Wednesday, December 22, 2021

All Saints Day & Eagle Award 2021

On November 1st, ASA had their first K-8 all school Mass in over a year! All Saints day is a special feast day at ASA where we traditionally hold an all school Mass and All Saints Day celebration at St. Isidore. After having to make adjustments last year due to COVID, this year's Mass was the first all school Mass since Catholic Schools Week in 2020.

At the end of Mass, this year's Be Like Christ t-shirt was revealed to the students. This design was created from the t-shirt contest last Spring when over a dozen submissions included the text "Be Like Christ". You can see the t-shirt design in the video below.

Following Mass, students walked over to the gym and enjoyed a praise and worship concert from the band JMJ. Students were able to sing and dance to some great praise and worship music. It was a fun way to end the all school All Saints Day celebration. Students then had various activities in their classrooms throughout the day. 


At the All Saints Day Mass, the 2021 Eagle Award was also given out to our Home & School president, Jill Ott.  The Eagle Award is presented each year on All Saints Day by the Home and School Association to a member of the ASA community in acknowledgement of his or her extraordinary contribution to the success of All Saints Academy. Jill Ott, an ASA parent, the Home and School president, and Upper Campus library coordinator, is a force to be reckoned with and beyond deserving of the 2021 Eagle Award. Jill's leadership and organization skills are evident in the way she runs the Home & School Association, organizes school events, like Eaglefest and the book fair, and brings the Upper Campus Library to life for our students. Even with new challenges with COVID-19 in the past two years, she has found new ways to reach our community and students, bringing the library “on the road” and adapting Home & School meetings and events. Jill is invaluable to the ASA community. 

One of our community members stated the following about Jill: “She has tirelessly and selflessly volunteered countless hours as our Home & School President for years now, going above and beyond and not taking no for an answer when she really believes in something. She is devoted to ASA and making it the most incredible experience for all who are lucky enough to be a part of it. And I truly believe she is just getting started. I can't wait to see what she has up her sleeve next! Thank you Jill, you are a rockstar!” Congratulations, Jill, and thank you for your dedication to our school community!

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Kindergarten In Motion

If you’ve ever had the opportunity to spend time in one of our Kindergarten classrooms, you know they are filled with very busy 5 and 6 year olds, who don’t seem to ever stop moving! They are filled with endless energy and a love of learning! 

Over the past few weeks, the Kindergarten students have had a chance to explore, investigate, reflect upon and discuss how the forces of pushes and pulls produce and affect the motion of objects. 

Students began learning about pushes and pulls using the movements of their own bodies. They discovered that actions as simple as walking, climbing and jumping involve using pushes and pulls. 

 

Next, they explored a variety of play stations to collect data on how many pushes and pulls were used to make things move. They also enjoyed rolling, kicking and throwing balls in order to set them in motion! Along the way, students learned what barriers are and how barriers can change the speed and direction of an object. 

As a culminating activity, kindergartners became engineers and had to work as a team to design a structure that would allow a ball in motion to travel from point A to point B! Students had a lot of fun and really made excellent learning connections as they worked through the unit on motion!

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

First Grade Lets the Light In

First graders at ASA love to build, create, and have fun of course! Mrs. Schneider’s first grade students were able to do all three of those things this fall as they spent time developing their engineering design skills. First, the students read a story which presented a problem. In the story, two children built a treehouse in their backyard; however, when they went inside and closed the door they couldn’t see anything! It was too dark—there was no light. Our class identified this problem and, using the prior knowledge they had gained while investigating light this school year, they came up with a list of possible solutions. 

The 3 solutions they came up with were: 

(1) light candles 

(2) put in lamps 

(3) add windows. 

After listing their solutions, the students evaluated the strengths and weaknesses of each solution. In the end, they determined adding windows was the best solution since it was the safest choice, allowed the children to see outside from inside, and did not require electricity. 

 

Once a solution was agreed upon the students worked in engineering teams to design a treehouse. They used a small paper box as a treehouse model and various materials to represent the window coverings. After creating their treehouse model the teams took it to the testing station to see if their design let in enough light and allowed light to be blocked out of the treehouse when necessary (in case the children want to take a nap or have a glow in the dark party in the treehouse:)). After testing their design, the students went back and made any necessary revisions to their design. 

 

Upon the design being finalized the teams presented their treehouse with their classmates and shared how they made some of their decisions as well as any changes they had to make in their process. The treehouse engineering design project is annually a favorite project for the first grade students at ASA. And maybe, just maybe,one of the designed treehouses will inspire a new treehouse to be added somewhere in or around Grand Rapids!

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Advent at ASA

This past Sunday was the start to a new liturgical year and the Advent season! During Advent at ASA, all students, toddler through 8th grade, participate in various activities to enter into the liturgical season and to prepare for Christmas.


Our Early Childhood students are creating a hallway Advent wreath. Students traced their hands on green construction paper for assembling the wreath. Then classrooms are decorating the candles and flames together each week. You can see the first advent candle in the picture above. This wreath will provide a visual for students as they countdown the weeks to Christmas. The preschool students will also have a small Christmas caroling event on December 13th. They hope to video the event and share it with the entire ASA community.



Our K-8 students are joining together for weekly Advent prayers and reflection activities. Each week they will read an Advent reflection as a class, individually write a response to the reflection on purple paper, and then link the papers to make a chain for their classroom door or hallway. All students have prayer buddies that they will be praying and making cards for, and all classes will also share Christmas carols with each other. Lastly, they will celebrate the Feast of St. Nicholas with a treat and prayer card. 



ASA encourages all families to find a way to celebrate Advent at home too. Families could complete the daily activity on the advent calendar sent home last week, spend time listening to the advent Spotify playlist that St. Alphonsus Religious Education Office created, or find their own Advent tradition. The Office of Catholic Schools also shared additional Advent resources for families in their most recent blog post on catholicschools4u.org.


We pray for all our families, parishioners, and students to have an advent session that gives hope, joy, and peace!


Tuesday, November 23, 2021

St. Alphonsus Education Endowment

We are excited to announce a $10,000 grant received from the St. Alphonsus Education Endowment for a few different projects at All Saints Academy! 

First, Miss Ojenus and Mrs. Patterson will be participating in the University of Notre Dame's Program of Inclusive Education (PIE) through the Alliance for Catholic Education. This formation program provides Catholic educators with additional skills to teach and advocate for students who may be struggling. We look forward to seeing Miss Ojenus and Mrs. Patterson help our entire community grow through their experience in this program.

Secondly, the band will be getting new and additional music books. As many know, band is an important part of the experience at All Saints Academy, and these new books will provide an additional enhancement to our program.

Lastly, we are excited to announce a new tradition at ASA, a spring musical! With the aid from a performing arts grant from the Endowment, Mrs. Zarzecki will be directing Moana Jr. this spring! Mrs. Zarzecki has directed over 18 productions, and we are excited to see her next one come alive with our students.  All interested 5th through 8th grade students are invited to audition after Thanksgiving break. If any parents have any talents you would like to contribute to the musical, please reach out to Mrs. Zarzecki at szarzecki@asagr.org.

Make sure you save the date for the performances on May 13th and 14th at West Catholic!

We have been blessed by the St. Alphonsus Education Endowment many times, as they have funded teacher wish lists, classroom Chromecast upgrades, and more! We are excited for the next steps in each of these projects and are beyond grateful for St. Alphonsus' aid in making them happen!

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

All In For ASA!

 


If you walked into the Upper Campus gym or St. Jude's Brophy Center on Saturday night, you would find parents, staff, friends, family, and parishioners who had been itching to get back together to celebrate and support the Catholic education at All Saints Academy. The night was filled with good laughs, new games, great drinks and food, incredible prizes, and most importantly, many blessings. Truly our community went All In For ASA. 

Eaglefest 2021 raised the most donations in the history of Eaglefest, with a total gross revenue over $105,000. The net revenue is expected to be over $80,000. We also had a historical raise the paddle, raising over $20,000 plus two $5,000 matches for a total of $30,000. These raise the paddle funds will be used to further enhance the student experience at ASA. With new energy, growth in enrollment, and recent donations, ASA is able to start focusing on more external greatest needs. This year's funds will go towards enhancing the play space for our students, including improving the Upper Campus ball field, purchasing outdoor playground equipment for both campuses, replacing our weathered Eddie the Eagle mascot and building funds for the next phase of improvements. Great strides were made at Eaglefest towards ensuring our students can partake in good old fashioned play.

While our traditional games and raffles returned, we added a new twist to a few of them. The Taste of Grand Rapids Big 5 game offered a bonus entry if you could guess the correct baby food flavor and the Jewel Quest Big 5 game also offered a bonus entry if you could pick the diamond in the bucket of rice and jewels. We also added a Spin the Wheel game with a grand prize of a Blackstone grill and smaller prizes of Biggby gift cards, Meijer gift cards, and ASA gear.

Some of this year's live auction packages included a Slipknot Charter fishing package, a night downtown getaway package, polish dinner with the Debri family, and a taste of Asia dinner with Fr. Chung in addition to the classic front row concert seating and the Principal for the Day packages. Our class projects sold between $175 and $500, with Preschool 4's Santa Cookie Plate and Milk Mug selling for $500. 

As Heads and Tales was being played at the end of the night, we added up the total costs raised from admission tickets, online donations, raffle tickets, and any donations and sales that evening. The total at that time was just over $98,000. With encouragement from the crowd, Mr. Debri led another raise the paddle to reach $100,000 that evening.

You can watch the short recap video below to see a glimpse into what Eaglefest all included this year:


Eaglefest 2021 is a night our community will never forget. A special thank you goes out to the Eaglefest committee for all their hard work in making the night a success. Thank you to everyone for going All In For ASA, so ASA can keep forming saints to serve all!

If you were not able to make it Eaglefest and would still like to make a donation, our teacher wishlists are still open! You can make a donation online at asagr.ejoinme.org/eaglefest.





Wednesday, November 10, 2021

A Day...or Nine... on the Farm

October brings a favorite event of fifth graders...A Day on the Farm at the Franciscan Life Process Center in Lowell. But did you know the fifth grade actually spends nine days throughout the school year at the Franciscan Life Process Center? We just put our first three days in the books! We will be going back in the winter and then again in the spring. 

 What was it like? It was a fast and furious first three days of learning. Each day we began with “little portions” where we went in pairs to practice observation skills using sights, smells, and sounds to experience nature at our chosen “little portions” of the land around us. Other activities we did outside included feeding the farm animals, getting the garden ready for winter, picking the last of the vegetables and putting them in the cellar, and taking hikes to explore different habitats. 

 When we were inside the classroom, we learned how to identify trees with Sister, and we practiced that skill when we went hiking. We also did a cool art project with Ms. Cathy, and we went outside with Mr. Chris to play team survival games that helped us practice our critical thinking skills and made us practice using good communication with each other. 

 We loved eating our lunches outside because after that we played class games of capture the flag and hunted for painted rocks other visitors hid around the property. We plan to take some painted rocks with us next time so that we can hide them for others that go there. 

 We didn’t just like it. We LOVED it, and we cannot wait to go back!

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

ASA All Stars

Last spring, we showcased each and every staff and faculty member on our Facebook page with our #ASAAllStar campaign sponsored by Roersma & Wurn Builders. The #ASAAllStar initiative highlighted the amazing work of our teachers and staff members at All Saints Academy, especially during the unprecedented school year after the pandemic shut down. We encouraged all members of our ASA community, whether students, parents, co-workers, or others, to share their words and help us recognize the heroes among us. These campaign posts were fun and engaging for our whole community as we celebrated the incredible dedication of our staff.

This fall, there continues to be a lot of hard work and teamwork from our staff and community as we face continuing and new adversities. While some things have returned to "normal", such as students eating in the cafeteria and events being in-person, the pandemic continues to affect our ASA students, families, staff, and parishes. Our teachers and staff continue to sacrifice daily for the good of our students and community. So our #ASAAllStar campaign has continued, but in a different way.

On October 25th, each ASA staff member was seen rocking a new pair of red Converse All Stars. In addition to being an appreciation gift for the hard work of our staff, these shoes were a physical reminder for our staff that we are one as we face both the challenges and joys of a new school year. Additionally, it was an external sign to our students and larger community of our whole staff commitment to their children's Catholic education. Throughout the day, many of students pointed out how all the teachers were wearing the same red shoes!


These shoes were only possible because of a generous donation from Roersma & Wurn Builders. Thank you, Roersma & Wurn, for your continued support towards educating the next generation of saints and for continuing to uplift and encourage our staff.




As the school year continues, we hope these Converse All Stars are a reminder of our staff's dedication towards our core belief that we are one. Lastly, thank you to each and every staff member for their continued hard work, teamwork, and passion towards ASA. We couldn't form saints to serve all without each and every one of you.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

1st Grade Tea Party: May I Bring a Friend?

It’s ASA school picture day 2021.  Teeth brushed? Check.  Hair combed? Check. Picture outfit on? Check.  Smile practiced? Check.  Stuffed animal friend in backpack?  Well that’s a new one!

 

On school picture day, in addition to all of the usual items to remember when preparing in the morning, the ASA first graders needed to remember to bring a stuffed animal friend as a special guest to their tea party.  The first graders read the story May I Bring a Friend? by Beatrice Schenk De Regniers and illustrated by Beni Montresor. They were then inspired to attend a tea party of their own hosted by Ms. Rosmarin, ASA first grade teacher.


With their stuffed animal friend at their side, the first graders enjoyed a wonderful tea party full of lemonade in tea cups, cloth napkins, fancy tablecloths, and delicious treats.  In addition to enjoying a celebratory party, the students also learned proper tea party etiquette.  The school picture day tea party is sure to be a new ASA first grade tradition!


  

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Welcome Mrs. McMahon

Hello! My name is Lynne McMahon and I am excited to join the ASA family as the school counselor! I am currently at the Franciscan Life Process Center as I finish the final semesters of my master’s degree in Marriage, Family, Couple Therapy from Western Michigan University.

Since my training is in Marriage and Family Therapy, I like to understand social/emotional issues from a broad context. I appreciate this holistic approach because I have found that we are influenced by both our internal and externals worlds.

 

My work with children is based on Play Therapy. Not only is play the work of a child, but also is the language of a child. Much of the work I do is through drawing, games, stories, and, well, PLAY! It is amazing how a child can express, process, and experiment when guided through play therapy. Assessment and treatment are possible through play! I look forward to providing social/emotion classroom education, group exercises, and individual therapy to our wonderful students, as well as working with their amazing parents.

 

A little bit about me, I grew up “Up North” in Petoskey, Michigan, and have nine siblings. I love the Great Lakes, and hunting for Petoskey Stones and sea glass is my favorite. I stay pretty active with five children, but I love being outdoors any chance I can get. My husband and I started a real estate company, Pure Mitten Homes, with another ASA family. We have enjoyed starting our own business and working together.

 

Four of my children currently attend ASA, with the 5th, and youngest, joining their ranks by the end of the month! I have been so impressed by the school and look forward to getting to know ASA from a professional perspective.

Welcome Mr. Gietzen


We have been blessed to welcome Mr. Joe Gietzen as our new Upper Campus Principal this school year. Mr. Gietzen began his new role on August 17, 2021. You can read more about Mr. Joe Gietzen on the Diocese of Grand Rapids blog for Catholic Schools.

Mr. Gietzen replaces Ms. Abby Giroux as Upper Campus Principal. As you may know, Ms. Giroux accepted the position of Associate Director for the Alliance of Catholic Education's (ACE) Program for Inclusive Education (PIE) at the University of Notre Dame after leading the Upper Campus for the past six years. 

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

ArtPrize Field Trip

 ArtPrize returned to Grand Rapids this fall after a three-year hiatus, and our 6th-8th grade students welcomed back this exciting field trip tradition. ArtPrize consists of artwork created from artists all over the world displayed throughout the city of Grand Rapids. Our 6th-8th grade students, teachers, and parent chaperones traveled downtown this September to see the artwork showcased this year. 

With a variety of venues hosting exhibits, students were able to walk in small groups to see artwork displayed in parks, museums, hotels, storefronts, and on bridges. Mrs. Beckwith shared, “[ArtPrize] was a way for students to get out into the city, explore the area around them, and contemplate art and the author's purpose behind a piece.” 



Each student had their own favorite art piece. Mia, 7th grader, said, “My favorite pieces were the horses made of wire and the picture that showed the differences of the body.” In comparison to previous years, Grant, 6th grader, said, “It seems more colorful than before. It's all very beautiful.” The group stopped at Veterans’ Memorial Park, where various veterans had submitted art pieces about their military experience or returning home. Students wrote messages on yellow ribbons thanking veterans for their service. They also stopped at the dinosaurs outside of the Fifth Third Business Center on Lyon Street. Chloe, 6th grader, said, "I like the colorful dinosaurs. They look like little kids did it." 



Alex, 6th grader, reflected on all the pieces the group saw downtown, "The technology that some of the artists used is awesome. It's hard to wrap my head around how they did it because some of them are so big and so detailed." ArtPrize was loved by all the 6th-8th grade students, and ASA looks forward to taking the next group when the event returns in 2023.




Wednesday, October 6, 2021

ASA School Carnival

It had been 18 months since the entire All Saints Academy community had an event to rally around. 2021 brought with it the opportunity to again gather for some school fun!


The school carnival had been 30 months in the making, first planned for March 2020, but delayed due to COVID. Finally on a beautiful Saturday in September, with proper social distancing outside, the carnival was in full swing! All ASA families were invited to attend and encouraged to bring friends. 


Hundreds of ASA families and friends gathered for an afternoon of fun and community. Games such as Par 1 Golf, Princess Rescue and Meteor Drop as well as a bounce house and inflatable obstacle course drew kids of all ages in. A Candy Walk and Pop Bottle Toss provided opportunities for everyone to win fun treats to bring home with them. Games suited for preschool friends allowed for younger guests to show off their skills.


A huge thank you goes out to the volunteers who made the day possible! The committee looks forward to planning the next carnival tentatively scheduled for fall 2023. If you are interested in joining the planning fun, email ASAHandS@asagr.org.