NPE Families Strike Notes of Discord over Music Staffing Plans

Wallingford-Swarthmore School Board
By Katie Crawford

Emotions ran high at the May 22 meeting of the Wallingford-Swarthmore School Board, in response to the proposal to replace retiring Nether Providence Elementary School music teacher Scott Kiehner with a configuration of current district music teachers working itinerantly. Parents and students expressed sadness and disappointment at the approach, which leaves NPE as the sole WSSD elementary school without a dedicated music instructor. NPE parent Damon Orsetti presented the board with a list of concerns focusing on the inequity among the three elementary schools. He stated that under the current proposal, while two of the elementary schools will have a portion of their musical instruction impacted by the need for their teachers to travel to NPE to teach, NPE itself will be left with “the scraps.” He believes that this type of decision making, “leads to the perception that NPE is last on the list of the three elementary schools.” Orsetti (who is also a candidate for School Board in Region Two) encouraged the board to reevaluate its decision in order to create a more equitable allocation of resources.

Nether Providence Elementary student Greg Gurow voiced concerns about changes to music faculty.

Nether Providence Elementary student Greg Gurow voiced concerns about changes to music faculty.

NPE 4th grader Greg Gurow spoke of his desire for a full time teacher explaining that it was difficult to have a relationship with a teacher that, “you don’t see a lot.” Gurow emphasized that he didn’t want a “changing picture,” of his music teacher. NPE parent Stephanie Walkup echoed his concerns, stressing the importance of familiarity and comfort for elementary school aged children. She asked the board, “How many children’s names do we want these teachers to learn?” While she acknowledged that there was no easy solution she asked the board to not seek more than two individuals to fill the position left open by Mr. Kiehner. Walkup encouraged community members to “light a spark, “ stating: “We must find our voices now.” In closing she highlighted for the board that, “equal, as defined by a percentage of work hours, does not equal fair.”

Shirly Early, also an NPE parent, presented the board with a list of questions including, Will NPE students see small lesson size increase? How will three different teachers communicate and coordinate? What will happen when [Strath Haven High and Middle School music teachers] Jack Hontz and Henry Pearlberg retire? She reminded the board that the families at NPE have the lowest per capita household income of the three elementary schools. She believes the private music lessons that many families pay for outside of school to supplement their children’s school music instruction is not as common at NPE as it may be at WES and SRS. As a result of this circumstance, she emphasized that a dedicated music teacher is even more crucial for NPE students.

Other Inequities Seen

Vickie Fedele also spoke of inequity in the district. As a parent of two African-American children she pointed to the lack of diversity among the district faculty. She asked the board if there is any plan in place to actively seek to hire more teachers of color. She referred to a 30 to 40 percent achievement gap between African-American and white students in the district, and noted that research shows that educational outcomes are better for all students when the faculty is more diverse. She encouraged the board to develop a plan to address this inequity.

In response to the range of speakers from the audience, board president Dr. Richard Sonntag thanked the audience members for their attendance and participation. He cautioned community members against relying too heavily on social media to get their information noting that by coming to the school board meeting they are showing their commitment “by coming to the source.”

He explained that the solution put forth was not “micromanaged by the board,” but rather was the result of the music faculty coming together to brainstorm solutions given the current economic climate in the district. The current proposal represents what the music staff believes is the best possible solution given the circumstances. Sonntag again explained the financial situation to the community members in attendance, noting that at the current rate of spending the district will deplete its emergency fund balance in approximately four years stating, “All we can do is manage what we have.”

Sonntag also shared his personal experience as a middle schooler who was surprised to learn that students who attended different elementary schools from his all shared the same instrumental teacher. He had never thought of his music teacher as an itinerant teacher. He believes the students at NPE will have a similar response. He also stressed that NPE is not being treated unfairly or differently from other district schools, but rather that this imminent retirement of a music teacher happens to be occurring at NPE. He stressed that the district is evaluating every situation and possibility after every teacher retirement. In addressing approximately eight retirements currently on the horizon for the district, the administration will consider the placement of long-term substitutes although full-time tenure track teachers are likely to fill most of these positions.

WSSD Superintendent Dr. Lisa Palmer noted that itinerant music teachers are not new to the district and in fact the current chair Jack Hontz recalls teaching across buildings. She also stressed that the music department when given the challenge, “How do we function with one less teacher?” created this solution and that the music teachers feel they will still be capable of delivering a stellar music program to all students. Palmer acknowledged that this solution is not what anyone wants, but that this is the current reality for the district. She also noted that while the reaction to this particular situation has been strong, the district has faced similar situations following retirements in other department for years without much public response.

Dr. Lisa Palmer recognized SHHS Emergency Team members Daniel Zimmerman and Grace Haase.

Dr. Lisa Palmer recognized SHHS Emergency Team members Daniel Zimmerman and Grace Haase.

Recognizing Responsive SHHS Citizens

Another focus topic of the board meeting was “Strath Haven High School Recognition.” Various students and faculty members were cited by the board and Principal Dr. Mary Jo Yannacone for their contributions to the school. Members of the student emergency team are trained to respond to emergencies at school and learn a range of emergency response skills including CPR. The team is led by SHHS teacher Daniel Zimmerman. Team member and SHHS senior Grace Haase was praised for her quick reactions when she performed the Heimlich maneuver on a fellow student who was choking during lunch. Haase arrived at the board meeting after attending the annual signing ceremony at the high school. She will be attending Amherst College in the fall, where she will run track.

In addition, the boys’ lacrosse team and their coach, Jef Hewlings, were recognized for their “Play for the A’s” fundraising efforts, which garnered more than $10,000 last year and twice as much this year for Alzheimer’s research. The Taylor Community Foundation recently recognized the team’s impact on the community, honoring them recently at a dinner and ceremony.

Finally, the Relay for Life Team was recognized for having surpassed the $1 million fundraising mark for lifetime fundraising. This year alone, more than $50,000 was raised during one 12-hour period, not including $4,000-plus from food sales, which will go towards providing three $1,000 scholarships for SHHS students in honor of former SHHS staff member Diane McCormick, who died after battling brain cancer. Co-advisers Jo- Ann Morris-Brady and Pat Keaveney, faculty leadership team Dina Dormer and Sue Gaur, and student co-chairs Matt McAndrews, Claire VanDuyne, and Julia Katcher were all recognized for their tremendous efforts.

Student representative to the board Val Henderson was recognized and praised by the superintendent and the board for her interesting and timely reports. She will be attending Johns Hopkins University in the fall.

The board approved the purchase of Discovery Education Techbooks for the middle school social studies and science programs. Denise Citarelli Jones, director of secondary education, highlighted the benefits of moving from traditional textbooks to Techbooks, noting their affordability, their “vibrant, constantly updated material,” and the relief of a literal burden for students who will no longer have to carry heavy text books. The Discovery Techbooks will be ready to launch in September at Strath Haven Middle School.

Only Connect…

The Swarthmore College Class of 2017, ready to embrace the wider world and forge new connections. Photo by Laurence Kesterson.

The Swarthmore College Class of 2017, ready to embrace the wider world and forge new connections. Photo by Laurence Kesterson.

As they sat on Sunday morning in the lovely, leafy dome of the Scott Amphitheater, 374 Swarthmore College students in the graduating class of 2017 were asked by speakers at the college’s 145th commencement to consider the connection among themselves, and with others in the larger world.

Anna Deveare Smith, playwright, actor and writer and recipient of an honorary Doctorate that day, used the words of Denise Dodson to issue a charge to the class. Ms. Dodson, an inmate whom Ms. Smith met while researching at a Maryland prison, recounted a younger life marked by poor decisions among limited possibilities. “I kinda gravitated to my environment versus reaching out past the environment.” As she developed awareness and empathy through college classwork in prison, Dodson felt her world expand. “I didn’t know how connected I really am to the person next door, down the street or whatever … to every living, breathing thing.”

Anna Deavere Smith Photo by Laurence Kesterson.

Anna Deavere Smith Photo by Laurence Kesterson.

Ms. Smith said: “The portrait of this prisoner could be the portrait of an advantaged college educated person … There are no walls between you and the rest of the world, unless you make those walls. You are free to carry love yourself. I hope you will.”

Swarthmore College President Dr. Valerie Smith considered the transformative, connective power of art as she experienced it recently in a performance of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and at the spring concert of the Chester Children’s Chorus.

“Shakespeare’s plays endure because of their ability to capture the complexity of human emotion and the depth of the human spirit. His evocative language transcends cultural and linguistic differences … Likewise, the Chester Children’s Chorus shows us that through music, we can transcend our differences in ways that uplift us and cause our spirits to soar. In moments such as these, we glimpse the wondrous power of those who create, of those who perform, and of those who listen or watch, to come together in celebration of the human capacity to imagine and to feel the sheer joy and wonder of being alive.

The ability of arts and humanities to get at the essential characteristics, emotions and truths that connect all humans provides a powerful answer to the often-posed question “What is the value of a liberal arts education for its own sake?” Dr. Smith concluded. She bade farewell to the graduates with the confidence that “you leave here more able to harness your own creativity to invent, to discover and to express, in ways that enrich your own lives, your own communities and even the world.”

Doing the Impossible

Selected by her classmates to represent them in her remarks at commencement, Iris Chan ’17 acknowledged, then obliterated, the challenge: “Getting up and speaking to a large gathering of people is one type of impossible. Summing up our collective Swarthmore experiences is another kind of impossible. We’re all different … but when we look back at our time at Swarthmore, like looking from Parrish out to the train station, and, if we squeeze our eyes really tightly, we each come into view, our dusty, blurry, beautiful selves with our own distinctly self-made stories strolling toward the familiar. So even though each of our journeys at Swarthmore meandered through some version of impossible, we are possible. We are possible because we are here.” Her imagistic recollections that followed seemed to resonate throughout the amphitheater, burnishing and perhaps adding one last strand to the collection of memories that will ever connect the members of Class of ’17.

Happy graduates! Photo by Laurence Kesterson.

Happy graduates! Photo by Laurence Kesterson.

Two Swarthmore alumni also received honorary degrees and spoke. Documentarian and TV producer David Gelber ’63, began with a forecast: “It’s tempting for commencement speakers, robed as we are, to play the role of Old Testament prophet. I’m gonna go with it! Here’s my prophecy: the world is going to be a much tougher place for your generation than it was for mine.” Gelber focused on the imperative of addressing and reversing the carbon pollution that is already causing catastrophic climate change.

John Goldman ’71 imparted wisdom that may embolden the graduates to take on the harder challenges ahead: “So here are my two essential truths: life is uncomfortable, and life is rife with change. Yet, it is the wandering, unexpected journey that propels us forward, allows us to grow, makes us better human beings, and creates that awesome sense of fulfillment.”

And in his Baccalaureate address the preceding day, retiring Scheuer Family Professor of Humanities Michael Cothren considered Giotto and much more, communicating the passion for art and beauty that made him such a beloved and inspiring teacher of art in his 39 years at Swarthmore.

What to do? What to know!

Gail Weaver, left, and Frank Noyes of Wallingford and Nancy Curtis of Rose Valley are chairs of Wallingford Presbyterian Church’s 64th annual Strawberry Festival, coming June 5.

Gail Weaver, left, and Frank Noyes of Wallingford and Nancy Curtis of Rose Valley are chairs of Wallingford Presbyterian Church’s 64th annual Strawberry Festival, coming June 5.

Savor the Strawberry Festival This Monday

Strawberries are the stars, but by no means the sole attraction at the annual Strawberry Festival at Wallingford Presbyterian Church on Monday, June 5, rain or shine. The 64th festival packs a ton of fun and food into one evening, from 5 to 8 p.m. Dinner options include roast beef and meatball sandwiches, vegetarian and traditional hoagies, and hot dogs grilled by Boy Scout Troop 277.

For dessert, combine the succulent red berries with cake, ice cream, chocolate dipping, and other treats. Children will flock to a moon bounce, face painting, and games with prizes. Adults can enjoy music and sales of books, plants, and attic treasures.

Proceeds from food and other sales will benefit WPC youth programs, Chester Eastside Inc., and 4Paws for Ability. The church and the fest are at the corner of Brookhaven and Avondale roads in Wallingford. For more information, call (610) 566-1644.

Before Ellis Island, There Was the Lazaretto

By Angela Hewett

Following the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793, it was decided that every ship headed to the port of Philadelphia must be stopped and visited by a doctor. The Lazaretto, at the end of route 420 at the Delaware River, was opened in 1801 to serve as a quarantine hospital.

It still stands today, with part of it serving as Tinicum Township’s offices. Beginning in the late 1890s, it was the home of the Philadelphia Athletic Club. During World War I, it was an Air National Guard training station, and it was a site of a seaplane base for the rest of the 20th century.

On Monday, June 12, at 7:30 p.m. at the Helen Kate Furness Library in Wallingford, the Nether Providence Historical Society will present a talk about the Lazaretto’s fascinating history, and what you can see and do there today.

Barbara Selletti, who along with her husband, has been instrumental in saving and restoring the Lazaretto, will show pictures and tell stories about this historic gem. The program is free and open to all at the Furness Library, 100 N. Providence Road in Wallingford.

Garden buffs rest between stations on last year’s Scott Associates’ Garden Day tour.

Garden buffs rest between stations on last year’s Scott Associates’ Garden Day tour.

How Do Their Gardens Grow? Find Out June 11

One of the perks of membership in the Scott Arboretum is free admission to Scott events like the annual Scott Associates’ Garden Day, which on Sunday, June 11, will provide access to some of the most beautiful gardens in Swarthmore and environs.

Garden Day opens the garden gates to your curiosity about how other gardens grow, and what landscaping ideas and plant combinations might work in your own green spaces.

The gardens are open from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. You are also welcome at a reception at Scott’s Wister Center between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. Members tour free; nonmembers can buy tickets for $25 (adults; $15 for children.)

Maps of the gardens’ locations and ticket information are available at the Scott offices, (610) 328-8025. Scott’s website is at

Calling Young Runners

If you’re too old to crawl but too young to vote, there’s a place and a race for you in the upcoming Junior Development Track Meet next Saturday, June 3. Girls and boys in six age groups from Sub-Bantam (born in 2009 or later) to Senior (born in 1999 or 2000) will toe the line in eight track events and compete in six field events at Strath Haven’s George L King Field, behind SHMS at 200 S. Providence Road.

Registration opens at 8 a.m. on the day of the event, and the first race (the 1,600 meter run for the Bantam and Sub-Bantam age groups) goes off at 8:40. Older generations (age 19 and up) get a chance for glory in the open mile race at 9 a.m., then it’s back to the youth movement for the rest of the track meet, which finishes with 4 x 400 meter relays about 1:30 p.m. Field events start with the younger ages’ softball throw and run through the older kids’ high jump at about 11:30 p.m. Medals will be awarded to event winners in each age group, and ribbons to the next three finishers.

The meet, sponsored by the Delaware County Road Runners Club and the Swarthmore Recreational Association, is open to all young competitors, local or not. Entry blanks will be available at the meet; parents must sign all entries. Weather may cancel the meet at the discretion of the race directors.

Register ASAP for Delco Senior Games

If you are a past, present or future athlete, age 50 or over, it’s time to get a move on! The registration deadline is Wednesday, May 31, for the Delaware County Senior Games, which will be held June 12 to 23.

Visit to print a registration form, fill it out and mail to the Senior Games office in Media, where it must be received by May 31, with payment of $15 for Delco residents ($20 for others). Register for as many events as you wish during the two-week festival at various locations across the county. A full schedule of events, training tips, and a free YMCA membership offer are on the website.

Mostly Kosher appearing at waR3house3.

Mostly Kosher appearing at waR3house3.

It’s (Mostly) Kosher this Saturday at waR3house3

The sensational Los Angeles klezmer band Mostly Kosher concludes its East Coast tour this Saturday with a bang at waR3house3 in Swarthmore. The six- or seven-piece band plays traditional Jewish music fused with jazz, Latin, other dance music, and humor in a festive and funky mix. Showtime is 7:30, with Philly faves Bohemian Mule opening. Doors open at 7 p.m., and light fare is served. You bring the beverage of your choice.

WaR3house3 is located at 100 Park Avenue, WH3 in Swarthmore. The club is at the end of the alley beginning between Paulson & Company and Garnet Cleaners on Park Avenue. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door on Saturday. Info:

Infant Storytime at Furness Library

Babes in arms and young toddlers are invited to share time with parents and caregivers at the Helen Kate Furness Free Library the next three Thursday mornings, June 1, 8, and 15, at 10:15 a.m.

This storytime, geared to children aged up to 2 years old, includes books, music, rhymes, finger play, and puppets.

The program is free, but you should register in advance at the library, 100 N. Providence Road in Wallingford.

Planting Day Tomorrow at Little Crum Creek Park

Start your Memorial Day weekend joining your neighbors in planting trees and shrubs (and installing deer-deterring cages around them) at Little Crum Creek Park on Saturday, May 27, beginning at 9 a.m.

Bring shovels and wheelbarrows for mulching, as well as work gloves. The Environmental Advisory Council sponsors the session, and will provide snacks, water, and lunch at no charge to all volunteers.

The park is located just off Swarthmore Avenue on Cresson Lane in Swarthmore. Everyone is welcome! If you have questions, please contact Susan Kelly at or (610) 999-6858.

E-Recycling Next Saturday in Swarthmore

Swarthmore Borough residents and others are encouraged to recycle almost anything with a plug, working or not, at the borough’s recycling event on Saturday, June 3, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

This is your chance to say goodbye to bygone technology and broken small appliances, from steam irons and space heaters to computers and cell phones.

There is an extra fee of $20 per item for air conditioners and televisions; bring cash or a check made out to Swarthmore Borough. Otherwise, the drop-off is free and accepts everything except large appliances and items with broken screens.

Location is Myers Avenue behind the Swarthmore Co-op. Rain date will be Saturday, June 10, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Noontime Concert at Helen Kate on Tuesday

Next Tuesday, May 30, at the Helen Kate Furness Free Library, local duo Last Chance (Jack Scott of Wallingford and Ingrid Rosenback of Swarthmore) will play a special free noontime acoustic concert.

Bring lunch if you wish, and join Last Chance in the front room of the library at 100 N. Providence Road in Wallingford.

Leaf Compost by the Bucketful

Bring your buckets and shovels to the Public Works/Recycling Center at 121 Dartmouth Avenue the weekend of May 26. Free mulch while supplies last!

Reproductive Rights Update

On Tuesday, June 6, at 8 p.m., Indivisible Swarthmore: Moving the Needle will present a teach-in on reproductive rights at the Swarthmore Community Center, 715 Harvard Avenue.

Speakers/teachers will include Maggie Leigh Groff of Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pa., and Julie Zaebst of the Clara Bell Duvall Reproductive Freedom Part of the ACLU of Pa. The two-hour event is free and open to all.

Briefly Noted…

5-26 cades

Last Friday, CADES celebrated the 10th anniversary and rededication of its “All Abilities & Access” playground. “A decade ago, CADES’s ‘village’ — including staff, parents, board, friends, family and neighbors — had the insight to use a U.S. Department of Labor grant as the foundation for fundraising and bringing the playground to fruition,” CADES Executive Director Julie Allman said. “Our current village has continued their support and encouragement to keep the playground vibrant and growing.” State Senator Tom McGarrigle and State Representative Leanne Krueger-Braneky presented citations to CADES for its continued excellent work in serving adults and children with a wide variety of disabilities.

5-26 cunninghams

Maddy Cunningham (Strath Haven ‘13) graduated cum laude with a B.S. in biology from St. Joseph’s University on May 20. Maddy is off to San Francisco to do a year of service in a prenatal clinic, then on to medical school. Maddy is pictured here with her brother, Aidan (Strath Haven ‘18), who is playing Hugo Peabody in the current YPTW production of Bye Bye Birdie at the Swarthmore Players Club. They are the children of Beth Camagna and Mayor Kevin Cunningham of Rutledge.

Rosanna Heidt of Swarthmore and Ryan Cooney of Wallingford have been named to the dean’s list at Worcester Polytechnic Institute for the spring semester.

Timothy McCullough of Rose Valley graduated magna cum laude from York College with a bachelor of science degree in early elementary education.

Michelle Zoch of Wallingford has been named a member of the Beta Kappa Chi honor society this spring at Alvernia University. Michelle is studying nursing at the university.

Kevin Morris of Wallingford was recently inducted into the Beta Gamma Sigma honor society for AACSB Accredited Business Programs at Widener University.

Jamie Morris of Wallingford earned the Graduate Award for Excellence in Service from Alvernia University’s Holleran Center for Community Engagement. Jamie is in the nursing program at the university.

David Henderson of Swarthmore, a graduate student at Saint Joseph’s University, was inducted into the national business honor society, Beta Gamma Sigma, during the spring semester.

Sean M. Gillham of Swarthmore earned a Master of Science degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Gabriel W. Cole of Wallingford was been inducted into the St. Lawrence University’s chapter of Phi Sigma Tau, the international honorary society for philosophy.

5-26 WES

WES librarian Martha Lambertsen and the Wallingford Elementary School community welcomed children’s author Sara Pennypacker, who spent a full day recently at WES, presenting her work, answering questions, signing books and talking with students. Pictured here with Mrs. Lambertsen and Ms. Pennypacker are (l. to r.) Leah R., Caroline R., Carly T., Anna K., and Kailey S. Her newest book, Pax, has been on the New York Times bestsellers list for the past year, joining her many other smash hits including The Summer of the Gypsy Moths, the Clementine series, and Flat Stanley. At WES, Ms. Pennypacker spoke with audiences of 1st through 5th graders about how her experiences as a child shaped her into the author that she is today, and emphasized that the best books aren’t necessarily written by celebrities, but rather by storytelling enthusiasts. Ms. Pennypacker signed and personalized each book that was ordered from sponsor Children’s Book World by the many avid readers at WES.

5-26 tennis club

Strath Haven High School’s boys’ tennis team won its first round match at the 2017 PIAA Tournament on Tuesday, May 16, only to fall in the Class AAA quarterfinal round to Unionville last Friday. Led by head coach TJ Adams, this is the first time in 16 years that Haven has represented the Central League and District 1 in States. The senior-led team is pictured here after their Tuesday win, left to right and back to front: Harrison Hotham (senior), Dylan Taylor, Finn L’Armand, Jacob Knauer (senior), Ben Troutman (senior), Ian Terry (senior), Michael Lu, George Steinke, Justin Snyder (senior), Xandy Hammitt (senior), Clay Gaieski and Cole Wirth. Photo courtesy of Jean Steinke.

5-26 baseball team

The Strath Haven Middle School’s 8th Grade baseball team finished off their undefeated season with a 12-5 win over Paxon Hollow. This group was also undefeated as 7th graders. Back row (l. to r.): Coach Matt Lucas, Gabe Federico, Luke Edwards, Simon Bolinger, Koll Peichel, Luke Jacobson, Alex Hemmingway, Robbie Guilday and Ian Connell. Front row (l. to r.): Brage Davis, Jack Ryder, Christian Thack, Chris Willette, Chris Felder, Evan Schmidt and Marc DeCarlo. Not pictured: John Francis. Photo courtesy of Tracy Federico.

A Jump-Start for Rooftop Solar

The Ciampas’ home with its rooftop solar system.

The Ciampas’ home with its rooftop solar system.

By Heather Saunders

In October 2015, the community group Transition Town Media launched Solarize Greater Media. The idea was clever: Take the hassle out of residential rooftop solar power by doing the homework for homeowners and offering a volume discount. TTM vetted installers, negotiated prices, and even worked out a home equity loan package. Information sessions helped get the word out; roughly 280 people signed up to receive estimates for their homes, and by the mid-June deadline, 50 had signed contracts.

Eleven months later, 37 homeowners have had rooftop solar systems installed as part of the Solarize Greater Media initiative. A Few Steps talked to one of those families, Janice and Ralph Ciampa of Swarthmore, to hear about their experience. Their summary verdict? “We’d do it again!”

The Ciampas describe the process of getting their solar array installed as quite manageable and only minimally disruptive. Solar States, the SGM contractor, prepared multiple proposals for their review. They settled on a system of 20 panels at a total cost of about $20,100. A 30% Federal tax credit reduced the project cost by about $6,000, and the volume discount promised by SGM delivered a rebate of $1,800, for a net project cost of approximately $12,300. Assuming a monthly savings on their electric bill of $150 (as estimated by the contractor), the Ciampas were looking at a payback period of less than seven years.

The Ciampas had several factors working in their favor: their roof has perfect southern exposure, isn’t shaded by trees, and was already 25 years old and due for replacement – an expense they would have incurred with or without solar. Their solar array went into operation in mid-July 2016, and when the sun shines, it produces more electricity than their two-person household requires. The excess is fed into the grid, and PECO credits them for it. At night, the Ciampas draw power from the grid in the usual way.

So how much are they saving? It appears they saved about $100 to $140 per month, compared to 2015-2016 billing. The real surprise came in April of this year, with a bill in the amount of $8.44 — PECO’s minimum standing charge for net energy use of zero kilowatt hours! Both electricity usage and the year-on-year savings provided by solar are likely to rise in the summer months, when production will be highest and air conditioning boosts the family’s electricity consumption.

As for the larger picture, having achieved more than 30 installations, Solarize Greater Media was able to claim the maximum discount agreed with Solar States — about 10%, awarded as rebates to participants in the program. However, while the Ciampas’ installation went smoothly, Sari Steuber, of Transition Town Media, reports that 16 of the original 50 homeowners who planned to participate in the Solarize campaign were denied approval by PECO. The aging power grid in our region was designed to send power to houses, not to take it in, and the utility has the right to object to rooftop arrays that could overwhelm the system. Solar States pursued the discussion with PECO on behalf of those who were denied. At the time of writing, six of the 16 had agreed to pay for relatively inexpensive solutions and now have their systems up and running. A further six are still pursuing alternatives.

Meanwhile, it seems the Transition Town Media team may have started something. Steuber reports there are three Solarize-style initiatives currently underway in Philadelphia, and they are drawing on the experience of Solarize Greater Media.

Letters to the Editor

CCC brings more than music

To the Editor:

I went to the Chester Children’s Chorus concert at Swarthmore College in search of a miracle. I have never felt so discouraged about my country, never more despairing about the world my grandchildren would inherit. I badly needed some reason to feel hope.

Having attended many CCC concerts I had reason to believe I had come to the right place. Within an hour I heard Bach, and was reminded of the timeless sacred. I heard “Precious Lord” and remembered MLK, one of America’s saviors from one of America’s darkest hours. I heard the CCC perform a spoken piece that, without singing a single note, made me marvel at the consummate vocal skill of these young singers. I heard opera. And Duke Ellington. And a South African Folk Song. And a medley of Disney favorites. And an exquisite acapella performance of a difficult piece by Ola Gjielo, a composer unknown to me. And my personal favorite, “I’m not Done” by John Alston, which reminded me that like John, I can work to make hope possible, rather than despair convincing.

I have sung with a dozen choruses and attended performances by some of the world’s most respected choral groups. I don’t believe any of them are capable of better performing that range of music with the musicianship and infectious spirit of the CCC.

But it was more than music that brought the audience to its feet shouting their approval after the concert. For me it was witnessing love and community – as the youngest singers performed their pierces the applause from the older singers at times threatened to overcome the applause from the audience. For me it was the feeling of joy and astonishment at what kids from Chester, and I think all kids, can accomplish when we believe in them and give them the opportunity to blossom.

After the concert I spoke with one of the singers. I thought to myself how different we were – I am male, much older, a product of a good public school system on an alien planet called White Privilege. She reached across that divide to tell me of her years in the CCC, and mentioned that she would attend Penn State in the fall. I wished her well and told her that I am a Penn State graduate. She said “We are,” inviting my “Penn State.” Then she repeated loudly, “We are” and I surprised myself with an equally loud “Penn State.” She felt I could do better, so repeated with a much louder “We are.” We were both surprised that my “Penn State” matched her “We are.” She smiled approval and put up her hand, offering me my first “high-five” in 50 years or so.

This young woman helped me to remember something that I had forgotten was in me. John Alston, Sean Tripline and their supporters help Chester children to discover what they don’t know is in them, and our polarized community to remember our better selves. I am grateful to them. I encourage you to hear and support this community treasure.

Grant Grissom

Outing builds the Foundation

To the Editor:

Golfers Alexandra Detweiler (left) and Hally Stief of Swarthmore paired up for the Foundation tournament.

Golfers Alexandra Detweiler (left) and Hally Stief of Swarthmore paired up for the Foundation tournament.

The Foundation for Wallingford Swarthmore Schools held an Inaugural Golf Outing on Monday, May 15, at the Springhaven Club. The event was sold out with 108 golfers, and there was also a putting contest and luncheon that attracted an additional 35 people. Dr. Lisa Palmer, WSSD Superintendent, and Frannie Reilly, a founder of the Foundation, spoke at the luncheon which followed the tournament.

The Golf Outing was very successful, earning just over $30,000 which will be used to fund a variety of grants to programs and initiatives at our schools. Many local businesses and families supported the event. The Foundation wishes to thank all the many sponsors and donors of our event. Our Gold and Silver level sponsors ($3,000 and $1,000 respectively) are listed below.

Gold Sponsors: Quotations; Detweiler Family; and Wendt Family.

Silver Sponsors: The Sheff Family; The Spangler Family; Joseph Anthony; 1919 Investment Counsel; Radio Communications Service, Inc.; and Kelly Smith/Stella and Dot.

We really appreciate the support of all our sponsors and players.

Janet D’Amico
Golf Outing Committee Chair

Liquor referendum — what’s next?

To the Editor:

Congratulations to the citizens of Swarthmore! You made a definitive statement on the referendum with 80% of voters approving expanded sales of beer, wine and spirits by businesses in our town. You told us you supported it, and you showed it on May 16!

While members of Swarthmore21 are pleased with the result, we also understand there’s still a lot to do to facilitate progress in our town center. Our effort was about removing one obstacle to investment in our town.

Some have asked what’s next with this initiative. In short, it’s now up to the existing businesses and/or new entrepreneurs to determine the feasibility of modifying their operations and/or starting a new venture involving the sale of beer, wine or spirits. This includes, but is not limited to, purchasing a liquor license, and it will probably take some time for anything to change or happen otherwise. Nonetheless, Swarthmoreans made such a consideration genuinely possible.

We’d like to thank everyone who made it happen, including the merchants, financial donors, media, and those who provided marketing and other operational support for the campaign. We especially want to thank the 21 individuals who joined this effort in November and worked tirelessly for 6+ months to help commence what many hope will be an exciting new journey forward for our town. We appreciate your commitment to and passion for Swarthmore and congratulate you on a job very well done.

Here’s to a warm, sunny, and restful summer for all Swarthmoreans and to a bright future for our town center!

Patrick Francher and Vince Barrett

Join in remembering

Fellow citizens:

Many of us have relatives across generations who have joined the military. Some may have sacrificed their lives in doing so. You would have wanted someone besides the family to also remember them, to honor their service and sacrifice. This Memorial Day is a chance to partake in honoring them. This is an invitation (although you really shouldn’t need one) to attend Swarthmore’s simple remembrance service on Monday, May 29, at 10 a.m.

Our gathering at Monument Park (corner of Park and Dartmouth avenues) features patriotic music by the Silver Dollar Band, a simple blessing, placement of flags at the memorial by the attending veterans, tolling of the Swarthmore fire company bell, a guest speaker, and culminates with “Taps.” If you are able, you can march or drive, following the fire engines, down Park Avenue to Eastlawn Cemetery, where graves will be decorated with flags by the Boy Scouts.

Also on Monday evening, Channel 12 (PBS) broadcasts the concert on the mall in Washington, D. C. Patriotic music is woven through a storyline of some military person’s sacrifice in their tour of duty. The program airs at 8 p.m. and is repeated at 9:30 p.m. It is hosted by Gerry Sinise and Joe Mantegna.

We all have something to be thankful for as Americans. Make time to honor those who cared enough to make it possible. Please care. Please come. Please plan to attend a ceremony somewhere.

Joan Watson

Books + Cookies = Success

To the Editor:

The Spring Book and Bake Sale held by the Friends of the Swarthmore Public Library on May 4 through May 6 was a resounding success. Approximately $6,200 was raised from the sale of books, CDs, and DVDs, while nearly $800 was raised at the bake sale, which featured home-made treats from our resident bakers.

A lot of work went into making the sale a success, and we wish to thank all the people who donated items for sale, who baked, who worked the cash registers, who helped organize the books and other items, and who helped in numerous other ways.

There are too many to name, but I would like to single out Bern Rehberg, Bill Lotz, Amber Osborne and her staff (particularly Carol Mackin), Walt Omlor and the Community Service workers, Claudia Carlsson and her four student interns, Jane Billings and her staff, Will Randall from Hobbs, the Swarthmore Fire Department, the Swarthmore United Methodist Church, Chris Reynolds and the Swarthmorean newspaper, Don Kennedy, David Calloway, Lisa Wallace, and the wonderful executive committee of the Friends — Jeannine Anckaitis, Anne Papa and Betty Wallace. Due to the efforts of all these generous and hard-working members of the community, we were able to support our wonderful library in a significant way!

Carol L. Kennedy, President
Friends of the Swarthmore Public Library

The Swarthmore Gentleman’s Club #2

Some of us were worried
hearing that Swarthmore would have its first
Gentleman’s Club
with Liquor and dancing and other activities
very unSwarthmorelike

Soon however, other businesses arose
SWAT TAT (Tattoos), Toys for Older Boyz,
a Cigar Palace, places for various activities
the connotations and denotations of which
need not all be listed

Soon we became the go to go go place
the ecstasy destination
who needs coffee shops, groceries, pharmacies
when we became the place for dreams
that we now knew well
how to sell

— Bob Small

Let the Sun Shine for Swarthmore College Commencement Weekend

Swarthmore College seniors, friends and families hope for good weather this weekend as they converge for the college’s Commencement weekend, with Saturday’s Baccalaureate and Sunday’s Commencement exercises scheduled to be held outside in the Scott Amphitheater.

Baccalaureate convenes seniors and faculty in a session considering and reviewing the “moral and spiritual roots of the educational process” and to focus thought on contributing to a more just world. The faculty speaker is Humanities professor Michael Cothren, who will be introduced by Art professor Randall Exon, with a reading to follow by Nicole O’Dell Odim, a member of the class of 1988 and of the college’s Board of Managers. Baccalaureate begins at 3 p.m. and is open to all, except in the case of rain, which would move the ceremony to the Lang Performing Arts Center and limit guests to two per student. A reception follows on Parrish Lawn (LPAC in the event of rain).

Commencement itself will take place on Sunday morning, May 21. Seniors, faculty and administrators will process into the amphitheater from Parrish Hall, rain or shine, beginning at 9:45 a.m. Admission to the amphitheater is ticketed, but the proceedings will be televised at various locations including LPAC and the Scheuer Room of Kohlberg Hall.

The student commencement speaker is Iris Chan; David McElhinney, a 1975 Swarthmore graduate and member of the Board of Managers, will give the commencement reading. Honorary degrees will be presented to David Gelber, a journalist from the Swarthmore class of 1963, philanthropist John Goldman (Class of 1971), and to playwright and actor Anna Deveare Smith, each of whom will speak during the ceremony. A reception will follow at about 1 p.m. on Parrish lawn (LPAC if rainy).

Primary Election Results 2017*

Swarthmore residents resoundingly said “yes” in the referendum on Tuesday’s ballot, allowing granting of liquor licenses for the sale of alcoholic beverages in the borough. The tally of 1,335 votes for the proposal and 310 against was historic: it is the first borough-wide approval of liquor licenses, after failures of similar ballot questions in 2011 and earlier years. (Alcohol sales at The Inn at Swarthmore are permitted under a 2001 ordinance covering college-owned properties.)

Only a handful of contested races were on ballots in the Swarthmorean’s immediate area. In Swarthmore, four Borough Council candidates endorsed by the Swarthmore Democratic party were chosen by Democratic voters, while Melissa Jurist’s “campaign from outside” garnered nearly 500 votes. The four Democratic candidates chosen for the general election ballot were newcomers Betsy Larsen and Sarah Graden, and incumbents Lauren McKinney and Michael Carey.

Republican voters in region 2 of the Wallingford-Swarthmore School District chose Bob Kelly over Damon Orsetti as their School Board nominee. Orsetti ran unopposed on the Democratic ballot, and the two Wallingford residents will compete in the November general election.

For a list of the results of the Primary Election, visit

Nether ZHB Denies Appeal of Providence Road ‘Sober Living’ House Owner

Dung “Gabe” Lau, owner of the Providence Recovery House at 224 N. Providence Road in Wallingford, was not present Monday evening for the unanimous ruling of the Nether Providence Township Zoning Hearing Board, denying his appeal of a citation and closing the book on a ZHB proceeding which extended for nearly 20 months.

Had he attended the session, Lau would have heard not only the substance of the ruling, but also the disappointment voiced by board member Hugh Gillespie in the “significant credibility issues” raised by the owner’s testimony during the proceedings.

The original citation — for occupancy of a property zoned single family residential by a number of unrelated individual adults —was issued in September 2015, shortly after the drug overdose death of new resident Brian Fetterman brought the facility’s use to the attention of township officials. The owner has since accumulated other complaints and citations concerning use of the property out of conformance with township code. Lau contended that the facility’s residents were in effect a “family.” Unpersuaded, Gillespie commented before moving to deny the appeal that “this is not a residence, and it’s not a family, it’s a business.”

The owner of the house at 224 N. Providence Road has 30 days to appeal the decision in either Common Pleas Court or Federal District Court. (At times during the hearing, Lau and his attorneys suggested that the use of the home for a multi-family dwelling should be permitted under the federal Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.) In the meantime, Providence Recovery House continues to operate its sober living facility, where up to ten residents in recovery pay thousands of dollars per month to live.

Hello, ‘Bye Bye Birdie’

Cast members of YPTW’s Bye Bye Birdie rehearse for the upcoming run of the musical comedy at the Players Club of Swarthmore. Photo by Claudia Carlsson

Cast members of YPTW’s Bye Bye Birdie rehearse for the upcoming run of the musical comedy at the Players Club of Swarthmore. Photo by Claudia Carlsson

The Young People’s Theatre Workshop revives a teen idol for the ages in its upcoming production of Bye Bye Birdie, which runs from Friday, May 26, through Sunday, June 4. The play, first staged in 1960, could be regarded as the first rock & roll musical comedy. It captures the hysteria surrounding the every movement (particularly hip shakes) of a singing idol named Conrad Birdie, jumping off from the phenomenon of Elvis Presley, who was in his ascendancy when drafted into the Army in the late 1950s. So, too, with Birdie, who is put front and center of a publicity stunt as he prepares to report for duty in the military. What seems like harmless fun today outraged the fuddy-duddy daddies and mommies of the time, and broke countless lovesick hearts.

YPTW’s production involves more than 60 actors, aged 8 to 18, performing in two casts during the run from May 26 through June 4 at the Players Club of Swarthmore. Leads include Simon Shankweiler of Swarthmore (Conrad Birdie in both casts), Aidan Cole and Patrick Gaughan of Wallingford (manager Albert Peterson), Annie Mutz and Zoe Bock of Swarthmore (Rose Alvarez), Isabel Zarrow of Swarthmore and Elizabeth Hughes of Media (Kim McAfee), and Aidan Cunningham of Rutledge (Hugo Peabody).

Performances are at 7:30 p.m. on May 26, 27, 30 and June 1 and 3. Sunday matinees (2 p.m.) are on May 28 and June 4, and a 6 p.m. performance is on May 29. Tickets are available at the door; advance tickets and other information on YPTW are also available via and (610) 558-0988.