Beyond the Classroom
The Lower School is a community in and out of the classroom infused with core Jewish values, a love of learning, and a joyful spirit. We know that a tremendous amount of learning takes place outside the classroom. Our co- and extracurricular activities are designed to help young children discover new interests, uncover hidden talents, have fun, and engage with their community.
Throughout the school year, we celebrate both Jewish and American holidays. We welcome Rosh Chodesh (the new Jewish month) with singing and dancing. On Veterans Day we honor our previous generations who have served in the military. Once a month, the school joins together on Friday afternoon with prayer, song, and story for Kabbalat Shabbat, the service that brings in Shabbat.
Every grade participates in trips that enhance our classroom learning. Our students have gone to nature centers, aquariums, beaches, the Westchester County Legislature, museums, and sculpture gardens. We also have members of the community, including local mayors and authors, join us at school.Especially significant to our fifth graders and our kindergarten students is the fifth grade-kindergarten buddy program. In this program, each fifth grader is paired with a kindergarten buddy and they enjoy many celebrations and activities together.
Community at Schechter Westchester extends far beyond our campus as our students recognize their responsibility to participate in gemilut chasadim. Each day, there are opportunities to teach our children about what they can do to better their own communities (the class, the school, their town) and the broader world. One way we do this is through student-run councils that lead projects such as food drives and recycling initiatives. We have also sent candy to American and Israeli soldiers and helped to provide school supplies to children who cannot afford them.
In the arts, students interested in drama are able to join our annual school-wide play, produced with the support of the PTO. A large and talented choir performs throughout Westchester County and fifth graders have the opportunity to participate in an instrumental music program (playing trumpet, trombone, saxophone, flute, or clarinet) and join its band. Israeli dancing is also an integral part of numerous celebrations with opportunities for children to perform. Visual arts, such as painting and quilting, have been offered in after-school classes as well.
Specific after-school enrichment programs run the gamut and vary from year to year. In the past we have offered:
- Aviation Club
- Instrumental Music Lessons in Keyboard and Guitar
- Israeli Folk Dance
- Martial Arts
When they reach fifth grade, our students begin to get excited about the opportunities to continue many of these activities - band, drama, student government, and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Music) - in the Middle School.
Children whose interests and curiosity are engaged in the sciences can spend time beyond class in our science lab, our vegetable and butterfly gardens, and exploring the wonders of our 25-acre campus. For example, we have recently conducted citizen science projects tracking weather and climate change. We have also held bug and bird watching programs, and of course, our children help in our gardens.
Students in fourth and fifth grade can also participate in our Middle School STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Art and Math) Academy after school. This program gives students the opportunity to explore topics such as basic engineering, DNA, robotics, computer literacy, and computer programming, among others. STEAM offerings also includes programs such as E2K, SET3, and math team (in the Middle School).