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College Bound: Preparing for Higher Education at ASA

College advisement is a typical part of most high school programs, as students are beginning to consider what they’d like to do with their lives following graduation. Obviously, some factors are the same across the board, regardless of the high school, such as GPA averages, meeting with an advisor to discuss various college programs and how your student should prepare, etc. However, when it comes to college advisement, the All Saints Academy process is distinctly different and stands out from the rest thanks to several key factors. This distinction is why we have a decade-long legacy of 100% college acceptance for our graduating seniors, and why parents throughout the Central Florida area trust us to offer the very best for their student’s future.
So, what sets us apart at ASA?
Advisement isn’t just “tagged on” to the high school experience. All Saints Academy (as a college preparatory school) weaves college preparation and advisement into your student’s entire 4-year high school career. This gives them ample time to investigate various universities, prioritize what they want from a school (programs offered, distance from home, extracurricular opportunities, etc.), and have a checklist of what needs to be accomplished for them to make the very best start at their selected college. Everyone is involved in preparing your student for college, including the professors teaching the classes that form the “building blocks” of a successful college education in the future. These teachers partner with our college advisement team to ensure that each student has exactly what he or she needs before graduation day arrives and the college career begins. Our college advisement team is committed to helping students evaluate their own interests and talents, and then use those as a filter through which they can view various schools when they’re deciding what’s right for them. We offer unique opportunities such as our annual college trip for ASA Juniors where multiple college campuses are visited as a group and students are allowed to meet representatives from those schools to ask questions and glean information. Mrs. Nancy Kormann and her team keep in contact with these college representatives in addition to others throughout the country, so we have a network at our fingertips when it’s time to help our own students make the decision that’s best for them and their family.
Actual college planning starts early, with grade-level meetings held for the parents of rising 7th-12th graders each spring. These meetings are a time to introduce the college planning process, go over curriculum and course scheduling for students, benchmarks, and more. Former ASA parents confirm that these meetings gave them the solid base they needed to successfully help their student(s) prepare for college. We also offer a “Year by Year” guide for parents so they know what to expect as their student progresses through the middle and high school grades. Beginning in their junior year, All Saints students (and their parents) are invited to attend “college nights,” and students begin meeting one-on-one with ASA advisors, and will also meet in small groups for advisement during the week at school. These various sessions are a time set aside to discuss standardized testing results, college applications and interviews, financial aid, and more. This is amped up significantly during the student’s senior year when we work side by side with them to assist in the process of applying for each school. We help them reflect their very best self throughout the process of answering questions on application forms, writing entrance essays, etc. These opportunities are, essentially, a student’s “first impression” for the school they’d like to attend, and we want to make sure they put their best foot forward from the start. We also use this time during senior year to help families prepare all paperwork for any needed financial aid and make sure all scholarships, grants, etc. are known about and made available to the student and parents. We then support the families through the process of waiting for the acceptance letters we are confident they’ll receive. In fact, we even have Jolly Ranchers stocked in the candy jar (and sometimes the Awkward Family Photos books and the Grumpy Cat book available, too), for any stressed out seniors! Since they spend a LOT of time in our office during the senior year period, candy and comic relief are a great way to help keep the process positive and fun.
Come see what makes ASA different, from kindergarten to college advisement. At All Saints Academy, each student is a priority and we consider ourselves a family. Our goal is to keep the history of 100% college acceptance going for years to come, and we can’t wait for your student to be part of our legacy.

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.

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!

All Saints Academy Named 2018 Winner of the National FETC Excellence in STEM Award

At All Saints Academy, STEM learning is an integral part of our curriculum in all Divisions, starting in Early Childhood and continuing through our Upper School. We feel strongly that preparing students with strong fluency in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics will better prepare them for the world into which they will enter. Additionally, as we help them gain these skills, students are also exercising their skills in collaboration, creative problem solving, innovation, and communication, all of which are invaluable as prepare for success in college and beyond.  We have intentionally increased our focus on STEM areas in recent years, proactively seeking opportunities to both enhance our programming and highlight the work that our faculty and students have done.

Last week, All Saints Academy’s efforts were recognized with the STEM Excellence Award for high school at the annual Future of Education Technology Conference (FETC). This national award was presented to a cohort of faculty and administrators in recognition of our Innovation Studio curriculum and our partnership with NuVu Cambridge.  During the presentation, a video compilation of our Fall 2017 Exhibition was displayed for the audience of several hundred attendees, showcasing our students’ work and the unique nature of our Innovation Studio curriculum. Following the award presentation, Mrs. Knowles gave a detailed presentation about our NuVu partnership and how we are inspiring independent thinkers, principled leaders, and humble learners at All Saints Academy.

We are honored to receive the national STEM Excellence award and are excited to see how this will have an energizing effect on our curriculum planning for future years. We deeply believe that the time our students spend in Passion Periods, Tech & Design, and Innovation Studios compliments our core curriculum to establish a learning experience that is unique to All Saints Academy. We are proud of the many ways our faculty draw out each student’s individual talents while also challenging the student to achieve his or her personal best. This drive, paired with state-of-the art learning spaces, like the Baldwin Center for Innovation & Collaboration, create an environment where creativity and innovation thrive.

In the coming year, we plan to expand our partnership with NuVu Cambridge and actively seek opportunities and experiences for our students that result in a transformational education, providing them with the tools and skills on which future success is based. At All Saints Academy, STEM programming is simply an extension of the extraordinary learning opportunities that take place each and every day.

Quality Education with Plenty of Extras: How Extra-Curricular Choices Are Different at ASA

Electives, co-curricular courses, and extra-curricular options are certainly not new concepts to enhance education; however, they can sometimes get pushed to the side or eliminated altogether in the wake of testing requirements or budget restrictions. At All Saints Academy, we recognize the importance of supplementing the core curriculum subjects of language arts, mathematics, science, and the humanities, with coursework that is integrated into the school day through electives and co-curricular options, plus opportunities for extra-curricular activities before and after school. These opportunities both play a major role in understanding and mastery of core subjects as well as allow a student to engage in their learning process in their own way while pursuing activities and experiences about which they are passionate to learn.

In support of this goal, we have tailored our class schedule to give students the opportunity to choose multiple electives, which provides them with exposure to an expansive array of topics to pursue, including fine arts (dance, painting, music, etc.), technology, athletics, and many more. Since electives give our students more chances to connect their in-class learning with hands-on experiences, we know that their education is being enhanced in the best ways possible.

In addition to electives, there are a variety of extra-curricular activities at ASA in which students are actively encouraged to participate. Students have the opportunity to strengthen leadership skills through various clubs and organizations, explore and enhance their talents in dance and theatre, and improve their performance in the athletic arena. Coaches and mentors are pro-active in establishing partnerships that will make the experience shine. For example, our Dance Ensemble students just had the honor of participating in Master Class dance workshops at the Walt Disney World complex, culminating in a performance in front of guests at Disney Springs. This provided the dancers with the opportunity to learn from new instructors and hone their performance skills — both of which helps prepare them for future success.

The best part about our extra-curricular options are they’re not just limited to high school students; dance, sports camps, the musical, and more, are all available for student participation in the Lower, Middle, and Upper divisions.
Are you considering All Saints Academy for your student this coming year? We would love to discuss the many options available, and create an educational experience uniquely designed for your student. Contact our Admissions team today and explore the many ways that electives and extra-curricular courses can enhance your child’s educational journey!  

ASA: The 2018 Merit Scholarship Competition

All Saints Academy is proud to offer an independent, college preparatory education of the highest quality in Polk County. As a school, we are committed to making the All Saints Academy experience accessible to mission appropriate students. We frequently reach out to the community to share information on the various tuition assistance and scholarship opportunities that are available. We feel fortunate to be able to offer these opportunities to families in our community, in recognition of a student’s hard work and dedication.

One example is our Merit Scholarship, which is awarded through an annual competition that is open both to students currently in our ASA family, as well as prospective students who would excel in an independent school setting.  The merit scholarship competition is for students entering the 6th or 9th grades in the upcoming school year, giving them the opportunity to compete with their peers through an exam created specifically for this contest. This exam is teacher-written to showcase students’ strengths and skills in both humanities and math. Top-scoring students will advance as finalists, and will then participate in a panel interview with select All Saints Academy faculty and administrators. In the end, multiple winners will be selected, and those winners will receive our merit scholarship and be invited to join the ASA family in the coming school year.

This year’s scholarship competition takes place on Saturday, January 20th. We look forward to seeing all participants at the scholarship competition on Saturday, January 20th. We wish the best of luck to all students taking the exam and can’t wait to find out who will be our next recipients of the Merit Scholarship Award!

The “Nu” Way to Collaborate: How ASA Is Building Creative Leaders

Creative problem solving, ​innovation, ​and collaboration ar​e​ important parts of the curriculum at All Saints Academy. ​Our students ​are challenged ​to carefully consider all angles of a problem and brainstorm multiple solutions both in and out of the classroom, and we ​encourage them to work with ​their peers to get a well-rounded perspective and diverse opinions when ​exploring these solutions. Few things embody this more though than our partnership with NuVu​​ ​and our Innovation Studio coursework for high school students.

NuVu​​, based out of Cambridge, Massachusetts, is by their own definition, a “full-time innovation school” for students of middle and high school age. They teach their students how to understand and participate in the full creative process, from the very beginning when an idea is sparked, to completion of the prototypes​, through the final presentation of their product. ​They do this through collaboration with other students, and offering “studios” rather than courses, where students work with coaches on solving open-ended questions. They give students large chunks of time to work through their ideas, rather than breaking the work into short, one-hour segments like ​a​ ​traditional class ​model. Throughout the process, NuVu students are creating a digital portfolio, which will serve them well as part of a college resume.

​Last year, ​All Saints Academy unveiled our own ​dedicated ​space for our NuVu partnership, in ​creating ​the Baldwin Center for Innovation and Collaboration. Our “Maker Space” was even featured in a write-up by the Winter Haven Chamber, and ​gives our students a place to take their ideas from a simple concept to a fully-developed, tangible product that is able to be used by its intended audience. Named after our Head of School, Carolyn Baldwin, ​whose vision established the partnership with NuVu, the space offers access to multiple 3D printers, high-end Mac computers equipped with CAD (Computer Aided Design) software, and a laser-cutting machine. There is also common space for students to meet and participate in discussion while collaborating on their topic’s potential solutions, and a variety of studio workspace and materials at the students’ disposal.

If all of this creativity interests you, we’d love to invite you ​join us at the upcoming Innovation Studio Exhibition, on December 5, 2017 at 5:30 PM​, beginning in the Pou Chapel​. The exhibition will showcase the work our 9-12th grade students completed in our Innovation Studio this ​semester, and will give you an opportunity to see how ​transformational the NuVu partnership has been for our school. We can’t wait to see how​ our students use​ the skills ​mastered in ​their Innovation Studio as they graduate and head out into the world.

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