STUDYING FOREST ECOLOGY: Ma’ayani Kaplan (left), 11, of Mt. Airy, and Indigo Dixon, 5, of Spruce Hill, illustrate a scene from the rain forest as a part of Project Learn School’s three-day intensive study of the ecology of forests. Students, placed in cross-grade groups, also began the school year exploring the Wissahickon forest using science clues in scavenger hunts, writing about their experiences in creative writing class and creating two-dimensional clay tree sculptures in art classes.

by Paula M. Riley

Each September, The Chestnut Hill Local showcases new programs, people and projects area schools awaiting their students each school year. This is the third article featuring local schools.

The Waldorf School of Philadelphia

Yes, it is true, The Waldorf School of Philadelphia (WSP), currently residing on the New Covenant Campus in Mt. Airy, is moving to 6000 Wayne Avenue in Germantown in September 2014. This is the former location of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church. The groundbreaking ceremony is at 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 19. All are welcome.

“The renovation of our new home shows what can be achieved when communities pull together,” said Alexandra Borders, director of admissions. “The project has been years in the making and has taken many conversations, chiefly between the Episcopal diocese, [developer] Ken Weinstein and WSP leadership,” she said.

This is a story of reuse, repurposing and the development of a disused urban building. The property contains a Gothic stone church, chapel, rectory and parish house designed and built between 1873 and 1883 by Frank Furness and George Hewitt. The beauty of the property aligns with the aesthetics of Waldorf Education.

The Wayne Avenue location is surrounded by wooded outdoor spaces, steps from Fairmount Park, and is geographically located at the center of where WSP current and prospective families reside. The structures and the grounds, once walked upon by Walt Whitman, will give WSP the space to grow physically and programmatically.

The only Waldorf school in the city, WSP is in its 16th year and currently has 200 students from nursery through 8th grade. Like many local schools, WSP will be expanding its early childhood program by adding one classroom in 2014.

Community members are invited to participate in the Ode to Joy Ride on Sunday, Oct. 13 at 9 a.m., honoring the late Lewis Smith, a beloved WSP parent. Funds raised will help to support the sustainability of WSP. On Nov. 8 through Nov. 10 WSP hosts its third annual pop-up store – the venue for this year’s store is Pageant: Soloveev on Bainbridge Street in Center City. For more information visit phillywaldorf.com.

St. Genevieve’s School

Very happy and eager kindergartners are greeted each morning by Sister Theresa Maugle, SSJ, principal at St. Gen’s. This warm greeting is a routine that Maugle has been following for years, but this school year there are twice as many five-year-olds to greet.

St. Gen’s expanded its kindergarten program to two classes. The new kindergarten teacher is Allison Razzano. Her students enjoy a full-day program (7:45 a.m.-2:30 p.m.),which follows the 21st century learning based on Common Core Standards. Kindergarteners, as well as every student (K-8) at St Gen’s, learns in a classroom equipped with SmartBoards and other technology.

Other new faculty members at St. Gen’s include Joseph Crane, science teacher for grades 6-7-8 and Christie Schmidt, grade 5 teacher.

Students are busy with academic coursework but also participate in extracurricular activities such as CYO (Catholic Youth Organization) sports, student council, robotics, Techmates, band, choral, Junior Science Club, and SGS Buzz. These are beginning to get organized and underway for the 2013-14 year.

The children aren’t the only busy ones. Parent committees are underway and working hard to support the school. These include the Home and School Association, Marketing Committee, Grant Writing, Finance Council, and the Development and Advisory Council.

See “What’s New at School, Part IV,” next week featuring The Crefeld School.