APRIL 23, 2023

To Ms. Fennell and Ms. McIntyre, our indefatigable main office team:

The HSA and the entire Masterman community thank you!

We are, to say the least, a demanding bunch, and we must frustrate you on a daily basis—but you never show it! Thanks for putting up with us and supporting the students and parents every day. Your work matters to all of us!

A Message from the HSA Board

At the HSA meeting this past Tuesday night, HSA members in person and on Zoom shared a great deal of concern about the schedule and curriculum changes planned for next year. Specifically, parents and many teachers are reacting to the projected loss of rostered courses of art, music, PE, and health across the middle school, to be replaced by longer advisory periods and more periods of math and ELA; and the loss of Level 4 language instruction in the high school, a detail with repercussions for college admissions. (More details available here.)


It appears that the community is strikingly united in its reaction to these changes. Very little support for the new schedule and curriculum has been voiced in any of the forums we have organized—whether on Zoom or in person in multiple HSA meetings, in an HSA survey—or in other forums, such as SAC meetings or the independent Facebook groups for each grade. Still, we strongly encourage families to decide for themselves, and let us know via the ongoing feedback survey if you disagree.


A spirited discussion has taken place about how to proceed. Some members have called for collective action, requesting that the HSA scale up its efforts to oppose the implementation of this plan as it stands. On the other hand, some have indicated that the HSA should remain neutral while community members organize independently. 


The board takes this to heart. It is a question that is at the core of the mission and purpose of the HSA. A key component of that mission is to give voice to community concerns, providing a forum for public discussion and amplifying the voices of parents, students, and teachers to improve the school. Another key component is to work collaboratively with and support school administrators in facilitating the best school environment possible. 


We believe that we can achieve both aims at once: work with the administration in good faith, and at the same time push for what is best for our students. Because of the feedback we have received, we feel that we have an obligation to advocate for changes to this plan in both ways.

Therefore, the HSA board will continue to work together with school and district leaders to create the best possible schedule and learning opportunities for next year—as we have been doing since the changes were announced, in productive and transparent meetings with administration, and with awareness of the complex and difficult choices that must sometimes be made. As we understand the situation, details are not yet set in stone, and it is still theoretically possible to remedy some parts that are most concerning in terms of student learning, social and emotional health, and achievement. We have heard some willingness on the part of district officials to reconsider elements of the plan, and we are hopeful that they will re-engage with us so that these conversations can continue and bear fruit.


Alongside that process, we will lend support to parent efforts to seek solidarity with other families and teachers, bring greater visibility to the impacts of the schedule changes, and let district officials know how much our community cares about maintaining our current course offerings.

What you can do:

  • Join an online “coffee chat” discussion to learn more or get involved: Thursday, April 27, 8:00 pm on Zoom (click here to join).

  • In the event that a rally or other collective action is planned, we will disseminate that information. If you would like to register your support for such action, you can do so here.

  • Sign an open letter to Superintendent Watlington penned by a Masterman parent. Note that this is not an HSA communication, but an independent message. There are more than 130 signatures to date and we are sharing it with the community to sign if you so choose. 

HSA Executive Board Elections:

Deadline for Nominations THIS TUESDAY, April 25, at 5 pm

The Nominating Committee is still accepting nominations from the community for the next HSA Executive Board. The volunteers serving on this year’s Nominating Committee are Leon McCrea, Erica Vanstone, Stacy Koilor, Michael Wang, and Amanda Simon.

The open positions are: President, Vice President 1, Vice President 2, Treasurer, Recording Secretary, and Corresponding Secretary.

You can nominate yourself or someone else between now and 5 pm on April 25 using this form.

More details about the committee, the positions, and the process can be found here.

Thank Our Auction Sponsors

Over 100 businesses donated to the spring auction to support the Masterman HSA. Show your gratitude by supporting them in return!

Browse the list here.


April 24: PSSA Testing Begins


May 9 | 7:30 pm | Zoom


May 5: Half day

May 16: No school (Election Day)

May 19: Half day

May 29: No school (Memorial Day)

You can find the full SDP calendar here. Note that the 2023–2024 and 2024–2025 calendars have now been announced.



The Pennsylvania System of School Assessment standardized testing will take place for Masterman Middle School students (grades 5 through 8) beginning tomorrow, April 24. The schedule is as follows: ELA, April 25, 26, and 27; Math, May 1 and 2; Science (8th grade only), May 3 and 4.

Teachers, counselors, and admin all know that this can be a stressful time for the kids and are doing their best to support them. 

What you can do at home to help things go smoothly:

  1. Help your kiddo come in rested, fed, and ready to focus! Facilitate a good night’s sleep and a protein-rich breakfast beforehand.
  2. Don’t overweight the importance of the tests and their results for the kids. They are one sample from a year of hard work, and everyone has good days and bad. 
  3. One helpful way to talk about assessments is to emphasize that they let the school know where to provide more assistance, as principals and teachers are partners in student learning.

Author Visit

Thanks to the hard work and dedication of our librarian, Ms. Kearney, Masterman students spent a morning with New York Times–bestselling and National Book Award–winning author Neal Shusterman and his coauthor Eric Elfman. They visited us on their book tour for I Am the Walrus, the first book in their hilarious new middle-grade sci-fi series The N.O.A.H. Files

Neal and Eric spent an hour answering audience questions and telling stories about their writing process, their inspirations, and the next steps in their career. Neal also answered questions about his beloved Young Adult books: National Book Award winner Challenger Deep, science fiction series Unwind, and the dystopian Arc of the Scythe series, which is in the early stages of film development with Steven Spielberg. The authors signed personal student books as well copies of I Am the Walrus—a number of which are still on sale in the school library for $14. If you would like your own signed copy, just send in money with your child. 

Author talks continue to be a favorite activity with Masterman students, and we can’t thank Neal Shusterman and Eric Elfman enough for making Masterman one of only two schools they visited in the Philadelphia area before heading to next stops in Florida, Georgia and Texas. The HSA is proud to have cosponsored this event! 

You can read more about it in Ms. Kearney’s online newsletter.

Masterman Debaters Back at It

Two Masterman teams competed in Gold Public Forum debate at the University of Kentucky Tournament of Champions in Lexington—the first Masterman teams to qualify for this prestigious national competition. Sammie Keenan and Noah Eggerts won 5 of 7 preliminary rounds and qualified for elimination rounds before falling to the team that eventually finished second in the tournament. Josh Cohen and Henri Anastasi won 4 preliminary rounds and were both ranked among the Top 20 speakers for the tournament. Congratulations to Masterman Debate on these achievements!

Athletics Update

It was another great week for our Blue Dragons sports teams! Boys Lacrosse earned 2 wins, beating Boys Latin in a close game (5-4) and Frankford High (3-0). Girls Lacrosse beat Olney 8-4. Boys Tennis swept Plymouth Whitemarsh 7-0. Boys Volleyball beat Samuel Fels High (3-0) and Boys Baseball remains undefeated at 8-0 with wins over Nueva Esperanza (6-4) and Frankford (16-1). 


SDP Annual Survey

Don't forget to fill out this District-wide survey!

It has been shortened and renamed the Philly School Experience Survey. It is totally anonymous and asks for feedback about your experience in school—about communication, family involvement, school climate, building condition, academic standards, school mission and vision, safety, DEI, and more.

This is a great chance for our community to send feedback directly to the District and we strongly encourage all families to participate!

The portal for parents is open now, and a separate survey portal for students and teachers is to open on May 1. Filling it out makes you eligible for a raffle for a $25 gift card and to receive a summary of the responses for our school when the survey is complete.

Reminder: NHS Tutoring Always Available!

Students in all grades can drop in as needed for help from Masterman HS student members of the National Honor Society during these hours:

Mondays, 7:30am – 8:15am in Room 214 (for everyone)

Tuesdays, 8th Period in Room 406 (for HS students)

Wednesdays, 8th Period in Room 305 (for 5th- and 6th-grade students)

Thursdays, 8th Period in Room 406 (for 7th- and 8th-grade students)

This is a free resource for everyone! If you have any questions please contact the HS Dean, Mr. Gilken, at

Scholarship for a Masterman Senior

Darryl J. Powell, Jr. M.D. Memorial Award

This $500 award is in honor of the legacy of Dr. Darryl Powell (Masterman C’05, Penn C’09, Perelman School of Medicine C‘13) who worked tirelessly until his passing to create more equitable and inclusive spaces in medicine for Black/African-American physicians and for better parity of healthcare for underserved patient communities.

The award will be granted to a Masterman graduating senior based on the following criteria: 

· student must identify as Black or African-American

· student must be aspiring to study in a medical science and/or healthcare related field

· student must submit a brief essay (500 word max) describing their commitment to/involvement in promoting social justice/equity/inclusion in the sciences

Apply here by April 30. Please direct any questions or concerns to


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There are many ways to give to the Masterman community. Here are a few.


Donations fund the many programs and initiatives of the HSA that support our school, teachers, families, and students. Whether you are able to give $5 or $500, your gift is meaningful, and signals your commitment to our community.


Want to give direct support to specific teachers or your child’s classroom? Masterman teachers have updated their Amazon Wish Lists with the items they need to supplement the HSA’s Teacher Grant program.


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