DECEMBER 18, 2022

Our First 40 Days

We need to talk.

Through weeks of coffee chats, SAC meetings, and discussions with the school administration, the HSA Board has come to better understand some of the challenges Masterman faces. 

For one, it has become clear that the lottery selection process has failed. It has failed to achieve its stated goal of creating more equity at Masterman. And it has also brought with it new problems. 

The selection process effectively split the MS and HS, raising existential questions about the role of the MS going forward. And it slowed the pace and quality of instruction in some grades. Under the lottery, students came in with a much wider array of abilities than before, creating classroom challenges that Masterman had not prepared for. Finally, new parents generally feel that Masterman has not succeeded in providing adequate orientation or, in some cases, adequate support to students in preparing them for its accelerated curriculum.

In addition, this year Masterman eliminated the full year of world language instruction in 8th grade, meaning that current 8th graders will be limited in their language attainment in HS. It is extremely disappointing to parents who find Masterman falling behind other schools. 

This is not a pretty picture. Many parents feel as if Masterman and its accelerated curriculum is being dismantled. 

This HSA is committed to addressing these problems as a school community, to find a way forward in dialogue with Dr. Payne and the administration, while providing everyone the support that they need to thrive at Masterman. 

In the new year, the HSA will devote its January 10 in-person meeting to discussing the selection process, including a break-out session for 8th grade parents. We plan to use our February meeting for a jointly sponsored discussion about the mission and vision of Masterman going forward. We need your engagement, your enthusiasm, your commitment, and your support.


Mitchell Orenstein

President, Masterman HSA

Next HSA meeting:

Jan 10

6:00 pm


After that we will resume meeting on Zoom at 7:30 pm:

Feb 7

Mar 7

April 11

May 9

Reminder: There is no school December 24–January 3. School resumes January 4.

Get Listed in the Masterman Directory!

The HSA is preparing a directory so that families can find each other outside of school. It will be distributed in print in January.

To be listed, you must opt in BY DECEMBER 23.

Don't miss your chance. Do it today, and help spread the word!


Teacher Wish Lists

Want to give direct support to specific teachers or your child’s classroom? Masterman teachers have updated their Amazon Wish Lists with the items they need to supplement the HSA’s Teacher Grant program.

The holiday season is a great time to give these heroes a boost. And to make your gift go even farther, sign up for Amazon Smile and designate Masterman as your charity of choice. A percentage of your purchase costs will be sent to us as a donation.

Save the Date!

The Masterman Spring Auction will take place on Saturday, March 18, 2023. Watch for more information coming through the HSA newsletter and other Masterman bulletins. Want to help organize? Email


Winter Concerts

The High School Concert is this Thursday, December 22, at 6:30 pm.

  • Tickets will be sold at the door for $5 each.

  • If you would like to be recognized as a Friend of the Musicians/Sponsor: Donors of $100 will receive 2 free tickets, acknowledgement in the program, and reserved seating. Donations must be received by Tuesday and can be given to Dr. Shapiro or Mrs. Neu. We can accept cash or checks made out to Masterman School.

Please join us for an evening of lovely music!

Info for performers:

Students must be at school by 5:45. There will be some food provided for performers wishing to remain at school between 3:19 and the concert, thanks to the HSA.

Additional information can be found here. Questions, please contact Kim Neu at

The Middle School winter music concert came off beautifully last week! Thank you to all the student performers and parents who came out to support them.

Click through for a video of the MS choir performing one song!

The Masterman HSA would like to thank Weavers Way Coop for the generation donation of flowers and chocolates to honor and celebrate our music teachers: Kim Neu, David Shapiro, Jordan Fraef, Joshua Anderson, Jason Choung, Kyle Almeida, and Gozde Tiknaz! Thank you, teachers, for all the love, inspiration and energy you bring to students week after week, year after year. We appreciate you so much.

The Masterman HSA also thanks Giant Food Stores for their donation of water, and Primos for discounted hoagies for our young musicians on Concert Day!

And...Congratulations, Musicians!

Congrats on a beautiful performance to the 15 Masterman students (pictured here) who participated in the All-City Middle school choir concert on December 7th.

Congratulations to Tristan Bouyer, who won the All-City 17th annual concerto competition and will perform as soloist at the Kimmel Center concert in March playing the marimba, accompanied by the All-City Orchestra and conducted by our very own percussion teacher, Jason Chong. Congrats also to the runners up, Chris Ji, Anna Pratico, and Cyrano Rosentrater, and all of the Masterman finalists in the competition. We are very proud!


Congratulations to Eric Li, Chris Ji, and Jessica Hou for making PMEA (Pennsylvania Music Educators Association) District 12 Orchestra and Band! Special shout out to Jessica who made FIRST CHAIR FIRST FLUTE!

20 of our high school students have made All-City Orchestra/Band. Many have won first chair positions! We are very proud of you.

Athletics Update

Stay on top of the latest team results!!

Follow your favorite Blue Dragons winter sports teams on Instagram. Accounts are hosted by players and/or student managers.

  • Boys Basketball = mastermanBball 
  • Girls Basketball = mhs.girls.bball
  • Swimming = mhs.swimmingdragons

We are looking for parents to join the Athletics Committee! We are seeking a parent rep from each Masterman sport. This is a new committee, but the general goals are to share knowledge, improve communication, fundraise for sports needs, celebrate our student achievements, and advocate for student athletes.

Please consider joining. Email your name, student name, grade, and sport to

Did you know?

  • The Philadelphia Public League (PPL) offers leagues for 23 sports. If a school does not have a team (i.e. Football, Field Hockey), then an interested student can play for another school.
  • At Masterman, we host a "co-op" Boys Lacrosse team. The team is called MSC Lacrosse. It combines students from Masterman, SLA, and Carver (coached by Masterman faculty). Our female Lacrosse players are sent to "co-op" with SMP Lacrosse (coached by SLA faculty). It combines students from SLA/Ben Franklin, Masterman, and Palumbo.

Want to know more about all the sports offered at each of the 73 PPL member schools? Click here. Want to know more about how many players are required for each PPL sport? Click here.

All in Good Fun...

On December 16th, high school students and staff gathered together in the lunchroom to witness twenty brave and selfless teachers take whipped cream pies to the face.

This event was coordinated by Ms. Taylor and the tenth grade, and all proceeds will benefit the class of 2025!

For a large enough contribution to the HSA we will post video on our blog. (Just kidding!)

Great Work, Dragons!

The Middle School Debate Team had a huge night at the ASAP Debate competition last week, winning OVERALL BEST TEAM!

Congratulations to the Masterman Middle School Robotics teams in their fantastic competition this past weekend at Central High School. One team won 2nd place in their robot design presentation and one team will be advancing on to the FIRST Mid-Atlantic Regional Championship on January 28. That means the club will continue for team one only. Amazing work, everyone!

HS Newspaper

Check out updates to the November 2022 issue of the HS student newspaper Masterman Voices!

MS Coding Club

Calling all interested middle schoolers! Join the afterschool FIFE-Penn club! The club meets weekly on Thursdays from 3:30 to 4:30 to explore the principles of coding and computer science. If you have questions, please contact contact Ms. Marissa ( or Mr. Minken (


Rep Your Profession at Career Day

The Masterman HS chapter of the National Honor Society is bringing back Career Day. NHS students are looking for parents, friends of parents, and alumni who would be able to represent their profession by running a workshop.

Career Day will take place at Masterman on February 24, 10:45am–2:05pm. Each presenter will speak to rotating groups of students, for about 25 minutes at a time. Consider telling students about how you chose your career, your accomplishments, and how they can possibly pursue your career. There will be technology and assistance available to project Powerpoint presentations or any other digital information.

Willing to help out? Please email Ms. Solomon at 

Volunteer Instructors Needed

Interested in leading a workshop on a topic that you're passionate about to Masterman 9th graders during Pathways? Fill out this interest form by Tuesday, January 3rd. More details on this opportunity will be shared soon!

Understanding PSAT Scores

Following the release of Fall 2022 PSAT scores, counselors have been visiting tenth- and eleventh-grade classrooms to talk about the scores and their role. 

Among the topics they covered:

Understanding Your PSAT Score

College Board Big Futures and the Opportunity Scholarship

Khan Academy free test prep (students register for an account through their College Board accounts)

Juniors who took the Fall 2022 PSAT/NMSQT (National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test) will be notified in September 2023 if they are National Merit Semifinalists.

As always, the counselors are available during 3rd and 8th periods if students have any questions. Students don't need an appointment. They can just drop by to ask 1 question, 20 questions, or anything in between. They’re there to help!

SDP News

Last Thursday’s meeting of the Philadelphia School Board was chock full. Board members elected a new president, Reginald Streater, and Vice President, Mallory Fix-Lopez.

Read more about the change on

In addition, Masterman parents Cari Akula and Anne Dorn and Masterman HS student PJ Dorn gave comments on the lottery selection process, changes to world language instruction, and more! The testimony is online here. (PJ starts at 1:17:31, Cari starts at 2:12:33, and Anne starts at 2:22:30.)

Heads up: The SDP announced that masks will be required in school for the first ten days after winter break.

Reminder: Tutoring Resources

National Honor Society Drop-In Tutoring at Masterman

Mondays, 7:30am – 8:15am in Room 214 (for everyone)

Tuesdays, 8th Period in Room 312 (for HS students)

Wednesdays, 8th Period in Room 305 (for 5th- and 6th-grade students)

Thursdays, 8th Period in Room 312 (for 7th- and 8th-grade students)

Everyone is free to drop in as needed.

If you have any questions please contact the HS Dean, Mr. Gilken, at

SDP-Provided Online Tutoring

The School District has made free tutoring available for all students in Grades 3 to 12. Registration is now open for Cycle 2 for Reading, Math, Algebra I and II, Geometry, and English I-IV. Please register with one of our district vendors: Catapult (Grades 3–6), Tutor Me (Grades 3–8), or FEV (Grades 6–12).


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And don't forget to become a member of the HSA today!


We need each other.

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