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It All Adds Up For Frankford High School Math Teacher!

Here at the Frankford Gazette, we applaud all those who choose to teach! Dedicated teachers are inspiring dreams and shaping the future! We would like to especially congratulate Mr. Linwood Stevens, a Math Teacher at Frankford High School, who was one of the recipients of the Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching.

The Lindbacks wanted to promote teaching excellence so they established a foundation which awards distinguished teachers in our area. Mr. Stevens received his award on May 10, 2011. Perhaps some of our readers are familiar with Mr. Stevens. We would love to hear from you!


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Frankford’s Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.! The Promise of Hope!

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Monday morning over 200 people from the Frankford area gathered to remember and celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and to continue working towards his dream of all of us joining our hands as “brothers and sisters”. Honoring Dr. King reminds us of our own call to serve, to show “true compassion … and a revolution of values” as we need more than ever, compassion, understanding and justice for each American. This was the 25th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Breakfast Celebration and this event had taken place at St. Joachim RC Church in previous years. This year, Dr. Ayesha Imani, CEO,Principal, and Founder of Sankofa Freedom Academy Charter School, invited the community to use the school’s facility at 4256 Paul St. for the celebration. Besides George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, Dr. King is the only one to be honored by having a federal holiday named after him.  At 8:30 AM, the school’s cafeteria was filled with people from the many different

Dr. Ayesha Imani, Sankofa Freedom Academy

organizations, churches and neighborhood who came for a free, cooked breakfast (by Ken’s Catering) and to participate in a program honoring Dr. King’s life that showcased the many talents of our area youth. There was a feeling of anticipation and excitement as we waited for the program to begin. Sponsored by the Frankford Coalition of Neighbors (FCN) with support from area organizations, this celebration, according to Jennifer Powell-Folks Executive Director of FCN, brings “Frankfordians together to sit with each other and talk with each other”. Jennifer reminded us that “grassroots people can make a difference” and that it is important that elected officials hear our views on what matters most to us. The mission of FCN is “… to improve relations among the diverse religious, economic, racial and ethnic groups in Frankford, while promoting volunteerism and community coalition”. At the end of this article we will provide contact information for two of community groups if you would like to get more involved. Also, be sure to check out the links of the various performances.

The program began with a song entitled “Lift Every Voice and Sing”. The Frankford Friends School Choir sang and played bells to accompany this song. We have links to all the performances at the end of this article. This song is commonly known as “The Negro National Anthem”. We were welcomed by Janet Bernstein, a member of FCN and the Frankford Garden Club, who asked us to reflect what each of us can do to continue Dr. King’s work. The beautiful table centerpieces were provided by the Frankford Garden Club with assistance by the Frankford High School ROTC (FHS ROTC) members. FHS

Jennifer Powell-Folks, Frankford Coalition of Neighbors

ROTC “presented arms” and we listened to the National Anthem. They also treated us to a drill team performance. Reverend Laurie Ann Rookard of the United Methodist Church gave the invocation and blessing. Breakfast was then served – buffet style. Following breakfast, there was an acknowledgement of the local dignitaries in attendance. Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sanchez and state Representative Tony Payton, Jr. were among the notables. Both were thanked for their active support and advocacy for our community.

The poetry performances by Sankofa Freedom Academy Charter School students were very, very moving to all. These poets are wise beyond their years and offered us a chance to see the dreams of a life they envisioned for all. Listening to these young people, Dr. King would know his message has not been forgotten. Kimberly Washington, the Northeast EPIC coordinator, explained that her organization needed more involvement from area residents. Many of the civic groups in Frankford participate in this organization but the voices of those of us who live here, the residents, needs to be more vocal and active. The next meeting of the EPIC Stakeholders is Thursday, January 27, 2011 at 5:30 PM at Aria Health – Frankford. Please make sure your presence and voice are there!

A liturgical dance was performed by the Treasures from Heaven of the Campbell AME Church. This Church on Kinsey Street is over 200 years old and the second oldest church in the Philadelphia conference. There was a free will offering to help defray costs of the breakfast. Northeast Boys and Girls Club marched and stepped lively to drums which accompanied the drill team’s performance.

Dr. Imani explained the development of freedom schools (Wikipedia reference which references the Philadelphia Freedom Schools based on the Children’s Defense Fund model). More information is also found here on the Sankofa Freedom Academy Charter School web site. Reverend Rookard closed the program with a benediction.

How Can You Get Involved? Bring a Friend! Explore and Use Your Talents for Frankford!

Frankford Coalition of Neighbors
Jennifer Powell-Folks, Executive Director
c/o Campbell AME Church
1661 Kinsey Street
Philadelphia, PA 19124
215.744.9170
email: FrankfordCoalition@Prodigy.net

CORA Services Northeast EPIC Stakeholders
Kimberly Washington, Esq.
email: KWashington@coraservices.org
Next meeting: Thursday, 1/27/11 at 5:30 PM at Aria Health, Frankford

Contributing Organizations besides those already mentioned: Aria Health, Frankford Campus; Fruit of the Vine United Methodist Church; Mater Dolorosa RC Church; Friends of Wissonoming Park

You are able to share in and relive this celebration by clicking on the following links:
MLK Day at Sankofa
Frankford Friends School Choir
Frankford High School ROTC Drill Team
Sankofa Essay and Poetry Readings
Campbell AME Church Liturgical Dance Performance
Northeast Boys and Girls Club Drill Team
Sankofa Freedom Academy “Something Inside So Strong”

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Lessons We Can Learn From Frankford High School Truancy Incident!

Hanukkah 2009 is now history, Santa and the reindeer have landed on our roofs,  Kwanzaa began Saturday and the Three Kings will arrive next week. These celebrations allow us time to reflect  on the true  meaning and intent of these special events and to better ourselves and our world. I would like to share some reflections regarding the events of October 29th at Frankford High School  and what  meaning  we can find in this event.

We go to school to learn. Many question what our children are learning and how well they are learning it. But off to school they go. Rules and laws should be in place to protect us. But sometimes things go terribly wrong. PA law mandates that children must attend school between the ages of 8 and 17. However, in Philadelphia, the starting age for mandatory school attendance is 6 years old. There are those, for whatever reason(s), do not regularly attend school and are labeled as truant. The PA Department of Education defines truancy as any unexcused absence from school. Truancy has been cited as a BIG problem in the School District of Philadelphia schools. To address truancy in its schools, the School District of Philadelphia has implemented a plan called ATIPS (Attendance and Truancy Intervention and Prevention Services). If you read the details of this plan, “police stop students who are on public streets or in/around public areas between the hours of 9:00 AM and 11:30 AM every (non-holiday) weekday during the regular school year. The officer first asks for documentation and checks the student’s identification to confirm the student’s name and assigned school. If the student does not have documentation, s/he is escorted to their home school, the nearest age-appropriate school or to one of the district’s Truancy Support Centers.” So the goal appears to be to get students to their schools to learn.

Here’s the scoop regarding the outcome of the investigation! Stopped one block from school, this student admitted he “mouthed off” to the officers by telling them he was already late and continued to walk the one block to school instead of getting in the van that would have taken him to school anyway. Lesson #1 – Let us be respectful in our dealings with each other – old to young – young to old and everyone in between. Our encounters should be positive experiences.

The officers followed the student to school. Once he entered the school, “the student was held down by one officer while another officer beat him.” Lesson 2 – Those with authority can never, ever abuse it. Power doesn’t give any person or country rights over another. The more power you have, the more restrained you must be when using it.

A Frankford High School staff member witnessed this incident and he wrote an email to the School Superintendent asking that the truth be heard. It has been. Lesson #3 – We must act with courage whenever the rights of one of us have been violated. It takes great risk to stand up to right a wrong but exercising our courage will help us do that.

Lastly, all involved in an incident like this are victims. The innocent deserve justice – the guilty need our understanding and help, too! Lesson #4 – we need to be sure those that work with our young people are well-trained and have the necessary skills to deal with the daily stresses and challenges they face.

Learning lessons from such events can help to prevent them in the future. These are the lessons we want to teach our young.