June 13 — 1:50 pm, 2012

Turning the Page for Change: Notebook community gathers to celebrate

notebook bloggers Photo: Harvey Finkle

by Katie McCabe

The Notebook community gathered Tuesday night to celebrate our 18th year of independent coverage of Philadelphia public education at our annual Turning the Page for Change event.

More than 300 activists, students, teachers, administrators, parents, and city and District officials joined us as we presented our annual awards to student journalists and celebrated the strong community of dedicated individuals and organizations that work to support quality and equity in Philadelphia schools.

"The turnout and the enthusiasm were great,” said Notebook editor/director Paul Socolar. “It felt like a terrific outpouring of support for the work that we do … to try to inform and connect diverse audiences to discussions about the schools and to build some common understanding about the problems and how they could be fixed."

Among the attendees were School Reform Commissioners Pedro Ramos and Wendell Pritchett, as well as Chief Academic Officer Penny Nixon.

Students from the Girard Academic Music Program serenaded community members as they arrived at University of the Arts’ Hamilton Hall. One table at the event provided a space where attendees could write words of support for the Notebook.

“I love the Notebook because it arms me with the information I need, and connects me to a community that cares deeply about education,” wrote one attendee.

“There is no other source for in-depth coverage of this foundation of democracy,” added Harris Sokoloff, a professor at Penn Graduate School of Education and Director of the Center for School Study Councils.

Four student journalists won awards and three received honorable mentions for excellence as high school newspaper writers and editors. Students came from high schools including the Academy at Palumbo, Maritime Academy Charter School, the Arts Academy at Benjamin Rush High School, Overbrook High School, Parkway West High School, and Science Leadership Academy.

The awards were co-sponsored by IKEA South Philadelphia and the local publication Al Día. The winning students each received a cash prize and an e-tablet, and each student’s school newspaper received an audio recorder.

The Notebook also honored its eight community bloggers, who contribute regularly to our site: Helen Gym, Len Rieser, Ron Whitehorne, Samuel Reed, Frank Murphy, Timothy Boyle, Peak Johnson, and Nijmie Dzurinko.

In the spring of 2011, the Notebook received the second-place prize in the community blogging category of the Education Writers Association’s National Reporting Awards – a testament to the hard work and dedication of our bloggers.

As the School District of Philadelphia faces a significant transformation, the Notebook’s mission to keep the Philadelphia community informed and involved in public education is now more important than ever.

During the event, several attendees showed their support by signing up to become Notebook members. Members included individuals and organizations who make an annual membership gift of $30 or more, support that is critical to our sustainability as a nonprofit.

If you were a guest, thank you for your support! To all of our readers, please consider supporting the Notebook in any way you can, including becoming a member. We look forward to seeing you at our next happy hour in the fall, to celebrate the release of our fall guide to high schools and October edition!

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