Category Archives: Uncategorized


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


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 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 All events are free.

An Evening With Paul Roberson

by Mr. Jim Brown


Recently, West Philadelphia High School hosted a gala celebration of both the 120th birthday of Paul Roberson and the 25th anniversary of the Nutter Center for Community Partnerships and the West Philadelphia Cultural Alliance. This was an evening highlighted by awards to our youth and artistic expressions of a man who was one of the most fascinating human beings of the 20th century. Jason McKinney, who portrayed Paul Roberson and Christopher A. Bagley who was his accompanist, reenacted Roberson’s life onstage in “Moments with Paul”, which was also written by Paul Mckinney. Legendary television anchor Trudy Haynes who was also in attendance, laughingly commented that “I’m expecting the man (McKinney) to be able to sing”. The iconic African-American news broadcast pioneer was frank as she continued by saying “McKinney, I don’t know him but I’m hoping he’s good….and can instill in the listener the same kind of strong enthusiastic feeling and vibrancy that Roberson did when he performed”.

Jason McKinney, an impressive 6′ 4″ tall actor with a baritone voice, gave a commanding performance as he told the captivating story of his character, Paul Roberson, and gave the audience a glimpse into one of the great minds of the 20th century. Roberson was a great athlete, but it was his passion as an activist and lawyer who fought vigorously against racial injustice both at home and abroad (Europe and Africa) that caused him to be blacklisted by the U.S. government during the 1950’s. Roberson was no doubt influenced by his talented and educated family which included ministers, lawyers, social activists and teachers.

After watching McKinney’s performance, I asked the eloquent actor who towered over most of the audience what made him focus on the character and life of Paul Roberson. “I heard his voice”, replied McKinney. “When I was about 15, I asked my father about him and he said ‘oh he’s a great athlete and great lawyer just like me son’ “. McKinney continued by saying “I didn’t know much about him, but when I heard the voice I fell in love with the voice. So when I had the opportunity to… stretch my artistic legs by doing this play,… I used this opportunity to learn more about the man and how tragic his life was.

McKinney explained that much of Roberson’s life story has been lost and expressed the hope that the current generation would try to find this missing information and “tell the story; because if we forget, we’re just like the rest of them”. An enthusiastic McKinney added “…it’s our second time here in Philadelphia and it’s quite an honor and that’s why we love it and look forward to coming back soon”.

In addition to being honored by various universities, Roberson received numerous other awards and honors such as the NAACP’s Spingarn Medal and the Stalin Peace Prize. He was loved by the Russian people who named him the ‘People’s Artist’.

The School District of Philadelphia honored the memory and legacy of Roberson by changing the name of the O.V. Catto School (at 4125 Ludlow St. in West Philadelphia) to the Paul Roberson High School for Human services. I talked to the school’s principal, Mr. Richard Gordan, about what Paul Roberson would have loved about the school that bears his name. He replied that “I’d hope he would be proud of the fact that you had a school that at first was not moving in the direction everyone wanted to see but has in the last five years managed to propel itself into one of the top high schools in Philadelphia. I would hope he would be proud of….the character of the students that we’re developing”.

I also spoke with the Executive Director of the Paul Roberson House and Museum about the concert. “I loved that these men were performing” said Ms. Michael. “They performed very well and captured the crowd. As we look to serve the community, we have a list of activities and things that we do at the (Paul Roberson) house; we have a myriad of things that we do for the house with a lot of organizations and groups to help with the Roberson House”. Ms. Michael proudly explained that”……Paul Roberson was my adopted uncle. I lived across the street from the Robersons and our families go way back. before I was born”.

In 1965, after the death of his wife Eslanda Goode Roberson (a civil rights activist in her own right), Paul Roberson moved to Philadelphia where he lived with his sister Marian until his death in 1976. Born April 9, 1898 in Princeton, New Jersey, Roberson died in Philadelphia on January 26, 1976.

“He didn’t give interviews, not even to the late (black) Philadelphia Daily News reporter Chuck Stone”, said Westside Weekly Editor Tyree Johnson. “He was bitter about the press but good with his neighbors who knew him”.

We thank the late Mrs. Frances Aulston for her dedicated work and passion to bring Paul Roberson’s life to all who visit (the Roberson House) to learn about the man who served the people without prejudice. For those wishing to visit the Paul Roberson House and museum, it is located at 4949-51Walnut Street in Philadelphia, Pa. 19139. The phone number is (215) 474-1378 and the website is

A Legacy Continued

By Jasmine Bullock

Ms. Jacquelyn Kelley had a vision to educate young people and expose them to the world around them. She wanted them to experience life outside their neighborhoods, outside their city, state and ultimately outside their country. In April of 2007, this mission became a reality with the first charter for Discovery Charter School.

The curriculum was designed to take an expeditionary learning approach that would combine what students learned in the classroom to what happens in real life situations. It was Ms. Kelley’s desire to build the bridge between the information learned in books and how it is applied in everyday life.

Throughout the years, the school has maintained its original mission by providing a quality education and opportunities for Parkside area youth to travel throughout the world. Each year, kindergarten through third grade students tour the Delaware Valley learning about the city of Philadelphia and surrounding counties. The fourth graders continue their growth by traveling to Washington DC to tour the Nation’s Capital and are hosted by a local member of Congress each year.

Middle school students have the opportunity to take all the information they have learned and put it into application abroad. Throughout the years, several 6th grade classes have travelled to Detroit with a final destination of Canada to explore the route of the Underground Railroad. During this year, the students also pick their 8th grade trip abroad. This gives them two years to fundraise for the journey. Discovery Charter School has been privileged to take groups of student to Africa, Costa Rica, Italy and Spain.

Each year, Discovery Charter School celebrates Founders Day with a school wide “Fun Day”. The School is transformed into a fun zone. Elementary aged students use the gymnasium to enjoy bounce houses, photo booths and pizza. Middle school students gravitate to the school yard where several video game and virtual reality trucks are available for their entertainment. This Founder’s Day DCS CEO, Ms. Elmore, found another way for a legacy of excellence to continue for generations to come. The school hosted its inaugural Spring Gala in celebration of Ms. Kelley’s legacy and the children and alumni of the school. This gala served as a ribbon cutting for the Jacquelyn Y. Kelley Museum. The event featured musical offering from The Sounds of Philadelphia, The Blue Notes and the Tramps.

The museum serves as a home for current students and the community to see memorabilia from Ms. Kelley and footage of the expeditions the school has taken since its inception. There are rooms dedicated to various aspects of Ms. Kelley’s character, personality and vision for the education of young people.

The museum has four rooms that share the history of the school in various ways. Kiosks are set-up throughout the building with photos of the various trips students have taken and film footage of Ms. Kelley and events throughout her tenure. There are also live action and animated videos to meet the needs of all ages visiting the museum. In addition, there is also a room in the museum that is filled with items from Ms. Kelley’s wardrobe as well as a look at the evolution of the uniforms and paraphernalia worn by students throughout the history of the school. The final gallery is a time capsule. The room holds all of the school’s yearbooks as well as a memorial to Jacquelyn Kelley. This museum will serve as a gateway into the past for students to come.

As Discovery Charter School continues to educate and shape youth into proactive, positive citizens, the administration and faculty will know they are continuing the legacy that Jacquelyn Kelley began with her original vision many years ago.

Octavius Catto

Octavius Valentine Catto (February 22, 1839 – October 10, 1871) was a black educator, intellectual, and civil rights leader in Philadelphia. He became principal of male students at the Institute for Colored Youth, where he had also been educated. The Institute for Colored Youth would one day become Cheyney University. Born free in Charleston, South Carolina in a prominent family, he moved north as a boy with his family. He became educated and served as a teacher, becoming active in civil rights. As a man, he served in the Civil War as a major in the Pennsylvania National Guard in one of the all colored companies.

Catto stood up for his civil rights and demonstrated the value of African American to society. He was killed in election day violence in Philadelphia, where opposing political parties attacked black men to prevent their voting against their candidate.

On October 10, 1871, on his way to vote, Octavius Catto was shot and killed. No one was convicted for the murder.  Catto was given a military funeral and laid to rest at Lebanon Cemetery.

To honor Octavius Catto, Mayor Jim Kenney announced on June 10, 2016, that a new sculpture would stand outside of Philadelphia City Hall. The statue “A Quest for Parity” by artist Branly Cadet, was installed at City Hall  on September 24, 2017, and dedicated on September 26, 2017. It is the first public monument in Philadelphia to honor a specific African American.

Cheyney University Founded in 1837 started as a school for Colored Youth

The founding of Cheyney University was made possible by Richard Humphreys, a Quaker philanthropist who bequeathed $10,000, one tenth of his estate, to design and establish a school to educate the descendants of the African race. Born on Tortola, an island in the West Indies, Richard Humphreys came to Philadelphia in 1764. Having witnessed the struggles of African Americans competing unsuccessfully for jobs due to the influx of immigrants, he became interested in their plight. In 1829, after race riots occurred in Philadelphia, Humphreys wrote his will and charged thirteen fellow Quakers to design an institution: “…to instruct the descendants of the African race in school learning, in the various branches of the mechanic arts, trades and agriculture, in order to prepare and fit and qualify them to act as teachers….”

From its initial founding until 1852, the African Institute, as it was known, was located on a 136 acre farm seven miles from Philadelphia on Old York Road. In 1849, the farm school closed for re-evaluation and the farm was sold. On October 22, 1849, the board authorized the re-opening of the school, and on November 5, 1849, an evening school opened on Barclay Street in Philadelphia where it continued to operate through the spring of 1851 until suitable quarters could be found to resume a day school program. Toward the end of July, 1851, the board found a better location for the school on two contiguous lots on the south side of Lombard Street (716-18). The purchase price was $3,244.

In 1902 the School moved to its current location and was still know as the Institute for colored youth. . In November of 1902, a committee of the Board of Managers recommended the purchase of a farm owned by Quaker farmer George Cheyney at Cheyney Station, Pennsylvania about twenty-five miles west of Philadelphia. The move to the expansive country location was deemed necessary in order for the Institute to increase academic offerings and, therefore, attract more students. In 1914 the name was changed to Cheyney Institute for Teachers.

Benjamin Banneker Early African American Scientist and Inventor

Benjamin Banneker was a mostly self-taught astronomer, inventor, mathematician, and writer of almanacs.  He was born to free parents in Maryland in 1731.  He owned a farm near Baltimore and was later called into service to assist in surveying land for the construction of Washington, DC, which would become that nation’s capital.  Banneker is also known form have written correspondence with Thomas Jefferson before he became president. In his letters Banneker politely challenged him to do what he could to ensure racial equality.