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.
Instead of fretting when budgetary cuts made by the School District of Philadelphia rendered obsolete many school computer labs, educators with the Bodine High School for International Affairs decided to build their own.
“As the school budget began to shrink, we knew that we still wanted to get new technology, but to buy new computers is quite expensive. So about two years ago, I had the idea of buying computer parts and assembling them ourselves,” said Bodine High Technology Coordinator Ron Kaufman. “And I started the Bodine Computer Builders Club, where students could design the computers.
“Then, using fund-raising money, we built six computers,” Kaufman continued. “They were used in the office by the roster administrator, counselor and a few teachers. We built computers for all of them.”
To help its effort, the Bodine Computer Builders Club received a $20,000 grant from the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia, which allowed it to purchase the parts necessary to build more than 30 computers, which will go toward one of the two dilapidated computer labs in the school.
“My vision always was to build a full computer lab. We have two aging labs: one with 1999-era iMacs, and the other lab had 2003 Gateway PCs running Windows 2000, which Microsoft doesn’t even support any more,” Kaufman said. “Still, we just did not have the money to go purchase new machines.
“But Bodine has a great relationship with the World Affairs Council, and we talked to them about things that the school desperately needed, and the school desperately needed new computers,” Kaufman continued, noting that he had to sell the idea to the private, nonprofit organization. “With their help, we were able to order over 300 parts. It took us about two months to rebuild the entire computer lab, including a nice, colorful network server.”
The machines are blue and silver, to match Bodine’s colors. They also feature a see-through casing, exposing the creative wiring and componentry of the desktop computers. Bodine students would work on the new lab twice a week, and Kaufman said the students even wanted to come in during school hours to work on the machines.
“The students were really interested [in the club], and I know that the students who come in to use the computers are very respectful of them, because they know other students built them,” Kaufman said. “The students were very impressed, and I think it’s better than just having machines with ‘Dell’ on the front.”
With one lab brought up to tech standards, Kaufman and his computer club can focus on the second lab — and on other areas where the school needs help as well.
“What I’m trying to do now is get more money to build more machines. We have that second computer lab which now has my old computers, and that lab itself needs a serious upgrade as well,” Kaufman said. “So we’re looking for another $20,000 for that. Our library is a disaster, and we can fit about ten computers in there. And a lot of classrooms have no technology at all.
“Bodine is a magnet school, one of the tops in the city, but our tech needs are many,” Kaufman continued. “I can’t build laptops or SmartBoards, but I can build desktops.”