McCall in the Movies

Philadelphia Inquirer mentions the use of McCall in the movie The Answer Man.


100 Book Challenge editorial

Parent Andrea Layden wrote an editorial in the Philadelphia Public School Notebook.


Ao Kong is First In Math Champion for Second Straight Year

Eighth-grader Ao Kong outperformed more than 300,000 of her peers nationwide to claim the title of #1 Player, All Grades, in the First In Math® Online Program—AGAIN! Kong is the program's first two-time winner, scoring her victories back-to-back in the 2007/2008 and 2008/2009 school years. Kong, who attends General George A. McCall Elementary in the School District of Philadelphia's Central City Region, led the field for months, ending up with a whopping 44,860 stickers as of the April 30 First In Math "Top Ten" competition deadline.

When asked if she wanted a second Apple iTouch, the Grand Prize, Kong opted for something that would recognize her unique status as a two-time #1 Player instead. Kong was presented with a crystal award for 'Extraordinary Mathematics Achievement in the First In Math® Online Program.' The award, says Sun, almost does not seem enough. "I don't know if I can explain the staggering amount of effort, patience and perseverence that went into this achievement. Anyone who thinks this was easy should be aware of the fact that Ao solved approximately 135,000 math problems, up to and including two-step algebra, geometry and trigonometry, to earn the top spot."

This is the third year in a row Kong has achieved National All-Star status in the program. She is looking forward to attending Central High School in the Fall.



A Little Bit of History

Construction of the new General George A. McCall Elementary School was was awarded on October 26, 1909 and the school was officially opened in February 1911. McCall’s first principal was named Louis Nusbaum who formerly was principal of the Horace Binney School at 6th and Spruce St in the Fifth Ward The Fifth ward was bound by 7th street, the Delaware River, South street and Chestnut street. The capacity of the new building was for 1,300 students. Many students from Horace Binney School were transferred to McCall in order to relieve the congestion in the Fifth Ward and because the building was in poor condition.

In the early 1900s (circa 1920s and 1930s), children were required to attend school regularly until the age of 14, after which children were able to leave school and get full time jobs. However, until the age of 16, teens were to attend “Continuation School” one day each week. McCall School became well known for its “Continuation School” in the 1920s and taught various trades. McCall Continuation school taught printing, tailoring, carpentry, metal working (they built a car in 1927) and electrical work (they made a radio in 1927 and gave as a gift to Homeopathic Hospital children in Christmas).

By the 1930s, the education style continued to be an emphasis on inspiration not information. Children were given the opportunity to try their hand at many different trades including; plasterer, paperhanger, electrical, and automobile mechanics, tailor shop (clothes bought by Red Cross), banking, sales, business practices, printing, carpenter and metal shop. Students receive 6 hours of academics to 2 hours of shop. McCall invited employers to inspect work done at McCall Continuation School. “Employers Week” was celebrated at McCall Continuation School every year from 1923 to 1928. Among those who participated in this event was Ellis A. Gimbel, head of Gimbels department stores, who spoke to students about future jobs and offered career advice.

The Depression era led to “Opportunity Classes” at McCall which catered to boys ages 16-21 years of age. There were no credits given for attending classes and no grades assigned or commencement exercises. It was simply a way to gain skills to help young men obtain jobs and kept them from roaming the streets. From this, the concept of Vocational School was born and the students were successful in securing opportunities in stenography, typing, bookkeeping, cost accounting and commercial law.

The McCall School has always had a diverse immigrant population with a multicultural make up. Beginning in the early 1950s, immigrant children were assigned to McCall as part of a special program for the school that taught English, the only such program in a public school in the USA. Children were sent to McCall from all over (including suburban areas) to learn English before being transferred to other neighborhood schools and entering into regular school classes. By 1953, McCall had as many as 200 students from more than 20 countries studying English. The cultural blend of students included those from Ukraine, France, Japan, China, Greece, Puerto Rico, Germany, Brazil, Hungary, Cuba, Korea and African nations. McCall had become a place for children to learn how to assimilate, learn American customs learn to read, write and socialize in the community. The McCall School welcome signs could be read in 14 different languages and the school was at times referenced as a mini United Nations.

In the 1950s, the socio-economic status of Society Hill (and surrounding catchment areas) was slightly above the city wide average and many area children in Society Hill attended private schools. But, the school continued to grow and by the early 1960s the school was ready for expansion and in 1965/1966, an addition was added onto McCall School which included a new gym and auditorium.

In 1970, the school has a long waiting list of students and teachers to come to McCall and there were as many as 700 students enrolled at McCall.

Today, McCall continues to have a diverse, multicultural population. The catchment includes Society Hill, Washington Square West, Old City and Chinatown. McCall continues thrive and to be a highly regarded public school in Philadelphia.


Welcome Back!

As the new school year approaches, I would like to introduce the new officers of McCall’s Home and School Association (HSA). Please always feel free to contact us regarding HSA activities and initiatives:

Laura Palickar – President (
Johanna Wong - co-Vice-President (
Bill Keys - Co-Vice-President (
Clarissa Raspanti - Treasurer (
Michelle Byrd-McPhee – Secretary (

Every Child Can Succeed if Given the Proper Environment

The mission of our board is to support our teachers and administration to provide the best environment for our students to learn and to succeed.

I can tell you that our board has already spent many hours this summer investigating and discussing additional ways to continue to enhance McCall’s “environment”. I sincerely ask all of you to become involved in our activities to provide our students with the tools to facilitate and encourage educational success

We do need your help. We do invite your input.

Please fill out the enclosed membership form so that you can be added to HSA’s communication list. We have a strong communication initiative this year and seek to provide information in various mediums -- paper, email, web posting, signs, banners -- in order to reach our entire school population. Please indicate on the form if you DO NOT want to receive email updates from McCall’s HSA. We don’t want to be SPAM! Information emailed will always be posted on HSA’s website This site is currently being enhanced and updated.

Parent Involvement

I should mention that all references to “parent” include any adult who plays an important role in a child's upbringing, well-being and education. Studies have documented that regardless of the family’s economic, ethnic, or cultural background, parents’ active involvement in a child’s education is a major factor in determining success in school.

During my son’s first two years at McCall, I am proud to have been a part of many activities and initiatives that have significantly contributed to McCall’s learning environment. McCall has wonderful teachers and a great administration. But it is important to realize that many of the benefits that McCall students have gained over past years has been a direct result of work put into the school by parents and the community.

Parent involvement has raised major funds to furnish our school with a Cybrary, a new playground, and promethean boards in all grade classrooms.

Parent involvement and community partnerships have provided funding and volunteers for reading based activities including the 100 Book Challenge and Reading Stars program.

Parent involvement and community partnerships have helped beautify the school both by participation in Philadelphia Cares Day and other generous individual donations of both time and resources.

Parent involvement has raised funds to provide teachers with additional funds for field trips, materials and many other events.

These are just some of the things that have been accomplished through Parent Involvement at McCall. Please be involved. It does make a difference!


Ao Kong is 2008 First in Math Champion

Seventh-grader Ao Kong outperformed nearly 250,000 of her peers across the nation to claim the title of #1 Player in the First In Math® Online Program for the 2007-2008 school year! First In Math creator Robert Sun presented Kong with a "First In Math National All-Star" award, and the Grand Prize, an Apple iTouch®.

"During our conversation, Ao and I discovered some pretty amazing similarities," explains Sun, who met Kong at a special luncheon. "I moved to Philadelphia from Shanghai, China when I was nine, as did Ao. Both her parents are physicians, as were mine. I love chocolate, and my favorite color is blue," says Sun. "Me too," says Ao, momentarily flashing her trademark reserved smile.

According to McCall Elementary School-Based Teacher Leader Eleanor Castelberry and Principal Carol Domb, Ao is a great student in all subject areas, not just math. Ao’s father says that his daughter was very determined, and spent hours on the computer every night. When asked if winning the Apple iTouch® was the motivation for her incredible achievement Ao answered, “No. I just wanted to be #1.” She says she planned her strategy at the beginning of the school year, and never waivered.

Kong, who attends General George A. McCall Elementary in the School District of Philadelphia's Central City Region, led the field for several months, amassing 33,511 stickers as of the April 30 First In Math "Top Ten" competition deadline. She also achieved National All-Star status last year, finishing among the Top Ten players in the nation as a sixth-grader. (read story)

Source: First in Math


Philadelphia Inquirer Article on McCall's Cybrary


McCall Early Education Tech Drive

A special thank you to Dr. Walter Curran and Laura Palickar for opening up their home to host the first annual technology drive! We raised a lot of money for white boards! More details will follow as soon as we total all of the funds raised!


CBS 3 Story on Cybrary Opening

Ribbon cutting at the new Cybrary. (from CBS 3)

CBS 3 covered the opening of the new Cybrary.


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