Hearing the orchestra practice Zimmer’s “The Dark Knight” and seeing students playing the guitar are just some of the activities that go on during a normal school day at Academy at Palumbo Liberal Arts High School.
Known for its academic excellence, Palumbo is a selective, college preparatory magnet school. Originally modeled after Central High, the school’s purpose is to create a diverse community of college bound scholars who are responsible, ethical, and caring citizens while including a rich cultural arts experience.
“Our goal has always been to prepare our students for college and the real world,” says principal Adrienne Wallace-Chew. “Palumbo continues to excel academically. We have a 100 percent graduation rate for our seniors and we are continuing to provide them with the best education and programs.
“We are considered small for an academic school, but the students here does extremely well and always take full advantage of the opportunities that are given to them. We are doing everything that we possibly can to make sure all of our students succeed.”
Some of Palumbo’s arts activities and classes include vocal music, instrumental music classes, visual arts instruction, theater instruction, choir, band, orchestra, drum-line, and social play.
This is the first year that the music program has been back at Palumbo after a brief hiatus. The school has an itinerary music teacher that works with each section of the orchestra once a week. Orchestra students also have a class one period a day. There are currently 40 students in the orchestra.
“The music program at Palumbo has been a learning experience for me,” says junior Kayla Gonzales. “Last year, the orchestra was going through a few rough patches. Our teacher had gotten sick and from there things just started changing. Both the students and the school overcame it though. The orchestra continues to grow and we have a great teacher in Mr. Jordan.”
Senior Travis Goffredo continues to excel in the music program at Palumbo.
“There was a time where the music program died here,” Goffredo said. “I decided to get with the itinerary music teacher to try to keep the music program going. I would conduct two days a week. We were doing everything to make sure the program would survive. It was a lot of hard work, but it was worth it.
“I hope my drive in music has helped influence other students in the program at the school. Music is a huge part of life; I play all percussion instruments. When I go to college that’s what I would like to major in. I’ve done a lot of things in music for Palumbo as well as outside of the school.”
Orchestra teacher James Jordan said it’s Goffredo’s passion for music and academic excellence that has helped his chances for getting into a good college.
“Travis has been invited to audition to the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia,” Jordan said. “That’s really a honor for any student. Curtis is the most prestigious music conservatory in the world; it rivals Julliard. Students who attend Curtis don’t have to pay tuition because they earn a fellowship. We’re all hoping Travis does really well and gets accepted there.”
In addition to the music program, Palumbo offers Advanced Placement courses including literature, statistics, chemistry, studio art, biology, and psychology. The school has achieved AYP every year since its inception.
For Yahana Gheberhiwet, ceramics is one of the classes at Palumbo that she enjoys taking.
“I always wanted to learn about ceramics,” Gheberhiwet said. “When I would go out and see something beautiful that was made, I would always want to know how they did it. In ceramics, we learn everything from texture to designs. This is just something that I like to do. I don’t want to major in art. When I enter college in the fall, I want my major to be biology.”
Philadelphia Magazine ranked Palumbo as No. 4 for best public high schools in Philadelphia. Last year, the U.S. News and World report ranked the school No. 21 for best high schools in Pennsylvania and Palumbo also received the Jefferson Silver award winner for community service. The school was also the “Get Schooled” attendance challenge East Coast champions in 2012.
“This is one of the best schools for academic excellence,” said sophomore Kamea Morris. “Everything we learn here is preparing us for our future. The curriculum at times can be tough, but I think it will be all worth it in the end. Nobody wants to go to college unprepared. I’m looking forward to college, but right now I’m just enjoying my time at Palumbo.”
Over the years, students at Palumbo were accepted to over 100 different colleges and universities across the country, including Morehouse, Spelman, NYU, Temple, Villanova, University of Pittsburgh, DePaul, Syracuse, Florida A&M University, Howard, University of San Francisco, Drexel, Penn State, and Saint Joseph’s University.
“This is my last year at Palumbo,” says senior Lachae’ Solomon. “Some of the colleges I’m currently looking into include Hampton, Spelman, Temple, and North Carolina A&T. I want to do something in social work. Palumbo is a good school, especially academic wise. The school is very diverse; we’re like a family here. I’m going to miss Palumbo, but I’m thankful for the great times that I had here.”