Last June the Philadelphia school district closed Germantown High School, which opened its doors in 1914 and is one of the nation’s oldest high schools. Students were told they would be attending nearby King High School, a school with which they shared a bitter rivalry.
Jere Longman of the New York Times has a terrific article on the perseverance of King and Germantown teachers, students, coaches and athletes; specifically the now combined football programs, which will enter this season with a volunteer head coach, a Division I football prospect and an uncertain future.
From the article:
Layoff notices were sent to more than 3,800 school district employees, 20 percent of the work force, including 676 teachers. Officials described what they called a “doomsday” possibility: classes opening Sept. 9 with no assistant principals, secretaries, new books, paper, librarians, art, music — or sports.
…“Let’s face it, a large percentage of our students come to school because of sports, not so much to play the game but to be part of a surrogate family,” said Robert Coleman, the executive director of athletics for the Philadelphia School District. “We know the best place to be after school is the football field or the hardwood, certainly the safest.”
“I couldn’t do it for two or three years” without a paycheck, [teacher and volunteer football coach Edward] Dunn said. “I’ve got to feed my family. But I want to fulfill my promise. In addition to keeping my word, kids have scholarship offers; they need somebody who is going to be responsible for that process, for making sure their G.P.A. is right and that they graduate. Parents are not able to do it.”
If he broke his promise and left now, Dunn said, “these kids would never forget it as a life lesson: people say they care, but nobody really does.”