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ICSF School on Center Stage: Saint Joseph School on Bathgate Avenue in the Bronx
Saint Joseph School has served the Tremont community of the Bronx since 1877. At Saint Joseph, there is a close partnership that exists between the Patrons Program, the school's active and engaged Advisory Board, a school Fellow, and a committed group of Patrons and school donors. The enrollment increase, new programs, extended day and music program are only possible because of this team approach. The leadership of Ms. Janine Hughes for the last 10 years has also contributed to the success this corps of caring supporters have endeavored to create. Enrollment has more than doubled: Saint Joseph now serves over 460 students in Pre-Kindergarten through Grade 8! One hundred fiftyfive of these students are supported by the Cardinal's Scholarship Program and fifteen by Be A Student's Friend.
Saint Joseph School fills a critical niche, being the only Bronx parochial elementary school out of a total of 63 that accepts students regardless of their academic ability or emotional stability. With its extended day lasting from 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM, it offers extra time for both academics and curriculum enhancements, especially its musical band program. For the last 15 years, all students in Grades 5 through 8 have come together to form an enthusiastic performance group. The Saint Joseph School band faculty teaches students how to play musical instruments including the trumpet, drums, saxophone and even the piccolo. Through their love of music, the students learn to work together in a disciplined and team-oriented manner. The poise that the 160 band members have acquired is on display each May at Saint Joseph's Annual Celebration of Music. This year, the school's 7th Annual Celebration took place on May 20th at Saint Jean Baptiste High School on the upper east side of Manhattan. Both old friends of Saint Joseph School and new supporters attended the event. Guests who could not find seats stood along the auditorium aisles enjoying the sounds of Mission Impossible, African Blues and Oh Happy Day!
In addition to continuing its wonderful music program, Saint Joseph School's leadership has been working tirelessly to expand its academic resources. For the third year, the school has employed a Cardinal Cooke Catholic Center literacy coach to work with teachers three days a week on preparing lessons and improving instruction techniques. The program has brought a genuine love of reading and writing to the entire student body. Saint Joseph's first Poem in Your Pocket Day was a big success. Students compiled anthologies of their work and shared their favorite poems with visiting firefighters, police officers and other community members. After a visit from author Steven Kroll, the students were inspired to take on a new endeavor: writing picture books for children at a school in Uganda, sharing their love of reading, writing, and learning with children who do not have access to many books.
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