This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
Kensington High School students have a vision of creating a high school that is small and responsive to students’ interests, and they are working to make it a reality through the District’s Capital Improvement Plan.
According to the District’s Capital Improvement Plan, groundbreaking for a new high school facility to replace Kensington High is scheduled for 2005. District CEO Paul Vallas has indicated that he would consider speeding up the process.
The students, members of the Youth United for Change (YUC), propose that the School District build the new Kensington High School as a campus of four small schools, each with a unique career and academic theme. Each school would serve about 400 students and have its own principal. The four small schools would share some resources and facilities, like sports teams, a library, and a lunchroom.
The YUC students have even identified a site for the campus at Front and Berks and received the support of the group that owns the land, the Norris Square Civic Association.
The students’ plan is based in part on a listening campaign they conducted by visiting 15 classrooms and listening to over 300 students. Students overwhelmingly supported the idea of a campus of four small schools.
The YUC students have further strengthened the plan through research about the small schools movement and visits to several small schools in other cities.
"There’s a small schools movement that’s being created in Philadelphia, and students are at the forefront of that movement," remarks YUC Assistant Director Andi Perez.
The students have been meeting regularly with Vallas to discuss their plan. They are presenting the plan at a community forum on small high schools at Kensington High on May 21.
For more information, contact YUC at 215-423-9588.