When the Going Gets Rough, Give Back: Supporting Others Through Hurricane Relief

While we are still rebuilding from the wrath of Hurricane Irma here at All Saints Academy, we know that Polk County, while hit hard, didn’t get the worst of the storm. Our neighbors to the south, including Naples, Miami, and the Florida Keys, all suffered devastating loss and damage. Their rebuilding process will take months, or even years, and many people are still without their homes, their vehicles, or electricity. The plight of the Puerto Rican population following not only Irma, but also Hurricane Maria, has been making headlines as thousands of people are going without even the most basic of needs, like food, clean water, and formula or diapers for their little ones.

We believe that one of the biggest benefits of being part of such a great community, such as what we enjoy here in Polk County, is the ability to give back in a big way when times like this come about. Even as we rebuild here in our own area, we have the opportunity to help others come back from devastation and loss, and offer a little bit of support in return for all of the assistance and love we’ve been given from those around us in the recent weeks. How?

You have plenty of options! We know that many local schools and churches are currently taking up donations of food, clothing, diapers, basic hygiene needs, and more to ship off to the southern portion of Florida or all the way down into the islands, especially Puerto Rico. Lots of emergency relief teams are dispatching groups of volunteers to help aid in the crisis, so if “getting your hands dirty” is more of your style, and you have the means and time to go, this is a great way to give back. You also have the option of simply giving money through organizations like local relief groups, the Red Cross, or your own private church ministries or community programs. The possibilities are many, and the need is great.

Here in our own school community at ASA, we are actively working on “Pack the Bus for Puerto Rico”. This is an opportunity for each grade level at All Saints Academy to help with a specific need being faced by those in Puerto Rico, and help us literally pack the bus with supplies to send southward to offer relief and assistance. Your child’s teacher will be able to offer information about which specific supplies they are requesting their students bring, and we’ll be sure to post updates as we pack the bus and prepare to send it off.

Another way we were able to give back here at ASA is on a more local level. Our Homecoming Clothing drive accepted donations from many All Saints families, and we were glad to provide formal wear for students who otherwise wouldn’t be able to attend their homecoming celebrations. Homecoming is an important part of the school experience, and we were thankful to help students, who lost everything else in the aftermath of the hurricane, attend their own school’s event.

Whether giving back in our own backyard, or heading to another territory altogether, we are thankful to be part of the Polk County community, and our local neighbors never cease to amaze us with their resiliency, and their giving hearts. We look forward to rebuilding together following our own hurricane crisis, while still giving back to those whose situation is even worse than our own. Let us remember to be the good we want to see in the world around us, by giving back in what ways we can just as others have given to us.

Kickoff BBQ 2017: Building Community One Plate at A Time

Our annual Booster Club Kickoff BBQ is tomorrow night, Friday September 22nd, and we can’t wait to see everyone for good times, great food, and some friendly competition at the football game following the cookout (Go Saints!). We are starting things off at 5:00PM and you won’t want to be late! While we are looking forward to the food certainly, the fellowship with fellow ASA families and faculty, alumni, and people throughout the Polk County community is what we are most excited about. Events such as our Kickoff BBQ are a great time to enjoy the togetherness that makes All Saints Academy so special, and following recent events with Hurricane Irma and her resulting devastation, there is no better time to celebrate those that rallied around our school to give us a hand up as we all attempt to rebuild together.

The Kickoff BBQ isn’t just a “cookout”, but rather, is a catered event thanks to the Terrace Hotel in Lakeland. They have been so generous to provide the food for this year’s BBQ, and have been so helpful in making sure the evening is successful. Plates will include some delicious options, and tickets are still being sold on campus, so snag yours before they sell out! You don’t want to lose out on this event.

Following the BBQ is the Saints vs. Bulldogs game here on the ASA campus, so purchase your tickets for that as well and continue the fun and fellowship inside the stadium! After a great dinner, you’ll be ready to cheer them on as they try to pull out a victory for All Saints Academy. Note: the tickets to the game are NOT included in price of the BBQ tickets, and must be purchased separately. The game starts at 7PM so you have plenty of time to enjoy the BBQ and still get great seats for the football action.

Thank you to all who have made this event possible this year, as we rebuild from Hurricane Irma and continue forward with our local community here in Central Florida. We as a school have been so blessed by the outpouring of love and support from not only our ASA families and faculty, but by those in and around our area who aren’t directly involved with our school on a daily basis. This support is how we can make tomorrow night’s event happen, and we are grateful beyond words.

See you at the BBQ!

Aftermath: How Hurricane Irma Affected Our ASA Community

Hurricane Irma has come and gone, and she left a massive amount of destruction in her wake across the entire state of Florida. Here in Polk County, heavy rains and severe winds were felt, and resulted in downed trees, broken power poles (and loss of electricity for many of us) and, in some areas, flooding. The campus here at All Saints Academy did not escape these effects from the storm, and we have been working hard to clean up and rebuild so we can welcome our students back to class on Wednesday.

While working hard to clean up and restore our school, there are obviously a variety of hardships, from lack of air conditioning and drying out flood waters, to heavy lifting of tree branches and other debris left scattered around the grounds; however, something beautiful has come out among the hardships that is shining brighter than any of the negativity.

Through the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, we are seeing our community here in Polk County blossom. People are putting their differences aside, and neighbors are helping neighbors. Local businesses are opening their doors for those without AC to come in and enjoy some cool air and a hot meal. Churches are sending out volunteer teams to clean up properties of those who can’t clean up for themselves. People are opening their homes to those who need a place to shelter while houses are rebuilt and restored. Across the Central Florida area people are stepping up and reaching out to others, because we were all in this storm together. We encourage our ASA families to do the same as we all work hard to get back to normal life following Irma. Sharing our time, our energy, and our resources to be the good we want to see in the world is the very essence of what we try to teach our students at All Saints, and this is a wonderful time to turn that education into action. Even the youngest students can help hand out waters, help a neighbor rake leaves, or simply make cards for those who need a word of encouragement. No amount of help is too small as we pull together and show just how strong Florida can be.

We are so proud to be part of the Polk County community and look forward to seeing how we can help those around us rebuild, starting within our own campus gates. We can’t wait to see our students and teachers back on campus next week, and we are ready to make the 2017-2018 school year our best year yet. Thank you to all who have come out and helped in and around Polk County, from linemen who travelled across multiple states to help restore our power, to those volunteers who are working on our very own campus to make it ready for classes to begin again. We appreciate your hard work more than we can say.

Have a wonderful weekend, and remember to get out and look for ways to help as we prepare to return to classes next week.

Meet The New Staff at ASA: Getting to Know Ms. Channa Comer

“I’m happy to be here and looking forward to learning from everybody. I see myself as a learner first before anything else…that’s an important mindset to teach and foster in kids.”

-Ms. Channa Comer

This year at ASA, we want to take time to introduce our wonderful educators, and give you a glimpse into who they are and how they make a positive impact on All Saints Academy. This month, our spotlight is on Ms. Channa Comer.

If you were to ask for her to sum up herself in one sentence, Ms. Comer would say “Science takes up my life!” She is the Science and Engineering Coach for our Lower School and a recent addition to the ASA family. She received her Bachelors in Business Management from Baruch College in NYC and her Master’s in Science Education from City College, and has a long list of impressive contributions to the science and education fields. Ms. Comer came to us from the DC Metro Area US Dept. of Energy, she and was part of the Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship: Sponsored by US Department of Energy for STEM Educator across the country to work in federal agencies. She also worked in the office of science at the Department of Energy and Coordinated the National Science Bowl. Teaching young people is a passion for Ms. Comer, and she loves middle school education (especially 6th grade). She was the science dept. chair for Baychester Middle School in the Bronx, and is credited with starting many STEM-based after school programs including the GREEN Team, and Baychester Science and Engineering Club. She believes in enrichment for students of all backgrounds, and was able to pursue this through her position as curriculum specialists for the after school program at Baychester.

Ms. Comer’s career in science also influences many of her hobbies, as she enjoys experimenting in the kitchen and cooking using publications such as Cooks Illustrated and Cooking Science magazine. Gardening and repurposing items are also hobbies, and she often turns old glass bottles into drink ware, or repurposes vintage clothing (Ms. Comer loves making headpieces for her dance costume). In her free time she enjoys yoga, dance, reading, and international travel. So far, she has been to multiple places in NA, SA, Asia, Africa, and Central America including Mexico, Costa Rica, Peru, Italy, Spain, Ireland, Egypt, and Korea. Some of these travel opportunities were related to education and/or science, as she taught in Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, and Korea. When she comes home though, the loves of Ms. Comer’s life are her two cats, Teena Turner and Lucy Luu and makes sure to spend quality time with both of them. She says if she was stuck on a deserted island with only three things, two of them would be her cats, and the third would be duct tape!

Some fun facts about Ms. Comer?

  • Favorite foods are pizza and ice cream (but she does try to eat healthy!)
  • She loves vampire movies (like “Twilight”)
  • She’s a big Stephen King fan
  • She’s working on two children’s science books right now, one in development (5-7) and a graphic novel about leaf cutter ants in Costa Rica.
  • Her dream, and goal, is to open a string of independent schools for underprivileged students in communities where they don’t have access to high quality education based on fostering learning and not test scores.
  • She has studied MMA, Kung Fu, and Karate.
  • She was a professional body builder back in the day.
  • She ran the 1994 London Marathon to raise money for the Leukemia Society.

We are so glad to have Ms. Comer as part of our team of educators here at All Saints Academy, and we can’t wait to see the great things she has in store for our students this year and in the years to come. Welcome Ms. Comer to the ASA family!

Private School or Independent School: Are They the Same?

When it comes to your child’s education, choosing a learning environment can be difficult at best. Factors such as curriculum, methodology and practices, quality of the educators, peers, and even extracurricular opportunities can all play a part in helping you make the decision about where to send your child to school when the time comes, and how that will work for your family unit as a whole. One option that might be on the table when laying out a plan for your child’s education is private education.

If you’ve spent any amount of time researching a private school, you’ll have likely seen another category of education come up. Independent Schools are another option for families seeking a higher-level education for their children, and often, the terms independent and private are interchanged when discussing schools outside the public realm. However, there are actually some key differences between the two, and they are important to consider when making a decision for your family and your child’s educational needs.

Private schools are, in short, any educational institution that doesn’t receive funding from the public, including state government sources. These schools can be run by (almost) any outside entity, including churches, non-profits, and even for-profit organizations. While independent schools fall under the umbrella of private schools in general, being listed as an “Independent School” means your institution is overseen by it’s own board of trustees or governors who have strict standards for the school and how it is run. Having a board dedicated to the school itself, rather than having an outside operation managing the school from a distance, often means Independent Schools can offer more resources, from state-of-the-art facilities to a plethora of extracurricular opportunities for their students. While some Independent Schools have a religious affiliation, the focus of these schools is actually high-level education for students of all ages and exceptional performance from their students and staff.

All Saints Academy is proud to be Polk County’s top Independent School choice for families in the Central Florida area. We strive to provide top-quality education from preschool through high-school graduation, and our students compete at a high level in all areas. We implement the arts, STEM learning, and a variety of teaching methods to ensure that the education children receive here is well-rounded, and preparing them for life beyond their school years, no matter which direction they choose following graduation, and our educators are carefully selected to best meet these goals. If you are interested in learning more about how your child can become part of the ASA family, we’d love to discuss our enrollment, scholarship opportunities, and what school life looks like here at All Saints Academy.

Blast from the Past: Benefits of Participating in Alumni Events

If you attended a private school (like All Saints Academy) during your high school years, or headed off to a large, state university when it was time for college, chances are you are part of a group of alumni for some organization. Being an alumnus for some simply means having graduated from a particular school or college, but it actually means so much more, especially if you attended ASA. As we approach our upcoming Alumni BBQ in October, we are reflecting on all our treasured ASA students, both present and past. Whether a recent graduate who’s enjoying their first semester in university this Fall, or a former student who has gone on to accomplish great things in their career, being part of the ASA alumni is something to be proud of. This status also comes with many benefits, a couple of which are…

Better Resume. Students from ASA often have extensive resumes before they ever graduate high school. From field-specific experiences and trips, to volunteer work in their selected degree, our high schoolers know that what they do now affects what they’ll be able to do later. College is an extension of how they carry themselves during their final years at ASA. When it’s time to build their resume following college and they are applying for their first job, our graduates can often list some of their experiences from their days spent here as enhancements for their work in university. Even if their high school experiences aren’t directly related to their degree field, the multiple opportunities they enjoy do help extensively when it’s time to apply for college. ASA currently has a 100% college acceptance rate, and our students get into many of the top universities in the country prepared to handle the work load and perform with flying colors.

Better Opportunities. When you are part of the ASA family, it follows you far beyond graduation. Our students build a network with students who have gone ahead, and students who are coming behind, which can make a difference when entering the work force. Previous ASA students who have gone on to build their dreams will likely be apt to hire fellow Saints for internships, openings in their company, etc. Students who are still in high school can look to recent graduates for advice in choosing a college, preparing for the transition, and making the most of time spent there. There are always benefits to networking with professionals of all ages, and it can lead to better opportunities in the long run.

If you have any questions about how you can be involved with ASA after graduation, please contact Chris Pearce who is our new Director of Alumni Affairs. We hope to see all of our ASA alumni at the upcoming BBQ event. We look forward to catching up with you, learning how you’re using your education, and where life has taken you so far. We are proud of our reputation here in Polk County, and how our students have taken that reputation far beyond Florida’s borders and into the world at large, and we can wait to see how those ripples continue to grow.

Backpack 101: Organization Tips to Keep Your Student’s Bag Under Control

We’re well into our first full week of school here at All Saints Academy, and we love having our students and faculty back on campus ready to enjoy a GREAT year. The first part of the year is always fun, because the newness and excitement carries over into the classrooms, and all the way down to the students’ supplies. New backpacks, new folders, new pencils, fun erasers, and all of the other goodies picked up in preparation for school are now ready to be used, and it gives the beginning of the year an extra bit of joy, especially for younger students. However, that fresh new backpack and shiny pencil case can quickly turn into an ugly mess if you’re not prepared. Backpacks undergo a lot of wear and tear each year, and that’s just on the outside! Inside, by next semester, you could likely find crumpled papers, lost homework, remnants of snacks and wrappers, half-used pencils, and a plethora of other things. So, how can you keep your student’s bag under control all year long?

A few organization tips can make all the difference!

  • Prepare for organization with designated pockets, folders, binders, and bags. Much like organizing their bedroom, or you organizing your office, if your student has a predetermined place for each item in his or her bag, it’s more likely to stay organized for the long term. Have a particular bag for pens, pencils, and related supplies, so they stay together and are easy to access. Your student’s teachers will likely provide instruction on organizing homework folders, binders, etc., but there might also be general use notebooks or binders in your student’s bag. Have them labeled, and take out anything that doesn’t have a purpose or isn’t used regularly. Don’t forget to include the little things in your plan! Smaller items like earbuds, cell phones, etc. should also have a set spot within the bag.
  • Have a weekly “bag dump”. Fridays are a great day for this, since it’s the last school day for the week and it gives you a fresh start on Sunday night when you’re preparing for Monday morning’s school routine. Have your child(ren) empty their entire bag of its contents, and sort through everything. Older students can do this on their own, while younger children might need some help. Any unneeded papers, garbage, crumbs, etc. can be cleaned out and thrown away, and you can “reset” the organization system for the week by making sure everything else in the bag is put back in its place. This is a great way to ensure you don’t miss important notes from teachers, permission slips, etc. as well!
  • Add it to your laundry list! Periodically, use the weekly bag dump as a time to wash and dry your child’s backpack if possible. Many of them can be washed on the gentle cycle and hung to dry. This will keep it fresh for the entire school year. If you can’t fully launder it, spot clean it as needed, and let it air out for the weekend before repacking it!

Hopefully these tips will keep your student’s backpack ready to go all year long, and you won’t be left with a huge mess at the end of school. The same ideas can apply to lunch boxes, gym bags, and even your own briefcase for work, so set yourself up for a successful year and get organized!

Back to School: Preparing Your Young Student

Excitement is buzzing here on the All Saints Academy campus, because this week is our first day back for the 2017-2018 school year! For returning students, we’re sure you have already checked off your lists for supplies, uniforms, and even athletic equipment. Some of you may have even started your team practices or had club meetings already. We have a few tips to help you give your child the best start possible to a successful school year:

  • Adjust to an earlier bedtime. If you don’t already, aim to have your child in bed by no later than 8:30 on a school night if possible. If you have a bedtime close to this already, you shouldn’t have to do much to prep for the start of the school year, but if your young student is used to a late summer bedtime, begin transitioning to an earlier time in increments. Shoot for 10 minutes earlier, then 20, and so forth until you work your way back to a reasonable time. Adequate rest equals more success for students of all ages.
  • Attend any orientations offered so your child can meet his or her teacher(s), see their classroom, and begin to feel comfortable in the environment at school. If allowed, take photos of the classroom when you go for a preview, so you can look at them repeatedly with your child at home and talk about what their days will be like at school. Being prepared verbally AND visually can help reduce anxiety, especially for young children.
  • Make their first day something special to look forward to. Many families have first day of school traditions. Make yours something your student will look forward to. This could be a small gift, a special breakfast, or a treat in their lunchbox.
  • An old fashioned note in your child’s backpack or lunchbox is never a bad idea. Even older students can use a word of encouragement on the first day of school, and it helps you feel not so far away. For young children, a simple note (or even a drawn picture!) is a great idea. For older students, just knowing you’re thinking of them can be a huge boost in their day.

We can’t wait to see all of our students, old and new, on campus this week at ASA. We are ready to make this the BEST school year yet!

New Website Release! All Saints Academy’s New Integrated Site

This week, we were excited to launch our brand new integrated website for All Saints Academy. Our new site not only got a facelift and a fresh new look, but we updated and improved all aspects of the web experience for both ASA families and visitors to our website. What’s new and what can you expect?

First, we have an all new parent portal. To access, simply click on the yellow “Login” button in the top righthand corner of the home page. This will take you to the login page for the parent portal where you can access your student’s courses and schedule, and other pertinent information to help you manage your child’s school experience here at ASA.

Other new features of the integrated site include a quick link to the school calendar at the top of the home page, a Campus Life page where you can access dining services information (such as weekly menus), an Athletics page where you can easily link over to our sports site, and more. New visitors can find plenty of information about what we stand for at ASA and what makes us the premier private school in Polk County, Florida, as well as information about our curriculum, tuition and fees, and more.

If you haven’t already, head over to the new ASA site and look around! We can’t wait to see how this integrated website will help our current and future ASA families better navigate their experience at All Saints Academy, and how it will make this school year our best one yet!

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