Local/State

Chester charter school gets $1 million

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Exelon, the company that owns PECO, is giving a Chester charter school a million dollars.

Classes were held as usual Tuesday at the Widener Partnership Charter School in Chester. The K-6th grade school was started six years ago, Pennsylvania's first university-based charter school. It is now 350 students strong.

This was a major day in its short but successful history. Exelon is pumping in $1 million to help the school improve resources for teaching science, engineering and math to the children of Chester, whose public schools are constantly awash in red ink and turmoil.

So Exelon is joining the partnership with Widener University, which has long made efforts on behalf of its home town, whose poverty-related social problems are well-documented.

"You just hear so many negative things about urban environments and the City of Chester, but we have many, many positive things taking place in this city. And I think this next generation of students is really going to help us move to another level," said Widener University President Dr James Harris III.

"The classes are smaller here, so there's more opportunity for individual instruction. There is partnering with parents as a central focus of the program here. And there are counseling services to help students and families build skills and self-confidence," said Exelon Senior Executive Vice President Denis O'Brien.

Widener Partnership Charter emphasizes all the guaranteed formulas for success: smaller class size, personalized instruction, and study of the humanities and even foreign languages. For students and parents, the school has been a Godsend.

"This is the best thing to happen to Chester, I tell you no lie. Because my son is getting a hell of an education, and I'm hoping they'll take it all the way to 12th grade," said parent Samuel Weathers

The school is generating great ambitions.

"It's making me a better person, it's making me feel who I am," said 6th grader Ramiz Young.

"They have great activities, great academics, and we learn a lot," said 6th grader Nya Garrison

A new wing for this charter school is under construction. A major expansion, it will house the new middle school, 7th and 8th grade, being created now on the foundations of the success of the elementary school.

The new construction, the million dollar grant, the expanding program are all elements that generated a lot of celebration here and songs of thanks on Tuesday.

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Tags:
pennsylvania, school, chester, PECO, local/state, vernon odom
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