HARRISBURG, Pa. (July 31, 2018) — Three students are making history at Reach Cyber Charter School, Pennsylvania’s newest statewide, tuition-free, online public charter school. Alana Norris of Martinsburg, Amya Meekins of West Philadelphia, and Karoline Fitz of New Holland are the first students to be inducted into the inaugural class of Reach Cyber’s chapter of National Honor Society (NHS) based on their significant level of demonstrated service and leadership.

“We could not be more proud of these founding members of the Reach Cyber NHS chapter,” said Jane Swan, CEO of Reach Cyber Charter School. “They have worked very hard to get to this point in their academic careers, and their induction is only a small testament to their dedication.”

Amya Meekins of West Philadelphia is dedicated to inspiring and empowering her community through volunteerism. Aside from being a “straight A” student, Meekins is a budding young entrepreneur with current projects in the entertainment and fashion industries. Meekins, who goes by the stage name Amya Roxxstar, is a singer/rapper and uses her musical talents to give back to her community. From a young age, Meekins has actively volunteered with organizations that allow her to connect with others, especially young girls like herself. She currently gives back by performing for the Beautiful Kids Organization and the Girls Who Brunch Tour, both giving her the opportunity help empower young girls. She is an elected ambassador for the Girls Who Brunch Tour, allowing her to sponsor and connect with young girls from different states to promote education, literacy, and self-esteem in inner cities across the country. The flexibility of Reach Cyber has allowed Meekins to pursue all of her passions. At only 16, Meekins is taking courses over the summer to advance to 12th grade at the start of the school year.

To become a member of Reach Cyber’s inaugural NHS class, students needed to demonstrate excellence in service and/or leadership, receive recommendation from a community member, and earn a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better in academic courses. Once inducted, students attend monthly LiveLesson meetings and participate in service projects. Each school year, NHS members will complete a minimum of 10 community service hours

Reach Cyber Charter School is Pennsylvania’s newest statewide, tuition-free, online public charter school for students in grades K-12. The school was approved in April 2016 by the Pennsylvania Department of Education and began serving students in grades K-9 in the 2016-17 school year. Reach Cyber, a Pennsylvania Connections Academy, provides students with the flexibility to learn from anywhere there is an Internet connection and with an innovative online school curriculum that meets rigorous state education standards. The combination of certified Pennsylvania-based teachers, an award-winning curriculum, engaging electives, technology tools, and social experiences provides a supportive online learning opportunity for students who want an individualized approach to education. Reach Cyber incorporates 21st century learning and STEM-enrichment opportunities, as well as flexible pacing options that allow students to choose from a traditional calendar option, year-round option, or for high school students, an accelerated schedule.  For more information, call 800-382-6010 or visit http://www.ReachCyberCharter.com.


Summer Activities Return To The Oval+ for 4 Weeks of Summer Fun!

For four weeks, from July 20 to August 19, 2018, a portion of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway will be transformed into a grand promenade with the theme, More PARK, More PLAY as part of The Oval+. This year’s season of The Oval+ builds directly on the public feedback and data that Fairmount Park Conservancy and Philadelphia Parks & Recreation collected as part of 2017’s “What’s Your Parkway, Philly?” More than 40 percent of visitors said they wanted to see more family-related activities at The Oval+.  This input, added to ongoing safety concerns about crossing multiple lanes of traffic, especially with small children, led the partners to build on the popularity of last year’s installations beyond the perimeter of Eakins Oval.

On opening night, July 20, for the first time, The Oval+ will feature performers from Philadelphia School of Circus Arts, one at each partially closed intersection, treating visitors to magician, hoop artist, juggler, and stilt walker from 6-9pm. The performances will conclude with a showing of “The Greatest Showman” at 9pm as the kick-off to Friday Food & Flicks.   Also new this year: Silent Philly will distribute noise-cancelling headphones in the beer garden to allow visitors to observe activity at The Oval+ while enjoying great music. (Thursdays, July 26 and August 9, 8-11pm). 150 free tickets will be released for each event day at http://www.silentphilly.com. Check Oval social media for release date announcements.


For the second year in a row, Fairmount Park Conservancy and Philadelphia Parks & Recreation have retained Philadelphia-based urban design firm PORT to develop the plan and installations for The Oval+. Each closed stretch of road (see details, below) will be graced by a large-scale ground mural designed and installed by Mural Arts Philadelphia with the award winning design and illustration studio The Heads of State. The goal for both Mural Arts and the design studio was to visually represent the idea of the Parkway being a unifying element between Fairmount Park and the city’s core. From kayaks on the Schuylkill to the soaring arches within the Wissahickon to the growing towers of Center City, each crosswalk illustrates the transition from park to city and back again.

Press Preview
for Fairmount Park Conservancy
July 19, 2017

To complement the expanded footprint of The Oval+, the Barnes Foundation will present an interactive outdoor installation, the Canopy at the Barnes, designed by SHIFTSPACE. The
installation will include a site-specific mesh canopy hung from the trees lining the Parkway in front of the Barnes. Offering abundant shade, the canopy will float above café-style seating  open to all and lounge areas featuring inflatable furniture. To activate the space and welcome the community, there will be family-friendly games—including bocce ball—and every Thursday from July 19 through August 16, 11:30am–1:30pm, the Barnes will host “bring your own lunch” afternoons with live music from the Philadelphia Jazz Project. More details will be announced soon.

For the complete schedule, see theovalphl.org/events. All events are free.

Grammy Nominated and Award Winning Children’s Music Artists Perform at Smith Memorial Playground for 5th Annual Kidchella Music Festival

Philadelphia, PA (June 28, 2018) The 5th annual Kidchella Music Festival is in full swing at Smith Memorial Playground & Playhouse with remaining concerts on Friday, July 20 and August 17!  Each date will feature live music in the 6 ½ acre Playground by nationally acclaimed Children’s Music artists, youth performances, arts stations, and yummy food trucks.   

 At 4pm families are invited to Smith for free play in the Playground and family fun in the Youth Arts Zone which includes a youth music stage, arts stations, and giveaways.  Families may purchase dinner from a variety of popular food trucks or bring food for a picnic in the Playground.  

 The main concert will begin at 6pm and will feature a fantastic lineup of family-friendly music curated by Jeff Bogle of OWTK.com and emceed by Kathy O’Connell of WXPN Kids Corner.  Shine and the Moonbeams (Soul/R&B) and Grammy-nominated The Alphabet Rockers (positive Hip Hop) will perform in July and Red Yarn (foot stomping Americana Folk) and Vered and the Babes (Doo Woop inspired Acoustic Rock) will perform in August. 

Smith’s Executive Director Meg Wise noted, “Kidchella started in 2014 as a small performance on our front lawn for an audience of a few hundred people and grew to a summer-long concert series in the Playground welcoming over 2,000 children and adults from all sections of the City and surrounding suburbs as well as out-of-state visitors. This year, we are excited to give as many families as possible the opportunity to experience this awesome event by offering discounted tickets to PA ACCESS cardholders and free admission for families participating in our Play For All community programs.” 

 Kidchella is a rain or shine outdoor event.  Tickets are $10 per person (children age 1+ and adults) or $5 for Smith members and PA ACCESS Cardholders.  Purchase tickets, memberships, and learn more at: https://smithplayground.ticketleap.com/kid2018/

 Support for Kidchella provided in part by the Philadelphia Cultural Fund, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, MetroKids, Power Crunch, Philadelphia Parks & Recreation, Inspire, Kia Motors America, Simple Society, Honest Tea, and Lee’s Hoagie House.  

Shine and the Moonbeams are singer-songwriter Shawana Kemp and guitarist John Heagle, two New York musicians who have collectively been in every musical genre from Musical Theatre to the circus. Learn more at Shine & the Moonbeams (Facebook) 

 Alphabet Rockers are known as the premiere children’s hip hop artists who focus on social change and racial justice. Learn more at www.alphabetrockers.com  


Contact: Zoe Lowry                                                 zoe@smithplayground.org                                                             215.765.4325 x101 

Indego Bike Profile

by Manuel McDonnell-Smith

Studies show that there are many benefits from riding bikes. It only takes a few hours a week to improve your general health. Riding is low impact, a good muscle workout, fun and easy to do. Check out the profile of Al Harris and share his Indego Bike experience.

Al Harris, from 32nd Street in Mantua is the founder of Team OverTime and Cancer Who? His foundation helps people with Cancer by going to chemo, radiation, doctor’s appointments and more. Al’s also a regular Indego Bike Rider and ambassador for the service.

PJ: What’s been the best thing about Indego for you?

Al: “I think the bikes have encouraged me to move around the city more. Just from riding from station to station, I’ve gotten to experience the scenery and much more of the neighborhoods.

PJ: How about people who are afraid of riding or getting back on a bike, what would you say?

Al: Just using the bikes is a great experience. They are not super heavy bikes, they are great to move around in, easy to switch, and fun to ride.

PJ: Tell us about one of your favorite rides using Indego?

Al: One of my best rides was from 41st and Lancaster back to Drexel University. I really enjoyed being able to be up close with all of the scenery and being able to see and experience differently types of people on the ride.

Indego & Al will be collaborating on a group bike ride and walk at the end of May. Find out more about this event and his organization at https://www.facebook.com/TOTCANCERWho/


New Parkside Fields Announced


For Immediate Release: June 20, 2018
Contact: David Gould, 267-240-2010, david.gould@phila.gov

Parkside Fields Announced as One of First Rebuild Projects to Start Later This Year

PHILADELPHIA – Today, at an event at Parkside Evans Playground, Mayor Jim Kenney was joined by Councilman Curtis Jones and City officials to announce Parkside Fields as one of the first projects to launch under Rebuild.

The project will create two new public fields that will serve the schools and sports programs in and around the Parkside community – many of which have limited options for home fields to practice or play on.

“Too often I hear stories about our youth sports teams who have to travel to the suburbs to compete,” said Mayor Kenney. “They don’t have fields that are good enough to play on in their neighborhood, so they are forced to travel to the suburbs to play. Our kids should have the same quality facilities as the teams they compete against and have the opportunity to play in their own community. They deserve a place they are proud of.”

The Parkside Fields project will be completed in two phases. The first phase will convert a grassy area near the Parkside Evans Playground on Parkside Avenue into a public practice field for many of the neighborhood sports teams. The second phase of the project will renovate a second field that will be used for games.

“For some, it’s a field of dreams,” said Councilman Curtis Jones of the upcoming Rebuild project. “For inner-city youth, it’s a pathway to scholarships, college campuses, and a better life.”

The first phase of the project will start this year as a part of a small set of sites that will launch using the $8 million in funding that has already been approved for Rebuild in the City’s FY2018 capital budget. Most projects, including the second phase of the Parkside Fields project, will begin after the majority of Rebuild’s funding becomes available through bond proceeds that will be repaid by the Philadelphia Beverage Tax. The bonds won’t be issued until after the tax has been upheld by the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court.

The other Rebuild sites expected to start this year will be announced in the coming weeks.


Rebuild is a historic investment in Philadelphia’s parks, recreation centers, playgrounds and libraries. Rebuild seeks to improve community spaces, empower and engage communities, and promote economic opportunity in the design and construction industries through diversity and inclusion. 


Press Release

Cari Feiler Bender: 610-416-1216

What:   Ribbon cutting for Centennial Commons 

Join city officials, nonprofits leaders, and community representatives to formally open the first phase of this new park-within-the-park.

When:   Wednesday, June 13, 2018 (Rain or Shine)

12pm-12:15pm   Walk-through and photo op with VIPs

12:15pm-1pm     Speaking program

1pm                           Ribbon Cutting

Where:   Parkside Avenue at 41st Street, West Fairmount Park


Jim Kenney, Mayor of Philadelphia

Jamie Gauthier, Executive Director, Fairmount Park Conservancy

Michael Di Berardinis, Managing Director, City of Philadelphia

Kathryn Ott Lovell, Commissioner, Philadelphia Parks & Recreation

Vanessa Lowery Brown, PA State Representative

Jannie Blackwell, Philadelphia City Council

Judilee Reed and Cara Ferrentino, William Penn Foundation

Patrick Morgan, Philadelphia Program Director, Knight Foundation

Representative, Philadelphia Streets Department

Representative, Philadelphia Commerce Department

Debra McCarty, Commissioner, Philadelphia Water Department

Chris Spahr and Joyce Smith, Centennial Commons CDC

Calla Cousar, East Parkside Residents Association

Details: This site was the central hub of the Centennial Exhibition of 1876 but has been under supported for decades. With support from the William Penn Foundation and Knight Foundation, Fairmount Park Conservancy and its partners retained Studio Bryn Hanes to upgrade a 67,000-square-foot-area along Parkside Avenue.  The new design features freshly laid walking paths on what was before simply lawn, a rain garden featuring native plants, giant porch swings, and 68 new trees that will increasingly provide shade as they grow. Future phases of the project will be announced at the event.


Fairmount Park Conservancy exists to champion Philadelphia’s parks. We lead capital projects and historic preservation efforts, foster neighborhood park stewardship, attract and leaverage investments, and develop innovative programs throughout the 10, 200 acres that include Fairmount Park and more than 200 neighborhood parks around the city. For more information, please visit myphillypark.org, join us at facebook.com/fairmountparkconservancy, and follow us on instagram and Twitter @myphillypark.

News that is from, about, and benefits our Parkside Community in West Philadelphia.