2021 Open House Focused on Building Community Connections

Posted by PA Distance Learning on 10/25/21 1:41 PM

On Thursday, October 21st, PA Distance hosted a multi-location Open House for enrolled students, their families, and members of the community to offer support, local resources, and learning opportunities. This year's Open House theme focused on building connections within the communities in which our students live.

Students were able to attend, in person, to meet their classmates, teachers, counselors, and principals at the new PA Distance office location in Pittsburgh, PA. Families local to the eastern side of Pennsylvania were also able to join PA Distance staff at a satellite event space in Philadelphia, PA. Families who were unable to attend either in-person events were able to join in the fun online. 

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“Our teachers and staff were so excited to meet our students in person,” Open House organizer and Elementary Principal, Mrs. Ploesch said. “We were excited to be able to offer games, storytelling, raffles, and activities at the Open House this year. We achieved our goal of building community connections!”

“Reagan was so excited to meet a few of her teachers. It was great to meet them in person!” PA Distance parent, Mrs. Rinaman said.

At the Pittsburgh office in Sewickley, PA, students, and their teachers spent time making bookmark crafts, reading interactive stories, testing their knowledge in trivia, socializing, and enjoying delicious food donated from The Philly Pretzel Factory, Eat ‘n Park, and Janoski’s Farm & Greenhouse.

“Our family really enjoyed the evening,” PA Distance parent, Mrs. Sue Stephenson said. We loved visiting their ‘classrooms’, seeing their teachers - joining in on the activities, taking home goodies, and eating snacks.”

Members of the local community were also invited to set up booths with information about their organizations and educate attendees about the services, supports, and ongoing opportunities. From the Laurel Highlands Chapter of the Boys Scouts to the Franklin Park Police Department, students had a variety of new people to meet and opportunities to connect. 

"This was the third open house that we attended. Payton always enjoys fun activities. Kaelyn, her younger sister, loves to participate too. It's like being at a family reunion once a year,” Mrs. Lainey White, PA Distance parent, said.

In Philadelphia, students kicked off the day with PA Distance staff and the Community Engagement Team on a field trip to the National Constitution Center. Following the tour, students and their families attended the Open House to socialize and build relationships. 

During the online Open House, families also had the opportunity to play games, listen to interactive storytelling, and test their knowledge in PA DIstance trivia. PA Distance school counselor, Mrs. Mihoerck, also hosted a virtual “Parent Panel” where three parents took time to talk about why they chose PA Distance for their children, their experiences and the benefits they see every day.

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Some of the comments made during the panel discussion included:

“We chose to enroll and stay at PA Distance because of the number of classes that were being offered, the structure, and the live learning,” Dr. Wagget said. “The teaching is phenomenal and the one-on-one interaction is tremendous.” 

“It blew our minds how well PA Distance taught online and what an amazing education our son was getting,” Jennifer McDiffitt said. “We now have our youngest two children here, beginning in Kindergarten, and have never looked back.” 

“In our family, it was our children’s choice,” Mrs. Woodell said. “When we were searching for schools, my biggest concern was getting in-house special education support and PA Distance was the only school that could provide us that virtually.”

“Our kids have taken advantage of the summer camps and extracurricular clubs,” Mrs. McDiffitt added. “They get to know the other kids well and you get to learn everyone’s names. It’s a lot more of a social environment than people think.” 

From students who have been enrolled for years to families beginning their first year, the annual Open House is always a family favorite that everyone looks forward to each fall. 

“It is our first year at PA Distance,” parent, Amy Koontz said. “It was so fun seeing what goes on behind the scenes and meeting all of the teachers! We had a blast and can't wait for next year!”

Thank you to all of our families who took the time to come! 


And, special thanks to our community sponsors/donors for helping to make our Open House a success:

  • McCandless-Franklin Park Ambulance Authority
  • Franklin Park Police Department
  • Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) 
  • UPMC Drug and Alcohol Parent Support
  • CCAC (North Campus)
  • Outreach Teen & Family Services
  • Boy Scouts of America - Laurel Highlands Council
  • Girl Scouts Western Pennsylvania
  • Cindy Cohen School of Driving
  • LLC Variety - the Children's Charity of Pittsburgh
  • Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD)
  • Baierl Family YMCA Eat'n Park - Franklin Park Location
  • Janoski's Farm and Greenhouse
  • Wawa
  • Snyder's of Hanover
  • Philly Pretzel Factory
  • Sheetz
  • Giant Eagle
  • Chick-fil-A Wexford
  • Chick-fil-A Cranberry
  • Eden Park Roller Rink

Topics: News, Family Resources

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