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Time to Dance: The 2018 ASA Spring Dance Show

It’s that time of year! The annual dance showcase here at All Saints Academy is not just a tradition, but something looked forward to by our students, our parents, and alumni. This April show is a combination of pieces performed by ASA soloists, group dances, sibling numbers, and even father-daughter numbers. It’s a wonderful way for our dancers to show what they’ve learned in their dance studies throughout the year, and for them to get a taste of the stage.

According to the Huffington Post dancing isn’t just for fun – it’s really good for your health. “Research shows dancing can improve your mental health by boosting your overall happiness.” How?

1. Dancing is a great workout for your heart.
2. It’s fun!
3. It’s social.
4. Anyone can do it.
5. Keeps your brain sharp.
6. Gentle on the body.
7. Improves your balance.
8. You don’t need equipment.

This year’s performance is themed “No Business Like Show Business” and will be made up of numbers set to music from popular movies, iconic tv shows, theater pieces, and even show tunes. Our much-loved Mrs. Jeaniene Wright is our dance instructor and choreographer, and is a veteran of this “May show” as this is her 19th year heading it up! She answered some questions about why she values this annual show and why it’s important to her and to all of the families at ASA…

What is your all-time favorite memory from this show?

 “I love the senior dances. They are really fun to rehearse.”

Why is this show so important for ASA? 

“I feel being in a show teaches you self-discipline, organization, material management, commitment, and the performance builds confidence. I love that the older dancers help teach and assist at all the Lower School dance rehearsals.”

What would you like to say to future dancers at ASA? 

“Experience all the opportunities that ASA has to offer – BUT COMMIT! If dance is your main interest, take classes!”

We can’t wait to see what Mrs. Wright and her students have in store for us at this year’s show. Join us at the Polk Theater on April 28th at 4:00 PM to enjoy this school wide performance and encourage the students who have worked so hard to make it possible. See you there!

Augmented Reality Is Becoming A Reality at ASA

Augmented reality is a hot topic in current technology, and many gaming systems and entertainment sectors have capitalized on it, allowing gamers to seemingly experience sights and sounds that would otherwise be inaccessible. Of course, this technology can also be used in a variety of ways for educational purposes, and companies such as Google are jumping on board and inviting schools to sample exactly what augmented reality can offer their students and how it can enhance the educational experience for students of all ages.

Recently, All Saints Academy was honored to be chosen by the Google Expeditions AR Pioneer Program to participate in a day of introduction to the AR software being promoted for schools. We were excited to have Google on campus for a day of training teachers and exposing students to the amazing technology offered and how it can open up a world of learning opportunities in the classroom. While ASA has already incorporated AR into some of our classrooms (like that of Mrs. Kelly McNeil), the software brought by Google is a much higher level than many on the market, allowing students (and teachers) to “go through” and inside objects and see details of the subject matter not previously possible with other programs (such as Quiver AR, NASA 3DV, etc.). For the demonstration day here at All Saints, we had to meet certain classroom requirements and follow guidelines set by their representative, but once we met those they brought in all of their own equipment and were very helpful in using it. The hardware consists of Asus cell phones mounted on selfie sticks (this could change as the technology is further developed before being publicly released) and utilities an app. Mrs. Kelly McNeil says this about the process:

“Once the app is launched, the teacher has a ‘lead device’ and the teacher’s phone can control the other phones in terms of a pause button and go forward in the images. There are QR-type codes on laminated 8.5×11 pieces of paper all around the vicinity where the students are standing. The teacher instructs the students to scan the codes, and when they do, the Augmented Reality image pops up. There were different images based on each teacher and the lesson they chose to lead. I chose DaVinci’s Creations, so the first image was The Renaissance Man. Teachers had bits of information on their devices that they could read about each image, and students walked around the images looking at them up close and through them on their devices. Some images were a little more interactive  (like the Crossbow would actually shoot out little pebbles, the Robotic Knight had moving gears, etc.). If you are familiar with Pokemon Go AR – how you can ‘superimpose’ a Pokemon on top of the real background you see through your cell phone camera – this is how AR works. So the students were seeing giant images of all sorts through the camera while also seeing the real background of the library or room they were in.”

Other lessons taught to 362 of our students during the demonstration day at ASA included:

  • Jeanine Yacoub – Organic Chemistry and The Circulatory System
  • TJ Woolford – The World of Ancient Rome
  • John Iskra – Moon Landing
  • Amy Jahna, Heather Womersley, Marty Lopez, Kat Morris – Ecosystems of a Coral Reef
  • Jen Giansiracusa – The Space Race
  • Barbara Sheekey and Valerie Satterfield – Phases of the Moon
  • Allison Futch and Eileen Hutton – Dinosaurs
  • Virginia Drake-Jacobson and Kelly Harrington – Forces of Nature
  • Kelly McNeil – DaVinci’s Inventions
  • Grant Lyons – Topographical Continents

All Saints Academy is thrilled to have been picked to participate in trying out the trial of this technology. We look forward to offering our own feedback, as well as the feedback of our students, to further the project and hopefully move the product toward a public release and the opportunity for more schools to incorporate it into their educational programs. We look forward to seeing Augmented Realty become a reality at All Saints Academy, and hope it will only add to the already outstanding curriculum and educational environment we offer at ASA.

Meet the New Staff at ASA: Getting to Know Fred Koehler

It’s time for another “staff introduction” so you, our readers, can get to know one of our amazing faculty members here at ASA. This month, we were privileged to interview Fred Koehler, the new Director of Media and Design here at All Saints Academy and a welcome addition to our team. He loves to hear people’s stories, and he certainly has one of his own to tell. From central Florida to life in West Africa and back again, Fred is changing lives one story at a time.

Born in Columbia, SC, Fred moved to central Florida when he was three. In 1998 Lakeland called him here as a student at Florida Southern College, and he graduated with a degree in graphic design alongside a minor in communications. Following his graduation in 2001, Fred joined the Peace Corps and was assigned to Togo, West Africa where he was to stay for 2 1/2 years. During this time he spoke French along with a smattering of indigenous languages. Life in his little farming community was slow-paced, and that’s something Fred says he loved about his time spent there. He gained perspective about filling your days with what matters, taking time to notice life instead of constant busyness, and took away lessons in contentment. People there are happy with little because they don’t know life any other way, and in their eyes they have all they need. Fred was part of the HIV education and prevention program during his time in West Africa, and came away realizing how impactful the stories of people can be in the lives of others.

When he arrived back stateside, he was hired on with Polk County Public Schools in the public relations office, which gave him more opportunities to work with a variety of people throughout the community. Life back in the United States was good and he remained in his public relations position for two years before moving on to launch a creative services division for a marketing company in Winter Haven. Here, he kickstarted their in-house graphic design studio, and worked hard at it for five years, when he then bought out his portion of the company. Recently, he joined us here at All Saints Academy where he plans to use his background as a creative director and advertising agency owner to help ASA tell our story.

Fred has two children of his own, Abby (10) and Jack (8), and he loves spending time with them as often as possible. He is a self-proclaimed “water bug” and enjoys hitting the mud flats on the Gulf with a fishing rod in hand. In addition to fishing, he enjoys kayaking and diving. Fred is also a working artist who writes and illustrates for children’s book publishers, projects that have taken him all over the US and abroad. Fred loves to share his passions with his family, and brings them on as many of his adventures as possible. Another companion he enjoys spending time with is Cheerio, the family’s dog who was adopted from the local SPCA last year and who defends their home by attacking all packages left by the UPS man.

Here are a few more details about Fred and his story that we think you’ll enjoy:

What is your 5-year goal? 

Personally, I look forward to raising my family here in Polk County and seeing my kids become great students, artists or athletes – watching them bloom into whatever they decide to become. Professionally, I want to help ASA create a culture that celebrates all of the incredible things our school has to offer. I’m excited to see our halls filled with exceptional students and faculty. I hope to help grow this community by successfully telling our story to the world! It hasn’t taken long for me to recognize that this institution is thoughtful, generous, culturally diverse, and inclusive. I feel honored that they would invite me to be a part of it.”

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? 

“I would give myself a full head of hair, and the ability to do twice as much work in half the amount of time.”

Another fun fact about Fred? He keeps a bowl of candy on his desk much like his unnamed-26predecessor Kristin did here at ASA. However, his candy comes with a price. Students know that if they want the candy, they have to leave a story. It can be true, made up, written down, or told verbally, but it has to be shared to earn the chocolate. It’s a treat for a tale, and something Fred and the students enjoy. We love seeing our faculty developing relationships with our students because that personal, engaging aspect of teachers and staff is one of the many things that makes ASA so special.

We are thrilled to have Fred here at All Saints Academy, and we can’t wait to see how he helps ASA’s story spread throughout Polk County and beyond.

Producing Oklahoma! How YOUR Support Helped Shape the Performance

It’s no secret that the bi-annual All Saints Academy All School Musical takes a village (or in the case of this year’s show, a town) to pull off, and the 2018 performance was no different. Oklahoma! was a huge success and was enjoyed by all who were able enjoy the live action! While our multiple student and faculty cast members did an outstanding job with their singing, dancing, and acting, we realize that the success of the show relied just as heavily on the behind-the-scenes support received from family, friends, and staff in the weeks leading up to the show.
Many people don’t understand just how deep that support goes. For the all school musical to be successful, students are needed to spend long hours well into the evening each night leading up to the play. So much so that they wouldn’t even have a break for dinner…unless someone brings it to them. Special thanks to Aggy Tolentino for organizing meals year after year! Our theater parents always come through, and they never fail to sign up and provide food for all of the theatre performers, musicians, directors, etc. In addition, these same parents have to spend time hunting down specific makeup, portions of their costumes, driving their student(s) back and forth to multiple rehearsals and practice performances, and still mange to keep their families on the rigorous school schedule that is well-known (and appreciated) at All Saints Academy. As you can see, the ASA All School Musical is greatly tied to our ASA parents and ASA community.
We also owe a huge thank-you to the staff of ASA, from stepping up and helping with last minute things related to the performance, to giving students specialized help to keep up with their studies in the midst of preparation for Oklahoma! and other extracurricular obligations. We believe that the skills learned through participating in performances like our all school musical are a huge asset to our students, and help them grow in ways that enhance their education instead of hinder it. Our educators believe in supporting our students’ various talents and will work hard to make sure they keep up academically while still putting their all into their acting.
Oklahoma! was so much fun, and while it took a village to pull off, it was well worth the effort! Thank you again to all who made this year’s fun performance possible. Stay tuned to find out what the next theatrical production by ASA will be!

ASA Serves: Our 2018 Special Olympics

An important aspect of student life at ASA is cultivating a heart of service. Community involvement, volunteer work, and other service-based projects are an integral part of not only our core values, but also our campus environment and education. One of our greatest and most beloved ways of instilling this service-driven mentality into our students is by our annual hosting of the Polk County Special Olympics.
While there are many articles and posts written online about how the Special Olympics benefit and enrich the lives of the participants, we want to give you some insight on how it benefits our students as they serve and volunteer their time and efforts to make the event possible. There are so many wonderful outcomes from time spent volunteering for our Special Olympics including:
  • Learning to celebrate diversity. The Special Olympics give insight that people of all backgrounds, walks of life, and abilities have value and are fully capable of achieving their goals. It’s important for children (and adults) to recognize that we all have varying talents, looks, resources, etc. but we are all an important part of society and the world around us.
  • Aspirations to achieve goals. Our students get to see, firsthand, the goal-driven and inspirational personalities of the various participants in our Special Olympics event. These athletes overcome obstacles, statistics, life circumstances and more to achieve their goals and our own students come away inspired to do their very best and reach their goals as well.
  • Learning to have a servant’s heart. Learning to serve is an important part of learning to be a true leader. By participating in the hosting of our ASA Special Olympics each year, our All Saints students are learning to go through life with the mentality of serving others and enriching the lives of those around them, and that will spill over into their daily life with peers, family, and future relationships.
Thank you to everyone who came out and made our 2018 Special Olympics so wonderful. We are so appreciative of the hard work and countless hours spent by volunteers to make it successful, and we know all participants and their families are thankful as well. We are already looking forward to Special Olympics 2019!

Lights, Camera, Action: Why Theatre Is Important at ASA

All Saints Academy is known throughout the Central Florida area for our high standards in curriculum and education. Our students enter college and, eventually, the work force, with complete mastery of all core subjects needed for their respective fields. We are also intensely invested in the arts, including music, dance, painting, theatre, and more. Theatre is an especially beloved extracurricular at ASA, because it pulls together students of all ages, various faculty and staff members, and a variety of other resources from our school to put on performances of professional quality. Our bi-annual all-school musical is a favorite among ASA families and the community alike, and we’ve enjoyed some wonderful performances over the past few years, including “The Wizard of Oz” and “Oliver”, and we’re looking forward to the upcoming show “Oklahoma!” in March.
While theatre performance is fun, there are a plethora of educational and social benefits reaped by participating in the various shows we put on at ASA including:
  • teamwork
  • confidence
  • exposure to music, dance, voice, and other fine arts needed for performance
  • community involvement
  • relationship building with participants of all ages
These reasons, and more, are why so many of our students look forward to being part of the all school musical every two years, and from costuming and backdrop design, to actually being in the spotlight on stage during the final curtain call, everyone is vital to making the show a success.
If it weren’t for our theatre faculty here at All Saints Academy, the show just couldn’t go on, and two of our performing arts staff members are an integral part of each year’s various performances at ASA. Paul Hughes brings a background strong in performing arts, and has served as the Theatre Department chair at Lois Cowles Harrison Center for The Visual and Performing Arts in the past. Here in our own area, he has held the position of Artistic Director at the Lakeland Community Theatre, and Programming Director at The Polk Theatre. He brings lots of experience to the table and serves our school community with his skill in putting on a show that will be enjoyed by all. Elizabeth Burton is another key component of our theatre staff serving as a guest artist when we put on performances like our upcoming “Oklahoma!” show. She has years of experience as an actress, singer, dancer, and theatre coach and is able to offer a well-rounded performing arts education to our students who participate in performances at ASA. She has, herself, toured with major performances throughout New York, Boston, Chicago, and more, and can give students perspective from someone who is not only an instructor, but also a performer. Elizabeth is a Lakeland, FL native and has returned to her roots to educate students and help them reach their full potential. Finally, our very own Laura Hutson is providing all music for this event. We are proud (and thankful) to have her as the music teacher here at ASA, and she does a wonderful job instilling the love of music into our students of all ages. Her talent and the hard work of her students is sure to take the “Oklahoma!” performance over the top.
We look forward to seeing what our All Saints Academy theatre group has in store for us with the upcoming “Oklahoma!” performance. It’s sure to be a show you don’t want to miss! Join us at the Polk Theatre in Lakeland March 9th-11th. Tickets are on sale now, and are available in the school business office or at the box office on the days of the performance. We’ll see you there!

Celebrating Diversity at All Saints Academy

At All Saints Academy, we know that we are preparing students to enter a world that is increasingly globally-minded and connected. We. are fortunate to have a variety of cultures represented, both within our family community and on our faculty and staff. This provides a unique opportunity for our community to explore and celebrate the history, traditions, and customs of those cultures in an authentic and respectful environment.

One of the ways that we help create a global awareness is through strategic partnerships around the world, such as the one we share with the Nannestad High School in Oslo, Norway.  The Nannestad students work in tandem with ASA students to solve problems, brainstorm ideas, and collaborate to create solutions. These skills will be used in the future to impact the world around them. We look forward to hosting the engineering and tech students from Nannestad each year, and it’s always a delight to see our students meet their partners from across the ocean in person. We have enjoyed hosting these students this week, and can’t wait to see how the collaboration continues to grow.

All Saints Academy is proud to represent multiple cultures within our student body and staff, and we enjoy learning about the history, traditions and other elements of those cultures. It’s an honor for us to celebrate the diversity seen within our own school with events such as the Early Childhood International Morning and our International Festival, which take place at the end of this week.

The International festivities across campus will include demonstrations and presentations on the culture of multiple countries from around the world, represented with music, dance, entertainment, food, and more. Students from Pre-K to our 12th grade classes will have opportunities during to enjoy a wonderful day of learning and fun.  The International Festival, beginning at 12:30pm in the Jack M. Berry Gymnasium, is open for our full school community to attend and we hope you will consider joining us for an afternoon of cultural presentations and performances representing more than 20 countries around the globe.

We are thankful for the diversity of our All Saints family, and appreciate the unique blend of students, faculty, and families that makes us who we are. Our goal is for our students to impact the world around them, and developing a multicultural perspective is an imperative aspect to achieve that goal. We hope you will join us for Friday’s International Festivities, and we look forward to sharing the ways our students and community continue to connect globally!

Grandfriends Day at ASA! Celebrating Generations of Love and Support

Parental support for students is a topic widely discussed in the educational world today, and it’s no secret that students who feel supported by adults in the home perform better and more easily achieve success in their endeavors. However, support can come from many other avenues as well, and one major outlet for many students of all ages are grandparents, or “grandfriends” (older, influential adults in their lives). This support system is unique in that it offers children a broader perspective from someone who has lived longer, and experienced more, than younger influential adults in the students’ lives, and that is invaluable when teaching the next generation about the world around them.

There are many ways you can support this multi-generational influence in the life of your own child, including:

  • Scheduling time for your child(ren) to spend with grandparents. Whether this is a routine meal out together, having them visit on a regular basis, or planning activities for your child to do with them, be intentional in including the older generation in your daily life.
  • Finding “grandfriends” if your child is unable to interact with their biological grandparents due to distance or other circumstances. In your community, church, local clubs and organizations, etc. you can find older adults who would love the opportunity to spend time with the up-and-coming generation of young people. This could be a great time to not only benefit your child, but also brighten the days of someone who might not have grandchildren or family nearby who want to be involved. It’s a mutual benefit!
  • Encouraging attendance at events (like ASA’s upcoming Grandfriends Day) when possible. Your support demonstrates to your student that you value multi-generational involvement, and that people of all ages are important for learning and experiencing life.

Grandfriends Day is a beloved tradition here at All Saints Academy. We enjoy seeing multi-generational interactions amongst our students and their visiting family and friends, and we’re thankful to have the opportunity to show our special visitors how much we appreciate the support our students receive from them.

We look forward to welcoming grandparents and grandfriends to our campus for GrandsFriends Days later this week! Middle and Upper School students are celebrating February 15th at 2:00 PM beginning in the Pou Chapel, and our Lower School will be hosting GrandFriends on February 16th at 8:30 AM in the Lower School Gathering Hall. Mark your calendars and join us for a great time!

 

Now Open: 2018 Re-Enrollment at All Saints Academy

This week, on February 5th, we are kicking off our 2018 re-enrollment period here at ASA. All Saints Academy operates with two separate enrollment periods each year. The first, priority re-enrollment, is reserved for current ASA families to register their children for the upcoming school year before those seats are available to the public, ensuring that their child has a place. Once priority re-enrollment ends, enrollment will open up to the public. That means you can still find a spot for your student at ASA if you are already part of our school, but you will be doing so alongside new families who wish to join the All Saints family as well.
There are a variety of benefits to re-enrollment, not just for parents, but for our teachers and faculty as well. Open enrollment offers:
  • An estimate on what the incoming class for the upcoming school year will look like. By knowing which grades have more/fewer openings, we know how to tailor our efforts during open enrollment through marketing, Open Houses, and other community outreach opportunities to bring new students into our classrooms. Having an early estimate of what the next year will look like in regards to the student body is a huge help to the faculty here at ASA.
  • Help for our teachers when planning for their individual classrooms. Needed supplies, amount of space, number of chairs and/or desks, etc. are all dependent upon knowing how many children one will have in his or her classroom. Our teachers at ASA like to plan and prepare early each year, since their goal is to offer the very best to their classes on the first day of the next year. That planning begins before the previous year has ended, and our re-enrollment period helps immensely. Teachers will have a “pre-estimate” of the number of children in their classrooms, and that is a huge factor in preparing for the upcoming school year.
  • An idea of how many “extras” are needed. From sports, to arts, to clubs and activities, we pride ourselves on an extensive extracurricular selection at All Saints Academy. These electives take effort and time on the part of staff, coaches, and other leadership though, and being able to plan early for them is important. An early opportunity to know how many potential students we could have will help us as we plan for the learning that will take place outside of the classroom.
As we embark on re-enrollment this year, we encourage you to take advantage of our priority re-enrollment period, and secure your spot for the 2018-2019 school year. While you’re at it, share your ASA experience with your friends and neighbors. Getting them excited about open enrollment could be all it takes to make sure their children are next to your own on the first day of classes next year. We are ready to make this the biggest, and best, school year yet.

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