In this week’s issue . . .

WES Principal
Peterkin’s Out

On Tuesday, December 5, Wallingford Elementary School families received word that WES Principal Joshua Peterkin had resigned. This followed “an inappropriate action on his part that in no way endangered or involved children,” Dr. Lisa Palmer, Superintendent of the Wallingford-Swarthmore School District, wrote. Per the district’s employee privacy policy, no further details were made available.

Strath Haven Middle School Assistant Principal Joseph Buecheler became acting principal beginning Wednesday. He has been with the district for 20 years, and in his current post for the last 5 years. His current duties will be covered temporarily by the other middle school administrators.

Mr. Buecheler’s assistant principal position will be filled in the near future, likely through a rearrangement of staff already at the middle school, said Dr. Palmer, suggesting it will be done in a matter of days rather than months.

The search for a permanent replacement principal at WES will take longer. “The game plan is to have the position filled by July 1,” when the new business year begins, Dr. Palmer said on Wednesday. WES staff and parents will participate with WSSD administrators in the process of reviewing candidates.

“While the news may be unsettling, the school district is confident that the school can move forward in a very positive manner.” Dr. Palmer wrote to WES families.

Swarthmore Borough Council:
A Good Problem to Have
By Katie Crawford

The 2018 budget for Swarthmore Borough was the main focus of the borough council’s discussion at their December 4 meeting. As a result of the revenue generated by the building permits required for the Biology, Engineering, and Psychology building currently under construction on Swarthmore College’s campus, the borough’s fund balance will go from $510,000 to $1,073,000. Even given the anticipated expenses to the borough associated with the inspections necessary for the building, this revenue increase will raise the fund balance to 20% of the borough’s annual expense budget as opposed to the best practices recommendation of 5-10% for a borough of its type.

This is, of course, a good problem to have. Council member Michael Carey suggested that the Finance Committee (which he heads) meet to decide how best to use the sudden, onetime windfall of revenue and then report to council with their ideas. One possibility could be paying down existing debt. In more good news, borough residents …

This December, Marvel
at the Pageant of the Nativity

The Swarthmore Nativity Pageant Committee has already begun preparations for the 41st biennial Pageant of the Nativity.

The Pageant has been a Christmas tradition in Swarthmore since 1938 and has been given almost every other year. It consists of five scenes from the Old and New Testaments, with narration of the Scripture and choral accompaniment by a volunteer choir.

Community is key when discussing the Nativity Pageant. Approximately 150 cast members of the Wallingford-Swarthmore community are involved in its production. Many of the cast members have participated in numerous performances, and in some cases, three generations of a family have played a role.

The Swarthmore Nativity Pageant will again be given at the Lang Music Hall on the Swarthmore College campus on Saturday, December 23, at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. The event is free and open to the public and is most enjoyed with children over the age of five. Ample parking is available on the College campus. Seating is limited.


Gifts of Music

Chris Knob of Wallingford (right) met up this year with Bob Waters, head of the South New Jersey Chapter of Guitars for Vets, to present these three guitars, which are among a dozen Knob has crafted for G4V.

Chris Knob of Wallingford is a gifted — and giving — guitar artist. His musical gifts began to emerge in childhood, and as a classical guitar student he developed considerable proficiency. But it was later in life, and as a different sort of interpreter of the instrument, that he has made an enduring impression through the guitar.

The Guitars for Vets logo adorns the headstock of one of Chris Knob’s custom creations.

“When I was young and my folks were attempting to introduce me to a musical education, I took lessons at the old Swarthmore Music with a music major from the college named Jim Kelly. After several years of diligent playing and practicing, I realized I was not a musician … I was an excellent technician, but I didn’t hear the music the way an artist would. Playing guitar remained part of my life after that, but I didn’t pursue it with a passion.”

Knob is a biologist at Cooper University Hospital, where he runs the research lab for the division of infectious disease, mentors resident fellows, and writes about antimicrobial resistance. He and his wife Tasha live in Wallingford, and Chris has lived in the area for most of his life. A longtime woodworker, Chris built period reproductions and custom furniture before a back injury curtailed his ability to lug lumber. After his workshop lay dormant for a couple of frustrating years, inspiration struck. “I bought a book …

Out, Out, Damned Spot!
By Katie Crawford

Just when you thought your list of worries couldn’t get any longer, it seems a new pest has come to Pennsylvania. While causing no real harm to humans, the Spotted Lanternfly, or Lycorma delicatula, poses a significant threat to agricultural industries in the state and to the outdoor quality of life for private property owners. One Pennsylvania resident with an infestation on her property was quoted as saying, “I can’t enjoy my outdoor life anymore. I can’t go sit on my deck because of these swarming flies!”

A new environmental scourge is coming: the Spotted Lanternfly.

The Spotted Lanternfly was first identified in eastern Berks County in September of 2014. The initial report detailed an “unknown” insect damaging an Ailanthus altissima tree (commonly known as “Tree of Heaven”) on private property. The immediate reaction was hopeful: the Tree of Heaven is an invasive species, and it was thought that this pest could potentially be helpful in its elimination. However, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture quickly came to realize the damage that could also be caused to the state’s combined $18 billion grape, tree fruit, hardwood, nursery, and landscaping industries.

While the pest’s main feeding source is the Tree of Heaven, it also has been found to feed directly on grapes, stone fruit, and hops. The sugary waste it expels onto plants allows for a sooty mold to grow which damages fruit and leaves. In 2017 there was also damage reported on basil, blueberries, cucumbers, and horseradish. 2017 was also the first year that significant damage was seen from heavy feeding on walnut, red oak, maple and hickory trees. On Friday, December 1, John Baker, coordinator of the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture’s Spotted Lanternfly Eradication Program, presented …

Friday Film: ‘An Inconvenient Sequel’

This Friday, December 8, at 7 p.m., the Green Party of Delaware County hosts a screening of An Inconvenient Sequel at Swarthmore Borough Hall’s Council Room. Released this year, nearly a decade after An Inconvenient Truth, the film explores the progress …

Swarthmore College Talent on Display

This weekend, Swarthmore College undergraduates showcase their considerable and various talents in four performances, all of which are free and open to the public.

On Friday, December 8, at 8 p.m., senior Andrew Kim conducts a chamber orchestra comprised of fellow students in a lively and diverse program at Lang Concert Hall. In the same location on Saturday, December 9, at 3 p.m., the Swarthmore Chorus undertakes a choral program with its complement of 70 students, faculty and community members. …

‘Casablanca’ on Screen at SPL

Here’s looking at you, kid. And come Tuesday, December 12, here’s looking at Casablanca, one of the most beloved films of all time, in the 75th anniversary year of its release. Bogart and Bergman defined wartime romance in a story that softened …

Widener Chorale’s Holiday Concert Is Sunday

The Widener Chorale will hold a concert at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church on Sunday, December 10, at 4 p.m. The repertoire will include Haydn’s Kleine Orgelmesse and Josquin’s Ave Verum Corpus, as well as holiday favorites. The event is free and open …

Holiday Spirit Lives in Arts at SUMC

Swarthmore United Methodist Church invites the community to join two holiday programs focusing on the arts for the church’s Faith and Life class.

On Sunday, December 10, members Christine Hutchinson and Sheila Bell will invite participants to study and enjoy works of art that portray the Annunciation and Mother and Child. (Think Botticelli, Picasso, Cassatt.)

And if you would like to sing holiday music that you won’t hear at the mall, join other singers to sing traditional carols and modern holiday songs on Sunday, December 17 …

Colonial Christmas at the Leiper House
By Angela Hewitt

The historic 1785 Thomas Leiper House in Wallingford will host its annual colonial Christmas open house on Sunday, December 17, from 1 to 5 p.m. This event, free and open to the public, features six rooms, each decorated by a different garden club. Participating this year are the Swarthmore Garden Club, Twilight Thyme, Providence Garden Club, Country Gardeners, Springfield Garden Club, and the Rose Tree Gardeners …

The Walking School Bus
By Jeannine Anckaitis

SRS Principal Dr. Angela Tuck and Swarthmore Police Chief Brian Craig lead students through the Princeton Avenue tunnel.

Parents of school-aged children: Does this scenario ring a bell? There’s struggle to get out of bed and sleepily but quickly into weather-appropriate, clean clothing, followed by a scramble to eat breakfast, compile lunch and snack, gather homework and signed permission slips, remember library books and musical instruments, slip into shoes and maybe even a jacket before rushing out the door. School mornings are not exactly quality time – unless all that is followed by a walk to school.

SRS is about a 15-minute stroll from our house, and for the past few years, both my husband and I are fortunate to have had the time to fit a walk into most of our mornings. It truly may be the best 15 minutes of quality time with our kids on any given day. We’ve heard about their nighttime dreams, their expectations for the day, their memories from the previous day. We’ve made up jokes about our neighborhood, we’ve seen zillions of birds simultaneously fly from one tree to the next, we’ve laughed as our son has found a coin on the sidewalk more often than not. Some days we’ve been so early that we wonder where everyone is, while on other days we have arrived just in time to hear the bell and meet their friends on their procession into the building. Our kids originally loved to take the bus. …

‘Believe:’ Valley Forge Chorus at the Players Club

The Valley Forge Chorus comes to Swarthmore for one performance of Believe: A Magical Holiday Adventure, Saturday, December 16, at 7:30 p.m. on the main stage at the Players Club of Swarthmore. The a capella harmonies of this ensemble bring extraordinary beauty to holiday song. The group features PCS favorite Donna Dougherty in its latest visit …

Masterpieces in Green from Master Gardeners

Master Gardeners preparing items for the Greens & Gifts sale include (l. to r.) Nancy Pasquier, Linda Barry, Gerri Eunson, Julia King, and Diana Breen.

This Saturday, December 9, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the Delaware County Master Gardeners will make local homes greener and more festive with their annual Greens & Gifts sale of handcrafted, fresh-cut evergreen wreaths and holiday floral creations at Smedley Park in Springfield. Shoppers can choose among scores of gorgeous moss wreaths with assorted evergreens and berries; hanging baskets of greens, beautiful mailbox decorations and bouquets of freshly-cut greens to use in your own floral designs and centerpieces. Also available are table arrangements with and without candles, outdoor …

Chester Children’s Chorus holiday concerts are next Friday and Saturday at Lang Concert Hall.

Children’s’ Chorus Concerts Coming

Advent is the season of anticipation, and local fans of the Chester Children’s Chorus are eagerly awaiting the group’s 2017 holiday concerts at Lang Concert Hall on the Swarthmore College campus.

Now the performances are just around the corner, next Friday and Saturday, December 15 and 16, at 7:30 p.m. Adding excitement to the event, these performances in the acoustically-friendly hall will be recording sessions for the Chorus’s next album.

CCC is made up of more than 130 young singers who live within the Chester-Upland School District. Their holiday program will include selections form Mozart’s Requiem, the Carol of the Bells and the Chorus’s unique arrangement of Angels We Have Heard on High and Joy to the World. In addition to these and other seasonal and secular favorites, Chorus director and founder John Alston promises “lots of great brass playing.”

The concerts are free and open to all from the Swarthmore community and beyond. Doors open at 6:45, and because seating is limited, it is advisable to arrive well before showtime at 7:30 p.m. Donations to support chorus programs are welcomed at the event. Information is at and 610-328-8180.

Listen Out Loud at SPL

A new series warms your weeknights during the burgeoning holiday season at Swarthmore Public Library. Listen Out Loud puts classic holiday stories in the hands and voices of familiar Swarthmore voices, beginning Wednesday, December 13, at 7 p.m. with a reading by Jeannine Osayande of Maya Angelou’s Amazing Peace. On Thursday, December 14, at 2 pm., Julian Yates will read The Mistletoe Murder by P.D. James. The following Tuesday, December 19, at 2 p.m., Rob Borgstrom will read Truman Capote’s classic A Christmas Memory. And each reading will feature a cameo by a librarian! Light refreshments will be served at these free public programs. Please register for one or all at (610) 543-0436 or email

Bring Holiday Memories to TGP

Join your neighbors at The Gathering Place on Wednesday, December 13, at noon to share holiday memories. Come to Swarthmore United Methodist Church at 129 Park Avenue and bring an object, or a smell, or a taste of something that reminds you of your holidays as a child. Bring your lunch or make a small donation and have a cup of hot soup and some bread from Occasionally Yours. Beverages and dessert are provided for all. The program of sharing begins at 12:30 p.m.

‘Parlez’ at SPL

Join other proficient French speakers in conversations about art and culture; politics and current events; history and literature and whatever is on your mind during this friendly salon, which meets Friday, December 15, at 2 p.m. Lucy Saxon facilitates the discussion at the Swarthmore Public Library, 121 Park Avenue, on the 15th and every third Friday.

Writing from the Wound:
Postwar Central American Literature

How have Central American writers made extraordinary literature of a heritage of violence, trauma, and chaos? Nancy Buiza, assistant professor of Spanish at Swarthmore College, speaks to the subject on Tuesday, December 12, 4:15 p.m. at the college’s McCabe Library Atrium. Buiza will pay particular attention to the most recent generation of …

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