New high school signals fresh start for Philly schools, officials say

The first day of school in Philadelphia Tuesday included the ribbon cutting to the brand-new, $66 million West Philadelphia High School.

It signaled that the city and the school district are starting out the school year with anticipation of better things.

Bells rang out to mark the ribbon-cutting ceremony at West Philadelphia High, which also included everything from rappers to tightrope walkers.

State Sen. Vincent Hughes told the students it was an opportunity decades in the making.

“We’re about starting fresh, all the old stuff is over,” he said. “It’s about going forward.”

No one mentioned former Superintendent Arlene Ackerman who last month left the district with a $900,000 contract buyout.

Student Cindy Dickerson says she and her classmates need to send a message since they have been given the opportunity of a new building.

“The new West means a chance to fight the stereotype (that) West kids are stupid, we are bad, we don’t want to go nowhere,” she said. “I’m standing here to say that’s not true.”

Mayor Michael Nutter also spoke of the need to begin anew with Philadelphia’s public schools.

“Yes, there have been challenges. And, yes, there have been issues,” he said. “Yes, there has been turmoil. And, yes, too much drama. You want drama, watch TNT.”

Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Ronald Tomalis also had some words of advice for students.

“This is another step in your journey to go forward on your chance to make sure that every single opportunity you have for yourself is going to go forward progressively, aggressively, without hesitation,” he said

Nutter added that the city and district would work together to make sure the schools are safe.

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