Group’s impressive performance provided win for community
By Kathleen Brady Shea, Managing Editor, The Times
Excitement about the upcoming school year – heightened by the recent second-place finish of the KAU baseball team at the Senior League World Series – pervaded Monday night’s meeting of the Unionville-Chadds Ford school board.
Unionville High Principal Paula Massanari was one of several speakers who praised the Kennett Kings’ accomplishments. “They brought all sorts of joy to the community,” she said.
Board Vice-President Victor Dupuis said he wished that everyone could have attended Sunday night’s welcome-home ceremony for the team. He said it was inspiring to see the unity personified by the team, which is comprised of students from Unionville, Kennett and Avondale.
“I think we’re off to a great school year,” agreed board member Kathleen Do, echoing accolades for the baseball team. She pointed out that eight of the 13 team members who traveled to Bangor, Maine, for the championships had attended Unionville schools: Alex Pechin, Andrew Jones, Tucker Reese, Drew Jarmuz, Ryan Barrett, Eric Takousian, Dan Garver, and Eric Duerr.
In other business, the district bid a fond farewell to three retirees: Sue Natale, a district technology assistant; Linda Feathers, a technology support specialist at Hillendale Elementary; and Donna Hayden, the academically-talented program teacher, also at Hillendale.
Josh Boughner, the district’s network administrator, said that Natale, who was always plugged in, would be sorely missed. He described her as the go-to person, especially “if you want to know where wires run.” Steve Dissinger, Hillendale’s principal, said Feathers’ passion for the HE-TV station and “meticulous level of detail” would be hard to replace. And Hayden, a Citadel Heart of Learning award-winner, brought an unparalleled level of “diligence and commitment and devotion” to the gifted program, Dissinger said.
“Thank you from the bottom of my heart for everything you’ve done,” said Superintendent John Sanville to the departing staffers. “Know that you’ve left us better….”
The board heard an impassioned plea from Olivia Young, a distance speedster on the Unionville High track team, who said the team is looking for more help for Coach Mark Laciana. “He’s just a fabulous coach in every way,” she said, adding that he needs and deserves reinforcements. The team, ranked sixth in the nation, currently has an 83-1 ratio of players to coaches, she said.
“We’re the only no-cut sport” at the school, said the rising junior. Young said that fact has contributed to a 10 percent increase in participation each year and is not something that should be changed. She said that it’s rewarding to see players with little or no experience develop into contenders and that she hoped the board would consider the request.
The board approved two field trips, both of which are scheduled during student vacations. An 8th-grade Spanish trip to Costa Rica from April 12-19 is expected to involve 10 to 25 students at a cost of $2,700 each, with fund-raising planned. An exchange trip to Gottingen, Germany, will be held June 15 to July 5 at a cost of $3,200 per student, also with fund-raising opportunities for the 15 to 20 students expected to participate. The German students will visit Unionville in October.
The board also approved the purchase of 77 new two-way radios at a cost of $17,600; authorized bids to replace a 19-year-old dump truck that won’t pass inspection; and approved a $27,500 facilities study by Lancaster-based Marotta and Main (M&M) Architects.
Rick Hostetler, the district’s supervisor of Buildings and Grounds, said C.F. Patton Middle School and Hillendale, both of which have gone nearly two decades without major renovation, would be examined in more detail; however, the other four campuses would also be evaluated to assess the district’s long-term building needs. Sanville labeled it “the beginning of a research process.”
Board member Holly Manzone said the district is ready to begin implementing Common Core, a curriculum designed to standardize student goals and assessments beyond state lines. Acknowledging misinformation about the initiative, several board members said it was a step in the right direction as well as a work-in-progress.
Board member Jeff Hellrung suggested that people who have expressed concerns should take the time to read the document. “There’s nothing unreasonable or hugely different,” he said. “It goes for consistency … I don’t think you’ll be alarmed.”
Pocopson resident Bruce Yeltin asked what effect Common Core would have on state and federal funding. Sanville said the district did not expect dramatic changes.
Manzone said a successful storm water management revision project at Hillendale Elementary would be capped by a massive tree-planting on Oct. 12, and she said volunteers were needed, urging everyone to attend. She said organizers hoped to turn the effort into an educational experience with “hands-on science opportunities.”