Honor roll

Mayfair Elementary recently became the first public school in the state to offer its entire student body International Baccalaureate courses.

Best in the class: William Hite, superintendent of the School District of Philadelphia, speaks at an assembly to honor Mayfair Elementary for becoming the first public school in the state to have every student enrolled in an International Baccalaureate program. LOGAN KRUM / TIMES PHOTOS

In the auditorium of Mayfair Elementary, the students filling every seat are asked a question. In a unified chorus, they all answer the question correctly.

Q: What percentage of Mayfair Elementary students are enrolled in an International Baccalaureate program?

A: 100 percent.

On March 28, Mayor Kenney and other city officials visited the school to recognize its newly certified IB programs. It is the first public school in the state to have every student enrolled.

“If you want to go to an International Baccalaureate school in Pennsylvania, you gotta go to Philadelphia,” Kenney said to applause. “How about that?”

IB programs for elementary school students are noted for developing independently from government and national systems. They encourage students to think in local and global contexts and help develop multilingual students.

“Our students are growing up in an increasingly global society,” said William Hite, superintendent of the School District of Philadelphia.

“Diversity is definitely one of Mayfair’s strengths, and 25 percent of students are English language learners,” he said. He said students also speak Mandarin, Chinese, Spanish, Portuguese and Arab.

In an impassioned speech, Kenney echoed Hite’s sentiments about diversity.

“I want you to do me a favor,” he said, asking the students to look around the room. “Look at how beautiful and diverse you are.”

His speech got more energetic as he went on.

“This is what America is and this is what America should be,” he said. “What you hear on television coming from Washington and other places — put your fingers in your ears, come to school every day, and see what you’re able to accomplish.”

Kenney talked about how his own family came from Ireland and made contributions to the country, and told students their families were doing the same thing.

“Please don’t let any of the nonsense you hear on TV news bother you,” he said. “This will remain a sanctuary city as long as the federal judge says we can do it, and we will continue to protect our people.”

Councilman Bobby Henon said the school is reflective of the community, and that it’s “no surprise” it became an IB school.

“Students, I don’t want you to miss how important you are, because out of all the schools in the city and in Pennsylvania you’re the only one who has the IB program,” he said.

The presentation talked about the school’s application process, which took place over the course of several years. After becoming a candidate, the school was visited by representatives from the IB team who flew in from all over the country.

The team visited and evaluated every classroom and met with teachers, students and parents before making the decision.

Hite emphasized the importance of good school attendance, saying “attendance is getting better each and every day.” He recognized eighth-grader Austin Lee for his perfect attendance since he enrolled in Mayfair in fourth grade.

At the end of the presentation, two different choirs of students sang songs, and a drumline tapped out Pompeii by Bastille on buckets.

The school is led by Principal Guy Lowery. It is also undergoing renovations and received a new cafeteria. ••

Logan Krum can be reached at lkrum@newspapermediagroup.com