Friday, May 29, 2020


Promoting Social Emotional Health

This week our middle school students explored the purpose of self-reflection on Wellness Wednesday.  Self-reflection can be defined as “the activity of thinking about your own feelings and behavior and the reasons that may lie behind them." Reflections help us to continue to grow, build our confidence, and to process our thoughts and feelings about experiences. Reflecting helps us to determine what we did well and areas we can grow.

This unique time and experience has left a mark on us all in some fashion. As our school year is winding down, there is value in making time to pause and reflect on our learning at home experience. Taking time for these reflections and having discussions help to grow self awareness, confidence and resilience as well as to help serve as a sense of closure.

Some ideas to reflect and talk about as a family could include:
  • Reflect on the first week of learning at home. What were you thinking and feeling?
  • Now that we are in the final stretch, what are you thinking and feeling?
  • What are you grateful for from the time learning at home?
  • How did your family grow in our Faith over the time learning at home?
  • What is something you demonstrated you could accomplish?
  • What were some challenges? What helped you get through the challenges?
  • How did you work well together as a family?
  • How did you spread kindness and/or serve others during this time?
  • What school project/assignment are you most proud of accomplishing during the time learning at home?

Another way to share a reflection about our time learning at home is making a time capsule. Taking time to write down how you celebrated special moments, recording new hobbies or interests that surfaced, special memories you created as a family, what you learned during this time, challenges and triumphs with learning at home and hopes for when the stay at home order is over, could be included.

The mark that COVID-19 has left on us will vary from person to person.  Taking time to reflect on this experience and time to process our time of learning at home helps to grow our social emotional skills. As we take the time to celebrate accomplishments and overcome challenges as a family, we begin to help have closure to this very unique school year.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Passing the Torch

Prayer, Support, & Encouragement to All of You

In a normal school year, the week before the 8th grade's last academic classes would include a Leadership Mass at the middle school campus. At this Mass the current 8th grade class would pass the student leadership responsibility of All Saints Academy to the incoming 8th grade class. Then, both groups are prayed over as they each prepare to take their next steps in their  respective educational journeys. 

This year we had to adapt this tradition a little. On Tuesday, May 26th the 7th & 8th grade gathered in a large group Google Meet with their teachers to share some prayers, support and encouragement. Here are some of their words of blessing and wisdom from that meet: 

On this occasion, we commemorate an important milestone. With joyful hearts we begin in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

Thank you. Thank you to everyone who made our years at ASA amazing. Thank you teachers for providing wonderful education and thank you students for helping us through the whole way.

7th grade, 
We know that every year the speeches sound the same. That's because what we are going to tell you is the most important thing to remember. 8th grade year goes fast, so instead of growing apart with drama, try growing together like family. You can’t just do it by yourself, you must work with others.

The time has come for us to pass down this responsibility to you. We have no doubt that you will do great with this task, but you might have to step out of your comfort zone, and try some new things to fully complete this new, challenging job. You are going to be the example for every single student from preschool through 8th grade. It may seem scary but it’s so worth it. And being a leader doesn’t just happen overnight it takes time so don’t try to rush into it either. Just do what you think is the right thing. Have integrity and be kind.

Everybody says that the time flies. Well, in our case, it really did. As the All Saints Academy eighth graders, we had the excitement of doing a few special things like Camp Manitoulin. However, thanks to corona, we didn’t have a chance to have a lot of those things we looked forward to, like Fun Day. With the last couple months of school cut off, we didn’t even get to say goodbye to our classmates before school was cancelled. As you advance into the next stage of your life, know that you are not alone, you have so many people wishing you the best. So our message to you, is to enjoy the time you have with your friends and make the most of it. You never know when something can just suddenly come up and take it all away. Take the time to appreciate all that is around you, because you are very lucky to have it. Stay in the moment and remember everyday is a gift so use it, don’t push it aside.

It's your turn to take our roll, you will have ups and downs with your classmates but that is just one thing. As leaders you start to recognize the responsibility you  will have. You want to make people feel included and make them feel appreciated. As 8th graders you sort of get that feeling that you run the school, you are the oldest, but remember, the oldest have to show respect. 

Most of all, have fun. The upcoming year will seem much quicker and easier if you just try to have fun. In your schoolwork, extra time, and every time in between. Don’t let the year overwhelm you, let it help you make friends, strengthen existing friendships, learn, and grow.

We, the 8th Grade Class of 2020 at All Saints Academy, pass over our student leadership of All Saints Academy, to our future leaders, the 7th grade. The student leaders to this school. Our school. Your school. No matter what challenges you encounter, please lead this school with responsibility.We have faith in you. We know you will be good leaders, and will do well your last year here. We wish you luck on this journey.  We offer our deepest prayers, support, and encouragement to all of you.  We wish you the best of luck and don’t forget, we are one!

- All Saints Academy Class of 2020 - 

8th grade, we send you out. Hold to the standards of the sound teaching that you have heard in Christ Jesus. Guard the good treasure entrusted to you, with the help of the Holy Spirit living in us. 

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

The Joy of Gratitude

This week, students are exploring gratitude in their social emotional learning activities. In choosing to express gratitude, students build on and support the Core SEL Competencies as described from CASEL. Expressing gratitude requires students to be aware of their emotions and demonstrate regulation of their actions and/or feelings.  This creates a rewarding emotional experience. Expressing gratitude in various forms will also foster and support healthy relationships and strengthen their relationship skills. 
One way the act of expressing gratitude is taught and practiced at ASA is through our Bucket Fillers program. ASA students are wonderful bucket fillers. They consistently fill each others’ buckets by being friendly, expressing gratitude, showing compassion and complimenting others on their gifts, talents and strengths. There is science that supports the “why” in having a program such as Bucket Fillers to promote and provide opportunities for students to express gratitude. When we fill others’ buckets by expressing gratitude and sharing good feelings, our own buckets are filled, improving our health and well being. It has been shown that those that practice gratitude experience physical, psychological, spiritual and social benefits. When regularly practicing gratitude, people experience a stronger immune system, better quality sleep, higher levels of positive emotions, increased resilience, greater generosity and compassion. 

The unique events that we are experiencing provide us all an opportunity to share gratitude together while building resiliency. There is so much for us to be grateful for each day.  Beginning a family gratitude journal could be a fun way to connect and cultivate gratitude. It could be something to look forward to doing together as you share a few minutes at dinner, or the time that works best for your family, writing down specific things or people you are grateful for during the day. During this time at home may spark some creativity too! Maybe consider creating beautiful gratitude rocks. All you need is some smooth rocks and paint markers or sharpies. Then decorate the rocks with people or things for which you are grateful. These could be displayed in a shallow bowl as a nice reminder. Or, how about the beauty of creating a gratitude flower garden? You could draw the flowers or cut out petals to build your own. In the circle write “I am thankful for…” and in each petal write the things that you are grateful for each day. I encourage you to make gratitude celebrations part of your family fun.  As Saint Mary Euphrasia said, “Gratitude is the memory of the heart.”  Make memories each day of grace and gratefulness.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Virtual Calming Rooms

Healthy Coping Strategies to Relax 

& Find Peace

Explore ASA’s Virtual Calming Rooms

Whether in the school building or at home, our students continue to grow their emotional literacy daily. Emotional literacy includes learning to be aware of and identify the many feelings we experience. Our current condition may require some of us to manage new, stronger and difficult emotions. 

At ASA, students learn all feelings are okay. They learn to explore tools that help manage the uncomfortable feelings they experience. To help to manage these uncomfortable feelings, students are equipped with knowledge of a variety of healthy coping strategies, such as, belly breaths, exercising, coloring, music, journaling, praying and talking to a trusted adult. Students learn that these strategies help them to calm their feeling brain and reset for success.

As we journey together through remote learning, we continue to provide our students with access to healthy tools for emotion management. Please take time to explore the Elementary Virtual Calming Room and/or the Middle School Virtual Calming Room. This is a resource that is designed as a continued support for all of our students.

Friday, May 8, 2020

Covid Circle of Friends

Virus or No Virus!
One of the most beautiful fabrics woven into our community over the years has been FRIENDSHIPS built on our core value of Love – including friendships with children of varied abilities. To see the playground alive with groups including students of all different strengths, interests and backgrounds - this is a testimony to the need and desire to include each person within the body of Christ – each one important and valuable. We Are One!
So, if your child has been involved in a classroom with such a friendship, we want to challenge you to discover ways you can continue to have the friends be together and grow together – even when physically apart.
Here are some ideas to get your own creative juices flowing:
  • Make up a video of a story or time you shared together and send it to your friend. It might be a time on the playground, on a fieldtrip, or a special project in the classroom.
  • Put together a card or picture and mail it to your friend. Remind your friend of some of the things you have done together.

  • Discover a game where you all have the pieces in your home but could share a board or score card. For example, you could pull out Candyland and have one person decide to move the pieces while drawing cards from each person’s home. You could play Yahtzee together – taking turns over video. Consider playing with a few people and enjoying Hangman over DUO or Bingo over ZOOM. 
  • Enjoy a home treasure hunt. Have one person put together a list like “something green” or “5 of something”. Make up about 10 items for the list and read them one at a time. Give participants 1 minute to locate that item and show the others on the video call. 
  • Enjoy “20 questions”. Have one person put an item in a bag. Have friends guess what might be in the bag asking yes or no questions. Enjoy revealing the item to the others on the video call.

Put out a challenge within friend groups and take a photo/video of that challenge to send to one another when done. Take a picture or video of things like:
  • a snack you made yourself
  • a costume you enjoy wearing
  • the cleanest bedroom challenge
  • the best Lego creation
  • the tallest block tower
  • the best smile
  • record a joke for the others and submit it to your friends for the funniest joke
  • record your favorite song for others to enjoy
  • the wackiest race
  • best sidewalk chalk drawing

  • Put up a picture of your friend(s) and have a prayer wall. Connect with one another and use post it notes to put prayer requests by the picture of your friend(s). Pray for each other and then find out how God answered that prayer or continue to pray as God answers in the future.
  • Take the BLESSING challenge. There is a link that gives more details.
  • As a family, memorize this beautiful blessing and find a way to say it over your friend:
“God go before you to lead you, 
God go behind you to protect you, 
God go beneath you to support you, 
God go beside you to befriend you. 
Do not be afraid. 
May the blessing of God the Father, Son,
and Holy Spirit be upon you.
Do not be afraid. 
Go in peace to love and serve the Lord. 

  • Consider making a friend survival package to drop off on the porch. Do a visit through a window to observe social distancing rules.
  • Meet up to do a walk or bike ride in a park or neighborhood.
  • Have a Circle of Friends trunk lunch. Choose a parking lot location and back up your vehicles to form a circle and enjoy having lunch by your trunk while visiting with others in your trunk lunch circle. 

  • Be creative – come up with some additional ideas.
  • One of the JOYS of my job over many years has been to witness these friendships happening each day. Please send me an email with a picture or an idea you have tried. I would love to be FLOODED with these! 

Have fun and keep those friendships going! 

Wednesday, May 6, 2020


Reducing Stress and Promoting Success

During this unprecedented time, the need for increased focus on self-management has become critical for adults, as well as children.  The CASEL definition of Self-Management is “The ability to regulate one’s emotions, thoughts, and behaviors effectively in different situations. This includes managing stress, controlling impulses, motivating oneself, and setting and working toward achieving personal and academic goals.”  

As we continue to adjust to our new routines, strong feelings are bound to surface. Whether it is frustration rising over an assignment, irritation over sharing space/resources or just missing their previous structures, strong emotions can occur and are warranted. To assist with coping with these strong emotions, it is important to make intentional efforts to effectively self-manage.  Building structures and including behaviors into our lives that promote self-management sets us up for success while working and learning at home together, and beyond.

Although the structures of our days may look different, it is important to maintain a consistent routine.  Building a plan together that maintains a regular bedtime, includes morning routines and defines the goals and activities for the day is empowering and comforting. It sounds simple but getting out of bed, eating a healthy breakfast and lunch, limiting snacking and/or social media/television and taking advantage of the day to set goals is a recipe for success!  

Once structures and routines are established, setting daily and/or weekly goals are powerful behaviors that support and promote success.  Daily and incremental goal achievement promotes self-motivation and self-discipline.  Being sure the goals are appropriate for the individual with tangible rewards can improve a sense of accomplishment and naturally motivates learners while supporting focus and commitment.

Although structures and routines need to be consistent, they do not need to be inflexible.  Students are working hard. Be sure to take the time to integrate brain breaks such as games, physical activities, mindfulness breathing, prayer or other stress management techniques. Building in social time like FaceTime/phone calls with peers or classmates can be just the thing needed to energize and motivate.  

Much like the saying, “Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass but dancing in the rain.”, we can choose to embrace this current journey. We are all finding our way through this together. There may not be a “right way” to do this.  However, taking this time to foster relationships, build resiliency and foster a growth mindset is our chance to “dance in the rain”. Building self-management strategies into our daily lives to reduce stress and promote success can help us dance!