Strawberry Mansion High School, where 94 security cameras line the hallways and metal detectors are posted at every door, was once considered one of the most dangerous schools in the country.
Located in a poor Philadelphia neighborhood with a high crime rate, Strawberry Mansion consistently appeared on Pennsylvania’s “Persistently Dangerous Schools” list.
But for the first time in six years, that’s no longer the case.
“We’re off the ‘Persistently Dangerous’ list. We’re very happy about that,” said Principal Linda Cliatt-Wayman. “So we know we have a system in place that can curtail the violence. We know that.”
But after the special, a tidal wave of generosity from viewers helped breathe new life into Strawberry Mansion. Money donated by viewers helped to pay for school uniforms and to provide 13 scholarships for seniors heading off to college, as well as basic necessities that were missing at Strawberry Mansion, including books, notebooks and calculators.
It is a school that is still close to the edge. Brutal fights break out at times and citywide budget cuts have made an impact. There are fewer teachers thisyear, and class sizes have doubled. Fewer guards and police patrol the hallways.
There are signs of hope and vitality. For the first time in the school’s 62-year history, it has a football team, the Strawberry Mansion Knights.
“It just reminds people that we’re here and that we’re legitimate and that we’re still a school, we’re still running and we still have a lot to offer to all of our students in this neighborhood, in this community,” said Evan Kramp, who was a new history teacher last year.
Cliatt-Wayman remains dedicated to making Strawberry Mansion a better school. At the Pennsylvania Conference for Women last month, she gave the keynote address, alongside Hillary Clinton and Madeline Albright, in which she talked about the struggles at Mansion and said “this nation must invest in the education of all its children, if they are going to remain the wealthiest country on earth.”
Southside Economic Development Project.