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Oliver Citywide Academy, where student was killed, proposed a remote learning option

Pittsburgh Public Schools' Oliver Citywide Academy on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022.
Katie Blackley
90.5 WESA
Pittsburgh Public Schools' Oliver Citywide Academy on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022.

On today’s episode of The Confluence:

Oliver Citywide Academy staff had proposed a remote learning option for students who they say learned better from home
(0:00 - 7:28)

In January, 15-year-old Marquis Campbell was fatally shot while sitting outside of his school, Oliver Citywide Academy.

The police have yet to make an arrest, though they said in July they are close to “closing the case.”

Some staff members at Campbell’s school believe the school could have implemented a program to help students learn remotely that could have also protected students concerned about violence.

“[For some students,] when they were learning from home on Zoom, they were actually able to focus on their learning. They were doing learning and schoolwork that they had never found them to be able to do before,” says WESA reporter Oliver Morrison. He and education reporter Sarah Schneider investigated this story.

Oliver Academy staff suggested a program called “High Flex/High Needs” to serve students who excelled in a home environment. The proposal was presented twice under former Superintendent Anthony Hamlet’s administration. It’s unclear if the new superintendent, Wayne Walters, is seriously considering the plan at this time.

“One teacher said that, you know, we can't guarantee that Marquis would be alive today if the plan would have happened, but we believe he could have been a little bit safer if it had happened,” says Morrison.

Pittsburgh’s first LGBTQ-friendly affordable senior housing is in development
(7:33 - 14:18)

Pennsylvania has an aging population. For those who identify with the LGBTQ community, or want an LGBTQ-friendly community care facility, where does that leave them when it’s time for long term are?

Presbyterian SeniorCare Network is building what would be the first LGBTQ-friendly, affordable senior residential facility in the city at the corner of Forbes and Craft Avenues in Oakland.

“Folks who are in the LGBT community were often subject to bullying or to being forced to re-closet as they went into traditional [senior living] communities,” says Jim Pieffer, president and CEO of Presbyterian SeniorCare Network. “To me, that was a point of great sadness...”

Pieffer says the organization has applied with the state for 9% low income housing tax credits. If the application is approved, the group intends to begin construction next year, and open as early as the summer of 2024.

City of Asylum is holding its second International Literary Festival
(14:22 - 22:30)

Starting Saturday, Sept. 10, City of Asylum will host its second Pittsburgh International Literary Festival. But it will be the first time that some parts of the festival will take place in person.

The 10-day event will focus on works with themes of identity and marginalization.

“The festival is very much connected to City of Asylum's mission, which is to protect freedom of creative expression,” says Andrés Franco, executive director of City of Asylum. “We have the writer's sanctuary where we bring writers from all over the world who are being persecuted in their home country, they have been displaced. They have been marginalized. But we also think about ways in which we marginalize different segments of the population, even here in the United States, so we combined both themes in this particular festival.”

Franco says the festival will open with a special program to celebrate Salman Rushdie’s work. This comes weeks after Rushdie was attacked and seriously injured at an event in Chautauqua, N.Y.

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in Monday to Thursday at 9 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.

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