Education disparities in Philadelphia

Photos: Students return to Philly public schools with hope for a better year

From West Philadelphia to the Northeast, kids were psyched to see friends and sign up for activities.

A father poses for a picture with his daughter as he drops her off at her first day of school at Masterman

A father poses for a picture with his daughter as he drops her off at her first day of school at Masterman

Nathan Morris for Billy Penn + Logan Center

On the first day of the academic year for Philadelphia public schools, students around the city were excited to return to classes.

Challenges abound, from lack of air conditioning to a teacher shortage. But a last-minute service workers strike was averted, and parents and education activists are still hoping for progress under new District Superintendent Tony Watlington — despite a start marred by a controversial consulting contract.

Billy Penn is partnering with Temple’s new Logan Center for Urban Investigative Reporting on a yearlong project examining inequities and disparities within the Philly School District.

On Monday, our photographers captured the atmosphere outside several of the city’s schools — all with very different outlooks, in neighborhoods across Philadelphia. One thing held true: there was optimism in the air. Kids hugged parents goodbye, and waved as they reconnected with friends. Teens lined up to sign in for activities and academics.

Scroll down for a look at the first day of Philly school for the 2022-2023 year.

Students receive one last pep talk as the first day at William Dick School in North Philadelphia begins

Students receive one last pep talk as the first day at William Dick School in North Philadelphia begins

Elizabeth Deornellas for Billy Penn + Logan Center
Accompanied by family, a student approaches the William Dick back playground on the first day of school

Accompanied by family, a student approaches the William Dick back playground on the first day of school

Elizabeth Deornellas for Billy Penn + Logan Center
A group of first-grade students gathers for their first day at William Dick for the 2022-23 school year.

A group of first-grade students gathers for their first day at William Dick for the 2022-23 school year.

Elizabeth Deornellas for Billy Penn + Logan Center
Students walk to Masterman for their first day of school.

Students walk to Masterman for their first day of school.

Nathan Morris for Billy Penn + Logan Center
A student stands outside Furness High School  in South Philadelphia on their first day of the school year.

A student stands outside Furness High School in South Philadelphia on their first day of the school year.

Nathan Morris for Billy Penn + Logan Center
Furness Principal Dan Peou helps a student get their schedule on the first day of the school year.

Furness Principal Dan Peou helps a student get their schedule on the first day of the school year.

Nathan Morris for Billy Penn + Logan Center
A mother waits in line with her daughter for her first day of the school year at Fruness

A mother waits in line with her daughter for her first day of the school year at Fruness

Nathan Morris for Billy Penn + Logan Center
A Furness student gets their picture taken for the first day of school.

A Furness student gets their picture taken for the first day of school.

Nathan Morris for Billy Penn + Logan Center
Friends walking to their first day back at Julia De Burgos Elementary in North Philadelphia

Friends walking to their first day back at Julia De Burgos Elementary in North Philadelphia

Brian Mengini for Billy Penn + Logan Center
Staff roll out the red carpet for students' first day at De Burgos Elementary

Staff roll out the red carpet for students' first day at De Burgos Elementary

Brian Mengini for Billy Penn + Logan Center
Excitement builds as families and students arrive for the first day at De Burgos Elementary

Excitement builds as families and students arrive for the first day at De Burgos Elementary

Brian Mengini for Billy Penn + Logan Center
There's a community garden across from De Burgos Elementary

There's a community garden across from De Burgos Elementary

Brian Mengini for Billy Penn + Logan Center
Students gather in preparation for the first day of the 2022-23 school year at Joseph Greenberg School in Bustleton

Students gather in preparation for the first day of the 2022-23 school year at Joseph Greenberg School in Bustleton

Elizabeth Deornellas for Billy Penn + Logan Center
Families watch Greenberg's kindergarteners lineup for their first-day-of-school entrance

Families watch Greenberg's kindergarteners lineup for their first-day-of-school entrance

Elizabeth Deornellas for Billy Penn + Logan Center
Families pass chalk greetings as they bring their students to their first-day places on the Greenberg blacktop

Families pass chalk greetings as they bring their students to their first-day places on the Greenberg blacktop

Elizabeth Deornellas for Billy Penn + Logan Center
Students arrive at the High School for Creative and Performing Arts, known as CAPA, for their first day of school in South Philly

Students arrive at the High School for Creative and Performing Arts, known as CAPA, for their first day of school in South Philly

Nathan Morris for Billy Penn + Logan Center
A drawing to welcome back the students of CAPA for their first day of the school year.

A drawing to welcome back the students of CAPA for their first day of the school year.

Nathan Morris for Billy Penn + Logan Center

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