A Perrysville Perspective
Reece Williams (Freshman), Clark Ehman (Sophomore)
There are three full magnet schools in the Pittsburgh Public School (PPS) system. Two of them (CAPA and SCI-Tech) are centrally located, making it relatively easy for students to commute to them from all over the city. With its location in East Liberty, Obama Academy is quite a distance for many of our students. We can claim students from most every city neighborhood, but this article will focus on a specific group of students from one block in Observatory Hill on the North Side. According to Google Maps, Obama Academy is 13 miles away from the 3200 block of Perrysville Avenue. By car, the trip is slightly over 20 minutes long, and by PRT, the trip can take up to two hours depending on the time of day. The Northside has the largest population of Obama students that do not live in the East End (312 Obama students live in East End Neighborhoods). According to PPS data, 41 Northside students currently attend Obama and 8 out of those 41 students live on the same block of Perrysville Avenue.
The students range in age from 6-12 grade and have a multitude of reasons for coming to Obama. For some, like 7th grader Luke Ehman, the “only reason I went to Obama was because my older brother goes there and my dad teaches there.” For others, like the Samuels family (Senior Negley, Freshman Rhys, 8th grader Gavyn, and 6th Grader Taygen), they all attended Linden Elementary and naturally fed into Obama with their language programs. For the Samuels, whose mother attended Schenley High School and took IB classes, understanding the structure of IB made the choice more appealing.
While Obama is far away from these students, Perry High School is less than a mile walk. When asked about why they didn’t just go to Perry, the IB program was cited by more than one student. “The IB program gives students more resources and helps when applying to colleges, which everyone on Perrysville looked for,” said Korey Lowe, a member of the Obama soccer and volleyball teams as well as Obama’s Youth and Government Club. Other than the educational factors Obama has to offer, students also enjoy the “teachers and the spirit,” said junior Korey Lowe.
Because of its magnet program, Obama is a diverse school. It pulls from every part of the city. Perrysville Avenue is no exception. Even though students may have to go the whole nine yards to get to class, they believe it is worth it because of the opportunities that make their experience rewarding.