Bridesburg Elementary School to add seventh and eighth grades

Ex­pan­sion pro­ject will take place over the next two years.

Brides­burg Ele­ment­ary School will ex­pand to in­clude sev­enth and eighth grade over the next two years, of­fi­cials con­firmed. MI­KALA JAM­IS­ON / STAR PHOTO

Early last Tues­day af­ter­noon, lifelong Brides­burg res­id­ent and Brides­burg Ele­ment­ary School par­ent Adam Vis­con­to re­ceived a phone call from Ken Cherry, an as­sist­ant su­per­in­tend­ent for the School Dis­trict of Phil­adelphia.  

Ac­cord­ing to Vis­con­to, Cherry said: “Adam, Dr. Hite [Phil­adelphia school dis­trict su­per­in­tend­ent] wanted to let you know it’s a done deal. Con­grat­u­la­tions. You did great work.”

Short and simple, the mes­sage served as a cul­min­a­tion of Vis­con­to’s and oth­er com­munity mem­bers’ mis­sion to ex­pand Brides­burg Ele­ment­ary School to in­clude sev­enth and eighth grade.

Dis­trict spokes­wo­man Chanice Sav­age con­firmed via email that be­gin­ning this fall, the school will add two sev­enth-grade classes, suc­ceeded by two eighth-grade classes the fol­low­ing school year.

This is the second vic­tory for Vis­con­to and the Brides­burg com­munity in only eight months.

As pre­vi­ously re­por­ted by Star, Brides­burg Ele­ment­ary School, formerly a K-5 school, ad­ded a sixth grade this past Septem­ber.

After be­ing awar­ded the sixth grade and be­ing told by former As­sist­ant Su­per­in­tend­ent Di­on Betts that all growth op­tions were open for dis­cus­sion, Vis­con­to ap­proached school of­fi­cials in Septem­ber to ask how to pro­ceed with a com­plete ex­pan­sion to a K-8 school.  

“Un­for­tu­nately, noth­ing really came out of that meet­ing, so I took it upon my­self to con­tact Mr. Cherry, the new as­sist­ant su­per­in­tend­ent, dir­ectly,” ex­plains Vis­con­to.  

The two began com­mu­nic­at­ing fre­quently in Oc­to­ber 2013 about the pro­gress of a pos­sible ex­pan­sion.

“At that point, par­ents of sixth-grade par­ents were get­ting no­ti­fic­a­tions say­ing they were go­ing to have to fill out ap­plic­a­tions for middle school,” re­calls Vis­con­to.

Now, only four months later, par­ents can rest as­sured that all cur­rent stu­dents will be able to con­tin­ue through eighth grade at Brides­burg Ele­ment­ary.  

Vis­con­to is in awe of the rap­id de­vel­op­ment.

“It really was a quick turn­around and I think it speaks to the char­ac­ter of the school, the com­munity, and just how much sense it made,” he said.

Sav­age said the ex­pan­sion was a lo­gic­al de­cision.

“Aca­dem­ic­ally, the school has a pos­it­ive track re­cord,” she said. “The school is new and has the abil­ity to ex­pand to sev­enth and eighth grade.”  

So what can par­ents of Brides­burg Ele­ment­ary School stu­dents ex­pect?  

First, an of­fi­cial an­nounce­ment by the School Dis­trict of Phil­adelphia, ac­cord­ing to Sav­age, will be made with­in the next couple of weeks.

Ad­di­tion­ally, there will be no new con­struc­tion to the school, be­cause the classroom space is already avail­able.

All stu­dents already at­tend­ing Brides­burg Ele­ment­ary can re­main un­til eighth grade.  

Vis­con­to said he was glad neigh­bor­hood chil­dren would con­tin­ue to have the op­por­tun­ity to re­ceive a qual­ity edu­ca­tion close to home.

The ex­pand­ing school is the found­a­tion for fu­ture vi­brancy in the com­munity, he said.

“If I were to make a skel­et­on, Brides­burg Ele­ment­ary is the spine,” he said. “It’s what keeps it [the com­munity] to­geth­er and it’s what keeps it go­ing. Hope­fully it will con­tin­ue to at­tract fam­il­ies that already see the neigh­bor­hood as an amaz­ing place to live and raise their fam­il­ies.”

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