Thursday, August 21, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

ABC News' Diane Sawyer revisits Strawberry Mansion H.S. six months later

Sawyer will have featured Strawberry Mansion High School on ABC´s national broadcast news program twice in 2013. (ABC)
Sawyer will have featured Strawberry Mansion High School on ABC's national broadcast news program twice in 2013. (ABC)

Last spring, ABC's flagship news program, "World News with Diane Sawyer," aired a special report on the state of education inside one of Philadelphia's toughest schools to learn, Strawberry Mansion High School.

Tonight, the broadcast returned for a second report on what's changed inside Mansion High since the first report aired. The followup was broadcast at 6:30 p.m. on ABC stations nationally. It will be broadcast again at 12:35 a.m., Thursday, on "Nightline."

As part of Sawyer's "Hidden America" series in late May, the school was dubbed one of the country's most dangerous. It had spent six previous years on Pennsylvania's "Persistently Dangerous" list.

But much has changed in the last six months and the start of the new school year at Mansion High began with the school's removal from the state's notorious list and the return of its principal, Linda Cliatt-Wayman — the first time in four years a principal remained after the first year.

Cliatt-Wayman, who was profiled as part of Sawyer's first report, plays a prominent role again.

She touts the school's anti-violence plan, but notes that the Philadelphia school district's overall dismal financial situation — it recently shed hundreds of jobs and programs to close a $304 million budget deficit — has left her high school as close to the tipping point as ever.

"It's very hard, guys opening up these schools with no people. ... We still can't cover the floors," she told ABC News for its report. "When they get revved up, they'll realize that there's nobody, and that's what I'm worried about."

The first visit attracted attention from many in Philly and from across the country who have long-held ties to the old high school — which takes up nearly an entire city block along Ridge Avenue between 31st and 32nd streets. But it also gave some students featured in the report a chance at college and future students a chance to make music, according to ABC News.

Musician Drake told ABC News that after he saw the report he decided to donate funding for a music studio at the school.

"I caught this piece that Diane did and I was like by the end of it I was so heavily affected that at the end I started questioning like major aspects of my life," Drake said. "It just really changed a lot about me."


Contact Brian X. McCrone at 215-854-2267 or bmccrone@philly.com. Follow @brianxmccrone on Twitter.

Contact the Breaking News Desk at 215-854-2443; BreakingNewsDesk@philly.com. Follow @phillynews on Twitter.

Brian X. McCrone PHILLY.COM
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