May 2017

From the Director’s Chair

It is hard to believe that May is already upon us! While plans are in full swing for the 2017-18 school year, we looking forward to the wonderful events and traditions with which we end each academic year. I hope to see you around campus before the school year ends!

Travis Larrabee

Cum Laude Ceremony

On Wednesday, April 19, the Upper School gathered in the Ball Theater for our annual Cum Laude Society induction ceremony. We honored 24 members of the Class of 2017, along with 11 members of the class of 2018.

Our keynote speaker for this year’s Cum Laude Assembly was Sozi Tulante, city solicitor for the City of Philadelphia and current Penn Charter parent. Through sharing his family’s incredible journey to the United States from Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo), he offered advice on being kind to others, as so many were to his family, and on being true to who you are, no matter the circumstances. Mr. Tulante’s talk was personal and heart-felt, and it had a great impact on all assembled.

Founded in 1906, the Cum Laude Society recognizes academic achievement in secondary schools for the purpose of promoting excellence (Areté), justice (Diké) and honor (Timé). The founders of the society modeled Cum Laude after Phi Beta Kappa, and in the years since its founding, Cum Laude has grown to 382 chapters, approximately two dozen in public schools and the rest in independent schools. Membership is predominantly in the United States, but chapters also are located in Canada, England, France, Spain, Puerto Rico and the Philippines. ( In addition to the Cum Laude photo below, you can view and download two more.

Upper School Year-End Assessments (Exams)

Upper School Year-End Assessments (exams) will be held from Thursday, June 1, through Wednesday, June 7, 2017. While the specific timing of each exam is yet to be determined, we can confirm the following subject areas and dates:

Tues., May 30: Exam Review
Wed., May 31: Exam Review
Thurs., June 1: Mathematics Final Exam
Fri., June 2: Science Final Exam
Mon., June 5: Social Studies Final Exam
Tues., June 6: English Final Exam
Wed., June 7: Foreign Language Final Exam

The detailed exam schedule will be made public soon, and at that point students should contact Travis Larrabee to discuss any potential conflicts on concerns.

For more general policy information on final exams in the Upper School, please refer to the Academic Program section of the Handbook for Students and Parents of the Upper School.

Important Information for Parents of Seniors

Last week, Rose Mary Cavalcante sent home a hard copy of this letter, which outlines some of the major events and policies for seniors and parents of seniors as we enter the final few weeks of their tenure at Penn Charter. Please be sure to read this letter in its entirety, and please feel free to contact Rose Mary ( with any questions.

2017-18 Course Planning & Teacher Requests

All students in grades 8 through 11 have completed and submitted preliminary course requests for the 2017-2018 school year. Throughout the months of May and June, the administration and department chairs will finalize Upper School staffing, and Sandy Portnoy, the registrar, will build the Upper School schedule based on staffing decisions and student requests for courses. Department chairs and teachers will review student requests for advanced, AP and/or oversubscribed classes to select students for these courses. Please contact department chairs if you have questions about their departmental selection processes for courses. As the process moves forward this spring, we will be in touch with students who need to resolve conflicts and/or select alternative courses to complete their schedules. Please remind your children to check their email on a consistent basis throughout the summer.

As we enter into the scheduling process for next year, please understand that we would be happy to discuss your child’s academic progress this year and your perceptions of what types of teaching styles might best fit your son or daughter’s learning needs. However, we are unable to honor specific teacher requests from parents. (Asking that your child not have a certain teacher also is viewed as one of those requests we cannot grant!) While you act as your child’s advocate, please recognize that we must put together the best academic program possible for 450+ students in the Upper School.

Student schedules and class lists are closely reviewed by department chairs and the Upper School administration to ensure that we are creating the best learning environment possible for all of the students in the Upper School. If you would like to further discuss your child’s specific learning needs and what type of classroom environment might further enhance his or her learning, please e-mail or call Travis Larrabee.

Completing the Activity Requirement for 2016-17

The Upper School activity credit requirements underscore the belief that extensive involvement in the life of the school is an integral part of student’s Penn Charter education. All students in grades 9 through 12 are required to participate in one sport per year. All students are also required to participate in a second activity, which could be a second sport or a 40-hour activity. Failure to fulfill these requirements is serious. Returning students who do not fulfill their activity requirement will have them automatically added to their activities requirement the next year (and they will not be eligible for extended privileges). Seniors who do not fulfill their activity requirement will have to complete the work over the summer and will not receive a diploma at graduation (because graduation requirements have not been met).

Most students have little difficulty meeting the activity requirement. The sport and 40-hour activities are listed in the Student Handbook. If you have any questions about the status of your child in any of the activities (e.g., how many hours left?), please call Assistant Director of Upper School Catherine Ezzo at ext. 251.

Out-of-School Sport or Activity Credit for 2017-18

In very rare circumstances Penn Charter will waive all or part of the activity requirement for students who have demonstrated interests so specialized and talents so extraordinary that they cannot be maintained within the context of our program. Weight is given to the requests of older students. In every case, exemptions of any kind are rare. Our goal is to help students find meaningful ways to stay involved in the school, and students and parents will find Penn Charter’s offerings varied and programs flexible. Proposal instructions for the 2017-18 school year may be obtained from Assistant Director of Upper School Catherine Ezzo. Completed proposals for exemption for next school year are due no later than June 1, 2017. If you have questions, please contact Catherine Ezzo at ext. 251.



By the Light of Our Charter, How Far Can We See? – our new campaign unveiled!
Scores, MVPs, photos.
Friends and family honor five student-athletes.

Calendar Events

    • FriNov17 Winter varsity and JV sports begin
    • MonNov20 No classes pre-K to 12
    • MonNov20 Pre-K to 12 parent conferences
    • TueNov21 No classes pre-K to 12
    • TueNov21 Pre-K to 12 faculty in-service day service day
    • WedNov22 School closed
    • ThuNov23 School closed
    • ThuNov23 Thanksgiving Day
    • FriNov24 School closed
    • SunNov26 Yellow week
    • MonNov27 Middle School sports begin
    • WedNov29 Fall Sports Awards Presentation (KC) 6:30 PM to 8:00 PM
    • FriDec01 Lower School Breakfast with Your Child (DH) 7:30 AM to 8:00 AM
    • FriDec01 4th grade parent meeting (TH) 8:15 AM to 9:30 AM
    • SatDec02 SAT Reasoning Test & SAT Subject Tests
    • SunDec03 Blue week
    • MonDec04 Upper School Parent Forum (OR) 8:15 AM to 9:15 AM
    • TueDec05 11th grade parents College Kickoff Night (MR) 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM
    • ThuDec07 Parent Meeting for Worship (MR) 8:15 AM to 8:45 AM
    • FriDec08 Kindergarten parent meeting (TH) 8:15 AM to 9:30 AM
    • FriDec08 Parent Community Executive Committee meeting (TH) 8:15 AM to 9:15 AM
    • SatDec09 ACT Test

Penn Charter

A Friends School for Girls and Boys, Pre-K to 12

3000 West School House Lane Philadelphia, PA 19144 215.844.3460
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