A ceremonial unveiling of a student mosaic featuring graduation photos that date back to 1937 was just part of the Disston Centennial Celebration.
The occasion — marking the school’s 100th year — also drew a visit from Mayor Jim Kenney, a gift from the school namesake’s great-grandson, a gallery tracking 100 years of milestones and progress through student art projects, and yummy yellow- and blue-frosted cupcakes positioned to form the numeral “100.”
More than 200 members of the community joined the celebration. They included current and past students and their families, current and retired faculty members, and neighbors and business leaders.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for us to acknowledge the impact of this school on the lives and growth of so many in this community and beyond,” said one visitor.
Opened in 1923, Disston is located at 6801 Cottage Street in Northeast Philadelphia, where it currently serves 700 students from Kindergarten through 8th grade.
Also of particular pride to Mayor Kenney is the school’s participation in the Community Schools strategy, which partners the City of Philadelphia, School District of Philadelphia and surrounding school communities to remove barriers to student learning, allowing students to thrive. Disston joined the program in 2019 and works with Community Schools coordinator Lyannie Molina.
Disston School was named for Hamilton Disston, a Civil War Veteran, Fairmount Park Commissioner and Philadelphia Fire Commissioner. His family also founded Disston Saw Works, a Tacony-based family business, from which Henry Disston, Jr., presented one of the toothed tools during the celebration.
Celebrants also toured the student-created gallery, featuring original works of art depicting notable eras from the building’s history and spanning 1923 to 2023. Each class showcased a different historical milestone of which Hamilton Disston was a part.
Student council members shared their insights about the impact the school has had on their lives as well as the lives of their classmates, their families and their community.
Launched by the Office of Children and Families in Philadelphia, Community Schools support the success of each student through attendance support, family and community engagement, integrated health and social services, and expanded learning time and opportunities.
The long-term goal of Community Schools is to ensure that every student graduates college- and career-ready and that communities are healthy, safe, hopeful, and supportive. There are currently 20 city-designated Community Schools, serving nearly 13,000 students and supported by the Philadelphia beverage tax.