Service Is Our Foundation: How All Saints Academy Impacts The Community

Here at All Saints Academy, it’s no secret that we strive for excellence in every area of education.  From incorporating fine arts into our program starting at the earliest elementary ages, to offering a wide variety of extracurricular options for our students, we believe that a rigorous curriculum, unique opportunities, and committed staff and educators produces students that are ready to not only take on the world, but change it for the better.  An equally important part of our mission here at ASA though is to develop a deep understanding of, and appreciation for, service within one’s own community.  For our students, that means not only serving here within our own campus parameters among their peers and teachers, but also out in the local Polk County community.

We are continually giving our students, families, and our own staff a chance to serve in various ways within our small region of Central Florida.  We have ongoing service options such as FCA (Fellowship of Christian athletes) where the principle of serving others is reiterated in their meetings, but we also participate in frequent service projects within the 16487259_10158176627875321_2601066545224601155_o.jpgcommunity.  In the month of February alone we had the privilege of partnering with KidsPack, an event organized by our 3rd grade students, faculty, and parents where we packed food for children in need.  We also hosted the “Sonatas on Sunday” event benefitting Strings in Need, an organization founded by one of our very own former students.  Throughout each year our middle school and high school classes participate in class service trips to offer assistance to a variety of areas in whatever way is needed, and these trips always leave a positive impact on those organizations and individuals receiving the help but also the students that are serving.

17240399_10158333759585321_6824815654098867614_oOne of the highlights of our year 2016-2017 school year thus far was recently hosting the Special Olympic games this past Saturday on March 11th.  We had 180 volunteers, and out of those 180, 120 were representing All Saints Academy.  We are so proud of our ASA families (moms, dads, children, and even grandparents) for supporting this event like they did, and rallying for such a great cause!  This special day was not only helpful to those participating in the games, but was inspirational, encouraging, and fun for those of us who were privileged to help out and support it.

All Saints Academy is thankful to be in such a wonderful area here in Florida, and it is an honor to give back in whatever ways we can.  We love seeing our students leave our school ready to change the world around them for the better, and it’s amazing to see the effects of our program reach far beyond Winter Haven.  Thank you to our students and families who make each and every service-related endeavor at ASA a success!

The Season of Lent at All Saints Academy

church-304637__340Today is “Ash Wednesday,” and thus begins the season of Lent.  We celebrated “Shrove Tuesday” with yesterday’s pancake breakfast at ASA in the Lower School Gathering Room, and we enjoyed a time of feasting before giving up pleasure and excess for the coming weeks of Lent.  Here at All Saints Academy, we try to focus on Lent as a time of self-introspection and bettering oneself by giving up either physical or emotional habits.  Ash Wednesday is the time when, historically, people took the time to recognize the less-than-attractive traits in themselves, and would represent their sorrow for these things by placing a mark made with ash upon their foreheads.  From this point on, until the end of Lent at Easter, people work at removing these traits and practices from their lives.

Giving up habits during Lent isn’t always a simple as it might seem up front.  While some people do choose to give up things such as entertainment, social media, purchases, or food choices (chocolate, coffee, or any other food that they feel isn’t a positive contribution), others take a more abstract technique in deciding what to give up for Lent.  Emotional habits can be just as harmful those that are physical, yet they often get overlooked when it’s time to celebrate Lent.

What are “emotional habits?”

How about choosing to give up negative thinking, and instead embrace a positive mentality?

What about giving up judgment of others, and instead choose to think the best of those around you?

You could choose to give up focusing on differences, and instead hold onto the idea of unity of life among all of us.

Selfishness, laziness, anger, depression and despair, and countless other traits can be given up for the season of Lent.  It depends on where you struggle, and how you feel you could become better for yourself and for those around you.  All Saints Academy encourages our students to continually focus on bettering themselves academically, socially, and emotionally for the greater good of the world around us.  We look forward to growing as a school during this Lent season, and enjoying the benefits of positive changes in our lifestyle.

Q & A with Kwame (’13)

By Melissa Lobozzo,
ASA Director of Communications

This fall, Harvard Law School is gaining one of All Saints Academy’s best and brightest when All Saints Alumnus, Kwame Newton (2013) settles in for his first semester. I sat down for a Q & A with Kwame to retrace his steps from here to Harvard. Continue reading “Q & A with Kwame (’13)”

Gaining “STEAM”: Why The Arts Belong in Curriculum

ballet-1790846__340In today’s education system, STEAM (a program focusing heavily on Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) has become a hot topic, and it has infiltrated both public and private educational sectors alike.  STEAM has a goal of putting forth students that are competent in not only knowledge of these various subjects, but also how to apply them. After all, applied knowledge means an increased depth of learning regardless of the subject matter, and that is truly the goal of education isn’t it?

A recent development in STEAM education, essentially STEM with Arts added in, incorporates language and communication, design, creativity, etc.  Adding the arts into STEM creates a holistic approach to learning for those students that excel in dance, art, and music.  There is tremendous support in the educational sphere for adding the Arts to an original STEM system of learning.  So, what do we think about the STEAM approach for our student body?

Here at All Saints Academy, our main goal is for our students to receive a well-rounded, in-depth education.  We send our graduates out as young adults ready to think creatively, problem solve, and use knowledge gained during their time in school to change the world around them, whatever their chosen field may be.  Both STEM and art play an important role in that goal, but we know many parents have questions about how we blend these areas of learning together for their child.   We believe our students need a strong base in STEM education, and we focus heavily on giving them the skills needed in these subjects. We also have a heavy emphasis on art, with classes ranging from music to drama available for even our youngest students.  We believe that each of these areas is vital to a well-rounded education, and we also recognize that they work together to create the ultimate learning experience for children of all ages.  Scientists need to know how to communicate and write well.  Those in technology will often need creative design skills to enhance their work, etc.  In this way, the curriculum at All Saints Academy would be categorized as STEAM learning, and we feel that it best embodies our end-desire: for students to be well-thought through in every subject, and know how to apply them together in all circumstances to achieve optimum results.

If you have more questions about how we incorporate STEAM into our curriculum at ASA, or if you want to know more about how your child can be a part of the ASA family, we’d love to hear from you.  Give us a call to find out details about learning at All Saints Academy or to schedule a tour.

Why Music Matters at All Saints Academy

It’s no secret that All Saints Academy appreciates the fine arts, and more specifically, music. From our kindergarteners to our high school graduates, students at All Saints Academy are encouraged to express themselves through visual and performing arts. Our very curriculum presents the arts from an early age, with each 3rd grader learning violin with the opportunity to play the viola and cello in the 4th and 5th grades. We incorporate stringed instruments into daily studies because we believe music is an integral part of the learning experience for children of all ages. In other words, at All Saints, music matters.

Why, though, does it matter so much to us?

Music goes far beyond simply “playing” an instrument. While the sound of music is pleasant and enjoyable to listen to, learning to play an instrument offers a plethora of valuable skills for children such as:

  • fine motor skills
  • improved sound discrimination
  • improved language skills (including ability to learn foreign languages)
  • improved concentration and focus (meaning higher scores in academics)

These reasons, and many more, are why we put such an emphasis on stringed instruments here at All Saints Academy.  We believe that the investment in music today will give our students greater opportunities and aid them in their future, wherever life takes them. Many of our children go on to study music into their upper grades of education, and even into adulthood.

One of our very own alumni, Rebeccah Lipson, founded Strings in Need, a charitable organization to further aid in students being able to pursue their music education.  After realizing that children are often held back in their music due to financial limitations, she developed the vision for her non-profit.  Now, Strings in Need helps students of all cultural and economic backgrounds acquire their much-needed stringed instruments, allowing them the opportunity to continue their music studies.  You can learn more about Strings in Need here.

We here at All Saints are excited to announce another way you can get involved with Strings in Need, and can enjoy a relaxing time of music.  Our upcoming benefit concert, “Sonatas on Sunday”, featuring Scott Kluksdahl and Grigorios Zamparas, will benefit Strings in Need and help them continue their mission to help children continue their love for stringed instruments, and enjoy the benefits of music instruction, regardless of their circumstances.  The concert is this Sunday, February 19th, from 2-3pm in Pou Chapel here on the ASA campus.  We look forward to seeing you there!

Get Playing!: The Importance of Outdoor Recess for Students

16463561_10158168325930321_988734721645293199_oRecently, we were privileged to enjoy an education symposium with Dr. Pasi Sahlberg, an educator, scholar, and author from Finland.  He spoke about what sets the Finnish education system apart from others throughout the world, including ours here in the United States.  One of the topics he covered was the amount and the effect of time spent outdoors by students.

In Finland, for every hour of class time, students are given fifteen minutes of free time, usually spent outside…even if it’s 20 degrees or below.  This routine recess period allows the student’s mind to absorb what they have been studying during the previous class period, and in the long run, improves their educational experience and amount of information and material absorbed in the school day.  The basic concept we pull from this example in Finnish education is that recess time, and/or time spent outdoors during the school day, is not something optional to be cut out or limited based upon studies, but rather, is an integral part of the learning process for students of all ages, and it should be included in the curriculum and daily routine.

Here at All Saints Academy, we strive for excellence in all aspects of educating our students, and that includes pulling from resources such as the recent symposium with Dr. Sahlberg.  We enjoy studying and implementing ideas that work well for various education systems, and then we monitor how they impact our classes here at All Saints.  For example, as a result of the information we received from Dr. Sahlberg, we are giving our students more time to get the fresh air and freedom that come with time spent outside amidst their studies each day.  Starting this week, our middle schoolers are now given the option of spending time outdoors during the end of their lunch period when they finish eating.

All Saints Academy will continue to seek out the very best practices for each of our students, and we partner with our ASA families to give each child the very best in education.  No matter your age, take the cue from our students, and get outdoors!  It is good for the mind, body, spirit, and apparently, for your education!

Starting Today! The Importance of Early Re-Enrollment at ASA.

Starting today, February 1, re-enrollment is open here at All Saints Academy. Essentially, this is your chance to guarantee your child’s position in their next grade level for the upcoming school year before admission opens to the public on March 1.  Consider this time the “VIP” pass for current ASA students and their families.  Early re-enrollment is important for our students for many reasons including:

Mental Security (No Wait List)

By re-enrolling your child for the next school year before admission opens to those outside of ASA, you know your student will have their coveted spot reserved for them in their needed class(es).  This means no wait list and no uncertainty of whether or not they will get in.  You have the peace of mind that the upcoming school year is settled, and you can plan accordingly.

Financial Security

Because you have the security in knowing that your family is guaranteed the needed space in ASA’s 2017-2018 classes, you can financially prepare for the year ahead.  By starting early, you can look toward costs such as uniforms, needed technology, tuition, etc. and can use this knowledge as you financially plan for the coming year.  This will lead to a much less stressful start to the school year and will mean a smoother time for you and your student(s).

Emotional Security

It might sound odd to tag emotions onto early re-enrollment; however, it is a factor in the equation.  For our young, elementary students especially, being emotionally attached and secure in a familiar place aids in the educational process.  By re-enrolling in February, your child can enjoy the feeling of knowing they will be back with their friends, teachers, and familiar spaces in the Fall — like the Outdoor Classroom, Pou Chapel, and innovation spaces — and can prepare ahead of time mentally and emotionally over the summer.  Getting ready for a new grade is stressful on students of all ages, and the uncertainty of whether or not they will be in the same environment can make it much harder on them.

We look forward to seeing all of our families here at All Saints for many years to come, so don’t miss out on early re-enrollment and your chance to secure your child’s place for next year.

A Superior Education Symposium: Pasi Sahlberg on Finland And Its Educational System

Mark your calendars for Tuesday, January 31st, and join us at the Polk Theatre in downtown Lakeland from 6:30-8:30 PM as we glean valuable knowledge from Dr. Pasi Sahlberg, former Director General at The Ministry of Education and Culture in Finland.  Sahlberg was a visiting Professor at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, and he is an expert in his field regarding the educational system in Finland, and why it is considered superior to those throughout the rest of the world.

Dr. Sahlberg’s book, “Finnish Lessons: What Can the World Learn from Educational Change in Finland,” is a best seller and explains in detail how the Finnish approach to teaching children outshines the global educational reform movement.  Some stark differences in the Finnish system compared with the educational model through most of the Western world include:

  • Children do not start school until they are seven years of age, and then are not measured (by assessments, tests, or other means) for the first six years of their education.
  • Science classes in Finnish schools are capped at around 16 students to allow for practical experiments to be performed by each student on a regular basis in class.
  • Elementary students in Finnish schools get an average of 75 minutes per day in recess.
  • The national curriculum serves as only a broad guideline.

These differences, along with many more, are why we are fascinated with the Finnish school system and their educational model, and look forward to hearing what Dr. Sahlberg has to say in his presentation.  We encourage you to come out for this event hosted by All Saints Academy and take the opportunity to learn about bettering the current and future education system here for our own children.

Girls Who Code

By Kelly McNeil
Technology Teacher


Recently, I talked to my high school Computer Science students about the ENIAC, an enormous computer from the 1940s designed to solve computations for artillery firing tables in the war. I asked them to close their eyes and imagine in their heads the time period, the dress, etc., and then asked them to raise their hands and describe for me what they thought programmers of this old, giant, complicated machine looked like.  Continue reading “Girls Who Code”

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