Among the many high schools in Philadelphia, Central High School is the oldest in the district. Its doors opened in 1838 as the second public high school in the nation. There were four teachers and 63 students. Now, Central’s student population has reached approximately 2,360 students and over 100 teachers. There is a school president, similar to a principal, and three assistant principals.
Originally, Central housed an all boys’ population. Philadelphia High School for Girls was its counterpart. Until August 1983, the school became co-ed.
In 2011, Central was named a National Blue Ribbon School. Within the past decade, Central has consecutively made Adequate Yearly Progress and won 92 Public League Championships. Additionally, Central has had an extensive resume of national and international attention.
Before the first graduating class in 1842, Central held semi-annual commencements until 1965. Now, graduation happens annually, making this year's class the 271st graduating class of Central High School.
There are a host of notable Central Alumni who have excelled in careers of journalism, politics, science, math, technology, law, music, acting and education. Alain LeRoy Locke, author, philosopher and first African-American Rhodes Scholar, graduated in the 107th class. Frank “Tick” Coleman, educator and one of the first three known African-American Eagle Scouts, graduated in the 156th class. Philadelphia City councilman and son of former mayor W. Wilson Goode, W. Wilson Goode Jr. graduated in the 241st class. Seth Williams, district attorney of Philadelphia, graduated in the 244th class.
Through financial gifts of Central Alumni, the school was able to create a $6 million library. In Barnwell Library, there are several quiet rooms to study, computers are available for research and shelves filled with books. Additionally, there is a room full of memorabilia that showcases school apparel, trophies won and pictures of previous classes.
Students are kept engaged in academics, athletics and social experiences through several extra-curricular activities offered at Central.
Senior Jessica Beaver is an active member of the Central community. Beaver works as a student leader to one of the assistant principals, runs school tours and organizes the International Day, Career Day and High School Expo. She is the editor-in-chief of Mosaic, which is Central’s multicultural magazine, public relations officer of the concert choir and drama society and she’s involved with the school’s West Side Story musical.
“At Central, I have really have gotten to know and understand different types of people. At Central there is a representative from every part of the city and every ethnicity you could possibly think of. That interactive has prepared me, I think, for the real world as well as the academic side of it,” Beaver said. “Classes at Central are immensely challenging. The course load is heavy, and it’s comprehensive. So, I get a well-rounded education, a lot of hands on and simulated activities.”
Interactive activities are seen in room 328. Music teacher, Ben Blazer, assisted students with their presentations of musical periods in Western music.
Freshmen Genesis Sanchez, Genehia Walton and Najey McDuffie are preparing their PowerPoint presentation on the Renaissance musical era. These three students explained their experiences so far at Central. They liked attending the Freshmen Tea, an event that introduced ninth graders to activities and clubs at Central. Sanchez, Walton and McDuffie said they liked going to the school’s football and basketball games and lessons learned as freshmen.
Sanchez, a member of the track team and belly dance club, said she always enjoyed these activities and is excited to perform at Central’s Annual International Day in February.
Walton is thinking of being a member of the softball team and has interests in joining the school’s choir. She explained her sentiments about Central prior to attending and how those feelings have changed since the beginning of the school year.
“Now that I’m here, it’s not as hard as everybody talks about it. You got to actually stay on task. If you don’t stay on top of your work, keep organized and pay attention, then you’re going to be lost,” Walton said.
In contrast, McDuffie said she feels that the workload at Central is more than what she was used to as a student in middle school.
“Central was a lot different than my old school. The rigor of the work and how much work you get, homework, projects, tests every week. I wasn’t used to studying because I used to just know everything. Now, I really have to study,” McDuffie said.
Mia Clark, freshman and member of the self-defense club, discussed assignments given in classes, but said she has learned how to manage.
“It’s hard, I always knew it would be hard. Sometimes it might feel overwhelming because every teacher gives homework, but you figure out how to do it. You learn how to take care of yourself and you do learn a lot here [in Central],” Clark said.
As Clark sat in World History, the class prepared to play bingo with questions about Hinduism. Each student folded a loose-leaf piece of notebook paper into 16 squares. Students then answered 16 questions about the religion and wrote the answers in the boxes.
Lori Defields, an assistant principal, said it is interesting to see students engaged in interactive activities like educational bingo. She said teachers at Central like, George Filip, have the ability to make subject material more appealing to students.
“He engages the kids in a way that in English class, some teachers just can’t. He makes that class enjoyable for every student regardless of their talents, their skills and their interests. I really think he’s a really great teacher, but I go by what the kids say and the feedback I get is just phenomenal,” Defields said.
In a second level English class, Filip announced the three words of the day. Jokingly, he gave students the definitions of the words clandestine, acquiesce and acquiescence and asked them if they could use these words in their daily conversation.
Later as Filip handed pack chapter five review quizzes on the book “All Quiet on the Western Front” by Erich Maria Remarque, 10th-grader, Matrea Thomas cleared her desk to grade another classmate’s review quiz.
“He’s a good teacher. He’s different, but you’ll be able to understand him. Instead of just lecturing us he actually has conversations with us and conferences,” Thomas said.
Similarly, art department chair, Benjamin Walsh received praise from administration and students, as well.
“[He’s] highly talented,” Dr. Sheldon Pavel, president of Central, said.
“He wears so many hats. There’s not enough hours in the day for him,” Defields said.
As the web design teacher, member of the technology committee, swimming coach, the school’s Web designer and set designer for the school’s musicals, Walsh is engaged in many responsibilities at Central.
“It’s a busy day. As long as it benefits the students and everything that you do makes that piece more enriching for them and it gives them more tools and allows them to focus and learn more clearly,” Walsh said. “In the case of the play, it gives them a different experience outside the academic realm. That’s all worth it for me. I like being busy that way. I think most of it’s just making yourself available.”
In room 311, Walsh helped the web design class work on a five page website about environmental topics. In partnership with environmental science teacher, Galeet Cohen, the students will present their websites on Earth Day.
Senior, Naacara Edwards, chose to focus on global warming. She and her classmates used computer programs, Fireworks and Photoshop, to make interactive graphs and learned CSS computer code to make their sites from scratch. Edwards said she enjoyed creating the site for class and expressed her goals for college.
“I want to go to school for engineering so I could be a computer science engineer, but this is just for fun now,” Edwards said.
U.S. News and World Report released their “Best High Schools” state lists last week, ranking eight School District of Philadelphia high schools among the honorees in Pennsylvania, and awarding Julia R. Masterman Laboratory and Demonstration school as the number one high school in Pennsylvania overall.
To determine the Best High Schools in Pennsylvania, schools were analyzed at the state level based on how students performed on state assessments. Masterman students proved to be 98 percent proficient in reading, and 100 percent proficient in math. U.S. News also recognized that Masterman students boast a 94 percent participation rate in Advanced Placement coursework and exams, and score an 83.8 on the college readiness index.
Other District schools making the list were Central High School at number 10, High School of Creative and Performing Arts at number 19, Academy at Palumbo at number 21, Bodine William W High School at number 33, Girard Academic Music Program at number 40, Carver High School Engineering & Science at number 50, and Girls High School at number 51.
This was the fourth edition of the “Best High Schools” rankings. Click here to view the complete list.
Can being ranked as one of the best schools be a bad thing? Depends on which educator and which study you believe.
Newsweek Magazine recently listed its top 1,000 schools in the nation, with Central High School shining alone as Philadelphia’s sole entry on the list — coming in at number 375. And from the School District of Philadelphia’s perspective, this ranking highlights the hard work the staff, faculty and students have put in over the years in raising Central’s academic profile.
“We are extremely proud of Central,” said School District of Philadelphia spokesman Fernando Gallard. “Central has always ranked as one of the highest performing schools in the nation, and we are very proud of what they’ve accomplished.
“It’s a real close [school] community that works together, and what they do is very inspiring, especially given its size and complexity.”
The formula and criteria used by Newsweek appears to be straightforward on the surface. It based its ranking on six criteria: graduation rate (25 percent), college matriculation rate (25 percent), AP/IB/AICE (standardized tests taken per student — 25 percent), average SAT/ACT scores (10 percent), average AP/IB/AICE score (10 percent) and AP courses offered per student (5 percent).
Central High School Principal Dr. Sheldon Pavel is delighted that his school made the list, but was bittersweet about Central as the city’s lone representation. Pavel also had misgivings about the methodology of the criteria.
“I have mixed emotions to be honest; the students, staff, alumni and faculty are infinitely better than 375th,” Pavel said, noting school administrators are always gratified when Central is recognized in a positive manner. “But I believe there are other schools in the city that absolutely belong on the list. The [criteria] is significantly biased against urban schools and large schools.
“I’m having difficulty with the criteria they used, which [essentially was] a single criteria,” Pavel continued. “They took the number of advanced placement exams the schools [administer] and divide that by the number of students in the graduating class, and rank school solely based on that number.”
Pavel said other factors must be included when properly grading a school – factors lacking in the Newsweek formula; and if graded on that scale, Central – and other schools in the district – might have fared even better in the rankings.
And other socioeconomic realities must be considered as well, Pavel said, for any such list to have much merit.
“When they are trying to sell newspapers and magazines, they have these rankings, because everyone looks at them,” Pavel said. “But if you take a look at the top 50 schools in any of these rankings, and see what sizes the schools are, and the community in which they reside, and then try to assess income levels, you’ll be sure to come up with different numbers.”
Indeed, most of the schools listed in the Newsweek ranking educate only a fraction of the number of students Central does, and appears to be bereft of many of the issues that confront the Philadelphia school district — such as budgetary woes, obsolete buildings and antiquated teaching materials.
For example, the top-ranked school — The Carol Martin Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science in Kentucky — sits within the University of Kentucky campus and has 126 total students. The STEM-based school is a free tuition based institution.
The second-ranked school — Basis Scottsdale School in Scottsdale, Arizona — has 700 students. According to its 2011 annual report, Central currently enrolls 2,373 students.
A deeper look at Newsweek’s ranking shows that only six of the top 25 schools have open enrollment, 12 have selective enrollment only and five are charters.
But for Pavel and Central High School, those rankings mean little; it’s the scope of programs Central offers and the quality of productive individuals it teaches then graduates that far outweigh any list.
“Diversity, scope of activities, extracurricular activities and level of community service is much more inclusive of who we are and what we do,” said Pavel, noting that Central was recently honored with a “Blue Ribbon” for academic success from the Pennsylvania Department of Education. “You can’t include all we do in one measure.”
For senior Devin Cruz, coming to Central High wasn’t just about receiving the best education; it was also about continuing the family tradition. Cruz’s older brother also attended the school and after seeing his success professionally, he, too, wanted to attend Central.
“From the time I was kid, I knew I wanted to attend Central High,” Cruz said. “It’s such a prestigious school. The majority of the people who went to this school have accomplished great things. The bar for excellence is set so high here, that when students continue their education it’s not that big of an adjustment for them because we are already used to the workload. I’m looking forward to using what I learned here and applying it in college.”
Central High is regarded as one of the top public schools in the nation due to its high academic standards. Today, Central’s student population has reached 2,350 students and 110 teachers. There is a school president, similar to a principal, and three assistant principals.
The newest president is Timothy McKenna. Prior to being president at Central, McKenna was an elementary middle school teacher at Fairhill and a principal at Willard Elementary and Furness High.
The Central selection committee, which included faculty, students, parents and alumni, considered 13 candidates. McKenna replaces Dr. Sheldon Pavel who was president for the last 28 years.
“It’s an honor to be the next president,” McKenna said. “We want to continue to prepare our students for post secondary education. I don’t want to make major changes to the building, however I do want to enhance some areas to make the school better. One of the areas we want to improve is the technology of the building. We want to update what we have and integrate it into the classroom. I’m looking forward to this year and helping the students at Central succeed.”
Central is a special-admissions school. Students must apply to attend, and only those with high test scores and grades are accepted. Students are kept engaged in academics, athletics, and social experiences through extra-curricular activities. There are 28 sports and 80 different clubs at the school. Within the past decade, Central has consecutively made Adequate Yearly Progress and won 92 Public League Championships.
“There are so many activities that students here can participate in,” said senior Tiffany Whitner. “I play softball, but I’m also the vice president of a new physics club that was started with my friend. We started the club because we wanted to help tutor other students in physics. Physics is a hard subject and its something that many students struggle with, so we’re hoping to help those students with the club.”
Students in the arts program get a chance to hone their skills in various classes. Some of the classes include art history, graphic design, photography, printmaking, sculpture and Web design.
“We have a phenomenal arts program at Central,” said art department chair, Benjamin Walsh “We have one of the only working black and white rooms in the district. That aspect is phenomenal because the students get to be exposed to that kind of process, which is now kind of a dying art form to the kids these days. All of our students in the program are extremely talented and go on to do great things with their careers.”
Senior Clarence Anderson takes an AP art class at Central. He said Walsh has helped him with his skills over the years. Anderson has been drawing since he was seven years old.
“He has helped me in so many ways,” Anderson said. “It’s always good to have a teacher who is as hands on as he is and want to see you succeed. I’ve definitely progressed my skills by taking the art classes here and it will help me achieve my dream. I’m currently looking at different colleges to attend next year and I want my major to be architecture.”
Students who have taken classes in art in Central has gone on to college and majored in fashion design, animation, illustration, interior design, industrial design, Web design and photography. While senior Eden Laramee currently takes an AP art class at Central, she doesn’t want to major in art when she goes to college.
“I want to be a marine biologist,” Laramee said. “I take the art classes because it’s something I love to do, but I wouldn’t want to make my career out of it. I just want to continue to do it as my own personal hobby.
No matter if students want to follow their dreams in art or in another field, Central has helped all of us work hard and realize our dreams. Everybody here wants to succeed and contribute to the world in some way. We’ve just been given the platform early to do so.”
Hearing the orchestra practice Zimmer’s “The Dark Knight” and seeing students playing the guitar are just some of the activities that go on during a normal school day at Academy at Palumbo Liberal Arts High School.
Known for its academic excellence, Palumbo is a selective, college preparatory magnet school. Originally modeled after Central High, the school’s purpose is to create a diverse community of college bound scholars who are responsible, ethical, and caring citizens while including a rich cultural arts experience.
“Our goal has always been to prepare our students for college and the real world,” says principal Adrienne Wallace-Chew. “Palumbo continues to excel academically. We have a 100 percent graduation rate for our seniors and we are continuing to provide them with the best education and programs.
“We are considered small for an academic school, but the students here does extremely well and always take full advantage of the opportunities that are given to them. We are doing everything that we possibly can to make sure all of our students succeed.”
Some of Palumbo’s arts activities and classes include vocal music, instrumental music classes, visual arts instruction, theater instruction, choir, band, orchestra, drum-line, and social play.
This is the first year that the music program has been back at Palumbo after a brief hiatus. The school has an itinerary music teacher that works with each section of the orchestra once a week. Orchestra students also have a class one period a day. There are currently 40 students in the orchestra.
“The music program at Palumbo has been a learning experience for me,” says junior Kayla Gonzales. “Last year, the orchestra was going through a few rough patches. Our teacher had gotten sick and from there things just started changing. Both the students and the school overcame it though. The orchestra continues to grow and we have a great teacher in Mr. Jordan.”
Senior Travis Goffredo continues to excel in the music program at Palumbo.
“There was a time where the music program died here,” Goffredo said. “I decided to get with the itinerary music teacher to try to keep the music program going. I would conduct two days a week. We were doing everything to make sure the program would survive. It was a lot of hard work, but it was worth it.
“I hope my drive in music has helped influence other students in the program at the school. Music is a huge part of life; I play all percussion instruments. When I go to college that’s what I would like to major in. I’ve done a lot of things in music for Palumbo as well as outside of the school.”
Orchestra teacher James Jordan said it’s Goffredo’s passion for music and academic excellence that has helped his chances for getting into a good college.
“Travis has been invited to audition to the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia,” Jordan said. “That’s really a honor for any student. Curtis is the most prestigious music conservatory in the world; it rivals Julliard. Students who attend Curtis don’t have to pay tuition because they earn a fellowship. We’re all hoping Travis does really well and gets accepted there.”
In addition to the music program, Palumbo offers Advanced Placement courses including literature, statistics, chemistry, studio art, biology, and psychology. The school has achieved AYP every year since its inception.
For Yahana Gheberhiwet, ceramics is one of the classes at Palumbo that she enjoys taking.
“I always wanted to learn about ceramics,” Gheberhiwet said. “When I would go out and see something beautiful that was made, I would always want to know how they did it. In ceramics, we learn everything from texture to designs. This is just something that I like to do. I don’t want to major in art. When I enter college in the fall, I want my major to be biology.”
Philadelphia Magazine ranked Palumbo as No. 4 for best public high schools in Philadelphia. Last year, the U.S. News and World report ranked the school No. 21 for best high schools in Pennsylvania and Palumbo also received the Jefferson Silver award winner for community service. The school was also the “Get Schooled” attendance challenge East Coast champions in 2012.
“This is one of the best schools for academic excellence,” said sophomore Kamea Morris. “Everything we learn here is preparing us for our future. The curriculum at times can be tough, but I think it will be all worth it in the end. Nobody wants to go to college unprepared. I’m looking forward to college, but right now I’m just enjoying my time at Palumbo.”
Over the years, students at Palumbo were accepted to over 100 different colleges and universities across the country, including Morehouse, Spelman, NYU, Temple, Villanova, University of Pittsburgh, DePaul, Syracuse, Florida A&M University, Howard, University of San Francisco, Drexel, Penn State, and Saint Joseph’s University.
“This is my last year at Palumbo,” says senior Lachae’ Solomon. “Some of the colleges I’m currently looking into include Hampton, Spelman, Temple, and North Carolina A&T. I want to do something in social work. Palumbo is a good school, especially academic wise. The school is very diverse; we’re like a family here. I’m going to miss Palumbo, but I’m thankful for the great times that I had here.”
If you are a Lincoln University alumnus and happen to be fortunate to receive a Dr. Frank “Tick” Coleman Award, then you have been given a very special honor. The Alumni Association of Lincoln University, Philadelphia Chapter, will be presenting the 10th annual Dr. Frank “Tick” Coleman Awards luncheon on Saturday, April 21. The event begins at noon at the Springfield Country Club in Springfield.
This year’s honorees have achieved success professionally, in their community and in their personal lives. The recipients will be Rev. Thomas W.S. Logan Sr., Dr. Walter D. Chambers, Dr. Lenetta R. Lee, Cyrus Jones and Dr. Judith Thomas.
Coleman was an absolute legend. He was a great football player at Central High School. He was the first African-American quarterback to play for the Lancers. He guided Central to two straight Public League championships in 1929 and 1930. He was named to the city’s All-Scholastic football team.
Coleman played quarterback for Lincoln University from 1931 to 1935. He was a major reason why Lincoln University brought football back after a 48-year absence.
He was a member of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. He grew up in South Philadelphia in the 1920s. In junior high school, he became a member of the Boy Scouts. Through hard work and dedication, he earned the rank of Eagle Scout, the highest honor in scouting.
He graduated from Lincoln University in 1935 and received a master’s degree from the Penn School of Social Work in 1959. Coleman spent 32 years as a counselor in the School District of Philadelphia. In 1981, he retired from the school district. Coleman was the director of alumni relations from 1981 to 1988. He also spent 10 years as a member of Lincoln University’s board of trustees.
He passed away on December 25, 2008, at the age of 97. Coleman’s legacy lives on with his alumni awards and scholarships. The tickets for the luncheon cost $50.00 per person. All proceeds will benefit students of Lincoln University through the Archie Goodwin Jr. Financial Aid Fund.
Winning student monologues from area high schools will be performed during the 2012 Young Voices High School Monologue Festival, March 28-31, at The Adrienne, 2030 Sansom Street.
Presented through the on-going partnership of Philadelphia Young Playwrights and InterAct Theater Company, the festival highlights student pieces that range from poignant to light-hearted, and offer a surprising insight into current issues such as addiction, race identity, war and the economy.
This year’s festival received just over 400 entries. The 17 winning monologues were chosen from 13 participating high schools, including Central High School, represented by 11th-grader Einas Hassan from Northeast Philadelphia. Her monologue is titled “It’s More Than Color,” and centers around a young African-American man named Michael who is forced to confront the social stigma of not being “Black enough” in his society.
“My monologue actually started out as an English assignment,” Hassan says. “I never really considered playwriting until I wrote this piece and entered the contest. I originally wanted to be in the medical field but I’m not positive right now.”
It all happened, Hassan explains, because the English teacher, who is also the drama teacher at Central, recommended her students write something and then submit it to the contest. She was also quick to point out that every year someone from Central wins.
And this year was no different, with Hassan and another Central 11th grader winning out over many others.
Hassan explains that her piece started out when she was writing an essay about Martin Luther King, while at the same time thinking of civil rights and the many problems that exist in the African-American community.
“I kept thinking about the fact that even though we have so many rights, we still have many problems to overcome,” the young playwright says. “And even though the things I wrote about never personally happened to me, from my experience I did see many African-Americans who come from poor or lower income backgrounds thinking they won’t be able to succeed in the things they want to do.”
She adds that her original piece was changed a bit when she discussed it with the festival’s director. And it’s changed in her mind as well now that she’s seen it performed by an actor.
“When something is written on paper it seems one way, but that’s not the same as seeing it performed live. The actor doing my monologue is amazing, and the way he does the piece just makes it ten times better,” Hassan concedes. “On paper it seems very formal, but once hearing it acted out, I’ve been able to change a lot of the wording in order to make the dialogue seem more natural and flow better.”
Hassan admits she’s gotten good feedback from friends, family and fellow students. “My parents and older sister couldn’t believe I’d written this and actually won. My sister said it was really good and helped me fix a few things on it to make it even better.”
Founded in 1987, Philadelphia Young Playwrights is an award-winning program that taps the potential of youth and inspires learning through playwriting in more than 50 public and private K-12 schools each year.
And now that Hassan is one of the winners, she admits she might even give writing a thought for her future. And she would definitely advise others to try it as well.
“If you don’t try it, you’ll never know if you could have succeeded,” said Hassan. “It’s a wonderful opportunity not available to many people.”
For more information, call (215) 568-8079.
Kahleah Copper was easily one of the best high school basketball players when the season began a few months ago. Copper, who led Prep Charter to the Public League championship last year, has recently been nominated for the McDonald’s All American Game.
“I was really excited when I heard about it,” Copper said. “It’s quite an honor. It’s a real accomplishment. It’s really something to just be nominated for the McDonald’s All American Game. There are a lot of good players around the country. So, it’s nice to be mentioned with some of the great players.
Copper put on quite a show in the league title game last season. She scored 19 points and grabbed 17 rebounds while leading the Huskies to the league crown over Central, 49-39. Copper was named the game’s Most Valuable Player. She has already made her college decision. Prep Charter’s talented senior will play for Rutgers next year. The Scarlet Knights have two players who participated in the McDonald’s All American Game last season.
“Betnijah Laney and Briyona Canty played in the McDonald’s Game last year,” Copper said. “They both play for Rutgers. I know Betnijah and Briyona. I’m hoping I’ll be able to play just like them. I’m looking forward to playing with them next year. I know both players really well.”
The final roster of 24 girls will be announced during the McDonald’s All American Games Selection Show on ESPNU, airing February 9 at 5 p.m. They will also announce the 24 boys who will play in the McDonald’s All American Game during that broadcast.
The boys’ game will be played on March 28 at 8:30 p.m. from Chicago’s United Center and will be televised on ESPN. Prior to the boys’ game, the 11th annual girls’ game will take place at 6 p.m. on ESPNU.
“I’ll be watching the selection show to see if I make it,” Copper said. “If I can make it, that would be a big accomplishment for me as well as my school.”
The other nominees from the Philadelphia area include: Savon Goodman (Constitution), Ryan Arcidiacano (Neshaminy), Alex Wheatley (Council Rock), Daniel Ochefu (Westtown School) and Amile Jefferson (Friends’ Central) for the boys’ game. The other nominees for the girls are Jaryn Garner (Germantown Academy) and Sandra Udogbi-Ofog (Life Center Academy).
When Rich Drayton played wide receiver for Central High in 1987, he had the ability to get open with his speed, often exploding down the sidelines for a touchdown. Well, Rich Drayton is now the head football coach at Central, where his son, Rich Drayton III, much like his father, has developed into a great receiver.
“It’s been great coaching him,” Drayton said. “I think he’s done very well. He’s been running some good routes. He does a nice job of getting open and catching the ball. He’s really improved over the years. He also plays linebacker for us. Rich has helped us on both sides of the ball.”
Drayton had a magnificent career with the Lancers. After his scholastic career, he played four brilliant seasons at Temple. Rich Drayton III is doing quite well at Central. He has caught 22 passes for 294 yards while scoring eight touchdowns this season. The 6-foot-1, 210-pound senior has helped the Lancers post an impressive 5-0 record, which has Central in first place in the Public League AAAA Silver Division. Drayton’s son remembers his early days playing football as well as other sports.
“He played for the Mt. Airy Bantoms,” his father said. “He was playing basketball for a while. Then, he started playing football. He had a pretty good knowledge of the game. He’s just continued to work on his game and you can see the improvement. We’ve had a good year. Our team has played well. He’s contributed along with the other players.”
Ryan Dydak, Lancers starting quarterback, has completed 41 of 62 passes for 598 yards and 14 touchdowns. Drayton has been one of Dydak’s main targets.
“Ryan has done a good job of getting me the ball,” said Rich Drayton III. “We talk all the time. We go over what we’re going to do on the field. My dad has helped both of us. He’s really made a big difference.”
Rich Drayton III has been enjoying playing for his father. He knows his dad’s knowledge and experience has allowed him a big lift on the field.
“It’s really an honor to play for him,” his son said. “It really is. I know a lot of people remember him in high school and college. He explains everything really well. He helps everybody. It’s just been great.”
The Drayton family has a big tradition in sports at Central. Drayton’s daughter, RaeShelle Drayton, played on those outstanding Central High women’s basketball teams that won several Public League championships. RaeShelle is now a student-athlete at North Carolina Central University in Durham, N.C.
“RaeShelle plays on the bowling team at North Carolina Central,” Drayton said. “She’s doing very well down there. She has a 3.75 grade point average. I’m very pleased with her as well as my son. I’m really happy with the way things are going for both of them.”
Shannon Ellis and Gena Brown played some terrific basketball at Central High School.
Ellis and Brown helped the Lancers win four consecutive Public League championships (2002, 2003, 2004, 2005). Both players appreciated the opportunity to play for the one of the city’s top girls high school basketball programs. They also received a good education from one of Philly’s best high schools.
Now, Ellis and Brown are giving back and really showing their appreciation for their alma mater and basketball program with the Central High Girls’ Basketball Scholarship. The scholarship was put together to recognize a graduating senior on the Lancers’ basketball team.
“Gena and I are best friends,” Ellis said. “We talk every day. We talked about playing basketball. I went DII and she went DIII. I played two years at East Stroudsburg. She played all four years at NYU [New York University]. We just talked about the cost of college. I actually got the Board of Governors Scholarship a statewide scholarship for state schools and it actually paid for tuition. Division III doesn’t give out athletic scholarships. We just wanted to give back to the school. We want the girls to know that as long as they’re doing well in class, playing basketball and going to school, then they should be rewarded.
“The scholarship is awarded by Central High School Alumni Association. The first time it was awarded was last year. It’s a $250 book award that is awarded to any senior on the Central High School girls’ basketball team that is going to school to play basketball on the collegiate level. It’s to help defray the cost.”
Ellis was a good outside shooter for the Lancers. Her older sister, Megan, was a great defensive player, who played her college basketball at St. Bonaventure and is now an attorney. Ellis is a 2009 graduate of East Stroudsburg University. In 2011, she received her Master’s degree in school psychology from Howard University. She is now a school psychologist at Elwyn SEEDS (Special Education for Early Developmental Success) in West Philadelphia near 40th and Market streeta.
Brown was a great all-around player. She was named Most Valuable Player of the 2005 Public League championship game. She played some magnificent basketball at NYU. Brown, a 2009 graduate of NYU, played on three NCAA tournament teams including one team that made the Division III Final Four. She’s excited about the scholarship effort.
“It was something we always talked about,” Brown, who works for Deloitte Consulting LLP in center city and will pursuing her MBA at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business in August. “We thought it would be a good idea to give back. Central has played huge part in our lives. This would be the perfect vehicle for that especially with the success the team has achieved throughout the years.”
Ellis and Brown are in the process of raising money for this year’s scholarship. They need $5,000 to have the scholarship endowed through the Central High School Alumni Association. They’re hoping alumni, fans and administrators will assist them with their fundraising. They can make a financial contribution to the scholarship program by going to www.crowdrise.com/chslegacyaward/fundraiser/genashannon264. Right now, they have raised close to $600.
Former Central High girls coach Frank Greco supports the scholarship program. Moreover, Greco is really proud of Ellis and Brown, both of whom he coached.
“We’ve all supported it me, (assistant coaches) Parz (Vince Parziale), Liston (Knowles) and Mont (Ron Montgomery),” Greco said. “They have to raise $5,000 plus to make it a permanent scholarship. It’s just a wonderful thing that Gena and Shannon are doing. I really hope they’re successful.”