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Welcome Summer! Why Students at ASA Know That A Break from School Isn’t A Break from Learning

Congratulations to all of our students, faculty and staff, educators, and parents here at ASA on making it to Summer Break 2018! We enjoyed a great year of learning, creating, having fun, and continuing the tradition of excellence in education that All Saints Academy is known and loved for in our community. While we are all ready for the relaxation and time away that summer offers, parents, teachers, and students alike know that summer is no reason for the fun of learning to end, and is, in fact, the perfect opportunity to enhance what you’ve been doing all year long in the classroom.

Reading is a huge part of keeping your child’s mind active during the summer months. According to the U.S. Department of Education, each year teachers report students suffering from “summer learning loss,” and unfortunately, it can have long-lasting consequences. Failing to keep your child’s mind engaged over the summer with educational opportunities (especially reading) means they can fall behind. In fact, experts calculate that students who lose reading ability over the summer break period can end up with approximately 3 years of reading loss by the time they reach 5th grade. So, what can we do to protect our children from falling behind while still letting them enjoy their summer vacation? Read to them, read with them, and let them see YOU reading too! Households with a “reading culture” produce students who love to read, and therefore, love to learn. Florida’s own Ann Scott says, “The gift of literacy is one of the greatest gifts we can give our children. Books can have a profound and lasting impact on the reader and I encourage Florida families to take every opportunity to make reading a part of their daily lives.” One of your greatest tools you’ll employ this summer when establishing a reading culture in your home is a library card. This free resource opens up an entire world to you and your student(s), and allows you to provide them with a blend of both fictional and non-fictional reading material that will keep their minds fed all summer long. Plan to make regular trips to the library, and ask about programs offered to students during the summer at your local branch. Many of them offer incentive programs or clubs with prizes offers for books read, and most libraries in our area also offer a story time for younger children who can’t yet read on their own. Even road trips for your summer travels can become learning opportunities with audio book selections offered through your local branch. These let students of all ages learn about a topic together, and are a huge help for children who may get carsick when trying to read from a book or a tablet screen. Along with reading when thinking of road trips, plan ways to make your summer travels and vacations an immersive learning experience for your student too! Visiting aquariums, zoos, museums, art galleries, historic sites, and more can be a great way for students to make connections between what they learned in the classroom and what they can see/touch/experience on their travels. This type of immersion is a great way to help your student fully understand the subject at hand and remember it in a way only possible with these in-person, real life experiences.

In addition to reading and travel experiences, there are plenty of educational camps and programs in the Central Florida area and beyond. We have an extensive list of summer camp choices right here at ASA, for the youngest K-5 learners all the way through high school. With subjects ranging from Exploration, to Sports, to Fine Arts (including dance and drama), your student is sure to find something they love, and won’t even realize that they are investing in their education in the midst of having a great time. We know that YOU as the parent will see the exponential benefits of these camps for years to come. Older students at the high school level can also use the summer to participate in volunteer projects, internships, and other activities that will go a long way in boosting their resume as they apply for college in the coming years. Local colleges and universities even offer summer courses for students who would like to engage in continued learning during the summer months, and these can be a wonderful opportunity for young people who want to further explore a specific subject, or better master skills they’ll be using in the upcoming 2018-2019 school year.

We hope all of our families here at All Saints Academy have a wonderful summer vacation, and we can’t wait to see all of you back on campus this Fall. We encourage you to get out there and enjoy the world around you this summer, and take every opportunity to live and learn to the fullest during your time out of the classroom. See you soon!

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.

Excellence in Education…and Application! What Makes the ASA Admissions Process Unique

When it comes to choosing a school for your student, first impressions are vital to making a decision, and those impressions are most often made during the admissions process. From application to interviews with leadership, the admissions process can look very different from school to school. We feel that All Saints Academy has honed the art of this process into something unique, enjoyable for students and parents, and effective in continuing our legacy of excellence in education. So, just what sets the ASA application process apart from other schools?

First, we are highly personal with potential families from the start. From the moment you click on that Application page on our website (found here), you have access to our Director of Admissions who is always ready and willing to answer any of your questions, address any concerns, and walk you through each step so you can move forward with confidence. You aren’t just “another number” or a random application coming through the system. You are seen, heard, and valued as a potential ASA family and we want to be here for you from the very beginning.

Once you send in your student’s application, he or she will be asked to schedule an entrance exam. Students applying for Pre-K through Grade 3 will have a time scheduled for an on-campus evaluation to determine their readiness for the upcoming year, whereas students entering Grade 4 and above will most likely be asked to take the SSAT, especially if applying from out of town. We do have in-house assessments available, given here at the school for those that shadow with us. Our Lower School candidates work one-on-one with Donna Lyle to complete the K-TEA III (r1-r6) and the NIH Toolbox (PS2-PK). Rising 7-12 graders take the OLSAT 8 here in Admissions. We also offer financial assistance with any applicable testing fees in some circumstances, and we provide assistance in scheduling the exams, so feel free to contact us about this at any time. Following the evaluation/testing, students ages 2nd grade through 5th grade are also asked to provide a teacher recommendation and submit a candidate questionnaire. Students 6th grade and up must give both an English instructor and Math instructor recommendation, in addition to the candidate questionnaire. Once these steps are completed, if results are satisfactory, the student will move on to the next step in the ASA application process, which is where the real magic begins.

During the application process, students are invited onto campus for a “Shadow Day,” where they are paired with a current student in their own grade level. This peer is their buddy for the day, and your student will go with them through an entire “day in the life” at All Saints Academy, from lockers to lunch and everything in between. Unlike a basic visit where you walk through with the Principal or office assistant, this experience gives your child a true sense of what everyday learning and living is like at ASA, and is a great way to make an informed decision about whether or not our school is a great fit for your student. For students who are currently 5th grade (Lower School) but are applying for their 6th grade year (Middle School), he will be placed with a 5th grade peer, but will spend a portion of their day with a 6th grade student as well so they get the best of both worlds: meeting their (hopefully) future peers, but also getting an idea of the Middle School campus and classes.

Another unique aspect of the application and admissions process at ASA is how we do our tours. School tours for both the Middle and Upper School are not done by administrators or a teacher, but rather, from the students that are actually attending our school. Our Student Ambassadors (a group of Upper School students dedicated to welcoming new faces at All Saints) offer tours of our campus during their advisory periods during certain times each week. If you are interested in one of these tours, you can contact our office and learn more! Here’s what some of our current students had to say about their own application process:

“I really liked everything in the process…everyone was very nice and supportive. I loved the process, and I love the school.” 

-Erica, Grade 10

“I really liked how everyone was friendly and welcoming during my shadow day.” 

-Ciara, Grade 10

We look forward to welcoming all new students for the 2018-2019 school year, and can’t wait to have them as part of the ASA family for years to come. Please feel free to contact us if you think we are the right fit for your family, and know we are here to answer any questions and help in any way we can. See you soon!

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.

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!

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.

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.

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