Fox Chapel’s Kerr Elementary ready to welcome students back to school |
Valley News Dispatch

Fox Chapel’s Kerr Elementary ready to welcome students back to school

Tawnya Panizzi
The new Kerr Elementary School along Kittanning Pike will be ready to open on the first day of class for Fox Chapel Area School District.

The countdown is on.

In just about a week, Fox Chapel Area students will head back to class. District officials have been busy readying new courses, programs and building upgrades for the Aug. 22 start.

Kerr Elementary students will start the year in the new $21 million building that was constructed on the same Kittanning Pike campus as the former school.

District officials touted innovative learning spaces in the new building that will encourage collaboration and creativity.

Special consideration was given to interior design that allows students to work on projects, conduct research, collaborate and plan, they said.

“This includes a (shared space) that will house the library, a makerspace, a SMALLab learning space and a computer science robotics lab,” Bonnie Berzonski, district coordinator of communications said.

Kerr will also house the district’s new pre-kindergarten program as well as the just-launched Spanish Immersion pilot program.

The full-day pre-k is aimed at better preparing 4-year-olds for school, Berzonski said.

It will be 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays.

The five-day-a-week schedule is expected to promote positive approaches to learning and strengthen social, emotional and behavioral skills, she said.

The Spanish Immersion pilot program is the first-ever for the district and is the first of its kind in Western Pennsylvania, Berzonski said. It will be offered to one class of first-graders.

There will be 25 students from throughout the district who will be bused to Kerr and spend much of their class time listening, speaking and learning core subjects in Spanish.

Art, music and gym will be taught in English.

The district plans to add a new class of first-graders to the immersion program each year so that eventually it will grow to include first- through fifth grade.

Other highlights of the new year include the Mobile Fab Lab being used to offer STEAM curriculum to first graders; a new textbook series that includes digital materials for middle and high school students in Latin, French or German classes; and the launch of a new high school College and Career Essentials course that is expected to teach interviewing skills and expose students to an array of options from colleges to trades.

The school board earlier this year approved several new courses for Dorseyville Middle School students, some of which include Python classes for computer programming and Music Production and Careers 8, which focuses on non-performance career options.

Lastly, the parking lot at O’Hara Elementary will be repaved and the school is scheduled to get new exterior lighting. O’Hara Elementary and the high school will be getting new sidewalks too.

Tawnya Panizzi is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tawnya at 412-782-2121 x1512, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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