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Ron Port

Parent Luncheon

It Starts With Us – Parent Luncheon

The Academy hosted its second monthly, “It Starts With Us” luncheon on Tuesday December 6th. The turnout was amazing!

The purpose of the monthly luncheon is twofold; provide opportunities throughout the academic day for parents to be a part of their cadet’s day and for administration and staff to share some resources that parents can use at home with their cadets. Lunch is approximately a half hour, followed by 15 minutes of parent tips and resources to use at home and then the last 15 minutes, parents are allowed to see teaching in action.

“We’ve found that the more we open our doors to our parents, opportunities for clarification and understanding become more proactive versus reactive” says the Academy’s principal, Mike Grenda.

December’s parent count was 56 total. Our hopes are to increase that every month. Typically, “It Starts With Us” luncheons are the first Tuesday of every month, however January is a little tricky. Look for a flyer to come home with your cadet the week we return from Winter Break for our next January date.

The Academy Gives Thanks!

Cadets in the Ambassador Program at A. J. Katzenmaier Academy went on a fieldtrip to Feed My Starving Children located in Libertyville, Illinois. Feed My Starving Children was founded in 1987 and is a Christian non-profit that provides nutritionally complete meals specifically formulated for malnourished children. Their mission is simple: Feeding starving children hungry in body and spirit. The process is simple. Donations are given by people to fund the meal ingredients. Volunteers hand-pack the meals and then meals are donated to FMSC food partners around the world, where kids are fed and lives are saved!

Cadets and parents from AJKA joined in this partnership as a way of giving thanks and a Commitment to Community that we feel is essential for our cadets. Principal Grenda says, “What our cadets get out of this fieldtrip is tenfold. They begin to understand that we all have a way in which we can live a life of service. Once this objective is understood, we have done our due diligence in transforming our cadets from just children to responsible citizens in a global society.”  Overall, alongside a team of volunteers, The Academy helped to package 82 boxes, serving 49,200 meals to starving children in the Philippines and Haiti. As this was their first fieldtrip to Feed My Starving Children, The Academy will definitely be returning.

Animal Research Project

Mr. Truelove’s class show off their Animal Research Science Gallery.

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.

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