The morning of Oct. 25 at Schenectady High School was filled with fun, education and guidance as Superintendent Soler and colleagues worked with third grade students in the swimming pool,  as part of a new swim program in their physical education curriculums. 

District officials have noted that swimming has been an interest for many Schenectady students and their families judging by the turnout for a recently implemented new class. The school began a six week, “learn to swim classes” on Thursday nights for elementary students, with more than 250 families signing their students up for the classes. 

Learn to Swim Classes are held on Thursday night but have expanded to the weekend as well.

Integrating swimming into the district’s third grade PE curriculum was a clear decision for the staff and district. 

“It is an instant gratification for the kids and even the kids that are a little reluctant, gradually get themselves from being on the pool deck, to dipping their feet in the water, to down the steps and that’s the goal to get everyone comfortable and acclimated,” Kimberly Pilla, Assistant Director of Physical Education and Health said. 

Each week,  third grade classes are transported from their school to the high school pool to learn safety and to have fun. From practicing lifesaving skills, floating, kicking as well as jumping into the deep and enjoying some free play, the goal is to ensure that all students have access to the pool and experience swimming as a life skill.

Superintendent Soler greats students as they arrive to the high school pool. Photo taken by Cassandra Abel.

“I think the most beneficial aspect to a program like this is it’s teaching kids to be comfortable in the water and really teaching them a life saving skill,” Dr. Lorenda Chisolm, Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning said. “Swimming is fun, it works every part of your body out but it also saves lives and we want to make sure kids are comfortable in the water.” 

Dr. Chisolm (right) comforts a student who was nervous about the free play station.

Pilla added the Wednesday group of Woodlawn Elementary students were the third group to be able to utilize the pool so far and the only class to swim with Superintendent Soler. 

“It’s been a success so far, this is our third school out of the 11 so every third grader will get the experience but we are hoping to build upon the program,” she said. “And it’s just so great to have Superintendent Soler with us today and Assistant Superintendent Dr. Chisolm with us today, it’s a great way to connect the district to the building level to the kids so it’s wonderful and we are so grateful that we can bring equity to the district under the leadership of Soler.” 

Superintendent Soler helps third grade students prepare for getting into the pool.

Soler believes that the swim lessons and spending time in the water are important, especially for young children.

“Today, it may seem like not a big deal, but to our kids, it was an excellent experience to get exposed to the pool and swim in a structured environment,” Soler said. “We plan to continue to expand this experience to ensure that students get access to the important life skill of being able to swim. I am proud of the hard work of Coach Melanson and Assistant Director Kimberly Pilla for making this happen for our youth.” 

For any questions on the nightly swimming lessons or the new swim curriculum, please contact Swim Coach Brian Melanson at


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Soler and the third grade students were mutually excited to see each other and do the swim program.