Technology upgrades, school renovations and improvements, new teachers, different administrators, and expanded preschool programs greeted Catholic, private and Christian school students who have returned to classes.
Bishop Canevin, Oakwood
As a result of the school's Middle States self-study and reaccreditation, a 10-year plan, Igniting Our Future, will be rolled out in October. Part of this plan includes moving into Ignatian education (named after St. Ignatius of Loyola), which is a Jesuit education system that focuses on forming the student as a whole.
A video production and presentation system has been installed in the auditorium that involves a 20-foot rear projection screen with all new audio and video equipment. In addition, 35 new computers were purchased and installed in the IT lab along with a new server and three new Smart Boards.
This is the third year of a four-year iPad implementation program. All freshmen, sophomores and juniors have iPads loaded with Algebra I and II, and geometry curriculums, eliminating almost all textbooks in mathematics. Also included are apps for science, history, classical literature and the Bible.
Classes started Aug. 29 with an enrollment of 360. -- Shannon Nass
Seventh- and eighth-grade students were greeted at the Beaver Falls school with new technology when they returned to school Aug. 26. Each student received a new Google Nexus tablet and an email account.
Students in the lower grades will have 15 tablets per classroom to share, and preschool and kindergarten students can get their hands on the new technology at one of five stations that have been set up in each classroom.
One of the classrooms has been converted into a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math lab that will be staffed with a specially trained teacher.
This year, the academy will become the first bricks-and-mortar school to pilot Arts Alive, a cyberprogram that is part of the curriculum of Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School in Midland. The charter school will send a teacher one day a week to incorporate the program into the classrooms.
The academy also will continue its partnership with Lincoln Park Performing Arts Center's Steel Pan ensemble for students in grades 5 through 8.
First-day enrollment was 120. -- Shannon Nass
Sister Barbara Anne Quinn, principal of the Bridgeville school, announced that seven eighth-year students were accepted into Bishop Canevin High School's Eighth Grade Math and Science Scholars Program.
Those students will go to the high school every morning for math and science and then return to Holy Child for the rest of their academic day. Students needed to score above the 90 percentile in standardized tests and receive the recommendation of teachers to be considered for the program. This is the 25th year that the school has participated.
Improvements to the building include replacing the computers in the computer lab, installing intrusion locks on all classroom doors and installing security cameras in the halls and the outside of the building.
The new security system is connected to the Bridgeville police station and was funded through the Annie Baumgartner Memorial. The first day of school for students was Aug. 22 with enrollment at 110. -- Shannon Nass
Our Lady of Fatima
The Catholic school in Hopewell is working on updating its security system. In addition, the classrooms have been equipped with more computers and Smart Boards. First day of school for students was Aug. 22 with enrollment at 158. -- Shannon Nass
Our Lady of Grace
The newest addition to the school in Scott this year is principal Sharon Loughran Brown. There was no increase in tuition this year. First day of school for students was Aug. 26 with enrollment at 288. -- Shannon Nass
Our Lady of the Sacred Heart
For the second year, the high school in Moon welcomed a record number of students -- 380. The new freshmen come from 26 school districts and from "other states and countries."
When students and faculty returned to their classrooms Aug. 22, they encountered new technology fully funded by donations. Each classroom now has a "short-throw interactive projector" that turns "ordinary whiteboards into backdrops for 80-inch projected images and interactive presentations."
With the addition of electronic equipment, the high school's student-produced TV news program and other videos can be wirelessly streamed to classrooms.
Two OLSH alumni have been named to key administrative posts. Jessica Zerishnek Sellman, a 2002 graduate, is director of admissions. Jenna Zyroll, a 2007 graduate, is interim grade nine and 10 guidance counselor while Stephanie Nese is on maternity leave. When Mrs. Nese returns, Ms. Zyroll will fill the newly created role of alumni, events and annual giving manager.
This is the inaugural season of the school's hockey team, coached by Jamie Dougherty. The Pennsylvania Interscholastic Hockey League will include students from OLSH, Quigley Catholic, South Side Beaver, Avonworth and Cornell high schools. -- Linda Wilson Fuoco
The high school in Baden enters its 47th year with enrollment in grades 9-12 at 147, two fewer than last year. The first full day of classes for students and faculty was Aug. 26.
Last year, 40 seniors graduated. All were accepted to colleges or universities, according to Michael Rubino, executive director of advancement.
Support from parents and alumni remains strong, and the next big fundraiser is the Oct. 11 Evening at Tiffany's Gala at the Club at Shadow Lakes in Hopewell. Last year's event raised $86,000. -- Linda Wilson Fuoco
The Moon school welcomed 213 students this year in K-8, the school's highest enrollment since 2004.
Among the technology upgrades are the introduction of iPads in the science lab for all students and an online keyboarding program so students can learn typing at home. Smart Boards are being used in grades 3-8, and parents can access lesson plans, check grades, and chart attendance and student behavior patterns with Web-based access.
The school has also developed an anti-bullying program with the theme "Love One Another." The program helps students learn to be good friends through classroom discussions and meetings. -- Bob Podurgiel
Robinson Township Christian
Classes started Aug. 28 at the Robinson school that emphasizes a model of instruction based on learning grammar, logical thinking, organization and rhetoric. It also features a Christian emphasis and works to develop a safe learning environment for the 90 plus students in the K-12 program, according to principal Art Broadwick. -- Bob Podugriel
A new five-day, full-day preschool program for 3- and 4-year-olds has been added this year. It is so popular that there was a waiting list in June, said principal Janet Escovitz.
Twenty-three children are enrolled in the program. Parents can choose how many days their children will attend, and they can pick full day or half day, the principal said. There is a need and demand for the program, which offers early childhood education, she said.
In the past, the school in Kennedy had half-day sessions, two or three days per week for preschool students.
Enrollment this year is 165 students, kindergarten through eighth grade, which is stable, she said. The first full day of school was Aug. 26 and included the annual Boohoo Breakfast, where tissues and doughnuts were distributed to parents. -- Linda Wilson Fuoco
St. Margaret of Scotland
Students returned to their Catholic school in Green Tree to find a new lab with all new computers.
The PTG also replaced all of the tables in the cafeteria, and there is a new entrance door near the gymnasium. First day of school was Aug. 22 with enrollment at 282. -- Shannon Nass
SS Peter & Paul
Anew preschool has opened at the Catholic school in Beaver. The school is offering a program for 3-year-olds two days a week and one for 4- and 5-year-olds three days a week with half- or full-day options. There are 21 children enrolled.
Seventh- and eighth-grade students received new Google Chromebooks with e-books that they can access online.
"We're hoping that the technology we're bringing into the classroom helps our overall academic program," principal Cindy Baldrige said.
First day of school for students was Aug. 22 with enrollment at 143. -- Shannon Nass
St. Philip Catholic School in Crafton is stressing the importance of bullying prevention this year, in its Step in to Stop Bullying Program. Through classroom meetings, teachers work with students to report incidents of bullying so teachers can intervene and talk with parents to stop the bullying behavior.
The school has 368 students this year in grades K-8, and is incorporating the use of iPads in the classroom. Eighth-grade students are eligible to take advanced science and math classes at Bishop Canevin High School. -- Bob Podurgiel
St. John the Baptist
The Catholic school in Monaca welcomed a new principal, Patricia Thomas, this year.
A lot of renovations took place at the school over the summer, including new carpeting in the offices. Classrooms were updated as well with new technology including laptops, projectors and Smart Boards.
First day of school for students was Aug. 26 with enrollment at 139. -- Shannon Nass