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To Philly, with love: Letters from students

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

by Julie Mazziotta

For 28 seniors at Philadelphia’s Science Leadership Academy, their city inspires letters of love and adoration. Last week, under the direction of their teacher Meenoo Rami, the students wrote love letters to Philadelphia in honor of Valentine’s Day and posted them on the school’s blog.

The letters are modeled after posts on Philly Love Notes, the website that Emma Fried-Cassorla said she started to “remind the city, and us, that it is loved.”

Many of the letters praised Philadelphia’s numerous museums, parks, and trails, extolling all of the opportunities the city has to offer.

Of course, proud dedications went out to the Philadelphia Eagles. “Thank you for ruining the last 13 years of my life,” joked Michael Sanders.

Hahahaha just kidding. Even though they [sic] Eagles have disappointed me since 2004, I am still a die hard Eagles fan. I can remember the 4th and 23 and the Miracle at the New Meadowlands like they were yesterday. Watching every game since 1999 I can say I had some great memories and some awful ones.

In what would be a surprise for most commuters, two students expressed their love for SEPTA. Marley Utzig wrote about her affection for riding the 25 bus.

I was an awkward California girl when the harsh city swept me up. I was never around public transportation but when it came time to fall into travel it was you that I fell in love with. I look out the windows and see memories of my past flash by. You have been with me through everything. You have taken me to concerts and clubs. Tried not to be bumpy while I scribbled my late homework down. You held me while I cried from a broken heart or just a stressed mind. You made me love public transportation.

Her classmate Symone Smith expressed a similar, but complicated relationship with the Broad Street Line trains.

You got me through a lot these past 3 and a half years. From home to school and from school to home, I couldn’t do it without you. You’ve accepted me when I was lonely and when I came with company. I guess what I’m saying is, through all the hustle and bustle I still love you. I’ll always be here to fill that empty space in your cart.

For one student, Philadelphia doesn’t inspire declarations of love, but dislike.

The only reason I like you is because this is where my house is, and that is where I stay. I don’t enjoy the events, too much noise, too many people. I don’t like walking around the city, I have no desire to be hit by a car again.

Sorry Philly, I’m just not that into you.

Describing his intoxicating experience at Federal Donuts, Matt Rinaldi wrote:

My nostrils were filled with an intense aroma of honey and ginger. I was consumed in its inviting fragrance and was filled with nothing but passionate lust.

Maybe that student should meet up with Matt. An order of fried chicken and a vanilla spice doughnut might just change her mind about this city.

Read all the letters here and here.

Julie Mazziotta is an intern at the Notebook.