Spruce Hill Community Association Night at the Penn Museum’s Concert Series: August 12

It’s summertime, and P.M. @Penn Museum’s popular outdoor Summer Night Concert Series, Wednesdays 5:00 to 8:00 pm, runs now through September 2nd. Concerts are presented in the beautiful Stoner Courtyard garden, 3260 South Street across from Franklin Field. The Museum’s Pepper Mill Café offers happy hour drinks and light fare outdoors (for purchase), and the Museum galleries stay open to explore until 8 pm, with a guided gallery tour available during intermission.

 Mark your calendars especially August 12—it’s Spruce Hill Community Association Night—for all members and neighbors, when Trinidelphia takes to the stage. Get ready to view the steelpan in a new light as these artists fuse Trinidadian Soca and Calypso with Latin jazz, reggae, salsa, and American top 40 songs.

Buy $8 tickets online in advance with the code: SPRUCE. Tickets are $10 at the door. SHCA members who are also Penn Health System, CHOP employees or PennCard holders enjoy free admission with their ID. The all-ages show is free to children under 6 years old. Concert moves indoors in the event of rain.

May Fair Update

Check out just some of the amazing prizes contributed by our local businesses that we’ll be raffling off on Saturday, May 9 at the May Fair (10am-4pm)! Our list of donors is continuously growing, so expect even more great prizes at the Fair. Raffle tickets are available at the Fair, or stop by the Spruce Hill Center Thursday May 7 (6-8pm) or Fri May 8 (7-9pm).

Grand Prizes Generously Donated by the University Family Fun Center:
TRITTON PRO+  True 5.1 Surround Headset
Turtle Beach Ear Force X42
AND 5 University Family Fun Center baskets

Eat, Drink and Be Merry:
Blarney Stone – dinner for 4
Donuts Plus – $50 gift card
The Coffee Market (formerly Earth Cup) – two $20 gift cards
Lil’ Pop Shop – $25 gift card
Local 44 – $50 gift card
Manakeesh Café & Bakery – platter of baklava
Metropolitan Bakery – $5 gift coupons
Milk & Honey – mystery gift card
Pattaya Grill – $25 gift card
Saads Halal – $20 gift certificate
Vietnam Café – $25 gift card
Zahav – $100 gift card

Take Care of Yourself, Your Pets and Your Home:
Baltimore Pets – Basket of goodies for kitties ($50 value)
Goalkeeping 1-on-1 – 1-hour field hockey lesson with Coach Wagner ($150 value)
House of Our Own book store – Gift Certificate Horticulturalist Sue MacQueen – 1-hour garden consult
Last Word Bookshop – Gift Certificate
Lawyer, Andrew Cole, PC – 1-hour legal consult
Modern Eye – $100 gift card
Monarch Hardware – $25 gift certificate
Saturn Club – manicure and pedicure

Book lovers! Thanks to the contributions of countless neighbors, our $1 book sale will feature many hundreds of books of all genres – this is a sale you will not want to miss!

SHCA Annual Meeting and Election

If you’ve been noticing all the construction cranes in the University City skyline lately, you may want to come to Spruce Hill’s annual meeting and hear Matt Bergheiser put it all in perspective.

Matt, who is executive director of the University City District (UCD), will talk about “The State of University City’s Development Boom.” Besides what you see underway, there are many more projects on the drawing boards.

SHCA will also hold its annual election and meeting with reports on activities and finances and election of officers.

The meeting will be 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 11, at Griffith Hall on the campus of University of the Sciences. (Look for the entrance off 43rd St. opposite Clark Park and just north of Woodland Ave.).

There are no contested seats in the election this year.

Monica Calkins is standing for a second term as president. Eric Santoro, chair of the Education Committee, is nominated for executive vice president. Mary Ellen McCarty and Andrew Richman, also board members, are running for secretary and treasurer, respectively. Mark Wagenveld is running for vice president (operations).

In addition, we have the following candidates for board seats:

Julie Bush
Pauline Borkon
Brett Feldman
Barry Grossbach
Ed Halligan
Laura Line
Sue MacQueen
Elaine Nelson
Jackie Waiters

Stepping down – with thanks for their service – are Andy Cole, executive vice president, Judy Powers, treasurer (to be a board member), Marie McCullough, secretary, and board member Michael Shashaty.

To be eligible to vote, members must be caught up with their annual dues.  

SHCA Annual Meeting – Tues Nov 11th at 7:30pm

All those construction cranes that are reaching into the skies over University City suggest the area is in a building boom, with still other projects in earlier stages of development but underway.

Come and find out more about what’s going on at the annual meeting of the Spruce Hill Community Association, to be held 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 11.

Matthew Bergheiser, the executive director of the University City District, will speak on the topic, “The State of University City’s Development Boom.”

Along with annual reports, elections will be held for SHCA officers and board members.

The meeting will be at Griffith Hall at the University of the Sciences (look for the entrance facing 43rd St. just north of Woodland Ave. and across from Clark Park).

All community members welcome. Please forward to your friends and neighbors!

Lea School Redesign Initiative (Mtg Tues. 9/30 at 6 p.m. in Lea Auditorium)

Dear Lea School Community
As you may have heard, there have been many changes at Lea Elementary in recent months! We have said a grateful goodbye to Principal Sonya Harrison, who guided the school through its merger with Wilson Elementary prior to her promotion to Assistant Superintendent in July. In August we welcomed a new principal, Ms. Jennifer Duffy, and we’ve been working hard as a team right up to opening day this past Monday. There are several wonderful new teachers – selected by a school community panel – who have joined our faculty. Perhaps most visibly, our main playground has received a new play structure from the former Wilson school in addition to a new water-porous play surface underneath both play structures, thanks to the Greening Lea project.
Led by Principal Duffy and the teacher leadership team, we have come together to create a mission and vision that will truly serve all the students, families, staff, and community of Lea. Our goal is not to create Lea anew but rather strengthen and build upon the important work that has been done in recent years, with the continued input and investment from the broader Lea community.
As part of this project, we plan to submit next month an application to the School District of Philadelphia’s School Redesign Initiative program, which would potentially provide us with a small planning grant and expert resources to support our developing model. Our team would work through this school year on our new vision and practices, to implement fully in the 2015-2016 school year. However, we will be moving forward with this essential work regardless of whether we ultimately receive the grant.
While we know there has been a lot of change around our school, we want to be clear that we seek to steady and sustain Lea in partnership with you, our community. We will share more information with families at our Back to School Night on Wednesday, September 17th at 5 p.m. We also invite families and community members to meet with us and share ideas about Lea, its mission and its vision on Tuesday, September 30th at 6 p.m. at the Lea auditorium on 47th and Locust. Please enter through the small play yard on Locust Street. We are excited to join you in building Lea’s future for years to come.
Principal Jennifer Duffy in partnership with the Lea School faculty and staff
Dr. Caroline Watts, Penn-Lea Partnership Coordinator
Maurice Jones, Lea Home and School Association
Amara Rockar, West Philly Coalition for Neighborhood Schools
Dr. Diane Waff, Philadelphia Writing Project

SHCA PAS Playground Collaborative

Dear neighbors,
The SHCA Education Committee is excited to announce a collaborative project with four other community organizations — the Parent Infant Center, Saint Mary’s Nursery School, University City Arts League, and the PAS Home School Association — to help raise money to repair and maintain the Penn Alexander Playground.
As is explained in more detail in the attached letter, all of our organizations recognize the importance of the PAS Playground as not only an important school resource, but as a community resource, enjoyed by many local children both during and outside school hours.  Unfortunately, however, the PAS playground is now 15 years old and in need of both immediate and long term upkeep to repair and maintain some of the aging equipment.  The School District of Philadelphia, which is responsible for upkeep, simply does not have funds available to help.  We are therefore teaming up to engage the whole community to get behind this project and help restore this great community asset.
Please take time to review the attached letter and consider making a donation to this important project.
Thanks so much for your consideration and support.
Best regards,
Eric Santoro
SHCA Education Chair


School District Budget Crisis Letter

Letter to Governor Corbett, Mayor Nutter, Hon. Blackwell, Hon. Clarke, Senator Hughes, Senator Williams, and Representative Roebuck from Eric Santoro, SHCA Education Chair, on behalf of the SHCA Board of Directors.  Letter

Survey of Retail Preferences

In Fall 2013, the Spruce Hill Community Association Business Association Committee conducted a Survey of Retail Preferences

SHCA Education Committee Meeting with Philadelphia School District Representative Karyn Lynch

Dear Neighbors,

On Friday, February 7, 2014, the SHCA Education Committee met with Philadelphia School District Representative Karyn Lynch, who is a member of Superintendent Hite’s Executive Team.   The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the Penn Alexander School kindergarten lottery and wait list, to encourage increased transparency about district based policies and enrollment statistics, and to encourage an overall more proactive partnership between the community and the School District with respect to both short term and long term Penn Alexander enrollment policies.   Because this is a matter of great importance and interest to our community, we wanted to share a summary of the discussion.  The topics were:

  • Wait list and current enrollment.
  • Enrollment Capacity
  • Future Collaboration with the Community

Download full report

Letter to Dr Hite, RE PAS Lottery

January 16, 2014


Via Email and US Mail Dr. William R. Hite, Jr.

The School District of Philadelphia

440 N. Broad Street Philadelphia PA 19130

Re:       Penn Alexander School Admissions Lottery

Dear Dr. Hite:

I write on behalf of the Spruce Hill Community Association (SHCA) Board of Directors regarding the School District of Philadelphia’s decision to continue to enroll kindergarten children at the Penn Alexander School (PAS) by lottery.

By way of reminder, SHCA is a volunteer organization of neighbors committed to strengthening the Spruce Hill community and enhancing the quality of neighborhood life for all residents.  Our Board and our officers are elected annually by our members, which include hundreds of neighborhood families.   PAS is the neighborhood school for the lion’s share of Spruce Hill, and indeed, SHCA was instrumental in foundation of the school, which has grown to be an important educational, cultural, and economic institution for the Spruce Hill Community.

The SHCA Board only recently became aware that the District has decided to extend last year’s “pilot” lottery to the next school year.  As an initial matter, we continue to be disappointed that decisions about PAS enrollment and policies relating to PAS admissions are routinely made behind closed doors, without input from the community or any transparency into the decision-making process.  The School District claims to “recognize[ ] the importance of a strong community through which partnerships can be created and neighborhoods can thrive” and has promised to  “be[ ] a good neighbor and communicat[e] items that may impact your neighborhood.”[1]  But these principles have been completely absent with respect to PAS enrollment.  Indeed, there are few items that have impacted our neighborhood as significantly as PAS’s shifting enrollment policies, yet the District has shown no willingness to partner with or meaningfully communicate to the community about this issue.   Rather, we seem to always learn about policy changes after they are made and are forced to have only reactive, instead of proactive, involvement.

Second, as mentioned in previous communications, it is SHCA’s expectation that every effort should be made to ensure that all eligible children living within the catchment be admitted to PAS.   We would like an opportunity to dialogue with you about how to make this happen.  We believe that, at a neighborhood school, a lottery that separates siblings and neighbors based on an arbitrary game of chance should be (at best) an absolute last resort admission tool, not a standard enrollment policy. 

We would like an opportunity to discuss these issues with you as soon as possible.  We will be contacting you by phone in the near future to set up a face-to-face meeting.


Eric Santoro

SHCA Director and Education Committee Chair

cc (all via email) The SRC Evelyn Sample-Oates, Chief of Family and Community Engagement, SDP Karyn Lynch, Chief of Student Services, SDP Amy Gutmann, President, University of Pennsylvania Craig Carnaroli, Executive Vice President, University of Pennsylvania. Jeffrey Cooper, VP Government and Community Affair, University of Pennsylvania Sheila Sydnor, Principal, Penn Alexander School Ann Kreidle, Planning Coordinator, Penn Alexander School Rep. James R. Roebuck, Jr. Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell The Penn Alexander School Advisory Council The SHCA Board of Directors

[1] See http://www.phila.k12.pa.us/community/