As you know in my last blog post, I talked about two different schools, Ben Franklin High School and Science Leadership Academy. These two schools will be colocating together in the year 2020, my goal is to prevent any conflict that might happen before the move. I have continued to do research on this topic, I interviewed some pretty amazing people including Mr. Lehmann who is the principal of Science Leadership Academy. Dr. Christine Borelli who is the principal of Ben Franklin High School, and Christina Grant who is assistant superintendent of the Innovation Network and Opportunity Network.
Along with these interviews I have done some extra research. This is a new site that just came out about the move. The site talks about a variety of different things that have to do with this particular situation, such as the project overview with a schedule/timeline. This website also shows pictures of both Ben Franklin and SLA students collaborating to generate ideas about renovating Ben Franklin’s building for the move. Along with all of this, I learned some new things. For example, construction starts in June 2018 and goes until July 2019. Also that Stantech is in charge of the architectural side of the project, they are designing and planning for the new building. This website was a great resource to get information about the building and planning of the move.
Timeline of the project
Another site that I found, helped me a little bit in understanding the financials of the move. As of right now it costs about $1 million to rent out SLA’s building, which is very expensive. The school district is putting $20 million into renovating the new building. Something else I learned was that Ben Franklin High School can hold a little over 1000 kids. In the school year 2016-17, they only had 546 students while SLA has about 500. So this move makes a lot of sense because Ben Franklin has the space and it’s cheaper financially.
In my first blog post I talked a lot about each school individually and a lot about how they are both different academically and culturally. When I interviewed people about this move none of them brought up academics, which to me was surprising. Although, it made me realize that that’s not what this move is about. One of the people that I interviewed was Dr. Borelli who is the new Principal of Ben Franklin. Dr. Borelli stated “I really want people to know that BFHS and SLA are very different schools but that doesn't make one school better than the other. This is an opportunity to build one school campus by collaborating and celebrating our diverse cultures, not a competition between two separate schools.” I believe that a lot of people are worried about this move because of how different the schools are, and what Dr. Borelli says really ensures people that us being different schools won’t affect how we act towards one another. Dr. Borelli goes on to say that, ”It is important that BFHS students understand the shifts that will occur during the upcoming year (changing the morning admission location, eliminating access to some stairwells, etc.).” This is something that caught my eye because I hadn’t really thought about how the construction would affect the Ben Franklin community. They are going to have a major change in their learning environment and the SLA community needs to be mindful about what they are giving up for a year.
Dr. Christina Borelli
I also had an interview with the principal of SLA, Chris Lehmann. Mr. Lehmann talked a lot about making sure students, parents, and teachers are taking opportunities given to them during this move. For example Mr. Lehmann said “ When we have these opportunities for students to interact with one another, to come in with an open mind, to come in excited, to come in and share our energy, ideas, and our excitement for the project with Ben Franklin.” This is something everyone should keep in mind because we are co-locating and there will be a lot of chances to get together and talk with each school as a whole. There are so many factors that are going into this move, Mr. Lehmann brought up a good point about Ben Franklin. He said “Recognizing that it’s hard for Ben Franklin to share resources and a facility as much as it for us to now move.” SLA is moving into a new building, not the other way around. We need to be mindful about how Ben Franklin and how SLA are feeling. This is going to be new for everyone, and these two schools will have to adjust to make everything work and go smoothly. Mr. Lehmann concluded the interview by saying “What we share is far greater than what is different about us.” This statement is very true and although this will be a huge adjustment on some people we are all going to be a new family because of the move.
Chris Lehmann (Principal of Science Leadership Academy)
The last interview I am going to tell you about was with Christina Grant, she is superintendent of the Innovation Network and Opportunity Network, which means she supervises 35 different schools in Philadelphia. She has worked a lot in New York with co-located schools for some time of her life. During our interview she gave me some valuable information, like how Ben Franklin has a CTE program and what she hopes to happen with this move. While we were talking she said “ My biggest goal is to make sure you all both walk into a school and you’re like this is our new home and we’re going to figure it out.” This really shows how passionate she is about making this go well. A question I asked was “How do you think this move will impact the two distinct cultures of the two schools?” Her response was “ I think that you guys will both shape the culture of each other schools.” This really got me thinking about how each school is different but we are going to learn from each other in many ways. Christina then went on to say something that really ensured me and got me very excited about the new building, “ I don’t think you all will appreciate how amazing your school is going to look and the privilege it’s going to be to be in that school. I think it’s going to change your life at sla and dramatically change the lives of kids at Ben Franklin.” What she says hopefully makes everyone more excited about moving into a new building and also sharing one. This might be challenging at first but in the end it will be better for both schools.
Me interviewing Christina Grant
In conclusion this move is going to be a great thing for everyone! A lot of my concerns/questions were answered now that I have spoken to some people. I feel like the move will have less conflict then I originally thought, but it will still be challenging for both schools. I still don’t know what exactly is going to happen when the day comes when both schools are in the same building, I can only hope for the best. Now that I have gone deeper into this topic I feel a lot more calm and excited about actually moving and I hope that I made other people feel that way too. When we are finished with this project we are supposed to create and agent of change. This means that we have to take action and start something to help fix our problem. In my case there isn’t a problem yet, but to prevent any from happening I think I want to start a club between the two schools. This will students from both schools an opportunity to get to know each other so that when we move we aren’t complete strangers to one another.
Ben Franklin High School