This week’s issue . . .

Wallingford-Swarthmore School Board:
District’s Cybersecurity Solid,
but Technicians Elusive

By Katie Crawford

Pennsylvania 2018 indoor champions in the 4 x 800 meter relay: Strath Haven’s Maggie Forbes, Abby Loiselle, Grace Forbes, and Taylor Barkdoll.

On the eve of the first day of spring and yet another snow storm, the Wallingford-Swarthmore School Board held its regular meeting on Monday. The focus topic of the evening was technology. Mark Finlayson, technology director for the district, highlighted for the board the district’s efforts to improve network security as well as the district’s use of Google Apps for Education (GAFE).

In terms of cyber security, Finlayson stated, “I would put WSSD up against anyone — even districts that have more money than us.” Despite the current budget restrictions in the district, the technology department has creatively used the resources available to continue to improve network security. A firewall upgrade is scheduled for July 2018. According to Finlayson, one area of frustration continues to be the high turnover of technicians. The district continues to pay near the bottom, generally attracting candidates who are either just starting out and lacking experience, or individuals in the midst of a job transition. Finlayson explained that, given that WSSD tends to lose a technician every six months, they are constantly training.

GAFE Is Here.

Deal With It. Google Apps for Education has taken the district by storm. Despite initial misgivings in earlier years about the potential impact of allowing Google into the classroom, Finlayson stated that he is as comfortable now as he is going to be. The board heard via video from Mathew Wood, chair of the English Department at SHHS, who …

Close to Home

Daughter Alli Beckas and mother Michele Gigliotti on the long commute from Penn. Photos courtesy of Michele Gigliotti.

Soon Alli Beckas and her mother Michele Gigliotti will be back home in Moon Township. But for now, for the next two weeks, they are at home here in Swarthmore.

While Alli receives cutting-edge proton beam therapy for a malignant brain tumor at University of Pennsylvania Hospital, she and her mother are staying at Nick’s House, recently opened by the Headstrong Foundation as a refuge and residence for cancer patients and their caregivers.

“We are so blessed to have this house,” Michele said earlier this week. “Six weeks is a long time to be away from home, and the shock of my daughter’s diagnosis has put us in something like the five stages of grieving. I quit my job [as a nurse] and my husband has to hold the fort back home. I looked into the cost of hotels, which added more stress. It was such a burden off my back financially for Headstrong to make this house available to us.”

Michele and Alli spend four or five hours each weekday at Penn, commuting by SEPTA train. It can be grueling, and the other morning, Michele said, “Alli was feeling lousy and a volunteer offered to drive us in. I couldn’t say yes fast enough!”

Alli Beckas on the porch swing of Nick’s House at 200 S. Chester Road.

Headstrong executive director Cheryl Colleluori says that neighbors and other volunteers have been trained to help out in the house daily, making sure creature comforts are optimized. “We want the stay to be the easy part of these families’ journeys.”

For Michele Gigliotti and Alli, it’s working. “It’s a very comfortable, beautiful house, and Cheryl made sure we have everything we need, down to detergent, paper towels, Keurig coffee pods … We catch ourselves calling it home.”

The time will come when Alli’s treatment at Penn concludes, and it’s time to really go home, but connections will remain. Another family spent three weeks at Nick’s House during their stay, Michele says, “The woman was the caregiver; she and I would get up early and share coffee and talk together. The last morning she was here a song came on Pandora — “Lean on Me.” We just embraced each other and swayed to that song. This is a couple that I plan on keeping up with forever.”

(Egg) Hunting Season Opens

NOTICE: THE LIONS CLUB EGG HUNT HAS BEEN POSTPONED UNTIL SATURDAY, MARCH 31. This Saturday, March 24, the Lions Club sets up its annual Spring Egg Hunt in Little Crum Creek Park, with hunting season opening at 10 a.m. sharp. The Lions invite all children aged 0 through 9 to join in the fun. Bring a basket, and park on the Cresson Lane side of the park. Hope for good spring weather, but if it rains or snows, the hunt will be rescheduled for Saturday, March 31.

In Rutledge, the Easter Bunny will make an appearance on Saturday, March 31 (no rain date). The egg hunt goes off at 1 p.m. sharp at the Triangle Park, Rutledge Avenue and Waverly Terrace. The hunt is presented by Rutledge Borough’s Activity Committee, who remind you to bring a camera for the classic Easter Bunny shots.

Rutledge Girls Club president and softball coach Margie Corcoran (back left) shared good news and good times with her players and neighbors at the Monday night meeting of Rutledge Borough Council. Holding a scale model of the scoreboard planned for the Triangle Park ballfield are players from the town of the 2017 Del-Val Youth Division Champions, including (left to right) Celest, Annie, Eleanor, Kaycee, Catie, and Maisie. Joining them are coach Greg Kozub and Borough Council President Heidi Sentivan.

Rutledge Borough Council Approves Scoreboard

At its Monday night work session, Rutledge Borough Council members were joined by a bevy of town softball players and supporters of the effort to install a new electronic scoreboard at the ballfield in the town’s Triangle Park.

The meeting followed Saturday’s beef & beer fundraiser which garnered nearly $7,000 in donations, a sum which is expected to easily cover the cost of the scoreboard manufacture and installation. A local electrician also reportedly will donate his services for the project.

Following review of a revised scoreboard design and comments from Planning Commission member Jen Mickle and several other residents, Borough Council member Marie Govannicci moved for a vote, and by a 5-1 vote, council approved the installation of the scoreboard at no cost to taxpayers. “You can order it now, Margie,” said …

Wellness Fair is Tomorrow

A reminder: The first annual Senior Wellness Fair takes place Saturday, March 24, from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at The Inn at Swarthmore.

The Swarthmore Senior Citizens Association has assembled a blue-ribbon roster of speakers and programs, including Mary and Ken Gergen exploring positive aging, Claudia Cueto, AIA on making Swarthmore homes more age-friendly, and a panel discussion moderated by Joy Charlton on “Enhancing Senior Well-Being Physically, Emotionally, and Financially.”

Admission to the Senior Wellness Fair is free of charge with on-site registration. A complimentary buffet luncheon will be available to the first 100 registrants.

Blackbird Society Orchestra Flies
into waR3house3

The Blackbird Society Orchestra

Here’s something new for waR3house3, Swarthmore’s performance space/night club/gallery: something old. The Blackbird Society Orchestra faithfully renders the sound of 1920s hot jazz in a sophisticated large band setting.

Will they all fit onto the stage at the waR3house3? Will the spirit of Jelly Roll Morton be summoned forth? Come find out this Saturday night, March 24, at the venue at 100 Park Avenue, Suite WH-3 in Swarthmore. Admission is $15 if your buy tickets in advance and $20 at the door. Light snacks will be served, and you are welcome to BYOB. Information is at

You, Too, Can Learn to Play Blues Harmonica,

By Joan Gallagher

James Day

Want to play “Fly Eagles Fly” on the harmonica? It’s not exactly the blues, but entertainer and musician James Day promises he can teach you how. Day, whose band “James Day and the Fish Fry” delivers rollicking New Orleans and southern blues music with an original twist up and down the east coast, will once again offer adult learners the chance to make their own magic on one of the world’s oldest — and smallest — instruments, the blues harmonica.

The Gulf Coast native and Wallingford resident begins a five-week series of classes on Thursday evening, April 5, at Strath Haven High School, part of the continuing education program offered by Wallingford Swarthmore Community Classes. Those interested can find detailed information and register online at

Having already taught the course once, Day says he’s motivated to get more and more people to experience the joy of making music on the instrument he describes as taking “five minutes to learn, five years to master.” “The goal,” says the bandleader, “is to prepare students to improvise and play.” Whether that means alone on the front porch, in …

Cheese CSA Blooms at Co-Op

Sign up now for one of the more delicious clubs you’ll ever join. The Swarthmore Co-Op starts up its Spring Cheese CSA next Friday, March 30.

Spring is cheesin’ season, apparently, and the 30th of each spring month will be the joyous day for pickup of four cheeses chosen each month by Co-Op cheesemonger Nick George from among the top local and regional creameries, including some that are not usually available at the Co-Op. Four different cheeses will enrich your table during …

Homegrown Artworks Wanted

The Swarthmore Friends of the Arts (SFoA) issued its first call for entries for its 2018 Celebrate Swarthmore Artists Exhibit, which will be hung at Borough Hall from May 2 to June 3. All artists over 18 who live in the Wallingford Swarthmore School District are invited to participate by submitting an entry form by Monday, April 23. Entry forms are available at Borough Hall and at

Artists can enter one or two original pieces in any medium except photography (which will be the subject of another exhibition) and works which have already been shown at Borough Hall. A contribution of $5 per piece is requested, which will go towards funding of the show and the opening reception on Friday, May 4. Works in the show may be sold only through SFoA.

For information on deadlines and other requirements, contact exhibition committee chair Martha Perkins at or 484-574-3158.

‘Medicare 101’ at SPL

Marty Spiegel

Swarthmorean Marty Spiegel is a trained and experienced Medicare adviser who can help you make sense of the complexities and options within the wonderful world of Medicare. At 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 29, Spiegel will present “Medicare 101,” a session designed to explain the basics of the Medicare system and help “rising seniors” get off to a good start in the system. All are welcome to this free seminar at the Swarthmore Public Library, but you are asked to register in advance at or 610-543-0436.

Lost Music of Poland to Be Found at Lang Tonight

In a collaboration between scholars and performers, a concert on Friday, March 23, will tell the story of the “forbidden songs” of Roman Palester, a Polish composer whose work was suppressed by the country’s Communist regime. Palester’s work spans the middle years of the 20th century from a neoclassical orientation on the 1930s through European avant garde influences in the 1960s and 1970s. Beginning at 7 p.m. Friday in Lang Concert Hall, Palester’s music will be interpreted by performers Xak Bjerken, Lucy Fitz Gibbon, Ryan MacEvoy McCullough, Susan Waterbury, and David Colwell. Admission is free without need of tickets.

What’s the Story With Haitian Women?

Stephane Martelly

Stephane Martelly knows. A writer, painter and scholar, Martelly will discuss her work with members of the Haitian diaspora in a talk on April 4 entitled, “This Thing We Are Doing Here: Listening and Writing with Haitian Women in the Montreal Life Stories Project.” The lecture, sponsored by the Swarthmore College Modern Languages and Literatures, will be held in the Scheuer Room of Kohlberg Hall at Swarthmore College, and is open to the community at no charge.

Martelly, who was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, now lives in Montreal, where she is an Affiliate Assistant Professor in the Theatre Department at the University of Concordia in Montreal. She is the main coordinator for the Centre of Oral History and Digital Storytelling, continuing her interest in the possibility and …

Best Plants Revealed!

Get the inside scoop on which garden plants are best in their class, straight from a gardener who has conducted comparative trials of scads of genera over the past 30 years. Richard Hawke is the man with the dirt on hundreds of great and not so great cultivars of popular plants for your garden. He is plant evaluation manager and associate scientist for the Chicago Botanic Gardens.

With a clear and witty style of instruction, Hawke will be conducting a workshop at Scott Arboretum’s Wister Center on Friday, April 13, from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Space is limited to the first 40 to preregister at 610-328-8025. The cost is $48 for Scott members; $58 for others.

SPL Hosts Poet Joseph Dorazio

Poetry Month is April, and it begins in Swarthmore with a reading on Thursday, April 5, by Joseph Dorazio, a prize-winning poet who lives in Wayne, Pa. Dorazio will read from his work at the Swarthmore Public Library in a program presented by SPL and the Mad Poets Society. The reading is free and open to all, but you should register at 610-543-0436 or

RVCO Revives ‘The Drowsy Chaperone’

The Rose Valley Chorus and Orchestra reaches into the contemporary Broadway canon for its next production, The Drowsy Chaperone, which will be presented in five shows from April 12 through April 15 at the auditorium of the Strath Haven Middle School.

The Drowsy Chaperone is a phenomenally successful musical comedy which since it opened on Broadway in 1998 has been produced in hundreds of professional and amateur settings. In its original run it won five Tony awards. Spoofing and revering many of the tropes and traditions of the Jazz Age musical, as a play within a play features cliché characters of the early days of the American musical theatre.

The RVCO production promises to live up to the high standard set by the Rose Valley group over its 111 seasons. Larry Jansen is the stage director and Justin Adams …

Wellness on the Menu at TGP

The Swarthmore Senior Citizens Association invites you to a nourishing session with nutritionist Stefanie Williams on Wednesday, March 28, at Swarthmore United Methodist Church. At the weekly meeting of the Gathering Place, Williams will aim to “help people make nutrition simple so they can improve their health, enjoy food, and feel well.” The presentation begins about 12:30 p.m., following TGP’s regular lunch — brown bag it or buy soup and a roll from Occasionally Yours for a modest sum. Dessert and beverages are provided. SUMC is at 129 Park Avenue.

Hicks Hall and Nason Garden (2008) on the Swarthmore College Campus.

The Last Go-Round
for 98 Year-Old Hicks Hall

Evolutionary forces at work on the campus of Swarthmore College will entail the demolition of Hicks Hall next summer, as the Biology, Engineering, and Psychology center construction reaches its southernmost extent.

Hicks is a 3-story stone building which stands with Beardsley Hall adjacent to the turnaround at the end of Whittier Place. It was designed in Collegiate Gothic style, with tall banks of windows “for efficient lighting,” by the architectural firm Karcher & Smith of Philadelphia, and it was constructed beginning in August, 1919 by Barclay White & Company. Hicks was completed rapidly (in 1920), providing relief for the fast-growing engineering program which was outgrowing Science Hall. Ever since its opening, the building has been a locus of the College’s Engineering Department.

Karcher & Smith designed a number of buildings on Swarthmore’s campus, including Clothier Memorial Hall, Martin Hall, and many of the fraternity lodges. Barclay White took his A.B. in Engineering at Swarthmore in 1906, founded the construction company which still bears his name, and from 1931 was a member of the College’s Board of Managers. When Hicks Hall opened, the first floor was the mechanical laboratory, the second …

Leaf Compost Orders

Orders are now being taken for that fabulous Borough leaf compost. Delivery will start March 29th. One (1) cubic yard for $45; two (2) cubic yards for $70; and four (4) cubic yards for $115.00. Contact Borough Hall by emailing, calling 610- 543-4599 or placing an order through our website at Payment is due before delivery.

Spanish Language Poetry Reading

Swarthmore College Professor Braulio Munoz celebrates the publication of his new book by hosting a poetry reading and reception next Thursday, March 29, at McCabe Library. Munoz and fellow poet Roger Santivanez will read from their work in Spanish at 5:45 p.m., with a reception to follow at about 7:15 p.m.

Senior Recital Saturday

Swarthmore College senior Natasha Nogueira presents her senior voice recital on Saturday, March 24, at 8 p.m. in Lang Concert Hall. Nogueira will perform German lieder, Italian arias and art songs, an English cantata, and a French duet with Shelby Billups. Free.

Who Wins in Tax Reform?

At its upcoming April 6 Hot Topics luncheon, The League of Women Voters of Central Delaware County presents Dr. Anthony Curatola, professor of accounting at Drexel University, taking on a hot topic indeed. Professor Curatola applies his considerable expertise to a discussion of the repercussions of the recently passed changes to the federal tax code. Following lunch at 11:45 a.m., he will opine on who will be the winners and the losers as a result of this tax “reform” bill.

Reservations — $18 per person — are required for the Hot Topics luncheon, which is held at the Community Room of Media Borough Hall, at 3rd and Jackson Streets in Media. To get your place at the table, contact Hank Thorne at 610-566-5474 or You may also mail a check to LWV-CDC, Box 131, Wallingford, PA 19086.

Grief Support Group at Schoolhouse

If you have experienced the loss of a loved one, you may find solace and support in a group that meets on April 6 and the first Friday of each month at Schoolhouse Center, 600 Swarthmore Avenue in Folsom. The Grief Support Group welcomes new members to its free sessions, moderated by Becky Wallace from Taylor Hospice, from noon to 2:15 p.m. For more information, call Kim McDaniel at Schoolhouse, 610-237-8100.

Jeannette Ross Lecturer Focuses on Local Environment

The League of Women Voters of Central Delaware County presents its annual Jeannette Ross Lecture on Wednesday, March 28, at 7 p.m. Jessica D. Hunt, assistant counsel for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, will discuss environmental issues that have an effect on our health and our immediate area. The lecture is free and open to all, and will be held at the Media Borough Hall Parlor at 301 Jackson Street in Media. Light refreshments will be served.

Gerrymandering Lawsuit Warriors Featured at Reception April 4

Gerrymandering may not be knocked out, but in Pennsylvania, it’s on the ropes, to the cheers of many local supporters of legislative district fairness. On April 4 at the Inn at Swarthmore, they will join with members of the leadership and legal team at the Public Interest Law Center to mingle over cocktails and discuss the tactics and turning points in the successful challenge to the electoral map drawn for Pennsylvania in 2011.

With gerrymandering still very much in the news following a federal court’s rejection of a challenge to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s recently redrawn electoral map, this will be a lively, relevant, and forward-looking event. Tickets cost $50 apiece or $75 for a pair. Student admission is $20. Tickets and more information are online at

Lecture on the State of American Democracy

Dr. Didi Kuo, program manager of the Stanford University Program on American Democracy in Comparative Perspective, will present a lecture on “Polarization and Parties: The State of American Democracy” on Sunday, March 25, in the DuPont Center, Rm. 101 (Chang Hou Lecture Hall) on the Swarthmore College campus.

Following a brief gathering at 12:30 p.m., Dr. Kuo will speak at 1 p.m., followed by a discussion with expert panelists, Rick Valelly of Swarthmore College and John Pollock of the College of New Jersey. The discussion continues at an adjacent reception from 3 to 4 p.m. Dr. Kuo will address the following paradox at the heart of American politics: while polarization has been on the rise for decades, trust in parties has declined. Citizens with party attachments are unwilling to compromise across party lines, yet more and more voters refuse to identify with either party. This talk will examine how parties lost the faith of voters while also creating a polarized political climate, as well as the consequences of these trends, including policy gridlock and an untenable “us-versus-them” rhetoric in politics.

Sponsored by Stanford University and Swarthmore College alumni clubs, this event is free of charge, but preregistration is required. Register by phoning or texting Gerry Elman, 610-909-2468.


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