By Mike DeNardo, Jenn Bernstein
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — It’s a bittersweet day in the storied history of Germantown High School.
Today was the final graduation ceremony for the school — which is among two dozen Philadelphia schools permanently closing this year (see related stories).
The Class of 2013 is the final class for Germantown High. After 99 years, the school will close its doors forever Friday.
While proud families of the graduates cheered, Vera Peeples-Primus, the head of the alumni association, fought back tears.
“I’m sort of at a loss for words,” she said today. “It’s years’ worth of hard work. And everyone talks about the negative and nobody talks about the positive. And this particular class worked hard.”
“I graduated from Germantown High, and I’m just so hurt at the fact it’s closing!” said parent Deborah Goode.
“I always tell the students, before there was a Society Hill, before there was a downtown, there was Germantown,” said Principal Margaret Mullen-Bavwidinsi.
Many at the graduation fought to save the school.
“We were told as long as they excelled, we got off the list of most dangerous high schools, grades went up, attendance went up, that we would be fine, and all of that was a lie,” said Vera-Primus.
“I see a lot of help given to other schools, but Germantown, there wasn’t a lot of help given to Germantown,” said Jordan Gage, a graduate.
The Superintendent’s Office tells us there are approximately 650 students who attended this year, in a building that has the capacity for 2,218 students.
With approximately 2,900 high school age kids within the school’s boundary, the Superintendent’s Office says that means around 2,250 students chose not to attend Germantown High and are enrolled elsewhere.
Certain groups – like Action United – feel Germantown High, like others slated to close, didn’t have a chance especially with a large focus on charter schools.
“We need to be supporting district schools to do a good job and not just shutting them down..this is what’s going to damage the city of Philadelphia in the long run,” said Jesse Braxton.
Germantown is alma mater to Bill Cosby, Kevin Eubanks, and Judith Jamison.
Principal Alexis Greaves said his 120 seniors will carry on the school’s memories.
“This group of people will not let this legacy die or stand still,” he told KYW Newsradio.