Imani Charter honors founder on ‘Spirit Day’ despite potential closure

Students lined up near the dunk tank seeking revenge for detentions past.

They hurled fastballs, many of which hit the target, at which point the seat beneath Marcus Fulton, dean of students and disciplinarian at Imani Education Circle Charter School, collapsed and sent him plunging into the water below.



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The kids, they laughed. And Fulton, he complimented them despite getting soaked.

“They get better each year,” Fulton said. “They come back and they know how to hit it.”

Celebration amid uncertainty

The dunk tank was one of many attractions for students at the school’s spirit-day, also known as “Dr. Fulton Day,” an event held to celebrate school founder and principal, Francine Fulton.

“It’s not my bright idea to make it named after me,” she said Friday outside the school located near W. Chelten Ave. and Greene St. in Germantown. “The parents decided to start it. … It’s the spring fever for the students every year so it’s a great way to get it out of their system.”

Imani, a K-8 charter school in Germantown founded in 1999, currently has an enrollment of more than 450 students. It also doesn’t know whether it will exist next school year.

Imani Education Circle is one of five charter schools currently facing potential closure via non-renewal.

A press release for the event addressed this fact.

“She was the first woman to build an African-centered elementary charter school in one of Philadelphia’s most challenged neighborhoods,” it read. “She built a school for impoverished children in the Gambia, Africa and she even second-mortgaged her home to open the preschool adjacent to the charter school.

“Yet, the School District of Philadelphia wants to shut down her charter school.”

One last celebration?

The event started with students speaking and reading letters praising Francine Fulton.

After several performances, the students were free to check out many attractions, which were manned by volunteers and faculty.

“We had a class [period] ahead of this, but no one could pay attention,” said Melissa Dashields, a first grade teacher at Imani who was manning the temporary-tattoo stand.

Abdul Munson, a maintenance employee at the school, also sat in the dunk tank.

“They want to take me out. You can see it on their faces,” said the smiling Munson. “You have to watch for them sneaking up from behind to press the [dunk] button. I definitely enjoy it all.”




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