Displaced students make the rounds of city’s cultural spots

Since their school building burned down last week, the children of the Global Leadership Academy charter school in West Philadelphia have been busy visiting the city’s cultural institutions.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Please Touch Museum, the Philadelphia Zoo and the Franklin Institute have given free tours, lessons and teaching materials to the homeless school.

Global Leadership Academy now has a temporary place to teach and learn — the Philadelphia school district has allowed it to use a building in West Philadelphia, about three miles away from the charred ruins of the old building. It moved into that space Wednesday.

Eighth-grader Tajah White said it’s bigger, with amenities that the old school didn’t have like an auditorium and lockers. But it can’t replace her old school.

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“It’s not that far from where I live, but it’s never going to be the old school,” says Tajah, who has only attended Global Leadership since she moved to town five years ago. “It’s not going to have the same effect on me as the old school.”

Tajah spent Thursday morning with 90 classmates in the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Normally the museum offers free tours to classes in the school district, not private and charter schools. It made an exception for Global Leadership.

Social studies teacher Gregory Wright said even without their building, learning must go on.

“Teachers teach. Yes, we have resource books, but teachers teach,” said Wright. “A lot of the resource books, computers — anything and everything that you can imagine as being in a school — was burned. Certificates, certifications, gone. But all these things are replaceable.”

The old building was too small for Global Leadership Academy, which before the fire had already begun construction of a new building. It is scheduled to be finished in time for the fall semester.

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