When Springside Chestnut Hill Academy opened its doors for students in September 2020, every classroom, common space, and cafeteria had been transformed to meet COVID guidelines. Over the summer, SCH admin, maintenance, faculty, and staff spent countless hours remodeling school-day scenarios (virtual, in-person, hybrid), installing COVID signage and in-classroom streaming technology, creating campus-wide sanitizing stations, reimagining sport facilities and lunchrooms, and erecting over a dozen tents for outdoor classrooms. This “new” school environment also meant that the campus was closed to all outside visitors, including our parent and extended community.
As an institution with over 150 years of history, we realized the importance of capturing this moment in time for generations to come. Hence, SCH partnered with professional photographer and parent of two SCHers Julia Lehman McTigue, who used her creative eye to document this unprecedented school year so that we could share it with the community.
The result? Hundreds of stunning photos from all four divisions and all corners of the campus capturing the “resilience” of our students as they continue learning, playing, and adapting in the face of the heavy restrictions COVID has placed on us all.
Lehman McTigue’s photos moved us profoundly and we were determined to share them with school families and beyond. But, how? Like so many other events during COVID that have resorted to a drive-by solution, we have installed an open-air exhibition, timed to coincide with the week when all divisions are scheduled to be back on campus and the one-year anniversary of COVID. The photos selected for the gallery were paired with a word that evokes emotion, learning, and personal connection, and have been hung along the fence line of the school's main artery.
SCH friend and rector of the Church St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Rev. Jarrett Kerbel commented, "As a neighbor of SCH, I am deeply moved by the drive-by photo exhibit on Willow Grove Avenue. I have wondered about the effects of the pandemic on the school and lived in awe of all the ways teachers, students and all school workers have adapted creatively to meet the challenges of the moment. Schools like SCH love and nurture their students. This is sacred work from my perspective. To see the life of the school continuing in these documents - with losses and triumphs - is profoundly moving."
While so much has changed sInce COVID entered our lives a year ago, some things have not. At SCH Academy, we do everything in our power to honor our mission and values and to provide an outstanding academic experience. With this gallery, we salute the extraordinary can-do spirit of the SCH community, as expressed in one of the exhibition’s signs:
“We are inspired by the resilience of our students, faculty, staff, and administrators, by their refusal to be discouraged, by their determination to find joy, curiosity, and the silver lining in whatever each day brings. Because of them, our SCH community remains vibrant and strong.”
The SCH Drive-by gallery is brought to the community by the SCH Communications Office and is a partnership with Julia Lehman Photography and Image360 Philly NW, a local manufacturer of custom visual communication solutions. To see the gallery in-person, visit the Springside Chestnut Hill Academy campus fence along the athletic fields at 500 W. Willow Grove Avenue. To view the drive-by gallery online, or to see more of the images captured, please visit: www.sch.org/driveby-gallery.