Construction has begun for the new West Philadelphia High School that is to be completed and open to students by September 2011. The new "West," which will now be located at 4901 Chestnut St. will replace the current high school building that opened in 1912 at 47th and Walnut Streets. The current high school will remain in operation until the new high school is completed.
The site of the new high school is the former location of the once West Philadelphia Catholic High School for Boys. It was purchased by the School District of Philadelphia in 1991 and the site has since been cleared for the new building. Both the Middle Years Alternative School and Parkway West High School that took the place of the Catholic school place have been relocated.
The groundbreaking ceremony was held on October 27, 2009, in which School District of Philadelphia Superintendent Dr. Arlene Ackerman, School Reform Commission members, parents, teachers and students gathered to break ground and celebrate the reality of the new $66 million state-of-the-art high school.
The 170,000-foot three-story building is to be constructed on four-and-a-half acres of land. The auditorium, library and gym will be available for separate nighttime community use.
According to a School District of Philadelphia news release, the project has been designed to meet a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design silver rating. LEED is a certification program of high performance "green buildings." The new West Philadelphia High School will use the collection of rainwater for non-potable uses such as the flushing system as a part of their "green" initiative.