Annual Summer Reading Lists

(A) Autobiography • (C) Children • (F) Fiction • (HF) Historical Fiction • (M) Memoir
(NF) Nonfiction • (Sci-F) Science Fiction • (YA) Young Adults • (YA-F) Young Adults-Fiction

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Emily Farrell
Retired SHHS English Teacher; College essay coach

The first four books I have chosen are nonfiction, pretty unusual for me. However, they each deal with a different part of the world and seem to read like fiction.

Best Books

(NF) A Backpack, a Bear, and Eight Crates of Vodka by Lev Golinkin is about a Jew and his life both in Russia and as an emigrant.
(NF) Midnight in Broad Daylight: A Japanese American Family Caught Between Two Worlds by Pamela Rotner Sakamoto deals with World War II and the strains of both internment and having family in both sides of the war.
(NF) A Thousand Naked Strangers: A Paramedic’s Wild Ride to the Edge and Back by Kevin Hazzard describes what it is like to be an EMT in a big city: shocking.
(NF) Call the Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times by Jennifer Worth. The PBS show is not exactly the way it was.
(F) A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra. This novel describes life in Chechnya, and the structure and character development are brilliant.

Summer Reading 

(F) Everybody’s Fool by Richard Russo
(F) Gorsky by Vesna Goldsworthy
(F) Marriage Material by Sathnam Sanghera
(F) The Good Life by Marian Thurm
(F) The Girls by Emma Cline

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Keith Reeves
Associate Professor of Political Science and Department Chair at Swarthmore College

Best Books

(M) Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson (re-reading)
(NF) King of the World: Muhammad Ali and the Rise of an American Hero by David Remnick
(NF) Why Some Things Should Not Be For Sale: The Moral Limits of Markets by Debra Satz
(NF) Scarcity: The New Science of Having Less and How It Defines Our Lives by Sendhil Mullainathan and Eldar Shafir
(F) The Skin Collector by Jeffery Deaver

I finished my reading of Satz and re-reading of Stevenson’s book; and have just about completed Deaver’s. I plan to complete the other two before preparing for the Fall semester and the presidential election.

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Frances Sheehan
President and CEO of the Brandywine Health Foundation

This past year I read several great books, thanks to my husband, Rick Gelman, who did the legwork of reading reviews, reading the books first, and then recommending them to me, including:
(F) The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson
(HF) The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters
(HF) A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra

And courtesy of my 85-year-old mom, Sheila Sheehan, who still volunteers at the Fairfax Country Library in Virginia and is in a book group there:
(NF) The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown
(NF) Citizens of London: The Americans Who Stood with Britain in Its Darkest, Finest Hour by Lynne Olson

Summer Reading

(F) The Woman Who Lost Her Soul by Bob Shacochis
(F) The Children Act by Ian McEwan
(M) Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan
(F) Among the Ten Thousand Things by Julia Pierpont
(F) Remember Me Like This by Bret Anthony Johnston

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Lou Boxer
Bibliophile by avocation;
Physician by vocation

Best Books

(NF) The Devil and Dr. Barnes: Portrait of an American Art Collector by Howard Greenfeld
(F) Grimhaven by Robert Joyce Tasker
(NF) Blood, Bone, and Marrow: A Biography of Harry Crews by Ted Geltner
(F) Roachkiller and Other Stories by R. Narvaez

Summer Reading

(F) The Second Girl by David Swinson
(F) Dark Horse: An Eddy Harkness Novel by Rory Flynn (a/k/a Stona Fitch)
(F) Come to Me by Sin Soracco
(F) Selena, Diesel Therapy, and Suicide Lounge by Greg Barth Not for the weak of heart or easily offended. Parental advisory content; explicit content.
(YA-F) Snow Job by Charles Benoit

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Louise Coffin
Retired High School English Teacher

I’m finally getting around to Alistair MacLeod’s collection of short stories, Island. Beautiful writing, sometimes depressing content.

Slowly working my way through the novels of 20th century English novelist, Rumer Godden. Thus far, In This House of Brede, An Episode of Sparrows, and Gypsy, Gypsy.

And, due to my interest in World War I and its centenary, I am keeping up with the various campaigns of 100 years ago. July 1 begins the anniversary of the start of the tragically useless Battle of the Somme.

For fun, mysteries, of course, especially those of Donna Leon and Henning Mankell.

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Bobbie Harvey
Freelance Writer

Best Books

(F) Florence Gordon by Brian Morton. I’d have to say this was just about a perfect book. From the first chapter I wanted to keep reading, and already felt I understood a lot about the complicated character that was Florence. Beautifully written, as usual with Morton.
(M) The Real Doctor Will See You Shortly: A Physician’s First Year by Matt McCarthy. Devoured this book. My daughter interned at Weill/Cornell (as did McCarthy), so the emotional angst of intern year was familiar to me, but it takes courage for a doctor to write honestly (and engagingly) about it.
(M) Life Is a Wheel: Memoirs of a Bike-Riding Obituarist by Bruce Weber. So calming, ruminative, interesting, well-written, and besides all, that fun to read. Weber was an obituary writer for The New York Times, and the book is a chronicle of his 2011 cross-country bicycle trip. I liked the structure, the way he wove stories from his past and his job into his trip. And the ending, which I won’t give away, was so poignant.
(F) Our Souls at Night: A Novel by Kent Haru. The title alone speaks to how beautifully this book, his last, is written.
(F) The Lost Daughter and The Story of the Lost Child: Neapolitan Novels, Book Four both by Elena Ferrante. The Lost Daughter was published in Italy four years before the first of her Neapolitan novels came out. I group them here because all five of her novels have the same themes: almost obsessive female friendship, a beach, a doll (and more). My theory is that all of this is disguised autobiography and that her brilliant friend really exists, or existed, and she’s writing and writing to try to find her.

Summer Reading

(F) My Struggle, Book Five: Some Rain Must Fall by Karl Ove Knausgaard. Last in the series. I find his writing hypnotizing.
(M) Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan
(NF) Ivory Vikings by Nancy Marie Brown
(M) Lust and Wonder by Augusten Burroughs
(M) Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death, and Brain Surgery by Henry Marsh

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Jonathan Hodgson
Retired professor of computer science, St. Joseph’s University

Best Books

(F) The Mare by Mary Gaitskill. This is a stunningly good book. It tells the story of the relationship between a girl from Brooklyn who goes to upstate N.Y., through the Fresh Air fund, and falls in love with a horse. The narrative is told from the viewpoint of the girl, Velvet, the hostess, Ginger, and later the host Paul, and Velvet’s mother Sylvia. The portrayal of Velvet and her relationships with others is quite wonderfully managed. The relationship between the girl and her mother is difficult and the girl can be sullen, but she is a horse whisperer.
(F) The Castle Cross the Magnet Carter by Kia Corthron. A terrific novel that spans the second half of the 20th century. It traces the lives of two pairs of brothers, one white from Alabama, and one black from Maryland. It is not until near the end that the connections between the lives — or more accurately the deaths — as one of the whites is involved in the torture killing of the young black lawyer. The other pair meet only in a hospital room where one is dying and the other is recovering.
(F) A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. An incredibly painful book to read. It tells of four friends and their post college lives. Mostly it concentrates on Jude, who is a very damaged person. Reared in a brutal orphanage and taken away to a life of prostitution by one of the “brothers;’’ rescued (but not really), by a psychiatrist, Jude eventually forms a loving relationship with Willem, a film actor. Willem is killed in a car accident and Jude lapses back into the mode where he believes that he is valueless and eventually manages to commit suicide. Sometimes I was furious with Jude for not seeing that his friends wanted to help. Often I found it hard to read on. But the book is a masterpiece. No wonder it was short-listed for the Booker Prize.
(NF) SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome by Mary Beard. A history of Rome A.U.C. through 212 C.E. when Caracalla extended citizenship to all free persons living in the empire. The book is a somewhat conventional history up through the assassination of Julius Caesar, but then becomes much more a social history. More concerned to describe the nature of the empire than events. It is well worth reading.
(B) The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt’s New World by Andrea Wulf. Besides being a biography of Alexander von Humboldt the book also places him in the development of ecology as a discipline. He was a polymath and a workaholic. He traveled boldly and climbed mountains while collecting specimens. He wrote copiously. A fascinating book.

Summer Reading

(F) The Book of Memory by Petina Gappah
(NF) The Morning They Came For Us: Dispatches from Syria by Janine di Giovanni
(F) Heat and Light by Jennifer Haigh
(NF) Surfing Uncertainty: Prediction, Action and the Embodied Mind by Andy Clark
(NF) The Crucible of Language: How Language and Mind Create Meaning by Vyvyan Evans

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Caeli Rieger
10 years old and a rising 5th grader at SRS

Best Books

(F) The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins. I like these books because they are unpredictable.
(F) The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brusker Bradley. This book, set in World War II, is about a girl who has to fight to survive.
(F) The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin. This book taught me many things in this test of loyalty and friendship.
(F) Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper. An unbelievable story.
(F) Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullally Hunt. A book with such good ways of describing dyslexia.

Summer Reading

(F) Sorcery & Cecelia: Or, The Enchanted Chocolate Pot by Patricia C. Wrede & Caroline Stevermer
(F) Heart of a Dolphin by Catherine Hapka
(F) Pigs Might Fly by Dick King-Smith
(F) Eight Keys by Suzanne LaFleur
(F) Who Could That Be at This Hour? by Daniel Handler

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Pierce Marra
Rising 7th grader at Strath Haven Middle School

What am I reading this summer, you ask? The question should be, what am I not reading this summer!

I am a rising 7th grader at SHMS and am looking forward to reading these titles, which are from the required summer reading list.

First, the sci-fi book The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams; the realistic historical fiction book The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd; the science fiction book A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle (and the entire quintet!); and the young adult fiction novel An Abundance of Katherines by John Green.

Books that are not on the list that I will definitely be reading: the fiction book The Misadventures of Max Crumbly by Rachel Renée Russell and the graphic novels, The Stonekeeper’s Curse (Amulet #2) and The Cloud Searchers (Amulet #3) by Kazu Kibuishi.

I would recommend to readers who enjoy a variety of genres: the young adult fiction novel Paper Towns by John Green, because it is an adventure that anyone would love to experience in real life. The humorous fiction novel Molly Moon’s Incredible Book of Hypnotism by Georgia Byng, because it was a pattering, heart thumping adventure that left me wanting more Molly adventures (and to my good luck, there are five more).

Another great read is the ‘choose your own adventure’ type graphic novel Meanwhile: Pick Any Path by Jason Shiga. With 3,856 story paths, your adventure is sure to be awesome every time you read it.

The fictional adventure/mystery novel Masterpiece by Elise Broach was a lot better than I expected, with a quick turn from reality onto adventure. And one final book recommendation (because I could go on forever if there was no limit) would be the fictional ‘tween drama novel The Summer of Letting Go by Gae Polisner. It had a great storyline and kept me interested all throughout the book, so much that I read it in one night.

These books have had an impact on my reading life because they are all so different, and have given me the curiosity to seek out many more genres of books to read.

Happy reading wherever you are and choose to be!

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Jennifer Stock
Library Director at the Helen Kate Furness Free Library

Where will I be reading? On my front porch and while eating lunch at my desk in the library.

Best Books

(F) Be Frank with Me by Julia Claiborne Johnson
(HF) The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
(F) Sweetgirl by Travis Mulhauser
(HF) Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye

What I always recommend to others: The Maisie Dobbs (F) mystery series by Jacqueline Winspear. There are now 12 books in this historical mystery series that begins in England during World War I, and I’ve enjoyed every one of them.

Summer Reading

(F) June: A Novel by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore
(M) Living with a Dead Language: My Romance with Latin by Ann Patty
(F) Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty
(F) The Charlotte McNally mystery series by Hank Phillippi Ryan
(F) Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson

George Mulford
Actor and Director, Players Club of Swarthmore

Best Books

(NF) Merle’s Door: Lessons from a Freethinking Dog by Ted Kerasote. The best dog book ever — well, maybe second to The Call of the Wild, but that’s fiction. Ted Kerasote lives in the foothills of the Gros Ventre range and eats only wild meat; his dog Merle has the run of the town, but if he chases a cow or sheep he will be shot.
(NF) Life’s Engines: How Microbes Made Earth Habitable by Paul G. Falkowski. If the idea of genes (and the traits they control for) being swapped among different species makes you a little queasy, or if the mention of Adenosine Triphosphate leaves you groping, you need to catch up. The subtitle tells you that Falkowski is at home with inconceivably small organisms and unimaginably long timespans; in addition, he seems to be personally acquainted with everyone working at the frontiers of microbiology. The 200 pages just zip along, and Falkowski brings to his subject the wide-eyed wonder of the naturalists who explored the Amazon.
(NF) The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them by Elif Batuman. Part memoir, part literary criticism, wholly entertaining, this book is like a long conversation with a person who tells a good story. The stories range from plot summaries of great novels to Batuman’s own out-of-the-way adventures (Samarkand, really?) to key ideas in her intellectual development and where they came from — her college friends and Tolstoy being equally likely sources. Batuman not only loves books, especially Russian novels, but she takes it for granted that they are useful guides to life and thought.
(F) The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy. As dark a tale of India as Rohinton Mistry’s great novel, A Fine Balance; a touch of playfulness in the narration that might distantly bring Salman Rushdie to mind; but all on the small scale dictated by the point of view Roy chooses: that of two Indian children. This one really drew me in.
(NF) Secondhand Time: The Last of the Soviets by Svetlana Alexievich. An extraordinary picture of today’s Russia emerges from these passionate person-on-the-street interviews by a Russian journalist. Aleivitch has a gift for leading her subjects deep into their trauma: the paranoia of the Stalin years, when a neighbor’s denunciation could send you to the Gulag; the shock of vanished hopes when the Gorbachev reforms petered out, the USSR crumbled, salaries plummeted and pensions vanished because of devaluation; the ethnic strife that broke out in the newly independent states and sent unwelcome immigrants streaming into Moscow. Everybody says: under communism we felt a generous solidarity with all the citizens of the USSR and had great hope for the glorious future; under capitalism people are selfish, amoral, and shallow, with nothing to believe in and no future worth hoping for.

Summer Reading

(NF) On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin. I keep hearing how this book changed Western civilization, so I decided to see how far I could get with it. So far so good! I haven’t got beyond the pigeons, but Darwin already has me convinced.
(F) The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Liked it when I was in high school… time for another go! And I’ll have something to say to Elif Batuman, if I ever meet her.
(A) My Struggle by Karl Ove Knausgaard. Really? We’ll see.


Martha Hodes
Professor of History, New York University; Author, most recently, of Mourning Lincoln

Best Books

(F) A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. A long, long novel about four men, college friends in New York City, across three decades, filled with tragedy and loss, and utterly engrossing.
(NF) A Sliver of Light: Three Americans Imprisoned in Iran by Shane Bauer, Joshua Fattal, and Sarah Shourd. The story of three young hikers imprisoned in Tehran on false charges of espionage — Shourd spent over a year in solitary confinement, Bauer and Fattal shared a cell for most of their two years there. Told in alternating voices, a gripping read.
(NF) A Body Undone: Living on After Great Pain by Christina Crosby. A memoir about life after a terrible accident, minus the uplift, yet somehow a beautiful story.
(F) The Arsonist by Sue Miller. A deeply absorbing novel about family, community, and love set in a small town in New Hampshire. You can decide for yourself whether the ending is happy or sad.
(F) The Cosmopolitans by Sarah Schulman. New York in the late 1950s. A straight white woman and a gay black man. A novel of family and loss, told by an unusual narrator.

Summer Reading

(F) Black Deutschland by Darryl Pinckney
(NF) Negroland: A Memoir by Margo Jefferson
(NF) Night of the Gun: A Reporter Investigates the Darkest Story of His Life, His Own by David Carr
(NF) The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone by Olivia Laing
(NF) The Folded Clock: A Diary by Heidi Julavits

Beth Gross
Retired Swarthmorean Editor

Best Books

(F) The Adventurist by J. Bradford Hipps
(F) The Past by Tessa Hadley
(F) They May Not Mean To, But They Do by Cathleen Schine
(F) Modern Lovers by Emma Straub
(F) The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

Summer Reading

(A) My Struggle: Book 5 by Karl Ove Knausgaard
(F) The Sellout by Paul Beatty
(F) Mothering Sunday by Graham Swift
(NF) Seven Brief Lessons in Physics by Carlo Rovelli
(NF) Why We Work by Barry Schwartz

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Carol L. Kennedy
Retired middle-school librarian and an active member
of the Tristate Young Adult Review Committee

I read some great young-adult and middle-school books this year. This summer, I will be reading in and around Swarthmore, as I don’t want to get too far away from my garden!

(YA) Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman. “True Grit” meets “Treasure of Sierra Madre” in this rip-roaring adventure story set in the Old West, for young adults.
(C) Took by Mary Downing Hahn. In this spine-tingling ghost story, a brother and sister move to a haunted house with their parents and have to contend with an old witch about whom they have been warned, for grades 4-8.
(YA) Seven Ways We Lie by Riley Redgate. Seven teens exhibit the seven deadly sins as they wend their way to adulthood through high-school addictions, cliques, gossip, and innuendo. Wonderful characterizations abound in this novel for grades 8-12.
(YA) The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz. In this wonderful coming-of-age story, a Pennsylvania farm girl moves to Baltimore in 1910 and gets a job with a wealthy department-store owner in her effort to better her life. For grades 8-12.
(YA) All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely. A teenage boy is brutally beaten by a police officer who misunderstands his actions, and an entire town is torn apart as a result. Excellent for high-school age and up.

Summer Reading

(NF) Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad by M. T. Anderson
(F) Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White (in English and in Spanish)
(NF) The Gene: An Intimate History by Siddhartha Mukherjee
(F) The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight In Heaven by Sherman Alexie
(F) The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker

Joan Watson
Better Half – Mom – Grandma

I’ll be reading on the porch if it’s nice weather; inside if it’s not.

Best Books

(NF) Born Survivors: Three Young Mothers and Their Extraordinary Story of Courage, Defiance and Hope by Wendy Holden
(NF) Grandma Gatewood’s Walk – The Inspiring Story of the Woman Who Saved the Appalachian Trail by Ben Montgomery
(F) The Last Midwife by Sandra Dallas
(A) The Girl With Seven Names by Hyeonseo Lee. An extraordinary story of the many years it took her to escape from North Korea.
(NF) No Greater Friend: One Man, One Dog and Their Extraordinary Story of Courage and Survival in WWII by Robert Weintraub. Amazing story about a man and his dog and their devotion to each other.

Summer Reading

(NF) Buster: The Military Dog Who Saved a Thousand Lives by Will Barrow, as told by Isabel George
(NF) A Wolf Called Romeo by Nick Jans. Alaska is the setting for this book.
(NF) Stars Between the Sun and Moon: One Woman’s Life in North Korea and Escape to Freedom by Lucia Jang and Susan McClelland
(NF) Angels of the Underground: The American Women Who Resisted the Japanese in the Philippines in World War II by Theresa Kaminski

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Chris Reynolds
Editor, The Swarthmorean
Rose Valley

Best Books

Five of the best books I’ve read during summers past.
(F) A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
(F) The Book of Ebenezer Le Page by Gerald Basil Edwards
(F) High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
(M) The Worst Journey in the World by Apsley Cherry-Garrard
(NF) On the Loose by Terry and Renny Russell

Five books I plan to read (or finish) this summer, mostly to catch up with other readers in my family.

(F) The Shining by Stephen King
(NF) The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter by Meg Jay
(NF) The Turner House by Angela Flournoy
(M) Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic Alison Bechdel
(F) Suttree by Cormac McCarthy

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WSSD Board Says Goodbyes, Reviews a Successful Year; and Sets Goals for 2016-17

Pictured from left to right: Dr. Richard Sonntag, Dr. Michael Pladus and student rep Charlotte Brake. Photo by Katie Crawford

Pictured from left to right: Dr. Richard Sonntag, Dr. Michael Pladus and student rep Charlotte Brake. Photo by Katie Crawford

Wallingford-Swarthmore School Board
By Katie Crawford

The Wallingford-Swarthmore School Board bade two farewells at its June 27th meeting.

The board praised student representative Charlotte Brake for her timely, comprehensive, and interesting reports. Board president Dr. Richard Sonntag noted how rare it is, “to find a young person held in such high esteem by peers and faculty.” The board presented Ms. Brake with a plaque, wished her luck, and invited her to return someday after her studies at the University of Virginia. “We’ll hold a chair for you,” noted Dr. Sonntag. Ms. Brake thanked the board for welcoming her and helping her see what happens “behind the scenes” on a community board.

Prior to delivering his portion of the night’s focus topic report, Interim Superintendent Dr. Michael Pladus thanked the board for an outstanding year. He spoke of the privilege of serving in a community that highly values public education, noting that WSSD is “as good as its reputation — maybe even better.” Dr. Pladus also gave special thanks to his personal assistant Darlene Klingerman.

The focus topic of the meeting was a review of the district’s 2015-2016 goals and an outline of its 2016-2017 goals. The six goals laid out at this time last year were or likely will be achieved, in the estimation of Dr. Pladus:

1.) The Summit School property was successfully sold.

2.) The continuing review of curriculum to increase academic rigor, and improved professional development to support evolving standards have borne fruit: Strath Haven High School had the second highest student performance profile in Pennsylvania and was nominated for consideration for the national Blue Ribbon Schools Award.

3.) Support and implementation of the district’s revised model of teacher supervision and evaluation has continued; Dr. Pladus applauded WSSD’s head of human resources Ferguson Abbott for his work in this area.

4.) A 4-year collective bargaining agreement with the support staff was resolved in the fall, and the board is cautiously optimistic that an agreement with faculty will be forthcoming.

5.) Although there is still much work to be done in managing the district’s financial resources without sacrificing the quality of education, Dr. Pladus noted that the picture looks brighter than it did six months ago when there was still no 2015-2016 budget from the state.

6.) The board hired a highly qualified superintendent — outgoing WSSD business manager Dr. Lisa Palmer — to replace Dr. Pladus. She takes the helm July 1.

New Goals for 2016-2017

Dr. Palmer presented the district’s four goals for 2016-2017:

1.) Increasing achievement for all students and high quality teacher development.

2.) Reimagining how the district functions, and continuing “to implement the vision and strategies that have been developed so they confront the financial realities the district is facing.”

3.) Continuing efforts to close the structural deficit that exists in the general budget with an emphasis on long range planning.

4.) Improving community outreach and conversation.

Palmer stated that, “It takes three boroughs and a township to support our students,” but also stressed that the district must speak and listen to state and federal elected representatives as well as community members and regarding the financial issues facing it. She also emphasized the need for transparency in all district decision-making processes.

The meeting closed with Dr. Sonntag’s parting words for Dr. Pladus, thanking him for leaving retirement to take on the task of guiding the district. He praised Dr. Pladus’s ability to speak his mind in a way that keeps the discussion flowing and for consistently showing compassion for all sides. Board member Dr. Robert Reiger thanked Dr. Pladus for his support of the wrestling team, and board member Chapin Cimino thanked him for his attendance at the district’s many theatrical productions, noting the clever reference in his graduation speech to this year’s musical Rent by asking, “525,600 minutes, how do we measure a year?”

Dr. Pladus presented each board member with a strawberry cheesecake as a parting gift, saying, “What’s summer without one?”

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July 4 in Rose Valley

1:15 p.m.: Meet at Moylan/Rose Valley SEPTA station for children’s games and parade muster.

2 p.m.: Parade begins: Kids on bikes and scooters, babies in strollers, antique cars, a fire truck, a band on the move. Parade route: Woodward Road to Possum Hollow Road to Pool Lane.

2:30 p.m.: Parade ends at Rose Valley Swim and Tennis Club. The pool is open today to paraders, members, and all Rose Valley residents. More music, games and swimming!

4 p.m.: Town picnic, with burgers, dogs and side dishes. Please bring a salad or a dessert to share (mark the dish with your name).


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Trevor Ford and Jennifer Silzle

Diane and Robert Silzle of Swarthmore are delighted to announce the engagement and forthcoming marriage of their daughter, Jennifer Mae Silzle, to Trevor Michael Ford of Havertown. Trevor is the son of Bernadette Ford and the late John Ford, Jr.

Jennifer, a 2000 graduate of Strath Haven High School and 2004 graduate of Millersville University, is currently employed by PRA Health Sciences of Blue Bell as a Senior Project Lead.

Trevor, a 2004 graduate of Haverford High School, has been a sous chef in multiple fine dining establishments on the Main Line, and is currently employed at the Pub of Penn Valley in Narberth.

The couple resides in Ardmore along with their best 4-legged friend and prankster, Maggie.

A wedding in June of 2017 is planned at the Radnor Hotel.

New Arrival. . .

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The entire Rankin clan — whose matriarch and patriarch, the late Helen and Dick Rankin, first moved to Swarthmore in 1952 — recently welcomed the 4th generation to the world.

Baby Anika Mehta Rankin was born on May 5 to Tim and Kanika Rankin of Tucson, Arizona.

A great-grandmother for the first time, Helen Rankin of Swarthmore is thrilled, as are first-time grandparents Newlin and Ellen Rankin of San Anselmo, Calif., and the rest of the now far-flung family.

Baby Ani and her parents will be moving to Nashville, Tenn., in June.

Briefly Noted. . .

SHS Class of 1966

Over the weekend of June 4-5, the Class of 1966 from Swarthmore High School held a reunion celebrating 50 years since graduation. Sixty-nine members of the class were able to attend. Far back: Linda Lane Carrano, Ed Jackson, Frank Snyder, Jerry Hebble, Mark Steciw, Bill Cushing, Larry Keller, Dave Thompson, Larry Luder, Tony Michel, Sandy Irving, Bill Allen, Jack Renshaw and Jill Spencer McNeil. Second row from back: Bill Bower, Weemie Toland Kingham, Jeff Innis, Jim Elliott, Dave Bennett, Sandy Harrison Favret, Jack Price, Gary Baskin, Frank Chapman, Dave Tolley, Pete Weber, Dave Spackman, Eric Sundquist, Jim Kent, Claudia Coit Cohen and Ida Hay. Third row from back: Minnie Zanzinger Ullman, Carol Brennan, Ann Whittier Kane, Carol Johnson, June Hoch, Debby Torrey Meltz, Linda Estabrook Gilbert, Richard Cunliffe, Anne Trevaskis Panfil and Tim Filler. On chairs: Kay Ellis, Cindy Fox, Janet Fox Elmore, Wilda Fowler Cushing, Jo-Ann Dumm Johnson, Bob Silzle, Jenny Grier Anderson, Joe Dell’Orefice, Linda Patchell Abrams and Dave Welbourn. On the floor: Roger Ullman, Alex McNeil, Jon Jackson, Jack Peterman, Pete Barus, Mark Anderson, Sam Caldwell, Dave Cohen and Ann Townes.

Lap Swimmers: This week’s winners of the turquoise with navy writing 2016 1,000-lap T-shirt at Swarthmore Swim Club include: 19.) Clark Linderman, 20.) Patti Clymer, 21.) Sara Kelly, 22.) Steve Golub and 23.) Susan Kelly.

The Swarthmore Fire Company will dedicate a new Canadian maple tree and plaque in honor of Fire Chief James J. Dunn during the ribbon-cutting ceremony for Central Park on Monday, July 4. James Dunn, who was chief for 25 years, died suddenly in 1979. The fire company planted a tree with a stone marker in his memory, but the tree had to be uprooted for the construction of Central Park. The Dunns will be well-represented, with over 50 family members and friends attending the ceremony.

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Hoisting the Sail: the raising of the amphitheater “sail” a/k/a canopy. Photo courtesy of Carol Mackin


Our people are like chips in a kaleidoscope —
Aggregates of the tempest tossed
Of different creed, tongue, expertise, class, height, girth, and hue.
All kin to Uncle Sam and draped in red, white and blue.
Uprooted from foreign soils, we wandered until we met an outstretched hand
And a welcoming embrace to this great land.
Shake up the tumbler and watch the particles go round and round.
With boundless freedom have we all been crowned.
Revolving and rotating in arrangements that captivate.
The bits combine and form patterns that fascinate,
Reflecting motifs geometric,
Harmonious and symmetric.
No matter the design one beholds
An American beauty poignantly unfolds.

— Norman M. Chansky

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Ben Berger Brings Lang Center Energy, Ideas and a Passion for Connection

Ben Berger is looking for students and professors with ideas, ideals, and the enthusiasm and expertise to realize them. He’s also looking at a world of potential, as he begins a five-year term as executive director of the Lang Center for Civic & Social Responsibility at Swarthmore College. Alumnus Eugene Lang established the Lang Center in 2001 to help promulgate and realize his idea that liberal arts education at Swarthmore and elsewhere should serve to benefit people outside their ivied walls, as well as inside.

Ben Berger. Photo by Laurence Kesterson/Swarthmore College

Ben Berger. Photo by Laurence Kesterson/Swarthmore College

“Gene was ahead of his time,” Berger said, citing Lang’s manifesto, “Distinctively American,” published in Daedalus in 1999. “When he wrote that article, he was on the cutting edge; people were just starting to think ‘How could you make a liberal arts curriculum have a very close intersection with citizenship education and active citizenship, and, how might a center look?’ … If you look back at missions of old universities with liberal arts, they often have language about missions of citizenship, but they’re often thinking of an elite model of citizen. There’s no new thing under the sun, but Gene was restating it for this more democratic time and place.”

Berger likely will devote much of his abundant energy to making connections — between Swarthmore College students and professors and the communities in which they live and work and study, whether overseas in exchange programs or across the SEPTA tracks in Swarthmore and Chester.

“Gene talked about campus, community, classroom. I like those 3 Cs,” Berger said, pointing out that members of the college’s campus community are also part of external communities, where they study and volunteer in Chester or Swarthmore; of virtual communities of scholars in their academic fields; of university and urban communities in Ghana, where many Swarthmore students study. “How do we connect the curriculum to any of those communities? … There should be this back and forth. In higher education it’s so easy to fall into this ‘We’re going to ride in on a white horse; we will tell you what your problems are and how to fix them.’ It’s a dangerous mentality. In this era we’re trying to emphasize humility more.”

The Lang Center annually selects Lang Opportunity Scholars and provides them with support to create a social resource, effect social change, or improve a community’s condition. Funding and academic capital are part of the support, Berger said, but the town of Swarthmore itself is a rich resource for the college community, and one whose potential is just beginning to be tapped.

“Lang is really a network, providing social capital: relationships among faculty, students, people in different communities, active citizens,” Berger said. “In this town you can’t go to the swim club or a barbecue without bumping into a nuclear physicist or a business leader or a physician or a professor at some other school, all well-educated and highly experienced, and doing what Rebecca Chopp called ‘living liberal arts lives’ — being active citizens, somehow finding the time to do Doctors Without Borders or work on the Chester Fund … I started talking to friends in the community … we found people in town who had expertise relevant to Lang Scholars’ projects, and we got them talking to each other” at a series of dinners, Berger said “We had one for Global Public Health, and we’re going to do more. It was phenomenally successful.”

Staying Connected to Students and Faculty

Berger, who has served as Lang’s interim executive director since last July, is an associate professor of Political Science, and will continue to teach on “a one-half teaching load, teaching straight Political Theory” this coming year. “We love the students … but the students are gone in four years, and we stay here for a longer time. If you want to keep a lot of energy going on, you have to show faculty members how this stuff relates to their teaching, so I’ve tried to keep a really active teaching regimen, to be at meetings, talking to other faculty to ask, ‘What are you doing, how can we help you?’ We want to set up a few programs within the Lang Center umbrella that will be run by faculty members with particular expertise … One will be called the Urban Inequality Initiative. That will be led by Keith Reeves, political science, and Nina Johnson, sociology; they both teach Inside Out courses to incarcerated students alongside Swarthmore students …that’s a very moving process.”

Now, at the outset of a 5-year term as Lang’s executive director, Berger intends to fully implement some ideas that have been percolating during his interim term. “When I started here, I knew I would love to start up a PPE program — philosophy, politics and economics. We are doing that. I want to connect it up with the engaged orientation that the Lang Center has; we’ll call it Engaged PPE. It’s not a formal program yet, it’s a class, and the curriculum committee still needs to vote on it for it to become a minor. Econ, Poli Sci, and Philosophy are all on board … and we have Hans Oberdiek (emeritus professor in philosophy) to teach a gateway course in the fall called, ‘Introduction to Philosophy, Politics, and Economics.’ He taught in the original PPE program at Oxford, so he’s an amazing person to do it. PPE would have a capstone element. It might be something as simple as applying ethics to policy, turning our orientation to the public eye, suggesting how an intellectual discipline can interact with [for example] medical ethics or political.

“Facilitating curricular additions has been one of my hopes for the Lang Center, and also to support external programs like Peace and Conflict studies and Environmental studies which have an experiential component to a lot of their classes … that kind of connection of the curriculum to the community in a formal sort of way.”

The Lang Center also supports pre-senior internships for students to work in the community, either abroad or at home, Berger said. “We can match up students with an appropriate internship or travel opportunity that ties in with their studies or interests. We have money to help the students connect their coursework, volunteer in the community, engage in activism on campus. Life is extracurricular … what the Lang Center can do is help make things co-curricular. That’s one of those buzzwords. It ought to be defined as the intentional connecting of the curricular with the extracurricular.”

To enhance the Lang Center’s value as a resource to all Swarthmore College students, Berger said, “We’re in the process of searching for a coordinator with academic expertise who can advise students in how to take fellowships and connect them with campus work, curriculum, and other opportunities. This would be somebody who can advise a student who says, ‘I want to be an engineer and yet I’m really passionate about education. Is there a way I can navigate so as to suit my passion and also get a liberal arts education?’ We hope this new person will be very familiar with curriculum, know what the faculty is doing, how the academic world works, and have a passion for pursuing justice.”

Sounds like a job for another Ben Berger.

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South Media Initiative Puts Kids’ Art In Public Places

6-24 Art after school

Artmakers (kids, l. to r.) Camille Dixon, Maxine McKinney, and Jaelen Knox show their work on the new sign at Sapovits Park in South Media. Celebrating with them were initiative founder and former WES principal Dr. Ellen Milgrim (left) and Bridget Hochstoeger, an art teacher at Swarthmore-Rutledge School and a teaching artist in the initiative.

In spring of 2013, during her last semester as principal of Wallingford Elementary School, Dr. Ellen Milgrim had this persistent thought. “I felt we had to engage kids in the WES community who had nothing to do after school.”

She and NAACP Media chapter president Dr. Joan DuVall Flynn convened other leaders, parents and neighbors in the South Media neighborhood of Nether Providence, Dr. Milgrim said. An agreement quickly emerged to develop an after-school program to engage students in collaborating on projects that would benefit the community, and make them proud of their contributions. The group of WES students in grades 1 to 5 would meet on six Mondays each semester. It was not a hard sell to students or supporters, she said.

“The Community Arts Center was very eager to do outreach, and an art program made so much sense. The South Media Fire Company was dying to get the community into the firehouse, and it was perfect for a venue. We wanted to work on something that was meaningful locally; WES needed paving stones for its library courtyard, so those mosaics became the first of our public art projects.”

At a celebration this week of its sixth completed collaborative project, students and their families joined Nether Providence and Wallingford Swarthmore School District leaders, WES and SRS teachers and other supporters at the South Media firehouse, then paraded to the sites where their works were recently installed. The hand-painted sign at Sapovits Park, and a painted archway and woven decorations at Woodrow Wilson parks in South Media welcome all visitors, and will be a lasting source of pride for their creators.

After the celebration, Dr. Milgrim reflected, “I didn’t know I was still going to be doing this after I retired, but it ended up being the best thing ever.”

WES second grader Camille Dixon (with mom Felice Dixon) pointed out part of her contribution to the program’s latest public artwork, a painted gate which was just installed at Woodrow Wilson Park in South Media. “The children really commit to the program.” said Mrs. Dixon. “Every Monday, Camille knew that’s where she wanted to go after school.”

WES second grader Camille Dixon (with mom Felice Dixon) pointed out part of her contribution to the program’s latest public artwork, a painted gate which was just installed at Woodrow Wilson Park in South Media. “The children really commit to the program.” said Mrs. Dixon. “Every Monday, Camille knew that’s where she wanted to go after school.”


Floating Photographer

What’s in your garden this year?

Asked and answered at the Swarthmore Community Garden
(Harvard and Yale avenues) during May and June.
By Chris Reynolds

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I live right there so every morning I come over and cut greens and inspect. Things are going wild. We have tomatoes, lettuce, cucumber, kohlrabi, beans, basil, squash. This is our third year.

Tom Hals

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My wife likes cherry tomatoes, so that’s what I grow. Also, basil, oregano and parsley. I’ve been gardening here for many, many years.

Gene Klotz

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It’s my first year here, and I’m doing a medley of old favorites: hot peppers, tomatoes, basil, parsley, Asian greens, green beans, and Armenian cukes.

Kirsten Savinese
Ridley Park

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We’re getting a late start — it’s our first year in this garden — but we’re going to be doing the same old stuff: tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini.

Hudson: And watermelon.

Grey: And cantaloupe.

Andrea Borrelli
With sons Grey (4) and Hudson (almost 7) Dunn

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Some of the usual — tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, kale. And a lot of wacky stuff. … perennial herbs like mountain mint, bloody dock, marjoram, echinacea, sage. Red, green and yellow cherry tomatoes, including a red one named for my grandmother, Eva.

Mike Rolli
Upper Providence

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