ArtsZone: Greater Kensington

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West Kensington is a neighborhood in the North Philadelphia section of the city. It is north of the neighborhood of Old Kensington. The Market Frankford Elevated Train above Front Street forms the line between West Kensington and its bordering neighborhoods to the east (Kensington and Fishtown), although its other boundaries are less well-defined. Historically, it was a heavily Irish-American neighborhood. Today. the community is primarily populated by Latinos (mostly Puerto Rican), Irish-Americans, African-Americans, and Italian-Americans. 

The neighborhood was the fictional setting of the movie Rocky, by Sylvester Stallone. It is alternatively known as "K&A", (for the intersection of Kensington and Allegheny Avenues.)  The arts have always been important to Philadelphia’s North Philadelphia Latino community.  For over 30 years, organizations like Taller Puertorriqueño and Raices Culturales, two of ArtsRising's community partners, have helped preserve Latino cultural arts traditions for new generations of young people.

John B. Stetson Charter School enrolls students in grades 5 to 8.  Stetson was originally a School District of Philadelphia School.  Under the District's Renaissance Initiative, Stetson was selected to be partnered with Aspira of Pennsylvania.  Aspira made some significant changes in the school.  It partnered with Success School to open Aspira Success Academy on the fourth floor of Stetson.  Aspira lowered class size and mandated school uniforms for the students.  It has also provided the resources needed to ensure that all Stetson students receive an education and are ready for the real world.

John Batterson Stetson was a U.S. hatter, hat manufacturer, and, in the 1860s, the inventor of the cowboy hat. He founded the John B. Stetson Company as a manufacturer of headwear; the company's hats are now commonly referred to simply as Stetsons.  John Stetson was born in New Jersey. In 1865, Stetson moved to Philadelphia. Under his direction, The John B. Stetson Company became one of the largest hat firms in the world. Stetson built a factory in Philadelphia that grew to 25 buildings on 9 acres and by 1915, nine years after Stetson's death, 5,400 employees were turning out 3.3 million hats.  While Stetson profited from his business, he also wanted to give back to his community. Near the end of his life, Stetson began donating most of his money to charitable organizations. He built grammar and high schools and helped build colleges, including Temple and Stetson Universities. He also helped establish the YMCA in Philadelphia. Stetson is buried in West Laurel Hill Cemetery, Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania.


  • Renato Lajara, Principal
  • Thomas Mullin, Vice Principal
  • Mary Pat Coyle, Visual Arts Teacher
  • Tony Rocco, Technology/Media Arts Teacher
  • Ben Randall, Technology Teacher
  • George Dennis, Dance Teacher
  • Allen Pickney, Music Teacher
  • Lindsey Kelpin, Guidance Counselor
  • David Pope, Science Teacher
  • Maggy Culp, Literacy Teacher
  • John Seman, Physical Education Teacher

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