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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!

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!

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.

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.

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!  

All Saints Academy: Preparing Students for College and Beyond

As we wrap up our fall semester at ASA, the talk of college begins to play a big part in conversations around campus and within the families of our current juniors and seniors. We are a College Preparatory school here at All Saints Academy, as we know that investing in a higher education gives our students a much wider variety of bigger and better opportunities as they start out in life. We take pride in our legacy of 100% college acceptance, and our students know that our College Advising Program is dedicated to making sure they don’t just go to college, but that they find the institution that is the right fit for them and their future! Just this past year, our 2017 graduating class had all 54 students enroll in 4-year college or university. Those are numbers we can be proud of!

All Saints students are accepted into an array of quality, prestigious schools all over the southeast and east, and we currently have alumni attending Harvard, Northwestern, Washington University, Samford, University of Florida, and many more. Elizabeth Martin here on our ASA campus says the big decisions for our seniors will be coming up during second semester, which means we will likely hear exciting announcements of All Saints being represented at a whole new wave of universities for the 2018-2019 academic year. All Saints offers plentiful support during the process of researching and choosing colleges, since we know this is a big decision for our students (and their parents!) and isn’t to be taken lightly.

Nancy Korman, our Director of College Advising, is your go-to person to talk about your student’s upcoming preparation for higher education, and she can let you know about upcoming events right here on campus that can give your child a glimpse into various college choices. ASA frequently has college representatives on campus to visit with our students and discuss their school. The list over recent years has included, but is not limited to, UF, FSU, University of Miami, UC Davis (California), Boston University, Vanderbilt, University of Chicago, University of Alabama, Auburn, Southern Methodist College, Washington and Lee, Davidson, and many more. These opportunities can help students make a short list of schools they are most interested in, and can then focus on researching intently during their senior year.

Another way we prepare our students for the college search process is with our annual college class trip. Each year, our juniors take a trip to visit multiple college campuses including Flagler, Clemson University, Wofford College, Erskine, Mercer University, Oglethorpe, and Georgia Tech. Seeing campuses firsthand gives our students a better idea of what to look for when choosing a university, and some key things they may want to look for and/or avoid when selecting a school. As our juniors are just beginning this journey, many of our seniors are currently working out details of their final selection, and Auburn, FSU, Berry College, University of Tampa, and Furman University are already on the list of chosen colleges for the 2018 graduating class.

Want to learn more about how we handle college advising here at All Saints Academy? Our College Advising Program page has plenty of valuable information (find it here) and can give you an idea of what to expect for your junior or senior student here at ASA. Congratulations to our 2018 graduates who have already chosen their next step, and to those who are still researching and deciding, know we are here for you this school year!

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