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District hosts open houses for Regional Talent Centers

By the Notebook on Oct 5, 2012 11:51 AM
Photo: Kofi Biney

Visual arts instructor Peter Metcalfe teaches at the Regional Talent Center at Audenried. The District's two talent centers offer free afterschool activities for 6th-12th graders.

By Kofi Biney

When you first walk into Universal Audenried Charter High School, you are greeted by banners displaying various positive messages, such as “My future begins here,” “I help others succeed,” and “I will overcome.”

Audenried isn't just promoting this can-do attitude through its banners, but as the location of the South Philadelphia Regional Talent Center.

It is one of two centers that the District opened in September 2010 to provide afterschool activities. The other is the Northwest Regional Talent Center, located at the Promise Academy at Martin Luther King High School.

Both centers are free and open to all Philadelphia youth in grades 6-12 who attend public, parochial, and private schools.

This week, the District held open houses at both centers to introduce parents and students to the program, provide an overview of the activities offered, and make applications for enrollment available.

The Regional Talent Centers provide arts-integrated instruction, with classes in art, theater, music, dance, and health and fitness. Students also engage in various reading, math, and science activities. Funding for the programs is provided through the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant and with the support of community partner Philadelphia Arts in Education Partnership.

Rahim Islam, president and CEO of Universal Companies, which manages Audenried, said it’s important to give schools resources for the performing arts.

“We have a very basic, fundamental belief that we have to restore a couple things back into education. Performing arts is one of them,” Islam said.

Virginia T. Lam, project manager for the Regional Talent Centers and a music education content specialist for the District, agreed.

“I firmly believe that arts education is a must-have. It’s a core academic subject [and] it enriches the tested academic areas of math, reading and science.”

During the open house at Audenried, parents and students learned about the subjects that will be taught at the center this year. They were treated to a theater monologue and dance number performed by two students from Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts (CAPA), and a performance from Philadelphia native and former American Idol contestant Dominic Patrick.

Class tours were also held, where instructors conducted short sessions with students.

“I love getting kids creative [and] watching them grow artistically,” said Peter Metcalfe, one of the visual arts instructors.

Morgan Stewart, an instrumental music teacher with the District and a music instructor at the center, said it “is a privilege” to be able to teach and work with students who don’t normally have music in their schools.

“All of these students are extremely creative, but I found that they didn’t have an outlet. This Regional Talent Center gives them not only the resources, but the teachers and mentors to fully engage them in that music experience.”

Trevor Rounsville, a sophomore at Audenried, said he is taking advantage of all that the center has to offer.

“There are good music programs here and a bunch of other classes for health and culinary arts,” he said.

“I just like learning about everything.”


For more information about the Regional Talent Centers and to obtain an application for the 2012-13 school year, call 215-400-5902 or email



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Comments (11)

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on October 6, 2012 7:04 pm

Bizarre article. Kenny Gamble is an even bigger phony than Dwight Evans.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on October 6, 2012 8:46 pm

Bizarre? Really? Aside from the fact that Kenny Gamble has done a lot to eliminate the blight in South Philly, and to promote positive learning environments for children, he is also a musician. Therefore, it seems to make perfect sense that his organization would want to promote the Arts. Also, I think it's nice that it's open for all kids whether they attend a traditional public, charter or private school.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on October 7, 2012 12:07 pm

He also promotes segregation, judging from his comments about Chinatown and such, but I guess that's ok as long as he's a musician. If he were a white man pulling this crap it would be condemned outright.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on October 6, 2012 9:23 pm

OBVIOUSLY, you don't know him and his "talents" in education or you're just trolling.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on October 6, 2012 11:28 pm

Actually, you're WRONG on both accounts. First, I do know Mr. Gamble and his family pretty well. Furthermore, offering a different opinion isn't synonymous with "trolling" the last time I checked.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on October 8, 2012 2:40 pm

You know where your bread is buttered, Bro !! No need to comment further.

Submitted by Universal teacher (not verified) on October 6, 2012 10:40 pm

I find it hilarious that Kenny Gamble's name and reputation gets dragged in to any conversation about Universal Companies or its schools. As someone who works at a Universal school, let me tell you that Mr. Gamble has NOTHING to do with the day-to-day workings of the schools, or education policies and decisions made by the company. He founded the company and remains its figure-head, but that seems to be about it. He is a businessman and a musician, and never claimed to be an educator or education administrator. He may not be a saint, but he also isn't the reason for the problems at Universal schools. Now, the people he and his board have hired to run the education division at Universal...oy. I could write novels on them.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on October 7, 2012 7:15 pm

Universal Teacher--Following your "logic" is impossible so let me cut to the chase--Gamble is the HEAD of Universal and without him, Universal would not be able to pay little or nothing in rent. By the way, you'll be fired on the spot if they can identify you from your post.

Submitted by tom-104 on October 6, 2012 10:46 pm

Just the fact that Universal has the sweet deal where they paid no rent and maintenance costs last year and only half this year says it all about Universal's interest in education or the community. Someone had to pay and it was the traditional public schools that paid for this nepotism.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on October 8, 2012 2:42 pm

Nepotism is the least of it, by far, We're becoming Detroit more an more, with utter, blatant corruption running openly and rampantly.

Submitted by SOS 60 on October 7, 2012 10:35 pm

Do the Anonymouses enjoy talking to each other anonymously? Just wondering.

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