Sunday, 16 May 2010 21:41


Weekends in May and June are extremely eventful and always jammed packed.

Prom.  Graduation and graduation parties.  Working on hybrid cars in the shop.

(For the record: these are not listed in order of importance.)

Many of the seniors at the West Philadelphia Automotive Academy attended their senior prom on Friday night at the Hilton Hotel on City Line Ave.  The young men were handsome, and the young ladies were lovely.  The seniors of all the Academies (Business, Urban, and Automotive) celebrated a "Night in Hollywood."  I would say the colors of the evening were red and purple.  Jacques Wells, one of our mechanical members of the team, wore a bright red vest and white tux.  The white tuxes are amazing.  He looked so distinguished.  Momo Shen was beautiful.  She is on our public realtions team and wore a black sparkle A-line dress.  She looked perfect.  Her date, Maalik Wolfe, wore a black suit with a red shirt and black tie.

A couple of the seniors on the team didn't want to go to prom.  Justin Carter said that since he was going to another prom with his girlfriend/shawty/beau that he felt like he didn't need to go to his.  Sekou said that since it wasn't at a club that he didn't want to go.  They both attended a fundraising event for the Schulykill Center that Friday night with Ann Cohen.  (For the record: the event was not held at a club.)

Prom is very overwhelming.  It could just be the worst and best thing about high school.  It is an unrealistic night.  I remember my junior and senior proms were just awful.  I had to ask three boys to my junior prom before one said yes.  That is so sad.  I wouldn't even be able to tell you the last name of my senior prom date.  But I always loved my dresses.  The dresses were the best.  Yet, they are so expensive.  Now, there are all these amazing websites that allows you to donate your prom dresses or old bridesmaid dresses.  The material is reused.

It was just so nice to see Momo and Jacques really happy.  Ms. Hanlon, Ms. Ojeda, and I chaperoned for two hours and took tons of pictures.  It was really nice to see them dressed up and happy.  These next couple weeks for our seniors are going to be hard.  We have seniors that are not on target to graduate.  We have seniors that are giving the teachers are hard time with last minute assignments and exams.  Some of them are terrified about what their summer and fall are going to look like.  Others cannot wait to leave Philadelphia and start at Penn State campuses and other colleges and universities.  Many of our seniors are going to summer sessions for CCP.

The next morning, Saturday, the shop was full of bodies.  There is a tremendous amount of work to be done on both hybrid cars.  Many of the guys were in the shop with Hauger and Co.  Ann and Anita worked with students about fundraising ideas and sending out thank you notes to our sponsors and donors.  I was in Baltimore, Maryland at a bridal shower for my cousin Katie.  She is getting married in September.  I know her china plate pattern.

Weekends in May and June are extremely busy.  The weather turns warm and school is almost over.  Ann, Simon, and I talk a lot about the students and how are we going to keep them focused through these next couple weeks.  I think if we keep having more successful days like Saturday, we don't need to work much about student involvement.  It will just happen.  If our schedule during the week remains as busy, the students will have enough activities to go to keep them out of trouble.  Outside School Time, Kaplan SAT, Tuesday meeting, and Saturday School happens every week.

And prom is over.  The X Prize can regain its status in our lives.

Ride or Die

Ms. R

Published in Blogs
Sunday, 21 March 2010 22:52

Thoughts on Renaissance

We wanted to share with you some of our thoughts and our classmates' thoughts on the Renaissance List.  As some may know, West Philadelphia High School is on the list.  We think this is not a good idea for many reasons.  We don't see the students coming to school for an hour longer and two Saturdays a month.  There are more students going to drop out. They should not transfer teachers, because they really help students deal with problems at home.  Our teachers are nice, and they know what they are doing.  Momo and I are really excited for college.  We are also very nevous, but we want to make sure that our high school is still the same place we left it.  We loved being in Auto and do not want that program to go away.

Below are two lists of ideas from the junior class in the Auto Academy.  A couple of the seniors ran a group filled of five to six juniors and asked the group two questions, "What are your concerns about West becoming a Renaissance school?" and "How would you create your ideal school?"

Thank you

Momo and Khaleda

Concerns about West Philadelphia High School becoming a Renaissance school.

1.  Will there be a raise in the drop out rate because students do not want to go to school longer or on Saturday?

2.  Our trans-passes do not work on Saturdays, how will we get to school?

3.  Who decides and what criteria will be used to pick the teachers that stay?  When will that happen? 

4.  Due to the longer day, will the length of the classes change?

5.  If we are a Renaissance school, what will our uniform look like?

6.  Lack of motivation to stay longer and come to school on Saturdays

7.  Is this a violation of student rights to not allow transfer?

8.  What will the graduation date be for seniors and will that interrupt summer programs offered by college and universities?

9.  Was the walk-through a formality for Arlene Ackerman and does the superintendent have personal ties to this school and the school district?

10.  What is the response from the alumni of West? 

11.  What does the classroom size look like in a Renaissance school?  How many new transfers will West receive since it is a community school and will that change the safety climate in the classroom?

12.  Will colleges and universities not accept students from West because it is a Renaissance school with a negative tone?

13.  There is not a clear standard for any aspect of a Renaissance school: longer school day, two Saturdays a month, teacher transfer?  There is not a clear standard or criteria for anything about a Renaissance school.

14.  What does a Promise Academy look like?

15.  Are we really going to have 50% of our teachers back or will teachers decide to leave and close to 70 to 80 % of the staff will not be here?

16.  Why the extra hour and not a complete change of the curriculum?

17.  Why get rid of the teachers?  What data supports that it is the teacher's fault for low test scores and poor climate?

Ideal School

1.  Able to leave the building for lunch.

2.  No uniforms

3.  Art classes

4.  Allow electronics

5.  Upperclassmen receive laptops for the school year

6.  More Outward Bound trips and field trips

7.  No hall-passes needed

8.  Rotating Block Roster

9.  7:45 am start to the day, 2:30 p.m. end of the day

10.  More trade courses

11.  Work rosters for upperclassmen

12.  Trans-passes given to each student

13.  More active science lab.  We want to actually do experiments and dissections.

14.  Early dismissal every Friday.

15.  Better and more nutritious food in the cafeteria

16.  Partnerships with local city universities

Published in Blogs
Sunday, 06 December 2009 19:51

When old is better than new

When old is better than new.

I’m an oldhead.  No doubt about it. I’m the oldest member of the West Philly Hybrid X Team by many years. However, when you hang around teenagers every day you learn some new things. I text, although never while driving. I am on Facebook, although I don’t play any games. I even know what LMAO is. I do it often. I work with teenagers.

That brings me to my story about Sekou Kamara. Sekou is a senior. I’ve told Mrs. Cruz, the West Philadelphia High School Principal, that if she ever needs any work done in the office, she should call Sekou. It’s true.  If we need the shop cleaned at 6:00 AM, Sekou will arrive at 5:45. If there are 50 boxes of text books to move, Sekou’s the man.

When visitors come to the shop and we need someone to explain the technology, Sekou is the best tour guide. By the way, (I recently learned that this can be expressed as BTW) he was a full time intern for SEPTA this summer working on the rail side.  Over the summer Sekou acquired a whole new body of knowledge about electricity.

During our team building workshop, Sekou was the most engaged and insightful team member.

However, if you are looking for Sekou at 3:00 PM for our regular Tuesday meeting, he won’t be there. Why? He is attending credit recovery, making up classes that he failed last semester. I truly don’t understand it.

I told Sekou he is an enigma. He didn’t know what an enigma is. I consulted with Ms. R. because she is an English teacher. I think the correct new definition of enigma is WTF. Sekou, who is also on Facebook, understood.

Ride or Die!

Published in Blogs
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