When Roxborough High School students returned to school on Monday, new classmates from the now-shuttered Germantown High School were there and the principal credited with improving the school’s standing was gone.
Despite the Philadelphia School District’s tumultuous summer, the scene outside the school carried a typical back-to-school feel as teachers and friends greeted each other and shared summer stories.
The school was one of two options, along with Martin Luther King Jr. High School in West Oak Lane, that was offered up to displaced students from Germantown High School.
A new principal
In addition to an influx of students, the school is starting the year with a new principal after former principal Stephen Brandt stepped down from his post in July to head up Bensalem High School in Bucks County.
During Brandt’s tenure, the high school was taken off of the state’s “persistently dangerous list.”
On the first day of school, many students noted they will miss seeing him in the hallways, but are looking forward to what the new principal, former assistant principal, Dana Jenkins, will bring to the table.
“Mr. Brandt was a phenomenal principal,” said tenth grader Trevor Loughrey. “I think [Jenkins] will take off right where Mr. Brandt left off.”
Loughrey said that even though he didn’t know any of the students from Germantown, he was looking forward to the opportunity to get to know new kids.
“I’m trying to make new friends. I made a lot of new friends last year and I’m trying to make more this year,” he said.
Alexus Cheatom, an 11th grader at Roxborough, was less optimistic about her new classmates.
“Every time you hear about Germantown, you hear about them fighting and stuff,” she said.
“It’ll be more drama,” she added, admitting that she didn’t know any students from Germantown personally.
Budget remains a concern
Staff and operating budget cuts were on the minds of students and parents alike as the first day of school got underway.
Eleventh grader Kevina Butler was dismayed at the idea of starting the year without some of her favorite teachers, but said she is focused on getting through the year ahead despite the changes.
“I’m looking forward to the PSATs, studying … a lot of studying, and just moving forward with my life, going off to college, graduating, getting a scholarship,” she said.
A parent who asked not be identified by name said the district’s financial woes are forcing her to consider alternatives, like a charter school or a cyber charter, for her nephew.
“The schools are not going to be running correctly,” she said. “If they are not going to have the proper personnel then I think it would be safer and it would be my only choice to look for, you know, some other alternative.”