Lora Pietrangelo Takes Center Stage in Downtown Swarthmore

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Lora Pietrangelo at the counter of HOM, her store in Swarthmore’s Town Center.

Lora Pietrangelo is a booster, believer, beater of the drum for businesses in Swarthmore’s downtown Ville. She’s also a creative thinker and a clever marketer, an adventurous entrepreneur, and a local girl to boot. In short, she brings a fine complement of qualifications to her new role as Swarthmore’s Town Center Coordinator.

As of June 1, Lora takes over the position for the retiring Marty Spiegel, who did yeoman work for 10 years. “Marty has done a great job in bringing people and life to the Town Center,” Lora says. The two have worked together, with Lora recently organizing and convening a merchants’ group. “We have a cohesive group, all working toward the same ends. I am hoping we can bring in other organizations in town on the same basis.”

For instance, she says, “Swarthmore College, through the new Inn, has been eager to complement what we have in the Town Center. They are working on ways the Inn can be an asset in terms of promoting the town and bringing their guests to our businesses.”

Lora, a Media native and Villanova alumna, established HOM (Harvey Oak Mercantile) as a specialty retailer “inspired by life in Swarthmore.” The store offers high-quality and handmade new goods, along with reclaimed and repurposed classic furnishings, household objects and ephemera. It’s a unique product mix that reflects Lora’s aesthetic, and lessons learned from experience as a buyer for Anthropologie, Waterloo Gardens, and Terrain.

Swarthmore is a unique place, Lora says. “Since I set up a business here, I’ve found that the people are really loyal. Residents, like merchants, really do want a vibrant Town Center.” In the bigger picture, Lora says, growth depends on expanding the marketing reach. “I want people to think of Swarthmore as a destination, with a critical mass of dining, shopping, and services that persuades them to make the trip here.”

That takes unique experiences as well as a good mix of merchants, Lora says, and that resource is at hand. “Swarthmore has so much going on at the college, at Scott Arboretum, with the Farmers Market, events like the CAC Fine Arts and Crafts Festival and the Makers Markets, Central Park and the amphitheater, with its potential for performances and events … when we bring that all together, we can sell the town to visitors, and build foot traffic to attract new businesses.”

Immediate priorities for the Town Center will continue to include filling storefronts and sprucing up the streetscape, Lora says. “We need to proactively work to improve things now. Longer term, we need to strengthen relationships among all interested in building a better downtown — merchants, landlords, residents and community groups.’’

Lora’s aesthetic sense and marketing savvy — such an asset for HOM — will also be brought to bear on branding and communication for Town Center. She says “I’m working on updating the brochure and business directory. And part of what I want to develop is an updated website with community calendars, and a bigger presence online. Social media is a great communication tool for my store, and I think it can be for the Town Center, too.”

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Students Were the Story at School Board Meeting

Wallingford-Swarthmore School Board:  

Strath Haven High School 10th grader Peter Armour led the Wallingford-Swarthmore School Board and guests in the Pledge of Allegiance to commence the board’s Monday night meeting.

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Eagle Scout and SHHS sophomore Peter Armour accepts congratulations and a certificate of recognition for his outstanding contribution to the Rutgers Avenue track resurfacing project from Acting Superintendent Michael Pladus.

Armour, who lives in Swarthmore, later presented a slide show documenting his recently-completed Eagle Scout project, which board president Richard Sonntag noted was of direct benefit to the school district and the community. Armour and other members of Troop 112 worked with community members and WSSD staff to resurface the running track at the Rutgers Avenue School in Swarthmore, spreading and compacting 90 tons of limestone fines on the freshly edged and regraded oval. The project was finished last month and is seeing heavy use.

Student representative Danielle Berman of Wallingford presented updates from each of the district schools. Highlights she reported include:

• Wallingford Elementary students sang the national anthem at a recent Wilmington Blue Rocks game, visited the Philadelphia Zoo, competed in games and dunked teachers on Field Day.

• Nether Providence Elementary musicians performed their instrumental and rehearsed for their choral concerts, with an intermission for their field day last Friday.

• Swarthmore-Rutledge School students are in a busy social season, with the end-of-year celebration last week and the Globetrotters end-of-year celebration coming up on Tuesday, May 31. Fifth graders were finishing up their Dimensions in Art mosaic project.

• Strath Haven Middle School athletes enjoyed great sports seasons, including an undefeated baseball campaign. Middle school musicians performed in a music festival in Kutztown, as well as instrumental and choral concerts at SHMS.

• Strath Haven High School athletes enjoyed great successes in girls and boys lacrosse, girls track (sending athletes to the state tournament in three events) and ultimate Frisbee (with wins in district and city tournaments.) Concert season is in full swing.

Special Education directors Gina Ross (elementary) and Megan McCullough (secondary) presented “These Are Our Stories,” narratives focusing the board’s attention on four students whose educational journeys have involved various areas of support through the district’s office of special education.

Two are elementary students. Helena Roberts of Rutledge, age 9, was diagnosed with cerebral palsy after birth. She attends an out-of-district placement at a specialized school and is making great strides in learning to read and developing age-appropriate math skills. Eight-year-old Lara Bruno of Media, who has Down Syndrome, is part of the WES academic and social community, participating in a general class setting, with targeted interventions and supports.

Two older students were present at the meeting on Monday. Julia Tyler of Swarthmore was a student in WSSD schools from kindergarten through high school; she “walked” with her Strath Haven HS class in 2014 and will receive her diploma this June. Julia’s family worked with the special education department to develop and modify IEPs for Julia, who has Down Syndrome, through her school transitions, development as a student and evolving interests. Her involvement with the district has continued post-graduation with employability training, arrangement of internships, and recently, placement in a paid position at the Compendium retail store in Swarthmore.

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Strath Haven senior Tyana Clements (center) with special education department chairs Alison Taylor of Strath Haven Middle School (left) and Regina Hollis of Strath Haven High School, whose programs and support she cited as contributors to her success in her WSSD career.

SHHS senior Tyana Clements of Media spoke eloquently about the journey that has led her to the brink of graduation and matriculation at Clark Atlanta University. She recalled the beginning in elementary school of a sense that other students were understanding things that eluded her, and the relief when a “mysterious lady” helped her develop learning strategies and the confidence to begin participating in class again. This support specialist was succeeded by middle school and high school learning support teachers who helped Tyana remain engaged, develop independence and “value the resources that were there for me.” She was deeply involved in the Strath Haven community during her high school career, which culminated in her participation in the Penn Relays as a member of the 4×100 relay team this spring.

Summit Sale Completed

In non-student reports, Interim Superintendent Michael Pladus said that WSSD has completed the sale of the former Summit School property to Nether Providence Township. The school board voted unanimously to appoint Sally Morbeck as board treasurer, beginning July 1; to renew its food service contract with Aramark for the coming school year; and to approve (subject to solicitor’s review) a 3-year agreement with Broadview Networks for VOIP phone service.

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Selected Swarthmore College Commencement Weekend Events

Members of the Swarthmore community are invited to take part in several events during commencement weekend, including those below.

Saturday, May 28, 2:45 p.m.: Capped and gowned, seniors form a procession to the Scott outdoor amphitheater for the Baccalaureate ceremony, which begins at 3 p.m. and features speaker Cindy Halpern. Open to all, unless rain forces a move to the less spacious Lang Performing Arts Center, requiring tickets for admission. A reception follows at 4 p.m. on Parrish Lawn, weather permitting.
9:15 p.m.: Fireworks! All are invited to lounge on Parrish Beach (in front of Parrish Hall) to watch a grand fireworks display, weather permitting.

Sunday, May 29, 10 a.m.: Commencement exercises featuring speaker Rose Wunrow are held at the amphitheatre, rain or shine. Tickets are required, though simulcasts at Lang Performing Arts Center and Kohlberg Hall’s Scheuer Room are open. A reception follows at about 1 p.m., again on Parrish Beach, weather permitting.

Briefly Noted. . .

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Of all the stars onstage during the Young People’s Theatre Workshop’s current production, the biggest (literally) is Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, the magical automobile for whom the play is named. In the play, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is the invention of patriarch Caractacus Potts: in the stagecraft, the vehicle is the creation of director Joe Southard, assisted by Jolene Petrowski and Chuck Lowry. The team bought the vehicle in jalopy condition from Broadway Theatre in Pitman, N.J., and piece by piece, restored it to this fantastic gleaming machine that “flies and floats” across the stage on a remote-controlled super scooter. Southard and the company hope that after Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’s run on stage at the Players Club of Swarthmore (beginning tonight and finishing June 5), the extraordinary motorcar will be rented to other theater companies, then sold. See it now in Swarthmore, with a cast of 60 talented young performers. Performance schedule and other information is at yptw.org. For ticket reservations, call (610) 558-0988.

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The Swarthmore High School class of 1951 convened for its 65th reunion at the Inn at Swarthmore. “Pretty fancy place,” observed one of their number, over pre-dinner drinks in the Ingleneuk Room. Representing more than 10% of the graduating class of 69 are (left to right) Lee Bennett, who came with his wife Asia from Seattle; Eric Sharpless of White Horse Village, who was accompanied by wife Priscilla; Beverly Harlow Stewart of Swarthmore; Milly McCowan Butler of Maris Grove; Jean Holman Preston and Seymour Preston of West Chester; and Harlan Jessup of Newtown, Conn.

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Nine students from Mother of Providence Regional Catholic School in Wallingford read their prize winning poems to a supportive audience at the Delaware County Poetry Competition held on May 15. The nine were among 36 students selected as winners in grades 1–12 representing schools from across the county. The Poetry Competition was sponsored by the Delaware County Library System and the Mad Poets Society, and was held at the Redwood Community Playhouse in Upland Park. Back row (l.to r.): Mrs. Mariann Jennings, Mother of Providence librarian; Theresa Haas, gr. 7; Emily McGinn, gr. 6; Maeve McMahon, gr. 6; Maya Rose Chavis, gr. 4; Lily Bernard, gr. 7; and Mrs. Camelia Nocella, Pre-K aide and published poet. Front row (l. to r.): Luke Kinne, gr. 1; Cameron Hatala, gr. 3; and Kaylin Fava, gr. 1.

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Three local dads played on a team that placed second in the USA Ultimate Frisbee Beach National Championships in Virginia Beach recently. Their grand masters team, Scrapple, included men 40 years and older from the Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., areas. You are not supposed to ask what’s in Scrapple, but a few of the key ingredients are Clayton Coltman of Swarthmore and Wallingford residents Petter Abrahamsson and Len Magargee. Photo by Deirdre Abrahamsson

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Last Thursday, the entire student body of the George Crothers Memorial School at CADES in Swarthmore welcomed a Grammy Award winner. Jazz clarinetist Oran Etkin — the creator of Timbalooloo, which is both a band and a method of music education — came to GCMS with drummer Jeremy (Bean) Clemons and bass/tuba player Elias Bailey and played a joyful and educational concert. The group is working with The American Speech and Hearing Association (ASHA) to promote safe listening skills through their “Listen to Your Buds” campaign. Jenn Lisberger, (pictured with the group) a speech language pathologist with the school and CADES, said this 3rd annual visit from the Timbalooloo ensemble brought a particularly relevant message for Better Hearing and Speech Month. “Their interactive approach to teaching our students how the ear works, and the effect loud music has on them, was fun and educational. Oran uses a multi-modal approach to teaching, incorporating auditory, visual and physical elements. Both students and staff had a great time learning about music and ear protection, while listening and dancing to some amazing jazz music!”

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Fifth graders from Girl Scout Troop 5266, along with troop leader Ellis LaFrance, gave of their time and talent and painted the Princeton tunnel. Jeannine Anchkaitis took a picture of the tunnel’s fading artwork before the walls received a clean coat of white paint.5-27 tunnel 1

Got Anything on the Strath Haven Inn?

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The Swarthmore Historical Society is putting together a small exhibit regarding the history of the Strath Haven Inn. If you have any photographs, memorabilia or information you would like to share, please contact Kristin Cardi by e-mail, kristincardi@gmail.com, or phone, (610)543-2256. The exhibit will open on Friday, June 3, in the Swarthmore Borough Hall Community Room. Photo courtesy of the Friends Historical Library

Letters to the Editor…

Honor our veterans this Memorial Day

Fellow Citizens:

Another May… Another Memorial Day and another chance to honor our military veterans, who have given their lives in the name of freedom. Freedom isn’t free, as far too many know.

Swarthmore has a simple, but meaningful, ceremony on Monday, May 30, at 10 a.m. at Monument Park (corner of Park and Dartmouth avenues). Please consider being there to honor those who cared enough to honor our love of freedom.

Citizens may also witness the placing of flags at the graves of veterans at Eastlawn Cemetery — follow the fire trucks and any marchers down Park Avenue, cross over Michigan Avenue and proceed to the cemetery.

On Sunday evening, May 29, PBS (channel 12) broadcasts a concert on the Mall in Washington, D.C., that provides the background for the story of a veteran. The times are 8 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., with a repeat at 9:30 p.m. to 11 p.m.

This has always been a good program that can inspire our thoughts for Monday, Memorial Day. It is hosted by Gary Sinise and Joe Montegna.

Joan Watson

Wear orange in support of victims

To the Editor:

On January 29, 2013, Hadiya Pendleton, a 15-year-old high school student in Chicago, was shot dead, nine days after performing at President Obama’s inauguration. Her grieving friends started commemorating her birthday, June 2, by wearing orange.

Last Saturday night, Zenas Powell, age 14, was caught in crossfire and killed at 10th and Pine in Chester — the city’s 10th death this year from gun violence.

What can we do?

Wear orange on Thursday, June 2, and think about the lives cut short by gun violence, and the grieving families of the victims. Learn about the issues and write your local, state and national elected officials. Ask them to tell you, “Where did the gun come from?”

Wear orange, and tell people why you’re doing it. And work so that all kids can grow up in safety.

Fran Stier

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Sean Mohollen of Rose Valley graduated on May 14 from York College of Pennsylvania with a bachelor of science degree in sports management.

Elizabeth Walk graduated cum laude from Boston College with a bachelor of arts degree in political science. Next month, she will begin work at the Massachusetts State House as a legislative aide to State Representative Carolyn Dykema. Elizabeth is the daughter of David and Mary Walk of Swarthmore.

Hugh Reynolds graduated recently from the College of Wooster in Wooster, Ohio. He is the son of Chris and Jennifer Reynolds of Rose Valley.

Alexander L. Rack, the son of Patricia Burns of Swarthmore and Larry Rack of Wallingford, graduated from Macalester College on May 14. Alex received a liberal arts degree in music.

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Swarthmore Ballet Theater Stages ‘Coppelia’


Anna Si as Swanilda and Will McCullough as Franz play the romantic leads in Coppelia. Photo by Arbour Guthrie

A tightly-knit group of young and older dancers will present the ballet Coppelia in performances at Swarthmore Ballet Theatre on Saturdays, May 28 and June 4, at 11 a.m. and 7:30 p.m., and on Sundays, May 29 and June 5, at 2 p.m.

The libretto by C.L.E. Nuitter, based on two tales of Hoffmann, tells the story of teenaged couple Franz and Swanilda. Franz’s head is turned by an animated doll created by inventor Dr. Coppelius. Swanilda exacts her revenge, and complications ensue. SBT director Lori Ardis says the 17-year-old lead characters, played by Anna Si of Morton and Will McCullough of Swarthmore, are both romantic and comic. “Things do not go smoothly in their courtship.”

Ardis and her daughter, Amber Flynn, choreographed the ballet, whose score was written by Leo Delibes. She notes that the family theme is strong in this production:

• Billy Hodges of Swarthmore (as Dr. Coppelius) is joined on stage by his wife, Denise Disney, and three daughters, Grace, Rose and Lillian.

• Three of Anna Si’s sisters — Linnea, Naomi and Elizabeth — share the stage with her.

• Will McCullough’s sister, Ellen, dances, his father, Doug, runs the lighting, and his mother, Linda, sews costumes for the ballet.

• Three other families have several dancers in the company.

Tickets (all seats are reserved) are sold at the door 30 minutes before each performance for any show. Tickets are $15 for adults, and $12 for seniors over 65 and students under 12. Cash and checks are accepted for payment. Free lemonade and cookies will be served at intermission.

The Swarthmore Ballet Theatre is located at 118 Park Avenue.

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19th Annual Swarthmore Lions Independence Eve 8K Run and 2 ½ Mile Walk

The 19th annual Swarthmore Lions Independence Eve 8K (5 mile) and 2 ½ Mile Walk will be held on Friday, July 1, at 7 p.m. Please join us to kick off your Independence Day weekend.

The 8K route goes through the Swarthmore College campus and the tree-lined streets and neighborhoods of the borough. The 2 ½ Mile Walk route covers the lower loop of the 8K.

Proceeds from the race support Lions charities which include organizations that assist the visually impaired such as the Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired in Chester and the Delaware Valley Eye Bank.

On-line registration is now available at www.runtheday.com. Onsite registration and packet pick-up will take place in the Borough Hall lobby from 5:30 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. on the day of the race.

The entry fee for both the race and the walk is $25; $30 on race day. Checks are to be made out to the Swarthmore Lions Club and mailed with the completed registration form to: Swarthmore Lions Club, P.O. Box 514, Swarthmore, PA 19081. Runners under the age of 18 must have a parent or guardian fill out the release portion of the registration form that is required of all runners.

Awards will be presented to the first three male and female runners, and to the first three male and female runners in eight age groups: 10 and under, 11-13, 14-19, 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60 and over.

Refreshments will be served after the race. Tech T-shirts are guaranteed to all preregistered runners and walkers — while supplies last.

For more information, or if you are interested in volunteering, please contact Jim Ryan at (610) 909-3127or jdryan17@gmail.com.

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