As private elementary schools around the country feel the effects of the challenging economic times, two local private schools have joined together.
On May 22, Footprints Academy students were host to St. Andrew's Academy students for their first day of visiting what will become their new school.
Starting in the fall of 2009, St. Andrew's and Footprints Academy will officially partner as one school.
Footprints principal Nicole Robbins and St. Andrews principal Ed Cavin, along with members of both parent councils, have been working out the details of the partnerships since February.
Parents from St. Andrew's were excited about the similarities between the two schools.
The facilities Footprints offers, the technology and literacy program, and the schools ability to accommodate the St. Andrew's students and families were all components in the decision to join the two schools.
Footprints Academy, a non-denominational private school, has added a voluntary faith component which will take place before school beginning in the fall. This program is in partnership with a local Lutheran church.
"This is a really exciting component for us," said Nicole Robbins, owner and founder. "We have always had a very strong faith component, which encompasses children from all religious backgrounds.
"While we are partnering with a Lutheran church to provide this faith experience for children and families, we welcome children and families from all religious backgrounds to participate and will provide an experience that is open to all religions. We are so thankful for this opportunity, and so blessed to be able to provide this experience for our students."
The faith experience for students is just one of the additions Footprints is making for the 2009/10 school year.
During a time when many programs are looking to reduce program options for students, Footprints Academy is finding ways to add options to enhance the students' experience and to prepare them for the transition to middle school.
The "Junior Camp Counselor" program at Footprints Academy was developed to provide a place where children in grades six to eight could spend time during the summer where they are actively involved in leadership, service, volunteerism, and adventure.
Scheduled summer activities include things like peer tutoring, spending time with younger students, preparing for ACT/SAT and other test preparations, as well as volunteering within other organizations.
Footprints is actively seeking partnership opportunities with similar organizations that provide volunteer and service experiences for youth during the summer months and throughout the school year.
Activities for Footprints JCC's participants in the past have included camping, swimming, participating in sports, going on a college tour, going on a riverboat, biking and going to a Twins game.
Kids may choose to attend just one day throughout the summer, or for the entire summer. Space is currently available in the Footprints JCC program.
A 10 percent discount is available for all JCCs who register by June 12.