by Matthew Grady, for NewsWorks, a Notebook news partner
School officials, political leaders and a handful of lucky students broke ground Wednesday morning at the new site for the Green Woods Charter School in Roxborough.
Just in time for the new school year, the Notebook's fourth annual Fall Guide to High Schools is out. You can pick one up around town at the schools, libraries, and community sites where you always find the Notebook.
The theme for the 20th Annual Awards Ceremony & Reception, which begins at 5:30, is “From the Grass Roots to the Hill: Organizing for Educational Equity.”
Thursday evening I attended the Renaissance Community Meeting at West Philadelphia High School. About 50 people attended. Most of them were parents and community members with a few students and teachers in the mix as well. The message they sent was incredibly unified: our school has already started the turnaround; don’t lose that progress.
A lot of people are talking these days about the failure of public schools. They cite astronomical dropout rates, low test scores, and a host of other alarming statistics. I want to suggest another perspective. Our schools are actually quite successful at doing what they were designed to do.
We'll pick up the conversation from last week. As an update, we can tell you that school authorities announced measures in an attempt to make South Philly High safer. This includes cameras, more police, and an education program so kids learn how to deal with other cultures.
School District CEO Arlene Ackerman said she wanted the Asian students to come back to school on Monday, and that she would be there to welcome them back and have personal conversations with each one of the affected students. The students returned today.
I spoke with a South Philly High graduate, who is a recent immigrant, about his experience acclimating to the new environment.
On Sunday I attended a rally in support of the Asian students at South Philadelphia High School.
It was a powerful and emotional event.
Several adult speakers told stories about how they had been harassed in high school because they were Asian, but they did not have the courage or support to stand up like the students from South Philly.
I am very pleased to report that a fourth Kensington small school will open next year.
At a meeting of the Kensington School and Community Coalition last week, School District Chief of Staff Tomas Hanna announced that in the fall when Kensington CAPA moves into its new building, a new small school will open in KCAPA’s place in the old building.
This is great news for many in the Kensington community who had been concerned that the District might decide to use the space created by KCAPA’s move to make Kensington Business into a large school again.
West Philadelphia High School has been in the news a lot in the last few weeks. The Inquirer did a story on the turnaround at West and Tuesday was the groundbreaking ceremony for the new building.
While West still has a long way to go, there have been some great strides made in the last two years.
The media reports, however, often miss the intricacies of what it takes to make this kind of change.
Less than two weeks till the applications are due. Applications are due TODAY. Any last minute questions? Check our Guide!
Please share your thoughts on the process and ask your friends to comment, too.
How did you find the application process? What was most difficult, or unexpectedly easy?
High school teachers and administrators, what are the most important last minute things students should do?
Students, do you already have your application in? What helped you figure out which five schools to list?
Middle school counselors, a limited number of copies of the Notebook Fall Guide remain. Please email us if you'd like to pick up some copies for students you work with or have the copies mailed to you for a small fee.