8th-grade students return to Philadelphia's Discovery Charter School to finish year

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- This week, 8th-grade students at Jacquelyn Y. Kelley Discovery Charter School in Philadelphia's Parkside section returned to full-time in-person learning.

"I was hoping for it to happen," said 8th grader Seneca Barton.

Most agree, it has been a difficult year.

"It's been weird. Kind of difficult, and very disappointing," said 8th grader Angel Harper.

"We have felt a little distant, but being able to have the students come in person, we get that community back," said Instructional Coach Tonia Mason.

The rest of the school remains hybrid or virtual. The school resumed a hybrid schedule in March, but officials felt it was important to bring the 8th graders back full time to finish out their last year on campus.

"Eighth grade in this school is actually a really big year. We're leaving Discovery, we're having new experiences somewhere else, and the 8th-grade trip was actually supposed to be in May," said 8th grader and School President Zakiyah Vickers.

But Vickers said for the second year in a row, the class trip was canceled.

The students had planned to go to Mexico, but by the winter, it was clear that would not happen.

"We research it all and make it like a project so before they go, they really know where to go," said teacher Yvonne Farrell.

"Discovery is all about discovering, so we go all around the world discovering different cultures and different places, so we understand the world better," Vickers said.

Vickers said what she did discover this year is how much she misses the classroom and her friends.

"Human interaction is very important to me because when Zoom was happening, I was very sad and bored. I hated Zoom, to be frank," Vickers admitted. "But now that we get to come back, it's actually really important that we see each other before we leave."
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