PlanPhilly

Parents, students, alumni planning Girard College protest

Saying the voices of students and their families are not being heard, parents of Girard College students faced with the prospect of losing their school and home are planning to rally at the campus on Friday.

A group of parents, alumni and students are to meet at the campus at noon Friday, and are asking an Orphans Court judge to hear their plea to keep the high school program open long enough for current students to graduate.

Under proposed changes announced last week by the Board of City Trusts, which administers the Girard Estate, the high school and the residence program would disappear "temporarily" at the end of next year, leaving current students unable to graduate from the 165-year-old school and scrambling for a new place. The plan would need approval from the city's Orphans Court.

Virginia Dennis, mother of 10th grader Brandon Dixon, said parents tried unsuccessfully to plead their case to school President Clarence D. Armbrister at recent mandatory parent meetings.

"They dropped this bomb on them a week before finals," Dennis said. "Out of all these people, the Steering Committee, the Board of City Trusts, the managers, nobody had anything to say to us?"

Dennis said, parents were told Girard could sustain itself for at least another 20 years with its current finances. Given that, she wonders, why cut the high school program so quickly?

"All the parents of high school students had the same response," Dennis wrote in a an email Monday to Orphans Court Administrative Judge Joseph D. O'Keefe. "Why not use 4 of those 20 years and allow the high school students to graduate. This is their legacy. Your honor, these kids did nothing wrong."

The judge is on vacation this week, no hearing has been scheduled on either the proposals to the change the school, or any protest of it. Armbrister met with the Board of Governors Tuesday night.

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About the author

Amy Z. Quinn, NewsWorks Northwest reporter

Amy Z. Quinn developed an interest in planning and land use while covering rapidly-developing South Jersey suburbs for the Philadelphia Inquirer, and later wrote extensively about urban and beachfront redevelopment for the Asbury Park Press.

Over more than 15 years of local reporting, opinion writing and blogging, Amy has cultivated a distinctive voice and desire to get right to the heart of an issue. She also trains tomorrow's news professionals as a popular journalism instructor at several area universities. 
 
A Manayunk native now living in an average suburban development, Amy covers Northwest Philly as part of PlanPhilly's partnership with WHYY's NewsWorks.


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