Building Blocks Learning Center Opens New Anidem Academy
By NICOLE FAY BARR
Correspondent

Anidem Academy, an affiliate of Building Blocks Learning Center, celebrated the opening of its new facility, for private kindergarten and for a new after-school enrichment program, with a ribbon cutting Oct. 22.

Located just half a mile from Building Blocks Learning Center, the new space, at 447 South Mountain Boulevard, is comfortable and inviting, with a learning area for kindergarten students, a fenced play area outside, and a larger recreational place for school-age children who need before-or after-school care.

Some of the kindergarteners excitedly lined up and did the honors of cutting the ribbon to commemorate the opening of the facility. Administrators from Building Blocks’ Mountain Top location and others, as well as a few who came to tour the new space, clapped for the smiling children.

Wright Township Police Chief Royce Engler visited the facility as well, surprising his nephew J. J., who attends kindergarten there. J. J. ran to his uncle happily and then proudly introduced him to his friends.

Later that day, older children who attend the after-school program were bused from Fairview and Rice elementary schools, as well as St. Jude’s, and were provided with much more than child care. The new program, which starts at 6:30 a. m. and ends at 6:30 p. m., offers school-age kids recreational activities, educational classes, homework guidance, and opportunities to socialize.

“It’s an enrichment program,” explained Allison Ritsick, education director. “We offer art, music, karate, community service….We have different programs and things for character development.”

Children began attending the after-school program on Oct. 19 and, Allison said, they’ve shown much enthusiasm for the new space. The first day, so many kids walked into the facility with their mouths open in awe, she related.

Just past Anidem Academy’s entrance is the “great room,” colorfully decorated, with several tables and chairs, a library area, a lounge area, and a computer lab. Before the new facility opened, school-age children would come to Building Blocks Learning Center, also on South Mountain Boulevard, after school and convene in one of the preschool-age rooms, exposed to preschool toys and small furniture.

Now, Allison related, the older kids are excited to have their own recreation room, adding that regular-size furniture and a large couch has been a big hit with the children.

“The little ones are easy to please, but we wanted the older kids to feel like they’re part of something,” she said. “It’s more conducive to a home environment. There are areas to relax, do homework, get support from teachers….”

Building Blocks has been offering child care and education programs in Mountain Top for years. From care for infants and toddlers, to preschool education and kindergarten-readiness programs, to school-age care, Building Blocks has helped many children with social, emotional, and academic development.

The idea to add the new space for before-and after-school care has been in the works for a while, Allison said. “We’ve been looking for a space to do this for five years,” she said. “We wanted to set up a rec center for before and after school and, when the space became available, we were excited to do it.”

With the larger space for the after-school program, those still interested in enrolling their children can do so. Currently, 45 students go to the facility, Allison said. Anidem Academy is also open for child care when students are off of school for holidays, early dismissals, and snow delays or closings.

The facility also has room to expand. Next year, Anidem Academy will not only provide private education to kindergarteners, but for children up to third grade. The small class sizes helps younger children to learn, Allison remarked, and the children are not just taught math and reading but are made to connect what they learn to their roles in the community. She added that parent involvement in the child’s education is prevalent at Anidem Academy and that connection is what helps the children thrive academically.