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Outdoor Classroom at Frankford Friends is on Track for October Opening

The Frankford Friends School (FFS) planned outdoor classroom on the site of the Central Methodist Church building is moving ahead as planned we learned at a public meeting held on May 5th.  The purpose of the meeting was to inform the public about the results of the soil study of the site at 1515 Orthodox Street which was done by Duffield Associates.

When the church was demolished, a layer of fill was brought in to level off the lot.  The top 12 inches of the soil was tested and found to contain benzo(a)pyrene and dibenzo(a,h)anthracene.  These are contaminants often found in fill in the city.  They can be found in engine oil, ash, exhaust, burned charcoal, etc. In high enough concentrations they can do unpleasant things to the human body.  Additional risk information at these links: benzo(a)pyrene and dibenzo(a,h)anthracene

The levels found exceed what is permitted under the Statewide Health Standards for residential use but not for non residential use.  However schools are considered residential properties in Pennsylvania for this purpose and must comply with the residential standards.

Because the site will not be continuously occupied like a residence, Duffield did a site specific risk assessment to see what the exposures might be for the way this lot will actually be used.

They assumed exposure for 220 days per year for 8 hours each day which is far above what the actual use will be.  Using the EPA risk modeling program and assuming the maximum concentrations of the contaminants from the samples taken, they found that under those assumptions there is no unacceptable cancer risk.

Duffield recommended that the school incorporate the EPA’s best management practices for urban gardens:

  • Top dress the garden area with clean material.
  • Mulch walkways and other areas to reduce dusk.
  • Build raised beds for growing food crops.
  • Do not use certain type of treated lumber for raised beds.
  • Consider growing ornamental plants instead of food crops.

FFS intends to follow these recommendations.

With luck there should be a grand opening sometime this October.



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Notice of Public Meeting

On Tuesday, May 5, at 6pm, a Public Information Meeting will be held at Frankford Friends Meetinghouse, 1500 Orthodox Street, Philadelphia, to inform the school community and neighborhood about Frankford Friends School’s proposed outdoor classroom to be developed on the vacant lot at 1515 Orthodox Street, and about the environmental assessment that has been conducted.

Pursuant to the Land Recycling and Environmental Remediation Standards Act, the act of May 19, 1995, P.L. 4, No. 1995-2, Frankford Friends School submitted to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection a Notice of Intent to Remediate the site, intended to be used as an outdoor classroom that will include an urban garden using above-ground planting beds, along with a meadow, ornamental plants, shrubs, and trees. The City of Philadelphia has requested that Frankford Friends School develop and implement a public involvement plan for the site. The Site is currently vacant land that was previously occupied by a church for nearly 116 years. Site assessments have indicated that certain polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which are potentially hazardous substances, are present in surface soil at the site.

An environmental risk assessment conducted by Duffield Associates, a local engineering firm, analyzed the exposure that users of the site will have to the contaminants, based on planned site improvements. The risk assessment found that beyond placing landscape fabric in the bottom of raised bed planters intended for food gardening, no special remediation will be necessary to protect the health of students, teachers, workers, and others who will use the site.

The environmental scientist who conducted the soil testing and risk assessment will present her findings and answer questions from the public at the May 5th meeting. Documents explaining the project, the public involvement plan, and the environmental testing and analysis will be available for public review at the Frankford CDC at 4900 Griscom St, Philadelphia, PA 19124, between the hours of 9:30am and 4:30pm, Monday through Friday.

Written comments about the project from the public will be accepted before and during the public information meeting.

Please direct written comments, or any questions about the project or the public meeting, to Amy Silver O’Leary, Director of Development and Communications, Frankford Friends School, or 215-533-5368 x120.

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Pop Star Inspires Students at Frankford Friends School

By Jonathan Clifton

camille peruto

Camille Peruto

Singer Camille Peruto may have received a standing ovation at the Hollywood Theatre where she appeared in the TV Show, American Idol, but that was nothing compared with the reception she received one day in February during a surprise visit to Frankford Friends School.

“This is the coolest school I’ve ever visited!”, said 20 year old Camille, before launching into some songs from her new album, Sparrow, produced by multi Grammy award winner, Glen Barratt. Many of the children were familiar with her songs and joined in, clapping and singing along.

In addition to her music, Camille answered questions from the children, ranging from, “What is Jennifer Lopez really like?” to “How do you become a musician?”.

“You guys have already made a great start,” Camille answered, referring to Frankford Friends successful music program, ” I understand that all of you play instruments. That’s wonderful.”

And she added, “I’m coming back to your Spring Concert in May to watch you perform!”

Teacher Jonathan Clifton reminded the children that Camille is involved in many charity events, ranging from Tinnitus Awareness to performing at Breast Cancer Events. One of the songs on her new album which says ” Words cut deeper than a pocket knife”, was written for a national campaign against bullying.

ffs kids“Camille has a special talent, and she’s using it to make the world a better place”, said Clifton, “And that’s something we care about too.
The young audience seemed to agree. ” She made me feel so happy”, said one little girl.

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Frankford Friends School Appoints New Head of School

From the Frankford Friends School

Frankford Friends School is delighted to announce that Kathryn Park Cook will become the next Head of School, effective July 1, 2015. Her appointment is the result of a year-long process to identify a successor to Penny Colgan-Davis, who will retire from a distinguished career in education at the end of the 2014-15 academic year.

Kathryn Park Cook

Kathryn Park Cook

Kathryn Park Cook’s vision, experience, and commitment to Quaker values resonate strongly with the school’s mission and culture. Her career in education has spanned over 25 years. While a teacher, Kathryn was named a NJ Governor’s Teacher of the Year and a NAIS Teacher of the Future, and was a member of the 2013-2015 Friends Council on Education Leadership Institute cohort. Kathryn comes to us from the Moorestown Friends School, where she most recently served as Director of Innovative Programs. She holds a Bachelor of Music degree in French horn from the New England Conservatory and a Master of Science in Education degree from the University of Pennsylvania.
“Throughout the search process I was struck by the strength of the FFS teaching and administrative staff,” said Kathryn. “Their dedication towards ensuring that each child graduates from eighth grade as an empathetic, ethical community member with the academic skills and knowledge necessary for success is inspiring. I look forward to continuing the work of Penny Colgan-Davis and collaborating with parents, students, teachers, staff, and community members to carry out our vision for the future of Frankford Friends School.”

Peg Szczurek, Clerk of the Frankford Friends School Committee and a member of the Head Search Committee, commented, “It was with great joy that I learned Kathryn Park Cook had accepted the position. Each time I speak or email with Kathy, I am convinced that we have made the right choice. She is a pleasure to work with and is deeply committed to best practice in education. We are blessed to have her as our next Head.”

Kathryn will lead a thriving school, taking over from Penny Colgan-Davis, an inspirational leader who transformed the school’s curriculum into an inquiry-based program and increased enrollment by more than 50% during her ten years as Principal. Penny led the fundraising, design, and construction of the Margaret Passmore Trickey Middle School and Multipurpose Building, greatly expanded the music and library programs, started a gardening program, and led the fundraising and planning to begin work on a nearly half-acre Outdoor Classroom “playscape” to be constructed across the street from the school.
Kathryn Park Cook attends Moorestown (NJ) Friends Meeting. She enjoys reading, working in her vegetable garden, cooking, and hiking with her husband, four children, and dog.

About Frankford Friends School
Founded in 1833, Frankford Friends School serves children in grades PreK-8 at its historic campus on Orthodox Street in Philadelphia. During all these years, the school has continued to subscribe to the fundamental goals set down by the first thoughtful educators who founded the school: a form of education which would develop an attitude of courageous independence, a readiness for responsibility, and a spiritual basis for life. Known for its modest tuition and the diversity of its student body, the school has been a key player in the recent revitalization of Frankford. Its graduates attend selective public and private high schools.