Taking the cake — out of the classroom?

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Wellness policy may have parents pitted against each other on school treats

By Mike McGann, Editor, UnionvilleTImes
A less responsible media outlet might call it: Cupcakegate.

Although it came up briefly during last Monday night’s Unionville-Chadds Ford School District Board of Education, it looks like the district’s Wellness policy is rapidly bubbling up to become the latest cause celebre in Unionville.

The story goes something like this: a parent wanted to send in cupcakes with their elementary school child to school for their birthday, which was, apparently summarily rejected by the class parent, on the grounds that they were not “healthy” snacks. Is it apocryphal? Probably not, as I know of at least one parent who got “resistance” on trying to send in cupcakes, although that story had a happy, icing-covered ending.

Obviously, all of this begs a question: why is some random parent (and yes, we love our class parents — they certainly do many things to make our children have a happier and better time in school) making what should be an administrative decision? Second, cupcakes? Really? It’s not like, say, a parent were to suggest sending in cognac and cigars (side note: if there are moms sending cognac and cigars into school, I will happily buy cupcakes for your child’s classes, if you will, in turn, cater all future Unionville Times’ staff meetings).

Have we really reached a time when we expect to hand out celebratory celery? Sure, it’s healthy, but so is getting a colonoscopy. Neither is particularly fun, mind you, even if necessary. I don’t feed my kids a regular diet of junk food (much to their annoyance), but, also recognize that part of the fun of childhood is an occasional treat. Heck…it is for adults, too (see, cigars and cognac). And just as obviously, a regular diet of such things is not healthy.

Frankly, I get a little perturbed when lectured about what politically correct action I’m supposed to take. As a recovering Democrat, informed of my duty to the planet to purchase and drive a Toyota Prius or some other morally superior hybrid, I bought a joyously gas-guzzling Ford Mustang GT convertible (it’s harder to flick the ashes off those cigars I’m not supposed to smoke in the hardtop version).

On the flipside, as we all know, some (okay, a very tiny number) of parents can get, shall we say, a bit competitive about how wonderful their in-class birthday treats are. Hint: the chocolate fountain in first grade might not be such a good idea.

So, clearly, it falls to the school board and administration to sort this out. That process should be getting underway Nov. 3 at 9 a.m. at the next meeting of the board’s policy committee at the district administration offices, when the Wellness Policy, as well as a number of other district policies, ranging from naming rights to commercialism are expected to be discussed.

No word on whether cupcakes will be served, however, so you might want to bring your own.

* * *

A more personal thank you to Dr. Corrine Sweeney. For virtually all of the time she served on the board either my stepsons or my twins have been students in the Unionville-Chadds Ford School District.

Without question, her efforts made their experiences and education better and she will be missed.

On a personal level, she has always been a delight to deal with — pleasant, friendly and never seeming to have any agenda beyond doing what she felt was best for the community. What you saw was what you got: direct, polite and always with a sense of humor.

Here’s wishing her well and thanking her family for all the time she spent away from them, working on behalf of students and parents in the school district.

* * *

If you’re undecided about who to vote for in the coming school board elections, make sure you come to the League of Women Voters/ PTO Meet the Candidate Night, Oct. 26 at Chadds Ford Elementary.

It’s a good opportunity to ask questions and learn more about those running.

It’s not the world’s best format — the LWV seems dead set on running events in Chester County that fail to really address the issues, because of their moribund format. In other places, I’ve actually moderated LWV events in the past that use more of a hybrid approach — a mix of questions from the audience alternating with questions from a media-based moderator who covers the office up for election and has a better grasp on recent history and issues than most average citizens. The moderator also can ask follow-up questions to any question, which makes it a lot harder for candidates to stick to their pre-prepared talking points.

But, having said that, this is still a good opportunity to ask questions and see what sort of answers you get.

* * *

We should now be just days from phase two of the great Route 926 closure, and potentially within days of the first real payoff of the project.

The roadbed for the New Route 52 is completely laid down, traffic lights have been installed and new curbing is in place. Once the east side of the intersection is built out and the new roadway ready, the other side of the intersection will be closed — expected to be next week.

The good news — aside from the nice, new and much safer route to U.S. 1 — it should mean the end of too many near head-on collisions on Parkerville Road — posted speed limit 25 — where folks have been cutting across to detour themselves around 926.

The bad news: it appears Route 52 will continue to be a one-lane road during phase two of the repairs, which means more confusion about who stops when and where. And it looks like the traffic will be moving onto Unionville-Lenape Road, which can be tricky enough under the best of circumstances — especially when you mix in the death triangle (Rt. 52, Unionville-Lenape and Wawaset roads), and extra traffic with shift changes at the Pocopson Home and/or the Chester County Prison.

Go slow, allow extra time and be on the lookout for folks driving in odd or confused ways.

Hopefully, all the detours will be over right around the holidays.

* * *

Congratulations to Kevin Crossman, the newly elected president of the Unionville Recreation Association. Kevin — a Unionville native — starred on the Unionville High basketball team in the 1980s and then went on to coach at his alma mater.

He’s a bright guy — a teacher — who understands balancing the needs of the organization and the community, while remembering that the focus always remains on the kids.

Congratulations also to Ricky Tuel, the organization’s new Vice President. Ricky has been a tireless volunteer for the organization and now steps up again.

Thanks go out to Jeff Fries, the outgoing president, and Don Carlino, the outgoing vice president. Both spent countless hours working to make the programs run — programs that serve more than 850 Unionville-area families (nearly half of the kids enrolled in UCFSD schools participate in one or more URA sports).

* * *

A final note:

As you may have noticed, Coup took the week off last week. As regular readers of this Saturday morning exercise in prose know, a good friend of mine was very ill. Surrounded by his family, in southwest Florida, John Lowe succumbed Oct. 13 to pancreatic cancer at the ridiculously too young age of 49. He is survived by his wonderful, understanding wife, Stacey and their awesome nine-year-old son, Asher. None of them have any remote connection to Unionville, other than the fact that Johnny was my friend.

As this column is typically written on Friday (goodness knows, I need at least a day to edit it into something slightly less rambling and self-indulgent), I was just not up for writing in this space the day after John died, so I apologize if you were looking for it and found this missing.

One other impact: John being John, he insisted (interestingly, much as I have) that instead of a memorial service, a party be held in his honor with decidedly more laughter than tears. I will be attending that event in southwest Florida on Sunday. That means our usual Unionville High School video highlight package might not be ready until Monday or Tuesday, although a full game story should be up by tonight.

Thanks for your understanding.

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