A new day at W. Phila. HS

Junior Shaquae Patty dances with Fatima Peters of Brazil Production dancers after an opening day ceremony at the new West Philadelphia High school. (Ron Tarver / Staff Photogapher)

A brand-new West Philadelphia High building opened this morning to cheers, clapping and high hopes for a new start.

Inside the $66 million school’s cavernous auditorium, a DJ and circus artists warmed up the crowd.  Then the dignitaries gave speeches about new beginnings.

“We’re about getting an education!” shouted state Sen. Vincent Hughes (D., Phila.)  “We’re about starting fresh!  All the old stuff is over!  It’s about going forward!”

Dignitaries, community members and students marked the opening of school for 151,000 Philadelphia School District students at the new building this morning.

West junior Sydney Dickerson said told the audience she was excited about the new, 800-student building.

“For me, the new West means a chance to fight the stereotypes about us West kids,” Dickerson said — stereotypes of disengaged, violent students who don’t care.

“This new school gives us the ability to prove that West really is the best,” she said.

West has endured a rocky stretch, with a revolving door of principals, considerable staff turnover, and a bumpy process of being designated a Promise Academy, or Philadelphia School District turnaround school.

“Yes, there have been challenges, and yes, quite frankly, there has been drama.  A little too much drama.  You want drama, watch TNT,” the mayor said.

Nutter challenged the students put that behind them and take advantage of the opportunities around them.

“Make every day of school be a great day of school for you, and an opportunity for us to do the right thing by you,” the mayor said.