But first, education reporter Kristen Graham took a look at how Vaux Big Picture High School is doing four years after it first opened for students. Vaux is a different kind of public school: It’s a Philadelphia School District school, with union teachers and staff, but it’s run by an outside education company. See inside how Vaux works to educate students.
Read on for more news to prepare you for the week.
The week ahead
There are still questions about Philadelphia’s mishandling of remains from the MOVE bombing in 1985. Relatives of the victims say they have not been allowed to see the box found in the basement of the Medical Examiner’s Office or told whose remains it may hold.
More than 800,000 Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware could go to waste this summer. And millions of doses are expiring across the country.
Thinking ahead to artistry, 23 artists received Black Music City grants ranging from $1,000 to $3,500 to create new work that recognizes or is inspired by Philly’s Black music history.
Philadelphia City Council is pressing ahead with a bill to provide medical benefits for airport workers despite American Airlines pushing back on the cost.
Happy Father’s Day! This is your guide to celebrating Father’s Day in and around Philly.
This is how a Philly dad overcame the tragedy of losing his wife the day his son was born to write a children’s book on veganism.
The summer solstice is a day that has fascinated humans for centuries.
If the Sixers beat the Hawks again today, they’ll move on to the NBA Eastern Conference Finals. Here’s a look at that schedule.
Celebrating Pride Month
Before Stonewall, LGBTQ history was made in Bucks County
In 1968, Bucks County Community College abruptly canceled a gay rights advocate’s talk at the school. Up to 200 students promptly held a demonstration that made headlines in college and local newspapers. This happened a full year before the Stonewall riots launched the modern LGBTQ rights movement and eclipsed most of the pathbreaking events and organizations that preceded it. Learn more about this little-known moment in history.
This week, the Supreme Court decided a case involving Philadelphia, LGBTQ foster parents, and religious rights. Here’s what to know about it.
Gov. Tom Wolf and Pennsylvania Democrats are pushing to pass statewide discrimination protections for LGBTQ people. But similar legislation has failed to move out of Republican-controlled committees before.
Philly’s director of LGBT Affairs is likely the first openly trans person to lead a city office. Here’s more about Celena Morrison, from when she was hired last year.
And we still have about two weeks left of Pride Month, so events are still happening in the region. Check our updated calendar for ways to celebrate.
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 Erin McCarthy
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 reporter Erin McCarthy about her work covering the pandemic since it hit the region.
What has a typical day looked like for you since the pandemic hit, if there is one?
Each day is a bit different. But mine usually begins by looking at what the national outlets such as the New York Times and the Washington Post are writing about the coronavirus pandemic and vaccinations. My beat partner, reporter Justine McDaniel, and I also check in every day on the stories we’re working on or thinking about pursuing. The rest of the day is dependent on what stage of the reporting and writing process we are in on those stories. Some days it includes watching a virtual news conference of Pennsylvania health officials and writing a short daily story based on the news. Some days I reach out to expert sources, put together a story draft, and go back and forth with Justine on the copy. And other days, especially in more recent weeks, include going to a vaccine clinic or shadowing a community outreach effort.
What are you keeping an eye on as you continue to cover the pandemic, even while more of the region is reopening?
Like many people in the region, I’ll be curious to see when the statewide vaccination rate stalls completely and when the highly vaccinated Philadelphia suburbs run out of people to inoculate. And I’m also keeping an eye on unique ways that people are persuading the vaccine-reluctant to get shots and on whether the vaccination requirements at colleges and elsewhere will decrease hesitancy over time, as some experts have suggested might happen.
What are some stories you’ve worked on recently that you’re really proud of?
I’m proud of so much of Justine’s and my work, from the early stages of the vaccine rollout until now, and also of how well we have worked as a team. I was particularly proud of the story we did last month on grassroots efforts to reach people with vaccine access barriers and hesitancy concerns across the region, particularly in communities of color. It was one of my first experiences reporting in-person since the pandemic, and I learned so much by listening to the conversations that volunteer Ann Cunningham had with the people of Coatesville about the reasons they had yet to be vaccinated.
What are your favorite kinds of stories to write, if you have any?
I love to write stories that highlight people who do important or moving work that may have otherwise gone largely unnoticed, people like Ann Cunningham encouraging vaccinations or Dan Owarzani, a garden center delivery man in Bucks County who touched a 74-year-old customer’s heart at the beginning of the pandemic when he dropped off groceries and premade meals with her order.
Is there anything you wish more people understood about your work?
I wish people understood that many of our story ideas come from a genuine place of curiosity. I often enter my reporting process unsure of what I will find, or what exactly the story will say, and I find it fascinating to learn from expert sources and the perspectives of everyday people along the way.
What do you like to do in your free time? Is there anything you’re looking forward to this year?
I enjoy reading fiction and nonfiction books, running and doing at-home workouts, watching Netflix, playing with my dog, Seamus, and spending time with my boyfriend and my parents, who live in Delaware County and have been loyal Inquirer readers since I was a kid. And recently, thanks to vaccinations, I’ve loved catching up with friends who I missed so much this past year and a half. I’m looking forward to my family’s annual vacation to Lake Placid, New York, in July, attending loved ones’ weddings again, and doing some more traveling now that I can do so safely.
Through Your Eyes | #OurPhilly
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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!
How to handle discomfort as the world reopens
As more and more things “return to normal,” being uncomfortable is completely okay. You’re not alone. Dining out was a little weird at first for lifestyle columnist Elizabeth Wellington, too. To help adjust into your best post-pandemic self, experts suggest taking a beat before agreeing to plans that might be out of your comfort zone right now. Here’s how to get used to being uncomfortable.
Question of the week
How are you feeling about loosened mask guidelines in Philly? Are you still wearing yours, and why or why not? It’s been a week since Philadelphia dropped its mask mandate in most public spaces for vaccinated people, so we asked our Instagram followers how they’re feeling. (If you’re not vaccinated, the CDC encourages you to continue wearing a mask and social distancing.)
Here’s what a few of our followers said:
😷 “Still wearing! I have young unvaccinated kids and want to limit their chances of exposure.”
💉 “Yes. I’m vaccinated and trust the vaccine, but not necessarily everyone else out there.”
🛍️ “I’m vaccinated, so only if I’m in a business that requires it.”
🚫 “No! I’m vaccinated.”
How are you feeling about the new mask rules? Send us a message on Instagram at @PhillyInquirer to let us know.
Your Daily Dose of | Pennsylvania’s best auctioneer
Brian Oberholtzer is Pennsylvania’s best auctioneer — literally. He won the Pennsylvania Auctioneers Association’s statewide bid-calling competition in Harrisburg this year. He’s one of nearly 2,000 licensed auctioneers and apprentices in the state. Learn the mysteries of his trade.