A mother of two Wallenpaupack high school students who are involved in sports, Lisa Tirgan, raised concerns at the April 9th school board meeting which she has about school policies and procedures that impact some sport teams.

WALLENPAUPACK -  A mother of two Wallenpaupack high school students who are involved in sports, Lisa Tirgan, raised concerns at the April 9 school board meeting which she has about school policies and procedures that impact some sport teams.

Tirgan is a resident of Greene Township.

Referring to them as “inequities,” the first issue she raised had to do with teams missing games and practice when classes were called off that morning due to the weather, but the weather later improved and roads were safe.

Noting the “excessive number of snow days” that have been required due to the harsh winter the area experienced, she said teams missed practices or games when conditions had improved by afternoon or evening. Nevertheless, on some of these same days, she said, school clubs and other non-school affiliated teams and organizations have been able to meet as planned.

While understanding that safety and paying for school custodians may be the reasons, she said that if this is the case then the policy should be “enforced across the board.”

Exceptions explained

Superintendent Michael Silsby later explained to The News Eagle that when school is closed because of weather all school sponsored activities are cancelled, except in special, approved circumstances. 

“The only exception would be if our students would miss an event that is only held one time. Such as the Career and Technical completion that if we did not attend our students would not be able to qualify for state or national competitions. There are other examples. These only are approved if it is deemed safe to travel at the time,” Silsby said. 

“Outside groups also will not be able to use the buildings if we are closed,” he continued.
“This year when we had the five days off in a row there were a couple of instances where some high school groups were allowed to come in later in the week to prepare for competitions or performances. That week was not a normal circumstance as we were closed for a week,” Silsby said. “So the policy going forward continues to be No school means no activities unless I approve a special circumstance.”

Says field not regulation

Her second concern was about the quality of the ball field available for the Wallenpaupack Softball Team.

Tirgan said that devout there being three teams, there is only one field where they can practice or have games, but the field in back of the high school does not meet PIAA regulations.

Without mentioning specifics, she said that this was despite the fact that the field was redesigned a couple years ago.

In addition, she said that the field can’t be used for practice some of the time because the out field is also part of the track and field facilities.

She said that the coaches were told that once new turf was applied to the football field, PIAA sanctioned softball games could be held on the football field. That hasn’t happened, she said. A tarp was also expected to be purchased to cover the infield for the winter, but never happened. Meanwhile, she said the baseball infield has had tarps to protect them, and the baseball field turf was replaced.

“Here we are five weeks into the season and the softball team has not had a game or practice on a legal softball field at any Wallenpaupack facility,” Tirgan said.

Weather factor

Silsby later stated to The News Eagle, “I know nothing about the statement that the fields are not regulation.  We have been using these fields for over 30 plus years.” He noted that the wet weather this spring prevented many schools, including Wallenpaupack, to be unable to use their fields.

The district is exploring options to create an additional field for softball and a multiple use field for both softball and baseball. 

He noted that the softball field had new dugouts, new benches, outfield fence purchased and drainage work done on the middle school field last year. The high school field had a reconfiguration of the infield, dugout repairs and new team benches. 

Superintendent Silsby thanked Mrs. Tirgan for her comments and offered to call her  to discuss them further.

Coach Simons honored

Superintendent Silsby noted that both Robert Simons, their golf coach for an incredible 47 years, and his wife, Anne Marie Simons, Wallenpaupack Athletic Director, have recently been honored.

Bob “Si” Simons was named one of the the top 50 coaches in the nation by the Positive Coaching Alliance Double Goal Awards Program. The ceremony is planned April 28, at Stanford University.

Silsby said that he was one of Simons’ original student players on the varsity golf team in 1971.

“We know in fact he is a great coach and a true friend of the school district,” Silsby said.

“We are very proud of him.”

In addition, Simons’ wife, WAHS Athletic Director Anne Marie Simons, was named the Regional Athletic Director of the Year for Region II by the Pennsylvania Athletic Directors Conference held in Hershey, March 20-23. Silsby and High School Principal James Kane attended.

Unified Sports

Tanya Carrelle, Director of Special Education, reported that they received a federal grant which has enabled the department to start a Unified Sports program that includes one half special education students and one half regular education students. An offshoot of Special Olympics, she said that they are beginning with track and field this spring. They have their own uniforms and will be competing at nearby school districts. She expressed hope that they will be able to receive a federal grant to continue this next year and add a winter bocci ball team.

The school board approved two coaches for the Unified Sports Olympics Track Program: Marilyn Jansco and Katie Schkolenko.

The next Wallenpaupack school board meeting is set for Monday, May 14 at 6 p.m. in the High School Library. A committee meeting, also open to the public, precedes it at 5:30 p.m.