Monday, November 07, 2005

My only regret with Henry

(posted at the request of Charlie Cooper)

As I watched my two sons head out the door this morning to Central H.S., I thought again how fortune we are to have the educational opportunities we received at C.W. Henry. My oldest son Curtis, now a junior at Central, graduated Henry in '03. His brother Brendan, now a freshman at Central, graduated last year. My only regret with Henry is that we did not find the school sooner.

We were living in South Philly when the boys were in elementary school and were fortunate in having them attend Greenfield at 22nd and Chestnut. They were good years and the boys had good friends and competent, concerned teachers. For better or worse neither of my boys made the cut for Masterman. At that time in Greenfield there was no cohesive effort to keep the kids together and resist the pull to Masterman (though there had been several years before). Come fifth grade we were stunned by the change that happened to the learning environment at Greenfield. Despite the efforts of the teaching and administration staff, and of my wife and me, we grew concerned about how our son was reacting to the environment and decided to enroll him in a private Quaker school. His younger brother followed him there.

We bussed the boys an hour each way so they could go to school in the suburbs, where they could study diversity in an academic way, and where they could mature as students without me having to be as involved in their day-to-day studies and home work.

Three years later, after spending many, many thousands of dollars, hundreds of hours on the school bus, countless hours driving them around the region to visit school chums, and still in the trenches with them doing their homework, we exited.

Curtis was accepted into 8th grade at Henry. As a public school, it is free. He walked to school. He made new friends in the neighborhood. I am still in the trenches with him doing his homework, but that's me and that's my boys. I guess I really wouldn't have it any other way.

Entering 8th grade at a new school is no easy task. As a Caucasian family we had some concern about placing our son in a predominantly African-American school. That actually turned out to be an asset, not a liability. I cannot say enough about how welcoming the teaching staff, the administrative staff, and the students were to my son. We were so please at the experience that we brought his brother in next year as a 7th grader.

It has been a great experience. My two boys thrived in Henry. We give thanks for the education they received there and are now receiving in Central.

Thank you very much,
Charlie Cooper


Friedman said...

What a wonderful post; thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

Thats funny to see so much praise about this school. When I went there in the early 90's, it was falling apart. Hallways flooded when it rained. I stepped on crack vials on the way to school. Things must have changed.

KP said...

Apparently things have indeed changed. If you'd like, I'll be happy to meet you there for a tour to see how things look, these days. KP