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.
Lincoln University will induct its inaugural class into the Athletics Hall of Fame on Sept. 28. The first group of inductees will be honored during a ceremony at halftime of the Lincoln-Johnson C. Smith football game.
The school is looking for nominations for the Athletics Hall of Fame. The Lions have a great sports history. There are number of possible candidates as first ballot hall-of-famers. The following athletes, coaches and contributors should receive major consideration for this honor.
Dr. Frank “Tick” Coleman
Coleman is the school’s most prestigious alumnus. Coleman is known as “Mr. Lincoln.” He was a big reason why Lincoln brought football back to the school after a 48-year absence. The Lions restored the program in 2008.
Coleman played quarterback for Lincoln from 1931 to 1935. He was a real pioneer. Coleman was the first Black quarterback to play at Central High School. He guided the Lions to two consecutive Public League championships in 1929 and ’30.
He had great football prowess even before he arrived on Lincoln’s campus. Coleman encouraged many student athletes to achieve on and off the field. He passed away on December 25, 2008.
Robert “Whirlwind” Johnson
Johnson is known as “the godfather of tennis.” In 2009, he was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. He’s responsible for developing the outstanding tennis careers of Arthur Ashe and Althea Gibson. In addition to his trailblazing efforts in tennis, he was a terrific football player. In 1924, he was selected to the Negro All-American football team.
Irvin was a three-sport athlete at Lincoln. He played baseball and football, and ran track for the Lions from 1938 to 1939. Irvin and Hank Thompson became the first African Americans to play for the then-New York Giants on July 8, 1949. In 1951, Irvin and Thompson joined Willie Mays to form the first all-Black outfield. In 1951, he hit .312 with 24 home runs and a major league best 121 RBIs.
Irvin completed a nine year major league career with a .293 average, 99 home runs, 443 RBIs and 366 runs scored. After retiring in 1958, he became the first African American to work in the MLB Commissioner’s office under Bowie Kuhn as a public relations specialist. He held this position from 1968 to 1984. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1973. The San Francisco Giants retired his No. 20 jersey in 2008.
Smith earned 13 letters during his college career (1948–1951). He played football, basketball, baseball and bowling. He played quarterback for the legendary coach Manuel Rivero. Smith was the director of sports information at Rutgers from 1972 to 1994. He had a distinguished career as a sports publicist at a major Division I school. Smith is retired and lives in North Brunswick, N.J.
Franz Alfred “Jazz” Byrd
Byrd was an All-American running back and quarterback for Lincoln’s football team. He is one of the school’s all-time great football players. He also ran track for the Lions. Byrd is a member of the class of 1925.
Rivero coached football, baseball, track and field and basketball at Lincoln. He coached baseball for nearly 40 years. He was also director of athletics. Rivero was a tremendous football and baseball player at Columbia University. In 1986, Lincoln named its gymnasium Manuel Rivero Hall.
Terrelonge had a great track career at Lincoln. He earned 19 Division II All-American honors in the 400 meters, 800 meters and 4x400 meter relay. He is a former NCAA two-time 400 meter champion, three-time 800 meter champion and still has the 800 meter NCAA Division II outdoor record. Terrelonge was a two-time Olympian for Jamaica. He is now the associate head track coach at the University of Connecticut.
Knox, a Chester High product, was Lincoln University’s first full-time sports information director. Knox, a Lincoln University alumnus, did an outstanding job of promoting and publicizing his alma mater.
He brought national attention to Lincoln when the school decided to bring football back in 2008. He was instrumental in getting major publicity from ESPN.com, The New York Times and other news outlets. He was the Lions’ SID from 2004 to 2009. After that, he had a two-year stint as the SID at Kutztown University. He is now the statistics manager in the Statistics & Analysis department at ESPN.
Nominations are due or post marked by July 9. For more information, go to www.lulions.com.
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.
Dr. Frank “Tick” Coleman will head the list of 11 inductees into the inaugural class of the Lincoln University Athletics Hall of Fame. The 2012 Hall of Fame class will be celebrated over the course of the weekend to include an induction banquet on Friday, Sept. 28 at 7 p.m., in the Student Union Multi-purpose Room on Lincoln University’s campus.
The inductees will be introduced at halftime of the Lincoln University-Johnson C. Smith football game, which begins at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 29. Coleman was an absolute legend. He was a quarterback of the football team and a member of the wrestling team. He was the manager of the basketball team and sat on the intramural council, furthering his involvement in athletics. He participated in sports at Lincoln from 1931 to 1935.
Coleman served as the director of alumni relations from 1981 to 1998, recruiting students to attend the school long after he graduated from Lincoln University. He received an honorary doctorate from Lincoln University in 1984, and played a major role in the return of football in 2008 after a 48-year absence. Coleman was an alumni representative on the board of trustees.
Coleman grew up in South Philadelphia. He was a tremendous football player at Central High School and the school’s first Black quarterback. He led the Lancers to two straight Public league championships in 1929 and 1930. He was named to the city’s All-Scholastic football team.
He was a member of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. In junior high school, he became a member of the Boy Scouts. Through hard work and dedication, he earned the rank of Eagle, 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. Coleman spent 32 years as a counselor in the School District of Philadelphia. He retired from the Philadelphia public school system in 1981.
He passed away on December 25, 2008, at the age of 97. Coleman’s legacy lives on with his alumni awards and scholarships.
In addition to Coleman, the other inductees will be Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Munford Merrill “Monte” Irvin (football, baseball, track and field), Manuel Rivero (football coach, athletic director), Dr. Leonard L. Bethel (football, track and field, wrestling), Barrington “Barry” Fearon (cross country, track and field), Rhondale Jones (cross country, track and field), Ashley Parker (cross country, track and field), Tarron Richardson (basketball), Robert Eugene Smith (football, basketball, baseball), Tehma Hallie Stanton Smith (basketball, volleyball, track and field) and Clive Terrelonge (cross country, track and field).