The school year is underway throughout the West suburbs. Here's the second installment of our back-to-school roundup:
Students returned to classes on Aug. 27.
At Bon Meade Elementary School, Susan Kazmierczak is acting principal. She replaces Maureen Ungarean who is now serving as acting superintendent.
A salary adjustment of $5,000 is to be prorated from Aug. 13 and will continue until Ms. Kazmierczak returns as assistant principal at the high school.
Also, Ashley Makarevich is the new assistant to the principal at the high school. She had been with the Mercer Area School District. Her salary will be $65,000.
In cooperation with Robert Morris University, the high school will offer a "First Semester of College in High School" program.
Participants would begin the first of five courses in the fall semester of their junior year and complete one each semester, as well as one during the summer between junior and senior years.
Classes will be taught at the high school by RMU professors.
Parents are expected to finance the courses available at reduction of up to 70 percent. Course credits will be transferable.
The drama department also will work with RMU to produce a joint musical in November under the direction of Moon Area's Laura Mitchell and RMU's Ken Gargaro, who also is the founding director of Pittsburgh Musical Theater.
Students in grades K-6 have a new textbook program, Math Expressions, and accompanying online activities.
Math Expressions emphasizes student activities involving various problem-solving tasks.
-- Sonja Reis
Students returned to classes Aug. 21 with a new intermediate school and 2,779 students -- 71 more than last year. The new $30 million school, on the Old Oakdale Road campus, enrolled 707 students in grades 3 to 5.
The new school has alleviated crowding in the elementary and middle schools where enrollment is 694 and 622, respectively.
High school enrollment is 756.
Special facilities in the intermediate school include a rooftop garden, vegetable garden plots and three studios for creative, hands-on activities related to science, technology, engineering, art and math, known collectively as STEAM labs.
The district added more than six new teacher positions, five custodians, four cafeteria staff, a guidance counselor, a nurse and a half-time library aide.
Inquiry-based learning opportunities in all four buildings will allow every student to practice problem-solving and learn through hands-on projects.
This year's operational theme is "Framing the Future."
A K-2 Technology Learning Center is being established in the elementary school.
All intermediate students will use the STEAM studios, whose themes are earth and space, robotics and environment.
The middle school has established a Technology Hub Learning Space and is advancing its pre-Advanced Placement curriculum.
The high school is continuing to realign curriculum to meet and exceed the Keystone exam requirements.
-- Andrea Iglar
A variety of personnel changes, mentoring programs, improvements funded through grants and two additional high school Advanced Placement courses greeted students when they returned last Thursday.
Heath Bailey, high school principal, has been hired as assistant high school principal in the Canon-McMillan School District.
Counselor and assistant elementary principal Colleen Hannagan has left for North Allegheny, where she will become assistant principal of McKnight Elementary school.
AP biology and calculus courses were added to the high school programming.
These classes are in addition to AP English, which was implemented last year.
Mentoring programs including Adonai Center for Males; Crisis Center North and Neighborhood Learning Alliance, an after school tutoring and credit recovery program will be offered to students this year.
Girl Scouts of Western Pennsylvania has implemented a program for high school girls called Leaders In Training for Tomorrow.
The in-school program is designed to serve those who may have experienced minimal family stability and support or poor self image, values or attitudes. The program has been in operation since 1990 and is formulated to encourage girls to develop self potential and values.
The science labs were improved under a $75,000 grant from The Pittsburgh Foundation.
The Allegheny Intermediate Unit in conjunction with Benedum and Grable foundations helped to fund the Sto-Rox TV and media program's new gaming and technology classes in the amount of $20,000.
The Grable Foundation also helped to fund the addition of the education consulting firm OnHand Schools, which will provided a data expert, curriculum writer and instructional coach to the district in the amount of $110,000.
-- Sonja Reis
The district welcomed 3,296 students Aug. 26 from Findlay, North Fayette and Oakdale. That's 20 more students than last year.
Lunch prices increased 25 cents. Cost is $2.75 in the elementary school and $2.85 in the middle and high schools.
High school students who aspire to pursue a career in a medical field may enroll in the newly introduced Project Lead the Way Biomedical Sciences Program, which offers hands-on, real-world problem solving approaches.
A new course will be added each year for four years, starting with Principles of Biomedical Sciences.
Grades 9 to 12 also may enroll in the newly created Entertainment Technology Academy to prepare for careers related to web design/programming, animated and 3-D films, mobile app creation and video games.
The first two project-based courses are Games through the Ages and Game Design, with additional courses being added over the next three years.
Middle school grades 6 to 8 will engage in creative math and science activities in a new Situated Multimedia Arts Learning Lab, or SMALLab, thanks to a $20,000 grant from the Grable Foundation.
Students will interact with motion-capture technology and practice concepts in physics, chemistry, biology, Earth science and math.
Extensive renovations are set to begin this spring at Wilson Elementary in Findlay, with completion scheduled for September 2015.
Similar work at McKee Elementary in North Fayette is expected to be finished a year later.
Plans include infrastructure upgrades, energy-saving retrofits and cosmetic improvements.
Administrative offices will relocate to Wilson, freeing up space for growth at Donaldson Elementary in North Fayette. -- Andrea Iglar