Students to lead discussion with Philadelphia superintendent on issues facing the district

Philadelphia Superintendent William Hite will have a conversation on June 9 with students.
Philadelphia Superintendent William Hite will have a conversation on June 9 with students on some of the most important education issues facing the school district. (Chalkbeat)

Aden Gonzales, a graduating senior from Julia R. Masterman High School has experienced a school year like no other.

As the first president of Philadelphia’s official student newspaper, The Bullhorn, Gonzales led a team of student journalists this year through the uncertainty and upheaval of a pandemic. The Bullhorn staff has covered everything from community food trucks to calls for increased student representation on the Board of Education.

Gonzales will join four district students on June 9 in a conversation with Superintendent William Hite on some of the most important education issues facing the School District of Philadelphia. The discussion will center around the district’s plan to spend nearly $1.3 billion in federal coronavirus relief money, what summer learning will look like, and what to expect for the fall semester as schools plan to bring back all students for in-person learning.

“This conversation with Dr. Hite is beneficial to students because it humanizes the leaders of our school district and makes them feel more accessible and approachable,” Gonzales said. “In order for us as students to organize around the problems we face, it’s important that we understand the systems of power and how they work.”

The group of students interviewing Hite will include: Nia Weeks, outgoing Bullhorn chief editor, and graduating senior from Masterman; Kara Butler, incoming chief editor for the Bullhorn, who attends Lankenau Environmental Science Magnet High School; Kaitlyn Rodriguez, the incoming president of The Bullhorn, who attends Creative and Performing Arts High School; and Shamir Britt-Holmes, a junior at Martin Luther King High School.

“Events like these are important because they establish a line of communication between students and the district so that the district can continue serving students the best way possible,” Weeks said.

The event is scheduled for 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. June 9. It is free to attend, but there will be an option to donate to support Chalkbeat’s efforts to cover public education in Philadelphia.

The event will also feature a brief discussion between Chalkbeat Philadelphia’s Bureau Chief Johann Calhoun and Senior Writer Dale Mezzacappa on education happenings, and a word from Paul Socolar, founder and longtime editor of The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

“My heart goes out to all of the students in Philly for withstanding so much during this year of virtual learning,” Calhoun said. “I’m honored and proud of Chalkbeat Philadelphia in partnering with The Bullhorn for this event. What a great opportunity for these students to sit down with Dr. Hite and learn first hand for their classmates on what to expect in the new school year.”

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