Wallingford- Swarthmore School Board: Board Reviews WES Play Area Plans

By Chris Reynolds

Three fields are better than one, goes the thinking behind the plan for Wallingford Elementary School’s play areas, as presented Monday night to the Wallingford-Swarthmore School Board.

WES Principal Gabriel Savage praised the work of former Interim WES Principal Joe Bucheler and the committee which came up with the vision and a detailed set of implementation plans. “The plan that we are going to execute will honor the work that they did.” Principal Savage and engineer Nick Cirilli described in words and through an aerial photo three fields now in various states of repair. 

For this fall, the main play area will be in Section #1, which is on the north side of the school’s Providence Road frontage. The area is ready for sodding now. Principal Savage emphasized that this area will be supervised by a teacher at all play times.

Work will begin in summer 2019 on sections #2 and #3, which Mr. Savage described as a big job requiring heavy equipment to stage work which would not be feasible while students there. Section #3 will soon be reseeded, to be used as a relief area when the first playground gets worn during the fall. This will begin a process of rotation which will be standard practice in future years. “We will move as needed when it is time to give field #1 a rest. I believe that decision will come down to me,” Savage said. 

Personnel Matters

Shawn Conti was introduced and voted in as new Assistant Principal at Strath Haven High School, replacing new SHHS Principal Kristopher Brown. He comes from Interboro School District, where he was Assistant Principal, and Chichester School District, where he was Dean of Students and a Social Studies teacher. 

Also approved as newly-hired teachers were Christine Turner, NPE Special Education; Josephine Johnson, SHMS Science; Shelby Harper, SRS Elementary; Hayley Daub, NPE Music; Alycia Woodruff, SHMS Special Education; Helen Wortham, SHMS Science; and Allison Schmid, WES First Grade. Other new hires are Sarah Fairchild, SRS School Psychologist, and Elisa Goldman, NPE Media Specialist. Retirements were accepted from SRS Kindergarten teacher Catherine Latella and District technology specialist Jacob Rulli.

Personal Matters

SHHS Senior Abigail McElroy presents to the Board.

Abigail McElroy, a rising senior at SHHS and a resident of Wallingford, spoke powerfully during the public comment period regarding an element of the sophomore Health curriculum, specifically the “degrading” presentation administered in recent years by an organization named Amnion Pregnancy Center.

“While the majority of the curriculum focuses on giving students choices, the presentations given annually by Amnion do the opposite,” McElroy said. She noted that the group – which has as its goal the elimination of abortion – purports to “empower young people to make healthy decisions about life and their relationships.” In fact, she said, their presentation shames students who are sexually active and seeks to scare others with an illustrated narrative describing “the steep slope of arousal” which begins with hand-holding and ends far below, ruined on the rocks of pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease. 

“Abstinence is an option,” she said, noting that Pennsylvania law requires that this be made explicit in sexual health curricula, “but Amnion goes so much further when they claim that any physical contact will ruin us for our future partners.” She asked that Amnion not be invited back to Strath Haven, and that the District more carefully investigate the qualifications and agendas of outside groups presenting to students.

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