For adults and children, shock over school closings

ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Germantown High, one of the schools on the District's hit list.
ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Germantown High, one of the schools on the District's hit list.
Posted: December 14, 2012

KEN SCHAMBERG gazed up at Germantown High School on Thursday and said he couldn't believe that the school district plans to close the nearly 100-year-old school.

"Look at that building," Schamberg said. "I love the columns. I love the majestic entrance."

At Germantown High, Schamberg has been a "guest teacher," a term he prefers over substitute. The retired teacher taught there full time for 13 years beginning in 1993.

Many students seemed angry after the district announced Thursday that the school, on High Street at Germantown Avenue, is on the list of schools recommended for closing.

"I think there was a general feeling of agitation," Schamberg said. "I think the students were extremely upset."

He noted that the 1777 Battle of Germantown in the Revolutionary War was fought on the school's front yard. And a number of familiar names attended there, including Bill Cosby, Lola Falana and Linda Creed.

Aliyah Muhammad, 17, a senior, has doubts about the plan to send Germantown students to either Martin Luther King or Roxborough next year.

"If they send students to King, that's not going to work," Muhammad said.

Senior David West-Otero, 18, agreed. "There are going to be fights," he said.

Of a group of four students outside the school, only one liked the idea. "Please close it down," said Nasir, 16, who gave only his first name.

But Vera Primas, president of the school's alumni association, said that alumni won't let it close.

"They are not going to close our school, especially on the eve of our 100-year anniversary," Primas said. The school was built in 1914.

At George Washington Elementary, a South Philly school also on the district's hit list, parents expressed their outrage.

"I'm devastated. I don't know where she's going to go now if they close the school," said Cecelia Ruiz of her daughter Destiny, a seventh-grader.

"You're shaking stuff up for no apparent reason," said Michael Kirk, 47, a single father of three children. His daughters Sierra, 6, and Joanna, 3, go to George Washington.

"It's a great program for my kids. This is the best elementary school in the city," Kirk said. "I live in Northeast Philadelphia and I come all the way - an hour - to bring them to school."

Some parents are looking into other options. "We're trying to get her into a charter school," said John Bartella, grandfather of a kindergartner at George Washington.

Ruiz worries about her daughter having to go to a school far from home. George Washington is just a block-and-a- half from her house.

"It's a community school . . . They shouldn't close it," Ruiz said. "This school's convenient."

Supporters of Bok Technical High, at 9th and Mifflin, also were shocked.

"It's one of the best schools around here. The best of the best," said Sheiketa Richards, a Bok graduate. Her niece goes there now. "It helps them a whole lot."


On Twitter: @ValerieRussDN

 

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