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The Big Listen at South Philly High

I’m Henry Pierre-Louis and I’m a junior immigrant student at South Philadelphia High School. I’m from Haiti. I have been in PSU for 3 years now. I like PSU for many reasons but the main reason is because it changed the way I used to think. I care more about going to school now. Also, I’ve met new people that really care about school as well.

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This is me, Henry, at the PSU office.

This year, we decided to do a “Big Listen” at our school. A Big Listen is a session where students share their comments and concerns about school issues with the administration. We did this because they are going to close Bok High School and a lot of their students are coming to South Philadelphia High next year. We wanted to know how the students felt about the students from Bok coming to our school. A lot of students are worried because they think there will be fights and other problems with the transition. We wanted to give the students a chance to ask Principal Hackney questions about this transition. If the student wasn’t comfortable asking a question, they got to write the question down and we took it to Principal Hackney to find the answers.

To get ready for the big listen, we met after school several times where we shared our thoughts about how it was going to be. We considered several questions like; when we can do it? Will we do it by classes or for the entire school at one time? We decided on the format and got permission to do it from the administration. Before the Big Listen, we practiced for several days to make sure we got everything right. We also practiced some questions that we wrote down for Principal Hackney to answer if the audience didn’t ask any questions.

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Principal Hackney talking to students at the Big Listen.

I hope that after the Big Listen, South Philly High students will be less worried about the students from Bok coming in. We did the Big Listen because we wanted to get an idea of what students think will happen next year. We also wanted to make student feel safe and give them a voice where they can share with us what steps we can take to make our school better when the two schools come together next year.

I hope all the students understand that we are going to be one school with Bok. We want the students to feel good about the transition. I’m excited because there were a lot of students who didn’t even know what was going to happen to their school next year before the Big Listen. Now they are more informed because of us. We are the only program in Southern that created this kind of event, where we can talk to students about Bok coming over to Southern. I felt excited and proud while doing this because I was helping other students understand. I felt like a leader.

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