Independence Charter School unveils new facility additions
On Sept. 10, ICS officially displayed its new expanded building with enhanced learning opportunities, recreational facilities and COVID-related health and safety equipment.
Independence Charter School (ICS) has officially completed and unveiled its new 25,000 square-foot building expansion, designed to enhance the school’s ability to serve its diverse student body.
During the ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday, Sept. 10, Tanya Ruley-Mayo, CEO of Independence Charter School, said the additions to the facility were years in the making.
The project was originally scheduled for completion in August 2020, but supply shortages ensued as a result of the pandemic, causing construction to be delayed.
“We’re so thankful to so many at every stage of this project, and we’re glad this day has finally arrived,” said Ruley-Mayo.
As a result of the expansion, ICS now has its first gym and auditorium meant to hold indoor events, a larger cafeteria now with double the capacity, a rooftop playground that oversees the city skyline and a ground-level play area, as well as four additional classrooms along with additional office and meeting space. There are also upgraded health and safety equipment to meet the demands of the ongoing pandemic.
Mehreen Zaman, President of the Board of Trustees for ICS, noted how the expansions to the school will “give us opportunities we’ve never had before.”
“We’ll be able to cheer on our teams at the gym, watch our kids perform on stage, and finally be able to hold school-wide assemblies regardless of the weather,” she said.
ICS is a Philadelphia K-8, community-based public charter school which offers bilingual education as part of its curriculum with the goal of developing independent, thoughtful global citizens.
The three student representatives at the ceremony — a sixth grader, seventh grader and eighth grader — all of whom have attended ICS since kindergarten, each expressed gratitude, excitement and an appreciation for the new facilities.
The new additions to the school represent a culmination of various challenges the school has encountered.
While the pandemic produced a shift to virtual learning, and the need to ensure all students’ technological needs were met, pre-pandemic times also brought about its share of challenges.
This included indoor recess, meaning students couldn’t go out to play, and a lack of space for the teachers and faculty.
“But seeing the building now, it’s so worth it,” said Kristen Long, Principal at ICS, noting the excitement she has seen from students about the new facilities.
“Seeing the gym and the playground through their eyes can speak more than any words that I could ever say,” she added.
The ceremony also marked the first week that ICS students would see a return to in-person learning.
ICS is known for being one of the most diverse schools in the city, with its student population mirroring the diversity in Philadelphia.
Of its roughly 825 students, 72% are considered Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) — including 40.8% Black and 23.4% Hispanic.