Council Honors Sgt. Stufflet; Considers the Environment

Swarthmore Borough Council
By Katie Crawford

The August 14th work and legislative session of Swarthmore Borough Council began by honoring Officer Ray Stufflet for his 25 years of service to the borough. In his remarks Mayor Tim Kearney stated that Stufflet, “exemplified community policing at its best,” and stressed how lucky the borough was to have an officer of his caliber.

Officer Ray Stufflet. Photo by Katie Crawford

With the Police Department one officer short of the ideal staffing level, Chief Brian Craig has reported that he wants to begin looking for new officer candidates under the old requirements in which applicants need to have 60 credits of post-high school qualifying education in order to be eligible. The discussion about whether or not to eliminate this requirement is ongoing, but Chief Craig does not want it to delay his search for candidates.

Council approved a Pollutant Reduction Plan that was created in order to renew a permit issued by the Department of Environmental Protection which allows for the borough to have storm waste discharged into the sewer systems. The plan is required to show a ten percent reduction in sediment runoff in the next five years. The borough has targeted three projects which should reduce the sediment load sufficiently: creating a wetlands area behind the picnic grove at the Swarthmore Swim Club, constructing a retention basin on Henderson Field, and repairing and adding to the riparian buffer (vegetation near stream bed) of the stream located behind the Rutgers Avenue CADES playing fields. The engineer’s estimated cost of these three projects is $710,000, but borough manager Jane Billings stressed that all three projects might not be necessary, or as costly. The source of funding has yet to be determined but could come from grants or a possible taxpayer fee.

Council member Lauren McKinney began a discussion about whether or not the Environmental Committee was becoming redundant since the creation of the Environmental Advisory Committee, and suggested redefining the goal of the Environment Committee if it were to continue to exist.

Council adopted Resolution 2017-07, which urges the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to join the Climate Alliance. In wake of President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accords, many states have opted to join the United States Climate Alliance. The borough’s resolution is intended to encourage Pennsylvania to do so as well.

Ross Schmucki, reporting for the General Government Committee, praised the benefits of having an intern help with coordination of borough services for seniors and encouraged council to consider funding interns in the future as well for this purpose. Current intern Alex Maillet created a brochure for seniors, listing local services and programs. The brochure will be available on the borough’s website as well as in paper form at the library.

Something in the Air … BnB

After much discussion at last month’s regular meeting of the Planning and Zoning Committee, council decided not to change the ordinance regulating Air BnBs and other home-sharing arrangements in the borough. However, the property on Riverview Road which inspired much of the debate is now seeking to become a bed and breakfast. Its owners are asking for a variance which would allow them to rent additional rooms. As part of standard procedure, Council President David Grove asked for the Planning and Zoning Committee to make a recommendation to Council regarding whether they should take a stand for or against the application. The Planning and Zoning Committee will meet in a public session at Borough Hall at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, August 24.

In other Riverview Road news, the de Botton family, owners of Springfield Square which borders the borough, at last provided solicitor Bob Scott with a planting plan to replace greenery that had been removed this year. The plan will be shared with Vincent Mancini, lawyer for the Riverview residents, who have protested the removal of the border.

New Talent on Boards

Elizabeth Jenkins. Photo by Katie Crawford

Elizabeth Jenkins, a Swarthmore College alumna and relatively recent arrival to the borough, was appointed both to the Environment Committee and to the Planning Commission as an alternate. In both instances she will be filling the vacancy left open by outgoing Planning chair Jon Penders, who is moving out of the borough. Ms. Jenkins is a former Senior Standards Analyst at B Lab. James Levine, a relatively new resident of the borough as well, and a litigator for Pepper Hamilton, was also appointed to serve on the Planning Commission.

John Cordo, also a fairly new resident of the borough, was appointed to the Pension Committee. Cordo works for Brandywine Global Asset Management and oversees pension management as well.

Outdoor Life in the Borough

Council member David Murphy, reporting for Parks and Recreation, informed council that the fireplace in Little Crum Creek Park is beginning to lean and will probably be removed. The fireplace originally was created for use by the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and Sea Scouts who came to the park to gather in a hut that formerly stood at that location as well. (The hut itself had apparently been moved from under the Route 320 overpass where it had served as an office for PennDOT.)

Mayor Tim Kearney celebrated the abundant use of Central Park Swarthmore this summer, highlighting the Thursday Night Live concert series which brings families out for picnic suppers.

Borough manager Jane Billings reminded council of the 2018 budget schedule, which will begin with all of the organizations who received monies last year being asked to propose their funding needs for the coming year. The Swarthmore Senior Citizens Association, which did not receive funding last year, will also be asked to submit its funding request.

Badge Program Unanimously Approved

Wallingford-Swarthmore School Board
By Claire Wolters

The WSSD School Board met Monday, August 14, and devoted the lion’s share of their time to discussion of the Badge program, the work of a team led by Strath Haven High School Assistant Principal Thomas McLaughlin to inculcate and enforce academic integrity at Strath Haven High School. The board approved the program unanimously to begin in the 2017-2018 school year, incorporating a few minor changes to the plan as presented.

The program will educate students on offenses such as cheating and plagiarism and test their knowledge of the topics through a series of quizzes. After passing the program, students will earn a badge signifying their awareness of the academic integrity guidelines.

McLaughlin says the program is less about catching students doing something wrong than about teaching them how to avoid the problem in the first place. “We realized that there has to be a learning process, too,” said McLaughlin, “It’s not necessarily to get somebody; it’s to help them learn.”

He adds that one of the crucial steps in the program development was defining academic integrity, something Strath Haven’s guidebook had not done before, and that he and his group developed on their own. “That way we know what the kid is violating. So, from there, we said, ‘OK, how are we going to enforce this with the students?’”

The Badge program lays out three levels of offenses and consequences for students who violate the code. An example for a first level offense could be cheating on a quiz, while cheating on a final term paper could be considered a third level offense. Higher offenses correspond to higher consequences. The offenses in the new guidelines are listed as references for students and teachers, but do not describe all possible violations.

Tech Enables Cheating

McLaughlin blames many of these violations on the abundance of new-age technology available to high school students. “Back in the day, when you plagiarized, you had to go to the library, take a book out, and copy three or four sentences. But this generation is used to cut and paste – and they genuinely don’t understand [the concept of plagiarism],” said McLaughlin.

Cutting and pasting information from websites, copying a colleague’s work from a shared document on Google, or failing to write something in their own words, are some, but not all, of the common infractions noticed by the administration. Additionally, foreign language teachers reported that students were caught using Google Translate to convert their essays, originally written in English, into the language being taught.

The three levels of consequences are intended to help with this, as students will be warned when they are on the edge of doing something wrong. The educational part of the program, too, will clarify the line between collaborating with a fellow student, and taking someone else’s work.

The program has been under construction for two years, over which time McLaughlin and colleagues conducted research about academic integrity violations happening in the classrooms. Through surveys and conversations with Strath Haven High School faculty, the group evaluated how often academic integrity violations occur, what kinds are most common, and which grades are the most frequent offenders.

The findings were surprisingly consistent across grade levels, which McLaughlin says could be a result of poorly reported data, or a new finding. Regardless, the results displayed a problem that needed to be stopped.

Too Lenient?

Members of the WSSD School Board, several of whom are college professors, expressed concern that the program was too lenient on students. The school board requested that students receive a refresher on the program later in high school, so a second level of the Badge program will be administrated for students after 9th grade.

Students transferring to Strath Haven after 9th grade will be able to take levels one and two of the Badge program in that order.

Parents should receive the guidelines for the program in their August mailings, and McLaughlin will review the whole policy with teachers during in-service days before school.

The Serendipitous Return of Meghan Meloy Ness

Meghan Meloy Ness, ready to play a major role are Swarthmore Presbyterian Church.

This Sunday, August 21, Swarthmore Presbyterian Church will welcome its new Minister of Music, who though young, is not really so new.

A Swarthmore native and 2006 alumna of Strath Haven High School, Meghan grew up visiting the church and fondly remembers worshipping and experiencing music in its warm wooden and stucco sanctuary. However, it was serendipity rather than sentimentality that drew her back to Swarthmore. “I wasn’t considering a move, but when I became aware of the opening, Joyce’s vision pulled me here. When the committee chose me, it was a surprise, but it felt natural.”

The “vision” of SPC Pastor Joyce Shin was to build up a comprehensive music ministry that is aligned with and furthers the mission of the church. To that end, earlier this year a search committee was charged with finding candidates to serve a new function in the church, directing and integrating all the musical ministries of the church, which currently include musical opportunities for people of all ages. In addition to its adult Chancel choir, SPC has youth and children’s choirs, and a Chancel hand bell choir.

In one major component of the position, Meghan will succeed interim organist Andrew Hauze of Swarthmore, who has manned the console since the spring departure of longtime SPC organist Jeffrey DeVault. The prospect of playing SPC’s glorious new organ is thrilling to Meghan, a highly accomplished liturgical organist and recitalist. “The instrument is so much fun. It’s a chameleon — it can take on different colors to suit the music,” she said, explaining that German, Italian, French, English compositions each have a distinctive sonic palette. “Each organ has its own sound makeup and space,” she said. “You have to learn how the instrument likes to be played.”

Meghan earned undergraduate degrees in both music education and environmental studies at Oberlin College and Conservatory, though she says, “I think I knew music was my calling.” Though she played other instruments in her childhood and clarinet during her Strath Haven career, she now concentrates on piano and organ. She took a Masters in Sacred Music from the University of Michigan, and has lived in Ann Arbor since. Meghan has taught music in public schools, private and studio settings, directed choral groups, played concerts and recitals, and accompanied signers as a keyboardist. Most recently, she has been music director of Cherry Hill Presbyterian Church in Dearborn, Michigan.

SPC has long been a church that puts a high priority on music, as exemplified by its recent installation of a new pipe organ and redesign of its sanctuary to optimize acoustics as well as comfort. Meghan emphasizes that the contributions of her predecessors as musician and teachers form a great platform on which to build a comprehensive music ministry. “I’m excited to develop a curriculum that expands our SPC music program and reaches people in the wider community.”

Meghan’s parents Lisé and Michael Meloy still live in Swarthmore, and will welcome back Meghan and her husband Scott Ness, another fine musician who leaves a job as a piano technician at the University of Michigan. All in our community are invited to meet the Nesses and experience lovely music at 10:15 this Sunday morning at Swarthmore Presbyterian Church, 727 Harvard Avenue.

School in Rose Valley Campers Support Two Charities

Summer fun for a cause at The School in Rose Valley.

Children at The School in Rose Valley’s Summer Camp voted on two charities to support during “SRV for a Cause” week. They selected the Brandywine Valley SPCA and A Million Thanks! During the week they made dog treats and toys, collected coins, brought in linens, paper towels, and dog and cat food for the SPCA.

One lucky United States military person will receive this heartfelt card made especially for him or her by this SRV camper.

The children also wrote cards and notes, drew pictures and made friendship bracelets for A Million Thanks, a charity that sends messages of encouragement to active, reserve and retired military in the United States and abroad.

The School in Rose Valley, a progressive elementary school, has run a day camp for boys and girls, ages 3 to 14, since the 1950s. Located on nine and a half acres, surrounded by woods and Ridley Creek, the camp has two on-site swimming pools, a woodshop, an archery range, and also offers art, music, dance, drama, sports & games, and nature exploration.

‘Freckleface Strawberry’ Completes Children’s Theater Series at PCS

Cast members rehearse Freckleface Strawberry at the Players Club of Swarthmore.

Summer must end, and with it the Children’s Theater Series at the Players Club of Swarthmore — but not before PCS finishes the run of Freckleface Strawberry, now on the Raymond W. Smith Stage of the playhouse.

The production, directed by Alexandra Greene, stars Springfield High School senior Amelia SanFilippo as the unusual looking title character. She said, “Kids can be extremely mean by making fun of the way you look … like things you weren’t even insecure about until they teased you about it.” This is the situation for Freckleface, Amelia says, but the play conveys the wisdom that, “You are you, and your people will love you no matter what.”

Based on books by the actor Julianne Moore (who has reddish hair and faint freckles — hmm…), Freckleface Strawberry appeals to school age children and their parents. Tickets are $8 for children and $10 for adults. The show runs 50 minutes and is followed by a meet-the-actors session with juice and cookies.

Remaining performances are at 7 p.m. next Tuesday through Thursday, August 22-24, PCS is at 614 Fairview Road in Swarthmore. Tickets and information are at pcstheater.org.

CCSA to Dedicate New Building August 25

The Chester Charter School for the Arts building in Chester.

School begins anew in a few weeks, and for the 600 students at the Chester Charter School for the Arts, it will begin anew in a new school.

Since groundbreaking last summer, CCSA’s new building at 1500 Highland Avenue in Chester has risen and been completed with vibrant red exterior panels, playing fields are smooth and green, and the flagpole flies the red, white and blue. Inside, lab equipment, art facilities, and dance barres are installed; gym floors, classroom furniture, and learning technologies are ready for joyful use by the talented and promising students who represent the hope and the future of Chester.

At 1 p.m. on Friday, August 25, Head of School Akousa Watts and CCSA leaders will welcome hundreds of the school’s donors and supporters to tour and celebrate the opening of its new building. A capital campaign has raised $5.8 million of the $7 million required to cover construction costs, and with the continued generosity of longtime backers and the fresh energy surrounding the opening of the school and the arrival of its students, CCSA leaders hope and expect to realize their fundraising goal this year.

To RSVP for the dedication ceremony, reach Amy Komarnicki at akpmarnicki@thechesterfund.org, or (610) 859-2988. More information on the project and its support is at thechesterfund.org/buildingbrightfutures.

Briefly Noted…

As of Sunday afternoon, August 13, the winners of the Swarthmore Swim Club 2017 1,000-lap shirt are: 78.) Autumn Mansor, 79.) Sue Dyson, 80.) Mike Karpyn, 81.) Ellen Si, 82.) Griffin Barrett, 83.) Elizabeth Churche McErlean, and 84.) Beatrice Dickinson.

Phil Ann Dixon (far right on the diving board) of Rose Valley won all six Suburban League diving meets in which she competed this season, including the SSL Championship meet at Martins Dam. For the second year, she took home the Suburban Diving Cup, awarded to a senior diver who wins all his or her interclub meets and the championship meet. At the meet, she also won the Van Blunk award for the top open female diver for the second consecutive year. At the Elite meet, held at Hidden Hollow on July 31, she repeated as senior girls champion on both the one meter and three meter boards. Phil Ann, a senior at Strath Haven High School, swims and dives for the Rose Valley Swim & Tennis Club, where she coaches the diving team.

Happenings

Media Chamber Chorale Seeks Singers

Media Chamber Chorale, a 50-voice community choir under the direction of John Stroud, seeks tenors and basses for the upcoming concert season. The major work for the 2017 holiday concerts will be the Magnificat in D by Bach.

Rehearsals are held on Wednesday evenings from 7:30 p.m. until 9:30 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Delaware County, 145 W. Rose Tree Road in Media. The first rehearsal will be on Wednesday, September 6.

Interested singers should contact Linda at LHeff99@aol.com for more information or to arrange for an audition. Please check out our website at mediachamberchorale.org.

WaR3house3 Sets September Lineup

WaR3house3, Swarthmore’s gallery/nightclub/performance space will be the place to be as the seasons begin to change. The September lineup includes seven shows, starting with a Labor Day weekend doubleheader.

On Saturday, September 2, Philadelphia fuzzy rock duo The Stone Eye plays its album release party, and you’re invited. The Age of Truth opens. Psychedelic folk-rock outfit Liz Cooper & the Stampede make the trip from Nashville to Swarthmore on Labor Night, September 4, with The Minks opening the show.

WaR3house3’s signature hospitality proposition applies: BYOB, with light fare served on the house. Advance tickets for the Saturday show are $10; the Liz Cooper show Monday night is $15. Tickets at the door are an additional $5. Doors open at 7 p.m.; shows begin at 7:30.

Calling Natural Bookworms

Nature’s Narratives, the book club of Scott Arboretum, invites readers to dig in for another season of reading and discussing books about plants, nature, and the environment.

The first book of the fall session is The Hidden Life of Trees by forester and author Peter Wohlleben, who makes a convincing case for the forest as a social network. His love for trees and the woods is deep, and his belief in them as interdependent, social beings is backed up by recent and groundbreaking scientific research.

The first meeting is Wednesday, September 13, from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Club membership and monthly meetings are free, but you are expected to read the book and register in advance. Nature’s Narratives meets at the Scott Horticultural Library. Information on Scott membership and events is at scottarboretum.org.

Rose Valley Museum Will Take Flight in October

Save the dates of October 27, 28 and 29 for the grand opening events of the Rose Valley Museum. The museum is taking shape inside historic Thunderbird Lodge at 41 Rose Valley Road, once the site of the studios of artists Charles and Alice Barber Stephens. Contents will include artworks, documents, furniture and artifacts of the arts and crafts community.

Members of the Rose Valley Museum and Historical Society will enjoy exclusive access to a sneak preview on Friday evening, October 27. Following a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Saturday morning, the museum will host an open house from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, the 28th, and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets are now available — but limited — for several public events. On Saturday, the museum will host a costumed cocktail party, and on Sunday afternoon, a scholar from Winterthur will deliver a lecture on the Arts & Crafts tradition which Rose Valley embodied at is founding in 1901.

Information and event tickets are available through programs@rosevalleymuseum.org, where you can also inquire about membership in the museum and historical society.

Thursday Night Lives On

Swarthmore’s home grown, summerlong free music festival continues next Thursday evening, August 24, at the Central Park amphitheater. Folky rockers Herb Mondros and Out of Order headline the show, with Brian Kors opening around 6 p.m.

It’s picnic night in Swarthmore. Pack your own, or treat yourself to takeout from a restaurant in the Ville. Bring all the family and come and go as you please between 6 and 9 p.m. The music is free.

The show goes on, rain or shine, but it moves to waR3house3 if the weather is inclement. The amphitheater is at 121 Park Avenue; waR3house3 is at 100 Park Ave, WH3.

‘Groundswell Rising’ at Media Borough Hall

The League of Women Voters of Delaware County presents a screening of the film Groundswell Rising next Wednesday, August 23, at Media Borough Hall. The documentary examines the health and environmental effects of natural gas fracking, and how citizens can protect our air and water.

State Street’s Wednesday “Dining Under the Stars” offers dozens of dinner options before the showing, and the movie will be followed by dessert and a beverage. The film is free, but donations are gladly accepted. Showtime is 7:30 p.m. in the Community Room of Borough Hall, 301 N. Jackson St. Info: (610) 543-6647.

Kids’ Community Carnival at Grace Church

Liven up the dog days (and evenings) of late August for your children at a Kids’ Community Carnival, next Wednesday, August 23, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., at Grace Bible Fellowship Church.

Kids in grade 5 and below are stars of the evening, enjoying games and prizes, food, music, inflatables, and face painting. The carnival takes place rain or shine at the church at 723 S. Providence Road in Wallingford. Information is at gracebfc.org and (610) 876-8725.

Summer Travel: College Visits with My Uncles

Greg Brown, Damian Brown, and Linton Stables, looking forward to another tour, on the campus of Colby College in Waterville, Maine.

Dear Admissions Director,

Seriously? You’re giving me 650 words for an essay that conveys the full breadth and depth of my life? All 17 years of it? Instead, I’ll tell you about one week I spent with my uncles looking at colleges throughout New England, including yours. My uncle Greg Brown, his husband, Linton Stables, and I drove 1,400 miles visiting schools in New York, Connecticut, Maine, and Pennsylvania.

So, like, here’s the thing about college tours: They are SO MUCH a reflection of life! Really! First, there’s the information session. That’s where you learn important stuff about each college, and how to get in and all. Then there’s the tour, when you actually get to experience the campus. Isn’t life like that? Constantly toggling back and forth between learning (the info session) and experiencing the world (the tour)? For a week my uncles and I toggled: Info session — tour — info session — tour — etc.

Our visits started with an informal walk around each campus before our scheduled tour. Linton called these “self-guided explorations” while Greg seemed to think they were closer to “breaking-and-entering.” Don’t worry, we didn’t break into anything. But your security guard Maria was super nice to us at the athletics department as she escorted us to the exit. She even gave me the baseball coach’s name and e-mail address. Maria probably deserves a raise as an important element of your recruiting strategy!

Greg is a college Vice President of something-or-other. He tried to stay undercover all week, hoping not to run into some other VP-types or (more important) not to embarrass me. The sunglasses and straw hat seemed to do the trick. He was not detected, at least not until we got to Swarthmore. Greg’s thing on each campus was to comment on how much things cost. Who cares? (Kudos to your college, by the way, for the new student recreation center, no matter what Greg says. Does it really matter that it cost $225 million, which Greg calculated to be about a quarter of your endowment? Well worth it, I think!)

Linton is an architect. He’s retired now, so it’s amusing that he still mostly thinks about buildings. He was always guessing when the buildings were built, and who the architect was. OK, do I have to ask again: Who cares? All I need to know about architecture I’ll learn on the campus tours: Where will I sleep? Where will I eat? Where will I learn and study? Where will I spend all my spare time after I’m done with those other three?

The typical info session starts with a little poll: Who here is a senior? A junior? A sibling being dragged along on the tour? This last bit was cute until the second time we heard it. Anyway, info sessions are a combination of sales pitch and data dump. The best ones paint a picture of life at the college and what kind of students come there. The others repeat stuff you could easily find on their websites. After the info session we divide into smaller groups for a campus tour.

IMHO, the best tour guides walk backwards, a skill most campus guides have perfected. Facing the prospective students, they are able to do a major data transfer while being super perky and answering questions, mostly from parents. Maybe you think my generation revels in the attention and eye contact, but it is our collective responsibility for the tour guide’s safety that truly distinguishes us. Watch out for that garden hose! Bicyclist speeding in on your left! We are bonding as we walk. At one college, however, the tour guide announced that he would NOT be walking backward because his was a Forward Thinking Institution. If only they had provided further evidence.

In life, my focus will be on experiencing the world, and trying to change it. First, though, I am super psyched about my upcoming four-year info session!

Yours with gratitude and hope,

Damian Brown

[Note to actual college admissions officers: The author of this partially fictionalized recounting is, in fact, one of the uncles, not the prospective student. Damian Brown is not nearly as snarky as his uncle, and he writes much better than this.]

Calling Summer Travelers

Where are your summer travels taking you? What are you doing and seeing there? Whether you’re doing a grand tour overseas, spending a week unwinding at a favorite destination, popping off for a spontaneous weekend away, or making a day trip nearby, we’d like to hear about it.

Let your fellow Swarthmorean readers (and staff!) vacation vicariously through your travel stories and photos, which you can send to us at editor@swarthmorean.com. We’ll select and publish submissions through the rest of the summer. Make sure to include a phone number where we can reach you. And don’t forget the sunblock.