Twenty Five Years and Counting 

Isabella Cely-Garcia, Staff Writer


   How is the legacy of a school determined? By the number of years that its doors have been open, or the measure of what was accomplished in that time? This year, Charter turns 25 years old, hitting yet another milestone. Now that a quarter of a century has passed since classes first began, the CHAT is looking back at the teachers that have been pillars of our school since the very beginning. 

   This school year, Mr. Fagen, Ms. Phillips, Ms. Scocco, Ms. Schmidt, and Ms. Vivolo will have spent 20 years teaching with us. Other teachers to have already passed this milestone are Ms. Benitez, Mr. Bruns, Ms. Graham, Ms. Hernandez-Davis, Ms. Invernizzi, Mr. Kapela, Mr. Kelly, Ms. Phelps, Mr. Quigley, Ms. Vasquez, and of course, Mr. Bayer.

      Mr. Bayer first started out his time at PPCHS as Assistant Principal, before eventually becoming Principal in 2004. Upon revisiting his time spent walking our grounds, he recalled some of his most memorable years. 2007 was the first year Charter students began being accepted into Ivy League schools. “People realized that we were a force,” Mr. Bayer says proudly.  Another personal favorite for Mr. Bayer was 2010. “Class of ‘10 was really good because they were funny. You know, they did a lot of pranks and stuff!” While some years stuck out more than others, Mr. Bayer asserts that every year is memorable in its own way. “If I picked up each yearbook, I could tell you a different story about every year,” he reminisces.

   In terms of new changes on campus, Mr. Bayer notes a change in school rules as the most obvious difference between Charter in the present and 20 years ago. While it may sound outdated to us now, Mr. Bayer mentioned an old school rule that didn’t allow phones on campus at all. He jokes about the lack of foresight, saying,“For the record I never agreed with that. I thought it was foolish.” However, Mr. Bayer is not the only member of our school to notice big changes.

   Ms. Sarah Phelps, long-time English teacher, notes another big shift in the classroom. “In recent years, there’s been a movement towards teaching the whole student, not just the intellectual aspects, but the emotional aspects too. Emotional, social learning.” Since her time began here, Ms. Phelps has taught AP, AICE, and creative writing classes. “I love teaching three different prep levels. It keeps my day interesting,” she says enthusiastically. Besides fostering a love for the curriculum she teaches, Ms. Phelps has also come to love the way the Charter system treats its students: “I think that benefits the students…not only having a lot of opportunities to individually shine but ways to kind of work on things together and to be communal. To be part of a community.” 

  What many of us love about Charter is the sense of community and family, often felt most by those who have been here the longest. “This year I’ve had at least three or four parents come up to me to say hello because they were Charter students in the past,” Principal Bayer says.  Ms. Schwab, another long-time member of the Charter family, adds “I’m literally teaching kids whose siblings I had ten years ago!” While Ms. Schwab has been here since the second year that our school was founded, she has not yet taught for a full 20 years, as she took a short break midway through her time here before returning to the classroom. Regardless, her influence as a teacher is felt throughout the campus. “I got to pick all the senior curriculum [for English]. The stuff they still teach, I picked,” she exclaims. She most fondly remembers the senior years of the classes she sponsored, the classes of 2005 and 2013. She also recalls the beginning of the speech and debate program as a turning point for her. 

   This year is not only Charter’s 25th anniversary, but also Charter’s first graduating class’s 20-year anniversary and the class of 2010’s 10-year anniversary. Mr. Bayer says there are plans in the works for possible reunions this year: “I have a few students from ‘03 that I’ve kept in touch with, that are kind of helping to get the word out.” Principal Bayer hopes these plans come to fruition at some point in the spring.  

   Regardless of the role they play, it’s widely agreed upon that the Charter spirit has remained unshakeable for many years now. “The hearts of kids are still the same,” Mr. Bayer says warmly. While the world has changed in unimaginable ways since our school’s first days, even through pressing times, Charter has continued to be a symbol of community and togetherness for both our students and our staff.