Over the last few weeks St. Benedict Preparatory School has welcomed all of its 740 students back to campus. From our brand new three-year-old preschool students, all the way to our last senior class, everyone is back in school! It’s hard to believe that just three weeks ago our campus was finishing up the last of the construction and cleaning the quiet hallways. When you set foot in the front door of the school this week, you hear anything but quiet! This year, while our students, faculty and staff are getting back into the school year routine, we had some new and exciting changes waiting for them, as well!
Over the last two years our school has undergone some big changes, the biggest change includes the phasing out of our high school program. This year we will celebrate our last graduating senior class and our last year including high school. Through our strategic plan, with the help and support of our Advisory Board, the school has a new mission statement. Our new mission statement is:
St. Benedict Preparatory School continues a century-long tradition of superior education in a vibrant Catholic community. We recognize that each student’s God-given gifts hold unique value, potential, and dignity. Our city block campus offers preschool through grade 8 programs to the parish, the North Side of Chicago, and all those who share our mission. With a focus on critical thinking, problem solving, communication, and collaboration, the St. Benedict Parish faculty and staff, in partnership with parents, develop the creators and contributors of tomorrow inspired by faith and informed with a global perspective. We are a welcoming and supportive community with Christ at our center. A commitment to inclusive and rigorous challenge creates a dynamic, innovative, and active learning experience in which the needs of the whole student are met. At St. Benedict Preparatory School, the strengths of each child become an inspiration to others to learn fearlessly, to lead responsibly, and to serve joyfully.
OUR PASSION IS THE BEST POSSIBLE YOU!
As we look at ways to implement our new mission, some of our current spaces in the school got a face lift this summer; we also created a new space in the building. What previously served as our school’s computer lab and library got a major overhaul this summer to create our STEM lab. The room, which just two years ago functioned as two different spaces, today form one innovative space for learning. With new furniture and much more streamlined space, Mrs. Hoban, our STEM teacher is able to utilize the space to incorporate all of the elements of STEM (Science, technology, engineering and mathematics). She is able to engage her students in hands-on lessons that encourage problem-solving, such as third graders answering the question “How do I design something that can float in a wind tunnel for 10 seconds?” While it is also important for our students to learn the basics of digital citizenship, she is able to challenge our fifth graders with the basics of computer coding. The students are already so excited about the things they are learning and the fun they are having in the STEM lab.
Another space that is currently a “work in progress” for the next few weeks is our Wonder Lab. This is a space that is being developed for all of our students to have a place for hands-on, sometimes messy, exploration. While the room will have many opportunities to experience multi-sensory learning, its main feature will be a 15 foot, three-level water table. The water table will have a some built in features, such as a Duplo floor, for building and problem-solving with water and water flow. We are also looking forward to our students having a place to splash around, explore with their senses and have a great time!
Lastly, I am very excited for a project that will be developing throughout the school year as we work to create a Children’s Sensory Garden. We are planning to begin with the garden area on the Byron Ave. side of the preschool building. We want to bring in elements that allow children to experience, explore, and learn through their senses and nature. It encourages children to interact with the outdoors and the environment around them. While we know that this will not be a year-round experience (unless Chicago decides to pass on freezing temperatures and winter!) we are excited to grow this outdoor space for our students and our community.
We are so thankful for the funding that helped to make these spaces a reality. We had a very generous donation from a family foundation, as well as the funds raised through the HSA’s Fun Run.
It’s hard to believe that school is back in session and in just a few weeks fall will be upon us. It is really wonderful (and often exhausting) to have our students back in school, giving our halls life with chatter and giggles.