This Is Our First Big Winter Storm Without KYW’s School Closing Numbers

Dan McQuade playing in the snow

The author, in front of his parents’ home in Northeast Philadelphia, during an early 1990s blizzard.

I grew up in the city, so I didn’t have a school number when I was a little kid. But when the snow started falling in Philadelphia, I did turn up KYW 1060 and listen for nine magic words: “All public and parochial schools in Philadelphia are closed.”

Still, I felt a twinge of sadness when I read the news earlier this year that KYW would stop broadcasting snow numbers. When I ended up going to a private school in the suburbs for high school, I did get a snow number. I’d wait until anchor hit Bucks County, turn up the volume on the radio and wait until I heard the number. (It has been lost to the sands of time. 510? 610? Something like that.)

It’s snowing — well, in the city, sleeting — today, so this is the first big winter storm in Philadelphia where KYW won’t be reading out school numbers.

When it got to the number for my high school, I cheered. And regardless of whether I learned from a sentence or a number, my snow-day ritual was the same: I’d go over to friends’ houses and try to find people to build a makeshift igloo with, or maybe organize a huge snowball fight. That is, if I could find my friends before I was pressed into shoveling service.

After freezing our butts off, we’d end up back inside, playing video games, drinking hot cocoa and figuring out when it would be fun to go outside again. It was great. And it seemed to all stem from that moment of waiting by the radio to find out if we didn’t have to go to school. Read more »

Philly Charter School Had 9,190 Applicants for 96 Spots

MaST Charter

MaST Charter School (via Google Street View)

By all accounts, MaST Community Charter School is a success.

The Philadelphia school opened in 1999, and eventually consolidated all its grades into an old steel factory on Byberry Road in the Far Northeast. The “MaST” in the school’s name stands for Math, Science and Technology, and it has been recognized as an excellent school on numerous occasions.

The school serves students in kindergarten through 12th grade, and even opened up a second school in September on Rising Sun Avenue in the old St. William’s school building in Lawncrest.

As such, people want to send their kids to MaST. And so there were almost 9,200 applications for the 2017–18 school year. MaST has room for just 96 kids. Read more »

The “Girl” in Pennridge High School Assignment Uproar Is Maya Angelou

The Pennridge School District has apologized after a hybrid math/English question about Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings caused an uproar on the internet.

The fill-in-the-blank question, part of a homework assignment, read: “Angelou was sexually abused by her mother’s ___ at age 8, which shaped her career choices and motivation for writing.” (The correct response is “boyfriend.”)

But the question wasn’t from a literature class; it was actually a math problem. To find the correct answer, students were supposed to solve for x and y in two equations. Read more »

Philly Public Schools to Dismiss Early on Friday Due to Heat

Philadelphia School District headquarters

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Classes began on Wednesday, but Philadelphia public school students are already getting a little time off — all district schools will dismiss early on Friday due to heat.

Temperatures are forecast to be 90-plus degrees for the third straight day, and most city schools do not have air conditioning. Nearby cities like Trenton and Reading have closed schools early this week as well. Read more »

Why Philly Is a Perfect Fit for America’s First Pro Circus Arts School

A 15-year-old man from Philadelphia performs on the steps of the Art Museum

Brian Ungar, 15, a student at the Philadelphia School of Circus Arts, performs on the steps of the Art Museum | Photo: HughE Dillon

This time next year, the first full-time professional training school for circus artists in the United States will be preparing for the start of classes. And it’ll be in Philadelphia. That’s right: City Hall is about to have some competition. And soon Penn won’t be the only school in the city educating clowns.

Okay, got the easy jokes out of the way. Today, the founders of Circadium announced its first day of classes would be on September 5th, 2017. “We’re beside ourselves,” says Shana Kennedy, founding director of the Philadelphia School of Circus Arts. “It’s been a long time coming: We’ve got the people, and the team, and the teachers and the materials.” The current School of Circus Arts is in Germantown; Kennedy said she’s currently in negotiations to take over an old church in the area for Circadium. There is a kickstarter, with groundbreaking expected sometime this winter.

“The United States lacks a dedicated facility for circus higher education,” Circadium says in its Kickstarter. “In a few cities, recreational schools host ‘pro-track’ programs, which offer a 1-year full-time training to serious students. None, however, come close to the standards of higher-level circus education programs in Canada, Europe and Australia. Students want to study circus intensively for multiple years, and by doing so, deeply explore the history of the art form, their own physical capabilities, and their creative potential.” Read more »

Philly Schools Are Closed Again Tomorrow

Philadelphia School District Building

Photo by Jeff Fusco

All Philadelphia public schools are closed again tomorrow due to this weekend’s snowstorm.

Not long after the Philadelphia School District announced its decision, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia also announced schools in the city would be closed tomorrow as well.

Read more »

It’s So Cold, Two Area Schools Are Closed Today

Alain Locke Elementary. Photo | Google Street View

Alain Locke Elementary. Photo | Google Street View

It’s about 22 degrees in Philadelphia right now. You don’t need me to tell you that this is cold, one of the coldest days yet this winter and one that probably made you shiver on your way out of the house this morning.

Indeed, it’s so cold that two Philadelphia area schools are closing today due to a lack of heat. First is the Alain Locke Elementary School, at 45th and Haverford in West Philadelphia. That school has no heat whatsoever; it was in session this morning, but it dismissed at noon. (Hey, at least the school’s boiler didn’t explode.)

In Bucks County, Truman High School closed at 10 a.m. this morning due to a heating circulator not being repaired. Read more »

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