St. John's school in Plum gets help for projects

| Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

The new year at St. John the Baptist Catholic School is expected to bring a stronger bond between church members and students.

From reading to the children to helping with math tutoring, church members are investing their time and talents in the school.

“We have a lot of senior members, those who don't work and empty nesters, who become involved in reading, tutoring and even science projects,” said the Rev. Tom Galvin, pastor of St. John the Baptist Roman Catholic Parish.

Galvin said the church music department also is working with the bell choir to develop an elective for junior high-age students at St. John.

Principal Theresa Szmed said the students, as well as the church members, benefit from the interaction.

“It gets them back in the community for the kids,” she said. “And the kids are excited about it.”

Szmed said other changes are set to mark the new school year as well. Classes begin on Aug. 21. The projected enrollment is expected to hold steady at 215 students, Szmed said.

Megan Derry is a new third-grade teacher replacing Anne Jacobus who retired. And Virginia Kotok will take over teaching duties that Szmed had retained last year when she was named principal.

“I will be a full-time principal,” Szmed said.

Children in the first through third grades this year will participate in the Snapology program that uses Legos bricks to explore the world of science, technology, engineering, mathematics and animation in an open, team-based environment, according to the Snapology website.

Also, students in the fourth through sixth grades again will participate in the Science Olympics, a one-day program in which teams are given situations and problems to solve, Szmed said.

In a continuing effort to promote technology in the classroom, the school is sponsoring a Race for Education Day from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 5, Szmed said.

Students will get pledges and participate in a variety of races. The money will help fund technology, Szmed said.

The school also is set to showcase its students and programs with a variety of activities during Catholic Schools Week, scheduled for the last week of January.

“Everything seems to be on track,” said Szmed, who added that many St. John students score two to three grade levels above their academic grade.

Galvin is looking forward to a successful school year.

“I am excited,” said Galvin. “We have advanced programming in a Catholic-Christian environment. You couldn't ask for anything more. It is value education across the board.”

Karen Zapf is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-871-2367.

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