(submitted by Henry alumna, Chelsea Badeau)
In 1992, my family moved from Barre, VT to the Mt. Airy neighborhood of Philadelphia, PA. I began 7th grade at C.W. Henry. It was quite a change for me. I went from an all-white classroom in Barre to being one of a handful of white students in my seventh grade class at Henry. Since my family is racially integrated, it wasn’t a complete culture shock, but it was quite different from what I had been used to in an educational setting up to that point in my life. I was so quiet my first month that I was named ‘Student of the Month.’
Fortunately, the students and teachers at Henry embraced me and there was no separation amongst the races. I also realized that the K-5 grades at Henry were much more integrated than the middle school. I learned that many students were sent to Masterman School or private schools after 5th grade.
I was given so many opportunities while attending Henry. I sung in Mr. Clark’s choir and I also sang in the all-city choir that met regularly at Girls’ High. I was in Mr. Clark and Mrs. Flood’s production of ‘Bye Bye Birdie.’ I took typing class at Jenks School in Chestnut Hill and science shop class at Carver High School. I played flute and was in the jazz band. Mrs. Bach gave me many artistic opportunities, such as painting play scenery and entering city and state contests. I won an art scholarship for Saturday classes at Moore College of Art. I participated in MG (mentally gifted) classes and was taken to see the opera ‘The Magic Flute’ and to Phillies games.
I learned how to do a science project and my idea of a magnetic train won 2nd place in the citywide contest. I remember spending many hours with my mom and siblings working on our science project boards. I was taught how to write book reports and do research at the library. I remember reading to the children in the younger grades.
There were the weekly spelling bees with Mrs. Fletcher, science labs with Mrs. Green (who taught me how to be a mom—to an egg), math fundamentals and hallway advice sessions with Mr. Dobson, and gym classes with the ever-energetic Mrs. Cairone.
I remember when our whole class got in big trouble for a soft pretzel hallway fight (Henry had the best soft pretzels for 25 cents that I have ever had in my life) and getting sent to the principal’s office for giggling uncontrollably during an assembly in the auditorium. I remember begging to be allowed to stay in the library on blistery cold winter days during lunch period.
And of course there was play day every year and picture day. My house was crazy on picture day. I think there were eight of us Badeaus going to Henry when I was in 8th grade.
In 7th grade we went to college settlement camp and in 8th grade, we went to PEEC for a week. These trips were so much fun and it was great to be able to learn in an atmosphere outside of the classroom walls. It was also a chance for our class to really bond.
The teachers and the guidance counselor gave me a lot of support and advice on identifying my talents and figuring out which high school to attend after graduation.
Then there was graduation day, where we were awarded for all of the hard work we had put in during our time at Henry. I had broken my finger a week earlier during a softball game and I remember struggling to hold all of my trophies. That was a great day and a sad day. I was happy to have completed middle school, but I was nervous to leave the familiar halls of Henry and head to the unfamiliar halls of CAPA.
I cherish the time I spent at Henry. I learned so much during those two years and I made some amazing friends. Two of my closest friends today are women that I met in 7th grade at Henry.
Many of my siblings spent many more years at Henry than I did, and I have been attached to the school through their experiences since I graduated in 1994. In fact, I currently have three nieces attending the school.