In 2020, we asked a group of educators, parents, and students across the region about their hopes and fears for the coming school year. As the final bell rings this month, we returned to them for an update on how the year went, and to ask one important question: What did you learn? Their answers are illuminating.

— Tommy Rowan and Lauren Aguirre (morningnewsletter@inquirer.com)

The week ahead

  • Friday marked the first day in nearly 15 months that mask-wearing was no longer required indoors in most places in Philadelphia, but the Health Department says that masks are “strongly recommended” indoors and outdoors for the unvaccinated.

  • The good news: On Friday, the 76ers beat the Atlanta Hawks, 127-111. The Sixers now have a 2-1 lead in the Eastern Conference semifinals going into Game 4 on Monday. The bad news: Danny Green suffered a calf strain in Game 3, and is expected to miss the rest of the series. And maybe more.

  • The Environmental Protection Agency said last week it will reconsider strengthening standards for a key air pollutant and that could impact Philadelphia, especially Center City.

  • State Sen. Dan Laughlin, an Erie County Republican, is moving toward a run for governor, presenting himself as a “center-right” conservative who can appeal to swing voters and avoid divisive cultural feuds — and drawing an implicit contrast with other Republicans trying to follow in the footsteps of former President Donald Trump.

  • Lacking a board majority, six dissident members of the PSERS (the Pennsylvania Public Employees’ Retirement System) pension fund backed away Friday from their push to fire the plan’s top two leaders. But they helped derail a proposal to pump another $1 billion into so-called alternative investments — the kind of investment the critics say has generated only high fees and lackluster results.

Celebrating Pride Month 🏳️‍🌈

The Philly Pride flag, explained

In 2017, Philadelphia took a bold step toward LGBTQ representation with the introduction of the Philly Pride flag: our own version of the popular six-colored-stripe rainbow Pride flag. The Philly Pride flag adds two new stripes — brown and black — to the top of the rainbow. The flag put Philly in the global spotlight, and it’s seen widespread use around the world since. But for a lot of people, the multiple variations of Pride flags may seem confusing. What does it mean? Why does it exist? Here’s a primer on Philly’s Pride flag.

More Stories:

  • Hazel Edwards left her all-boys’ school in Philadelphia after coming out as trans. Then, she led LGBTQ trainings there. She helped craft the Philadelphia School District’s policy on transgender and gender-nonconforming youth.

  • Did you know? Both Pennsylvania and New Jersey have nonbinary designations for state IDs and driver’s licenses. You can select “X,” “F,” or “M” for your gender marker in these states.

  • Here’s your guide to LGBTQ tenants rights in Pennsylvania.

  • And Pride celebrations are happening all over the Philly region this month. Check our updated calendar for events.

During June, we’re celebrating Pride Month by highlighting the lives and experiences of LGBTQ people in the Philly region. Please reply to this email if you have an event or story you’d like to share here.

This week’s most popular stories

Behind the story with Jillian Wilson

Each week we go behind the scenes with one of our reporters or editors to discuss their work and the challenges they face along the way. This week we chat with service editor Jillian Wilson on her work answering the Philly region’s questions.

How would you describe what a service editor is and how do you approach your work?

As service editor, I focus on creating useful resources for Philly locals and residents of the surrounding areas. What does that mean? It means I’m here to answer our reader’s questions and help them solve their problems before they even have to ask. I help with questions like “where can I celebrate Pride Month?” or “where can I find the best barbecue?” or “what can I do in Cape May?” My goal is to create resources that have a long shelf life, meaning they stand the test of time and are a resource that people go back to month after month — because don’t we all crave barbecue more than just once a year?

A lot of my day revolves around anticipating questions and problems that people face. And, as a resident myself, I’ve definitely run into my fair share of city problems in the 12 years that I’ve lived in Philly. As I get more into my role (I started May 3), I’m excited to dive in even deeper and help people take full advantage of Philadelphia and all of the great things this city has to offer. We’re really lucky to live in such a great place.

What does a typical day look for you, so far, in your time at The Inquirer?

Well, I’m about six weeks into my role at the Inquirer, so my days involve lots of learning and getting to know the great people who work here. I also do a fair bit of writing throughout the week, too: I author our Things To Do newsletter (you should sign up!), and write comprehensive guides about dining, events, and more. Beyond that, I work with our freelance writers on stories ranging from our weekly events calendar to a where-to-stay guide to the Poconos. I also brainstorm story ideas (we have hundreds!) for our freelancers to write.

What are a few things you’ve worked on that you’re proud of?

One of the first things I worked on was a guide to the best hoagies in Philly with critic Craig LaBan and reporter Mike Klein. It was really fun to dive right into an assignment that is very Philly. And speaking of very Philly, I’m also proud of this cheesesteak guide that I worked on with Craig and Mike last month. I’m also excited about some of the coming-soon stories that are in the works as we speak; I can’t share the topics, but keep an eye on Inquirer.com/philly-tips to see the latest stories we create for you.

What are some things you’re keeping your eye on going forward in your work?

In the service department, our goal is to truly serve our readers — so I’m keeping an eye out for opportunities to help you live a more fun and less stressful life in Philadelphia. So, I’ll be looking for opportunities to share exciting things to do, along with helpful tips about living in this area; whether that’s ways to help you make the most of your weekends at the Shore or how to track down a free admission day at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

What’s something that makes your job different from others in journalism?

My job is very different from traditional journalism. I’m not breaking news or going out to report on a specific happening in the city. Instead, I am answering the “how to,” “what to do,” and “where to go” questions that we ask on a daily basis. And while it isn’t the same as daily news, it’s still just as important, because it allows people to make the most of their day — and in this case, make the most of our city, too.

What do you do for fun outside of work? What are you looking forward to this year?

I love exploring Philly, which, conveniently, goes hand-in-hand with my job. I like to go out to eat, go to festivals, and explore museums. I also love spending time with my family and friends (which I missed so much in 2020) and spending time outdoors, whether that is at the beach, at a park, or on a hike. I also tap dance! I took my first lesson when I was nine.

As far as what I’m looking forward to, I can’t wait to travel again. I have a few weekend trips planned this summer and I also am looking forward to a trip to Hawaii for my brother-in-law’s wedding later this year.

Email Jillian Wilson at jwilson@inquirer.com and follow her on Twitter at @JillianGloria.

Through Your Eyes | #OurPhilly

Congratulations, graduates. You made it.

Tag your Instagram posts or tweets with #OurPhilly and we’ll pick our favorite each day to feature in this newsletter and give you a shout out!

Father’s Day guidance

Don’t forget, y’all: Father’s Day is June 20. For the last-minute shoppers among us, here’s a handy guide to six gifts for the dads who love to cook, grill, and entertain. Some advice: You can’t go wrong with something named a “Ninja.”

What we’re …

  • Eating: Cafe Lift, which brought brunch to a warehouse district in North Philadelphia in 2003, will open another location, perhaps this winter, in Haddonfield.

  • Drinking: At $10 a bottle, this unpretentious pinot noir (with a cheeky name) is not trying to be fancy or intellectual, just tasty, but it nonetheless succeeds at capturing some of this grape’s elusive charms at an incredibly low price.

  • Watching: Comedian Kevin Hart has a new movie coming out, but it’s a drama. Hart called Fatherhood, opening June 18, “an opportunity to uplift the conversation surrounding Black fathers.”

  • Listening to: Liz Phair’s first album in 11 years is kind of all over the place, writes Dan DeLuca, and in this case it’s a good thing. Georgia Anne Muldrow and Rostam also have noteworthy new releases.

Your Daily Dose of | Drama

Playwright Muhammad Bilal “Bi” Islam was in the middle of working on six shows in production when theaters closed in March 2020. He and his wife tried to hang on, relying on her salary, but money grew tight. It was time to pivot. For Islam, the future of work is driving a bus.