The STEM Weekly Stream

STEM Academy Family Newsletter

Opening Day - Monday August 29

First Day of School

Hello STEM Families!

The First Day of School will be here on Monday. In this newsletter are final updates so everyone can be ready for the big day. Please read closely, particularly the information regarding: Attendance; Cell Phones; and Lockers.

Bell-Ringing Ceremony

We would like to invite our families to attend the year opening Bell-Ringing Ceremony on Monday at 7:30. Prior to students entering the building, we will gather outside and welcome everyone to the new school year. Families are welcome to join us outside for this event.

New Staff at STEM

This year, we will have some new faces at STEM. Please join me in welcoming the following new members of the STEM Community:

Marc Barnes (Assistant Principal): Mr. Barnes is a native Philadelphian and began his career as an educator in the School District of Philadelphia. After spending the last few years in Dallas, TX (don't worry - he's not a Cowboys fan), he is returning to Pennsylvania to join us here in Chester. In over 20 years as an educator, Mr. Barnes has taught a variety of grades and content areas, and has also served as a Special Education Chair, Dean of Students, and Principal Intern. I am very happy that Mr. Barnes has joined us!

Erica Utti-Hodge (Science): Ms. Utti-Hodge is a recent graduate of New York University, and has chosen to pursue education after earning a degree in Chemistry. Her experience working in schools while in college, as well as her passion for serving others, led her to teaching. We are thrilled she will begin her career with us.

Alfred Sermons (Science): Mr. Sermons, like many of educators, is a career-changer. After spending two decades as a radiation therapist, he recently chose to begin teaching. Leaning on his wealth of experience in the science field, he transitioned to become a long-term substitute at Masterman School in Philadelphia. He joins us ready to instruct our students and inspire them toward careers in STEM.

Leanne Heffelfinger (Math): Ms. Heffelfinger is an experienced educator here in Chester. Having spent seven years teaching math at Chester Charters Scholars Academy, she has come to love our community. Her skill in instruction and dedication to Chester will be fantastic additions to STEM in the upcoming school year.

Mary Lichtenwalner (Music): Ms. Lichtenwalner is coming to us from Elizabethtown College where she recently graduated. Hailing from a family of educators, she was destined to become a teacher. She believes that access to music will help our students achieve great things in all their classes. Thanks to Ms. Lichtenwalner, our halls will soon be filled with the sound of beautiful music.

Deirdre Jones-Lowman (Technology): Ms. Jones-Lowman is an experienced mentor and adjunct professor at Community College of Philadelphia. She has a passion for inspiring youth and is very excited to be joining us here in Chester. In the few weeks since she joined the team, she has added infectious enthusiasm and positive energy to our school!

School to Family Communication

This newsletter will be the primary method of communicating information to families during the school year. A new letter will be sent each Monday evening to all families. Additionally, any immediate updates will be sent this way as well.

If you know of any STEM parents/families who are not receiving these newsletters, please have them email Mr. Bell ( so they can be added.

Attendance in 2022-23

Student attendance will be a major area of focus at STEM and throughout CUSD this year. In order for our students to achieve at the highest level, they need to be on time and in all their classes each day. We need all students and families to be aware of these guidelines and work together to ensure we have a great year.

All students must enter the school building no later than 7:45 a.m.

Students will be marked tardy if they are not in class by 7:50 a.m.

Students will not be admitted into their classroom after 7:50 without a late note signed by the Front Office.

Students will not be allowed inside the building after 8:15 a.m. without a parent or guardian to sign them in.

Students will be reminded of these rules in all classes. We appreciate the support of families helping to improve student attendance this year!

Cell Phones

According to teachers, parents, and even students themselves, it is clear that the biggest distraction to learning is their phones. We cannot expect teaching and learning to occur when phones are in the hands of students during their classes. Therefore, students will not be permitted to have cell phones in the classroom this year.

  • All students will be provided a locker during the first week of the school year
  • Students will be required to lock their phones in their lockers during the school day
  • Students will be permitted to access their lockers and use their phones at lunch and return the phones to their lockers before returning to class
  • Students will retrieve their phones from their lockers at dismissal
  • Headphones/earbuds/Airpods may not be worn in school

Students who choose not to adhere to these rules will be subject to escalating consequences.

This will be an adjustment for our students, but certainly a positive one. We appreciate the support of our Families to make this happen!

Dress Code

As communicated in our 2022 Welcome Letter, the STEM Dress Code for 2022-23 will be:

Chester Upland High School Dress Code (CHS & STEM Academy)

Students must wear Chester and/or STEM Academy gear. They may wear a hoodie, long sleeve t-shirt, short sleeve t-shirt, polo shirt, or quarter zip. Solid color tops in black, orange, gray, and white are also permissible, as well as previously obtained STEM Academy uniforms.

Pants must be black, navy blue, or tan.

All students must wear close-toed shoes.

Chester Upland School District has invested in providing two new uniform items for each student in the district at no charge to families. These shirts were distributed to students at STEM this week. For students who did not receive them, they will be available at various times during the first week of school. Stay tuned for more information about purchasing additional items.

Additional Questions Regarding the First Day of School

Please refer to the Welcome Letter for more information regarding the opening of school. Additional questions may be answered by calling the STEM Academy Main Office at 610-447-3650.

Once again, we are extremely excited about the First Day of School, and are looking forward to seeing our students on Monday!