For the Review

The expression goes, “You Can’t Fight City Hall”. For a pair of Roxborough residents who were slated to graduate from Science Leadership Academy this June, that may not be entirely the case. Maddy Malloy and Louisa Strohm, both 2016 IHM alum, were miffed by the fact that their families had anted up over $200 for graduation packages with the Philadelphia School District that included caps and gowns and that they being denied the chance to receive them.

Like most high school seniors, this spring has been a bitter pill to swallow. With the school year abruptly ending in March, they have had to endure the cancellation of all the things that would have made this time of year so memorable. Off the board went proms, class trips, graduation ceremonies, school sports, school plays and the chance to get emotional closure with classmates as the school year would wind down. In addition, SLA students had to face an asbestos crisis earlier this year at their school that had them shuttling from building to building to find an adequate learning environment.

The mothers of the two students, Mary Beth Malloy and Linda Bulizzi, recently went on Facebook to proffer some invective rants criticizing the School District for the unfairness to the seniors for failing to allow the graduation packages to be picked up in light of the fact that so many other businesses around the city that were permitted to operate in a “curbside pickup” fashion.

The School District’s position was centered on the argument that distributing the graduation apparel would have violated the city’s “stay-at-home” orders. According to a statement from District spokesperson, Monica Lewis, “this does not mean that our seniors are being refused these special items, but rather that we must ensure that we can provide a process that will allow for the safe and equitable distribution of these very special items.”

After getting wind of the Facebook post of Mary Beth Malloy, CBS Philly dispatched reporter Joe Holden and a film crew to the Malloys residence to interview the two SLA seniors about the predicament. Maddy Malloy and Louisa Strohm, who’ve been childhood friends since grade school, both had a forum to air their displeasure over being denied their caps and gowns that they felt they were rightly entitled to have been given.

After hearing about the quagmire, District Superintendent Dr. William Hite quickly tackled the issue through the news media stating that solutions for resolving the situation were being addressed and they were exploring options to safely distribute the caps and gowns, which was good news to all involved.

Louisa Strohm, who will hopefully be taking up Graphic Design at Drexel this fall, felt a personal victory in the District’s policy turnabout but more importantly that she had “spoken for all the seniors around the city” in making this happen. Maddy Malloy, who will be an incoming freshman at Temple, felt equally vindicated in her efforts to see a just resolution but was also breathing “a sigh of relief” that this stressful situation might have a positive outcome after all .

As you might imagine, Maddy’s mom Mary Beth, who works at St Matthew’s School in Mayfair, was ecstatic at the stance the two girls took and was overcome with pride in their ability to “move a mountain”. She was awed by their courage and fortitude “to have their voices heard.” Boy, we’re they ever!

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