Asbestos is a continuing issue for the Philadelphia School District this school year.
Thousands of students were forced to relocate when their city school buildings were shut down for remediation.
The exposed toxic material was found in nine school buildings all across Philadelphia.
Five of those have been reopened, while four still remain closed.
One of the most recently reopened schools is Benjamin Franklin High School at 550 North Broad Street, right near Spring Garden Station.
Temple Update was at the reopening ceremony to catch up with students on their first day back.
“I just feel really excited to see the new building and all the work they did because this is our first actual day,” said student Samirah Pope.
Samirah wasn’t the only one who couldn’t contain her excitement about going to school.
A lot of the students and faculty were up and on their feet in celebration on Tuesday morning. They were ready to welcome students back to school. One teacher didn’t hesitate to share his dancing moves and his emotions.
“The seniors have a few months here and they’re really happy to be back, so it makes me even happier they’re happy to be back in their home,” said teacher Chef Pretlow.
After $37 million dollars in renovations, it’s a new and improved home. From classrooms with new windows to a freshly painted gymnasium, nearly 400,000 square feet of asbestos was removed. The building has its doors open once again, with students eager to get inside.
“I’m just looking forward to seeing how everything came together, and get the actual high school feels, because I’m just a freshman here,” said Katrina.
Although it’s been five months since these students have stepped inside their home building, they told Temple Update that their community stood strong the entire time.
“It’s a great combination of things we’ve been through and how we held together through being in a tight community and a tight space together,” said Josh Reyes.
Principal Dr. Christine Borelli says there are no safety concerns inside the building and that she’s thankful for the district’s support.
“I’m just really proud of the students and the teachers. And our parents and community for being patient with us during this time.”
There are three more schools not at that rebuilding stage yet.
T.M. Pierce, Clara Barton, and James Sullivan elementary schools are temporarily closed with no clear opening date.
Francis Hopkinson is shut down indefinitely.
You can visit philasd.org to stay up to date on all closures.
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