Jenks reflects on centennial year with art, a library and IB program

by Corinne Scioli, Principal of Jenks Academy for the Arts and Sciences
Posted 1/3/24

At the start of 2023, Jenks excitedly celebrated its centennial anniversary in recognition of its historical past, present initiatives and future goals.

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Jenks reflects on centennial year with art, a library and IB program


At the start of 2023, Jenks excitedly celebrated its centennial anniversary in recognition of its historical past, present initiatives and future goals. Jenks hosted a fabulous party on the 100th day of school to officially memorialize its 100th birthday with featured guests including State Representative Tarik Khan. Khan bestowed Jenks with an honorary proclamation of excellence from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. 

The school unveiled its large outdoor mural depicting the Jenks core values of being caring, responsible and reflective members in society which was coordinated by the Friends of Jenks during its hundredth year. The mural, designed by Walls for Justice, portrays components of the Wissahickon watershed and the interconnectedness of our Chestnut Hill partners in human global action. 

Jenks also opened its doors to a fully functioning lending library with daily lessons facilitated by the Jenks International Baccalaureate Coordinator and a host of library volunteers. The Jenks lending library runs with the daily loving efforts of Ms. Mary Henry and Dr. Peter Warrington, two dedicated Chestnut Hill community residents. The library has received support from the Friends of Jenks, CHCA and the Chestnut Hill Rotary. The Jenks library hosted a very special dedication to Chestnut Hill Rortarian, Ned Mitinger  and his wife Rujean Mitinger in their memory of supporting the Jenks library and reading initiatives as Jenks parents in the 1980s. Ms. Catherine Brzozowski (daughter to Ned and Rujean) presided over the event while recalling memories in the library space with her parents when she herself was a Jenks student. This particular event honors Jenks’ past, present and future. 

Jenks highlights its commitment to the arts each year with a musical performance. The school combined its performing arts and visual arts program to produce The Lion King in the spring. The Lion King was chosen to showcase the circle of life and the symbolism of past, present and future in honor of its 100 years. The students used three-dimensional printers to create the headdressed for each main character which protagonists wore during each performance. Donations for the costumes and set design were provided by the Chestnut Hill Hotel and Ms. Carol Tyler, strong supporters of the Jenks arts programs. 

The Jenks Playground continues to be a strong community gem and has seen a few additions of brand new swing sets that match the integrity of the historical wooden playground structure. Dan Baslice, the head of the Jenks Children’s Park, and I have worked as a cohesive team to align the needs of the community and the school district. The Jenks environmental and gardening club joined with the Philadelphia Horticultural Society and the CHCA to plant several new trees in the Jenks playground and school perimeter. We look forward to a sustainable playground model that will continue to be loved by generations. 

The Jenks school thrives alongside the strong partnerships that support its mission and vision. The school pursued International Baccalaureate Candidacy in the spring of 2023 and began the 2023-2024 school year working with an IB world school consultant to support the Primary Years Programme model that is underway at Jenks school. The K-5 students completed the first two transdisciplinary units facilitated by Ms. Younis, the Jenks IB coordinator. Each unit invites student activism and community involvement. The school will be seeking full IB authorization implementation in 2024. 

Jenks is committed to peace and unity. The start of the 2023 school year was jarring to the Jenks community as the perimeter of the school was defaced with neo-Nazi flyers that had been discovered over the summer in parts of Mount Airy. Determined not to let their community be intimidated by white nationalists, Jenks students and many of their parents responded with declarations of love and inclusivity. The students poured out their messages in brightly colored chalk on the concrete pavement of the school’s playground and the sidewalk below it. Jenks is working with the local artist Jonene Nelson of NoName Gallery in an artist in residence program to create “peace pavers” in recognition of the event and the school’s commitment to our city’s logo of brotherly love and recognition that love will always conquer hate. 

Jenks is excited to continue its efforts as a model school in the School District of Philadelphia.