Opening Group Skills Days
The beginning of every school year kicks off with a fun and engaging all-school project. Students are placed in groups of kids that span from the youngest students in the building to the oldest and are challenged to explore a special topic or theme in a hands-on, interdisciplinary way. Recent themes include Forests, Sustainability, Community, and Rube Goldberg. During Opening Group Skills Week kids quickly get to know one another, become accustomed to learning collaboratively, and develop an immediate sense of togetherness and belonging.
Second semester always begins with our entire school traveling (virtually) for a week together to a different country to experience the history, geography, language, food, traditions, stories, dances, music, sports, currency, and day-to-day lives of people in another part of the world. This is yet another opportunity for all age groups to mix and work together. Countries recently investigated are Cuba, Turkey, Ireland, Brazil, China, India, Senegal, and Spain.
Staff and parents share their passion for cooking and baking with our students on a regular basis using our state-of-the-art teaching kitchen. In addition to the great aromas and delicious foods that result, kids are learning real life math, science, and reading and developing life-long skills in meal preparation and healthy eating habits.
Our students work in multi-aged groups practicing the skills of cooking based upon a theme. We have explored the cuisines of a single country; cooked our way through the alphabet focusing on breads or rice dishes; allowed our students to pick monthly themes such as foods of Philadelphia, chocolate, pasta, Easter/Passover foods; and cooked only with what is locally available throughout the school year. In addition, cooking is woven into academic studies whenever relevant. Through our cooking adventures our students expand their palates, learn the history of food, and become able to read and follow recipes to create meals.
Since experiential education is foundational to our program, it is not uncommon to find our students outside both the classroom and school—investigating and constructing meaning in tangible, real-world scenarios.
Holidays and Celebrations
We educate our students about the richness of religious, ethnic, cultural and philosophical diversity in our community through sharing of various celebrations. Parents/caregiverss are encouraged to share the traditions of their families with their child’s group. We celebrate diversity through participation in our classroom festivities and homemade assemblies. Every attempt is made to be both inclusive and non-offensive in these celebrations, and we refine what is included according to the sensitivities of the Project Learn Community.
Grandparent/Special Friend Day
An annual event since 1980, guests are invited to observe morning classes, share refreshments and watch performances staged by Groups including short plays, poetry readings, songs and a preview of the spring musical.
PLS has a long history in teaching journalism with its first student newspaper published in 1978. Students continue this tradition until this day, publishing two volumes a year. Students generate stories they think are interesting and current, learn how to write ‘fat’ questions, interview people who are connected to the article, and then write an article. Staff teach students how to edit and help the students rewrite the articles so they sound and read coherently.
8th Grade Costa Rica Service Learning Trip
Every year our graduating Junior High class takes part in an international community service project in Costa Rica. This trip takes our students outside the classroom and engages them in real world projects starting with fundraising events and culminating in a one-week community service project in Costa Rica. In previous years, we have worked closely with our sister community to rebuild a community center, create detailed murals, and rehabilitate an elementary school.
Every Spring PLS showcases our very energetic and talented older elementary and Junior High youth in a full-fledged musical complete with lighting, sets, costumes and, of course, singing and dancing at the Cheltenham Center for the Arts. Musicals have included You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown, Oliver, and The Little Mermaid.
Each Spring, our Junior High students invest time and energy into the PLS Science Fair. After deciding on their topics, students work through the scientific process of research, experimental design, data collection and drawing conclusions. Students then present their experiments and conclusions to the entire school. These projects encompass all academic disciplines and challenge students to become the teachers as they endeavor to explain their work to our youngest students.
Jr. High Ski Trip
A highly anticipated event every winter is our Junior High one-day ski trip to Jack Frost Mountain in the Poconos. This has been a tradition at our community for at least twenty years.
All School Camping Trip
Our year ends with an overnight camping trip for the entire school community.