Mayor, Superintendent, Elected Officials, Students and Families #RingTheBellPHL for Start of School
School year marks first time students in all grades begin on same day
PHILADELPHIA – School District of Philadelphia Superintendent Dr. William R. Hite, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, Principal Ariel Lajara, City Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell, students and families helped to #RingTheBellPHL and celebrated the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year with the traditional bell-ringing at Hon. Luis Munoz-Marin Elementary School.
“We are so excited to begin the new school year and are wishing all the best to our students, administrators, teachers and support staff,” said Dr. William R. Hite, Superintendent. “This year, we are inviting everyone to be part of our progress. We have already seen significant achievements with our graduation rate at the highest it has been in a decade and more students reading on grade level. Yet, we still have plenty of work to do. We know that our students’ potential is limitless and we look forward to having community partners, businesses, and families be more involved in our work to provide every student a quality education.”
During the ceremony, Dr. Hite helped to honor Attendance Hero Keili Hernandez-Rogel, an Honor Roll student with an impressive attendance record. Afterward, Dr. Hite, Mayor Kenney and invited guests toured the school to see several facility upgrades, including a renovated Instructional Media Center and a new HVAC system designed to prevent moisture buildup and improve air quality. The HVAC project is part of a $5.6 million HVAC upgrade in which the District installed 123 unit ventilators and 18 air handlers at both the Hon. Luis Munoz-Marin and J.B. Kelly schools. They also visited a first grade dual-language classroom.
“I’m excited to celebrate this historic first day of school with the students and staff at Munoz-Marin,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “This school has seen recent improvements in climate, attendance and academic outcomes, and is a great example of the progress we’re seeing across the District. I look forward to working with Dr. Hite, the new School Board, and our city’s leaders and residents to accelerate that progress this year. Thanks to increased funding from the City, we can continue to invest in the strategies that have generated progress. And now that schools are under local control, the City and District can work more closely to strategically align services and resources that support students and their families.”
Dr. Hite will visit also six other schools, including Kensington Health Sciences Academy, a Community School part of the Mayor’s Office of Education initiative, and John H. Webster School.
At Kensington Health Sciences Academy, Dr. Hite will be joined by Otis Hackney, Chief Education Officer for the City of Philadelphia, to discuss with students and staff the new Global Leadership track focused on social justice in healthcare. They will also tour the classroom of a first-year teacher who graduated from Central High School. At John H. Webster School, Dr. Hite will tour several newly modernized early literacy classrooms, complete with new furniture, lighting, technology and manipulatives to better serve children as they learn to read. Webster is the school with the greatest number of these classrooms at 27.
The 2018-2019 school year marks the first time students will begin class before the Labor Day holiday in an effort to increase the number of full weeks of school before a holiday, and to maximize instructional time before assessments. In addition, it is the first year kindergarten students begin school on the same day as students in all other grades.