Parents cry foul as school closes for Eagles' parade

Workmen set up a stage in front of the Art Museum in preparation for the Eagles parade.

Workmen set up a stage in front of the Art Museum in preparation for the Eagles parade. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

A Newark-area charter school’s plans to close on Thursday to celebrate the Philadelphia Eagles’ Super Bowl victory has generated mostly opposition from parents — but the principal is holding firm.

The city of Philadelphia is holding a parade from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday for the Eagles and their fans. The Eagles’ 41-33 victory over the New England Patriots on Sunday was their first Super Bowl victory in the game’s 52 years of existence. The Eagles last won the National Football League championship in 1960 – six years before the first Super Bowl.

Margie Lopez Waite, the principal at Las Americas ASPIRA Academy for kindergarten through eighth graders, made the announcement Monday and posted the message on the school’s Facebook page. The popular school has hundreds of students on its waiting list for acceptance.

“At ASPIRA, our focus is always on academic achievement; however, we also realize that a once-in-a-lifetime experience like celebrating the Philadelphia Eagles Super Bowl championship can also boost school spirit and camaraderie,’’ her announcement said.

Public and Catholic schools in Philadelphia are also closed Thursday, as are public schools in Upper Darby, Pa. The public districts in northern Delaware – Colonial, Red Clay, Christiana and Brandywine – are all planning to be open Thursday, however.

Las Americas ASPIRA Academy charter school near Newark is closing Thursday so students and faculty can attend the Eagles’ victory parade in Philadelphia. (Courtesy of ASPIRA)

Other schools that are closing are the private Tower Hill upper school and Archmere Academy, and three public charter schools: EastSide Charter, Charter School of New Castle and Kuumba Academy.

Many parents at ASPIRA, a dual-language immersion school teaching students in Spanish and English, are crying foul. They voiced concerns about who would watch their children while they worked, or having to take a day off themselves to accommodate the unscheduled day off.

“This is unacceptable!!!” Yoselyn Valdes wrote on Facebook. “Most of us work and don’t have someone to watch our kids or take off from work so quick … I think whoever wants to go to the parade should take the day off from school it shouldn’t have to affect others kids!!!”

She concluded her post with two angry orange faces and the words, “very upset.”

Roxanne Jerge Whipkey agreed.

“This should be optional,” she wrote. “Very selfish in my opinion. Some of us don’t have the flexibility to call out of work ‘because the Eagles won.’”

Nichola Harvey countered with a thank you to the school, calling it a “much-needed win/celebration after this last year. Who’s going to the parade?”

Harvey’s post included an Eagles emoji and a green heart and the Eagles’ slogan, #flyeaglesfly.

Kristina Kelly even had a strident retort to the naysayers. “Waaaaaaaaaa!!” she wrote. “ASPIRA, you have TONS of grateful parents out here that would love to get our kids into your school, as it IS totally optional to send your kids to this school as opposed to one of the public options. Let us know when you want an appreciative group of people sending their kids your way!”

Lopez Waite defended her decision on Facebook. She wrote that the ASPIRA calendar “purposely builds in additional days to accommodate unexpected and unanticipated events.” Thursday’s parade “certainly meets that test.”

Calling football “an American tradition,” she also wrote that, “You only get one chance to celebrate the first [Super Bowl] win!”

Lopez Waite also wrote that she had promised when the school opened in 2011 that “I would close school when the Eagles won the Super Bowl. I didn’t know if the day would ever come but here we are … and I believe in keeping my promises.”

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