William Penn High School: The Story of a Great School's Promise

Produced by: 
William Penn Development Coalition

Individual Film Price:

Higher Education Institutions & Government Agency DVD | $49.95
K-12 & Public Libraries DVD | $49.95
Home Video DVD License – Restrictions Apply | $5.95



Precious Places Compilation Price:

This video is available for purchase as part of a Precious Places Community History Project Vol. 7 compilation DVD.

Higher Education Institutions & Government Agency DVD | $139.00
K-12 & Public Libraries DVD | $79.00
Home Video DVD License – Restrictions Apply | $20.00



Scribe Video Center Program:

The Precious Places Community History Project is a community oral history project inviting members of the Philadelphia region's many neighborhoods to document the buildings, public spaces, parks, landmarks and other sites that hold the memories of our communities and define where we live. Precious Places teaches the video production process to participating groups, fostering projects authored by those who intimately know the featured neighborhoods.


Humanities Consultant: Heather Levi

Production Consultant: Antoine Haywood


Film Summary:

In 1909, the William Penn High School opened on 15th and Wallace as a secondary school for girls.  For the next sixty-five years the school provided young women with first rate educational opportunities.  In 1974 the school was moved to a new, modern campus on Broad and Master, boasting state-of-the-art features such as a communications lab, an Olympic swimming pool and a horticultural atrium. Along with the move, the student body became co-ed. The new William Penn High School stood as a community institution and a source of pride for Yorktown residents, but in 2009 the School District of Philadelphia recommended its closure to the SRC.  In response, students, alumni, and other stakeholders organized the William Penn Development Coalition to work to save the school.  They prompted then Superintendent Arlene Ackerman to recommend against the school’s permanent closure, and to explore alternatives with community.  The school was closed in 2010 with a promise that it would re-open in some form in 2012; that was not to be.  In 2014 the city, disregarding a previously submitted Expression of Interest by the WPDC, sold the building and grounds to Temple University in an accelerated process.  The building is now undergoing demolition.  This video documents the history of the school, the struggle of its alumni and others to maintain it as a community institution, and their hopes of eventual revitalization of the institution at a new location.


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