George Washington principal visits Somerton meeting

Officials discussed the community school, crime and more updates at the November civic association meeting.

Last Tuesday, Somerton Civic Association discussed a few updates in the community as well as the need to fill one vacancy on the civic’s board.

George Washington High School principal Susan Thompson and Caitlyn Boyle, of the Mayor’s Office of Education, delivered updates on the school and its status as a community school.

Thompson’s tenure at Washington started in 2016, but she believes the school is making significant strides to become a model public school in the city. Thompson credited the redesign project with offering more students opportunities that will benefit them after their high school education.

“Instead of just giving them an 8×11 diploma, I want to give them skills and college credits.”

In addition to providing students opportunities for college courses, Thompson stressed the need for the students being introduced to various trade disciplines.

Boyle, community school coordinator at Washington, discussed the first steps the school has taken since being given the designation of community school.

“First step is doing a needs assessment of what the priorities are for this specific community.”

Washington is one of the 12 schools among 218 public schools in the city that has been designated as a community school. Boyle considers this a notable achievement and recognizes why this may have come as a surprise to those in Somerton.

“This area has often been overlooked,” said Boyle.

Boyle stressed the needed input from the community to help make the school reach its full potential.

A crime update was delivered by Lt. Steve Gonzales, who stated that for the month of October there was one burglary and three robberies. Although Gonzales thought those numbers were promising, he reminded those in attendance that robberies typically go up this time of year with it getting darker earlier in the day.

Members of the civic association expressed concern over the continued congestion around MaST Charter School on Byberry Road.

“Someone is going to get really hurt,” a member shouted. “The handwriting is on the wall.”

State Rep. Martina White delivered updates on a number of events and issues asked by the board.

White thanked those who were in attendance for the Veterans Day event at the Arbours on Southampton Road and called it an “impressive showing.”

White stated that, at next month’s meeting, she would be able to relay an update on the status of Real IDs in Pennsylvania. As of now, Pennsylvania currently has an enforcement extension until October 2018. Real ID-compliant driver’s licenses will be necessary to board airplanes and enter certain government offices.

White also addressed concerns over the bridge on the 2100 block of Byberry Road. White stated she held a Public Utility Commission meeting in Harrisburg regarding the matter and said more information should be available in the near future.

“I think the new year will bring more information” for the upcoming 2019 project, White said. “We will try to get you the tonnage, the weight limit, that you want.”

The Somerton Civic Association plans to allocate $1,500 among three families facing financial hardships in the neighborhood. The board will reach out to local elementary schools to find out which families would be a good fit for this initiative and then determine how to spend the $500 per family based on their particular needs.

The Somerton Civic Association is seeking a membership secretary for the board. ••