Drama, Laughter, Music: Students at Play
Young and gifted actors take the stage in two local theatrical productions this weekend.
Strath Haven High School presents the last two performances of its spring musical, the redoubtable Les Miserables, the Rice/Lloyd-Webber blockbuster based on the novel by Victor Hugo (as any Honors English student can tell you).
Showtime at the SHHS Auditorium on Saturday is 7:30 p.m.; on Sunday, it’s 7. Panther thespians by the dozens play Jean Valjean, Javert, Cosette, and the poor but righteous Parisians of the early 1800s. Singers are accompanied by a pit orchestra.
The whole production is big, bold and memorable. Buy tickets at the door. SHHS is at 205 S. Providence Road in Wallingford, with parking in the lots of the middle school at 200 S. Providence.
Opening Saturday at the Players Club or Swarthmore is another musical. Really Rosie is a charmer of collaboration by Maurice Sendak and Carole King, telling the story of sassy Rosie telling the story of her fantastic life in an imaginary movie.
Nikki Torchon directs a cast including PCS Children’s Series veterans and newbies from Delaware County and beyond. Performances are at 5 p.m. on Saturdays, March 3 and 10, and Sundays, March 4 and 11, at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for children aged 3 to 12.
The Players Club of Swarthmore is at 614 Fairview Road; info is at pcstheater.org.
Wallingford-Swarthmore School District:
Somber Board Responds
to Florida School Shootings
By Katie Crawford
The horror of yet another mass school shooting weighed heavily during the meeting of the Wallingford-Swarthmore School Board on Monday, February 26, less than two weeks after 17 people were murdered at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The tragedy once again has the school community critiquing its level of preparedness should a gunman attempt to attack one of our schools. The recent suggestion by the U.S. President and others of arming teachers as a deterrent to such an attack galvanized the school board to craft a preemptive response.
The board came to the meeting prepared, with board president Dr. Marylin Huff reading the Wallingford-Swarthmore School District Resolution Against Arming Educators. The resolution begins, “Whereas, the Wallingford-Swarthmore School Board is committed to protecting its students and staff, while also providing an exemplary education,” and details its opposition to arming teachers including the fact that teachers are not trained to fire guns, and that armed teachers might make it more difficult for police officers to identify a perpetrator during an attack. The resolution emphasizes the need for more resources for students with mental health issues and concludes, “Therefore, let it be resolved that the Wallingford-Swarthmore School Board does not support any proposals to arm educators, and instead will focus on safety and security improvements as well as asking legislators for more support for our efforts in this regard, including support to help us address the mental health needs of our young people.”
The board voted unanimously in favor of the resolution’s passage. Dr. Huff reiterated that the board hires teachers based on their educational background, not their marksmanship scores.
Prior to the passage of the resolution, the board heard from Melissa Carder, a district parent and a member of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. Carder highlighted the reasons that educators should not bear arms, including the risks of accidental shootings, the risk to law enforcement officers when civilians are armed during active shooter events, and the potential loss of liability insurance were schools to allow educators to carry guns.
The strong, unique relationship between the school district and the Nether Providence and the Swarthmore Police Departments was detailed during a joint presentation from Dr. Lisa Palmer, the superintendent of schools, and Nether Providence Police Chief David Splain, who himself is a graduate of the district, and has three children who also graduated from the district. There exists a memorandum of understanding between both police departments and the school district which emphasizes sharing pertinent information with each other. Principals and the superintendent are in frequent communication. Practice drills are performed throughout district buildings and all buildings have critical and emergency response teams.
Chief Splain highlighted the four components of school safety: parents, students, the police, and the school district. He believes his department has received excellent training with regard to an active shooter and that the district is equally prepared. Officers visit schools once a day and report on their visits. They are familiar with the layout of the school and the personnel there as well. During quarterly lockdown drills, the chief walks each building with an index card, noting any ways in which to improve. There are regularly six officers on duty for the Nether Providence Police Department. Splain predicted a minute and a half response time to an active shooter situation from those officers. Within twenty minutes, he predicted, one hundred officers would be on the scene from neighboring departments.
Adding a message to parents, Splain stressed that any parent who has a weapon needs to secure that weapon, as well as any medications. There currently is a drop box for unused opiates outside of the police department. He also encouraged parents to speak up if they see changes in their child’s emotional well-being.
Splain believes one area where the system can improve is in receiving information from students. He believes students are hesitant to report on another peer’s behavior, yet Splain noted how after every school shooting, there are inevitably students interviewed who report knowing the perpetrator was struggling mentally.
Lauren Conway, a district parent as well as a licensed counselor, spoke to the board to encourage the district to do more to help students and families process tragic events such as the recent shooting in Florida, including suggestions for parents about how best to facilitate these conversations. She also questioned how the district is working to proactively check in with students.
Dottie Lee, who has four grandchildren in the district, made an emotional plea to the board to keep them safe. She also asked whether the larger police forces necessary in the event of an active shooter have the same degree of familiarity with the layout of our schools as the local police.
Living in Harmony
Swarthmore Friends Meeting hosts the annual Harmony for the Homeless concert this Sunday, March 4. It’s an all a capella affair, with three delightful groups from Swarthmore and environs. The Trolley Stoppers is a quartet of men of the Media area; 16 Feet is a group of students at Swarthmore College; and Chaverim combines singers from Swarthmore, Bryn Mawr, and Haverford colleges.
Admission to the concert is free, but the organizers suggest and will appreciate a donation of $10 per person, which will benefit the Meeting’s Cooking for the Homeless project. The show begins at 3 p.m. in the Whittier Room of the meetinghouse at 12 Whittier Place on the Swarthmore College campus.
The Community that Plays Together …
We caught up with Colleen Murphy late Saturday after a day at the gym. She actually got to see a son play in one of the basketball games, but she wanted to be there anyhow for the SRA playoffs.
All this play takes a lot of work, and as interim Executive Director of the Swarthmore Recreation Association, Murphy will spend the next year what makes SRA work so well, what could make it work better, and what the work of future Executive Directors should be.
Her children have participated in track & field, soccer, and basketball, so she already knows what SRA offers kids and their families. “We are a smaller program,” Murphy said, and it’s both easy and important “to be inclusive, to try to make it fun for all children. We let them learn how to be a teammate. Linda McCullough (SRA ED for 13 years) put a lot of her heart and passion into the job, and the programs show it.”
SRA has commissioners and boards for soccer and basketball; Murphy and administrative assistant Nika Haase complement the work of those volunteers. “As a board and a staff, we’d like to take this year and consider what we can do better to support the community. I’ll look at the job from within and evaluate what the future role of the executive director will be, then making recommendations to the board.” There’s no cookie-cutter solution, Murphy said, “We’re unique locally and we don’t have another model to follow. Other programs belong to their municipalities, but we are independent of the borough.”
Although she moved to Swarthmore 15 years ago, “It wasn’t until we had kids that I felt I’d really found my home. There are so much support and caring in this community and SRA is a big part of it.”
Swarthmore Boys Win Media Hoops Championship
By Lynn Meza
On Sunday, February 25, the 5th-6th grade boys Media Hoops championship trophy was taken home by our local team (8 of the 10 boys hail from Swarthmore). Led by coaches and Swarthmoreans Todd Parker and Dan Hart, the basketball team had a stellar season. With a 12-1 record during the regular season (losing one hard-fought game by just two points), the boys went into the playoffs as the #1 seed. In three single-elimination games, they knocked out their competition and took the final win to be named the champions in the 5th-6th grade boys’ division. The boys were all-around great competitors throughout the season. They showed athletic prowess on the court, unwavering support for their teammates, and kind sportsmanship to their opponents. Each player was an integral part of the success of the team. Their families are very proud of the boys — they truly are champs!
Swarthmore Men’s Basketball
Hits the Road for NCAAs
In playoff basketball action last weekend at Swarthmore College, the host Garnet men’s team (22-5) lost in the Centennial Conference championship game to Franklin & Marshall. However, the Garnet earned an at-large berth to the NCAA Tournament.
Swarthmore will travel to the campus of Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, for the opening rounds this weekend. Swarthmore’s opening draw is on March 2 against New England College (21-6) who won the North Atlantic Conference Championship. Host Wesleyan (21-6) faces Southern Vermont College (22-5) in the other first round game.
Check the swarthmoreathletics.com for times and scores.
Don’t Get Mad, Get Poetic Longtime
Swarthmoreans Minna Duchovnay and Ed Krizek are the featured readers at the next First Wednesday meeting of the Mad Poets Society, scheduled for March 7, 7 p.m., at the Community Arts Center in Wallingford.
Ed Krizek has won prizes in several poetry and short story competitions, and published over seventy articles, poems and short stories in various publications. His latest work is available on Amazon.
Minna Canton Duchovnay has read her poetry all over the Philadelphia area. Her poems have been published in Mad Poets Review, Poetry Ink, Premier, The Elixir, and the anthology, Embers and Flames. She is a member of the 34th Street Poets at Kelly Writers House.
The reading is absolutely free, and open to poets and fans and everyone else. Light refreshments will be provided following the guest readings, and an open mic will follow the featured reading, so bring poetry you’d like to share.
Community Arts Center is at 414 Plush Mill Road in Wallingford. Questions? Contact host Sibelan Forrester at 610-328-8162 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mixing It Up in New SFA Exhibition
What does Tuesday night mean to you? For members of the Mixed Media Studio, Tuesday night means inspiration and fellowship. The group of local artists gets together at the Community Arts Center to create art, encourage and critique each other, and occasionally share treats of pizza, wine, and chocolate.
Their work in various media is collected in a new show opening with a reception this Friday, March 2, 6 – 8 p.m. not at CAC but at Swarthmore Borough Hall. The show -”Mixing It Up” – represents the Mixed Media Studio with dozens of pieces in various modes and media from 7 Studio members: Nancy Barch, Wendy Cotton, Gail Herring, Patricia Kerr, Michele Southworth, Molly Wing-Berman, and Kurt Winkleman.
All are welcome to meet the artists and share refreshments at the opening reception, which is part of Swarthmore’s First Friday. Unplugged guitar and mandolin music will be provided by local musicians Graham and Jacob Brewer, performing under the group name Minor Adjustments.
At 7:18 a.m. on February 21, Company 14 (Swarthmore) was dispatched to the 900 block of N. Orange St. in Upper Providence Twp. to assist Rose Tree Fire Department on a house fire (pictured above). The initial caller stated that a bedroom was on fire and that the family was exiting the home. Tower 14 responded with a crew of three personnel. Due to the time and nature of the alarm, multiple units (in excess of 10) were dispatched to this two alarm blaze to combat the fire. Upon arrival, the firefighters from Swarthmore went to work assisting with fire suppression. Crews encounted heavy fire throughout the single family residence. Due to floor and roof collapse, firefighters were unable to enter the house. The fire was brought under control within an hour, and crews remained on the scene for several hours extinguishing hot spots.
Report from the Fire Company
By Rich Cresson
From February 12 through February 25, the Swarthmore Fire & Protective Association responded to the following alarms:
EMS: The ambulance responded to 42 calls for medical assistance. These were to Swarthmore, Rutledge, Morton, Springfield, Rose Valley and Nether Providence Township. The calls were for a variety of emergencies including: unconscious person, semi-conscious person, hypotension, medical alarm, cerebrovascular event, fall with trauma, syncopal episode, overdose, injured person, cardiac emergency, tachycardia, auto accident with injuries, head injury, diabetic emergency, heart attack, nature unknown, pediatric emergency, subject down, sick person and respiratory difficulty.
Automatic Fire Alarm: One alarm to Oak Knoll Dr. in Nether Providence Twp. One alarm to the 200 block of School Lane in Morton. One alarm to Sylvan Ave in Rutledge.
Automobile Accidents: One accident with injury at N. Chester Rd. and N. Swarthmore Ave. Building: One alarm to the 900 block of Westdale Pl. in Springfield for a kitchen fire. One alarm to the Springview Garden Apts. in Morton for a dryer fire. One alarm to the 900 block of Orange St. in Upper Providence Twp. for a bedroom fire.
Hazmat: One alarm for a natural gas leak at the intersection of Park and Harvard Ave.
Mutual aid calls: One each to Nether Providence Twp., Morton/Rutledge, Springfield, and Upper Providence Twp.
New Leaders at Swarthmore College
Swarthmore College recently named two longtime members of the Swarthmore community to leadership positions at the college. Sarah Willie-LeBreton was named Provost, effective July 1, when she will replace Tom Stephenson in the role. Willie-LeBreton is a Sociology professor and has been Chair of the Sociology and Anthropology department since 2013.She served as Associate Provost from 2005 to 2008. She is an alumna of Haverford College (1986).
Salem Shuchman, Swarthmore class of 1984, has been selected by the college’s Board of Managers as its Chair. A member of the board almost continuously since 2000, Shuchman will succeed Tom Spock as chair for a three year term. He is managing partner of Philadelphia-based private equity firm Entrepreneur Partners. Together with his wife, Dr. Barbara Klock (Swarthmore College, Class of 1986), Shuchman has been a major benefactor of Swarthmore College, notably as lead donor for the Matchbox fitness center.
American History, through a Jaundiced Eye
“A Skeptic’s Guide to American History” is the offering for the next semester in the Great Courses video lecture series, beginning on Thursday, March 15, at the Swarthmore Public Library.
Professor Mark Stoler, an expert in U.S. Diplomatic and military history, casts a jaundiced eye upon the conventional wisdom and prevalent interpretations of the American story.
Over the coming eight weeks, SPL will screen three 30-minute lectures each Thursday, with a break midway through for refreshments, in the Council Room of Borough Hall at 121 Park Avenue. The sessions will run from 10 a.m. to noon.
Enrollment is free; register in advance at swarthmorepubliclibrary.org/events-calendar, or by phone call to the library at 610-543-3171.