Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Number Corner News

The Kindergartners have been busy growing their brains and making connections using lessons from our new math program, Bridges, along with the skill-building activities in the Number Corner! Everyday, after lunch, students are excited to participate in engaging Number Corner activities such as, Calendar Grid, Calendar Collector and Counting School Days. 


Each and every activity gives students an opportunity to practice important mathematical skills at the Kindergarten level. Students practice counting, comparing numbers, reading and writing numerals, discovering patterns and even writing simple equations! Many days of the week feature a game for the kids to play to develop counting skills or computational fluency. 

 Here’s what a few students had to say about Number Corner…

“I like playing the number line game because it’s fun and like solving a mystery with numbers.” (Hudson)

 “I like counting the days of school because we get to see Zero the Hero.” (Isa)

“I like finding patterns on the calendar grid because we get to find the hiding bear.” (Finn)

“I like counting down the days until Christmas break because it’s exciting.” (Isaiah and Olivia)

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

The Art of Cursive

My mom had the most impeccable cursive I have ever seen; I wish I could share a sample of it with you. Severely dainty. Consistently legible. And incredibly flourishy. I couldn’t wait to write with the fancy, loopy letters like grown ups. And that’s exactly how third graders feel as we begin working in the “Writing Our Catholic Faith” Handwriting book to learn cursive writing each year. 

 “I love that they are learning cursive! I thought cursive was no longer taught.” ~ ASA parent 

Cursive seems to be a lost art. The unfortunate part of losing this “art” is that research identifies great benefits of learning handwriting. Scientists have recognized cursive writing (and drawing) activates the brain in ways that are integral for memory and retaining new information. Cursive actually will “provide the brain with optimal conditions for learning.” According to the same research, similar learning potential was not observed in typewriting or keyboarding (Frontiers in Psychology,  Whenever we can include movement with learning, more of the brain is stimulated, leading to better learning and higher retention (Van der Meer and Van der Weel, 2017). 

The third grade “Writing Our Catholic Faith” book uses faith-based words, sentences, and Scripture for instruction and practice. As third graders learn cursive formations, there’s always a Bible or Church lesson to correlate with each page. Once the final page is complete, we celebrate with a small graduation ceremony. Pomp and Circumstance can be heard in the background as full names are bellowed through the room in recognition of a job well done! 

 “Cursive makes me smart!” ~James
“Cursive looks cool.” ~Quinn
“Cursive is fun!” ~Alina
“I like it because it’s faster than penmanship.” ~Pete
“It helps me expand my handwriting.” ~Rowan
“It’s faster to write and looks exciting.” ~Zack
“It is faster!” ~Clara
“I like learning and using cursive because it’s fancy!” ~Sienna
“I like cursive because it’s easy. ~Lucy
“I like learning new things and it’s faster writing.” ~Jenna
“Cursive is cool because I’ll be able to write my name in cursive.” ~Beckett
“It looks very fancy.” ~ Henry
“Cursive is fun.” ~ Isaac

 As we all know, whenever learning is fun, the motivation to continue learning increases. Whether it’s because of the loops and flourish or it’s just more efficient to communicate with cursive, the kids love learning cursive from the first page, and they are very excited to begin using their new skill in their school work soon. 

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Advent is a time of . . .

Advent is a time of . . .





Or as our Preschool students all know - preparation!

During Advent, our students learn about the narrative stories of Jesus's coming in Atrium, our Catechesis of the Good Shephard program, starting with the Annunciation. Students are invited to think about what Mary would have been doing in her house when Gabriel appeared, how Mary would have felt in that moment, and in what ways Mary would have prepared for the birth of Jesus.

Mary was present to the present moment. She pondered in her heart what was stirring. She was attuned to God's presence. Mary also would have prayed with the Psalms, and Psalm 46 may have been a source of comfort: 

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. 
Therefore we will not fear . . .
He lifts his voice, the earth melts. The Lord Almighty is with us . . .
He says, "Be still, and know that I am God.

Mary prepared for the coming of Jesus in patience and stillness. Does your family prepare for Jesus's birth in the same way? Or are you filled with the secular hustle and bustle of gifts, lights, and parties? 

As many families experience during Advent, Advent doesn't feel like a time to slow down, it's a time to speed up. There are gifts to be bought and wrapped, cookies to be baked, parties to attend, and rooms to be decorated. What if you lived this Advent differently? More simply and liturgically and less doing? What would that look like for your family?

At All Saints Academy, we do a few things differently during Advent to highlight the liturgical season. This year, K-2 students have a special advent prayer and reflection every Monday and Upper Campus students are lead by the 6th graders through a Jesse Tree reflection at morning prayer each morning. Our early childhood friends have created a paper advent wreath near the cross, with each candle on each pillar. Lastly, families are invited to participate in Advent at home with Loyola Press's Advent Calendar

To enhance a spirit of giving, students are invited to participate in $1 color days each Friday of Advent. The money raised through our $1 color days supports be nice. , the mental health foundation of West Michigan. All students are also invited to bring in different items for St. Alphonsus' Food & Clothing Center: Week 1 is canned foods, week 2 is packaged food items, and week 3 is toiletry items. 

There may be a lot going on this time of year, but we hope your family can take some time to slow down and prepare, physically and mentally, for the coming of Jesus this Advent. Take this Advent to "come and see what the Lord has done" (Psalm 46:8). He may just surprise you.

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Come on Down: Eaglefest & Eagle Award


The price was surely right at this year's Eaglefest. With a strong community presence, a record breaking total and the perfect Price is Right theme, Eaglefest was again one to remember. 

This year's Eaglefest had the traditional elements of Big 5 games, Best Chance, 50/50, Bucket Raffle, Grab Bags, Live Auction, & Raise the Paddle. However, there were some new elements with our Big 5 games to ensure our Price is Right theme was used to the fullest. 

Each game was newly named to fit a classic Price is Right game: 5 Card Draw was simply renamed to the The Card Game for a chance to win a Beer & Wine Fridge. Jewel Quest was renamed to Let 'em Roll where players got an extra entry for every five rolled on the dice. Taste of Grand Rapids became Plinko with three prizes that you could be entered into depending on where your Plinko chip fell. Hole in One provided extra entries depending on your putting skills to win the perfect Backyard Game package. And lastly, Heads and Tails took a break as the Showcase Showdown took it's appearance. The top 20 spin amounts, which ended up being $1 and $0.95, spun again upstairs. The top two then went head to head to determine the face market value of the Showcase Showdown's prize of a Broil King 3-burner propane grill.

This year we had over 20 live auction packages. Some new favorites were the Torch River Fourth of July Getaway & the Authentic Taco dinner provided by ASA's very own Guerrero Family. Half way through the live auction, we raised our paddles for the second phase of our Upper Campus play space. 

Mr. Debri made the following comments: "Last year we raised the paddle for Phase 1 of our Upper Campus play space. There was a lot of heavy equipment on our grounds this summer. We extended the ball field and regraded the outfield for better drainage. A new irrigation system was installed and new grass was planted. Additional fencing was installed for the safety of our students in the dugouts. A number of dying trees were also removed and the infield was completely redone with new stone dust.  We are looking forward to later this spring when our students can have full access to the play space! 

We know how important it is for our students to be active, enjoy the fresh air of the outdoors, and simply partake in good old fashioned PLAY. With your help tonight, we can make great strides in this effort as Phase 2 of our plan is for a new Upper Campus Playground. " Mr. Debri's comments finished with a video that showcased ASA's mission of transformative education. This video will become public next Fall.

Thank you to everyone who supported Eaglefest this year, whether through your time or money. Eaglefest would not be the celebration of Catholic education at ASA without the strong community we have. 

In total, we raised over $115,000. We look forward to updating the blog with our final gross and net amount once all expenses and income are finalized.

Eagle Award

One of the many parents who ensure Eaglefest is a success is our beloved Spanish teacher and parent of three, Señora Zarzecki. Señora Zarzecki was also this year's 2022 Eagle Award winner. 

Señora Zarzecki was nominated by three different individuals this year. If you are a part of the ASA community, you have probably been impacted by the kind, selfless, generous and hilarious Susan Zarzecki. She is truly deserving of this year's Eagle Award.

Señora Zarecki knows how to bring the community together, whether she is teaching in her classroom, directing the musical, or planning Eaglefest. She has a heart of giving as one nomination described: "Susan embodies and lives out ASA's core beliefs of faith, learning, loving and serving in her everyday life and through her daily interactions with our students, parents, and fellow community members. Susan is always giving back in any and every capacity and deserves to be recognized for her amazing efforts."

Congratulations, Señora Zarzecki! This community would not be the same without you.

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. This award enhances the culture of All Saints Academy by drawing attention to those who are living our Catholic faith and supporting our school mission by holding them up as an example for others to follow. While it is true that no great achievement is accomplished by the work of one person, a significantly great work like the creation, building and operation of All Saints Academy requires talented and committed people. 

The winners of this award reflect the characteristics we hope for in our students and need in our school family. Prior recipients of this award have included: 
  • 2011: Chris Burns 
  • 2012: Pete and Peg Gonzalez 
  • 2013: Mariae Firlit 
  • 2014: Christine Jarecki 
  • 2015: Linda Kozminski 
  • 2016: Judy Hardy 
  • 2017: Jon Fournier
  • 2018: Deb Westveer
  • 2019: Jenny LaPonsie 
  • 2020: John Matlak
  • 2021: Jill Ott

Friday, November 11, 2022

All Saints Day 2022

All Saints’ Day is a celebration of all the saints in heaven, known and unknown. At All Saints Academy, we are blessed to commemorate this day with the union of our four parishes: St. Isidore, St. Alphonsus, St. Jude, and Blessed Sacrement. This year was extra special because it is the 15th anniversary of our school’s founding.

We began observing All Saints’ Day by coming together, both Upper and Lower Campus, to pray the Rosary. The Rosary is very important to our prayer life, as it allows for the saints and Mary to intercede for our prayers.

Then, students partnered with another class and enjoyed reading a story and eating snacks together.


In honor of ASA’s 15th anniversary, we took a school picture. Can you guess what we are making?

We gathered for Mass at St. Isidore, and sang the Litany of Saints as a community!

We ended our celebration with a Praise and Worship Concert, where we gave thanks and glory to God. We are so grateful to be part of a community that “forms saints to serve all.”

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Social Emotional Health Grant

In the spring of 2021, All Saints Academy received a $15,000 grant from Kamminga & Roodvoets, Inc., a local Heavy Highway Contractor with ties to ASA.

Still dealing with many of the changes and uncertainties that the pandemic brought along, the goal of the grant aimed to address the social and emotional health of our students. Check out all the ways All Saints Academy has made social-emotional learning (SEL) a priority for our students through the partnership with Kamminga & Roodvoets, Inc.!

Second Step SEL Curriculum
2021-2022 School Year and Beyond

Second step is a holistic approach to SEL and supports children’s and educators’ social-emotional well-being in and outside of the classroom. When implemented with a coordinated approach that’s centered around the child, SEL can help build stronger communities and support inclusive, safe, and equitable learning environments. The second step curriculum is implemented by ASA Counselor, Lynne McMahon.

Bucket Filler Assembly (PreK-2)
September 2021

 Bucket Philosophy helps all ages grow in kindness, self-control, resilience and forgiveness, all leading to a happier life by teaching the three rules that lead to greater happiness:
1. Be a bucket filler. Be kind.
2. Do your best not to dip. Don’t be mean.
3. Use your lid. Protect your bucket and the buckets of others. 

October 2021

The Gatekeeper Program is a school-based suicide prevention educational program with the primary goal of reducing youth suicidal behaviors by training youth to identify at-risk peers and get them to helping adults. It is skill-based and evaluation-based, and uses a variety of teaching methods.

Jeff Veley Assembly (3-8)
October 2022

Jeff Veley was born to entertain and educate. His natural talent to command an audience of any age has brought him before 1 million people. He’s been honored with two international awards and recognized as a Peace Ambassador by the United Nations for his effectiveness in conflict resolution. A social misfit turned social skills educator, Jeff is able to connect with kids from all walks of life and provide the skills necessary to overcome life’s challenges.

Protect Young Eyes Digital Citizenship Curriculum
2022-2023 School Year and Beyond

 Most digital citizenship curriculum uses outdated content and age-splits, and avoids spiritual matters. Protect Young Eyes Digital Citizenship Curriculum is built on eight key Scripture passages. The latest digital trends, including “tricky people,” pornography, social media, cyberbullying, sexting, reputations, and digital footprints are all addressed. Content is strategically split into grades K-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8, so that kids receive age-appropriate instruction on delicate topics.

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Newest ASA Saints

 In 2018, ASA created a blog post to welcome the newest Saints to ASA! The kids featured are now in Kindergarten and Preschool 4/5! We thought it would be fun to see the newest ASA saints welcomed by current ASA families within the past year:

Please give a warm welcome to the babies of ASA families and the Class of 2036 & Class of 2037!

Bowen Borek

Birthdate: October 4, 2021
Siblings: Bennett Borek (PS3)

CJ Palmer

Birthdate: October 15, 2021
Siblings: Charles Palmer (Toddler) & Molly Palmer (PS5)

Callan Aldrich

Birthdate: April 9, 2022
Siblings: Owen Aldrich (PS3)

Mya & Olivia Ashford

Birthdate: May 3, 2022
Siblings: Jonathan Ashford (PS4)

Leo John Gietzen

Birthdate: May 3, 2022
Son of Upper Campus Principal Joe Gietzen

Karla Rose Rolf

Birthdate: June 19, 2022
Siblings: Dorothy Rolf (PS3)

Noah Steven Page

Birthdate: August 29, 2022
Siblings: Jacob Page (KG) & Isaiah Page (PS5)

Isaac Nance

Birthdate: September 29, 2022
Siblings: Evelyne Nance (PS4)

We have also heard the rumblings in the hallway and among teachers that a handful of other families not listed have recently welcomed a new family member or have one coming! Prayers to all families as they navigate the adventures of a newborn in the house.

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

1st Grade's Daily Three

Read. Read. Read. As young readers work to grow their reading brains, one thing they must do always stands out. That one thing, you guessed it, readers must READ! Mrs. Schneider’s first graders are working on becoming independent readers by reading. To facilitate this goal, students engage in a daily reading workshop named The Daily 3. This workshop is based on The Daily 5 literacy framework developed by Gail Boushey and Joan Moser.

Each day students engage in 3 literacy activities: Read to Self, Listen to Reading, and Word Work. Read to Self is the first activity the students engage in. This activity starts the second day of school as students begin to build their reading stamina after detailing what Read to Self should look like in the classroom. Once students have built their Read to Self stamina, the next two components (Listen to Reading and Word Work) are introduced.

 During Read to Self students spend time reading around the classroom from the books in their book box. The books students have in their book boxes are self-selected by each student and include books that are just right (with words the student can practice reading) and look books (the student can read the pictures in these books). During this time students practice building their reading accuracy and fluency.


When it is time for Word Work students sort and read words based on the current spelling phonics focus. Then students can select one of the word work activities to practice spelling the words in their word study. Finally, Listen to Reading is a time for students to engage with technology. To start the year students spend time using the Lexia Core 5 online reading program. Once the framework is established and well underway, students begin having the opportunity to listen to audiobooks using books on CD and CD players. The students are really excited to use some retro technology when the CD players come out!

First grade is such an exciting time in the educational journey of a child as each child develops more and more reading skills on her/his way to becoming a more fluent reader. Watching the excitement of the first grade readers as they engage in the Daily 3 activities is one of the true joys of learning!

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month

What exactly is Down Syndrome (DS), well, it is a genetic condition where individuals have 3 copies of chromosome 21 instead of 2. In the United States, it is estimated to be 1 in every 700 live births.

People with DS may have some challenges, but they also have some great abilities! An individual may have problems balancing or speaking. But there have been great strides in making sure any individual with DS gets the help they need to succeed in society.

The National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) is one such organization that is making it possible. By promoting putting children of school age in an inclusive environment, they could grow up to do things like any other child: Drive a car, go to college and have a job. NDSS has been one of the leaders in promoting community awareness and organizations in the community such as schools, health care, social and recreational.

NDSS is a very important and close part of my life. 13 years ago God blessed me (Linda Ostoin, one of the Early Childhood teachers) and my husband with a little girl who just so happens to have down syndrome. I knew God chose me for a reason, not sure what it is at the moment, but I know that I wouldn’t change this for anything!!! It has been challenging at times but I have persevered through it. She is not one to back down from anything. She loves playing hockey, being in the band, singing and has been in many musicals !! Some may be difficult but she never gives up.

I have been running for NDSS as their athlete ambassador. I have participated in many races and raised money for NDSS. This January I will be running my biggest race to date. The Disney Marathon! I have run the Disney Princess-half marathon for about 6yrs. It was time to move on to the big one. If you would like to support this cause, you can do so at Wish me luck!

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

The Carnival Was a Splash!

 Home & School hosted the ASA Back to School Carnival on Saturday, September 24 at the Upper Campus. It was a great day for food, games, prizes, and splashing the principals! 

Yes, you read that correctly. Mr. Gietzen and Mr. Debri took their turns under the new Splash Tower. They were relieved for a time by Mrs. Beckwith, who took a turn too. It was chilly, but they all said it was lots of fun to make the students so happy.

Other popular games included Shoot Some Hoops, Pop Bottle Toss, and Candy Walk. Pop and candy donations from ASA parents made the last two games possible. Thank you! Home & School would also like to thank the numerous parents who volunteered their time and talents on Saturday to make the carnival happen.

New to the carnival this year was the Bike and Scooter Parade! Students came with decorated bikes and scooters and made a couple of laps while being led by Eddie the Eagle! It was great to see the excitement!


See you next Fall!