Four years ago, Philly opened a new kind of high school. How did Vaux fare? – The Philadelphia Inquirer

Vaux Big Picture High School opened four years ago with great fanfare, millions in public and private funding, and a new vision for what a neighborhood high school could be.

It’s a Philadelphia School District school, with union teachers and staff, but run by an outside education company. The Philadelphia Housing Authority — which bought the Vaux building at 23rd and Master from the school system — gives the district an extra $500 per student annually. Health services, workforce development, and community organizations are embedded into the school.

“You’re pretty much guaranteed that it’s going to be successful,” then-U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson said on the school’s first day, as a foyer full of students, teachers, and dignitaries looked on.

How did Carson’s bold prediction for a school in one of the most poverty-stricken corners of America’s poorest big city hold up?

This month, 90 young men and women graduated — out of 102 seniors and 126 students who began the program. Forty-two percent of the graduating class is headed to college, a trade school, or an internship, and 84% had internships during their time at the school. Others are headed to the military, union jobs, or other full-time work.

But more significant to new graduate Enya Sultan, Vaux helped her find her voice and a sense of community.

She loved learning through projects, having abundant out-of-school opportunities and a single advisory all four years. Advisory is
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