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First Day of School Highlights

Students, principals, teachers, and families celebrated the first day of the 2017-2018 school year throughout The School District of Philadelphia on Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017. Superintendent Dr. William R. Hite,  Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney and 30 second graders marked the first day of the 2017-2018 school year with the traditional bell-ringing ceremony at Joseph Pennell Elementary School. The celebration took place in a newly modernized classroom, which has been completely refurbished to support the District’s focused work on early literacy.

View photos from the first day of school


Dr. Hite was joined by Mayor Kenney, Pennell Elementary School Principal Jason Harris, Councilmembers Cindy Bass and Jannie Blackwell, and other invited guests. Pennell Elementary is one of eight District schools receiving investments this school year in Pre-K through second grade classrooms designed to improve literacy in early grades. Some of the physical improvements include new technology and manipulatives to support small-group instruction; desks, chairs and other seating options better suited for students’ age groups; improved lighting; and new paint, cabinets and closets.

Dr. Hite also visited six other schools on the first day, including George Washington High School, a newly named Community School by the Mayor’s Office of Education, and Juniata Park Academy. At Juniata Park Academy, Dr. Hite toured the school’s art studio and visited a sixth grade Social Studies class to discuss the importance of diversity. At George Washington High School, Dr. Hite and Mayor Kenney ate lunch with 9th Grade Academy students and stopped by a student-created diversity mural completed this summer.

The School District is now in year two of an investment plan which has grown to $526 million, including investments touching every school in the District. Some of these investments include new technology, computer and science labs; nurses and counselors in every school; ninth grade academies focused on college and career readiness; early literacy coaches; and leveled libraries in all K-3 classrooms.

Last modified: September 6, 2017