What’s New At School?

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Purple is the school color at Gesher Jewish Day School in Fairfax. And when students return to school in less than two weeks, they’re going to see more of it.

“There’s a lot of fresh paint,” said Leah Blasko, manager of communications. “And additional purple walls.”

On Aug. 28, students will be able to stop in, meet their teachers and drop off their supplies, Blasko said. Classes begin the next day.

Once again, summer is somehow ending too soon. Yet even now, schools are busy with meetings, teacher training and decorating the walls. As the clock ticks down to the first day, WJW spoke to several local Jewish day school leaders about the upcoming school year.

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In Rockville, Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School’s new programs include a robotics lab in the Lower School and an enhanced organic learning garden, said Rabbi Mitchel Malkus, the head of school.

The first day of school is Aug. 29. “We will also be piloting an afterschool soccer and basketball program to create a bridge from Lower School to Middle School athletics,” he said.

In the Middle School, students will have additional opportunities to explore their spirituality in the Darkei T’filah/Learner’s Service groups and to develop leadership opportunities and skills through a new Knesset/Student Government program, Malkus said.

Milton Gottesman Jewish Day School of the Nation’s Capital will begin the school year with official membership in the Potomac Valley Athletic Conference, said Head of School Deborah Skolnick-Einhorn. “Having warmed up as provisional members last year – including with match play against other local Jewish schools – we hope to bring home our first championship banners this school year. Pandas may not look fierce, but we play with a lot of heart, commitment, and collaboration,” she said.

The school is expanding its afterschool activities, she said: “Fifteen sports teams, fall and spring theatrical productions, robotics Lego First team competitions and a parshah class that delves into the weekly Torah portion.”

This year marks Berman Hebrew Academy’s 80th anniversary, said Sarah Sicherman, the Rockville school’s director of marketing and communications.

“We are excited to welcome over 720 students to our campus, as well as our new head of school, Rabbi Dr. Hillel Broder,” Sicherman said.

Upper School students will be offered two new AP classes: AP Statistics and AP Physics 1. “Students will learn in the many renovated spaces, including classrooms and three Innovation Labs,” she said.

Meanwhile, Gesher Jewish Day School is welcoming back a longtime teacher, Melanie Eisen, who began her teaching career in Gesher’s elementary school where she taught Hebrew and Judaics for more than 20 years, Blasko said.

“She is returning to Gesher as principal of teaching and learning where she will implement new curricula and guide our teachers. She will also teach fifth-grade language arts and social studies.

”Enrollment stands at 150, Blasko said. Some of Eisen’s students have parents who were once her students, she added. ■

Freelance writer Leslie Feldman contributed to this story.

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