On Feb. 10, Albert M. Greenfield School was awarded $500 for being Pennsylvania Recycle Bowl 2012’s Runner-up in the state-wide recycling contest (sponsored by Keep America Beautiful, Keep PA Beautiful, Keep Philadelphia Beautiful and Greenstar Recycling). Greenfield staff and students successfully recycled 19 pounds of paper per student over a four-week period. The Greenfield community strives to protect the environment through its recycling program, rainwater conservation project and solar panel project.
E.M. Stanton receives grants to support cultural program
Students at E.M. Stanton School will benefit from two grants that support the arts. Bainbridge House, a community partner with Stanton, received $6,551 from The Philadelphia Cultural Fund and $816 from the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance. Bainbridge House has received grants from the City of Philadelphia and Commonwealth of Pennsylvania respectively for the last six years which support teaching artists and programming in visual arts, music, drama and dance. Bainbridge House and E. M. Stanton School thank Mayor Michael Nutter and City Council as well as Gov. Tom Corbett and the Pennsylvania General Assembly for their confidence and support.
Science charter school faces budget crisis
It’s now become apparent that charter schools aren’t exempt to budgetary shutdowns and closures, and Truebright Science Academy charter school is just the latest school to face extinction.
Echoing the grassroots missions that were at least partially responsible for saving E.M. Stanton and Isaac A. Sheppard elementary schools, stakeholders and involved parents recently held a town hall meeting at the suggestion of state Sen. Shirley Kitchen, said Truebright CEO Beker Duz.
“The town hall meeting with Senator Kitchen was about our charter school renewal, in regard to the recommendation from the Charter School Office,” Duz said. “More than 100 people were there, expressing their concerns to Kitchen. So she is supporting us, doing everything she can to save Truebright.
“No one wants to see Truebright closed.”
Duz is Truebright’s second CEO since it opened in 2007. It is now up for charter renewal, and a final meeting to decide Truebright’s fate will be held on April 19; however, Duz considers such a meeting a fait d’accompli, since the CSO has already decided to close Truebright.
Duz said the school’s consistent academic achievements have earned Truebright some respite.
“I am happy to tell you that Truebright is meeting its goal” of providing core knowledge that prepares students for college or other post-high school education, Duz said. “We have graduated 97 percent from our first senior class, and of those graduates, 100 percent were accepted to college, so we’ve had real great success.
“We’re located in a part of the city where the poverty rate is really high, and economically, this part of the city has been hit the hardest.”
Truebright’s officials aren’t relenting in their drive to save their school. It has released a massive, 105-page rebuttal of the CSO’s plan to close the North Philadelphia-based school. It goes into great detail in laying out Truebright’s strengths — and its value to the community.
For example, the rebuttal contends that the CSO may have drawn conclusions based on inaccurate and incomplete data. The documents provided by Truebright suggest that CSO believed that Truebright only made Adequate Yearly Progress — AYP — in two of the past four years; has consistently lagged behind state and district standards; that 45 percent of Truebright students are below basic levels, and that Truebright has been placed on warning notice for the 2010–2011 school year.
Duz contends that Truebright has only had AYP status for three years, and reached the qualifications in two of them. Truebright has also matched the statewide and district-wide numbers for math and reading comprehension. Under Duz’ leadership, Truebright has also instituted a volunteer Saturday program, where students — those excelling in their studies and other who aren’t — can go sharpen their skills or receive additional instruction.
Duz believes Truebright’s hybrid nature — the school serves students in grades 7 through 12 — and that the CSO’s decision is based on a too-small data pool also played a role in the reasoning to shutter the school.
“Truebright is a middle and high school, but we have only 90 students in our middle school. There are 200-plus in our high school, so [the CSO’s] decision is based on a small portion of students, and that doesn’t make sense.
“We are making even greater gains, when one considers we have to address the significant learning deficits in the student body,” Duz continued. “Truebright has met previous standards, but even with all the success we’ve had, the CSO is still looking at a very small portion of the student body. “
When reached for comment, the CSO referred to the SRC for comment, but as of Tribune press time, the SRC hadn’t returned calls for comment. Duz said he has reached out numerous times to both the SRC and CSO, netting minimal results.
“We have invited the SRC to [Truebright], but it was renewal time and was told they couldn’t talk to us directly,” Duz said. “And that is why we prepared the rebuttal.
“It doesn’t make sense to reverse a course of action that benefits our most precious resource, our children.”
Nine schools on chopping block for 2012
When Kenya Simmons found out that her son, eight-year-old Kashi, wanted to deliver babies, she was overjoyed that he had already charted a career path, no matter how far down the road it may be.
What is less certain, though, is where Kashi will attend school next year as he pursues his goal. A third-grader at Stanton Elementary, where he attends with his first-grade brother, Kenneth, the family learned Thursday morning that Stanton is one of nine Philadelphia schools recommended for closure next year as part of the School District of Philadelphia’s Facilities Master Plan.
The recommendations are the result of declining enrollment, aging and under-utilized schools, and unprecedented funding cuts the likes of which the district has never seen before. They are expected to go before the School Reform Commission at the end of the winter or early spring.
If Stanton were to close, Simmons’ children would be given the option of being reassigned to either Arthur or Childs elementary schools. A part-time student at Community College, Simmons likes Stanton. She likes the fact that the preliminary data indicate that 75 and 74 percent, respectively, scored proficient or advanced in reading and math on the 2011 Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) standardized test. And she is happy with first-year principal Stacey Burnley, whom she describes as “informed” and a principal “who is not a principal from just behind the desk.”
What she doesn’t like is feeling as if her choices have been dictated.
“If this goes through, it’s like they are playing the shell game,” Simmons said. “Only here you pick one and they still tell you where you are going. It’s like they knew what they were going to give you all along. It’s hard on your kids because you could lose your entire school, your classmates and your teachers — all because of money problems and their mistakes. It’s disgusting.”
One major reason for the school closings and grade reconfigurations is the dwindling student population. The district has lost 11,000 students over the last five years, and there are just a little more than 150,000 students in the district. Officials project that decline will continue over the next five years, resulting in the district experiencing the exodus of 10,000 more students.
Officials reported that that there are 70,000 empty seats throughout the district. Putting this in perspective, Lincoln Financial Field, home of the Philadelphia Eagles, has a seating capacity of 67,594. And with a goal of 85 percent, the district’s current average utilization across all buildings is just 67 percent.
On average, one in five property tax dollars is going toward funding empty seats, according to the District.
The closings would save the school district an estimated $500,000 to $1 million per building. Other schools slated for closure are: Levering, Harrison, Sheppard, and Drew Elementaries; Pepper Middle School; and Fitzsimons High, Sheridan West Academy, and Philadelphia High School for Business.
Overall, officials estimate that it would cost $4 billion to address all the current facilities needs. However, just $160 million is allocated for capital improvements over the next five years.
This is not the first time that Stanton has been considered for closing. Back in 2003, the school — which utilizes every room in the building except one — came close to closing, but avoided being shut down.
Yesterday, the school was bustling with action. Media swarmed the school early in the morning, wanting to speak with parents and administrators. But as the afternoon approached, Principal Stacey Burnley was flittering about the school office, encouraging students and proceeding as if nothing has changed.
“I’m not upset, because it was just a proposal,” Burnley, who had been principal at Pennypacker Elementary before coming to Stanton, said. “My job and my moral and ethical responsibilities are to ensure that my kids don’t feel this one ounce. In fact, it could be a civics lesson. For the most part their instructional day is going to be maintained. The teachers are committed, and they are going to ensure that they are going to have a safe and positive learning environment.”
Simmons said that education funding — or the lack thereof — should never be a reason for shuttering schools.
“It’s an issue that should never come up in our society,” Simmons said. “When the government is funding prison building, politicians’ affairs and other things of that matter, it’s not fair that people have no choice in what happens to their schools.”
For the parents of pupils in the nine schools targeted for closure by the School Reform Commission, Saturday will be your last chance to voice opposition to the proposal.
These hearings will last for one hour, beginning at 8:30 a.m. for Edwin M. Stanton Elementary School; in order, hearings will then be heard for Harrison Elementary School, George Pepper Middle School, FitzSimons High School/E. Washington Rhodes High School, Isaac A. Sheppard Elementary School, Philadelphia High School for Business and Technology, Sheridan West Academy Middle School, Charles R. Drew Elementary School and William Levering Elementary School. The hearings conclude with AMY Northwest’s hearing at 6 p.m.
Hearings will be held in the second floor auditorium at the school district’s education center and headquarters, 440 N. Broad Street. Those interested in speaking are encouraged to call (215) 400-4180.
According to a release issued by the school district, the SRC will vote on the proposed recommendations of closures and relocations during its next public hearing on March 29, and “represents the final stage during which the SRC will vote on recommendations.”
The SRC has conducted 17 community meetings that began last November and concluded in February; it also conducted more than 20 community meetings in which more than 1,100 concerned parents, neighbors and other stakeholders attended.
“This is not a last minute effort by the school district; it should be commended for being thoughtful for going around to different locations in the city to talk about it,” said Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown, co-chair of City Council’s education committee. “It’s certainly not guilty of trying to rush through the process, and should be commended for that because too often, it gets hit for not doing these sorts of things.”
Reynolds Brown is sympathetic to the plight of the pupils and their parents, as the caregivers “need to plan out the [academic] lives of their children a year in advance,” but also hailed the school district for making the painful — yet necessary — cuts.
“The school district wants input and wants testimony, because that shapes where the district ends up, and it did have to make tough decisions,” Reynolds Brown said. “But the numbers are what they are, and carefully narrowing down the process, doing it as respectful as possible; it’s all linked to the data for school population.
“We would be very unhappy and angry at the opposite of that,” Reynolds Brown continued. “Which is to continue to run these schools when it’s not financially possible.”
Still, supporters say many of the schools on this list deserve saving.
Schools like Sheppard Elementary.
The tiny school in North Philadelphia has seen its PSSA scores increase, due in part to a sustained approach by principal James Otto and the groups of volunteers that give their time and effort to the school on Cambria Street.
“For Sheppard to close, I think the students would lose,” said Penn State University Assistant Professor of Education Allison Kootsikas. “Their scores have gone up, and the kids are really learning.”
Kootsikas would know. She is a former PSU intern who has taught at Shepard. PSU, through its “Urban Collaborative,” have sent numerous education majors to Philadelphia and specifically Sheppard to complete internships.
Penn State volunteers aren’t the only ones that feel these closures aren’t necessary. The United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania also volunteers its time and services to Sheppard Elementary by way of a Saturday science program, a module that has also contributed to Sheppard’s rising PSSA scores.
“For over six years, our Discovery Science Program, led by volunteer project leader Linda Watson, has fostered a love of science and enriched the lives of students at Sheppard Elementary; the program touches on everything from how light works with the use of prisms, to dissections, to PSSA prep in the spring,” said Martin Molloy, Director of the United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania’s Community Action Center. “As the district continues to face many difficult decisions, we will continue to work to bring educational and enrichment opportunities to students.
“We know our community can only succeed when organizations like the United Way and principals like James Otto at Sheppard come together for our kids.”
The SOS has been answered. The Edward M. Stanton Elementary School at 17th and Christian streets has officially been spared closure, thanks to the efforts of the Supporters of Stanton and freshman city Councilman Kenyatta Johnson.
Last month, the School Reform Commission’s board voted not to close Stanton and Isaac A. Sheppard, decisions the board said were based on several factors, chief among them the high achievement of the schools, and the strong community support structure surrounding each.
But without the behind-the-scenes maneuverings of Johnson, Stanton may very well have stayed on the chopping block.
“I first caught wind that there was a possibility to close down Stanton during my tenure as state representative, and there was always the rumor, based on the Facilities Master Plan,” Johnson said. “And I received a letter after I resigned and ran for city council, asking me to come to the meeting and address several of the concerns from neighborhood residents, parents and Stanton workers. I also brought school district officials to that meeting to field the questions and concerns.”
That was Johnson’s first interaction with Supporters of Stanton (SOS). Johnson, a South Philadelphia native with deep familial ties to the neighborhood, and a longtime community activist, felt the urge to help the school; but that commitment truly formed after he received an in-depth plan by SOS to not only maintain the school, but to provide a certain level of sustainability as well.
“Stanton supporters really drew my interest. They we e-mailing about where they were, and they also had a plan when they asked me to advocate for them, and showed the SRC they were willing to step up to the plate and do what was needed to keep the school open,” Johnson said. “What [SOS] did was very unique. Often, we ask parents and neighborhood residents to get involved or get engaged.
“This is a classic example of a group of people stepping up.”
The in-depth counterproposal released by SOS included a very detailed expenditure list, ways the school can save money, and an engrossing profile of the school itself, among other persuasive material.
The community had done its part; now, Johnson had to do his.
With a local developer working on a new housing project in his district, Johnson saw this as the prime opportunity to form a private-public alliance – betting that developers building in the neighborhood would be willing and interested stakeholders.
To that end, Johnson huddled with The Goldenberg Group and MR Scott Development to devise a plan for the developers to fund the school. In return, the developers would obtain seats on the newly-formed Stanton Advisory Council.
“The environment was created by SOS; they made sure with their counterproposal that I had something to [show the SRC]. From there, I believed if fundraising were to be a part of this, I need to get a corporate sponsor,” Johnson said. “So far, we have $80,000 committed to Stanton, which will go toward maintaining the building. Now you have the corporate-public partnership working in the best interests of the children.
“I’m excited about this partnership, and glad that someone on the private sector side stepped up.”
In a letter to Johnson, the Goldenberg Group President Ken Goldenberg confirmed his company would donate up to $50,000 from its profits from the Carpenter Square project to Stanton; MR Scott Development likewise pledged upwards of $15,000 to Stanton.
“I have been heavily involved with the Supporters of Stanton team, and I am a member of the newly-formed School Advisory Committee, so I will continue to be involved in the future,” read a letter from Mark R. Scott, owner of MR Scott Development. “As the co-developer of Carpenter Square, I am excited to continue and increase my involvement at Stanton.”
It was all music to Johnson’s ears.
“We have to engage the business community in doing these partnerships,” Johnson said. “And I am glad the SRC put the kids educational value first in keeping Stanton open, and giving the school a second chance, and allow the community’s residents and parents an opportunity to answer [the SRC’s] concerns.”
They are everywhere.
Tucked into residential windows. In a hallway at the Christian Street YMCA. In barbershop windows, and even on the pages of Facebook.
Pink, white, yellow and other colors of the rainbow, the signs that announce the existence of the group SOS (Supporters of Stanton School) are popping up in the South Philadelphia neighborhood of E.M. Stanton School, signifying a grassroots movement that seeks to head off the potential closing of the school.
When it was officially announced last week that Stanton, at 1700 Christian St., was on the list of nine schools recommended for shuttering by the Philadelphia School District as part of an effort to save money and reduce the number of under-utilized and underperforming buildings, SOS, an eclectic mix of people from all different backgrounds and races, knew as far back as June that the school might be on the list.
Now that it was made official last Wednesday, they are not standing still. They plan to do everything in their power to prevent the school, which has made Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) eight years running, from closing.
They have begun to circulate petitions in support of the school. A letter-writing campaign is scheduled for this Saturday at the Marian Anderson Recreatiol Center, 744 S. 17th St., between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
“We got wind [that the school might be on the closing list] of it way back in June,” said Stanton parent and SOS member James Wright. “You should not be closing a high-performing neighborhood school. This is what parents want in a high-performing school; and this is what the district is trying to create, a place where there are neighborhood partnerships and where the effort is being made to close the education gap. Stanton is doing exactly what they say they want schools to do in No Child Left Behind.”
Wright is so thoroughly sold on the school that he and his wife opted to keep their sixth-grade daughter there rather than transfer her to a nearby school with a “better reputation.” He hopes that his son, just four, will be a Stanton student in the future.
Stanton is an all-Black school. However, its supporters are anything but.
Retired teacher Susan Kettell, who is white, speaks about the children at Stanton as if they were her own. Kettell was an arts facilitator at Stanton for 10 years before she retired three years ago. These days, Kettel can’t stay away, and is in the aged building almost every day, lending a hand and helping to maintain the school’s exceptional ties to the arts community.
“I never thought any differently,” she said, when asked how she has developed such an affinity for a school of Black children. “There is no other way to be. It’s all about respecting all of humanity — that’s how I grew up; that’s how I was taught. I have a commitment to all children and color is the last thing that I see.”
Kettell has been with the faith-based neighborhood organization Bainbridge House for years. She has helped facilitate an 18-year mentoring program with the school. Bainbridge annually gives thousands of dollars to the school in the form of donations to the arts, whether it be costumes, art supplies, instruments or any other art-related gift.
But now the clock is ticking, again, on Stanton, which avoided closure eight years ago, due to a combination of low enrollment, low test scores and old facilities. While the school has just been recommended for closure again, those who support it, such as Wright and Kettell, know that they must be proactive.
Meetings have been planned by the SOS for once a week. While the core group is made up mostly of seven or eight members who represent many others, when they gathered in October as the recommendations were about to come down, more than 80 people showed up at First African Baptist Church at 16th and Christian streets.
“We are serious,” Wright said. “We will fight for our school.”
It wasn’t the free-for-all many feared, but debate on the closures of several public schools in the city reached its conclusion Thursday, when the School Reform Commission members voted to save just two of the nine schools originally listed. The vote concludes five months of public hearings that included more than 20 meetings with stakeholders citywide.
The two schools that have been spared the axe are Edwin M. Stanton, 17th and Christian Streets, and Isaac A. Sheppard, 120 W. Cambria St. Those schools were hailed as “high-performance schools”, said SRC chairman Pedro Ramos.
“This SRC has been very clear in its commitment to maintain its focus on student achievement while we work toward fiscal stability,” Ramos said. “Tonight’s vote reflects those priorities. The decision to close a school is never an easy one, but we are doing what we need to do to improve the opportunities available to our students while working within our means. And we are doing it the right way, with a process that is open, transparent, and inclusive.”
The SRC, in essence, decided that closing Stanton and Sheppard would do more harm than good, said School District of Philadelphia spokesman Fernando Gallard.
“The overall message that the SRC gave out with this vote is they wanted it to be clear that they were committed to maintaining school programs that are high-achieving and benefiting students,” Gallard said. “One of the SRC members were quoted as saying they have to look at this process and think about doing no harm, and that means looking to see if a school program is working, and if the option would reverse or stop the good works that are being done in that program, then that would be something that gave them pause.
Gallard said although he couldn’t speak for the decisions made by individual SRC members, Gallard did hail both Stanton and Sheppard as “schools that clearly demonstrated they were school-communities and focused on improving the overall educational experiences of its students.”
“[These schools] were shown to be capable,” Gallard said. “The SRC members thought closing these schools would harm [the students].”
Schools confirmed for closure are: William H. Harrison Elementary School, 1012 W. Thompson St; George Pepper Middle School, 2901 S. 84th St.; Thomas Fitzsimmons High School, 2601 W. Cumberland St.; Philadelphia High School for Business and Technology, 540 N. 13th St.; E. Washington Rhodes High School, 29th and Clearfield Sts.; Sheridan West Academy, 3701 Frankford Ave.; Charles R. Drew Elementary School, 3724 Warren St. and the William Levering School, 6000 Ridge Ave. The SRC has also agreed to the proposed relocation of the AMY Northwest program from its current location, 6611 Ardleigh St. The SRC has not officially announced where the program would move.
While principals such as James Otto at Sheppard receive educational assistance from Penn State University’s College of Education, most of the schools slated to close are operating in obsolete and sometimes dangerous condition - couple that with a precipitous drop in enrollment and what’s left are schools with only a fraction of the students it once enrolled, operating amidst a crumbling infrastructure.
Still, some argue more should have been done to keep up schools such as Harrison, which provide other intangibles to a neighborhood that go beyond just teaching its youth. State Representative W. Curtis Thomas believes the SRC didn’t give true and fair consideration to keeping public schools open, instead opting to support charter schools.
“A review of the recent SRC meeting agenda shows that most of the focus is on charter schools – the expansion, renewal and approval of charter schools,” Thomas said. “If you didn’t know, you would think that this is the School Charter Commission, not the School Reform Commission. Although this commission is fairly new, it can point to the previous commission for the myriad of problems facing public schools. But, as a result of the recent decision regarding the school closings, this new SRC has become part of the problem, not the solution.”
Thomas, a staunch supporter of Harrison and the North Philly district it serves, has also been a vocal opponent of the SRC’s decision to cut nursing and safety personnel. Thomas also echoed his standing belief that the SRC went about implementing its Facilities Master Plan without a concrete plan for relocating the affected students.
“Why do some areas of the city like North Central Philadelphia have an overwhelming number of charter schools, while the SRC is closing the public schools in the area?” Thomas asked. “Like many parents, I am now convinced that it is time for the courts and the Pennsylvania General Assembly to intervene in reviewing the segregated and discriminatory plans of the Philadelphia School District.”
City Councilwoman Jannie Blackwwell – a former educator and chair of councils’ education committee – believes there was a viable third option that the SRC failed to consider.
“Well, I am happy for the schools and glad they get a chance. We’ve received so many petitions [for Sheppard and Stanton], and I know they are real proud of their turnaround,” Blackwell said. “But I am also very concerned about the school closings, and people in those communities have a right to fight for their schools and expect if they can, to turn it around.
“At our hearing, [Philadelphia Federation of Teachers President] Jerry Jordan talked about restructuring the schools so they didn’t have to close,” Blackwell continued. “I think his idea was a positive solution to save the schools, instead of close them.”
Pencils glided across blank white papers to sketch pictures and write the ideas of sixth-graders Alex Fernandez, Ayanna Williams and Ailisha Goodwin Dancy. Quietly, these students of Edwin M. Stanton School were crafting their own literary books soon to be published with poems and short stories authored by themselves.
“I like that fact that we get to make up our own stories. We don’t have to follow any guidelines,” Williams said.
Dancy has dedicated her book to her 9-month-old sister. She also is involved in a poetry club.
“I wrote a play called ‘The Cats and the Mom.’ It was kind of weird. It was something like Shakespeare. I tried flipping it to see what the mom would feel to be the cat and the cat would be the mom. They go on an adventure, and both characters have a new perspectives of how they live,” Dancy said.
Fernandez wrote a story about a boy who was the only person able to see an enchanted forest that appeared across the street from his house. Titled “The Great Adventure: A young child’s dream that came true,” Fernandez used descriptive adjectives in his story. He said he enjoys writing more than creating the illustrations.
“I get to sculpt what I want the story to be about in words,” Fernandez said.
Instead of writing stories, seventh-grade students in room 303 read the story, “Antaeus” which had a similar theme to the Greek mythological character. As they turned to page 470 in their literature books, teacher Courtney Hines asked the class to define the word illusion.
All of the students enjoyed reading, including Dhamir Murray.
“I like reading because I like to learn different stories and it teaches me when I read stuff about myself,” Murray said.
Enter Room 106 at Edwin M. Stanton School and see seventh-grade students sitting in a circle discussing the book “Monster,” written by Walter Dean Myers. Students can be seen debating on whether or not the main character of the book actual committed the crime. The discussion was just a warm-up to a mock trial students would be having about the book.
“Having an open discussion and eventually a mock trial on the book “Monster” is just one of the many things that makes this school so great,” said seventh-grader Ailisha Goodwin-Dancy. “The teachers here really do a good job of finding different and fun ways for us to interact through the lessons we are learning.
“With ‘Monster,’ we’re finding out ways how to agree/disagree and take criticism. Through the discussion, it not only allows us to state our points and listen to one another’s opinion, but it also allows us to find solutions to the problems. I’m looking forward to the mock trial and having everyone state their case.”
Seventh-grader Saniyah Robinson also enjoyed reading the book “Monster.”
“I liked reading the book because it allowed us to think outside of the box; everything is not always what it seems,” Robinson said. “English is one of my favorite subjects this year. My teacher really gives us different projects that allows us to think critically. I’m always learning something new in that class. I’m excited about doing the mock trial.”
Stanton is a K-8 Cultural Arts School. Students who attend Stanton study various cultures focusing on the four art forms including music, art, drama and dance.
“Our students have numerous opportunities to be exposed to a variety of unique programs at Stanton,” said principal Stacey Burnley. “They understand that achieving academic excellence is the ultimate goal here, but we’re also able to make that link between academics and cultural arts.
“We are able to expose the students to different things both inside the school and out. We just don’t want our students to be successful academically, but we also want to help them grow personally. Through our high standards of excellence in academics with the theme of cultural arts, we’re able to do both and help prepare them for their future.”
In addition to the core curriculum, some of the art programs at Stanton include drum line, dance, instrumental and vocal. About 40 students participate in drumming and 15 students participate in the violin classes. Students can start taking percussion and violin classes in the fourth grade. All students who participate in the classes meets weekly. The students at Stanton recently performed at Lincoln University for their Black History program.
“We have a lot of extracurricular activities at Stanton,” said seventh-grader Zafir Fuller. “The school really presents us with different opportunities to succeed outside of just academics. I participate in the drumming, but I also like to sing. I’ve been doing both for a long time. If you go to Stanton your guaranteed to go to a good high school once you leave here.”
Seventh-grader Yasir Harris takes full advantage of the cultural arts programs at Stanton. Harris participates in drumming, he used to dance, and he also raps.
“I just try to take full advantage of the opportunities that is given to me here,” Harris said. “Stanton is a good school. Academics wise is one of the best, we’ve been making AYP for a very long time. The teachers are really good and want to see us succeed.
“The music program here is great. I’ve always be drawn to music, so being a part of drumming and also rapping allows me to express myself creatively. I’ve been rapping since second grade and I’m continuing to get better as I get older. I love it. I’m really enjoying my experience at Stanton.”
Stanton has numerous partnerships with various organizations throughout the city of Philadelphia including Bainbridge House, University of the Arts, The Clay Studio, Moore College of Art, The Penn Council on the Arts, Master African Drumming Artist Singing City Choir, Dream Flags Project, Old City Music, Shakespeare Project, The School at Rose Valley, The Picasso Project, CAPA, and the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society.
“I’ve been at Stanton for three years and my experience has been great,” said sixth-grader Shawlon Gibson. “There’s a lot of different opportunities at the school; it’s really up to all of us to take full advantage of it. I dance and do drumming and because it, I’ve been able to do things that I might now been able to do anywhere else. I wouldn’t be growing into the person I am if I didn’t go to Stanton.”