The Chestnut Hill Rotary Club helps local schools in a big way amid COVID-19 pandemic

Posted 8/13/20

Emlen Elementary student Alania Kinnibree-Parker wins ‘take the cake’ award for helping a friend who broke her elbow, being a great student, and always participating in class. This award is …

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The Chestnut Hill Rotary Club helps local schools in a big way amid COVID-19 pandemic

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Emlen Elementary student Alania Kinnibree-Parker wins ‘take the cake’ award for helping a friend who broke her elbow, being a great student, and always participating in class. This award is given to one student a month who has done an act of kindness to another student.

By David Hunt

At Emlen Elementary School in Mt. Airy, science classes had no trouble adjusting to remote learning thanks to The Chestnut Hill Rotary Club purchasing ‘Science A to Z’ licenses for two of its teachers.

This was made possible by a matching grant from District Rotary 7450. ‘Science A to Z’ helps students learn about science in an interactive way online, covering everything from the planets in our solar system to the phases of matter.

“It has allowed our students who come from low socioeconomic backgrounds to have resources that help them develop a love for science,” Principal Thomas said. “The teachers who use this program strongly feel that this allows their students to have the opportunity to visualize, experience, and discuss information on various subjects in science and provides them with a real world experience that will enhance their academic growth.”

Mr. Conallen, fourth grade teacher at Emlen, was one of the two teachers given a program license this school year. The program allows him to assign students new readings and videos based on their reading level, strengths, and needs with the click of a mouse. This proved vital during the transition to remote learning due to COVID-19.

“It really brings science to life,” Mr. Conallen said. “It was a fairly seamless transition. It didn’t change much when we were doing things remotely.”

For the upcoming school year, the Rotary Club will purchase licenses for all 12 of the kindergarten through fifth grade teachers at Emlen Elementary. The licenses cost $100 each. The rotary club also gives each third grader a dictionary and a gazetteer to enhance their learning experience.

“We are grateful for the partnership that we have with the Chestnut Hill Rotary Club and are delighted to be able to offer this online science program to all of our students this fall,” Principal Thomas said.

In addition to their contributions at Emlen Elementary, The Chestnut Hill Rotary Club helped nearby Parkway Northwest High School for Peace and Social Justice in Mt. Airy. They gave out three $500 scholarships to graduating seniors and four Rotary Youth Leadership Awards scholarships to sophomores who participated in a leadership development program, and donated books to Parkway Northwest’s library in the Rotary Club’s past president’s name, Larry Schofer. Their most notable contribution at Parkway Northwest has been in raising funds for the ArtWell program.

Founded in 2000 and partnered with over 400 organizations across the Greater Philadelphia area, the ArtWell program is a creative multidisciplinary program that gives students the opportunity to explore the arts. Inspired by their life experiences—both good and bad—students paint, write poetry and prose, dance and compose and perform music in the name of self-expression.

“Everybody fell in love with the program because it’s not just hand art; it’s music, dance, poetry, and prose writing,” Frank Hollick, long-serving Rotarian and art enthusiast, said. “Parkway Northwest has become one of ArtWell’s premier high schools.”

Before the ArtWell program, Parkway Northwest didn’t have an art program because they couldn’t afford it. The Rotary Club gave them the funds to flourish.

“One of the first times I went to an ArtWell program, one of the young kids in high school at the time read one of his poems and it blew me away,” Frank Hollick said. “Several years later, I went to one of the ArtWell programs and they had a leadoff and the young gentleman that read his poem to leadoff the evening looked familiar. Sure enough, it was the young kid who had started at ArtWell, who is now a teacher at La Salle. It was overwhelming to me to see him there.”

The rotary club has benefited several other organizations in these tough times by supplying art boxes to Jenks Academy for the Arts and Sciences; donating food, clothes, water, and other supplies on the front lines of the opioid epidemic in Kensington with Prevention Point; and paying the test fee for young people to get their GED with PathWays PA.

If you’d like to help the Chestnut Hill Rotary Club, register for the Red, White, and Zoom wine tasting event.

For more information, visit chestnuthillrotary.org.

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