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William Penn High School (Philadelphia)

William Penn High School (Philadelphia)

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William Penn High School
1333 N Broad Street
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19122

United States
Coordinates 39°58′26″N 75°09′32″W / 39.974°N 75.159°W / 39.974; -75.159
Type Public high school
School district School District of Philadelphia
Principal Patricia Randzo[1]
Faculty 65.3 (on FTE basis)[2]
Grades 9 to 12
Enrollment 1204[2] (2005-06)
Student to teacher ratio 18.4[2]
Campus type Urban

William Penn High School was a public high school serving grades 9-12, located at 1333 N Broad St, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was a part of the School District of Philadelphia (SDP).


The school opened in 1973.[3]

In 2009 Penn had 633 students.[4] That year, the school district proposed closing Penn, because its declining enrollment was far below the building capacity and because the building was in poor condition.[5] The district proposed rezoning Penn zone residents who were also in the Clymer School zone to Simon Gratz High School, and it proposed rezoning Penn zoned residents who were also in the zones of Dunbar, Ferguson, Harrison, and Hartranft to Benjamin Franklin High School.[6]

Some individuals opposed to the closing argued that if Penn was closed and its students were moved to Franklin, students would engage in "turf warfare" and the abandoned school building would become a haven for criminal activity.[7] The closing was approved.[4]

In 2014 Temple University paid $15 million to acquire the Penn site.[8] In February 2015 the Philadelphia City Planning Commission approved the demolition of the school.[9] Demolition began in December 2015, with demolition of the campus's east side scheduled to end in February of the following year,[8] and with the west side demolished by the summer of 2016.[10] Temple planned to install an athletic center on the east side.[8] Athletic activities were scheduled to begin on the former Penn site in October 2016.[10]


It was located at a convenient location near Broad and Girard Ave that had local eateries, three major fast food chains, a gas station, a CVS Pharmacy, public transportation to the Girard subway station and two major bus routes. This school sat on a beautiful campus that held five buildings that were all connected by bridges. There were so many students in the school before its rapid decline in enrollment, that street lines were put on the floor of major hallways to control student traffic. One building was divided in half and provided two full sized lunchrooms on the second floor. On the first floor of this building was a childcare facility for students that were parents. On the top floor was a greenhouse.

Penn housed an Olympic sized swimming pool that only went from three to four feet to teach students to swim. There was also a diving pool with a depth of twelve feet for students that were comfortable with swimming. There was a three-story rock wall in the gym where basketball games were held. A ping pong and tennis room and state of the art gym equipment was available to the students.


Penn had five programs called SLCs (Small Learning Communities). Communications, Masterminds, Arts, Business and Health. Each SLC focused on specific educational requirements. Communications held classes for web design, desktop publishing, photography, television editing, television broadcasting, computer science, newspaper editing, CISCO classes, etc. Penn had a professional television studio and editing software, along with top notch computer labs and a dark room for photography

Art SLC had 2 huge two story art rooms with kilns to harden certain art projects. A professional dance studio with a certified teacher that taught various dance art. There was a music room with every musical instrument possible and had certified instructors to teach and lead bands.

Health SLC had various health courses and had special biology, and chemistry classes.

Business SLC had top notch business courses and typing classes.

Masterminds was once an SLC for students that wanted to go into a career in Law and African American studies. In 2001, it was changed into an SLC to get 9th graders ready for high school life.

There were so many students at one time, the auditorium had to be used one grade or one SLC at a time according to the material being addressed. On the right of the auditorium were separate banquet rooms for award ceremonies and festivals for the students.

This school also had a section specifically for special needs students and they were kept in a safe but open environment for them to learn and grow without being forced to mingle with the other students.

A list of every class that was given to students at its peak in 2004 will be available shortly, including the distinguished classes such as elementary functions. The class of 2004 was the most recent biggest graduating class.

Faculty and students were able to park their cars in the garage located under the school for safe off street parking.

The schools color was black, white and silver with the lion as a mascot. In the fall of 2000, uniforms were implemented in this school for the first time. Students had to wear black slacks with a white or gray polo shirt and black shoes.

William Penn Exemplary Demonstration High was opened in 1970. The 1970 plaque on the front of the building housed a time capsule with the hope one day students can view the contents inside.


  1. ^ "School Profile". School District of Philadelphia. Archived from the original on 2007-07-04. Retrieved 2008-02-03. 
  2. ^ a b c "Penn William HS". National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved 2008-02-03. 
  3. ^ Shamlin, Wilford III (2015-10-20). "Old memories, new hopes for former Philly high school grounds". Philadelphia Tribune. Archived from the original on 2017-02-25. Retrieved 2017-03-02.  ()
  4. ^ a b "Ackerman plan would revamp and reimagine failing schools, close others." Philadelphia Daily News. February 19, 2009. 06 Local. Retrieved on October 2, 2011. "William Penn, at Broad and Thompson streets, in North Philadelphia, has 633 students and will close at the end of next school year."
  5. ^ "Public Hearing on the Proposed Closure of William Penn High School." School District of Philadelphia. 4. Retrieved on October 2, 2011.
  6. ^ "Public Hearing on the Proposed Closure of William Penn High School." School District of Philadelphia. 11. Retrieved on October 2, 2011.
  7. ^ "Fears on school closings." Philadelphia Daily News. March 12, 2009. Retrieved on October 2, 2011. "Closing William Penn High and shifting some of its students to nearby Benjamin Franklin High could result in bloody turf warfare, city residents warned the School Reform Commission yesterday during a meeting to discuss the closure plan."
  8. ^ a b c Spause, Brianna (2015-12-14). "William Penn High School demolition begins". Philadelphia Public School Notebook. Retrieved 2017-03-02. 
  9. ^ Carrión, Angelly (2015-02-19). "Morning Headlines: Former William Penn High on North Broad to Be Demolished". Philadelphia. Retrieved 2017-03-02. 
  10. ^ a b "Progress begins at William Penn site to create athletic fields south of campus." Temple University. November 16, 2015. Retrieved on March 2, 2017.

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