New home for Keystone Charter

The school unveiled a facility in Tacony on June 3.

Keystone Academy Charter School celebrated the opening of its new facility at 4521 Longshore Ave. in Tacony on June 3.

The open house and ribbon-cutting ceremony came about three weeks after the school made the move from its former home at 6660 Keystone St., the home of the former St. Leo Elementary School.

City Councilman Bobby Henon (D-6th dist.) was among those joining in the celebration. He delivered a Council citation.

“A community starts with a school,” he said.

The offices of state Sen. John Sabatina Jr. and state Rep. Mike Driscoll also brought citations.

Joe Sannutti, president of Tacony Civic Association, and Capt. Anthony Luca, commander of the 15th Police District, were in attendance.

The Philadelphia Fire Department’s Water Tower 38 made an appearance, and kids had a chance to have their faces painted.

Students performed a scene from Aladdin.

Members of the National Junior Honor Society led tours.

Seventh-grader Gianna Iorio is back home, in a way. She attended St. Josaphat Ukrainian Catholic School, which was housed in the Longshore Avenue site, for kindergarten and first grade. She transferred to Planet Abacus, Keystone’s former name, once it became apparent St. Josaphat would be closing due to dwindling enrollment.

Gianna is happy at Keystone.

“I love the high standards and the expectations,” she said. “The teachers set incentives to be good students. It’s a great learning environment.”

School CEO Claudia Lyles has been in place since 2012, after a number of administrators at Planet Abacus were charged with fraud.

Lyles, board president Gretchen Alston and students Billy Chapin, Jolie Moultrie, Nasir Brewington and Serianna Handel cut the ribbon to officially open the school.

Keystone Academy serves 700 students in kindergarten through eighth grade. The enrollment is about one-third white, one-third black and one-quarter Hispanic.

The focus is on science, technology and math, though there is a large library and a full offering of arts and physical education.

There’s also an active Keystone Academy Parent Association.

Part of the building dates to 1900 and once house Mary Disston Public School. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Keystone bought the property in 2014, and work was done by BSI Construction.

“The new building hosts state-of-the-art science labs and has designated rooms for special subjects, which include art, computers, music and physical education.” Lyles said. “Our Board of Trustees and administration worked diligently with the neighborhood association during construction to make sure that parts of the original building were properly preserved. Renovations were made to create an exceptional facility that will encourage effective learning, foster superior education and drive academic excellence for our students.” ••