to arrive early, because the full ensemble takes up considerable real estate.

Swarthmore Man Finally Puts Trash, Recycling, Yard Waste, and Bulk Trash Days on His Calendar

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Aaron Wilson consults his calendar.

By Lauren McKinney

Aaron Wilson of Bucknell Avenue is a new man. A resident of Swarthmore for 25 years, Wilson had relied on various signs and signals to figure out when the Borough trucks and subcontractors were collecting various stuff. “When I saw my neighbors put out the recycling bins I would run around the house collecting all the bottles, cans, and newspapers that I could, and then haul that bin out to the street as fast as possible. Or I would come home late from work and see bags full of branches by the neighbor’s curb, and I would make the kids stop doing homework so they could collect branches and tie them up in the dark.”

What made Wilson finally get his act together? “Well, it didn’t happen right away. A couple of years ago I joined NextDoor and started asking everyone there. I’d be like, ‘Hey, is trash day tomorrow?’ But no one ever knew. Then people would start complaining about Borough offices not being open on Friday, or the roundabout’s potential fatality rates, and eventually someone would take a photo of dog poop, or a child’s tiny pink mitten.” He paused and chuckled.

“Where was I?” he continued. “Oh yes. I was in that place where you pay your parking tickets when I realized that’s the Borough office. I asked a nice lady named Elyse about bulk trash. She told me it’s the third Thursday of every month. It’s all on a schedule! It’s not random. Then the Borough Manager herself, Jane Billings, came out of her office to tell me ‘You do realize all this information is on the website, right?’”

Making sure it wasn’t Friday, the Swarthmorean fact-checking team visited, and spotted Ms. Billings as the one wearing a T-shirt that says “It’s on the website.” “I’ll even show you the actual website if you don’t believe me,” she said in a steely voice. Sure enough, her computer verified that the Borough of Swarthmore does have a website. And all these dates are indeed on said website. We thanked Ms. Billings for her time. But we had one more question: “When are Borough Council meetings?”

April Fool!


If you bought into any of the stories on pages 1 and 8, we are smiling, and we hope you are too. Thanks to our good-natured information sources, and thanks, too, to Lauren McKinney and several unnamed co-conspirators at the Swarthmore Swim Club. (By the way, SwUKEsrta really is playing at Hobbs April Fool’s night.)

We do this edition whenever our cover date is Friday, April 1, and I’m lucky to have blundered into an April Fool’s edition in my first year on the job. We like to have a good time with “straight” stories throughout the year, and I hope there are pieces during the non-Fools season that make you laugh, and others that leave you wondering if what you’ve read could possibly be true.

Looking forward to fooling you again on Friday, April 1, 2022,

Chris Reynolds

Patrick Henry to Look Into the Good Book(s)

Dr. Patrick Henry

Dr. Patrick Henry

Dr. Patrick Henry visits Swarthmore Presbyterian Church next weekend to help the congregation and guests explore the newly-donated Illuminated Saint John’s Bible.

This glorious seven-volume set is among a limited edition of a handwritten Bible, profusely and lushly illustrated. The Saint John’s Bible project was 15 years in the making, in which Dr. Patrick Henry was integrally involved.

Dr. Henry, a former SPC member and Swarthmore College religion professor, was executive director of the Collegeville (Minn.) Institute For Ecumenical and Cultural Research. On both Saturday, April 9, and Sunday, April 10, he will speak about the project and examine several particular pages and illuminations from the books.

His remarks begin at 9:30 a.m. Saturday (coffee and registration open at 9 a.m.); on Sunday, the presentation begins at 9 a.m., and is followed at 10:15 a.m. by SPC’s regular worship service. All are welcome; RSVP to the church at (610) 543-4712 or

Swarthmore Presbyterian Church is located at 727 Harvard Avenue.

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Spring Garden Tour Opportunity

Charles Cresson

Charles Cresson

By Ginny Scott

The Swarthmore Horticultural Society invites everyone to welcome spring by experiencing the beauty of an internationally recognized private garden, located right here in Swarthmore.

On Sunday, April 10, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., Charles Cresson, will open his garden, “Hedgleigh Spring,” to the public for self-guided tours.

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The Cresson garden, which has been featured in the New York Times and Martha Stewart Living is comprised of two acres divided into cleverly designed green “rooms” that showcase the many facets of gardening, including a fern dell, a sunken perennial garden, a stream-fed pond garden, a wildflower meadow, and a tranquil shade garden.

This garden is a true visual feast at any time of the year, but particularly in the spring when it is filled with thousands of spring bulbs, wildflowers, flowering annuals, and blossoming shrubs and trees. (The New York Times called the spectacular Cresson collection of camellias “eye candy!”)

Visitors are welcome to tour the garden at their own pace, and Charles Cresson will be available for questions. The Cresson garden is located at 32 Amherst Avenue in Swarthmore. Visitors should enter through the garden gate on the left side as you face the residence.

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The event is free, but donations will be solicited on behalf of the Swarthmore Horticultural Society, a nonprofit, all volunteer organization that plants and maintains many of the public gardens in Swarthmore town center. For more information, visit the SHS website at

Egg Hunt Fun

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Once again, the annual Marietta Avenue Egg Hunt, held last Saturday, March 26, was a huge success! Photo by Megan Slootmaker

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The Lions Club of Swarthmore’s annual egg hunt was a tremendous success on a beautiful day.

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This photo that is taken of the children on a bridge is from the Trinity Episcopal Church Egg Hunt that happened on Easter Sunday. The hunt, organized by Jennifer Donlevie and her family (of Springfield), included some “magic eggs” filled with money that the children can donate to the charity of their choice (JDRF, CHOP, Alex’s Lemonade Stand, or Delco SPCA).