The Lead

Philadelphia’s Frankford High to start 2023-2024 school year at two locations

By: - July 1, 2023 6:30 am

Frankford High School, at 5000 Oxford Ave. in Philadelphia, will be returning to in-person learning at two locations for the start of the 2023-2024 school year (Photo via the Philadelphia School District/Philadelphia Tribune).

By Chanel Hill

PHILADELPHIA — Frankford High School will be returning to in-person learning at two locations for the start of the 2023-2024 school year.

Students in grades 10-12 will be attending classes in Frankford’s Annex, also known as the “New Wing,” while rising freshmen will be attending classes at Roberto Clemente Middle School.

Frankford, which has nearly 900 students, has been learning virtually since April as the School District of Philadelphia dealt with damaged asbestos in the school building.

The high school at 5000 Oxford Ave. was one of six district school buildings that was forced to close last school year due to asbestos. The school district starts the new school year Sept. 5.

“This return-to-school plan is the result of collaboration between the District, school leaders, parents and the community to assess available spaces where the student body can experience full-day, in-person learning together while environmental concerns are addressed in the main structure of the Frankford building known as the “Old Wing.” Access to that part of the building has been sealed,” said School District of Philadelphia spokesperson Monique Braxton in a statement.

“The district will be working diligently through the summer to reconfigure what is known as Frankford’s “New Wing” and the ground floor gymnasium for students and staff,” she said.

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“Abatement of damaged asbestos in those areas has been completed and air testing was conducted where abatement took place. Other environmental issues, such as lead paint, will continue to be addressed with updates regarding progress forthcoming,” she added.

More than 300 rising ninth graders will be the lone occupants on the third floor at the Clemente school. However, Frankford students and staff will share common areas at the school including the cafeteria and auditorium, according to district officials.

The district will also provide a shuttle bus for students to and from Frankford and Clemente campuses. The arrival and dismissal times for Frankford’s ninth graders will be staggered.

Frankford will be hosting a town hall meeting on July 19 to discuss the changes with families and the community. An open house for freshmen will be held closer to the start of the school year.

In a letter to families, Frankford’s principal Michael J. Calderone said he hopes the news will help the school get back to a sense of normalcy.

“While we were unable to accomplish our ultimate goal of getting all of our students and staff into a single space, we believe that this model will still provide a great learning experience for our students and allow us to maintain the school culture that has been established here at the Home of Champions,” Calderone said in the letter.

“I know the uncertainty of our future has been a tremendously stressful time for all of us,” he said. “I hope that with this new information, we can all get back to the business of gearing our students and ourselves back up for the 2023-2024 school year.

“We will continue working to provide a safe and engaging learning environment for our students regardless of where they are,” he added. “The bricks and mortar that house us do not make us a school; rather, it is we the people that make Frankford High School what it is.”

Chanel Hill is a reporter for the Philadelphia Tribune, where this story first appeared

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