POTTSTOWN PA – Some might say they make an unlikely couple. On Friday night (Sept. 13, 2013) at Pottsgrove Middle School, though, students there can thank two adults they probably don’t know – school board members Justin Valentine and Patti Grimm – for acting this week as their dancing stars.
Valentine, Grimm and, eventually, other members of the Pottsgrove Board of School Directors’ and Superintendent Shellie Feola made it possible to avoid canceling a Middle School dance that had been planned and worked on for months by its Parent-Teacher Organization (PTO) … and was highly anticipated by students themselves.
The dance’s Friday date coincides with observance of the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, or “Day of Atonement.” It’s considered that religion’s highest holy day, and some parents had called the district administration to object that the event would be held then. A decision was made and announced Monday (Sept. 9) to call the dance off.
Other parents and PTO officers arrived Tuesday at the board’s first of two monthly meetings to discuss the situation, sounding more apologetic than angry. “We worked around other events that were already scheduled to get to this date, as we had been asked to do,” a PTO group of three explained. The issue of the religious holiday hadn’t been raised then, and unnamed Middle School powers-that-be gave an approval, they added.
Besides, they noted, other district events will occur Friday and were not similarly canceled.
Feola acknowledged the problem. “It’s nothing against the PTO,” she said. “We tried to be sensitive to one group, and we’ve ended up looking insensitive to another group.”
The dance represents the PTO’s largest fund-raiser. Almost 400 students attended it last year, and the group collected more than $2,000, most of which went back into paying for student activities and amenities.
Parent and school board candidate Rick Rabinowitz, whose family will observe the holiday, suggested the cancellation “does more harm than good.” Students would be disappointed, he said, and he worried that cancellation might create a “backlash against Jewish students. The way we have it now,” he continued, “is everybody will miss out. Let’s let the kids dance.”
The conversation died away a short time later. PTO members left the meeting, resigned to the dance’s fate. The board conducted other business, and prepared to adjourn. Then Valentine switched on his microphone.
“If it’s practical, is there some way we can unwind this whole thing and have the dance?,” he asked Feola. Across the room, his colleague Grimm quickly joined in, shaking her head in assent. “I think that’d be good,” she said.
Feola looked around the board table. No directors objected. Feola looked out at the audience, where the PTO officers no longer were, and then to Rabinowitz. “Can they pull it off,” she asked him, “and get everything back together to hold the dance?” “I’ll bet they can,” he replied. Two text messages and a phone call later the PTO had reassembled in front of the board, confirmed that all which had been undone could be redone, and the dance was on. Again.
This story, by the way, is now electronically ancient. In the age of instant media connections, the Middle School world (such as it exists) knew about the reversal less than five minutes after it was made. “Thank God for Facebook,” one PTO officer said, smiling.
Related (to the Pottsgrove Board of School Directors’ Sept. 10 meeting):
- Dance Dance Dance (Again) At Middle School
- Pottsgrove Middle School Band Big In Size And Sound
- Accident Worries Pottsgrove Parents Of Private Students
- Pottsgrove Middle Starts Its 5th Year Of Fitness Program
- School Board Holds Executive Session On ‘Litigation’
Photo from Google Images