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Local News Article
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Quakertown Community School Board Nixes Presentation
Written by Jennifer Frieze, Correspondent

            At last Thursday's meeting of the Quakertown Community school board, a contract with Michael Fowlin for two presentations of "You Don't Know Me until You Know Me" on March 17 was not approved.

            The presentations are meant to challenge common societal assumptions and stereotypes. Fowlin combines his psychological expertise with acting, poetry, storytelling, and voice talents to help audiences from pre-teens to adults examine the masks we all wear in order to protect ourselves from judgment. Fowlin's stated mission is to create a society of tolerance and inclusion.

            Previous presentations by Dr. Fowlin are available online to view. He has presented at other schools in the area and his material is geared toward high school students, at a cost of $4,500.

            There were mixed opinions on the board about the content Fowlin discusses and the way messages in the presentation are conveyed.

            School Director Todd Hippauf asked if parents would have the option of opting out of having their children listen to the presentation. After researching Fowlin, Hippauf got the impression that the topics are controversial in the way they are talked about.

            Member Charles Shermer stated that he watched the video and was offended by the material. "This guy is controversial. You can't deny that. He categorizes minorities and people can be offended," said Shermer. He stated a preference to not have Fowlin speak at the high school.

            Member Brian Reimers said that he did not watch any videos but read about Dr. Fowlin and his presentations. He didn't have any issues with the material. Reimers then asked for an example of how his material is offensive.

            Charles Shermer gave an example of how he speaks about people with disabilities. "I understand we need to be sensitive to it, but the method by which he purveys his message is what I have a problem with," explained Shermer. 

            Member Chris Spears said that he watched videos of his presentation and didn't have an issue with the material.

            The motion to approve the presentation failed 5-3.

            In other action, the Quakertown Community High School Garden Club proposed a garden and greenhouse project.  The greenhouse and garden will be located in the library courtyard of the high school.

            Stage 1 of the project would cost $10,971.51 and stage 2, the permanent greenhouse is set to begin in the summer of 2023 in the amount of $30,000. This item will go out to bid.

            Objectives for this project include, in stage 1, the installation of a courtyard garden including a one-time investment, gardening tools, lumber necessary to construct fourteen 4'x 8' raised beds, bulk garden soil, seed and plant budget.

            For stage 2, the club is seeking approval to proceed with the research and planning of the project. This includes seeking district and community partnerships with experience in greenhouse operations and construction.

            During the presentation, the garden club gave examples of the intrinsic value this project provides. Students will learn hands-on skills related to horticulture. Activity in green spaces promotes mental, physical and social health. This garden will provide food, shelter, and water for pollinators and birds as a native habitat. In the future, they plan to seek certification for various ecological services, such as a monarch way station (, a bird-friendly habitat (Audubon society), and a pollinator-friendly garden (Penn State) to name a few.

            In addition, the club will utilize the greenhouse and garden for fundraising.  After the initial investment, the garden club will seek to be a self-sustaining club through plant sales such as cut flowers, and houseplants, including common varieties such as herbs, tropical plants, and succulents.

            Other fundraising ideas include corsages for homecoming/prom, cut flowers for Valentine's Day, poinsettias for Christmas, spring fruit, vegetable, and herb starters for home gardens.

            In other news, the multi-use athletic field was discussed. During the facilities committee report, Shermer stated that there was not much to update except for a few line items such as the dugouts, bathrooms, and concession stand.

            A significant amount of the approval work has been done. A wetland study needs to be conducted.

            Shermer also stated that they are waiting for the bigger numbers to come in that involve construction and lighting. The facilities committee will be back with an update at the school board meeting next month.






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