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Dr. Milicia leaves GAMP

The Girard Estate school recently bid farewell to its long-tenured principal, whose retirement will lessen its budget woes.

By Joseph Myers
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 13 | Posted Jun. 30, 2011

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Dr. Angelo Milicia has spent more than two-thirds of his life in education. Effective tomorrow, he will end his stint at a school whose prominent components, including its art theater, owe their existence to his advocacy for student achievement.

Photo by Greg Bezanis

“The only way this nation is going to continue to move forward is to invest in education,” Dr. Angelo F. Milicia said Monday at the Girard Academic Music Program, 2136 Ritner St.

In announcing his retirement last month, the 62-year-old gave new meaning to putting one’s money where one’s mouth is, as his decision will aid the cash-strapped institution by sustaining two teachers’ jobs and most of its lauded music program. His departure as principal will end a 16-year affiliation with the school and will allow assistant principal Dr. Jack Carr to head the facility he helped to establish in 1974.

Milicia, with local roots that stretch back to his elementary and secondary school days at the now defunct St. Edmond’s, 23rd and Mifflin streets, and Bishop Neumann High School, Seventh and Christian streets, vacillated on severing his immediate connection to South Philadelphia. What he termed “a tiring year” because of budget dilemmas made GAMP’s spring break a contemplative period.

“I had planned to stay a couple more years, which at a school like GAMP is very doable,” Milicia, whose 40 years in education include time at James Alcorn Elementary, 1500 S. 32nd St.; Andrew Jackson Elementary, 1213 S. 12th St.; and Stephen Girard School, 1800 Snyder Ave., said of his march toward 65.

Monetary matters made the resident of Chews Landing, N.J., reconsider. Many school systems are desperate for funds, with the School District of Philadelphia staring at a $629-million deficit. Though state lawmakers are hoping to make modifications, Gov. Tom Corbett’s proposed budget would strip basic education of more than $1 billion.

With standard curricula imperiled, Milicia knew arts programs would suffer. He calculated GAMP would need $175,000 for textbooks, supplies, instrumental and academic programs and extracurricular activities, but his figures were off by $85,000.

“I wondered what I would tell people,” he said of having to inform thousands of the school’s impending identity shift.

Milicia had often obtained substantial funding to provide his magnet school’s 500 middle- and high-school students with ample ways to thrive. A realist, he knew fate would not be so charitable this time.

The district offers an early retirement option with 18 months of health care to the highest-paid principals and teachers. Milicia approached Carr and asked his colleague if he felt he could assume the principalship.

“I knew what his answer would be,” he said of Carr, the music program’s overseer.

Their plan called for Carr to operate the school alone, a move they learned could save two jobs and a significant part of Carr’s offerings. The loss of planned advanced placement courses constitutes the only academic casualty. Music-based setbacks include one teacher’s position and a chunk of the theater arts program. The deficit will not jeopardize GAMP’s musical productions, in which Milicia made yearly cameos.

“I don’t like those people who retire and don’t go away, and I don’t want to become one of them,” he said. “I do, however, want to remain present and do not want the school to experience a deficit in any way. If Dr. Carr needs to call on me for help, I will be right here.”

Effective tomorrow, Milicia will hand off the academically and musically proficient school to Carr. Under the federal government’s No Child Left Behind law, 97 percent of the high school students and 100 percent of the middle-schoolers make adequate yearly progress. Their counterpart is likewise strong, as GAMP’s singers have delighted thousands at school productions and concerts through invitations to renowned sites and participation in the Philadelphia All-City Choir.

The employees, who will acquire more leadership roles next year, and their charges had chances to show their talents June 14, when Mayor Michael Nutter made their auditorium a stop on his five-school tour of budget-affected sites. Cuts to the district’s 2012 fiscal year plan include $7.7 million in art and music funding. In a brief meeting, Milicia told Nutter of the students’ acquisition of resolve and peace through music and of his school’s need for copious currency.

“Mayor Nutter’s a great advocate for the arts, so he knew exactly what GAMP means to the children,” Milicia said.

Nine days after the visit, City Council approved a bill that Nutter signed Friday to bring the district a projected $52.5 million sum through a one-year property tax increase and permanent boosts in select areas’ parking rates. The money’s use is thus far undecided, but Milicia feels funds will go toward reducing class sizes and upholding transportation services and not toward adding rhythm to art programs’ existence. News of the cuts, however, has not hurt enrollment figures.

“Applications are up, in fact,” he said, noting 1,000 submissions for what will be a few spots.
The new learners and their contemporaries will make their way through the halls without his towering frame to look up to and gentle voice to listen to, but Milicia believes all will be well.

“Dr. Carr and I have always operated as co-administrators,” he said of GAMP’s setup. “We share a vision for populating GAMP with outstanding teachers, eager students and a wonderful support staff.”
Though he is confident about the school’s next steps, he remains unsure of his own.

“My daughter [and support staff member] Victoria asked me what I’m going to do with myself since she feels I have no hobbies. I told her I’m going to be on my couch all day,” he said with a laugh.
“When I came to GAMP to audition, Dr. Milicia had huge tears in his eyes after I finished my song and asked if he could give me a hug. I knew this was the right school for me,” Kara Mulder, a Fairmount resident and recent graduate said of the gentle giant. “Dr. Milicia is instrumental in creating the feeling that GAMP is a family.”

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COMMENTS

Comments 1 - 13 of 13
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1. Anonymous said... on Jun 30, 2011 at 08:03AM

“Oh GAMP so ever dear......

Wade in the water

la da mus te, benedicimus te, deus deus domine deus, la da mus te, benedicimus”

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2. elainefera said... on Jun 30, 2011 at 11:38AM

“Dr. Milicia is not just a principal but a leader who's action speak for themselves. Not only will the students and staff miss him but the community as well. He has built strong relationships with city coucil, Girard Estate neighbors and business in the community thus building bridges between school, family and community. When we think of GAMP we think of Dr. Milicia because he is GAMP.
Elaine Fera, Presdident GAMP Home and School”

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3. Jada-Nicole's Mom said... on Jun 30, 2011 at 12:34PM

“Dr. Milicia, "He who tends the fig tree will eat its fruit and he who cares for his master will be honored", Proverbs 27:18. Dr. Milicia we will miss you dearly. The pass 6 months have been challenging for me and Jada, but with your support and support staff we have made it through. Thank so much for the past three years. These years have been the best of Jada's life. Thank you for being "Pinky" and the singing nun. Thank you for just being you!! Thank you for your unselfishness and kind heart. I can go on and on. As a School District employee also, I truly say you are the employee of the YEAR!!!!!! Love You Casanda Goodson”

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4. smignucci said... on Jun 30, 2011 at 12:51PM

“I have always thought of Dr. Milicia and Dr. Carr as a team promoting education, the arts(Music),compassion and discipline when needed. But most of all "Confidence and Respect". I've have seen many children at GAMP become respectful and full of pride because of them....including my own child. We will miss Dr. Milicia more than I can say, but welcome Dr. Carr as Principal because we know he cares as much as Dr. Milicia!
Bouna Fortuna”

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5. chaloots said... on Jun 30, 2011 at 12:51PM

“Dr. Milicia,
I don't know you from a can of beans, I am acquainted with your brother. But I do know of you from the recent press. And all I have to say if the world was made up of all Dr. Milicias it would be like heaven! God Bless YOU and all that you touch!”

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6. Anonymous said... on Jun 30, 2011 at 01:29PM

“Karma sucks doesn't it? You all don't know the half of what these admins are up to.”

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7. Portia Manders said... on Jun 30, 2011 at 01:35PM

“Dr Milicia,

Thank you so much for allowing Khamera to first attend GAMP in 2005. Those Middle School years really allowed her to blossom. Most importantly thank you for allowing Khamera to come back to GAMP when she realized that the High school of her choice was not for her. Thank you for allowing her to attend the HOBI Leadership Seminar, which changed her in many positive ways. And lastly, Thank you for always being positive, supportive and caring which is what many High Schools are lacking in a Principal.
Dr. Milicia you will truly be missed, but who arr we kidding I am almost positive that you will be back at GAMP in the near future.
May God Bless you!!!
Love, Portia Manders

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8. pattistarzi said... on Jun 30, 2011 at 01:50PM

“When we think of GAMP we think of Dr. Milicia because he is GAMP, I want to thank you for being such a great Principal but such a good friend, he always made time to listen and to push his students to do their best....He surely will be missed but never forgotten...Best wishes to you Dr. Milicia and always keep GAMP in your heart .... I know your students and parents will...
GoD Bless YOu Always,
Patti Holdsworth....Nieko Holdsworth's mom

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9. Anonymous said... on Jun 30, 2011 at 04:32PM

“Dr. Milicia was truly an amazing principal! He did everything he could to make every student in the school enjoy themselves and happy. I'm really going to miss him, especially in the musicals! If it wasn't for him right now, we would most likely not have a music program for this upcoming year. I just want to thank him because it is so special that he did this for all of the students to save something we all love to do and that means everything to almost every student in the school. I wish him good luck in his retirement and he better come visit us during my upcoming Sr. year!! Love you Dr. Milicia !!!!
- Taylor Deeney <3”

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10. Kfalcione said... on Jul 1, 2011 at 12:30PM

“What a great loss at this wonderful school. Although I have the utmost confidence in Dr. Carr, I must admit I liked the tag team of Drs. Carr/Milicia. They were a fabulous team and Dr. Milicia's (what I could consider forced) retirement leaves a gap in GAMP - actually, when you take the "M" (for Miicia) out of "GAMP", you get a "GAP". Hmmm, what a coincidence...

Enjoy life Dr. Milicia, and I hope to see you make a cameo in future GAMP musicals!! I have a feeling you won't be able to stay away :)

We will miss you!”

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11. Cyndi said... on Jul 4, 2011 at 01:15PM

“I graduated from GAMP in 1994 so I did not have the oppurtunity to meet Dr. Milicia; however I knew Dr. Carr. He has always been the strength and passion that held GAMP together! Good Luck to Dr. Carr.”

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12. Mgleason said... on Jul 5, 2011 at 08:24PM

“Dr Milicia,
Best wishes for many happy, healthy retirement years ahead, doing all the things that make you happy. GAMP has been blessed by having you for all these years and you have left your mark on the school, the students and the community, thank you so much! Your kindness, leadership, and example to the students will never be forgotten. You are loved by all!!”

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13. Donna said... on Nov 5, 2011 at 08:15AM

“I am forever grateful for the day that my daughter, Lesli Johnson, was accepted to GAMP.The music program was exceptional!!!! Everything that Lesli learned has benefited her. Her music ability has grown to the point that Lesli writes her own music. Her first CD , Quiet Meditations,was released in March 2011. Thank you Dr. Militia and Dr. Clark for your leadership and your love for the arts.You have made GAMP a great school! There are great memories about the awesome concerts, musicals, and especially the concerts at the Kimmel Center! Thank you for these memories. God bless you both and again thank you.”

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