Rigorous teaching, extensive programs and hard-working students and staff are just some of the things that make up Furness High School, 1900 S. 3rd St.
“In addition to our academics, Furness has had some great programs that has given our students many different opportunities outside of the classroom” said Principal Daniel Peou. “Whether it’s our running program or our various clubs, these opportunities allow our students to learn and bond over something they enjoy.”
For Don Lun, the teachers at Furness make the school memorable.
“We have great teachers,” Lun said. “They are always willing to help us and are so supportive in everything that we do. They just really care about us.”
Furness has a partnership with Students Run Philly Style, a program that focuses on helping students ages 12-18 realize their capacity for success through mentorship and distance running. Furness has 20 students who participate in the program.
“We’ve been doing the program for about a year and a half,” said running leader for Students Run Philly Style and ESL teacher Aimee Davis. “They pay for us to run a lot of different races including half-marathons and the Broad Street Run. We practice twice a week and sometimes on the weekend. The most interesting thing about Students Run Philly Style is that it is a mentoring program.
“I didn’t see that at first. Now, I’m starting to see that when you’re running with people, you’re talking to them,” she added. “The students tell me about their classes, they talk to me about college and their goals and future careers. We’re discussing all of these things while we’re running. A lot of the staff are a part of the program and also interacting with the students. It’s a great experience for everyone.”
Sophomore Wendy Niorandi says the running program is a great way to meet new people.
“The program is great for meeting and interacting with new people,” Niorandi said. “It also allows me to participate in different runs. I feel really good when I finish each race. My favorite race, so far, is definitely the Broad Street Run.”
Known for being a diverse school, there are about 27 different languages spoken at the school. Some of the languages spoken include Albanian, Arabic, Bengali, Burmese, Chinese Mandarin, Chinese Cantonese/Yue, English, French, Indonesian, Karen, Khmer/Cambodian, Kinyarwanda, Lao, Nepali, Pashto, Spanish, Swahili, Thai, Tigrinya and Vietnamese.
While the school doesn’t currently have any Korean students, the school does have a Korean Club. The club, which has eight students, meets once a week.
“We have a lot of students at Furness who just love the Korean culture, so that’s how the club really came about,” said music teacher Jihee Choi. “I was actually born in Korea, so a lot of the things I’m teaching the students is about the language and culture. The club is really a safe place where students can be themselves and make friends with people who have the same interest as them.”
Another program that is evolving at Furness is sports. The school currently host seven different sports.
“We have a soccer team that is so diverse that the students on the team speak at least five different languages,” said athletic director Colleen Hanna. “All of the sports that we have are varsity except for basketball, which is junior varsity. We also have a co-op with Southern High School.
“Next year, we are looking to co-op with GAMP, which will give us a whole array of sports,” she added. “We have a lot of partnerships that allow our students to have the best chance of being able to play any sport they want. We don’t have the numbers to have a lacrosse team, but Southern does. It‘s just really great to see our students play and learn together and really become a team through sports.”
Furness participated in the Special Olympics PA’s Interscholastic Unified Sports program. On Dec. 2 at Drexel University’s Fitness Plaza, students, family members, and staff participated in the Philadelphia Polar Plunge.
“Each year, the school raises funds to send the students to the polar plunge,” said autistic support teacher Reave Justis. “The polar plunge is the Special Olympics’ biggest fundraiser. We brought about 10 other students to the polar plunge other than the autistic classes. Students from various schools came together in the morning. When we got there, there were a bunch of activities and the students can play various sports like recreational bocce and volleyball. There was an ice cold pool with firemen in it.
“They gave us a certain time slot to do our plunge,” she added. “Once our time arrived, we, as the plungers, go on this platform and jump into the pool. It’s a lot of fun. The students love it and so does the staff. There was a luncheon. Everyone had a great time cheering for each other and being supportive of one another. It’s one of the many events that Furness participates in that really brings our school even closer together.”