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Hundreds Gather for Chester Upland School District’s Annual Backpack GiveawayPosted by T3 Media on 8/26/2023
The event, generously sponsored by NFL player and Chester native Bilal Nichols, provided a day filled with free fun and essential supplies for the upcoming school year.
Attendees enjoyed a variety of free activities and food including a BBQ-style meal, face painting, moon bounces, concession stands, water ice, horseback riding, as well as access to community health information and resources, and music. The highlight of the day was the school supply giveaways, which ensured that students were well-equipped to start the school season.
Dr. Parkinson, Superintendent of Schools for Chester Upland School District, expressed his gratitude for how the giveaway turned out. "We are incredibly thankful to our event sponsor and community partners for coming together to ensure the success of this event and to provide our students with the necessary supplies to begin the school year,” said Dr. Parkinson. “It's always great to witness our families and students having fun together. We are looking forward to a successful upcoming school season."
CUSD officials and volunteers from the Making a Change Group helped to distribute backpacks filled with school supplies to the event attendees. Local community organizations, including Everest Urgent Care, set up resource tables offering additional school supplies. The City of Chester's Recycling department also participated in the event, providing a sign-up sheet for residents interested in receiving a city-issued trash can and learning more about the city's recycling program.
Additionally, representatives from every CUSD school were present at informational tables, engaging with parents and students to address their questions and concerns.
The first day of school for all CUSD students is Tuesday, September 5, 2023.
Youth and Family Summit 2022Posted by Chester Upland School District on 11/23/2022
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
More than 100 Families Attend CUSD Youth and Family Summit
CHESTER, PA- November 21, 2022 - The Chester Upland School District (CUSD) in partnership with the Boys & Girls Club of Chester, Chester Biddy Basketball, and 21st Century Chester welcomed more than 100 local families to their annual Youth and Family Summit on Saturday at STEM Academy High School.
This year’s event focused on providing families with health and wellness information. Several vendors were in attendance, including representatives from the Chester Education Foundation and Harcum College.
Michelle Jackson, Community Outreach Coordinator for DELCORA attended the event on behalf of her company and used an interactive exhibit to help families understand how wastewater travels.
The summit also featured a packed morning itinerary for families ranging from Zumba, breakfast, breakout sessions with guest speakers for teenage boys and girls called barbershop and beauty shop talk, Home Access Training for parents led by members of Parent University, and Chester Biddy Basketball camps.
“It was great to see so many people come out to this event,” said Dr. Craig Parkinson, Superintendent of Schools for Chester Upland School District. “This was a great representation of the community. I especially liked participating in the barbershop talk with our young men.”
The barbershop and beauty shop breakout sessions were added to the summit’s agenda last year to allow teenage students an opportunity to speak with adults in a small group setting about issues relative to their gender and social and emotional well-being.
Ebony Gordon, a Chester native, and mother of two CUSD children reflected on the day’s activities. “I think it was amazing. It was a good experience for the children,” said Gordon. “I liked that the older men got to talk to the younger boys because a lot of boys don’t have male role models. We need more events like this for the community and young kids.”
To round out the day, families were offered a hot lunch as Dr. Marina Barnett, Associate Professor at Widener University, and Dana Bowser, Social Emotional Learning Coordinator for CUSD, presented data from the district’s Biannual Pennsylvania Youth Survey (PAYS) Report.
The day ended with several bike raffles. Each student also received a free winter jacket.
The district would like to thank all event partners, vendors, and speakers for helping to make the event a success.
PICTURE CAPTION: The Chester Upland School District (CUSD) hosted its annual Fall and Youth Summit for local families and CUSD students at STEM Academy High School on Saturday.
Chester High Wraps Up Hispanic Heritage Month With CelebrationPosted by Chester Upland School District on 11/1/2022
CHESTER, PA- October 29, 2022 - On October 19 Chester High School (CHS) hosted a wrap-up celebration to mark the ending of National Hispanic Heritage Month.
CHS students and personnel were greeted by Latin American music, and a festively decorated table topped with bowls of Latin American candies when they entered the third-floor main entrance.
Dana Bowser, the district’s Social Emotional Learning Coordinator worked with CHS Principal Ronald Brown to put the celebration together. As a Latinx American, Ms. Bowser was thrilled to help spearhead the celebration.
“Mr. Brown and I were talking about the culture of CHS, and the district has a large Latinx population of nearly 10 percent,” said Bowser. “We wanted to make sure that all of our kids felt included and we wanted to do something to portray and display the culture, music, decorations, and taste from different Latin American countries.”
As students and staff passed through the halls, Ms. Bowser passed out candy, talked about the purpose of the festivities, and directed people to a decorated wall, which displayed famous Latinx Americans. She even gave Salsa lessons to a few students who passed by on their way to class.
PICTURE CAPTION: Dana Bowser, Social Emotional Learning Coordinator for Chester Upland School District, teaches a Chester High School student salsa lessons during the school’s Hispanic Heritage Month wrap-up celebration on October 19.
One of the students who joined Ms. Bowser for dancing lessons was James Carr. Carr, who is of Puerto Rican, Black and White descent and a senior at CHS said he was shocked when he walked into the building. “To hear this music in the school, I felt appreciated that the district is representing for Latinos,” said Carr. “I listen to this music every day when I’m at home or in the car with my mother.”
Annually, our country celebrates National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 through October 15. During the month people highlight the history, and culture of Latin American countries while celebrating the impact that Hispanic/Latinx Americans have made on the United States.
“Our students found the celebration to be extremely enjoyable and we were also able to spread awareness to our students and staff,” said Brown. “The demographic of our student body is rich and diverse. Our differences should be celebrated and we hope that our Hispanic students recognize how much they are appreciated.”
Chester High Football Team Highlighted in The Philadelphia InquirerPosted by Chester Upland School District on 10/15/2022
All too familiar with grief, Chester High football players reach out to Roxborough
District-Wide Bell Ringing Ceremonies Mark First Day of School in CUSDPosted by Chester Upland School District on 9/2/2022
CHESTER, PA - September 2, 2022 - Chester Upland School District officials welcomed students back to the classroom on Monday with coordinated, district-wide bell ringing ceremonies at every school.
Starting at Chester High School (CHS), top district officials, high school staff, local elected officials, and community members gathered in front of the school’s main entrance around 7:15 a.m. Standing in front of an orange and black balloon arch with a “Welcome Back” banner securely fixed in the middle, Superintendent Dr. Craig Parkinson, Receiver Nafis Nichols, Chester City Mayor Thaddeus Kirkland, School Board President Joan Neal, and CHS Principal Ron Brown all gave brief remarks to a crowd of students. After the speaking portion of the ceremony ended, staff and community members shook their brass handheld bells, clapping and cheering as students entered the building for the first day of school.
Shortly after the ceremony at CHS, Superintendent Parkinson, Assistant Superintendent Dr. Latrice N. Mumin and several district staffers, and dozens of community members traveled to every other school in the district to partake in their bell ringing ceremonies. Stops included the newly-acquired Widener Partnership Charter School, which has been renamed Edgmont Scholars Academy, STEM Academy at Showalter, Stetser, Chester Upland School of the Arts (CUSA) and Main Street Elementary Schools, and Toby Farms Intermediate School.
Each bell ringing ceremony took place in front of the schools’ main entrances, and included multi-colored balloon arches, welcome back signs, and a brief speaking program followed by the ringing of handheld brass bells.
“This is an exciting time of the year. The first day of school marks new beginnings and new adventures,” said Dr. Parkinson. “We want our children to be encouraged and know that they are supported in everything they do. I was excited to see so many community members come out to cheer our students on during their first day of school. It truly is a community effort.”
“Being a Chester native and a product of the Chester Upland School District, it brings me a sense of nostalgia to see children start a new year in this district,” said Nichols. “We have a great team, amazing staff, and tremendous community support going into this school year, and I’m excited for our students and all that they will accomplish with our help.”
More than 3,281 students are enrolled in schools throughout the Chester Upland School District this year.
CUSD to Dismiss Students Early Due to HeatPosted by Chester Upland School District on 8/30/2022
CHESTER, PA- August 30, 2022 - Due to forecasted high heat, all schools within the Chester Upland School District will close early on Tuesday, August 30, and Wednesday, August 31.
Chester High School and STEM Academy at Showalter will dismiss students at 11:30 a.m. Toby Farms Intermediate School will dismiss students at 12:15 p.m. Elementary schools will dismiss students at 12:45 p.m.
“Temperatures are expected to reach into the high-80s and low to mid-90s over the next few days,” said Superintendent Dr. Craig Parkinson. “Several of our schools are without adequate cooling systems, and unfortunately, we will have to send students home early on August 30 and August 31.”
All district administrative offices will operate on a normal schedule.
School Bus Carrying CUSD Students Involved in AccidentPosted by Chester Upland School District on 8/29/2022
CHESTER, PA- August 29, 2022 - A school bus transporting students in the Chester Upland School District was involved in an accident at approximately 3:45 p.m. today.
According to initial reports, another motor vehicle rear-ended the school bus, which was carrying students from Toby Farms Elementary School.
The incident occurred in Chester Township. Police officers from the Chester Township Police Department immediately responded to the accident.
13 children were transported to Crozer Chester Medical Center to be seen by medical professionals. Superintendent Dr. Craig Parkinson and other district officials were notified of the accident and went to the hospital.
CUSD officials also immediately began calling parents and family members of the students to inform them of the accident.
As of 6 p.m. tonight, all students have been released to their parents/guardians. There were no reports of serious injury.
“I am extremely grateful to the police officers who were on the scene,” said Dr. Parkinson. “This was such an unfortunate and scary accident. Thankfully, all of our students are okay and were able to go home to their families within hours after the accident. The safety of our students is paramount, and I will be checking in on everyone involved over the next few days to ensure they have the support they need from the district.”
A police investigation is ongoing. Inquiries about the investigation should be directed to the Chester Township Police Department at (610) 494-0211.
CUSD Holds Convocation Ceremony for Personnel, District Nearly Fully StaffedPosted by Chester Upland School District on 8/24/2022
CHESTER, PA- August 24, 2022 - The Chester Upland School District (CUSD) on Tuesday held a convocation ceremony for teachers and staff to welcome all personnel back to work ahead of the official start of the 2022-23 school year.
Taking place inside Chester High School’s auditorium, more than 420 new and returning staff members filled the orange stadium-style seats usually occupied by students.
Of the hundreds of people in attendance, the district is welcoming the addition of 52 new teachers and staff members. The new hires bring CUSD staffing levels to 95 percent--the highest it’s been in nearly 20 years.
Speaking directly to the crowd during the ceremony, Superintendent Dr. Craig Parkinson noted the few remaining vacancies.
“While districts throughout the country are struggling with staffing shortages, I am proud to share that we are close to being 100 percent staffed, with only five or six vacancies left,” said Dr. Parkinson. “This is a huge accomplishment and a testament to every person’s commitment here. You are here because you care about the students.”
Parkinson, who also led the entire ceremony, unveiled the theme for this upcoming school year: For The Betterment of Our Children.
“Every year we are working on behalf of the children,” said Parkinson. “But this year we will be intentional in everything that we do in order to serve and support the students.”
In order to serve and support the students, the district highlighted five areas of focus for the year:
- Safe Schools
- Fiscal Responsibility
- Family, Parent, and Community Engagement
The Chester Upland School District will mark the first day of school with a bell ringing ceremony at 7:15 a.m., on Monday, August 29 at Chester High School.
The convocation ceremony included a presentation by Dr. Parkinson, cabinet member introductions, a personal message from school board President Joan Neal, student performances, a 30-minute mindfulness training, and labor union discussion and updates.
CUSD and Community Embrace Stable Leadership As Top Positions Within District AnnouncedPosted by Chester Upland School District on 8/15/2022
CHESTER, PA- August 15, 2022 -- With appointments to top leadership positions recently announced, the Chester Upland School District is excited to usher in an era of stability and administrative strength as a new school year approaches.
In June, Nafis Nichols, who served as Interim Receiver for the 2021-22 school year, was reappointed to the position for a three-year term by Delaware County Court of Common Pleas Judge Barry Dozer.
Nichols, a Chester native and product of the CUSD, is entering the upcoming school year with a strong leadership team at his side. Just a few weeks after his own reappointment, Nichols approved a new, five-year contract for Superintendent Dr. Craig L. Parkinson, who became Superintendent in Chester Upland in July 2021. During the same time, Dr. Latrice N. Mumin was appointed as Assistant Superintendent. Prior to this new appointment, Mumin served as Director of Accountability for the district.
“Coming into this role, I knew there would be challenges and a part of my strategy to right the ship was to assemble a team of apt professionals who were committed to the vision and had the skillset and experience to navigate the issues within the district,” said Nichols. “From having worked with both Dr. Parkinson and Dr. Mumin this past year, I am confident in their abilities and trust this team to continue building off the progress that was made last year.”
In highlighting progress within the district, Parkinson noted that Nichols’ reappointment was no surprise. “It’s been amazing working alongside Nafis this past school year,” said Dr. Parkinson. “While challenging for both of us in our first year, he has made a tremendous impact on the district in such a short amount of time. In fact, our entire team has demonstrated noteworthy progress.”
In just one year with Nichols and Parkinson at the helm, the district has seen an increase in stability throughout various departments. During the district’s State of the District presentation this past July, key accomplishments were highlighted:
CURRICULUM and INSTRUCTION:
- Development of Curriculum Review Cycle
- Implementation of the new educator effectiveness system (Act 13)
- Developed MTSS Teams in each building
- Focused on increased services for social-emotional learning and PBIS
- Ensuring that all CUSD Professional staff have the appropriate credentials for their respective roles
- Creation of internal auditing process
- $1.2 million recuperated to CUSD
- Submitted timely quarterly reports
- Created plan of action for vendor payment in conjunction with Business Office
- Assessment and controls to address vehicle insurance policy
- Established Athletic Handbook for CUSD
- Expanding sports programs and partnerships
Deneen Mosley, former Chester High School PTO President and mother to three CUSD graduates, has been involved in educational advocacy on the local level for nearly three decades. As a well-respected community member and graduate of CUSD c/o 1986, Mosley currently sits on the Receiver’s Advisory Council and is a member of the district comprehensive plan’s steering committee.
“I think the recent announcements concerning CUSD leadership is a sign that we are headed in the right direction,” said Mosley. “There are complex problems that have plagued the district for many years, and this team has been tackling them head-on. They aren’t trying to pass the buck. In my years of experience working with the district and seeing leadership come and go, I can honestly say Receiver Nichols has been transparent, visible, and really trying to include feedback from the community.”
Echoing those sentiments, Joan Neal, current Chester Upland School Board President and member for the last nine years added that she believes the leadership team is making an impact despite some skeptics. “Most people don’t like change and this team has implemented changes and will have to make more if we want to continue seeing a positive impact,” said
Neal. “This is about holding people accountable so that our children can receive the best education possible.”
With a new school year on the horizon, Nichols is positive the best is yet to come for the district.
“We are laying the groundwork for long-term success and fiscal health,” said Nichols. “I came here with a lot of experience and I’m staying here because I know we can do the job. I know we can create transformational change here and we will. Everyone wants to see the finished product but it’s going to take time and I am honored that I have three more years to work on behalf of this community and our children. This community, the children deserve stability and consistency from their leaders. We are ready to show and prove that we are committed to working on their behalf.”
In addition to being the court-appointed Receiver for the Chester Upland School District, Nafis Nichols is the Owner/Principal of NJN & Associates, LLC, a management consultant firm providing services to municipal governments and non-profits. Prior to assuming his role as Receiver, Nichols served as the city of Chester’s Chief Financial Officer for almost five years. He previously served as Councilman for the City from 2012 until 2016, where he held the position of Deputy Mayor, Director of Accounts and Finance, and Compliance Monitor.
Dr. Craig Parkinson’s biography can be accessed here.
Dr. Latrice N. Mumin’s biography can be accessed here.
A copy of the State of the District presentation is available upon request.
To watch a recording of the presentation, visit: