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December-January: Happy memories of the Spartan Community Center

The Homepage, published by Hazelwood Initiative

By TRVS Staff

As we say goodbye to 2021 and prepare to move into the former YMCA building on Chatsworth, Three Rivers Village School would like to reflect on our time at the Spartan Center.

TRVS moved here in 2015 before the Spartan Community Center of Hazelwood formed, back when Deacon Tom Berna was the de facto manager of the mostly empty former St. Stephens Catholic School building. We had planned to move to Millvale, but zoning exemptions and renovation challenges prevented that late in the summer. We were scrambling to find a suitable spot.

It turned out that space at St. Stephens could fit our little school. We’re so grateful that things turned out the way they did and we found ourselves in Hazelwood. With just a couple of weeks to plan and move, we settled into the space. We filled the big classrooms as best as we could with art supplies, a mini kitchen, computers, couches and tables for doing all kinds of activities. At first, every room served lots of purposes. Only the playroom and library had their own space.

The Family Circus in 2017 included a marching band and clowns.Photo by Maggie Bogdanich

Over the years of constantly shifting student interests, every room has been repurposed several times. Art, music, science and school meetings each eventually carved out their own dedicated spaces. Activities that require full use of a space or special equipment usually have to be democratically approved by our School Meeting. Other changes of furniture, purpose, or arrangement are open for students or staff to make as often as needs require.

Many of our favorite memories from 134 East Elizabeth Street happened in the ground floor hall. Every February, our families would convene there on a chilly evening and bring ingredients to make a whole slew of pizzas in the kitchen. We would eat pizza and play board games. One year, we hosted a marching band, clowns and were proud to bring Raising Free People Network co-founder, Akilah S. Richards, up from Atlanta to speak about Self Directed Education. Many of those events were student-initiated. It’s amazing to see the creative, fun, and interesting things students come up with for these events.

A Make-a-Pizza party in 2019.Photo by Maggie Bogdanich

One of the special things about our school and the freedom our kids enjoy is that new traditions are created every year, by and for students. These traditions slowly evolve over the years as students remember and anticipate other groups and other times doing the same things, in the same way our school space and our school culture has evolved over the years. It is said that the only thing you can rely on is change. Students and staff at TRVS embrace that adage.

Thanks to SCCH, St Stephen’s, Deacon Tom and everyone else in Hazelwood for your support here over the years. From all of us at TRVS, we hope you have a wonderful 2022!

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The Homepage is a print newspaper delivered monthly to households in Greater Hazelwood, Glen Hazel, Greenfield, Hays, New Homestead, Lincoln Place and The Run. Hazelwood Initiative, Inc., a community-based nonprofit, publishes The Homepage through a grant from the City of Pittsburgh and advertising revenue from local businesses and organizations. The mission of Hazelwood Initiative, as a community-based development corporation, is to build a stronger Hazelwood through inclusive community development. Sonya Tilghman, Executive Director of Hazelwood Initiative, Inc. (she/her) Juliet Martinez, Managing Editor of The Homepage (they/them) Sarah Kanar, Layout and Design of The Homepage(she/her)

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