What Happened Next: People

NewsWorks went back to check in on several of the stories it covered in 2012. These “What Happened Next” updates will run throughout December.

Donna Reed Miller talks about legacy, silly rumors during exit interview with NewsWorks, Dec. 19, 2011; Voter ID law awareness push continues at Germantown senior center, July 20, 2012

The stories (first, second): Long unwilling to speak with the media, then-Eighth District City Councilwoman Donna Reed Miller agreed to an interview with NewsWorks in the hours after her final meeting. Brushing back criticisms and innuendo related to her tenure, she noted that, “We did try to help and we did help a lot of people with a lot of different issues.”

After Cindy Bass took over for her on Jan. 2, Miller spent some time in her year out of office working for voter-ID law awareness and opposition campaigns, appearing at several rallies in Northwest Philadelphia.

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What Happened Next: When the former councilwoman answered her phone earlier this month, the traces of a nagging cold were clearly evident as she explained she has not had much of a break since leaving City Hall.

She said she went “from council to voter ID to being a ward leader during the election.”

In September, her child had twins who were born early and remain hospitalized, so “I’ve been helping out with that,” she said.

“They’re progressing well and should be cominig home soon,” she continued, “but right now this cold is keeping me from going up to the nursery and visiting them. I’m trying to shake it and will be glad when I do so I can get back there.”


Germantown High football standout Will Parks’ future shifts from Pitt to Arizona, Jan. 29, 2012:

The Story: NewsWorks paid close attention to Will Parks, a standout on the Germantown High School football team who was described by officials there as a leader both on and off the field.

On the field, he was named to the all-state team in the 2011 season. Off the field, he had a big choice to make: Where would he go to college?

After initially committing to the University of Pittsburgh, coaching upheaval there led to on a longer voyage out to the University of Arizona. He saw the shift as a great move both personally and for getting word out about Philadelphia public-league talent.

What Happened Next: Parks left for Arizona last summer and it paid off, as he got on the field in each of the Wildcats’ games this season. Much of the time was on special teams but with the team light on defense, Parks played in the secondary and special teams as a freshman on a 7-5 team that beat USC in October.

According to Molly O’Mara, associate director of the Wildcats football communication services, Parks played approximately 200 snaps on defense and special teams combined.

“The coaches wanted to redshirt him but a lack of depth on defense forced our staff to play more true freshmen than anticipated,” she said. “Predominantly a contributor on special teams, he played some defense against Stanford and USC.”

Here’s what Tony Gibson, assistant head coach for safeties and special teams, had to say about Parks’ first collegiate season:

“We had to play Will earlier than we wanted to but he’s coming along really well. He’s smart and athletic. As time goes on, he’s going to be really good for what we do and he fits our system well. He contributes most on special teams but we play him some on third-down defense. We moved him from free safety to our bandit position during camp so he was bit behind but he’s made up for it. As he progresses, he’s really going to be a great member of our team.”

Parks and the Arizona Wildcats will face off against Nevada in the New Mexico Bowl on Dec. 15. They’re favorite to win a game that will be broadcast on ESPN.


The final blow? District severs ties with disciplinary school in East Falls, Aug. 22 

The story: This summer, the School District of Philadelphia announced that it would not renew its contract with the troubled Delaware Valley High School, leaving 500 students wondering where they’d need to report for school in the next few days.

At the time, the students were spread out between two schools: a disciplinary school in East Falls and a Southwest Philadelphia school for high-school dropouts. The District’s decision to cut ties with DVHS, a for-profit provider of alternative education programs, followed reports that the company was under federal investigation and the target of lawsuits from former employees.

The District eventually tapped Phase 4, a not-for-profit organization that relies heavily on online instruction, to take over DVHS’ former site in Southwest Philadelphia. As for the East Falls site, the property’s owner, Mark Sherman, told NewsWorks that he did not yet have a new tenant in mind but added that it would likely be a school or a developer to redevelop the entire site.  

At last check, many of the students at the former East Falls site were in limbo as to where they would be relocated. 

What Happened Next: According to the School District, the 300 students, who previously attended the DVHS site in East Falls were redistributed across three other “transition schools” in different parts of the city.

One-hundred students are now attending the Camelot School at Boone, a disciplinary program in North Philadelphia run by a private provider. The rest of the students were split between Philadelphia Learning Academy North and Philadelphia Learning Academy South, both managed by the District.

As for the Ridge Avenue site, there’s still no word on who the next tenant will be. 

If you have any stories from 2012 that you’d like NewsWorks to follow up on, let us know at nwproducers@whyy.org

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