This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
It’s a new school year, and that means it’s time for the Philly High School Fair. The event will be Friday and Saturday, Sept. 15-16, at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. This year’s space for the fair is about three times the size used in previous years, and the event will take place a month earlier than the usual date in mid-October.
The fair brings together information about more than 100 public, charter, and Catholic high schools, offered at booths staffed by educators, parents, and students. It gives middle school students the opportunity to talk one-on-one with the representatives of the schools to which they are considering applying and to learn more about familiar and unfamiliar schools.
The fair also features a community resources section with booths staffed by nonprofit groups from around the city that offer various kinds of help and resources to students who will make the difficult decision of where to apply.
The fair will kick off Friday morning when 3,500 middle school students cycle through the booths before the doors open to the public. Later Friday, the fair – in Hall B of the Convention Center (12th and Arch Streets) – will be open to everyone from 5 to 7 p.m. and on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
“To really restart and invigorate Philadelphia’s economy, we need schools across the entire city performing at a higher level for kids,” said Mark Gleason, executive director of the Philadelphia School Partnership, which hosts the event.
“That’s going to take effort and partnership from many, many stakeholders, and I’m encouraged that the partnership is already happening across a lot of fronts. … This is not just one enterprise; this is many partners pulling together to put an event in place that becomes a vital resource for families so that they can make choices about where their students go to school.”
Last year, the fair was attended by more than 12,000 people, according to Salma Khan, director of the Great Philly Schools program at PSP. She said that District officials would be at the fair to talk with students and parents about how to apply to District high schools using the online application portal, although the application process does not actually open until Sept. 29.
Superintendent William Hite said, “One of the things that’s really important is that all of our young people, no matter where they are in the city, take advantage of what is a choice system in the high schools here in Philadelphia.
“I know that our principals, teachers, guidance counselors are proud to share their experiences with families and young people.”
Chris Moore, co-head of school at Freire Charter, said that “Freire has been a participant in the High School Fair for many, many years. Every year it seems to get bigger, better, and more logistically on-point.
“Our admissions team has worked hard to recruit students, using numerous tactics. However, the most effective way to recruit students, we found, is to be a part of this fair.”
The Notebook will participate in the fair, handing out copies of its annual fall guide to high schools. The fall guide is a comprehensive resource that offers information about every District and charter high school in Philadelphia. Parents, students, and teachers can read various articles about the high school selection process, enjoy specifics about what activities and programs are at each school, and compare various schools’ statistics using the guide’s centerspread of data.