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Chester County is a library of the year, John Lennon Educational Bus Tour visits high school, La Salle Academy has a new space

An independent Catholic school in West Kensington gets a new safe place for kids to play.

Students at La Salle Academy show off the school's new outdoor space and rooftop area.
Students at La Salle Academy show off the school's new outdoor space and rooftop area.Read moreCourtesy of La Salle Academy

Tuning in to careers in music

Students at Strawberry Mansion High School, 3133 Ridge Ave., recently got a look inside the music business when the John Lennon Education Tour Bus stopped by. Over two days, students were invited to check out its state-of-the-art mobile audio, video, and live-production equipment, and to learn about the various instruments on board.

On day one, rapper Kevin Gates — who just released a new album and was in town for a concert — surprised the students with a visit, sharing tales of the industry and advice about the business.

On day two, Grammy-nominated songwriters Ivan Barias and Kristal "Tytewriter” Oliver helped students write and record an original song, titled “The Sky Is the Limit,” about finding success in the face of doubt and struggle. They also filmed an accompanying video.

The bus, which is run by a nonprofit, is in its 22nd year of visiting schools, music and technology conferences, and other events to highlight the importance of arts and digital-media education.

An honor for Chester County

Chester County Library has been named “Library of the Year” by the Pennsylvania Library Association for its “excellence in serving the community, advancing staff development, and leadership."

Each year, the association recognizes members who have made significant contributions to the profession. This is only the second time a library has been awarded the distinction.

“This is our way of shining a light on what all librarians, library staff, and our volunteers do to continue promoting the value libraries bring to communities," said Christi Buker, executive director of the association, in a statement.

The library, located at 450 Exton Square Pkwy. in Exton, was also recently designated as a PA Forward Gold Star Library.

Safe space to play

La Salle Academy in West Kensington just completed a $3.3 million, 3086-square-foot addition to the property that both provides a safe space for students to play and a rooftop garden.

In the planning stages of the project, the school — located in a converted convent — had a wish list that included preserving the limited outdoor space, a stage for events, and a place to grow fresh produce, said Sister Jean McGowan, president of the 17-year-old independent Catholic school.

They got their wish. The architects designed a raised building on “stilts” — pillars — to preserve outdoor space, she said.

The school serves about 90 students in grades 3 through 8, most of whom live at or below the poverty line. About 96% of the student body goes on to graduate from high school.

“It is a great space that can hold all 90 of us at once,” said McGowan. The garden, which has already been used for meetings and a party to celebrate its opening, offers "a great view of the city.”