What Will Happen to Memorabilia as Philly Schools Close?

For alumni, the trophies and mementos are key to preserving the shuttered school’s legacy

For Genevieve White, studying healthcare at Edward W. Bok Technical High School was a backup.

“I always planned to go to college, which I did, but [Bok] was always my plan B,” she said.

The 1993 graduate says the schooling she got helped set her up for a 20 year career in the healthcare field – calling her vocational training a “true blessing.”

But as the South Philadelphia high school closes its public school doors forever – as one of nearly two dozen schools shuttered by the School District of Philadelphia to save money – White worries about Bok’s legacy. Especially the physical memories, like sports and extra-curricular activities memorabilia.

“I’ve been tossing and turning about the trophies and memorabilia because I was actually an athlete at Bok,” White said. “I’m really passionate about where the trophies are going to be at.”

Bok’s art deco building, built in 1938, will remain standing because it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. However, the majority of students and programs are moving to South Philadelphia High School, making the memorabilia even more important to preserving Bok’s history.

“Just reminiscing of what we went through just getting some of those trophies…it brought some good memories,” she said.

At AxisPhilly and NBC10’s Schoolhouse Watch Forum on how to redevelop Bok’s building Thursday evening, White said she and fellow alumni were concerned the memorabilia would be simply thrown away.

NBC10.com asked the school district what will happen to the memorabilia from Bok and the 22 other schools closing this year.

District spokesman Fernando Gallard says the district will ensure the mementos are preserved.

“The memorabilia is saved and relocated to the school the majority of the students are relocating to. For example, the Bok memorabilia is moving to South Philadelphia High School,” Gallard said.

White has another idea for the items. She’s working to organize an alumni group and create a place where the memorabilia can be displayed outside the South Philadelphia High School.

“I actually talked to a couple of alumni and I was thinking we can actually come together as one, in unity, to maybe raise money to maybe fund a club house,” she said.

Gallard said since the memorabilia is the property of the district, the school and district would have to approve any transfer to an alumni group.

White says she’ll forge ahead to develop that alumni group and hopes city officials and neighborhood groups will help them develop a clubhouse.

Contact Vince Lattanzio at 610.668.5532, vince.lattanzio@nbcuni.com or follow @VinceLattanzio on Twitter.

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