Despite the heat, Philadelphia students excited for first day of school

Katherine Scott Image
Tuesday, September 5, 2023
Despite the heat, Philly students excited for first day of school
Despite the heat, Philadelphia students were excited for the first day of school.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Students started the school year Tuesday at Guion S. Bluford Elementary School in West Philadelphia with smiles and high fives.

"I'm excited," said first grader Samir Mason.

"I love school. I love to play at school," said first grader Taniya Hodges.

"Just wonderful to see them all getting back in the groove," said Mayor Jim Kenney, who attended his last first day of school as mayor.

The mayor and the school district superintendent were among the officials celebrating the first day at Bluford, a former Renaissance Charter School, which has now returned to the district.

"As a graduate of the School District of Philadelphia, I am delighted to be able to lead a school - the latest school to return to the School District of Philadelphia," said Tangela McClam, principal of Bluford.

The first day comes amid a heat wave, with temperatures once again set to stretch into the 90s.

There were early dismissals on Tuesday and Wednesday for 74 schools in the Philadelphia School District that lack air conditioning.

Bluford is not one of them, and students here are looking forward to getting back to some of the things they love.

"Playing, going outside, eating, talking to my friends," said Mahlaya Lanier McLendon.

The district has been working to improve cooling systems in schools with the goal over time of providing every school with the system needed to not disrupt in-person learning.

While student safety remains a top concern, the Philadelphia School District schools saw a higher attendance rate last year, fewer dropouts, and more students meeting new state graduation requirements.

The superintendent feels the momentum going into this year.

"This year we are launching some new...math curriculum in all of our schools K through 12," said Watlington. "We will launch a new curriculum in English language arts next year, and then we'll make our way down the road in science as well."