3rd grade Lower School SCH Academy girls (From left): Julia Franklin, Ava Caldwell, Drew Grauch and Kaliyani Wardlaw.

by Paula M. Riley

Each September, the Chestnut Hill Local showcases the new programs, people and projects that area schools have awaiting their students in the new school year. This is the first of two articles featuring local schools.

OMC Parish School

If it seems that there are twice as many little ones walking down East Chestnut Hill Avenue carrying backpacks, rest assured it’s not a figment of your imagination.

Our Mother of Consolation (OMC) Parish School opened the school year with an expanded prekindergarten program to provide separate classes for 3- and 4-year-olds. Fifteen 4-year-olds and ten 3-year-olds are in the prekindergarten program.

The expansion allows the Early Childhood Education Program to tailor programs for each group and offer more flexibility in scheduling options. With this growth, the school has created additional space for the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd Program, the popular religion program offered for grades pre-K-3.

Michele Snyder will be joining the school as the prekindergarten teacher, and Caroline Stutz, a Chestnut Hill College graduate, is joining the staff as the new sixth grade homeroom and math teacher. OMC students will enjoy new after school programs including Girls on the Run, OMC-CYO Cross Country, and Matt Paul Sports. A new school band and chess club are in the works as well.

The school year may be just beginning, but the OMC Capital Campaign is in full swing, raising funds to enhance future school years. With approximately 75 percent of its goal pledged, the campaign resources will expand outdoor play spaces, enhance and expand technology investments, and increase scholarship assistance.

Springside Chestnut Hill Academy

What’s new at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy is most evident outside its Willow Grove and Cherokee campuses. Bumper stickers proclaim SCH, and students, staff, families and community members commonly refer to the private academy as “SCH,” a name that represents the unique blend of single-sex education for younger students and coeducation for grades nine through twelve.

Springside Chestnut Hill Academy is one school with five divisions: a Lower School for Girls, a Lower School for Boys, a Middle School for Girls, a Middle School for Boys and a coeducational Upper School.

This year, SCH launched a Trout in the Classroom program for Lower School Boys and Girls. This is an environmental education program where students raise trout from eggs, monitor tank water quality, engage in stream habitat study, and learn to appreciate water resources. One of the program’s goal is to foster a conservation ethic and understanding of ecosystems.

SCH will continue to build The Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership (CEL) throughout its core curriculum with a newly designed physical space for collaboration and work. This progressive program helps students recognize the intersections among various disciplines — where innovation, enterprise, and value creation occur —so tomorrow’s leaders become more comfortable with complexity and being adaptable, inquisitive, and resilient.

A new element of the CEL program is the Digital Campus Initiative. This leverages digital space to respond to the demand for rich technology-enhanced learning approaches and environments. The digital campus provides increased opportunities for collaboration with peers and experts around the world. Imagine SCH faculty members building their own online courses and upper school students’ online classmates living in China or England.

“The digital campus also offers academic opportunities for students to strengthen their digital fluency while harnessing the learning potential of mobile platforms, digital gaming, social networks and their pervasive connectivity, opportunities to rethink knowledge delivery and honor the innovation capacity of our community,” said Dr. Priscella Sands, SCA president.

From the youngest community members starting school to sophisticated entrepreneurs, the 2013-2014 school year will be an exciting one for all!

See what’s new at School, Part II, next week featuring the J.S. Jenks Elementary School and Norwood-Fontbonne Academy.