This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
By Brad Gibson and Monika Zaleska
Hamilton Hall of the University of the Arts was abuzz with friends of the Notebook as we gave awards to student journalists and to two special honorees while celebrating our 16th year as Philadelphia’s leading education resource at the seventh annual Turning the Page for Change event on June 15.
“I see the Notebook not just as a news source, but as a force for educational justice,” said Ron Whitehorne, the Notebook’s leadership board chairman, in his remarks at the celebration.
During the event, the people behind this force were displayed in “Faces of Change,” a collection of photographs of past Notebook events and stories.
The event brought together student leaders and journalists, teachers, administrators, and activists. A string quartet from Girard Academy Musical Program [GAMP] played as guests enjoyed food from 12th Street Cantina. Students from the High School for the Creative and Performing Arts [CAPA] drew caricatures of guests, who could also pose with a cardboard cutout cover of the Notebook.
Emcee Loraine Ballard Morrill of Clear Channel Radio came to the podium when the party was underway and spoke about the Notebook’s impact on education activism, and encouraged people to become members and lend their support.
Ballard Morrill said that she was once so angered by an injustice covered in the publication that she wrote the Notebook a check on the spot, to ensure that this kind of in-depth coverage continued to be accessible. Her sentiments were shared by many in attendance who said they turn to the Notebook for education news and analysis.
“I read the Notebook to find out what is going on in classrooms around the city,” said Janet Lewin, a former District teacher.
The Notebook is also a forum for Philadelphia education advocates.
“The Notebook facilitates open communication between students, teachers, and administrators,” said Sharon Newman Ehrlich, a District teacher.
At the event, four student journalists were presented with excellence awards.
Brandon Stanton, a student journalist from Randolph Technical High School, said “It was an honor to be noticed [by the Notebook].
His article “To Be Abstinent or Not To Be Abstinent” won the award for best opinion/editorial piece. Stanton, who graduated with honors the day before, said he is excited to begin his college career in the fall at Penn State University, where he will study electrical engineering.
“These awards serve as an encouragement to those schools that produce student publications,” Ballard Morrill said.
Other student winners were Chris Woods of Masterman, Kyle Werder of Central, and Victoria Adan of Esperanza Academy.
Also honored were Notebook Web Editor Erika Owens and co-founder Myrtle Naylor for their part in making the publication a vibrant and interactive resource.
More than 250 people were in attendance, and about two dozen signed up on the spot to become Notebook members. There was a drawing for door prizes that included IKEA gift baskets and framed cartoons by the Notebook’s Eric Joselyn. New members received Notebook travel mugs.
Among the attendees were Councilman Bill Green, School Reform Commission members Joseph Dworetzky and Johnny Irizarry, District Chief Business Officer Michael Masch and Chief Operating Officer John Frangipani, former Board of Education president Pedro Ramos, and former interim District leaders Phil Goldsmith and Deidré Farmbry.
They mingled with some of the city’s leading activists committed to educational justice. The party raised nearly $40,000 to help sustain the Notebook’s independent voice.
If you were a guest, thank you. To all of our readers, please consider supporting the Notebook in any way you can, make a donation, become a member, and please join us for Turning the Page for Change next June!