Mayor Michael Nutter joined Germantown High School (GHS) principal, Margaret Mullen, to recognize students involved with The Stained Glass Project for their recent trip to New Orleans.
Underwritten by Firstrust Bank, students donated stained glass windows to the Morris Jeff Community School, located in a neighborhood that was ravaged by Hurricane Katrina. The Stained Glass Project teaches students about the importance of being active members of the community and giving back to others in need.
Students, Oyinkansola Adekitan, Deshawn Brewer, Janai Dallas, Nana Yaw Effah, Cornell Gilliland, Marie-Jean Haba and Dywanne Smith, went on the trip and presented Mayor Nutter with a ceremonial stained glass windowpane during an assembly held at GHS.
The Stained Glass Project is part of the First United Methodist Church of Germantown After-School program. This program is run by volunteer artists who work with teenagers from GHS, most of whom have never made art before. Students and artists are of varied ages, races, religions and nationalities, working in collaboration to make art for children they never met. In previous projects, the GHS students have created stained glass windows for AIDS orphans in South Africa. Artists, Joan Myerson Shrager and Paula Mandel, founded this program five years ago to inspire students to change the world through art.
The Germantown High School 1976 Reunion Committee is making progress in bringing together its Bicentennial Class over Thanksgiving weekend.
They are also making a call for alumni of Germantown High School to attend the Black Friday evening’s party as a kick-off for the 35th anniversary event.
Festivities are to be held at the City Line Avenue Crowne Plaza on Friday, Nov. 25 at 9 p.m. and Saturday, Nov. 26 at 6 p.m.
One of the highlights of this year’s event is the honoring of the Germantown 76 Outstanding Services Award. The class has already notified this year’s recipients. They include entrepreneurs, corporate executives, professionals and philanthropists who graduated from the high school located on Germantown Avenue and High Street in 1976.
“This event will recognize the exemplary services that Germantown High School alumnus has displayed over the years,” said Marcia Willis of Mount Airy, one of the members of the reunion committee. “Proceeds from the All-Alumni Party and the reunion will go towards a scholarship that will be awarded to a student graduating from Germantown High School this school year.”
“We’ve been having a series of successful fundraisers leading up to the reunion weekend,” said Darlene Roberson of West Oak Lane, another committee member. “We are still coordinating a flapjack fundraiser for early October. We had a Spirit of Philadelphia event in August. These were all designed for us to get together and keep the cost down for the actual reunion weekend so that more monies can go directly to the scholarships.”
Germantown’s Class of 1976 is proud of the fact that they are one of the most active alumni groups from the Northwest Philadelphia high school.
Yet committee members will admit it is not all due to the tenacity and hard working spirit of the reunion organizers. “Being the Bicentennial class gave our class an added edge in having the class spirit,” said Marlene Bailey, another committee member in a previous interview.
In addition, the class also has a special bond with their counterparts who attended the Martin Luther King High School, Stenton Avenue and Haines Street in nearby West Oak Lane. King, a newer edifice than Germantown, was completed in the mid-1970s and many members of its first graduating class started their secondary school education at Germantown. Hence, some King alumnus attend Germantown reunions.
Reunion tickets are on sale now for $75. Those who only want to attend the All-Alumni Party can purchase those tickets separately for $20. Those who plan to attend both events will receive a discounted price, according to Willis.
For more information about the Germantown High School All-Alumni Party or the Germantown Class of 1976 reunion one can contact the committee. Willis can be reached at (267) 974-8444 or one can call Stephen Kinsey at (267) 258-3673, Roberson at (267) 257-5711, or Marlene Bailey at (215) 680-8932.
The Germantown Alumni Association and the Class of 1976 Germantown Alumni group have a special message for this year’s graduating class. First, as many Northwest Philadelphia students graduate from Germantown this year they hope they will join the alumni groups. Secondly, they hope that once they do they will return to their alma mater to mentor their younger counterparts.
This is exactly what Stephen Kinsey has been doing since he graduated with Germantown High’s Bicentennial Class in 1976. Over the years he has helped secure funds for the school’s library refurbishment project though the general alumni and with the Class of 1976 given out scholarships and spearheaded other programs.
“We have continued to be a vehicle to help and support the current students,” Kinsey said. “In the past we have partnered with the Philadelphia Education Fund, various elected officials and stakeholders. We have brought a diverse range of things to help the school even if it was volunteering to help with the PSSAs or mentoring a student.
“As students leave Germantown they are aware of the problems and challenges students face. That’s why it’s important that those of us who graduated from Germantown—and we have many successful graduates—return to mentor these students. Germantown is going to celebrating their 100thh anniversary as a school soon and we want all the folks who benefitted from the school to come back,” Kinsey said.
Among the partners who have assisted the school in the past few years are LaSalle University, Albert Einstein Medical Center, and Comcast. All these partners have key personnel who are among the Germantown High alumni, according to Kinsey. “I think it’s important that students who are at Germantown now know that. I think students who graduate need to be committed to coming back to enhance the school in practical ways.”
If you have the reunion spirit, perhaps a pair of dancing shoes and a money order for $75 may get you into the 35 Year Reunion Dinner Dance for the Germantown High School Class of 1976. The gala will be held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, 4100 Presidential Blvd. on Saturday, Nov. 26.
The Germantown ’76 Reunion Committee has confirmed that more than 100 of their classmates have heeded the call. Though that is certainly enough to have a fun party, they would like to see more of the Bicentennial Class come out to this Thanksgiving weekend scholarship fundraiser.
“Please come join us as we dine on sumptuous food, talk about the good times and celebrate our 35th high school reunion,” said Darlene Roberson of West Oak Lane. Roberson is a member of the organizing committee. The other members are Stephen Kinsey, Marcia Willis and Marlene Bailey.
This is not the only event this year that raised funds for the Northwest Philadelphia high school. Last summer the committee planned its “Cruisin’ Together” event to be held aboard the Spirit of Philadelphia. From the dock at 401 S. Columbus Blvd. Germantown High alumni will board the midnight cruise for more than three hours of dinner and dancing.
“We’re very excited about our 35th reunion,” Willis said. “We hoped that as many as possible come out to this (initial) fundraiser so that we can have the reunion over the Thanksgiving Day weekend. We are still working out the details.
“Our class has been one of the most active in giving reunions,” she added. “We’ve always had a good turnout. Part of the specialness of our class is the fact that we were the bicentennial class. I think it was just a special time, and now that it’s been 35 years we want to get together again and celebrate.”
The group is proud of the fact that so many have chosen to be sponsors of the event that raises funds for current Germantown High School students to go to college. Among this year’s sponsors are Amazing Homes, Green Thing, Reggie Gordon, Jim and Rita’s Catering, Clark Tires, Serenity, J. K. Roofing LLC, Johnson Funeral Home and the Platinum Grille. In addition, attorney Moody Shields, Expert Exterminating and others have made contributions.
Among those who had committed sponsoring but were pending as of Tribune press time were elected officials Jewell Williams and Cindy Bass. Also committed are Ron Cousar, Hawkins Funeral Home, Savin Funeral Home, attorney Demetrius Parrish and Clinton Hickson.
Since the event is this weekend it is best to call the committee directly for tickets. One can reach Roberson at (267) 257-5711; Willis at (267) 974-8444; Kinsey at (267) 258-3673; and/or Bailey at (215) 680-8932.
Charles Knight remembers how exciting it was as a senior at Germantown High School running in the Penn Relays. Knight will never forget running in front of those huge crowds at Franklin Field. It was certainly a highlight of his scholastic career.
“Our coach Bill McMahon would only let the seniors run,” said Knight, who now goes by Charles Knight El. “The only thing I could do was wait until my senior year. I was just hoping he would let me run that year. I know it was a big time thing. It was a chance to run for the school. We had a good (mile relay) team. We had some good sprinters — Kerry Streets, Mike Dupree and Eddie Lowe.”
The Bears certainly did have some outstanding sprinters. In 1971, they won the Public League mile relay championship at the Penn Relays. Germantown had a winning time of 3:24.5. In preparation for the country’s major track and field carnival, the Bears participated in other meets.
“It was exciting running at the Penn Relays with all those people down there,” Knight said. “It was a good experience. But you know we also ran in the Martin Luther King Games before the Penn Relays. That was big meet at that time. The other thing, I ran for the Philadelphia Hawks in the summer time. So, I was well prepared for the competition.”
High school track and field was really special during the ‘70s in the Public League. The league had a number of great teams such as Bartram and Overbrook. Knight was the Bears’ most versatile performer. Germantown defeated Bartram, 34-31 to win the Public League track and field championship his senior year. Knight was a big reason why the Bears won the league title. In the championship meet, he won the 120 high hurdles and 440-yard dash.
“I had to run against Wayne Matthews from Bartram in the quarter,” Knight said. “I think we were one point ahead. Mr. McMahon put me in the 440. That was really something for me. I ran the 120 high hurdles. It was a close meet. Wayne Matthews was a great runner. I was able to win the quarter. I think that helped us a lot. But I think Kerry Streets winning the 100-yard dash was really big for us.”
Knight graduated from Germantown High in 1971. After that, he spent 24 years in the Navy. He’s a retired Navy chief. He’s married and lives in Suffolk, Va. On December 3, 2011, his brother, Steffen Knight organized a special night for him at the Platinum Grille in Chestnut Hill. He also started the Charles Knight (EL) Track Scholarship.
“I had a great time that day,” Knight said. “I came in there and saw Mr. McMahon and all those people. I had a lot of family and friends there. They started a scholarship fund. It’s nice to be able to help somebody go to school. We can give some money to students who need help to pay for books.”
Knight’s track and field prowess will be able to make a difference in the lives of young people from Germantown.
Fourteen colorful stained glass windows created by students from Germantown High School are currently on display as part of an exhibition entitled the “Hand-Eye Collaboration” at Drexel University’s James E. Marks Intercultural Center at 33rd and Chestnut Streets in West Philadelphia.
The exhibit symbolizes the power of art to bring together people of all races, religions, ages and backgrounds. It is free and open to the public, and will be on display through June 4. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Also on display are works by the program’s co-founders, glass sculptor Paula Mendel and digital artist Joan Myerson Shrager. Following the exhibition, the windows will be donated to The Community Partnership School of North Philadelphia, a school that offers exceptional education to inner city children.
The windows were created as part of The Stained Glass Project: Windows that Open Doors, an after-school program of the First United Methodist Church of Germantown. The project was founded by Mandel and Shrager in 2006, and is comprised of artist volunteers and teens from a variety of backgrounds who meet weekly to make art and develop friendships.
“The Stained Glass Project is evidence of the power of art to bring people together to learn about themselves and one another,” Mandel said. “As the students create their magnificent windows for others, they learn not only about art and altruism, but they learn about themselves, their capabilities and how to conquer challenges while studying other cultures and parts of the world.”
The nationally acclaimed project has regularly been invited to exhibit artwork at Philadelphia’s major visitor centers, LOVE Park and Independence Mall, and has even created windows for children in South Africa and New Orleans.
The Germantown ’76 Reunion proved after 35 years these 50-something year old alums are moving forward.
With their graduating class theme “Stepping into Tomorrow” more than 100 of the 800-member class gathered at the Crowne Plaza Hotel Ballroom on City Avenue on Saturday.
After the three-hour banquet they were joined by dozens of other Germantown graduates for an “All-Alumni Party” that had them dancing well after 1 a.m.
For the Germantown ’76 Reunion Committee the gala was a success. It’s been something that they have coordinated every five years since 1988 when they held their first “10 plus Two” reunion.
Committee members are Marlene Bailey, Stephen Kinsey, Darlene Roberson, and Marcia Willis, who all still reside in the Northwest Philadelphia area.
“I heard about the reunion on the radio,” said Marcella Williams of Northeast Philadelphia.
Michael Harris of Southwest Philadelphia said he’s been to at least four of the class reunions and plans “to continue to give our class shout outs” on the airwaves.
“This is my first time being here and it feels great,” said Sandra Derry of Germantown. “Since I never left Germantown I do see a lot of the class all the time. But, I think this is needed to see those faces that you will never forget.”
For Nadene Edwards Parlow of Germantown attending the gala reminded her of the talented and gifted programs at her alma mater. Harry Hall, also of Germantown, shared memories of playing on the Cougars football team and later meeting and marrying his wife Helene. She is a member of the Germantown Class of 1974 and had a brother who played alongside her husband of 24 years.
“I knew I had to be here because in another five years when the class turns 40 I may not be here,” said Harry Hall. “I am now disabled and you just don’t know what tomorrow will bring. I’m just glad to be here.”
During the brief awards ceremony many were honored. Prizes were given to the alumni who traveled the greatest distance. “Minnesota Joe” and Cheryl Ray of Atlanta walked away with these accolades. Members of the class who are members of the clergy were also recognized.
On a more somber note, there were 36 members of the class who had passed and were listed in the program. After lighting of white candles in their honor audience members called out the names of three additional classmates who died recently. Prayers were then offered up for the deceased alumni.
The sponsors the 1976 reunion gala included businesses owned by alumni and other supporters. They included Northwest Futures PAC, the Green Thing, Executive Event Planners, “She’s My Lady” recording artists Sirenity, Emmanuel Johnson Funeral Home, Clark’s Tires, Jim and Rita’s Fine Cuisine, J&K Roofing LLC, and Senior Helpers.
In addition, Lubels House of Learning Christian Academy, Moody & Shields Group LLC, Silk Designs by Toni, Crosswalk International, evangelist Deborah Murphy, and Derrick Wade. Furthermore, Expert Exterminating, Images by Robert, and Germantown Class of ’76 alumnus actress and singer Joilet F. Harris were sponsors.
Penn State defensive end Deion Barnes has been named to the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) Freshman All-America team following a great redshirt freshman season.
Barnes, a Northeast High product, was also named the Big Ten Thompson-Randel El Freshman of the Year and the ESPN.com and BTN.com Big Ten Freshman of the Year. The former Public League star joined tailback Curtis Enis (1995) as the only other Nittany Lion to be selected Freshman of the Year.
Barnes led Penn State with six sacks (minus-30), ranking sixth in the Big Ten, to go with 10 tackles for loss good for No. 13 in the conference. He was tied for fourth in the Big Ten with three forced fumbles. Playing in every game, Barnes made 26 tackles (14 solo) and had one pass break-up. Barnes was named Big Ten Co-Freshman of the Week after recording five tackles and a sack in Penn State’s 34-7 win over Navy. He made a season-high six tackles (four solo) and 3.0 tackles for loss for minus-13 yards on Nov. 10 against Legends Division champion Nebraska.
Three Temple standouts play in all-star games
Three Temple seniors will showcase their football skills in all-star games this month. Running back Montel Harris has been picked to play in the East-West Shrine Game on Jan. 19 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. (4 p.m. on NFL Network). Harris will play on the East team for head coach Jerry Glanville.
Placekicker/punter Brandon McManus has been chosen to play in the Casino Del Sol All-Star Game on Friday, Jan. 11 at Kino Stadium in Tucson, Ariz. (7 p.m. ESPN3). He will play on the East team coached by Dick Tomey.
Offensive tackle Martin Wallace has been selected to play in the inaugural RAYCOM College Football All-Star Classic on Jan. 19 at the Cramton Bowl in Montgomery, Ala. (1 p.m. on CBS). He will play on the Stripes squad for head coach Dan Reeves.
Germantown High girls in King basketball invitational
The Germantown High girls’ varsity team has been invited to the National Martin Luther King High School Basketball Classic held in Chicago during the weekend of King’s birthday. The tournament started in 1999 with four teams and has grown to 64 teams from 10 different states.
Germantown High has accepted the invitation and has started a fund drive to pay for transportation to Chicago. The goal is to raise $5,000 for the cost of transportation. Food and lodging will be provided by the tournament. They are $2,000 away from the goal.
The school is accepting donations and checks should be made payable to “Germantown High School Athletic Fund.” In the memo space put “girls’ basketball.” They need your donations by Jan. 15, which can be sent to: Germantown High School, Germantown Avenue and High Street, Philadelphia, PA 19144 to the attention of Michael Hawkins, the school’s athletic director.
A top executive for Camelot Schools boarded a cross-country flight to Philadelphia so he could personally attend Wednesday’s public meeting about consolidating its three alternative education schools under the roof of Germantown High School.
The sprawling complex in North Philadelphia held its last graduation ceremony last month. Its doors were closed permanently and emotions within the community apparently are still running hot.
Dozens of residents showed up at Janes United Methodist Memorial Church on Wednesday to ask questions about the alternative education programs run by the Texas-based Camelot Schools LLC, which was initially hired by the School District of Philadelphia in 2004 to operate a school for students who were transferred after being expelled for conduct violations. That program was later lauded by the district as a model.
Joe Corrigan, spokesman for Councilwoman Cindy Bass, said most residents who attended the two-hour meeting were trying to make sense of the SRC’s decision to shutter their neighborhood school only to have another school program, within two months, present plans to lease a portion of the building.
The two actions were unrelated, but didn’t sit well with many residents, said Corrigan, speaking for Bass, who represents the 8th District, which includes the Germantown area.
“Some people feel done dirty by the district,” Corrigan said. “They feel like something was taken from them, and they don’t understand why the school district would take away something and give it to somebody who could pay to keep it open. Why can’t it be our kids?”
“I think there’s an understandable inability to separate the decision to close Germantown High School and the very circumstantial decision to move into Germantown High School,” Corrigan said.
SRC spokesman Fernando Gallard has said that Camelot Schools would be required to discuss its relocation plans with the community before the state-appointed panel would consider leasing the building.
Camelot CEO Todd Brock said Wednesday that the company could no longer afford to operate three schools in three separate buildings. In response to funding cuts from the federal, state and local governments, there was a corresponding reduction in the amount Camelot Schools received from the school district.
The school district is in the midst of shutting down 24 school buildings as part of its facilities master plan. The School Reform Commission in February projected savings of up to $24.5 million annually from closures after paying first-year costs associated with school reconfigurations and building renovations.
Vera Peeples-Primus, president of Germantown High School Alumni Association, questions the SRC’s motive in shuttering the school. She said that the school was closed because it was underpopulated, needed repairs and students weren’t performing well enough.
“Camelot deals with underperforming students. The building would still be underpopulated, and the building still needs repair. That makes no sense,” Peeples-Primus said.
In addition, Peeples-Primus said that Germantown High School was approved for continuation of a federal grant from the U.S. Department of Labor because it was on the right track and making progress in key areas as a Promise Academy. Students were meeting standards, the school saw improvement in its graduation rate and was removed from the list of most dangerous schools.
“The math doesn’t add up,” she said.
State and local officials, along with Germantown leaders, met with Camelot Schools on Wednesday to determine if the education provider would be a good fit for the recently closed Germantown High building. It is the second meeting officials have hosted since last week – this time focusing on more in-depth questions and concerns raised by community leaders at a July 24 meeting on the same issue.
“We wanted to have an open dialogue among leaders and elected officials about how folks interpreted the [information],” said State Rep. Stephen Kinsey. “Some folks supported it and some didn’t.” Kinsey said he and City Councilwoman Cindy Bass will use the feedback from the meeting to provide a recommendation for the Camelot move and then provide it to the School District of Philadelphia (SDP), possibly within the next two weeks. The district will make the final decision on whether Camelot moves in or not.
During the meeting, the SDP and Camelot provided graduation and retention statistics on the programs and responded to community concerns. If approved to move in to the Germantown building, the school plans to bring in two accelerated programs – for students who need to catch up and graduate, and one transition program for students with behavioral issues.
Even though the meeting provided more insight into Camelot’s record and efforts to engage the community, some in attendance said they still had concerns about the specifics of the move, especially as it related to the School District’s role.
“What is still unclear is the lease term agreement between the School District and Camelot, and that’s important because there are concerns that Camelot is operating at a much lower rate than SDP and our [question] is ‘can it be a quality program,’” said Julie Carroll, board vice president for the Germantown United Community Development Corp. “They took away our high school and put a program that is saving the School District money, but where is the cost savings coming from, and why couldn’t we operate our own school there?”
In response to cost concerns, SDP Communications Director Fernando Gallard stated that maintaining the Germantown High School building with two-thirds of it being non-occupied was a misuse of resources and that Camelot is not being funded with funds from the school closure, but with funds already provided for such alternative programs.
“We are always looking to use our money the best way we can, whether we should bring Camelot on board is not the question. The question is where they will do it,” said Gallard, adding, “I think looking at the cost angle is the wrong angle. You have to look at the results of the program that is serving the students. We conduct monthly reviews of all alternative education providers and they are judged on what they are able to achieve in terms of educating students. If they are not doing their job, the contract is not renewed the next year.”
Germantown High School Alumni Association President Vera Primus said the question of Camelot’s performance is not a primary issue, just the fact that Germantown High’s building would be used for its services.
“My whole focus is the support and help for students,” said Primus. “We have Germantown students that live in the community that do not have an education institution to attend and now they are bait for other people, for gangs and predators. It just doesn’t make sense.”
Kinsey stated that he hopes the community can work together so that this will not be a permanent situation. He said, with the collective efforts of state and local elected officials, Germantown organizations and citizens, work could be done to get a high school back in the neighborhood.
“We are talking a comprehensive high school exceeding the norm in Philadelphia. We are going to find businesses and programs to help a new Germantown high school evolve and we have to work on that, but it’s not going to happen overnight.”