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In Some Philadelphia Schools, Classes Begin Today For Students

(Students Jalyn, 10, and Bryan, 12, stand in front of a mural of teachers at FACTS Charter School holding signs spelling out "Welcome Back to School."  Credit: John McDevitt)

(Students Jalyn, 10, and Bryan, 12, stand in front of a mural of teachers at FACTS Charter School holding signs spelling out “Welcome Back to School.” Credit: John McDevitt)

John McDevitt John McDevitt
John McDevitt has been a reporter and editor at KYW Newsradio 1060...
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By John McDevitt

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Summer vacation is over for many school students.

Today was the first day of class at a school in Chinatown where culture and community are put in the forefront.

The Folk Arts-Cultural Treasures Charter School (“FACTS”) has about 475 students in grades K through 8.  This morning those students were being greeted individually by teachers and staff.

There are no period bells at FACTS, so learning is not disrupted, and the tables in lunchrooms are round to promote conversation and a sense of  community.

Chinese classes were going on in one room, where Mandarin was being spoken.

And it wasn’t just the kids who were eager to start the school year.

“Well, I know the teachers have been here for a whole week before the students,” said Teacher Pheng (no last name given), the acting principal.  “And I know last night I couldn’t sleep.  And although I am a teacher, I still get the first-day jitters, I guess! (laughs)”

Ten-year-old Jalyn (at left in photo) says she has been counting down the days until the return to school since the start of summer vacation, and she says she wants to hit the books right away.

“I want to learn this year about diseases, because if my singing and acting career ends, I want to be a doctor,” she told KYW Newsradio.

Schools in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia start tomorrow, and city public schools on Friday.