Carroll High students rally to keep their school open

Stu­dents ar­rived at Charles Car­roll High School early last Thursday morn­ing to protest the po­ten­tial clos­ure of the school. The School Re­form Com­mis­sion votes to­mor­row on the clos­ure of 29 city schools. PHOTO COUR­TESY OF YOUTH UNITED FOR CHANGE

The School Re­form Com­mis­sion votes to­mor­row on the po­ten­tial clos­ures of 29 city schools, in­clud­ing Car­roll, Douglas High and Sherid­an West Academy in the River Wards. On Thursday, Car­roll stu­dents spoke up in sup­port of their school.

Last Thursday, about 75 stu­dents at Charles Car­roll High School in Port Rich­mond had a lot to say about their school’s in­clu­sion in the largest mass school clos­ing in Phil­adelphia his­tory.

“Save Car­roll!”

“Keep Car­roll Open!”

“R.I.P. Philly’s Schools!”

These were state­ments on signs stu­dents had made at the early-morn­ing rally out­side Car­roll, 2700 E. Au­burn St., which was yet an­oth­er stu­dent-led act of sup­port for the school. Stu­dents have already made a video plead­ing with Phil­adelphia School Dis­trict Su­per­in­tend­ent Wil­li­am Hite to keep Car­roll open.

Hite viewed that video Feb. 11, ac­cord­ing to The Phil­adelphia In­quirer.

“These people I go to the school with, they’re my fam­ily,” said one stu­dent in the video.

A teach­er in the video spoke of the pos­it­ive ef­fects of work­ing in a small school — Car­roll has 342 stu­dents.

“I know al­most every stu­dent in this build­ing, and I’ve been here less than a year,” the teach­er said.”

City Coun­cil­man Mark Squilla (D-1st dist.) also at­ten­ded Thursday’s rally to ad­dress the crowd.

“I’m here to sup­port you, the stu­dents and the teach­ers, and the par­ents,” Squilla said. “I will fol­low your lead from what you be­lieve is the right thing to do. The stu­dents here want to stay at Car­roll,” the coun­cil­man con­tin­ued, to great ap­plause.

At the rally, stu­dents formed a hu­man chain around the front of the school, and then marched through the front doors, chant­ing in uni­son.

Zach Kaufmann, a Car­roll stu­dent, also spoke at a meet­ing of the School Re­form Com­mis­sion on Feb. 21.

“Small schools work. My grades have nev­er have been bet­ter. Car­roll’s staff is strongly com­mit­ted to each stu­dent be­ing col­lege ready, and I know I will be ready if Car­roll stays open,” Kaufmann said in his speech. “I get the one-on-one les­sons with my teach­ers that I need. Please keep my high school open, be­cause I do plan on be­ing a Car­roll gradu­ate,” he said.

Car­roll stu­dents also cre­ated a pe­ti­tion ask­ing that the school stay open, and have col­lec­ted more than 460 com­munity sig­na­tures.

Thursday’s rally was or­gan­ized by Youth United for Change, a youth-led edu­ca­tion ad­vocacy or­gan­iz­a­tion that works to im­prove the city’s pub­lic schools.

Claire Gal­pern, youth or­gan­izer for YUC, has been spend­ing a lot of time at Car­roll as part of the cam­paign for its con­tin­ued op­er­a­tion.

“It’s a spe­cial school,” she said. “Stu­dents en­joy be­ing there. [At the rally], people were glad to be there, fight­ing for their school.”

Gal­pern said she ab­so­lutely be­lieves that the stu­dents’ ded­ic­ated act­iv­ism can keep the school open.

“There have already been schools taken off the list  [which ori­gin­ally planned for clos­ure of 38 schools] be­cause of stu­dent in­volve­ment,” she said. “Put­ting on the pres­sure can make changes hap­pen.”

Gal­pern ad­ded that Car­roll is at 73 per­cent ca­pa­city, so it’s not un­der­u­til­ized.

In an ad­di­tion­al let­ter to Su­per­in­tend­ent Hite signed by State Rep. John Taylor (R-177th dist.), Squilla, YUC, New Kens­ing­ton Com­munity De­vel­op­ment Cor­por­a­tion, Kens­ing­ton EPIC Stake­hold­ers and the West Kens­ing­ton Min­istry, those lead­ers and or­gan­iz­a­tions cited the reas­ons for their be­lief that the school should con­tin­ue to teach city stu­dents.

Last year, the let­ter poin­ted out, the av­er­age daily at­tend­ance rates at small schools in the Mul­ti­plex ranged from 83 to 90 per­cent. At Car­roll, col­lege ac­cept­ance rates have skyrock­eted by more than 50 per­cent in the past five years. 

Also ac­cord­ing to the let­ter, Car­roll, as well as Douglas High School, 2700 E. Hunt­ing­don St., are part of the Kens­ing­ton Mul­ti­plex, which was es­tab­lished after Kens­ing­ton High School was broken up in­to three smal­ler schools in 2005. In 2010, a fourth small school, Kens­ing­ton Urb­an Edu­ca­tion Academy, was opened, and Car­roll and Douglas were ad­ded to the Kens­ing­ton Mul­ti­plex to help re­lieve over­crowding. 

If Car­roll and Douglas close, stu­dents will have the op­tion of trans­fer­ring to Kens­ing­ton Busi­ness School, Kens­ing­ton Urb­an Edu­ca­tion Academy, Kens­ing­ton Health Sci­ences, or Mast­baum AVTS High School.

If Sherid­an West Academy, 3701 Frank­ford Ave., closes, stu­dents will be re­as­signed to Penn Treaty Middle School, 600 E. Thompson St.

Hack­ett Ele­ment­ary School, 2161 E. York St., will lose stu­dents in grades 5 and 6, who will also trans­fer to Penn Treaty Middle School.

Gal­pern said YUC has not re­ceived a re­sponse from the school dis­trict about how it might handle the school’s es­tim­ated over­crowding.

After Thursday’s rally, Squilla told KYW News­ra­dio, “I think at this time it’s an up­hill battle,” he said. “I be­lieve that the only way is really con­vince the SRC that maybe they’re mak­ing a mis­take.”

To the stu­dents Thursday morn­ing, he said, “You have the voice to make the dif­fer­ence. You need to send in­form­a­tion to the SRC, let them know how im­port­ant it is to you.”

The SRC votes to­mor­row on clos­ures, grade re­as­sign­ments and re­lo­ca­tions. Check for up­dates.

Man­aging Ed­it­or Mi­kala Jam­is­on can be reached at 215-354-3113 or at mjam­is­

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