Olney Charter gets a jump start to the new school year

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

by Katrina Morrison

Students and staff at Olney Charter High School have spent the past week getting ready for the new school year by hosting several activities and workshops.

The school, which will operate for the first time in the 2011-12 school year as a charter under ASPIRA, Inc., held student orientation all week long for incoming and returning students, and their parents.

Olney Charter High School was divided into two schools – Olney East and Olney West – in 2005 as part of a push for small high schools under the leadership of former District Superintendent Paul Vallas. But under the District’s Renaissance Schools initiative, in March the District awarded both schools to ASPIRA to be run as a charter.

The weeklong fest started on Monday at 9 a.m. sharp with about 150 parents and students filing into the school’s auditorium, where Principal Jose Lebron described school policies, including uniforms, behavior, and attendance. He also talked about extracurricular programs at the school, such as the Honor Society and ASPIRA club, and introduced about two dozen of the school’s newly hired staff, and members of the school’s leadership team.

Throughout the day, parents and students participated in various information sessions and team-building exercises to gather details about what to expect in the upcoming year and to ask questions.

At the end of each day, students joined team leaders and faculty to prep the school for “Community Paint Day,” an event in which the general public is invited to assist students, staff, and parents in beautifying the building and its surrounding community. This event will be held Saturday, August 6 from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Hye-won Gehring, the 9th and 10th grade academic leader and facilitator of a session held about student ID cards, said she looks forward to the new school year under ASPIRA because ASPIRA “cares about whole child development and whole teacher development.”