West Philadelphia University City High School

U-City on My Mind

by Juanita Alexander

I am writing this article as I contemplate the closing of a school that holds a special place in my heart, University City High School. University was often fondly referred to as “U-City” by those of us who were closely associated with her over the years and it is the reason I used this nickname in the title of my article. While it seems strange to me to refer to University City in the past tense, I know I must accept the hard reality that the U-City I knew so well, will not be opening its’ doors as a public high school this coming September.

University City High School, 3601 Filbert St
University City High School, 3601 Filbert St (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Although U-City is not physically located in the Parkside area, it has played a key role in the lives of many Parkside area students who have attended University City over the last four decades. Indeed, the Publisher of the PARKSIDE JOURNAL (Michael Burch), attended U-City in the early 1970’s as the school opened as an important symbol of hope, innovation and promise in the heart of West Philadelphia.

I entered University City as a young and relatively inexperienced teacher in the early 1970’s and I remained there for the next thirty years. It seems as if those years flew right by!! I remember so many special programs and activities, fierce debate teams, independent study programs, fencing team, championship basketballĀ teams, Motivation and Magnet Programs, etc. The list goes on and on.

Over the decades University City has faced many challenges too numerous to discuss here. We have had our ups and downs; through it all the students and staff never lost our unique sense of pride, hope, and family.

The challenge now facing the U-City “family” is preserving a positive legacy for University City. It is surely not just a coincidence that U-City is ending its existence as a “Promise Academy”. The U-City alumni (many of which come from Parkside) should do everything they can to make sure that the building that housed U-City is used in a manner that shows respect for the educational “promise” on which the school was founded. Long live the U-City Spirit.

 

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