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Ron Port

Honoring our Veterans

marines-tableOn November 9th, The Academy hosted its second annual reading of America’s White Table written by Margot Theis Raven and illustrated by Mike Benny. The book was written to honor Veteran’s Day and is a tribute to our MIA and POW soldiers. We wanted to thank USMC Third Civil Affairs Group, Great Lakes for their presence on that day as we dedicated the book reading to them and all those who have served.

The book reads:

— The table honors the men and women who served in America’s Armed Forces

“We cover a small table with a white cloth to honor a soldier’s pure heart when he answers his country’s call to duty.”

“We place a lemon slice and grains of salt on a plate to show a captive soldier’s bitter fate and tears of families waiting for loved ones to return.”

“We push an empty chair to the table for the missing soldiers who are not here.”

“We lay a black napkin for the sorrow of captivity, and turn over a glass for the meal that won’t be eaten.”

“We place a white candle for peace and finally, a red rose in a vase tied with a red ribbon for the hope that all our missing will return someday.”

“You are not forgotten so long as there is one left in whom your memory remains”

Election Day

On Election Day, the cadets and teachers of AJK Academy, along with Deputy Superintendent of Instruction, Mr. Pollack, had their own Presidential Election. Each student and staff member had a chance to step into the voting booth to take part in the election process.

Here are the results
Clinton – 336
Trump – 22

Resiliency from the Mind of a Third Grader

Third grader, Marylee Brewton from Mr. Truelove’s class reflects on resiliency last week and came up with the following paragraph on her own. We titled it “Resiliency From the Mind of a Third Grader”

[button link=”” window=”yes”]Read Marylee’s Paragraph[/button]

Why We Do What We Do… A Letter From a Former Student

Hi Mr. Grenda,

This is Brianna Lee, I went to Neal Math and Science Academy, a few or so years ago. My father and you got along well; his name is Young Lee. I don’t know if you’ll remember us, but we remember you.

You are an amazing principal and we thank you for all your help. I saw you on a daily basis and I could see that you really cared about the students. You tried hard every day to learn our names and be there for all of us. Some of the students you “adopted” and for some of us you became an idol. For me, you were an idol. Your endless efforts to help people around you, inspired me to keep going against the tide and help all of those I could and then some.

While I struggled with being in a different state and a different district, I remembered that even though you weren’t there you were rooting for us (my mother told me that you two were emailing each other at the time). It helped me keep going as I dealt with this transition, knowing that you had a personal investment in us. So thank you for caring and keeping tabs on us, even though you didn’t have to.

I’m now a senior in high school and as I have been writing essay after essay for college applications, I’ve been thinking about my years at North Chicago and the adults that made a great impression in my life.

I want to be able to thank each of them for their part in my life and it has taken me some time to find you on my own. So thank you Mr. Grenda for caring and giving me something to look up to.

Thank you again for everything you’ve done Mr. Grenda; it has meant the world to me,

Brianna Lee

Local Marines Making a Huge Impact

This month, A.J. Katzenmaier Academy and the United States Marine Corps have began a “Partnership for a Greater Tomorrow Mentor Program,” sponsored by a group of local Marines, and we are extremely excited about this program!

It was inspired from the mind of one of our parents, Mrs. Chrissy Nieves, who also leads our Parent Advisory Council (PAC). The program has the same feel of the Big Brother/Big Sister programs you may be familiar with all over the U.S. The difference, though, is that we sought out active duty Marines as our mentors as we are currently a part of the adopt-a-school program with USMC 3rd CAG Division out of Great Lakes. We now have an awesome partnership with them.

We are starting off the program with 28 of our cadets, and 21 active duty Marines. We hope to increase our numbers as the fever catches on and more of our local active duty members from all branches of the military become aware of our program! Our goal is to have a 1:1 initiative for all of the cadets in our building. Typically, when you hear of 1:1 initiatives, it is centered around technology, but here at The Academy, our purpose is to provide a one to one advocate for all of our cadets other than just their homeroom teacher.

Our Marine mentors are from many different ranks including Commander, First Sergeant, Gunnery Sergeant and Corporals to name a few. Mentors are mandated to spend at least two hours a week with their cadet and their time spent can be around any number of activities.

The biggest goal of the program is in the actual title, “A Partnership for a Greater Tomorrow Mentor Program.” We want our cadets to learn from our Marine Mentors that life is all about making the right choices and decisions when nobody’s looking.

Principal Grenda Receives Certificate of Commendation!

On May 26th, 2016, Colonel John C. Church Jr. of the United States Marine Corps came to visit A. J. Katzenmaier Academy alongside a number of other Marines who volunteer at The Academy as The Marines and AJK partner in the Adopt a School Program. The Colonel’s presence on this day was different as he was not there to volunteer. Colonel Church presented Principal Michael Grenda with a Commendation for Outstanding Achievement in Performance of Duties. Principal Grenda was not only presented with a certificate but a coin from The Colonel. The coin is an acknowledgement of excellence on behalf of Principal Grenda’s outstanding motivation and dedication to duty as it reflected credit upon himself and were in keeping with the highest traditions of The Marine Corps and The United States Naval Service.

What Do Elite Sentinels Think About AJK Academy?…

Sherese BeardElite Sentinel Sherese Beard

I have been at AJK since third grade.  In third grade they didn’t have rank systems in this school.  It was boring.  Now, we have rank systems and that’s good because the people that are doing good get rewards for their behavior.  I like AJK because of the staff.  They help me with anything that I don’t know.  For example, I didn’t know a lot about fractions, and the teachers helped me learn by sitting with me and talking to me.  The best part of AJK is the rank system because when you achieve your goal you get a reward.  When I go to 6th grade, I’m going to miss the rank system and all the people that have helped me.


Hevyn TardElite Sentinel Hevyn Tard

I started AJK in Kindergarten.  So, I’ve been here for six years.  This school has really changed.  For example, when there was a different principal, she wouldn’t do anything about the referrals and people were being bad.  This year, the principal is doing more stuff about it and not just leaving it.  I like AJK because we have less parties and we do more work.  It helps me more and helps me go up in MAP. The best part of AJK is this year we are an Academy and not just a school.  When I go to 6th grade, I’m going to miss Mr. Grenda and the teachers because they helped us this year and they taught us more stuff.


dominic maineElite Sentinel Dominic Maine

This is my second school year at AJK.  It’s a great Academy!  It’s great when people are listening and doing what they are supposed to do.  But, when people get off track it’s not as good because people won’t make their rank.  There are a lot of Cadets in my class.  To me, the best part of AJK is that it’s better than being at Yeager or other schools in our district because of the ranks and our attendance is good, but we’re not 90-90-90.  When I go to 6th grade I’m going to miss all of the staff and the principal because I’m moving this summer.  I’m moving to Florida because my mom doesn’t want to be up here because it’s all snowy and she wants to be down there where it’s warm and there is no snow.


Adamirez PenaElite Sentinel Adamirez Pena

This is my third year at AJK.  I think it’s a pretty great school because AJK always pushes you to do the best.  My favorite thing about AJK is the teachers because they are always helping me or asking me if I need help on anything and if I say yes, they ask me what I need help on and then they help me with that.  Something that makes AJK different from other schools is that the staff believes in the kids.  When I go to 6th grade, I’m going to miss the Fun Fridays because we get rewarded for being on the right track.


Jeremy BrownElite Sentinel Jeremy Brown

I think AJK is a nice place because kids are nice.  Some of them play nice.  Besides that things are good here.  The food tastes good.  We learn more every day.  We talk about our business at Morning Meeting.  My favorite part of AJK is the rank system and the new thing Mr. Grenda is coming up with, the Kid President because there’s not been a school like this place.  It’s nice.  Like, Charter might have more students and more grades, but we have something even better.  We have friendship.  I think it’s important for a second grader to know when they come to AJK that they should raise their hand, not talk when the teacher is talking which is what we do sometimes, and they should learn RRCC.  AJK is the best school because we have a good Principal, Assistant Principal, good teachers, and I guess it’s just everything.  I can’t say everything that comes to my mind.  I just know that this school is good.


Airicka JacksonElite Sentinel Airicka Jackson

This is my second year at AJK. I was here for first grade, then I went to Forrestal for second grade, and now I’m back for third grade.  AJK changed a lot since I was here in first grade.  For example, the Principal is different, the staff, we have a cadence and a creed, and especially the classrooms look different because there are different posters.  My favorite thing about AJK is that we were changed into an Academy because I’m getting to be a part of history for being at this school and it feels cool.  I think it’s important for second graders to know that they are going to have to try really hard and that they are going to have to get used to some stuff, and that they are going to get to be a part of history at this school.  They are going to get to be a part of a legendary adventure.


Roseleen MelchorElite Sentinel Roseleen Melchor

This is my second year at AJK.  AJK is different from other schools I’ve been to because we have ranks and RRCC.  In my last school they didn’t have anything like RRCC.  I like AJK a lot because it’s just like, it’s a place I understand because the teachers like Mr. Norstrom explain things in simple ways so that I can understand.  Some of my favorite things about AJK are the ranks, because it inspires kids to work harder so that they can get to the rank, they have teachers who are there to help you if you are having a problem, and my most favorite thing is that we don’t have any mean teachers.  I think AJK is an amazing school.  I wouldn’t want to be in any other school.  If my parents told me that I was going to have to go to another school, I would say no and persuade them to let me stay right here!


Geovanni RodriguezElite Sentinel Geovanni Rodriguez

This is my fourth year at AJK. I like AJK because it’s good and it’s awesome because Mrs. Niemasik is a good teacher.  I like doing math, especially plus and take away.  I like the rank system because I get to wear a badge every day.  I get to do Fun Fridays.  I get to take kids to the bathroom and be a class messenger.  My favorite part of AJK is going to recess outside because I get to swing on the swing set. When I go to 6th grade, I’m going to miss my friends, my teacher, Mr. Grenda, Ms. Kaplan and Morning Meetings.


Mia GluzermanElite Sentinel Mia Gluzerman

I’ve been at AJK since kindergarten.  Things have changed a lot since then.  We used to not have morning meeting.  We would do the pledge in the classrooms.  I like it better now because when Mr. Grenda came, he was getting a lot of kids to tighten up.  I like that most students are on the road to becoming knighthood because then they know that they were doing good all year long.  My favorite thing about AJK is the cadence, because I like the beats and I like how I get to scream during it.  I wouldn’t want to be in any other school because this school really helps me tighten up and get on the road to knighthood.  I was a Dame last year and I’m trying to be a Dame again this year, because my mom is really proud of me when I get there and I’m really proud of myself for all of my hard work when I get there.


Mitzy VillegasElite Sentinel Mitzy Villegas

This is my second year at AJK.  I like it here because we get Fun Thursdays when we’re on rank.  AJK is different from other schools because it’s an Academy, and we’re not average we exceed expectations.  My favorite part of AJK is the rank system because it helps you to do better and to try your hardest to show the most growth cause then you get things like pizza and ice cream.  I wouldn’t want to be in any other school because I have some friends that go to the other schools now and they tell me that it’s better at AJK than their schools.  I would miss the ranks at AJK because some schools don’t have them and they are just average.

AJK Cadets Talking About Their MAP Growth

Joshua5th Grade Cadet Joshua Reynoso

I grew 29 points on my winter MAP Math test. I feel good about that because I didn’t know if I could do it. When I told my parents they said congratulations. I grew because I was paying attention in Math class and we’re adding fractions and that helped me because most of the questions were about adding fractions. My advice to other Cadets so they can show growth is to pay attention in Math class and listen to the teachers.


Nevaeh3rd Grade Cadet Nevaeh Roberson

I grew 36 points on my winter MAP Math test. I was excited because I never grew that much before. I’m very, very proud of myself. Ms. Kaplan was so excited for me that we interrupted Mr. Grenda’s meeting so we could tell him how many points I grew. Mr. Grenda said, “Wow!” and everyone else in the room said, “Wow!” Then Mr. Grenda told me that he was going to take me to the Medieval Market. I grew so much because my teacher said that the MAP test was coming up so I went home and I studied a lot. I studied multiplication, addition, subtraction, division, and fractions. My advice to other Cadets so they can show growth is to study hard instead of playing. So, after school change your clothes and then instead of going outside, stay inside and study.


Shamya4th Grade Squire Shamya Cook

I grew 24 points on my winter MAP Math test and 25 points on my Reading test. I felt really excited and very, very proud of myself. My teacher, he was very thankful, very happy, and very proud of me. He said he was going to do something for me. I hope he’s going to let me get some more pizza because I love pizza. When I went home my mom was proud of me and she took me out bowling and out for pizza. I was able to grow because I was listening and understanding and some of the times already know the basics. My advice to other Cadets so they can show growth too is to focus and to understand the topics.


Armani3rd Grade Squire Armani King

I grew 24 points on my winter MAP Reading test. I felt great because I thought I was going to fail, but I did great! My teacher said, “No, you didn’t.” Then she surprised me and said, “Yes, you did.” She was proud of me! When I got home I told my mom and she was proud of me too. I was able to grow because I took my time, I stay focused, and I read all of the passages. When my friend tried to talk to me I just ignored her and I stayed concentrating. My advice to other Cadets so they can show growth too, is just take your time and do your best.


Jazzaty4th Grade Squire Jazzaty Bailey

I grew 38 points on my winter MAP Reading test. I felt happy and proud of myself because I usually don’t grow that many points in Reading. My teacher was happy like really, really happy and she said we needed to celebrate because she was so happy. When I told my mom and dad they were happy and proud too. I got to go to the mall for a special treat. I was able to grow because when I’m in class I don’t feel like I can do stuff, but my teacher makes me feel like I can do things. I asked my teacher to give me some things to study and she did so I could practice my reading. My advice to other Cadets so they can show growth too, is to study, read more, and participate in class.


Robbie4th Grade Sentinel Robbie Green

I grew 30 points on my winter MAP Math test. I was really excited because I have never grown that high before. My teacher was so excited she waved her hands around all excited. When I told my mom she was happy that I grew 30 points. She was just super excited that I grew 30 points. I was able to grow because I just studied. On the test, some of the questions were really easy so I got them right. There were some multiplication problems so I studied my multiplication facts. My advice to other Cadets so they can show growth too is to listen when your teacher is at the board, and just do what’s right.


Alejandro4th Grade Squire

I grew 26 points on my winter MAP Reading test and 23 points on my Math test. I was excited because I grew more than my fall scores. I was really proud of myself. My teacher was excited too. He was happy and he told me that he’s going to work with me more so I can grow even more! When I told my parents they were excited and they were happy about me! We got to go to Buffalo Wild Wings as a treat! I was able to grow because I studied in my classroom and I studied at my house. I studied division, my times tables, fractions, and I went to the library and I got a big book and read it. My advice for other Cadets so they can grow too is to keep studying so you can grow.


Map Students

Pictured are Cadets that grew 20 or more points on their Winter MAP tests in Reading, Math, or both. Keep up the hard work Cadets!