It’s not every day that the Finley Playground has a program that utilizes every chair in the house and lasts for more than two hours over the scheduled end time.
This was the case when the legal workshop was held at the city-run facility located at the corner of Hortter Street and Mansfield Avenue on Saturday. The event was sponsored by state Rep. Cherelle Parker.
For Finley Advisory Council President Walter Marlin it was a complete success. Though it found him continually bringing in every chair he could find in the two-story brick building, he was glad that the information was well received and there were plenty of questions.
“It was supposed to end at noon and it did not end until about 2:15 p.m., so everyone did not clear out of there until about 3 p.m.,” Marlin said. “It went well not only because of the information that was presented, but because there was a lot of legal information, not legal advice, given. Most were seniors, but we did have some middle-age people who were maybe 35, 45 or 55 there as well.”
“Although we don’t like to talk about, or think about, our dying, there is a need for us to rationally begin to plan for our ultimate demise,” said Gerry Sizemore, a longtime Finley Advisory Council member. “Those who attended were interested in property tax information, landlord and tenant information, and I took handouts to my church family to share with them. There was information about the new Voter ID law and the Voter Identification Guide that she (Parker) and her staff prepared.”
Among the agencies on hand were Philadelphia VIP, Tenant Union Representative Network or TURN, Community Legal Services, Equality PA, Military Assistance Programs, the Philadelphia Public Defenders Association, the Public Interest Law Center along with the ACLU, the Mayor’s Office and the District Attorney’s Office.
Topics included getting disability, veterans’ benefits, the rights of same-sex partners and how to obtain photo identification for voting purposes.
“One of the hot topics that of mortgage foreclosures which was dealt with by Philadelphia VIP,” Marlin said. “A lot of those present had concerns about title transfers, fraud, and conveyance. In fact, really after every single presentation there were so many questions asked when they opened the floor for questions.”
Sizemore agreed. What also surprised her was the fact that when Parker asked how the largely mature crowd heard about the workshop, about 95 of them said it was as a result of an email-blast or robo-call. “Lots of neighbors were not aware that there is a District Attorney’s satellite office in the 7100 block of Ogontz Avenue,” Sizemore said.
The June 2 “Your Right to Know” workshop was the second in a series of legal workshops Parker is hosting, according to Marlin. These workshops will be ongoing and another is tentatively scheduled for some time in July.
The Philadelphia High School for Girls is empowering future female leaders. This year’s graduating class demonstrates this in several ways. First, 100 percent of the June graduates have been accepted to four-year colleges and universities. Secondly, more than half have received full or partial scholarships to continue their education. Lastly, their academic, athletic and aesthetic legacy has created multi-dimensional young women ready to take on any challenge.
Girls’ High principal Dr. Parthenia Moore is proud of the invigorated legacy at the school she herself calls alma mater. This is her second year at the helm of the city’s only all-girls public secondary school. She said she is continuing to create an environment within the pink marble hallways where mediocrity is not tolerated and distinction is the hallmark.
“We are focused on excellence,” said Moore. “We let the students know that they can embark on every career, which they are carrying on the legacy of many who graduated from Girls’ High, and that they, too, can excel. We have great pride in academics and our AP, IB and honors students get a chance to raise their GPAs beyond 4.0. Right now we have several students who have GPAs like 4.06 and 4.089.”
Moore is quick to add that “sisterhood” is a primary theme at the school located at 1400 W. Olney Ave. While the school has already a “big sister/little sister” mentoring relationship between seniors and freshmen, there’s a new addition. Now the “middle children are not neglected,” according to Moore as the sophomores and juniors are involved in a cross-mentoring project.
This is all part of the networking that exemplifies Girls’ High, said Moore. As an alumnus she is well aware of how maintaining connections with fellow alums has both personal and professional benefits. “I stress that this is an intrical part of who we are and that these relationships are priceless,” Moore said.
The spirit of excellence, sisterhood and networking resonates from the Girls’ High faculty. Just ask Dr. Joy Friedlander, the dance instructor. When “The Learning Key” caught up with her she had dance students on the auditorium stage fine tuning their interpretive expressions for the “Chrysalis: The Movement of Women” program that was held on Thursday, May 17.
“This is the history of women taking the audience decade by decade into the lives of 120 of them,” said Friedlander, who has been teaching at Girls’ High for 12 years. “Women were minority and they were oppressed. So the dance shows the struggles and the suppressing of how women were stymied. That’s only half the story since as they overcome they struggle they learned that they could fly.”
History teacher Brenden Jobs has been bringing to life both African American history and the history of the United States, including the female journey, for half a decade at Girls’ High. He is the recipient of the Educational Pioneer Fellowship through the Washington, D. C. based Seed Foundation. He just earned his master’s degree last year in education specializing in teaching, learning and curriculum development from the University of Pennsylvania.
“This is an awesome place to teach,” Jobs said, who hopes to obtain his national board certification by November. “The students are nice, smart, and eager to learn. They truly want to be the best they can be. They motivate me to be the best I can be.”
Jobs interacts with a room full of seniors. They all stress that Girls’ High has provided then with the foundation they need to pursue different careers. There’s students like Ayo Keys, whose love of art is leading her to study creative design and fashion journalism in New York City, while aspiring physician Gabrielle Smith just received a biology scholarship to Barnard College. Lexus Jessup is proud of her full scholarship to Lock Haven, while Amanda Spearman of Northeast Philadelphia said she will be taking “the sisterhood and results of great teaching” with her to the University of Pittsburgh.
Language arts teacher Xueling Qu has earned awards for teaching Mandarin Chinese. Her teaching prowess is evident as she leads a group of third year honors students through a lesson where they must translate an advertisement into Mandarin. Qu only speaks in the Chinese language and students easily dialogue with her.
“I really enjoy this even though at times it is hard, but I may be able to use in later on the job,” said 16-year old Nicole Glover of North Philadelphia. Glover began taking Mandarin while a middle school student at the General George A. McCall Elementary School in Center City. She hopes to become a bilingual psychiatrist in the future.
Yet the old adage “all work and no play” is not a mantra for the typical Girls’ High student. Gym teacher, Bill Edger, can attest to that as he points to the group of scholars who become energized in perfect unison when the Wii dance routine hits the gymnasium wall.
Edger, who has been teaching in the Philadelphia School District for more than 38 years and at Girls’ High over the last 7 years, said that students earned a CPR Olympic grant that enabled them to get the Wii. There are also many enthusiastic athletes who come to school as early as 7 a.m. and stay until past 6 p.m. to hone their athletic skills.
Students also excel in the visual and performing arts as well. Art teacher Joseph Marchetti is quick to show off the creations students made by recycling as well as more traditional portraits and painting. Junior Ciara Williford, 17, of Northeast Philadelphia shows off her black, gray and white abstract painting. “I really want to be artist and study at either LaSalle, Temple, Miami State or the University of Pennsylvania,” Williford said.
Bassist Jaleh Wood, an 18-year old senior from West Oak Lane, is quick to try her hand at the recently donated harp to the school’s music department. A sextet of “roving strings” (violins and violas) join her as they pass more than a dozen upright pianos students practice on before the school day starts.
“There’s just so much energy and a lot of diversity at this school,” said Nicole Ismael, the senior class president. “When you leave here you can major in almost anything in college. I plan to major in business administration management at Temple University and then own my own business.
“I feel that this school encourages leadership. I have been given the opportunity to take a leadership role here. I work on many projects where I develop those leadership skills and networking ability. I think this will serve me well not only in higher education but in running a business,” Ismael said.
Moore agreed. She said that Ismael’s “elevator pitch” about what she learned at Girl’s High and easily translating it into her future endeavors is what the young ladies learn there. “They understand the intrinsic value of those intangible things that you learn outside the classroom as well as all the great things that happens in the classrooms. The teachers, too, are always excelling and striving — this is what makes us all rise to a level that is more stellar,” Moore said.
Ten Philadelphia School District seniors participated in the Careers through Culinary Arts Program or C-CAP’s Cooking Competition for Scholarships recently. After creating a two-course French dinner against the clock, the top challengers received the final prizes at the C-CAP 2012 Awards Breakfast held at The Union League, 140 S. Broad St. on May 10.
They walked away with $404,878 in scholarships and cash awards. The senior competitors included Rashad Dowd and Clarence Grimes from Murrell Dobbins High School as well as Vernon Barrett-Dozier, Jr. and Precious Terry from A. Philip Randolph High School. Students Quinesha Gibson, Kevin Isley, Bernard Lipscomb, Jade Milner, Mikea Rivers, and Chelsea Taylor, all from Frankford High School.
“This is so exciting to see my students get scholarships,” said Frankford High culinary teacher Wilma W. Stephenson, who has been teaching at the school for 43 years. “This program has changed lives. The students are so motivated. Some live near 69th Street so to get to Frankford on time they have to leave home at 4:30 a.m.
“We are tough on them in the program. Most don’t come from families like the Huxtables (from the “Cosby” show) so they have their own challenges. Yet to see these kids rise to the occasion coming through the snow, the cold and any weather to get to class and then compete for scholarships is inspiring,” Stephenson said.
Perhaps no one was more excited to receive a scholarship than Gibson. She earned a full scholarship to earn her bachelor’s degree from Monroe College. The $58,500 award sets her on the track to become a world class chef.
Yet it was Milner, who earned the highest scholarship prize of $104,448 to attend Johnson & Wales University with an all-expenses paid bachelor’s scholarship. “I am so happy to get this scholarship,” Milner said.
Barret-Dozier and Dowd received C-CAP scholarship awards of $2,000. The other students will be attending LeCordon Bleu, the Culinary Institute of America, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and the International Culinary Schools at the Art Institute of Philadelphia on full or partial C-CAP scholarships.
C-CAP was founded by Richard Grausman more than 20 years ago. Grausman, C-CAP’s chairman, is a cookbook author, culinary educator, and the recipient of numerous awards. Among his accolades are the President’s Service Award and the James Beard Humanitarian Awards. C-CAP began in 12 New York City public schools and has expanded to 165 New York schools as well as schools in Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Hampton Roads, Chicago, Los Angeles, and the state of Arizona.
The organization’s Philadelphia staffers are program director Victoria Grant and program coordinator Chef Wilhelmina Bell. Sponsors of the May 10 breakfast included The Union League of Philadelphia, Drexel University, and The Art Institute of Philadelphia.
Twenty-four African-American students from Northwest Philadelphia and surrounding areas are closer to their dream of attaining a college degree thanks to tuition and book scholarships given to them by the non-profit West Oak Lane-based Concerned Black Men.
The awardees received their prizes at CBM’s Annual Youth Recognition Banquet Friday at the Flourtown Country Club.
Sean V. Brown, a student at the Peddie School in Hightsown, N.J., was named the 2012 CBM Youth of the Year. Brown has been accepted to study biology as a pre-med undergraduate student at Johns Hopkins University this fall. In addition to having a 3.4 GPA, Brown excelled at both varsity football and basketball as well as the junior varsity baseball team at his school.
“I just thank God for giving me the opportunity to be here,” Brown said in his acceptance speech. “I would like to thank my parents because without them I would not be going to Johns Hopkins or getting any of the awards I’ve received. I thank CBM for supporting me and I would like to congratulate all the other students who earned scholarships tonight.”
This year’s other scholarship recipients included Springside students Autumn Temple and Azurai Thompson, Chestnut Hill Academy senior Terence A. Jones, Cheltenham High School senior Je’von Tyrone-Cary White, and Roxborough High School senior Laurence Caulk.
Also, Parkway High School junior Shanice Hill, Northeast High School student Tiaira Wright, and Frankford High School senior Tyler Greene received awards. Additionally, Murell Dobbins High School seniors Quanika English Fowler, Chante Smith, Melvin Ellis and Shyheim Fuller were honorees.
Furthermore, Constitution High School senior Charnique Johnson, Bodine High student Christian Copeland, West Catholic High School athlete David Morton, By God’s Word Christian Academy scholar Donel J. Brown, and World Communications Charter School senior Jasmine Coleman received scholarships.
Julia Masterman High School aspiring journalist Jazzlin Sturgis, and Girard Academic Music student Manuel Jimenez were honored by CBM. Finally, Academy of Notre Dame de Namur junior Janae Grier, Winslow Township (N.J.) High School junior Jayme Braithwaite, Western School of Technology senior Julian Patton, and Cherokee High School (N.J.) karate expert Junice Ward, also received scholarships or book awards as well.
The scholarship awards were sponsored by Dr. Jerry Murphy, Relish Restaurant in West Oak Lane, and many others. During the May 18 event Joseph E. Huggins was officially inducted as a new member of CBM.
“You must work hard at what comes easy to you,” said keynote speaker Omar Barlow. He is the co-founder and academic officer of Barlow Enterprises. Barlow recommended the scholars think big, live their lives on purpose, and excel.
Also on the program were master of ceremonies E. Steven Collins and CBM president Hank Wilson. In addition, Brian Michael Evans of West Oak Lane provided the evening’s music.
For Stacy Watson, of the Cedarbrook section of East Mount Airy, the Cedar Park Presbyterian Church is a second home. While growing up she was an avid participant in the Northwest Youth Association camp at the church located at 7740 Limekiln Pike. Before embarking on a medical career, she ran worked at the pre-school at the site.
So, when Cedar Park held its 95th anniversary gala May 19, she was among those seated at table number five. The event was held at the Flourtown Country Club. The main ballroom was filled as former, current and future church members fathered.
“This is the church where I grew up,” Watson said. “This is just an emotional evening as I see so many I have not seen in years. I started going to the church when I was 9-years-old and my family moved to 79th Avenue. My two sons were baptized here and my son, Corey, who is now 25, was the baby Jesus during the Christmas play at the church when he was just six months old.”
Even though Watson still lives in the church’s membership territory, her work schedule often precludes getting to Sunday worship services. She has a three-day work schedule at Einstein Medical Center where she works three 12-hour shifts from Friday to Sunday.
“That means unless I’m on vacation I can’t go to church, so one of the nurses who come regularly, Vivie Willis, keeps me informed. When she told me about this I knew I had to be here,” Watson said.
“When churches get involved in social action we don’t need to do a need assessment,” said the Rev. Dr. Curtis A. Jones in his keynote address to Cedar Park. “Instead we need to do an asset inventory…to build on our strengths. This is what will take Cedar Park through the next 95 years.”
The gala was segmented into the past, the present and the future. Elder Sandra Burney introduced Lillian Clarke, who served as mistress of ceremony. The Rev. Dr. Carroll D. Jenkins delivered the invocation and Elder Margaret Turner welcomed the full house.
“I’ve been a member of this church for 40 years,” Turner told the Tribune during dinner. “I am a member of the committee. We are so pleased with the beautiful turn out. I just got the opportunity to see so many I have not seen in a long time. It’s a good thing.”
The past memories were delivered by Deacon Henrietta Motley as well as former pastors including Rev. Thomas Crenshaw. It was noted that the original church started under an apple tree and then moved to Limekiln Pike and Williams Avenue in 1917 before the building moved to its current site.
The present segment featured the music of gospel violinist Katherine Burton and jazz vocalist Barbara Walker. Elder Eugene Campher listed all the church’s current ministries. The final segment featured Cedar Park scoutmaster Rodney Keitt on vocals before Jenkins outlined the future vision for the congregation. The Cedar Park Praise Dancers performed and the concluding song was “This Little Light of Mine.”