Welcome to what’s expected to be a sunny Friday, with temperatures making a run at 60 degrees.

Today we highlight the adventures of two Penn students who took off on a multistate trek to chronicle COVID-19′s human cost.

And, Scott Petri, the executive director of the PPA, has abruptly been removed from his role – effective today – amid a turbulent time for the city’s parking authority.

Also, we want your reactions to last night’s Sixers game and the return of Ben Simmons. Send your thoughts our way at morningnewsletter@inquirer.com.

If you see this🔒 in today’s newsletter, that means we’re highlighting our exclusive journalism. You need to be a subscriber to read these stories.

— Kerith Gabriel (@sprtswtr, morningnewsletter@inquirer.com)

When COVID-19 hit, these Penn students got creative

When Penn student Alan Jinich finally decided he couldn’t take one more day of sitting inside his rented house taking virtual classes, he came up with quite the solution.

Enlisting his friend and roommate, disillusioned Penn English major Max Strickberger, the two took off their spring semester, loaded up Jinich’s mom’s SUV with food and supplies, and embarked on a six-week, 7,300-mile journey across the country, interviewing a diverse group of young people about the impact of the pandemic on their lives.

“I just felt like I was wasting something that I previously loved so much,” Strickberger said. “There was so much happening in the world, and we’re sitting in our apartment in Philly.”

In all, the pair conducted more than 80 interviews, which spawned the creation of their website, Generation Pandemic, an oral history archive that they hope to expand and eventually turn into a podcast series.

“It probably was more worthwhile — don’t tell Penn — than a semester online,” said Deborah Miller, Strickberger’s mother, a former television producer.

Our reporter Susan Snyder takes a look at their travels, the stories that arrived, and the Penn community that rallied to help them.

What you should know today

  • Funeral services were held yesterday for TJ Siderio, the 12-year-old South Philly boy shot in the back by police.

  • The Philadelphia School District is expected to release its shortlist of candidates today to replace outgoing Superintendent William R. Hite Jr.

  • Amid outrage over the bombing of a maternity hospital in Ukraine that killed three, many consider the blast a Russian war crime.

  • On the heels of his retirement as head basketball coach at Jefferson University, this retrospective of local basketball legend and Hall of Famer Herb Magee. 🔒

  • Check out our interactive tool looking at the rising gas prices in our region.

  • A new report suggests a sizable undercount of Black, Hispanic, and Native Americans during the 2020 Census.

  • Allow us to introduce Ruthie Henri, South Jersey’s queen of barbecue.

  • We have what you need to know ahead of the return of the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade this Sunday.

  • Speaking of which, the timing couldn’t be better for this Penn study suggesting that just one drink per day is enough to cause brain shrinkage.

  • Local Coronavirus Numbers: Here’s your daily look at the latest COVID-19 data.

Scott Petri is out at the Philadelphia Parking Authority. What we know

It appears time will expire on the tenure of Scott Petri as executive director of the Philadelphia Parking Authority today.

The state-controlled parking authority has had notable financial turbulence in recent months, perhaps the two biggest being:

☝️ Airport officials taking the power from the PPA over control of its long- and short-term parking, a contract the PPA managed for nearly 50 years, and

✌️ The scrutiny that arrived from the PPA’s request of an $11.3 million refund from the cash-strapped school district in 2020, citing an overpayment that launched a City Council probe into the agency’s finances.

A PPA spokesperson said general counsel Dennis Weldon will “assume the responsibilities” of executive director while the board announced plans to launch a national search for Petri’s replacement.

Our reporters Max Marin and William Bender deliver more on what could have persuaded the PPA board to give Petri the boot.

🧠 Philly Trivia Time 🧠

Ben Simmons’ return to the Wells Fargo Center overshadowed the anniversary of when Sixer Allen Iverson did this and put his game on the NBA map. Today’s question: What was Iverson’s moment? Take a guess and find “The Answer” here.

a. His stepover of Tyronn Lue in the NBA Finals against the Lakers.

b. His crossover of NBA legend Michael Jordan.

c. His famous “we’re talking about practice?” news conference

What we’re …

👏🏾 Applauding: Abbott Elementary, the hit ABC comedy created by West Philly native Quinta Brunson, is delivering real-life resources to her old elementary school.

🦸‍♀️ Learning: About the cultural influence of these women entrepreneurs and small businesses on West Philly’s Baltimore Avenue corridor.

👀 Watching: The boom of sports betting in New Jersey, despite the laws in place to slow it down.

🧩 Unscramble the Anagram 🧩

Collectively, this power couple had an eye on West Philly’s well-being for more than 50 years.


Think you know? Send your guess our way at morningnewsletter@inquirer.com. We’ll give a shoutout to a reader at random who answers correctly. Today’s shoutout goes to Judy Pidgeon of West Deptford, who correctly guessed STEPHEN GIRARD as Thursday’s answer.

Photo of the day

That’s what I have for you this week. Ashley Hoffman will deliver your Sunday Newsletter as always and I’ll be back Monday to kickoff a new week. ✌️