Newark Life Spring/Summer 2021

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Spring/Summer 2021

Newark Life


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Inside • The Whimsical and Spiritual Journey of Trebs Thompson • A New Home for Chapel Street Players? • Jennifer Margaret Barker: Music That Matters

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Newark Life Spring/Summer 2021

Newark Life Table of Contents 10 New home for the Chapel Street Players?

18 Profile of


Jennifer Margaret Barker


Fun events in the city


Her life of whimsy


Photo essay: Iron Hill Park



50 Kathleen Hastings of the

Wilmington String Ensemble

62 Profile of author Natalie Walton



Newark Life | Spring/Summer 2021 |


Newark Life Spring/Summer 2021 Letter from the Editor: Newark is a vibrant city that seems to attract interesting and talented people. You’ll read about a few of them in this issue of Newark Life. Jennifer Margaret Barker, a contemporary classical composer, won a big honor from the state for her work. Writer Ken Mammarella explores the worldliness in Barker’s pieces. She’s a native of Scotland who has traveled often around the world. She’s a a full professor at the University of Delaware, teaching music composition and theory. Earlier this year she was awarded a master’s fellowship, the Delaware Division of the Arts’ highest honor for individual artists. You’ll also read about Trebs Thompson’s journey of whimsy, art and resilience. Twenty years ago, that journey landed on a little farm in Newark, and it’s where her journey continues today. Whimsical Farms, her 15-acre farm is devoted to heirloom animals and produce. We profile Kathleen Hastings, who has been making beautiful noise with the violin for nearly her entire life. Since 2017, she’s also been making music as the owner of the Wilmington String Ensemble, and the sound continues to reverberate all over Delaware. By the time Natalie Walton graduated from the University of Delaware, she had not only written and published a book, she was also named a Truman Scholar, a highly competitive national award. We talk to her about the book and her advocacy work. In this issue, we feature a story about how, after more than a decade of work, Chapel Street Players is planning a move to a site south of White Clay Creek, off Paper Mill Road. It’s less than a mile but would be a huge difference for patrons and performers. If the city approves the proposal, Chapel Street Players will relocate to a brand new theater facility, built by the Lang Development Group, just north of its current location. We also have a story about a few fun activities—from alfresco dining to a self-paced hike— to enjoy in the Newark area in the next few months. The Iron Hill Park is the subject of the photo essay. We hope you enjoy these stories and we’re already hard at work planning the next issue of Newark Life that will arrive later in 2021. If you have any suggestions for stories for that issue, please reach out to us. Sincerely, Randy Lieberman, Publisher, 610-869-5553 Steve Hoffman, Editor, 610-869-5553, Ext. 13 44

Cover Design: Tricia Hoadley Cover photo: Moonloop Photography | Spring/Summer 2021 | Newark Life


|Newark Arts and Entertainment|

Photo courtesy of Chapel Street Players

For more than 50 years, Chapel Street Players have been producing shows at a theater that is wedged between mostly student rental homes on Chapel Street. Photo courtesy of Lang Development Group

The Lang Development Group has proposed building a theater for Chapel Street Players as part of its development of the old Curtis Paper Mill property.


Newark Life | Spring/Summer 2021 |

A new home for Chapel Street Players? Should the City of Newark give approval, a revered theater company will soon have a brand new place to call home By Ken Mammarella Contributing Writer


fter more than a decade of work, Chapel Street Players is planning to move to a site south of White Clay Creek, off Paper Mill Road. It is less than a mile away from its current location, but it will be light years removed from the cramped venue it has occupied since 1968. “It had become a challenge,” Scott F. Mason, president of the Newark community theater, said of producing plays from a converted church at 27. N. Chapel St. The building is a choppy warren of retrofitted spaces. The audience area has been made handicap-accessible, but irregular steps make navigating among seats a bit awkward. The lounge for intermission, refreshments and the main restrooms is down a steep and cramped staircase. Parking for patrons has been a legendary hassle, necessitated by having to park at the Newark Shopping Center. Other problems involve rowdy, drunken students who live and party nearby, hurling slurs and wet cups at patrons. Or “you can’t hear actors on stage because there’s a party next door,” Mason said. “It’s an environment thing. Patrons don’t feel comfortable. We have lost subscribers because of it.” There is, however, light at the end of the tunnel for a theater group that has been entertaining audiences since the time of The Great Depression. As Mason explains on the theater website, “In a nutshell, if the City of Newark approves the proposal, Chapel Street Players would relocate to a brand new theater facility, built by the Lang Development Group, just north of our current location.” Lang plans to build apartments where the theater is now. Continued on Page 12 | Spring/Summer 2021 | Newark Life


Chapel Street Players Continued from Page 11

“We would still be in the city limits to maintain our status as ‘Newark’s Official Community Theatre,’” he continued. ‘And did I mention, there would be free parking right at the theater!?” A prologue of theater history Chapel Street Players began in the 1930s as the University Drama Group, first performing at the University of Delaware’s Mitchell Hall. For three years, it produced plays in a barn off Old Paper Mill Road, on the north side of White Clay Creek, before moving to Chapel Street in 1968. “If all this comes to pass, we’ll look across the water from the old place to the new place,” said Renee G. O’Leary, the participant with the longest tenure with the theater, going back to Mitchell Hall. The church building dates back to the 1950s, with all the issues of an aging structure, including an antiquated sprinkler system and deteriorating seats donated decades ago by the DuPont Playhouse. Mason joined Chapel Street in 1989 and served

Photo courtesy of Chapel Street Players

Chapel Street Players hope to move from their current building, an old church, into a purpose-built space.

as president twice before taking a break in 2004 to devote more time to his job. When he returned in 2009, it was obvious that the theater was no longer on “a very lovely street,” he said. “It just got out of control. We had to move.” Board members explored multiple options, including the Newark Shopping Center, the College Square Shopping Center, storefronts

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Newark Life | Spring/Summer 2021 |

Photo courtesy of Chapel Street Players

There isn’t much room to maneuver backstage.

along Main Street and, very tentatively, the suburbs. Early in 2019, Mason and board member Frank Newton met with Lang President Jeff Lang and Lang Vice President Chris Locke for lunch at Timothy’s of Newark, the most prominent business in the complex that is planned for the new theater. Months of talks ensued, with the first paperwork filed with Newark last November. ‘Something for the community’ “Jeff and I have lived in Newark for 45 years and want to do something for the community,” Locke said of the Creekvew complex that will, if everything is approved, include Chapel Street’s new home, gallery and studio spaces, another restaurant, 103 apartments and offices. “We’re excited about revitalizing a location that’s been part of Newark history for 175 years,” he said. “We’re looking forward to a new space to attract young professionals who want to stay in Newark, don’t want a house and would enjoy easy access to the restaurants and the arts, with the great views of the creek and the reservoir.” Once approvals are in place from the city planning commission and city council for the entire complex, and building permits for the theater are likewise approved, Locke anticipates construction of the theater to take less than a year, and Mason anticipated that it would take a few months for the theater group to move into its new home. Locke said it’s reasonable for Chapel Street to anticipate that it could open in a new home in the fall of 2022. “We’re trying to figure out how to say goodbye to the building for our patrons and subscribers and have something spectacular to open the new space,” Mason said. Chapel Street’s main building and its scene shop behind it total about 6,000 square feet. It also owns half of the Continued on Page 14 | Spring/Summer 2021 | Newark Life


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Chapel Street Players Continued from Page 13

duplex next door, that is used as a office and rehearsal space. The negotiations with Lang call for a cash-free swap. Lang will build a 6,000-square-feet building designed as a theater, and Chapel Street will own the new building and the land under it. Lang will get Chapel Street’s land on Chapel Street, raze the theater and that duplex half and build apartments. Lang is planning 12 apartments there in a “very beautiful and contemporary design,” Locke said. Plans for the new space

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Even though Chapel Street won’t owe money to Lang, and Lang is providing a building that’s fit for occupancy, Mason anticipates a capital campaign of at least $75,000 to outfit the building with seating and specialized theater equipment.” Campaign incentives might include bricks from the old building or naming rights to seats. Board members plan to use the move as a time to purge old items, and Mason anticipates a giant yard sale (“eight houses worth of furniture!”) or giveaway. Much of the new space is inspired by the Wilmington Drama League, Mason said, which has a larger stage, a ramped aisle for accessing seats and a large lobby for mingling at intermission. Dressing rooms are inspired by the Havre de Grace Opera House in Maryland. The design is only in sketches and could change, but it now calls for a stage that’s 20 feet deep and 40 feet wide, up from the current 17 by 30 feet. The new stage will have wings – areas to the sides hidden to the audience – to hold waiting performers and incoming set pieces. That extra roominess will allow for more complicated Continued on Page 16

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Newark Life | Spring/Summer 2021 |

Photo courtesy of Lang Development Group

Lang plans 12 apartments on the Chapel Street site of the current theater.

Chapel Street Players Continued from Page 14

productions and a potentially broader schedule, which now includes now includes four main stage shows, the Renee G. O’Leary Fundraiser and the George Cope 24-hour Playwriting Festival. The current theater seats 160, and the new theater will seat up to 200. The future and the past The memory wall of photos of past Chapel Street participants will be succeeded in the new space by a plaque, Mason said, and a tree will be planted outside in memory of past participants. The new lobby will have some history in the form of the church’s old marquee. That history is important to O’Leary. When asked what she considers to be the most important aspect of the new building, she immediately responded “memories,” explaining there should be some way to highlight participants. As for the old building, she is most nostalgic about the costume room. “A lot of my life hangs on the rack,” she said. “My clothes, clothes I wore for shows.” Mason is pleased that the new site “keeps performing arts in the city and will sustain the theater way beyond our time.” Even though Chapel Street Players will very likely be moving to Creekview, off Paper Mill Road, the group’s name won’t change because its paperwork is already complicated by its incorporation as the University Drama Group. Mason takes comfort in that knowing that section of Paper Mill Road more than a century ago was called the North Chapel Street Extension. So in a way, Chapel Street is not leaving Chapel Street at all.

Photo courtesy of Chapel Street Players

The stage presence of one character (that’s Scott F. Mason as Dame Edna) can fill the current stage. 16

Newark Life | Spring/Summer 2021 |

|Newark People|

Award-winning contemporary classical composer Jennifer Margaret Barker at work at her desk in her Newark home.

Music that matters Newark resident Jennifer Margaret Barker wins a big honor from the state for her work as a contemporary classical composer


Newark Life | Spring/Summer 2021 |

By Ken Mammarella Contributing Writer


here’s a worldliness in contemporary classical composer Jennifer Margaret Barker’s pieces. She’s a native of Scotland who has traveled often around the globe, and her style is programmatic, inspired by stories, experiences and visuals. There’s also a depth that cannot be conveyed by any of the languages that she knows. “I want to share and say something with my music more than words can,” said Barker, a Newark resident and a full professor at the University of Delaware, who teaches music composition and theory.

All photos courtesy of Jennifer Margaret Barker

Footage of 6-wire performing “Tìrean Cèin” is part of Newark composer Jennifer Margaret Barker’s 2016 multimedia piece, known in English as “Distant Shores.”

Continued on Page 20 | Spring/Summer 2021 | Newark Life


Jennifer Margaret Barker Continued from Page 19

Those attributes are part of the reason that earlier this year she was awarded a master’s fellowship, the Delaware Division of the Arts’ highest honor for individual artists, following her 2007 award as an established professional artist.

To meet the guidelines for the $10,000 award, she will showcase her work in an October event at the University. She’ll talk about each piece before it’s performed. The event will be the live debut of “Ocean of Glass,” a chamber work for flute, clarinet and piano that will get its virtual debut at the National Flute Association convention this summer. “Ocean of Glass” was inspired by Barker’s 2019 trip to Alaska. “What struck me is in the Inside Passage how much of it looked like a mirror, reflecting the mountains and the sun,” Barker said. On, she lists 43 compositions, with titles drawing from six languages. “I don’t want to write hundreds and hundreds of pieces,” she said. “I’d rather write a lesser number that I’m happy with and that meant something.” From the heart

Barker in front of Glasgow’s Eilean Donan Castle, which inspired the title of a 1991 chamber piece.


Newark Life | Spring/Summer 2021 |

That meaning has generated praise from her colleagues and those who commission her work. “I find her music to be very colorful, contemporary

without losing the most important part of music making, which is something that comes from the heart, not just the brain, to challenge the audience but the heart to connect with the audience,” said Xiang Gao, a UD music professor who has commissioned three pieces for 6-wire, his violin and erhu duo. “And I happen to enjoy the great tradition of Scottish folk music, where her music is deeply rooted in.” “She has such a wonderful, colorful and distinctive voice as a composer,” said Eileen Grycky, a UD flute professor who has commissioned four pieces for various groups. “She is often inspired by a programmatic idea. The piece she wrote for my flute-guitar duo Seann Oran was a musical reflection on a poem by Derick Thompson. There is a recording of the poem read by Jenny’s father and brother that is played during the performance.

Transcontinental performs Barker’s “Harmonious Dreams.”

“I asked Jenny to write a flute quartet in honor of my friend Dr. Lynne Cooksey’s retirement from the Music School of Delaware, where she taught flute and was head of the woodwind faculty. Lynne loved horses so Jenny wrote a piece titled ‘Chincoteague,’ inspired by the horses on the island. Each flutist had to whinny like a horse at one point.” Continued on Page 22

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Jennifer Margaret Barker Continued from Page 21

Barker started piano lessons at age five. Her mother allocated most of her nursing salary to pay for music lessons for her children. Barker added the violin and oboe before starting college. After earning her honors bachelor of music degree from the University of Glasgow in Scotland, she immediately headed to the United States for graduate work, first with master’s degrees in piano performance and music composition from Syracuse University, and then a master’s degree and a doctorate in music composition from the University of Pennsylvania. Contemporary classical Barker moved to Newark in 2000 to teach at UD, encouraged that she would be “closer to bigger cities with more opportunities for classical music” than the job she had then, in Virginia’s Tidewater region. Her students tend to focus on contemporary classical or jazz composition, with graduates getting jobs teaching, administrating the arts, scoring films and video games, executive-directing performance ensembles, working in


publishing and succeeding as singer-songwriters. Her personal interest is in contemporary classical music, strongly influenced by teacher George Crumb, a resident of Media, Pennsylvania, who she said is known for his “colorful, texture-driven work” in compositions expressed in boundary-breaking shapes like a peace sign or a cross. When asked to name-drop leaders of contemporary classical music, she also included minimalist Philip Glass (composer for numerous films) and John Corigliano (who scored The Red Violin). She and her husband, John Anthony Palmer, emphasized that many people don’t realize that many films resonate with contemporary classical music in their scores. At UD, Barker co-chairs New Music Delaware and directs Still Breathing, a contemporary music ensemble. She loves teaching, wishes she had more time for composing and tolerates paperwork. Those responsibilities left little time for life itself. “I was too busy to get married and have kids, so I inherited a Continued on Page 24





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Jennifer Margaret Barker Continued from Page 22

daughter and three grandchildren,” she said. “Being a grandmother was a lot more fun.” A collaborator and a husband The new family developed because in 2003 she was on a Baltic cruise with her parents and was drawn to Palmer, the videographer hired to film the ship’s entertainment. He was one of the few younger people on board, and they clicked with their mutual belief that multimedia will reach people who don’t go to traditional classical concerts. They started collaborating professionally before they married in 2005. She was ready to release her second CD, and he suggested a bonus DVD that matches visuals to her music. The scenery that he films is often “ethereal,” as one composition suggests in playing directions. “We love nature,” Palmer said. “We’re saving the planet in our own way by making people aware of the beauty around them, rather than being stuck looking at the little screen of their phones.” They have since shot video in Delaware and around the world.

Their work as Palmer-Barker Arts is showcased at www. Her channel is www. On her mind now Palmer said that Barker has learned a lot about multimedia over the years and now storyboards, directs and edits. “I just follow her around like a good husband,” he said. During her sabbatical this spring, Barker was juggling five pieces, including “Ocean of Glass.” The second was “Kaitiaki,” for two violins and symphony orchestra; accompanying a nature film and named after the Māori word for “guardian.” The third was a third movement to a piano suite that she began a decade ago. The fourth was an untitled piece “about the strength of the human spirit.” The fifth was commissioned by percussionist Catherine Doersch. “Caledonia” recalls the fight against the Romans in Barker’s native Scotland. Palmer looks forward to when Barker retires from UD and they can create even more multimedia music together.




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410-885-5012 800-398-1382 Fax: 410-885-3130 Cell: 443-553-3148 | Spring/Summer 2021 | Newark Life


|Newark Recreation| From al fresco dining to a self-paced hike, here are some entertaining and enriching activities in the Newark area for the next few months

Photo courtesy of City of Newark

Al fresco dining has returned to Newark’s Main Street, with tables set on a road free of traffic. 26

Newark Life | Spring/Summer 2021 |

By Ken Mammarella Contributing Writer


he arrival of vaccines is giving people hope that favorite activities and events in and around Newark are returning, but there’s still a lot of caution among organizers. “All of our events are subject to change based on updated COVID-19 guidance/restrictions at the time of the events,” said Paula Martinson Ennis, deputy director of the Newark Parks and Recreation Department. “Given the evolving status of the pandemic and state health and safety protocols, most of our colleges and programs aren’t doing that kind of long-term events scheduling at the moment,” said Peter Kerwin, a media relations manager for the University of Delaware. Those cautions acknowledged, here some ideas for entertaining and enriching activities in the Newark area for the next few months: Main Street Alfresco Outdoor dining on Newark’s Main Street began last summer as a joint venture by the city and the Newark Partnership to celebrate the end of roadwork downtown and boost restaurants limited by pandemic guidelines. It was so popular that it ran every Wednesday evening into December. The city closed off Main Street between Chapel Street and South College Avenue, with restaurants spilling out with plenty of socially distanced tables. Continued on Page 28

Continued on Page 27

There are a number of fun events and activities in the Newark area in the coming months.

Photo courtesy of City of Newark | Spring/Summer 2021 | Newark Life


Fun Ideas

Continued from Page 27

And there was music, even Santa once. Newark City Manager Tom Coleman told that he expects more retailers to join the restaurants for this year. Main Street Alfresco began at the end of March, and the early schedule called for it to be repeated on the second and fourth Wednesdays. Details will be posted on the city website, The city is in the very early stages of planning for the Newark Food and Brew Festival, which pairs dozens of beers with fare from Main Street restaurants. It’s tentatively scheduled July 24 or July 31, said city spokeswoman Jayme Gravell. Music and more from Newark parks & rec A spring concert series is one of the highlights of activities planned by Newark’s Parks and Recreation Department. It runs 7 to 8 p.m. Thursdays through June 12 at the Academy Building lawn, Academy and Main streets. A Memorial Day event is planned May 16, with a ceremony at 1 p.m. on the University of Delaware Green and a parade at 2 p.m. along Main Street.

The department is hosting a Christmas in July flea market from 8 a.m. to noon July 24 at the George Wilson Community Center, 303 New London Road. Summer camps – a week of sports, a week of arts or an entire summer of fun – run June 12 through Aug. 27 at various locations. Details and updates are posted at https://newarkde. gov/58/Parks-and-Recreation. Parks on Draft Newark is bringing back Parks on Draft, its pop-up beer garden that debuted in 2019 with four days of fun at Olan Thomas Park, featuring food, games, beer, live music, vinyl spinning and even yoga. Parks on Draft returned three times last summer, featuring different restaurants providing the refreshments, different activities and different sites, all benefiting some good cause. “It’s an integral part in making Newark a destination,” Mayor Jerry Clifton told the Newark Post. “It’s events like this that will make Newark attractive to people in the 25 to Continued on Page 30

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Newark Life | Spring/Summer 2021 |

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Photo courtesy of Delaware State Parks

The Shirley A. Russell Bridge is a highlight of a conceptualized hike in White Clay Creek State Park. | Spring/Summer 2021 | Newark Life


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45 age range. That’s important for the long-term viability of the city.” Admission is free, and children and pets are welcome, but only adults can buy beer. Details will be posted on the city’s website. White Clay Creek Presbyterian turns 300 White Clay Creek Presbyterian Church is celebrating its 300th anniversary with multiple events. Worship services began in 1721 in a log cabin, almost a mile north of the church’s present site at 15 Polly Drummond Hill Road. On May 30, the church will host a Memorial Day ceremony, marking the graves of more than 50 veterans in the White Clay Creek Cemetery. Veterans from the Continued on Page 32

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Newark Life | Spring/Summer 2021 |

Photo courtesy of White Clay Creek Presbyterian

Picnics are recurring events at White Clay Creek Presbyterian. One on June 6 marks the church’s 300th anniversary. | Spring/Summer 2021 | Newark Life


Fun Ideas

Continued from Page 30

Revolutionary War to Vietnam are found in the cemetery. There will be a brass band and a speaker. The 30th anniversary picnic at the church on June 6 “will feature fun activities from past and present,” the church says on Admission is free, and the menu is a catered barbecue. Anniversary events continue into the fall, with a celebration dinner Nov. 5 at the Clayton Center and a worship celebration and lunch Nov. 7. The church also plans to publish a book on its history. Appreciating White Clay Creek There are multiple ways to get closer to White Clay Creek State Park, which boasts 37 miles of trails in its 3,600 acres. (Don’t forget hundreds of more acres in Pennsylvania’s adjacent White Clay Creek Preserve.) The state park has opened registration for summer camps, contingent on the governor’s state of emergency guidelines. They proved to be popular: All but one of the camps at White Clay was filled by early April. Also, “we hope to be able to do some of the popular Panning for Creek Gems programs this summer,”


Newark Life | Spring/Summer 2021 |

said Shauna McVey, community relations coordinator for Delaware State Parks. Updates are on www.destateparks. com/programs. A virtual Creek Fest launched in May “to celebrate the many ways to enjoy and protect the White Clay Creek, a National Wild and Scenic River,” she said. “Our goal is to raise awareness of the drinking water, scenic, recreational, historical and natural resource values of the White Clay Creek.” Details are at The creek is Delaware’s most heavily stocked water. The park offers catch-and-release fishing for largemouth bass, and Smith Mill Pond offers accessible docks. A virtual road map covers a self-paced two-mile roundtrip hike. Fifteen highlights include a bridge that used to float away in storms, where to see beaver chews and the location of one of 11 mills sited to take advantage of free waterpower. Pause at No. 9, the Shirley A. Russell Bridge, named for the wife of T. W. Fraser Russell, a University of Delaware chemical engineer who donated money to build it. “Walks along the White Clay Creek were Russell’s first recommendation for anyone who had a problem to think through,” the guide says. Go to and select the White Clay self-guided hike. And an 18-round disc golf course meanders through wooded areas in the Carpenter Recreation Area. | Spring/Summer 2021 | Newark Life


|Newark People|

Her life of whimsy, art an The road of Trebs Thompson’s journey has been paved with discovery, setback and curiosity. Twenty years ago, it landed on a little farm in Newark, and it’s where her journey continues


Newark Life | Spring/Summer 2021 |

A few of the dozens of livestock that graze on the farm.

and resilience By Richard L. Gaw Staff Writer


n the morning of the day that began to change Trebs Thompson’s life more than 20 years ago, she was in a massive hurry. Her son Wayne had been late in preparing for Marshall Elementary School and ended up missing his bus, and as Thompson drove her son through Newark, everything in her life flew through her mind – the slow dissolution of her marriage, her job as a grant writer and fundraiser, and her absorption into a neat and tidy suburban soccer mom life that had all of the texture of plastic. As she pulled into the school’s entrance, she narrowly missed a car that had veered in front of her. “I just didn’t see the woman,” Thompson said from Whimsical Farms, her 15-acre farm devoted to heirloom animals and produce, just north of the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal, where she has lived since 2001. “She laid on the horn and shook her fist at me. I told her repeatedly that I was sorry, but she didn’t stop. She rolled down her window and told me that I could have killed somebody. I told her again that I was sorry.” The woman then got out of her car, and soon, Thompson found herself doing the same thing, and there it ensued, the purest form of rage that seemed to have surfaced from a deep well inside of her that had simmered for too long and suddenly overflowed. “I just exploded, and later I realized that this person I had become was not who I wanted to be,” Thompson said. “I never imagined that I would arrive at a point where I would just lose control, but that’s when the larger truth came, when I also realized that I was not living the life that I was meant to live.” Within weeks, Thompson had pulled Wayne out of school, quit her job, and embarked on a four-month camping trip across the United States with her son. The purpose of the trip was entirely meant as a deconstruction of her life with Wayne in tow, wrapped in the protective gauze of a temporary disappearance. Together, they slept beneath the stars. They visited an Indian reservation, where she enjoyed the clean taste of buffalo meat for the first time. She attended a talk given by a ranger at a national park, who spoke about soil as a living entity, filled with the microscopic essentials that allow plants to grow. “So many things exploded in my mind when I left on that journey,” Thompson said. “Before I left, I was at best an Agnostic, but I came back home thoroughly convinced that the tiny interdependencies – the perfect imperfectness of it all – was no accident.” Continued on Page 36

Photos by Richard L. Gaw

Trebs Thompson has cultivated her 15-acre Whimsical Farms in Newark since 2001. | Spring/Summer 2021 | Newark Life


Trebs Thompson Continued from Page 35

Within a year, she purchased land off of Denny Road and called it Whimsical Farms. She had never been a farmer a day in her life. *




When Thompson first looked at what became her farm, it was a gnarly tangle of overgrown brush and shrubbery. The fencing that she inherited was not keeping order of the livestock she had brought to the farm – sheep, then chickens, then pigs, then cows -- and her first attempt at a vegetable garden was an abysmal failure. Although the comforts of her former life were only a few minutes’ drive away, Thompson quickly found that the decision to embark on a new journey had left her on a rural patch of ground completely alone, with no resources, no income and no working utilities. Worse still, she had no running water for her many animals on site, which forced her to gather water from a Maryland stream and connect it to her farm by way of an 800-foot-long hose. When that failed, she would gather up water directly from the stream with five-gallon pails. On the advice of a neighboring farmer, Thompson


Newark Life | Spring/Summer 2021 |

Farm fresh eggs are available every day.

reached out to USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to seek assistance with her young farm. Help soon arrived in the person of NRCS soil conservationist Laurie Gandy, who connected Thompson to the NRCS’ Environmental Quality Incentives Program that funded the installation of a well and pipeline to provide her livestock with access to clean water. “I thought no one would help me, because that’s not what government programs are for. I’m just a small farmer,” said Continued on Page 38 | Spring/Summer 2021 | Newark Life


Trebs Thompson Continued from Page 36

Thompson. “With help from Laurie to address some of my resource concerns, I slowly began to stabilize, year after passing year.” At the time of this writing, two decades removed from the time Thompson first stepped foot on what became her farm, there are 11 sheep, 17 hogs, seven cows, 50 hens, five roosters, a donkey, a mule and six dogs roaming about the acreage, as well as a flowing cadre of regular customers who stop by the farm to pick up their phone and e-mail orders for freshly grown heirloom produce, farm-fresh eggs, and USDA-certified meat products like ham, beef, pork, sausage and lamb. To walk through the garden at the Whimsical Farm is to see it in all of its experimental glory. It is an ever-changing palette of colors, shapes and tastes, and this year, Thompson is growing 30 varieties of tomatoes, including “fuzzy tomatoes,” as well as King Tut peas, various types of onions and about a half dozen kinds of lettuces – all of which will end up on tables from Middletown to Newark to Wilmington. While she receives assistance from farm manager Nick Needles about five days a week, the bulk of the work on the farm is done by Thompson, who said she is part of a new breed of farmer who is cracking the ceiling of an industry that had for centuries been reserved for men.

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“When I started this farm, I was part of the fastest-growing segment of farmers – women,” said Thompson, who is a frequent guest lecturer on sustainable farming at the University of Delaware. “The movement was driven by those who wanted better sustainable practices and a connection with the earth, and I found myself stumbling onto a trend. “Farms are still unfortunately concentrating into larger and larger plots, and in the past three or four years, we’ve lost 96 percent of the small dairies across New York, Wisconsin and

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The garden at Whimsical Farms is an annual palette of unique vegetables and herbs.

Pennsylvania, all shoved out by big agri-business and two dollar-a-gallon milk. Despite these trends, we are continuing to see a rise in the popularity of the small farms, and it’s because consumers still value the quality and variety of produce and meats that can never be found in a grocery store.” *




Six years ago, Thompson was diagnosed with Parafoveal Macular Telangiectasia, an eye disease that affects the macula and an area at its center where eyesight is most concentrated. The condition is complex and very rare, affecting less than 3,000 people worldwide.

Consequently, Thompson has poor depth perception, has virtually no central vision in her right eye and cannot read for long periods. When she first heard her diagnosis, she thought it was a conversation one has with one’s self in his or her seventies, not forties, but just as a divorce and a cancer diagnosis and the responsibility of caring for elderly parents have not been able to pull her down, neither has her degenerating eyesight. If anything, it has magnified her life’s definition as a restless doer of things, an opener of boxes and a facilitator of ideas. Several years ago, she set out to satisfy the Continued on Page 40 | Spring/Summer 2021 | Newark Life


Trebs Thompson Continued from Page 39

unharnessed regions of her creative mind by exploring the idea of becoming a visual artist, creating magic from found objects, stained glass and wool. “For years, I was a frustrated artist,” she said. “While I loved creating things, I would become frustrated by my inability to replicate what I was seeing in my creative mind. I knew, however, that I wanted more from art than just making a few sun catchers, so I wanted to set off to learn.” Thompson did not start small. Instead, she made contact with some of the world’s premiere stained glass artists, and even apprenticed in Italy for a six-week period, where she learned the basics of the medium. When she returned, she met and


In addition to farming, Thompson is a visual artist, creating pieces from found objects and stained glass.

“Broken Dreams.”

was influenced by Washington state glass artist Peter McGrain. “Peter saw my work and told me, ‘Stop trying to make everything realistic. You have a story to tell, and with stained glass, you have one panel to tell that story, and let everyone fill the rest in,’” Thompson said. “He set me free to really begin creating. I began to tell my story with the pieces I had, and the more I just let the pieces speak, the better my art became.” Much of her work is on exhibit at her home studio at Whimsical Farm, and over

Newark Life | Spring/Summer 2021 |

Continued on Page 42 | Spring/Summer 2021 | Newark Life


Trebs Thompson Continued from Page 40

the past few years, it has been showcased at area galleries. More recently, one of her found object pieces was featured in an exhibit of abstract work at The Art Trust Gallery at Meridian Bank in West Chester. The artwork, entitled “Broken Dreams,” sold in less than ten minutes. *




We mark our lives most especially when the largeness of certain moments seems so vivid and strong that they bend time, when the normal course of our destiny is twisted in the way that roads suddenly swerve. From the time Trebs Thompson left her childhood home near San Juan, Puerto Rico to attend the University of Delaware when she was 16 to now – some 35 years later -- she has not left the twisting and the manipulation of her destiny to mere circumstance, but taken the steel rods of her life’s journey and changed their shape on her own. “The things that I set out on turned out to not to be what I originally expected,” she said. “My life has always been a process of being dealt a hand, and determining how to play it. How do you save a life? How to you make it whole? How do you grow it into something?”



Whimsical Farms is located on 3315 Steele Road, Newark, Del. 19702. To learn more, visit, call 302-836-FOOD (3663) or e-mail To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email


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Whimsical farms provides its many customers with a wide variety of meat products.

Newark Life | Spring/Summer 2021 |

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|Newark Life Photo Essay|

Iron Hill Park: A Forest Grows in Newark Photos by Moonloop Photography Text by Richard L. Gaw Whether through circumstance or pursuit of the optimal efficiencies of modern life, those who live in Newark year round are tethered to the endless thicket of life known as Suburbia. It is a tangle of looping and connective highways, office parks, shopping centers, developments and the daily complexity of determining how to get from Here to There, and smack in the middle of this busy infrastructure, a major university thrives. Against this landscape of concrete and convenience lay the quiet and breathtaking pathways of Newark’s parks that provide an invigorating respite from the rituals and the obligations and the hum of a growing city. Of the many options to choose from, one of the most popular destinations for Newark residents has been Iron Hill Park, a 3.2-mile loop trail that is bordered to the north by Interstate 95, Welsh Tract and Whittaker roads to the west, Route 896 to the east and Old Baltimore Pike to the south. Continued on Page 46


Newark Life | Spring/Summer 2021 | | Spring/Summer 2021 | Newark Life


Iron Hill Park Continued from Page 44

Spread across 35 acres and with a peak elevation of 328 feet, Iron Hill Park is the dream for everyone from the causal hiker to the nature enthusiast to the mountain biker, because within its smallish confines, one is able to utterly disappear for an hour or so beneath the spires of its woods and reemerge refreshed and renewed. Named for its iron deposits that were mined during the 18th and 19th centuries, Iron Hill Park is celebrated for its dense forest and its winding trails; the artist’s palette of its colors and its gentle sounds; its stone walls that date back to the Revolutionary War; its place along the Mason-Dixon Trail; and for the exuberance of activities that it offers like disc golf, a bark park, a playground and sponsored trail hikes. It is also home to the Iron Hill Science Center, where visitors can experience the natural world of local flora and fauna, explore rock and mineral collections, fossil specimens found in the region and artifacts. Continued on Page 48


Newark Life | Spring/Summer 2021 | | Spring/Summer 2021 | Newark Life


Iron Hill Park Continued from Page 46

Over the past several years, Iron Hill Park has been blessed and nurtured by the companionship of the nonprofit Friends of Iron Hill Park. Established in 2008, the Friends are a dedicated consortium of volunteers who promote the park’s many projects, programs, educational opportunities and family activities that meet the growing demand for outdoor recreation and natural resource protection. Friends of Iron Hill Park have also partnered with Henry’s Racing Team and First State Velo Sport to plan and execute The Iron Hill Park Volunteer Trail Mapping and Marking Project that updated mapping and trail marking throughout the park. To discover Iron Hill Park and to learn more about Friends of Iron Hill Park and its many volunteering opportunities, visit


Newark Life | Spring/Summer 2021 | | Spring/Summer 2021 | Newark Life


|Newark People|

For nearly her entire life, Kathleen Hastings has been making beautiful noise with the violin, and sharing her love of the instrument with students and audiences. Since 2017, she’s also been making music as the owner of the Wilmington String Ensemble, and their sound continues to reverberate all over Delaware

Photo by Emily Wren

Made up of 10 regular members and over 30 other musicians, the Wilmington String Orchestra regularly performs at over 300 special occasions a year as quartets, trios, duos and as soloists.

Conduit to a p By Richard L. Gaw Staff Writer Consider the violin. The instrument typically weighs no more than 24 ounces, and consists of 70 different parts, among them being four strings that are tuned in perfect fifths with notes G3, D4, A4


Newark Life | Spring/Summer 2021 |

a perfect sound and E5. How these strings are played – whether plucked or struck with the wooden side of the bow, and depending on the length, mass, tension and frequency of this contact – a pitch of a sound wave vibration is created. In essence, the air created by these vibrations and the sound that is made is affected by its motion, compressing the air molecules and moving them forward and then

allowing a space for the air to retract. These oscillations can be heard at certain levels by humans because they occur on frequencies that ears can interpret. It is this sound – this holy matrimony between physics and art – that has served as the house music of our humanity, the accompaniment to our grandest emotions Continued on Page 52 | Spring/Summer 2021 | Newark Life


Wilmington String Ensemble Continued from Page 51

and the backdrop to our most precious moments, and those who spend their lives tucking the instrument in the curve of their neck and creating sounds that seem as if they are gifted from the archangels are both servants and conduits to a perfect sound. When Newark resident Kathleen Hastings – who has owned and operated the Wilmington String Ensemble since 2017 -- began to take violin lessons in her native Oregon at the age of six, she had the fortunate blessing to Continued on Page 54 Photo by Simply Picturesque

Wilmington String Ensemble Owner Kathleen Hastings, left, performed as a member of a duo at a recent wedding in Odessa, Delaware.

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Wilmington String Ensemble Continued from Page 52

“Thanks so much for playing our wedding ceremony! I’ll admit - it was your music that made me cry as I walked up the aisle! We were very impressed and happy with our decision to book you!” -- A testimonial about The Wilmington String Ensemble

have her mother Janet Hanneman as her first teacher. In some ways, music was the family business; Hanneman was a professional violinist and pianist, and passed her love of music onto her daughters. The connection between the young student and her instrument grew, and by the time Hastings had become a teenager, playing the violin was the only thing she wanted to do. At 12, she became a member of the Portland Junior Symphony (now the Portland Youth Orchestra), which at the time was one of the top youth orchestras in the country, and at the age of 18, she attended the prestigious Aspen Music Festival. During the festival, Hastings caught the attention of several teachers from the College of Performing Arts (now the University of the Arts) in Philadelphia, who promptly offered her a four-year scholarship,

where she majored in violin performance. Following her graduation, Hastings auditioned for and joined the Delaware Symphony Orchestra, and later supplemented her performing with a 16-year teaching tenure at the Wilmington Music School. Eventually, Hastings expanded her performance repertoire by joining the Wilmington String Ensemble, which was founded in 1983 by Karen Ahramjian. For Hastings, joining the Ensemble translated into a 15-year odyssey of “have violin, will travel” with one of the most highly-respected

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Wilmington String Ensemble Continued from Page 54

and leading providers of special occasion music in Delaware. She played in quartets and as part of duos and trios at wedding ceremonies and receptions, parties, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, civil union ceremonies, business events and memorial services at countless churches, hotels, banquet facilities and private homes throughout Delaware, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. On June 2, 2012, the Ensemble performed at the wedding ceremony for First Daughter Ashley Biden at St. Joseph on the Brandywine Church in Greenville. In 2017, Hastings took over the ownership of the Wilmington String Ensemble from Ahramjian. “When Karen was getting ready to retire, she wanted the Ensemble to continue to grow,” Hastings said. “She had done an outstanding job of building the Ensemble, established a strong rapport with so many of our clientele, so when she asked me if I wanted to take over the ownership, I did.”


From Brahms to Coldplay To truly comprehend the breadth of the Wilmington String Ensemble is to embrace the experience of its musicians and the catalog of its repertoire, which ranges from Brahms’ “Hungarian Dances” and Pachelbel’s “Canon in D” to Coldplay’s “Clocks” and “Bittersweet Symphony” by the Verve. While the Ensemble consists of a core group of ten musicians, there are more than two dozen other musicians that Hastings calls on to perform, depending on the type of music chosen for an event. All members are conservatory trained and have extensive resumes that have included the Delaware Symphony, Opera Delaware, Bethlehem Bach Festival, Opera Company of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Ballet and The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia and its members have performed with the Philly Pops, for Broadway shows at the Academy of Music and the Forrest Theatre, and in

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Newark Life | Spring/Summer 2021 |

“We (and our guests) were speechless at our New Year’s Eve wedding. The music was sublime and exquisite. We thank you for recruiting such fine musicians on a high demand night and hope you all sensed that your art contributed to the sacredness of the night.” -- A testimonial about The Wilmington String Ensemble

Atlantic City Casino showrooms. The Ensemble offers a unique and exciting concept in special occasion music – one that affords the opportunity for an event planner to choose the perfect instrumental combination of solo violin, flute, harp, piano, vocalist and classical guitar, in ensembles from duos to string quintets, or a combination of strings with flute, piano, harp, vocalist, or trumpet. Whatever the combination of musicians and music, the Wilmington String Ensemble is among the busiest ensembles in the region, performing at as many as 300 events in a normal year. Yet, in February of 2020, as COVID-19 began its all-out assault on live performances and events. Hastings began what became a nearly year-long cross off engagements that became postponements and a few cancelations. While Hastings is happy to report that the Ensemble’s calendar is moving its way back to

normal in 2021, the original impact of COVID-19 not only put a dent in the Ensemble’s usually packed schedule, it affected the Ensemble’s members. “There is nothing like playing in an orchestra or an ensemble,” said Hastings, who in addition to coordinating the Ensemble’s schedule of events, still performs. “For all of the classical musicians I know, it has been hard for all of us over the past year not to be able to play with other people. “For those of us who have played together for 30 years or more, we know what the other person is going to do in their performance. There is a Continued on Page 58

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Wilmington String Ensemble Continued from Page 57

closeness in the community of musicians, because we all have the same thing in common.” ‘More perfect, and more beautiful’ There is an 800-square-foot studio that adjoins the remainder of the Newark home Hastings has lived in with her family for the past 26 years. The room, dotted with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves filled with instruments, sheet music and books, is sun-splashed by a southern exposure of light and serves as both her office space for operating the Wilmington String Ensemble, and as a teaching classroom for one student to as many as 30. There are moments, however, when the space becomes her quiet and solitary domain, a sanctuary for tinkering around with new music to learn. The hours that Hastings spends learning new arrangements is an aspiration that for many of those who are not musicians may seem ironic,


Newark Life | Spring/Summer 2021 |

given that Hastings has already mastered selections from the songbooks of Bach, Beethoven, the Beatles and the Beach Boys, and hundreds of other arrangements in between. “I will never reach a point where I consider a piece of music that I play to be the absolute perfect way to play it,” she said. “Rather, I find that I can always make something better if I continue to practice it, and while that may be intimidating to a student to know that he or she will never be perfect, I think it’s wonderful that we can make something more perfect, and more beautiful.” To learn more about the Wilmington String Ensemble, visit or e-mail info@ To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email | Spring/Summer 2021 | Newark Life


A GREAT HOTEL AND MORE! The Marriott Courtyard Newark-University of Delaware has now been in business in Newark for 17 years, opening in 2004. Recently, the hotel was fully renovated and fully prepared for State of Delaware and CDC Covid-19 protocols for guest and staff safety. Our 126 guest rooms and suite are perfect for business and social accommodations.

MEETINGS AND SOCIAL EVENTS Our sales team has full use of the three meeting rooms in the Hotel, in the Marriott Center for Hospitality and Tourism. With 2,000 sq.ft. of meeting space, divisible into three meeting rooms, the Hotel can provide complete meeting services for small executive and social groups that want to stay, dine and meet in the Hotel. The meeting space has been fully renovated with new furniture, decor and technology to be ready for your next event! A small executive Board Rooms offers a unique private space. Our Director of Sales, Melissa Driggs is ready to meet with you and discuss your needs for events at the Hotel. Come for a tour soon!

team in Clayton Hall to help market the 44,000 sq ft of meeting space in that state of the art conference facility. In 2015, the Hotel completed an addition that provides a dedicated state of the art classroom forr the University of Delaware’s Hospitality Business Management (HBM)program, as part of the Lernerr College of Business. This amazing facility was funded by a donation from the Alice and JW Marriott Foundation and has proven to be a huge success with students, faculty and various guest speakers.

PATIO ENTERTAINMENT AND DINING Recent upgrades to the hotel patio area also provides a unique dining and relaxation option for ourr guests. A soothing and lovely waterfall has been upgraded to enhance the experience on the patio. Most Friday evenings this summer, we feature live music and dining on the patio from 6:00pm to 9:00pm, call the Hotel for details at 302-737-0900.

The Hotel recently was awarded the “Best of Delaware 2020” by Delaware Today Magazine for our famous crab cakes. Chef Mark Chopko has been awarded this honor for the past ten years and you have to For social events, we can work with smaller wedding come by and try them! We have them every night groups, rehearsal dinners, and corporate events, and also on our banquet and patio menus. providing not only great food and service, but also the convenience and safety of our guest room accommodations!


For larger meetings, the Hotel staff works closely For the Hotel’s 17 years of business it has been honwith the University of Delaware Conference Services ored every year for excellence in guest service, most

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recently receiving the Marriott Gold Circle Award for being in the top 10% of all Marriott Courtyards. This is a result of excellence in staff service and the assistance of the UD HBM interns, who work side by side with Hotel staff. As the “front door” for the University of Delaware, the Hotel hosts many guests for UD, from guest speakers, new faculty, VIP guests, sports teams and potential students. The Hotel also plays an important role in welcoming many visitors to the UD campus and developing a successful Very Important Parent (VIP) program for the parents of more than 7,500 students for their lodging needs in Newark.

HOTEL’S EDUCATIONAL MISSION The Hotel’s education mission is not only unique in the hospitality industry, and it provides University of Delaware HBM students with a valuable edge over competing programs. More than 1,200 students in the HBM program have completed their lodging management training at the Hotel. Developed by the HBM faculty, with the expertise of Dr. Brian Miller and hotel leadership, the lodging practicum module has become an integral part of a planned semester for HBM juniors. Students in the program are fully integrated into all aspects of the operation for the

semester as part of the experiential learning at the Hotel, spending 140 hours working closely with hotel staff and real guests, Managing Director Bill Sullivan said. “Having an educational mission is what makes the UD program unique,” Sullivan said. “Our hotel is the only one that does this.” “The experiential learning component of our Hotel and the Vita Nova restaurant in the Trabant University Center also provides a higher level of learning for our students, who get the chance to work in a customerfacing business and gain real-world experience.” Sullivan credits the success of the hotel to have a good staff that keeps on top of things and supports from faculty and a UD administration that benefits students and staff. “The HBM program has a high success rate, with 95 percent of our students placed in jobs before graduation,” Former Program Chair, and now Lerner College Deputy Dean, Dr. Sheryl Kline said. “We are so proud of the reputation we have developed within the industry, and recruiters really respect UD HBM students and look at them as more likely to be hired in the hospitality industry.” We look forward to being of service to you at our Hotel!

|Newark Spotlight|

Photo courtesy of University of Delaware/Kathy F. Atkinson

When she was a junior at the University of Delaware, Natalie Walton was one of 62 students selected nationwide as a Truman Scholar. She also wrote and published a book.

Award-winning U of D student writes book about girls dealing with privacy and relationships in the digital age By Betsy Brewer Brantner Contributing writer


y the time Natalie Walton graduated from the University of Delaware, she had not only written and published a book, she was also named a Truman Scholar, a highly competitive national award. Walton, of Newark, Del., was one of 62 scholars selected nationwide as a Truman Scholar, with the selection based on a student’s record of leadership, public service


Newark Life | Spring/Summer 2021 |

and academic achievement. The Truman Scholar honor was created to support the next generation of public service leaders as they pursue graduate studies. Twenty-three-year-old Natalie Walton admits that when she tells people she is passionate about teaching sex education, eyebrows might raise. “Yes, sometimes it stops the conversation when I tell people I am an advocate for teaching sex education, but I’m not uncomfortable talking about sex anymore. I have always been interested in education in general and I

think all people should have access to education no matter what subject,” Walton said. Walton will attend grad school at the University of Greenwich in London in the fall and her focus will be on criminology, gender and sexuality. There’s no denying that “Revenge of The Sluts” is a very attention-grabbing title for a book, but more notable is the fact that this book was written by a woman who is very accomplished at a young age. She wrote her first story in second grade. Then she started posting her stories on Wattpad at the age of fourteen. For those not familiar with Wattpad, it is a website and app for writers to publish new user-generated stories. It aims to create social communities around stories for both amateur and established writers. The Delaware resident is not afraid of subjects that are thought of as taboo. She believes strongly in sex education, is interested in gender studies, and is an advocate for those who have suffered from sexual assault. She is a beacon of hope in a world that, not that long ago, debated whether sex education should even be taught in schools. “It feels like a mistreatment of people to create a barrier to sex education,” Walton explained. “It gives you access

to healthy relationships. When I was a young adult, I didn’t feel I had any one to ask questions of. People either wanted to joke about it, or simply said, ‘I’ll tell you when you are older.’ I don’t like the idea of gate-keeping knowledge. We teach children about everything else in their body, why not sex education?” She continued, “We are making slow strides in teaching sex education. People are trying to teach, but we need to say here are the resources. Here is where you can find the answers to the questions you have. And we need to be judgement-free. We don’t need to make people feel they are wrong for asking questions. We are starting to make serious progress, but we still have a lot of work to do.” Walton admitted that she thinks it is a different issue between boys and girls. “What we have in place doesn’t work,” she said. “Sex is focused on the male anatomy and not the female anatomy. Every person I’ve talked to had to learn it on their own. Why are we hiding information relative to our sexual health?” Walton emphasized the importance of telling young people how to have healthy relationships. “They need to know what consent is, and what sexual Continued on Page 64

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Natalie Walton Continued from Page 63

harassment is,” she said. “Understanding what it means to be kind to your partner is vital, as is teaching them about personal space. I just think it is ridiculous that we are still arguing over teaching sexual education. Teens are scared about pregnancy and sexual diseases and it is important that they can talk about these fears and get accurate information. We really need to talk to teenagers like real people. If we don’t have the answers, find the answer or tell them who they can talk to.” She added, “The core foundation of why I do this and want to teach is it comes down to the option of choice. If you don’t have the resources, you can’t make a good decision. It’s important to give information up front. We need to make our teens safer. Teens need to make decisions for themselves and giving them the space to say what they feel is a great beginning. It is a complicated and nuanced issue, but talking is such a good starting point. The most important thing is you should make teens, and everyone comfortable about asking questions. How do we learn anything without asking questions?” The subject of the LGBTQ community is another issue that needs to be talked about. Walton said things would


not be so scary if people could simply ask questions and talk freely. “Joking about something we don’t understand doesn’t help anyone. Talking about it takes the mystery and misconceptions away,” she said. “The bottom line is we should never stop learning about anything. Life is constantly evolving. How we talked about the LGBTQ community years ago is not relevant now. We need to update our language. Generations change and language that seemed appropriate years ago, may be insensitive and inaccurate now. And it’s not just teens, parents need to be able to ask questions, too. Parents are constantly trying to catch up.” The most important take away is that education never stops, Walton stressed it is just one more opportunity to connect with your teen. The best method is to approach everything with an open mind. “I don’t get embarrassed talking about sex, but I do understand it can be embarrassing for others. But we all have a common goal, to create happier generations of people,” Walton said. Rebecca Dowling, owner of the Hockessin Bookshelf, an Continued on Page 66



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Newark Life | Spring/Summer 2021 | | Spring/Summer 2021 | Newark Life


Natalie Walton Continued from Page 64

independent book store in Hockessin, Del., was excited to have Walton’s debut at her store. Having Walton sign her first batch of books in her store was one of her greatest honors, she said. Independent bookstores are a unique gem in a community. They are part of the community, working with other local businesses, contributing to local events and causes and always watching for the next local author to break out. Dowling was proud of Walton because she was a local author, and also because of the courage it took to write about her chosen topic. “Revenge of the Sluts” deals with privacy and relationships in the digital age. It’s something that teen book sellers are searching for. It’s a timely topic which needs to be dealt with head on. This book evolves after intimate pictures of seven female students are anonymously emailed to the entire school. The high school newspaper journalist takes an interest in finding out who the perpetrator is, and when she join forces with the female students, the “Revenge of the Sluts” is on,” Dowling said. Dowling came to know Walton when she was ordering a publisher catalog, which highlights authors from Delaware.


Newark Life | Spring/Summer 2021 |

She was looking for a young adult book and found the perfect one—and a timely one. “We love to promote local authors when they get a national publishing contract through Watt Pad. (Macmillan Press is the sales and distribution partner for Wattpad Books in the United States.) Sales have been good and the first printing is already sold out. It’s good news for the author when it goes to reprint,” Dowling said. To have a successful bookstore, the owner has to keep up with readers, and Dowling knew what direction the country was going. Women were on the precipice of a new movement, and were demanding that their voices be heard. The climate surrounding sexual exploitation of women was already changing in this country, and then the “Me Too” movement began to take hold. In 2006, Taranda Burke began using the phrase “Me Too” to raise awareness of women who had been abused. It took eleven years to find global recognition, which came after a viral tweet by actress Alyssa Milano, who accused Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault. The rest is history and sets the stage for young Natalie Walton. Her book Continued on Page 68 | Spring/Summer 2021 | Newark Life


Natalie Walton Continued from Page 66

embodies the very essence of that movement, written from the high school perspective. That perspective is vital to be able to arm young woman against the perils of growing up safely in a digital age. Walton clearly has chosen public service and advocacy as her future endeavors. She is particularly passionate about policies to make sex education more comprehensive and more widely available to young people and about supporting victims of sexual assault. She has volunteered and worked with Planned Parenthood’s Sex Education Training Institute in Delaware and she founded the University of Delaware chapter of “It’s On Us” in 2017, plus a host of other jobs including tutoring and serving in many other capacities as an advocate. So when Walton was chosen as a Truman Scholar and received a $30,000 scholarship, it enabled her to continue pursuing her dream of educating and advocating. The Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation was created by Congress in 1975 to be the nation’s living memorial to President Truman, with a mission to select and support the next generation of public service leaders.

In 2019, there were 840 candidates for the award nominated by 346 colleges and universities, a record number of both applications and institutions. The 199 finalists were interviewed and 62 new Truman Scholars were selected. They received their awards in a ceremony at the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum on May 26 and Walton was among them. Truman Scholars receive a $30,000 scholarship toward graduate school and the opportunity to participate in professional development programming to help prepare them for leadership careers in public service. Walton has now graduated and, as a Truman Scholar, she received a scholarship for graduate school to pursue a doctorate in sociology with a concentration in sexuality and gender studies. The success of her book, “Revenge of the Sluts” is not just a success for her, but also for other young women in the future who will be the arbiters of their own success. With one book, and a desire to educate and advocate, Walton will change the future of many women, educate the world, and give hope to the next generation.

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Spring/Summer 2021 A Chester County Press Publication P.O. Box 150, Kelton, PA 19346 address corrections not required

The Cecil County Fair Board has been working on creating a plan for the 2021 Cecil County Fair. At this point in time we are planning on having a Fair in some capacity. We will be adhering to local, state and CDC guidelines. Please be patient with us as we continue to make any necessary adjustments. No matter what adjustments we have to make, we look forward to seeing you at the Cecil County Fair, July 23rd-July 31st.