Thursday (Feb 12) meeting on course selection

Thursday’s Home and School meeting will feature Assistant Principal Andrea LaPira, who will present, ” The ins and outs of course selection and scheduling”. The presentation will discuss how courses are mapped out over four years, plus tips on how to be helpful to your student.

Plus it’s contagious disease season! And the library would be extremely grateful for donations of tissues and hand sanitizer, so please bring some with you if you have extra around the house. If you have some but can’t attend the meeting, send the donations in with your kid.


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Copples Lane alert for AM drivers

If you are on Copples Lane at S. Providence Road, there’s a white sign that prohibits left turns during the morning hours when schools are starting. But what if you want to drive ACROSS S. Providence Road to the High School Driveway during morning rush-hour?

In a common scenario, a friendly car driving south on South Providence Road might allow you to cross, but then cars behind that car decide to pull around on the right (without slowing down), assuming perhaps that the first car has stopped in order to make a turn (which happens a lot). Those passing cars can hit you if you optimistically dart across two lanes of traffic. They can also hit students who might be walking along the side of the road (though they shouldn’t be walking there, of course). There are several other scenarios that demonstrate why darting across S Providence Road is dangerous. Those scenarios actually happen every morning.Darting across to the High School is dangerous.

So the sign really should say, “Right turn only” during the school starting hours. It’s only a signage oversight that makes the darting legal.

But it’s so convenient! And everyone is busy and it’s true, people have been darting across that road in the morning for decades. But if you can, please drop your kids off at the Middle School and have them use the crosswalk. It really is not a long walk for them, and they probably need the exercise.

Darting across S Providence Road

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U-turns during morning dropoff

Just a friendly plea to busy parents: please do not pull off onto the side of Providence Road to unload your kid at the High School. Also, please do not then make a U-turn in front of school. Impressionable kids might be watching.

U-turn in front of school

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Providence Road overpass

Just a random safety nudge for any parents reading this site: please urge your kid to use the overpass instead of darting across Providence Road. Some kids are doing it after school, and still others after games, practices, and rehearsals … in the dark.

Drivers on this road are rushing to get home and some are even texting (you can see their phone screens from the overpass vantage point). There are also lots of brand new drivers around high schools. Although your kid might be a fast sprinter, he/she is weighted down by 50 lbs of books.

Providence RoadIf your kid pooh-poohs your concern (likely), here’s some history that might get their attention: in December 1971, a car on Providence Road plowed into a crowd leaving a Nether Providence High School basketball game, killing 2, injuring 12. That accident speaks directly to a common feeling of pedestrians: “because I’m in a crowd, drivers will see us and slow down while we cross”. The driver in question was asleep (according to newspaper clippings I found). He’d been drinking, too.

In response to this tragedy, a pedestrian overpass was constructed. The steepness of the hill on that location of Providence Road was also changed so that drivers could better see pedestrians (and pedestrians could see cars). I’m assuming the mound of soil that ruins the view of high school from road is a remnant of that hasty regrading effort. I think there were also calls for sidewalks in the area … but that didn’t happen.

Students are urged by the administration to use the overpass, but because so many kids visit our school for games, we really should install signs like the one below (but in English).

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Superintendent to deliver address on the state of WSSD

Thursday December 11 at 6:30 pm. (That’s right, NOT 7:00 pm. Time change allows people to also catch the Middle School event.)

Dr. Noonan will bring us thoughts and ideas on the State of the Wallingford-Swarthmore School District.

We will also be checking over (twice, of course) the wish list that the high school teachers submitted at the last meeting, and voting on what to fund. Come join us!

Just in case you’ve never seen Dr Noonan, here’s a photograph (he’s on the left):

Dr Noonan

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Guidance Department at Nov 13th Home and School Mtg (7pm; BYOT/S)

At Thursday’s HSA meeting, the Dr Winemiller from the Guidance Department will be talking about … the Guidance Department! If you don’t know what the Guidance Department does, click on some of the links below to get a taste. The presentation is not just for parents/guardians of juniors and seniors … so everyone is encouraged to come.

Flu droplets from sneezing

It being late Fall, this is a BYOT/BYOS event: bring a box of tissues or container of sanitizer with you, to donate to the school. Science (!) has shown that saturating schools and workplaces with tissues and hand sanitizer can decrease disease transmission rates, which could translate into your kid being at school more. Infections aren’t just annoying: they decrease kids’ academic performance. And if you are loading them up with flu and cold remedies and sending them to school anyway, some of those drugs also have negative effects on cognitive ability (the fine print, usually). So keep your kids free of diseases by bringing in some gifts for the school. Thanks!

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Crowdsourcing a traffic problem at high school

During the Freshman Car Wash last Saturday, multiple cars (perhaps six … I lost count) drove down Copples Lane going the wrong direction. This was a safety issue for the students who were in the street washing cars since they were not looking for drivers coming the wrong way.

To orient you, below is a map showing the high school (red marker). The road in question is labeled Copples Lane by Google Maps, but known to most as that little segment off of Providence Road that provides access to the third floor of the high school. The drivers were going south on this little segment. It is one-way going the opposite direction.


Anyway, I’ve been asking around and apparently this has always been a problem and that there doesn’t seem to be a good solution. But given that it’s a school with our kids, I’m wondering if the problem might be fixable if enough parents who subscribe to this site offered the school some practical suggestions. There are several ways to improve it right now.

To get us started, here are some thoughts I’ve cooked up:

1. [10/31/2014 update: Google made the drive one-way as 10am. That was fast!] Google doesn’t show Copples Lane as one-way. This means that if people are visiting the school from points north, their phones/GPS device could direct them to turn onto Copples Lane going the wrong way. Luckily, we can fix this, I think. If you (yes you) have a second, please load up a Google map of the location (or click this), then click the little question mark toward the bottom right … then select “Report a data problem”.

Report a data problem

You’ll be asked to indicate where there’s a problem; just click somewhere on the section of Copples Lane that passes in front of the High School.

click on the map

Then tick the “One-way/two-way is incorrect” and type something like, “One way going NORTHBOUND” in the box that appears. Or perhaps, “Should be one way going NORTHBOUND”, just to be clear!

one-way going northbound

After you submit, you’ll get an email thanking you for the feedback and promising to update you when/if the map is fixed. (This won’t happen if you’re not logged into Google Account, of course.) I’m hoping that if a lot of parents submit the correction, it will get corrected faster.

2. The north entrance of Copples Lane is equipped with three (3!) DO NOT ENTER signs. In the screenshot below, only 2 are visible (the third is on the far side of the exiting SUV). These signs work for most people, but clearly not for all. My thoughts on what needs fixing are below the photograph.

north copples entrance

I think the position of the far right DO NOT ENTER sign doesn’t make sense — it’s positioned as if to say one shouldn’t enter Providence Road (and thus primes people to ignore it). What I think is missing is a NO RIGHT TURN (the graphic version) at the location of the far right DO NOT ENTER sign. Similarly, a NO LEFT TURN sign should be positioned (perhaps right before the bridge support) so that northbound Providence Road traffic can see it. It might also make sense to put up ONE WAY signs (viewable from both directions), since that’s what drivers expect on one-way streets. Finally, a WRONG WAY sign is needed closer to the school, for drivers that arrive after somehow ignoring all the other signs. Here are the signs in the rough order they should be arranged (per code, I believe):


Those are all relatively easy signage fixes, though not without cost. And the school would probably need to get permission by presenting plan to local/state government representatives (road is officially school property, so perhaps some of these changes exempt?). But our kids are worth the effort and cost, I think. What would be extra nice for this location is the addition of a larger sign that said “ENTRANCE TO STRATH HAVEN HIGH SCHOOL 600 feet” (or whatever the distance actually is). And then, when they arrive at that location, an ENTRANCE sign (near the announcement board).

3. It would be great to have a little clarity on what the building address actually is. If you go to the high school website and look at the bottom of the page, the address listed is 205 S Providence Road; a web search for the high school also provides that address. But this is what you get on Google Maps for that street address:

200 South Providence Road

(That red marker is not the High School.) So if visitors coming for games are using GPS units, they won’t arrive at the school, and certainly won’t arrive where we want them to park.  I’m not sure if this is a Google data problem or a bad choice of address on the part of the school. We need an address that directs people to the south entrance of Copples Lane … at least for drop-offs. Unfortunately, I’m actually not sure what the street address should be. I’ve found that “300 S Providence Road” works rather well in Google Maps, though it might not be good in other map providers. Ideally, the school should decide that its official address is somewhere on Providence Road (or Copples Lane) and then request that street number (via Google Map, post office, etc.).  And then that address would be the address where visitors are directed to enter the building. But the school should also provide street addresses (i.e., number + street name) for where people should park (at Copples lot, Providence Road lot). All those different addresses should be clearly listed and described on the “SHHS Visitor Information” page so that athletic teams and traveling parents, etc. can find the correct location without driving around for 10 minutes … and causing traffic hazards for everyone in the process.  By the way, the visitor information page currently lists the high school address as 200 S Providence Road … that appears to be the same address as is listed for the Middle School … I have no explanation for this.

I think it would be hugely helpful if the high school could also add a high-quality map to the visitor information page, using arrows to indicate the one-way nature of Copples Lane, the entrance to Copples Lane (for dropoffs), and indicating where people should park for sporting events and such. Here’s a sample map for Red Land High School. Perhaps even formally depict the 3-lane system that maintains central flow spanned by “waiters” for drop-off/pick-up periods (not all parents figure this out by just watching). Maybe an art / computer design class could tackle this project, under the direction of the administration. In the interim, a marked-up screenshot from Google Maps would take about 30 minutes to make/upload … and would be a huge help to visitors and those new to the high school. If the map and associated addresses were really nicely done, the “SHHS Visitor Information” page would be a much-used resource sent to coaches/boosters at other schools prior to their arrival. (Might be better used if page was renamed, “Directions and Parking” … in my opinion.”)


So … if you have suggestions on any of the above … or have other half-baked ideas, please let somebody know ASAP. And please share this post with others who might have input. I know this situation has been there for years, but I don’t think that’s OK. Hopefully we can get these (or better) fixes in the works before the next car wash. — Colin Purrington (web person for site; dad of 2)

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