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Spirited and Generous Giving


On a breezy and warm day in early June, 105 seniors in their caps and gowns sat on the Commencement patio, facing five rows of the Penn Charter faculty who had taught them.

Wide smiles were in abundance from both groups.

The Class of 2019 is a connected and diverse bunch. Among them, 27 were lifers, having attended PC since kindergarten, and 18 were children of OPCs, both record numbers. Students completed its Senior Comprehensive Projects at veterinary clinics, sports venues, health care providers, elementary schools, community organizations and more, indicating the wide range of interests within the class. Students will pursue their education at 64 different colleges, and one was drafted to play for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The class is “a thoughtful and unique group of young people who are intellectually engaging, creative, artistic, thoughtful, athletic and civically engaged,” said grade dean Sharon Ahram. “There is a genuine bond among them. A quarter of the class spent 14 years together, but as the class grew, they welcomed and embraced one another. This is just the start for the Class of 2019. I can’t wait to see what they do next.”

Whether connected as OPC parents, as parents of lifers, or as Penn Charter parents since ninth grade, senior parents gave generously to the Senior Parent Gift effort to celebrate and honor the Penn Charter faculty who helped shape their children along the way. The collective gift supports professional development for faculty so they can improve their craft for current and future students. The Senior Parent Gift is one that conveys deep gratitude for the past, honors excellence today, and is focused on the future of Penn Charter.

From the podium at Commencement on June 8, senior class president David Garnick announced the total raised for faculty professional development as of that moment: $176,997. A record!

The Senior Parent Gift is led by volunteers, this year by Lee and Neil Tanner OPC ’89 and Sybil and Ken Murphy OPC ’82. The foursome made calls to build the Senior Parent Gift Committee. For Sybil Murphy, the committee dinner was a highlight of the process.

“Meeting each other, talking about our kids—over food, which is always good!—confirmed the initial enthusiasm to be part of the effort. To meet and live in each other’s presence, discussing how we could encourage people to support the school, was a highlight.”

“Parents really came together,” said Stephanie Ball, associate director of development and a 2019 parent, who took over supporting the gift chairs when Tiffani Harris went on maternity leave in March. “This was a team effort and a spirited class.”

“I knew when the Tanners and the Murphys agreed to lead this effort that their loyalty to and love of this school, combined with their competitive spirit, would produce record-breaking results,” Ball continued.

Ken Murphy was inspired to give and to volunteer because he knows “how transformative education can be. As an OPC, seeing what Penn Charter did for me, for my peers, and now for my children, it is easy to invest in the school,” Murphy said.

Neil Tanner OPC ’89, referencing his own father, wrote: “Just like William Tanner OPC ’57 recalls the influence of his Penn Charter teachers, like Mr. [Fritz] Kempner or Dr. Gummere, and I recall the inspiration of those like Dr. and Mrs. Ball, Alice Davis, Richard Smith and Elizabeth Hennessey, so too will my son and the Class of 2019 be forever impacted by their interactions with Dr. Ford, Mr. Zuccotti, Ms. Noonan, Mr. Larrabee, and the many other gifted educators at Penn Charter.

This gift is a small way in which we can honor that legacy and ensure that kind of inspirational teaching lives on for generations to come.”

At the close of the fiscal year, the Senior Parent Gift totaled a record-breaking $177,657. Thank you, senior parents!