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Ron Port

Marine Mentors at The Academy

The USMC, Third Civil Affairs Group showed up to AJKA in their Dress Blues for Morning Meeting last week. As our goal of Morning Meeting is to coach kids up and get them prepared for the day, 3rd CAG’s leader Lieutenant Colonel Kevin Conant asked if he could bring his Marines to Morning Meeting to discuss the importance of always being prepared. He spoke to our cadets regarding our RRCC motto and core values and connected it to the core values of the Marines Corps which is Honor, Courage and Commitment. As he stated that these core values define how every Marine in the Corps thinks, acts and does their job, he reminded the cadets sitting before him that this is exactly what RRCC does for cadets at the Academy.
“In our second year of partnership with these fine men and women, our cadets are starting to realize the purpose around our core values and how important it is to live up to a standard of high expectations,” said Principal, Mike Grenda. “We will continue our partnership with this elite group of Marines with our mission always at the forefront of our minds… A.J. Katzenmaier Academy, Meeting cadets where they are and advancing them forward.”

The Academy Celebrates Black History Month

Black History Month is a special time for reflecting and celebrating.  On Wednesday, February 28, 2018 the Academy reflected on and celebrated the contributions of African-Americans that have taught us all to rise above those things that attempt to hold us down. The Academy’s Black History Program, Rise: A Tribute to African-American Heritage included poetry, dancing, and singing highlighting these contributions. The Rise! Dance Team, AJKA Cadet Chorus and Drummers gave us a show to remember and reminded us to celebrate our diversity all year long.

Cadets Celebrate Black History Month

Mr. Kisley’s 5th grade class along with teacher paraprofessional, Ms. Rosy Gallegos, built a beautiful Black history display that embedded the American Flag as the background. Each of the eighteen cadets in the classroom chose an individual that they felt has impacted our American culture in some way, shape or form. Cadets chose a wide variety of influential individuals such as the Obama family, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., Ice Cube, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and Nelson Mandela. It is just awesome to see what these cadets can come up with when they put their mind to it. Way to go Mr. K’s class!!!!! You Rock!!!!

Celebrating Sentinels

On Monday, February 12th, we celebrated the 127 cadets that met their 2nd quarter goals and ranked up to Sentinel.  The new Sentinels celebrated with a pizza party and free-time.  Our future Knights and Dames are surely on “The Road to Knighthood”.

After-School Activities

Each Monday and Friday, cadets at the Academy stay after-school to participate in various intramural sports. Coach Eck and Coach Harris spend time teaching cadets the rules of the sports, as well as instilling the values of teamwork and good sportsmanship.

Mondays, the AJK Choir meets with Mrs. Ferguson and Ms. Thomas. The choir is practicing for our upcoming Black History Program, Rise, on February 28, 2018.  They will continue to meet to prepare for the Academy’s Spring Musical.

The Academy’s Dance Team meets each Friday for practice. Ms. Juarez is the dance coach and she will have all those who made the team “Dancing to the Beat “in no time.  Keep an eye out for performance dates.

All participants in after-school activities should be on track with rank, which is currently Sentinel.

Girls on the Run

The Academy will be kicking off another after-school activity, on March 12th: Girls on the Run. For 10 weeks, girls will learn life skills through lessons and running games. The lessons encourage positive emotional, social, mental, and physical development.  Physical activity is woven throughout to develop an appreciation of health and habits that lead to a lifetime of good health. At the end of the session, the girls will participate in a non-competitive 5-K run. We are looking forward to our young ladies developing an understanding of the confidence that comes from setting and achieving life goals.

Girls can begin registering now online at or via the bi-lingual (English and Spanish) call center at (312) 313-0280 open Monday – Friday 9am-6pm.

$20 per girl

5K run is June 2nd in Grayslake, at CLC.

End of the Month Celebration – November

At the Academy, we like to celebrate our students’ successes, their growth, and accomplishments. We want to encourage each of our cadets to push themselves harder to set themselves apart and maintain a growth mindset.

On Friday, December 1st we celebrated with our cadets during our Monthly Celebration. Classrooms were recognized by each of our specials teachers: Library, P.E., Music, Technology, and Art.  Additionally, we recognized 21 students (pictured above) that were nominated as Students of the Month for meeting our attendance, academic, and behavior goals, as well as already going above and beyond this school year.  Our celebration included music and cheers. It ended with students playing a game of “”Santa Relay Race”, with a few teachers joining in on the fun. We are proud of each one of our cadets and we look forward to celebrating them next month.


The North Chicago School District 187 Gurnee Mills art project is underway! Lead by art teachers Julie Port (Forrestal) and Stacy Thomas (AJK), student’s work represents holiday themes from Veteran’s Day to the joys of winter. The amazing works of art include: “My Favorite Cup Design” (for warm foods and drinks that make my tummy happy) and “Catching Snowflakes on My Tongue.” No matter the holiday or the season… D187’s got it covered. The pieces display the applied knowledge and skills learned in art class (Elements of Art) from the beginning of the year to present. The elementary art team will be replacing the artwork in February and again in April so all elementary art students will have an opportunity to show their talent throughout the school year.

Stop by, when you have the chance, to witness the fine work of our district’s youngest artists.

Gurnee Mills Mall
Exhibit is outside the Bass Pro Shop (Entrance E)

Now through the end of January

Every child is an artist
-Pablo Picasso

Enchanted Backpack Delivers Huge!!!

November 2nd was a big day at the Academy! Not only were the cadets anxious about their 1st quarter rank ups, but there was also something really special on the way from one of our newest partners! Enchanted Backpacks, based out of Chicago, Illinois delivered two truckloads of materials and resources to AJKA!  Enchanted Backpack was started with the belief that all children deserve to have the tools they need to learn and excel and that all teachers deserve to have the support and materials to make their classrooms exciting learning centers. So, their sole purpose is to do just that. Enchanted backpack delivered 300 boxes and bags of goods to the Academy yesterday!!! “The number of boxes is almost overwhelming,” says Principal Michael Grenda. “With such an an amazing gift for my cadets and staff, I am truly thankful. It was like Christmas in November.” Items delivered range from warm coats, hats, socks and new shirts, to every item cadets’ needed on their academy supply list. We were also provided copy paper, new books for our classroom libraries, games and toys for the academy’s store and many teacher needed resources. Words can not explain how amazing this day was. Thank you enchanted backpack!

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