Board Commends and Says Goodbye to Retiring Staff

Wallingford-Swarthmore School Board
By Katie Crawford

The Greek philosopher Heraclitus’ words, “Nothing endures but change,” seem particular appropriate when describing the June 12 meeting of the Wallingford-Swarthmore School Board.

The Wallingford-Swarthmore School District bade farewell to 12 retirees, six of whom were present at the board meeting for recognition. As a combined unit, they gave 289 years of service.

During his remarks, Ferg Abbott, director of Human Resources, shared personal stories for each individual present.

Friedrich Brunsberg retires after 15 years as a bus aide. Mr. Abbott quoted one of his references who described Brunsberg as having, “all the qualities of a Boy Scout.” Shoshanna Gottlieb retires after 16 years in the district, most recently as a science teacher at the middle school. After receiving her Ph.D. in genetics from the University of Chicago and completing postdoctoral studies and research work at Mass General and CHOP, Dr. Gottlieb realized her passion was teaching and received her teaching certificate from St. Joseph’s University. Under her guidance, countless middle school Science Olympiad teams made it to states.

Nether Providence Elementary School says goodbye to Scott Kiehner, who leaves the district after 30 years. Mr. Abbott noted that under Mr. Kiehner, the music program not only blossomed, but grew exponentially. SRS reading specialist Jeanette Lynch is retiring also after 30 years in the district, having served in a variety of capacities across district schools. Ms. Lynch may now find more time to pursue her other passion, professional singing. Mary Reindorp is retiring after 31 years in the district, most recently as a middle school Language Arts teacher. She first worked in the district in a half-position as an ESL teacher and a half-position as the teacher in charge of what was then called the Word Processing Lab, cutting edge district technology at the time.

Ellen Green is the retiree of longest tenure, with 41 years spread among work as a special education teacher at the high school and middle school, and as a guidance counselor. Mr. Abbott referenced a supervisor’s comment about how Ms. Green “worked well with the new 6th Grade Dean of Students and has helped to mentor him as to the ways of the 6th grade.” The 6th grade Dean of Students at the time was Ferg Abbott himself.

Board Member Ballas Will Resign

School board member Jerry Ballas informed the board of his decision to resign pending the sale of his home and his relocation outside of Region Two. Solicitor Kyle Berman briefed the board on their obligations for filling this vacancy. The board has 30 days from the effective day of resignation to appoint an individual to this position. The resulting term will only span several months, since Mr. Ballas’ seat was already up for grabs in the upcoming election. Qualified candidates must be at least 18 years of age and have to have lived in the district for at least a year.

Mr. Berman also informed the board that they have complete control over creating the procedures for selection. After a brief discussion, mindful of both the need to act quickly as well as the potential for partisan influence given the pending election, the board unanimously decided to solicit applications from the general public. The applicants will then be narrowed down to two individuals who will be called for interviews before the board. In addition, the board also unanimously decided that no current candidates for school board will be considered.

Interested applicants should submit a brief resumé and an explanation of why they would like to serve, to the board secretary by June 22 at 12 noon. There is a strong preference for electronic submissions.

Final Budget Approved

The board also approved the Final General Fund Budget for 2017-2018. Martha Kew, business administrator, again highlighted the devastating effect of the district’s state mandated payments to the Pennsylvania State Employees Retirement System (PSERS). According to Kew, the Pension Reform Bill recently signed by Governor Tom Wolf in Harrisburg will offer no relief to the district until the 2030s. In the short term, the district’s burden will increase. State Representative Leanne Krueger Braneky voted against the bill. The rate that the district pays into this fund has increased 581.4% in the past nine years. Kew emphasized to the board and to the public that, “Pension is the single largest driver of our budget and the school district has no control over it.” Board member Paul Schregel summed up the prevailing sentiment in the room stating, “It’s a sad situation.”

Principal Dr. Angela Tuck, Roberta Shapiro, media specialist, and Linda Gillespie, gifted teacher, all of SRS, spoke to the board about the presence of STEAM education throughout the school. Science, engineering, art (a new focus), and math are explored through a design process which encourages students to Ask, Imagine, Improve, Plan, and Create. This approach to learning is encouraged across disciplines. Shapiro praised the hands on, cooperative learning that results, stating, “Failure is expected, and a necessary part of the process.”

The design process was also implemented when 5th grade students and teachers created their 5th grade play this year, as well as by students in the gifted program. In addition, Mrs. Shapiro has created makers spaces in the library where students can come after school to get their “creative juices flowing.” The team is also always looking for more opportunities to incorporate STEAM education and the design process into the regular education program as well.

Wanted: Your Summer Reading Lists

Our summer reading issue is a perennial favorite, but we rely on your lists. Here is our request:

1.) Please send a list of the 5 best books you have read this year.
2.) Please send a list of up to 5 books you intend to read this summer.
3.) Denote (F) for fiction and (NF) for nonfiction.
4.) Indicate your occupation (if applicable) and hometown.
5.) Include a photo, if possible.
6.) E-mail to

The deadline is Sunday, June 25. The Summer Reading issue will appear on Friday, June 30.

Twisting Tales and Tails at PCS

Donna Dougherty and Liz Iannacci are the silly duo Sam and Alex in this novel play, Furry Tails with a Twist.

Donna Dougherty and Liz Iannacci are the silly duo Sam and Alex in this novel play, Furry Tails with a Twist.

When two bumbling actors try to present a few beloved fairy tales on stage, the script gets scrambled, the actors get addled, and the audience helps make the production work out with smiles for all.

Furry Tails with a Twist starts the Players Club of Swarthmore’s summer children’s series this weekend with familiarity and hilarity. The Three Little Pigs are in the house, Goldilocks, and the Billy Goats Gruff, but the storytelling is nothing like the versions you remember. Instead, actors Sam and Alex improvise and forget and meander, and it’s up to the young people in the crowd to put the story together again.

Donna Dougherty of Media and Liz Iannacci of Morton are the silly duo Sam and Alex in this novel play by Jennifer Hickok DiFratis, which is directed by Jim Carroll. PCS’s Raymond W. Smith Stage is the perfect showcase, with the audience virtually on stage (and the air conditioning cranked up).

Performances this Saturday, June 17, are at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.; Sunday’s show is at 11 a.m. Next weekend, the shows will be at 3 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. Sunday.

Tickets are $10 for adults (12 and over) and $8 for children (ages 2 and under get in free). Buy at the door starting 30 minutes before showtime, or online at Group rates and birthday party packaged are available; contact

The Smith Stage is on the second floor of the playhouse (not handicap accessible) at 614 Fairview Road in Swarthmore.

NP Commissioners Move Forward with Infrastructure Projects

Nether Providence Township Commissioners
By Claire Wolters

In a combined work and legislative session last Thursday, the Nether Providence Township board of Commissioners addressed safety concerns and approved bids for new infrastructure projects to begin this summer.

Projects included the addition of two speed humps on Meadow Lane, road resurfacing projects on Locust Lane (from Grandview Road to the end) and Scott Lane (from Moore Road to Windsor Place), and several sidewalk construction plans, the first to begin on Copples Lane next week. The township’s infrastructure budget for 2017 is insufficient to support all of the desired infrastructure upgrades, and the board has responded by adjusting the scope of construction plans. In street projects, the commissioners had hoped to resurface Windsor Place in addition to Locust and Scott, but found that paving the extra street would put them over budget for the year. Windsor was removed from the list, and the commissioners approved a bid from Joseph E. Sucher & Sons Inc. to pave the remaining two streets at a price not to exceed $180,000 for 2017.

The monthly police report supported the case for safer roads, with a total of 376 traffic citations issued during the month of May. The board hopes the addition of the speed humps on Meadow Lane will help to address this problem, and is exploring solutions such as additional stop signs and roughing up the pavement to curb speeding.

Walking the Walk

Sidewalk construction also poses tough choices, as the budget only has funds for one sidewalk project a year. This year’s sidewalk will be built on Copples Lane, with the intent of providing a buffer between traffic and neighborhood families, as well as a walkway to be used by students walking to and from Strath Haven Middle School. Continuing a steady upgrade of Nether Providence’s pedestrian network, the board hopes to implement three more sidewalk projects in the upcoming years.

Currently in the design stage are sidewalks on Moore Road, on E. Rose Valley Road (from Osborne Lane to Providence Road), and on E. Possum Hollow Road (from Wallingford Station to Providence Road). “Where we concentrate, with the limited funds we have, is to make the township more public-transit oriented and safer for kids,” said Commissioner Micah Knapp.

The importance of sidewalks was highlighted in a series of webinars on “walkability,” which is a measurement of how much access residents in a community have to safe and attractive walking routes. The webinars, sponsored by the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC), Montgomery County Planning Commission, and the Metropolitan Planning Organization for the Greater Philadelphia Region, discussed the need for communities to create accessible walking routes for mobility and physical health. Nether Providence’s Assistant Township Manager Dave Grady has been a lead speaker in these webinars, the third of which is entitled “Stepping Out,” will be held next Friday, June 23.

New Contract for Chief

Also on the agenda was the approval of a new contract for Police Chief David Splain. Splain has been working in law enforcement for 32 years; since 2013, he has overseen 15 officers as Chief of Police of Nether Providence Township. “Our police chief David Splain has been with us for almost five years now, and has done an outstanding, tremendous job,” said Board president Nate Much.

The board ratified an eight-year contract for Splain, effective as of June 1, at a salary of $111,862, and subject to “annual consideration for merit based raises.” The commissioners thanked Chief Splain for the good work he has done and is doing to sustain public safety in the community. Resident Anne Reuther thanked the Chief specifically for responding to a request she made at the last Commissioners’ meeting regarding speeding and illegal parking on Kershaw Road. Those in attendance were supportive of the new contract, and members of the board offered additional praises.

Buses in the Borough

A 1938 photo of a bus which plied Red Arrow route “O.” Photo courtesy of Tom Collins.

A 1938 photo of a bus which plied Red Arrow route “O.” Photo courtesy of Tom Collins.

By Thomas Collins

Recently, in a discussion with some friends about SEPTA’s Media-Elwyn train and its past predecessor operators (The Pennsylvania Railroad and Penn Central), the subject of bus service through Swarthmore and vicinity came up.

There is a significant amount of railroad-related history known or available, but seldom is there a mention of bus service which for years has also been an important transit link in our portion of Delaware County. SEPTA’s bus route 109, in itself, has an interesting history.

Bus service to Swarthmore began in June of 1932, when Aronimink Transportation Company extended its route “O” (letters were used to designate suburban bus routes in those days) from Gladstone (on the Baltimore Pike) to Swarthmore. Aronimink Transportation Company became an integral part of the Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Company (a.k.a. “Red Arrow Lines”) in 1943.

In the winter of 1938, Route “O” was, further extended, from Swarthmore to Chester. The City of Chester had its own bus company known as Southern Pennsylvania Bus Company (owned by the Beneficial Company), and signed a joint agreement with Red Arrow, limiting some passenger pickups in Chester that were considered in Southern Penn territory.

During the War Years Route “O was well utilized providing service to Chester’s heavy industrial firms such as Ford, Sun Ship, and Scott Paper. Service operated as frequent as every 12 minutes, with typical weekday ridership nearing 14,000 passengers.

Red Arrow always operated its best equipment on Route “O” — including buses built by two Pennsylvania manufacturers: American Car & Foundry and Mack. Its first set of 10 air conditioned General Motors buses (resplendent in a new livery of mint green and white) were assigned to Route “O” in the Summer of 1960. Ridership grew to nearly World War II levels with these new 45-passenger vehicles.

The entire Red Arrow system was sold to SEPTA in January of 1970. Not long after the agreement was signed, SEPTA began to re-designate all former Red Arrow routes to avoid duplication with its City Division routes. Route “O” became SEPTA route 109.

Today the 109 serves Swarthmore and vicinity with 59 weekday, 49 Saturday, and 24 Sunday (and holiday) trips — all operating from Upper Darby (69th Street Terminal) to Chester (Chester Transportation Center) — service operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Current weekday ridership is approximately 8,000 passengers. Many of the daily passengers connect from the 109 to the Market- Frankford subway-elevated line at 69th Street or to one of the nearly 30 other SEPTA bus and rail lines it traverses in its nearly one hour travel time from 69th Street to Chester, serving Lansdowne and the Springfield Mall.

The 109 (and the old route “O”) have been a vital part of our community for 85 years!

AJ Belville’s Breakout Week

6-16 AJ Belville

AJ Belville had a memorable week, appearing on three stages, before thousands of people. There was the album launch at a showcase at Strath Haven High School on Tuesday, and the performance of one of his new songs at Strath Haven’s Commemoration Thursday. Oh, and graduation Friday (no performance on that stage).

The album title, embargoed until the night of the show for dramatic impact, promises romance and hope: For My Future Wife. “The title comes from the feel of my songs: all of them contain aspects of me that I subconsciously wrote wanting to share with somebody I would spend the rest of my life with and may not even know yet.”

AJ is certainly introspective, but he’s not a shy guy. He clearly understands the dramatic and emotional power of words, and he seems to need to sing these songs. That urgency is balanced by his warm tenor voice and confident acoustic guitar work that carries the songs along at energetic tempos. The album includes songs from among several dozen AJ wrote during the past year, the fruits of his labors in a senior year songwriting independent study with Strath Haven teacher Steve Fischer.

He lives in Wallingford with his parents, Theresa and Christian Belville, and brothers Ethan, Greg, and Rusty. A music student since age four and a pianist, AJ was a winner (as was Aidan Cole) of the excellence in Performing Arts award from Strath Haven’s Home & School Association. He also won the HSA’s Excellence in Biology award. Sounds like a head vs. heart proposition, but there appears to be room for both in AJ’s life. Although he plans to study microbiology and virology at Ursinus College, he hopes to minor in musical performance, theater and performance, or poetry.

We wish all good fortune to AJ, and to his future wife.

What to do? What to know!

Don the Beekeeper of the Philadelphia Bee Company will educate Swarthmoreans of all ages on the importance of bees.

Don the Beekeeper of the Philadelphia Bee Company will educate Swarthmoreans of all ages on the importance of bees.

Catch the Buzz Next Friday

Don the Beekeeper will fly into town next Friday, June 23, for an evening bee education program at the Central Park Amphitheater. At 6 p.m., children and parents will swarm to the amphitheater (Borough Hall in case of rain) to learn about how bees work, what beekeepers do, and why these pollinators are so important.

Don, who owns the Philadelphia Bee Company, will bring a live hive, equipment and photos in this program presented by the Friends of the Swarthmore Public Library as part of the Sharon Ford Concert & Lecture Series.

The event is free and open to all, but probably less than ideal for those under 5, or allergic to bees.

Last Call for Letters to Malika

Do you have a favorite Sandy Sparrow story? If you are among the thousands of Swarthmore-Rutledge School alumni, parents and other Swarthmoreans whose lives she touched, you probably do.

Please share your reminiscences and vignettes with Sandy’s granddaughter so she can come to know her well, too.

These “Letters to Malika” will comprise a collection of stories from those who knew and loved Sandy. Feel free to include a story, a memory, or anything else that reminds you of Sandy.

Letters can be sent mailed to Liz Morris Orye, 216 Sykes Lane, Wallingford, PA 19086, or e-mailed to

Art Rocks at the Creative Living Room

An innovative fundraising art installation will rock The Creative Living Room this summer. Beginning Saturday, June 17, painted river rocks will accumulate around the entrance to TCLR, forming a river of color that will change shape and color as members of the community contribute and acquire these unique art objects.

TCLR teaching artist Quincy Campbell organized the installation, following her successful coordination of the creation, donation and sale of more than 300 painted rocks to benefit the Chester-Ridley-Crum Watershed Association.

This initiative will benefit CRC as well as TCLR. For a donation of $1 or more, anyone can create his or her own design using rocks and materials available at TCLR … or take a rock, and roll home to do the decorating. In addition to placing the new rocks in the “riverbed,” donors can bring in rocks they may have from previous painting projects.

To get into the flow, stop by the Creative Living Room at the Stage One complex, 101 Plush Mill Road in Wallingford.

E-Recycling Next Weekend at St. John’s

From 8:30 a.m. to noon next Saturday, June 24, St. John Chrysostom Catholic Church hosts a recycling event with a dual mission. All readers can bring old, obsolete and inoperative technology — TVs, phones, game systems, printers, cables, etc. to the rear parking lot of the church at 617 S. Providence Road in Wallingford.

PAR Recycle Works, the church’s partner in this event, uses the electronics collected to provide job training to ex-offenders released from Graterford Prison. There is a charge of $30 per tube TV or monitor; other items fly free. Info: (610) 874-3418, ext. 106.

Gurlz Who Rock, Will

Just Roses & Friends headline Our Community Cup’s June 17 Summer Concert “in support of solidarity and love.” The concert is themed Gurlz who Rock, and rock they will, with the headliners welcoming special guests Danie Ocean, Katie Barbato, and Julia Zane to the stage at Tree of Life Church, 933 Baltimore Pike in Springfield. Music begins at 5 p.m. and the performance continues till about 8 p.m., when an open jam will ensue.

Bring your instrument if you want to jam; bring a chair; bring an appetite for barbecue; bring a donation to support Our Community Cup and its employment project. Info at or call Jim Wurster at (610) 246-8939.

Build a Better World, Origami Style at HKF

Kids going into grades 6 through 12 are invited to “Build a Better World” in programs this summer at the Helen Kate Furness Free Library, starting Thursday, June 22, at 3:30 p.m.

The building begins with modular origami, which is more complicated than the elementary style, allowing builders to create unique 3-dimensional objects and then explore the library’s origami book collection.

Register by phone at (610) 566-9331, ext. 4, or in person at the library, 100 N. Providence Road in Wallingford.

Report from the Fire Company

Garden City firefighters inspect damage from Wednesday’s house fire. Photo by Patrick O’Rourke Jr.

Garden City firefighters inspect damage from Wednesday’s house fire. Photo by Patrick O’Rourke Jr.

By Rich Cresson

Between May 29 and June 11, the Swarthmore Fire & Protective Association responded to the following alarms:

EMS: The ambulance responded to 35 calls for medical assistance. These were to Swarthmore, Rutledge, Morton, Nether Providence Twp., Ridley Twp. and Springfield Twp. The calls were for a variety of emergencies including respiratory difficulty, change in mental status, head injury, fall victim, fall with trauma, sick person, pediatric emergency, overdose, semi-conscious person, syncopal episode, accident with injury, accident with pregnant driver, abdominal pain, congestive heart failure, hemorrhaging, medical alarm-pendant activation, injured person, cerebrovascular accident seizures, heart attack, and hypertension. This list of medical difficulties covers events that occurred during this past 2 week period.

Assist EMS: One incident for an overdosed 17-year-old victim.

Automatic Fire Alarm: Two in Swarthmore, one in Morton.

Automobile Accidents: Two in Swarthmore, one Springfield Twp.

Hazmat: Two incidents in Swarthmore, one for the smell of natural gas, one for a carbon monoxide Alarm on Haverford Avenue.

Assist to Morton: One incident for an automatic fire alarm activation.

Building Fires: One mutual aid alarm to Garden City FD. for a house fire on S. Providence Rd.

Assist to Nether Providence: One incident for a house fire on S. Providence Rd.

The Fire Dept. responded to a mutual aid call to assist Garden City FD and South Media FD for a working building (house) fire on Wednesday afternoon, June 7, on South Providence Rd. The call came in at 3:27 p.m. for a “working building fire.” First arriving units found a room and contents fully involved. Apparatus from Garden City FD laid a split lay (which occurs when one engine lays part of the supply hose and another completes the hose lay) of hose to a fire hydrant, on Pleasant Hill Rd., while another engine from Garden City FD completed the hose lay to the front of the structure.

Firefighters from Garden City FD were successful in knocking down the majority of the fire with tank water until the water supply was established. Swarthmore’s aerial ladder was the first such truck to arrive, and its ground ladders were used extensively. The extent of the fire was contained to the room of origin with some extension to the attic area. Parts of Providence Road were closed for nearly four hours. Apparatus from Swarthmore were released from the scene at approximately 5:30 p.m.

Other assisting fire departments dispatched for manpower were Brookhaven, Springfield, Media, Aston Twp. and Parkside. The cause of the fire is under investigation by the Nether Providence Fire Marshal.

Briefly Noted…

6-16 bn-huestis

Will Huestis, left, and Jeff Conner were two of several select area lacrosse players recently honored at the U.S. Lacrosse PLA High School Awards Banquet in Phoenixville, Pa. Will, a graduating senior attending Wesleyan University after a gap year, was honored as an USL Academic All-American, and Jeff, a junior committed to play at the University of Virginia, was honored as an USL All-American as well as an EPLCA All Star. Both boys played for SHHS men’s lacrosse team under coach Jef Hewlings.

As of Monday afternoon, the winners of the Swarthmore Swim Club 2017 hot pink (with navy lettering) 1,000-lap shirt are 3.) Clare Scharschan, 4.) Nick Kaplinsky, and 5.) John McKinstry.

U.S. Navy Ensign Susanna Heidt, daughter of Cindy and Ted Heidt of Swarthmore, graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., on May 26, and was commissioned as an officer. Following four years of training at the Naval Academy, Ensign Heidt was awarded a B.S. in computer science. She has been assigned to Naval Base San Diego, where she will continue training in surface ship operations, and then proceed to Yokosuka, Japan, to begin service aboard the USS Mustin. Ensign Heidt is a 2013 graduate of Strath Haven High School.

Audiobooks for the Young

By Carol Kennedy

Summer is upon us, and what better time to introduce your children to the pleasures of books on CD or play-away? The Swarthmore Public Library has an extensive collection of audiobooks for children and adults alike, and if you are planning a road trip, they might be just the ticket for keeping the family from being bored, fidgety, or querulous in the back seat!

Play-aways, in case you are not familiar with them, are audiobooks that one person listens to at a time. Each unit is a book in itself, and has its own batteries and headphones so that a child can listen without disturbing others. They work like an old-fashioned tape player but are fairly compact (the size of a cell phone or smaller) and easy to use.

On the other hand, a CD can be enjoyed by the whole family and offers the opportunity for discussion and shared laughter, tears or excitement. My recommendation for maximum laughter is Jon Scieszka’s Knucklehead: Tall Tales & Mostly True Stories About Growing Up Scieszka. Jon, also the author of Stinky Cheese Man, grew up with five brothers, all of them full of mischief and a naughty sense of adventure. Their antics will keep your whole family thoroughly amused.

There are also books available for downloading from the library to your electronic device. Details are available at and

Here are just a few other titles that might be of interest to elementary-age and pre-teen listeners:
• Gary Paulsen’s Liar, Liar (another funny tale by the excellent author of Hatchet).
Pictures of Hollis Woods by Patricia Reilly Giff (a realistic story about an orphan girl looking for a family, good for ages 10-14).
Maximum Ride by James Patterson (combines mystery, science fiction and the supernatural).
The Big Dark by W. Rodman Philbrick (science fiction adventure with a dose of realism).
Tales of a Fourth-Grade Nothing by Judy Blume (will have the whole family in stitches).
Bucking the Sarge by Christopher Paul Curtis (realistic fiction for grades 7-12).
When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead (time and space have strange ways of behaving for a 1970s-era New York City girl).
Things Not Seen by Andrew Clements (science fiction and humor for the middle-grade listener).
A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle (as good a time as any to enjoy this classic sci-fi adventure).
A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. LeGuin (yet more sci-fi, for young adults, also downloadable).

Come to the library to find even more titles before your trip, or check the website for electronic books you can easily download!

Carol Kennedy of Swarthmore is a retired school librarian and a member of the TriState Young Adult Review Committee (