Letter to the Editor: Pool Pass Project is justified through understanding

To the Editor:

I would like to thank Sue Ellen Henry and Bucknell University for their continued dedication to the Lewisburg Pool Pass Project. As the principal of Linntown Elementary School, I have witnessed how this event benefits many of my students who would have otherwise not had affordable access to a safe swimming environment. I have heard parents cry with gratitude when they were told that their families would be receiving pool passes.  Not only does it offer a way for students to stay cool and have fun during the summer months, but it also provides them with the ability to stay connected with their schoolmates and peers while school is not in session.

I am also grateful for how the event continues to honor the memory of Assunda Rotolo and Les Davis, Jr. It saddens me to see that there are individuals who still wish to point fingers in this tragedy and blame the parents of these children. Having known Assunda for the two years she was at a student at Linntown, I saw firsthand the love and devotion that her parents felt towards her. She was truly the center of their universe. Assunda was one of the most genuine, caring and compassionate children I have had the pleasure of knowing. She always sought to take care of others and, no matter what she herself might need, was always generous and giving. This was not something that happened by accident and is a testament to her parents for instilling those traits in her. Anyone who knew the family would never question their parenting or that the safety of their child was important to them. Sadly, there were many who chose not to know them because of their economic situation and lack of resources. While there were many children at school who had far greater material items, there was no child who was loved more by her parents.

While I want to be angry when I hear the judgmental comments being cast, I do try to understand the source of those sentiments. I think it is a way for us to try to feel safer, to believe that something like this couldn’t happen to our families and those we love. If we can find fault or a way to place blame, then just maybe we are somehow immune to tragedy. Sadly, this is not the case. We are all vulnerable to the many things that can go horribly wrong in life. The parents of these children should not be cast as villains. They have already suffered the greatest heartache anyone could face.

Paula J. Reber
Linntown Elementary School Principal

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