This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
by Aaron Moselle, for NewsWorks
The Germantown High School community is gearing up to fight the School District of Philadelphia’s recommendation to close the nearly century-old institution.
Less than a week after the news broke, parents, alumni, students and staff gathered at Germantown’s hulking High Street building to kick-start what is expected to be a multi-month push to keep the school open.
"We will not let Germantown High School die," said state Rep.-elect Stephen Kinsey, a 1976 graduate, during Wednesday night’s meeting.
Principal Margaret Mullen-Bavwidinsi made an appearance, but declined to comment as she has since the announcement was made.
Citing declining enrollment and poor academic performance, the District recommended Thursday that Germantown close at the end of this academic year. A total of 44 schools across the city may close or relocate as part of the District’s ongoing Facilities Master Plan, a right-sizing effort aimed, in part, at addressing substantial budget woes.
Post-closure, GHS students would go to either Martin Luther King High, its rival on the other side of the neighborhood, or Roxborough High.
Germantown enrolls just 676 students, less than half of the school’s student capacity. In 2010, the school had 943 students on the books, according to the District website.
The Northwest Philadelphia school has also consistently failed to make Adequate Yearly Progress, a measurement of student performance tied to the federal No Child Left Behind Act, but supporters have cited recent improvements and a changing academic culture inside the building.
During an emotional meeting, organizers focused largely on one message: All hands on deck.