Friday, November 18, 2016

A Whole Lot of Swearing (In) Going On in Pottstown

Photo by the Ever-Present John Armato
Above: Susan Lawrence, right, is sworn in as the newest member of the Pottstown School Board by District Judge Scott Palladino, center, while Lawrence's son Seth, left, holds the Bible.
District Judge Scott Palladino was a busy man Thursday night.
Remaining Photos by Evan Brandt
Acting Superintendent Stephen Rodriguez holds the Bible for new 

student board member Michael Baker as he takes the oath.

He was on hand at Pottstown High School for no less than four swearing-in ceremonies and, one of the happier duties of his office, he presided over them all.

Most central was the swearing in of Susan Lawrence, who was chosen last month by the school board to replace Andrew Kefer, who moved with his family to West Virginia.

New student board member Austin Andrews, right, 

was accompanied by his parents for the ceremony.
Her son Seth held the Bible as she took the oath.

Not to be outdone, Palladino then presided over the swearing in of three new student board members.

They are Courteney Parry, Michael Baker and Austin Andrews.

They will replace the three seniors who are graduating.

The evening was also replete with awards.

Acting Superintendent Stephen Rodriguez presented the Forever Green Award which the district won from the U.S. Green Building Council as the LEED Project of the Year for the elementary school renovations, which are particularly energy efficient.
Courteney Parry, right, takes the oath as her mom holds the Bible

In case you didn't know LEED stands for  Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design and sets a standard for buildings and projects created with an eye toward energy efficiency and minimum impact on the environment.

But as important as that is, there is no more heartwarming award than the one Rodriguez gave out next.

It was to 94-year-old Marge Foley, who has been volunteering at Rupert Elementary School for 13 years.

Stephen Rodriguez with 94-year-old volunteer Marge Foley.
Foley is both a Gold Sage volunteer and a foster grandmother volunteer and "at Rupert Elementary School, you are helping to build the next generation of leaders and you are a role model for both young and old as you continue to display a positive attitude every single day," Rodriguez said.

Noting that Foley is also an alum of Pottstown Schools, Rodriguez said "you are a testament to this community's energy and to the good people who live here."

Franklin Elementary Principal Kevin Downes also gave a presentation about a program called Girls On the Run, which is aimed not only at health for young girls, but also self-respect and confidence.

But it wasn't all hearts and flowers.

As the meeting wound down, board member Polly Weand took upon herself to defend her efforts to raise money to replace the lights at Grigg Memorial stadium from a comment published in The Mercury's Sound-Off column.

Apparently a caller wondered aloud why The Hill School and St. Aloysius could so quickly raise so much money for their efforts while the Save the Lights campaign has yet to reach its goal.

Her voice quivering with indignation, Weand said that both St. Al's, and especially The Hill, have wealthy alum while 72 percent of Pottstown's school population lives at some level of poverty.

She said bitterly that people who have more money in Pottstown are not donating toward the effort and that two fundraising events were cancelled "due to lack of interest."

That was the same reason the campaign lost a $150,000 donor, "due to lack of community interest."

"Whoever you are," she said to the anonymous caller, "you should walk a mile in my shoes. I'm trying so hard."

Weand was consoled by board member Amy Francis who said "I'm proud of what you've done. People just don't understand."

Now, before we get to the Tweets, let's end on a happy note. Here are all the student board members, outgoing and incoming, who took advantage of an executive session break in the meeting to show some class.

From left, Jaylin Chestnut, Austin Andrews, Courteney Parry, Nyles Rome, Kenil Patel and Michael Baker.

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