Little Tots Halloween Parade & Party 2014

This year’s Halloween costume parade for tots will be held on Friday, Oct. 31. The parade will step off at 4:30 p.m. from the assembly area, which will be 45th Street north of Baltimore Ave. (next to Milk and Honey). All the little ghosties and goblins can start assembling there after 4 p.m.

Then the parade will follow the usual route down Larchwood to 43rd Street and over to the scarily decorated 4200 block of Osage, where residents will welcome one and all with cider and treats.

The Spruce Hill Community Association is the sponsor of the parade. We ask that all tots be accompanied by an adult and that everyone be extra careful crossing streets to get to the parade and – especially — afterward, as darkness falls.

We would like to thank in advance the Penn police, the 18th District police and the University City District for their help in keeping everybody safe.

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


Guest Speakers at SHCA Sept Board Meeting

• Mr. Leon Robinson, Neighborhood Advisory Coordinator for the Parternship CDC, discussed programs and information they offer the community. Ms. McGeth provided information about the Promise Zone. • Ms. Bethany Fallon, spoke about Drexel’s Community Bridge program which introduces some of Drexel’s foreign students to US families.

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

May Fair Overview

This year’s May Fair will feature local musical groups, food from some of the best trucks working in University City, and a raffle with terrific prizes.

There will be many local artists and crafts persons with gifts for graduations and Mother’s Day, plants on sale by the UC Garden Club, used books for $1 each, and groups and organizations offering information about their causes.

For kids there will be a big inflated obstacle course and a bounce house, along with other games for tots.

All this will be happening from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, May 10, in Clark Park, at 43rd and Chester Ave.

The top raffle prizes are once again being donated by the University Pinball Family Fun Center. The grand prize is a 60-inch Samsung plasma television, followed by two slot machines, and five family fun baskets. Homeowners may want to compete for two $100 health and safety inspections being offered by Bellweather Construction. Many more prizes are coming from local merchants.

Here’s the schedule for the music groups, organized by Liana Moskowitz and Emily Bate:

10:30 – 11:15: Julian Root. Finger-picking guitar and singing, ragtime, folk, bluegrass.

11:30 – 12:15: Plumb Pickers. Fiddle-driven old-time music with powerful harmony and bluegrass standards.

12:30 – 1:15: Upholstery. Unique blend of surrealist pop and off-kilter jazz.

1:30 – 2:15 and 2:30 to 3:15: Perseverance Jazz Band. Enthusiastic interpretations of ragtime, Dixieland and traditional jazz.

Raffle drawings will be held during breaks in the music.

The May Fair is produced annually on the Saturday before Mother’s Day by the Spruce Hill Community Association. For more information, leave a message at 215-349-7825.

Here is a list of raffle items:
Baltimore Pets: Gift Basket
Local 44 West Philly: $40 Gift Certificate
Ben & Jerry’s: Large Cake ($38.95 value)
City Food Tours: Decadent Food Tours
Goalkeeping-1-On-1: 1-Hour Field Hockey Lesson with US Olympian Steve Wagner (value $135)
Green Line Café: $20 Credit card
Honest Tom’s: $20 Gift Certificate
Homewood Suites: 1 Weekend Night
Kilamanjaro: Lunch for two
Lil’ Pop Shop: Gift Card for 10 pops ($30 value)
Manakeesh Cafe & Bakery: Gift Basket
Metropolitan Bakery: five $5 coupons
Milk and Honey (Joe Murray & Annie): $50 gift card
Monarch Hardware: $25 gift card
Renata: $35 Gift Card
Saad’s Halal: $20 Gift Card
Saturn Club: Manicure & Pedicure
Studio 34: Free Yoga Class
Sue MacQueen: 1 Hour Garden Consult, value $125
University Pinball Family Fun Center: 60″ Samsung Plasma TV
University Pinball Family Fun Center: 2 Pachislo Slot Machines
University Pinball Family Fun Center: 5 Family Fun Baskets
WHYY Dorrance Hamilton Public Media Commons: Media Production Course
Zahav: $100 certificate for food (only)
ZED’s: $20 gift certificate

May Fair 201 Saturday, May 10, 2014, 10 am to 4 pm, no rain date

Our annual community fair will again take place in Clark Park at 43rd St. and Chester Ave. There are opportunities for vendors. The fair especially welcomes artisans and crafts people from West Philadelphia, along with groups doing promotion for their causes. A vendor sign-up sheet will be mailed in late March to all vendors who took part in the last two years. To inquire about vending, e-mail Mark Wagenveld at  To request a table download the VendorForm2014

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