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Ron Port

AJK Cadets of the Week

Yaretzi Mujica

Sentinel Yaretzi goes above and beyond showing R.R.C.C. in the classroom.  She is a great leader in the classroom and is always willing to help others without being asked.  Sentinel Yaretzi treats everyone with respect.  She comes to the Academy with a positive attitude and is ready to learn.



4th Grade Sentinel

This young lady is an outstanding Sentinel.  She is a hard worker in the classroom and very helpful to others.  She is always respectful to her fellow cadets and teachers.  She is responsible and committed to her classmates, friends, and school.  This Sentinel raises the bar for other cadets to follow.  She is a perfect example of what it is like to follow R.R.C.C.


5th Grade Cadet

General Fahey and Coach Grenda both have spoken of warriors who kept pushing even when the odds were against them.  Of all the cadets yet to rank up, this young man keeps showing the most fight in the third quarter.  We recognize him not only for his growth and persistence, but for his resilience.  As with all our cadets, squires, and sentinels, there is much growth to be gained on the road to Knighthood; yet this cadet has shown the most persistence and resilience in emulating the squires and sentinels, dames and knights who have gone before him.


gregory-colbertGregory Colbert

Gregory comes to class ready to learn with a positive attitude daily. Gregory is always following RRCC and is a good role model for other cadets. He participates in class and takes pride in all of his work. He gives his best effort no matter what task he is given. Gregory is Cadet of the Week because of his willingness to always make himself better.

Mr. Hentschel



Morgan Summerville

This squire is new to the Academy this year.  Since the beginning of 4th Grade she has grown an incredible amount, both in her academics and her behavior.  She is truly a talented reader and each day she continues to be a model in setting high expectations for herself.  In the classroom, she has become an outstanding helper and is always encouraging her peers to succeed.

Ms. Greenberg



3rd Grade Squire

This third grade squire is kind to others and exhibits RRCC at all times.  He is a role model in our classroom.  This squire has a growth mindset and is persistent in his academics.

Mr. Truelove




Ashley Hernandez

Ashley comes to the Academy with a smile on her face every day.  She has a positive attitude towards learning and RRCC.  She also takes great pride in her accomplishments in the classroom.  Ashley is an excellent role model to all cadets.

Ms. Altemese




Ysabella Baker

The cadet chosen as Cadet of the Week is Ysabella Baker.  Ysabella comes to the Academy and wants to be here.  She is actively involved in her education and is always ready and eager to learn.  She asks questions, and challenges herself at all levels. She is respectful to the people around her (teachers, staff, and cadets) and is highly regarded by her peers.  For these reasons, I submit Ysabella Baker for Cadet of the Week.

Mr. Norstrom



Michelle Calderon

This cadet has shown leadership academically and behaviorally.  She consistently follows RRCC and is helpful to her fellow cadets.  She stays positive and has also been awarded classroom cadet of the week.

Ms. Patterson


Congratulations AJK Academy!

A letter from 4th grader Cayla Williams that speaks to the culture and climate of The Academy.


The AJK Academy Palace

I think of A.J.K. as a Palace. The reason why is because it’s so nice, neat and clean. Everyone is so respectful. Another thing is this is a place I can’t wait to go to in the morning. When I wake up I rush here because this is my home half of the day and I enjoy it. I enjoy the work, the deep conversations, and doing the creed that’s my favorite part of everyday. The reason why I like doing the creed every day is because it makes me feel powerful every morning. It just shows a way of Respect and High Quality. I love the way how we have High Expectations, because without expectations then we wouldn’t be the academy we are today. This not a school full of students, this is a school full of cadets, squires, and sentinels. We don’t sell ourselves short, we go extreme. We are the academy we’re meant to be. We are the people we’re meant to be. To become a squire you need to follow RRCC and address others appropriately (2/3 points for adult and peer evaluation). To become a sentinel you have to follow RRCC and not have more than 3 referrals and attendance 95%. That’s why we’re an Academy like we are meant to be.


Cayla Williams

Art from the Heart

Students at A. J. Katzenmaier practiced the art of cubism inspired by none other than Pablo Picasso with our volunteers from the Art from the Heart program.

Analytical Cubism is one of the two major branches of the artistic movement of Cubism and was developed between 1908 and 1912. In contrast to Synthetic cubism, Analytic cubists “analyzed” natural forms and reduced the forms into basic geometric parts on the two-dimensional picture plane. Color was almost non-existent except for the use of a monochromatic scheme that often included grey, blue and ochre. Instead of an emphasis on color, Analytic cubists focused on forms like the cylinder, sphere and the cone to represent the natural world. During this movement, the works produced by Picasso and Braque shared stylistic similarities.

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What Our Squires Really Think About AJK…

IMG_13065th Grade Squire

I like this school because it’s perfect for me and if any student in the world can’t succeed, and they come to this school they will succeed because we’re AJK and we succeed at everything.

My favorite thing about this school is our knighthood ranks and RRCC because I went to like 7 schools and none of them had the ranks and they only paid attention to the lower class students and AJK pays attention to all of us even the higher class students so even they can grow more.


IMG_1305Squire Jacob Johns

I like RRCC and the rank system because they help me push harder, get better grades, do better in school, try my hardest on a test or a MAP test and do my best in specials or at home.  It helps you do good in sports, get your homework done on time, and feel good about yourself when you rank up and to try harder to get to knighthood



IMG_13085th Grade Squire

I like that AJK has a system that helps kids get a better chance to advance and grow because it helped me and my sister a lot.  She was at like c level in her grades and now she has only one B and the rest are A’s.  I like that AJK pushes you and makes you try your hardest.  Even if you are low the teachers help you grow to a higher level.  My favorite thing is our rank system.  We start off as cadets.  But as we get higher the rank system pushes us more to get to the next level.


IMG_1309Squire Samantha Gonzalez

I like that we have MAP testing because based on our scores that we get we have centers and even though we get people we don’t like we still have to respect them and work with them.   I like that we get incentives because it pushes us to get points and the more points we get it’s the best.  My favorite thing is that we have morning meetings because the principal tells us what we do wrong and not that many schools have it and we get the privilege to have it.  Other schools don’t have Morning Meeting and they just have to start the day right away. The principal makes announcements to us.  I like the rank system because it won’t make you feel bad because even if you don’t make a Squire, someone who is squire can set the example for you.


IMG_13104th Grade Squire

One thing that I like is that we use RRCC to turn AJK into a better school than other schools.  At other schools they don’t have ranks and at this school they have ranks and adults, cadets and squires give people a lot of respect with how they want to be treated.  The ranks help you grow.  It helps you when you’re horrible and then you start feeling like you want to be a certain rank, so you start following directions, giving respect and focusing on behavior academics and attendance getting it 95% high.  My favorite part of AJK is the whole school day because at school you learn what you need help in and you can get focused on what you need. Then when you get out of class and go into the hallway you have to have a level 0 and at other schools you can be at any level.  But, at this school we have high expectations and other schools have medium expectations.  Plus you need to give people respect.  When it’s specials time you get to learn music, technology, how to be a librarian, and how to get healthy.


IMG_1311Squire Bethany Coultas

AJK is different from the other three schools I’ve been to.  All my other schools we didn’t have to treat each other with respect, and when I moved with my step mom I had to start using my Sirs and Ma’am’s.  When I moved to this school I thought that it was cool that we had to use Sirs and Ma’am’s at school because I already had to use that at home.   I like the teachers the most because they are polite and they can get you from the grade level you are to the next grade level and I think that is cool.  My favorite part of AJK is Morning Meeting because it’s a nice way to start your day and it helps me to build confidence. When Mr. Grenda talks in front of the school and gets so fired up and talks about the school day I think it’s cool because that helps me build my confidence.


IMG_1313Squire Julian Rodgers

What I like about AJK is the rank system here because no other school has rank systems. It pushes you to do the right thing and it really boosts your confidence.  I also like RRCC because no other school has 4 core values like we do.  My favorite thing about AJK is morning meeting because we sit down and we can talk a little bit and at 7:40 we read for 5-10 min then the principal says to close the books and then the Pledge of Allegiance.  Then after that we say our creed.  Next, our principal tells us to sit down and we talk about housekeeping.  After that we get up and do a cadence then we go to our class at 0 volume in the hallways.  We get dismissed to class by grades.


IMG_1315Squire Yasmin Gutierrez

I like the rank system because for the people that become Squires they can help the people that are behind to get on track.  We get rewarded for using good manners. When you’re a squire you get fun Fridays and you get to know other squires.  My favorite part of AJK is when we are in the class because in the class we get to bond with our fellow classmates and in the reading groups we get to help each other with things we don’t know.  AJK is a really good school because here we call it an Academy instead of a school and we have high expectations.


IMG_1314Squire Reaonah Williams

I like the RRCC because RRCC is not only something we say.  When you do RRCC you have to totally believe in it.  I believe in it because if you believe in it, it helps you become Squire, Sentinel, Elite Sentinel or Knight or Dame. I like RRCC because when you follow it, it’s something that is important to everyone in the Academy.  It makes the school better because it means to have respect for self and others, be responsible for all our actions, have commitment to our community and have commitment to our education.  My favorite thing about AJK is the cadence because when you say it, it’s actually talking about our school and saying we are number one and that’s important.   So, when visitors come to our school they can hear about our school and know what we are all about.

What Our Sentinels Really Think About AJK…

CarolinaSentinel Carolina Cardoso Luna

I think that AJK is kind of better than the other schools I’ve been to before. At my other school they didn’t really help me a lot and my grades were kind of low, but AJK made my grades go up more because Ms. Patterson makes us go into groups of our levels and she tells me to pay more attention in class. My favorite part of AJK is the rank system because it helps you have high expectations so you can go to a certain rank. AJK can bring your MAP scores even higher than you used to have it because AJK has teachers that can help you achieve the goal that you have.



3rd Grade Sentinel

We have high expectations. We are always trying to do better. We have four core values RRCC, respect for yourself and others, responsible for all our actions, commitment to education and commitment to our community. I think that they are good expectations because it helps keep our school on track. My favorite things about AJK are Mr. Grenda and Ms. Kaplan because they are always giving us high expectations, always making sure we are doing the right thing, and helping us out when we need it. Our teachers they are always helping us with our work and if we’re behind in our grade level they will help us get to our actual grade level. If we don’t understand something the teachers will always work with us until we get to where we know it.



3rd Grade Sentinel

I think our school is nice because I love all the kids and the teachers.  AJK is really different from the others schools I’ve been to because in the other schools the principal never talked to us about having high expectations.  I like that the principal pushes us to learn harder.  At AJK we have a morning meeting and I like that because at my other school we never actually sat down in the P.E. room and talked.  It’s good that we do this because the principal can tell us how he feels.  I like that Mr. Grenda tells me lots of things about learning because if kids are having a hard time Mr. Grenda can motivate them.



Sentinel Lilibeth Martinez

I like that the hallways are clean.  I like that we all use Sir’s and Ma’am’s because it’s nice and respectful.  AJK is great because we have a morning meeting.  The best part of morning meeting is when Mr. Grenda tells us what we are supposed to do because it makes us change a little bit.  My favorite thing about AJK is RRCC because it’s showing respect to other people.




Sentinel Ava Yohn

AJK is a great school because Mr. Grenda is trying his best to keep our school good.  I like that there’s ranks because they’re pushing me to try harder.  I want to get all the way to being a Dame because my sister never made it and I want to be the first one to do it.  I like our school because it’s challenging like the homework sometimes.  I like that because whenever it’s hard it makes me learn something.  My favorite thing about AJK is RRCC because it makes us learn manners.



Sentinel Ariyon Barnes

What I like about AJK is our principal Mr. Grenda because he’s a good principal because he gives us ranks like Squires and Sentinels.  I like that most students follow RRCC.  That’s good because we get to have lots of Squires, Dames, and Knights.  RRCC made me change because last year I didn’t make it to Squire and I felt bad for myself, so I changed this year and made good changes to my behavior and turning in my homework and I made it to Squire and Sentinel.  Now, I feel good about myself because I made it.  My favorite thing about AJK is being Sentinel because I get a lot of privileges.  I think there’s some good staff because they teach the students.



Sentinel Jabbari Sparkman

AJK is the best school I’ve ever come to in my whole entire life.  I like how our rank system is set up because each rank it pushes you to become more responsible and a leader and maybe you can pull the Cadets up to your rank.  I like Mr. Grenda because he’s competitive.  He wants us to try our hardest and to show what we’re really made of.  I think that’s good because when you become who you want to be when you grow up you will think back on Mr. Grenda and how good he was at being a principal.  He was close to me and my family, so he’s a role model to me.  Ms. Kaplan, is the best teacher that I’ve had in all my years because when we did something really bad, she took our rank away and we had to show her we were responsible enough to get our rank back and move onto the next rank.  That helped me because if Ms. Kaplan wasn’t my teacher last year I wouldn’t be where I am now.

Read With Me!

Read with Me is a literacy program, sponsored by Lake County Cares, that unites students from neighboring communities.  North Chicago Community Partners brought this exciting program to Forrestal School in 2012 and, as of last year, AJK students and teachers became the beneficiaries of this collaboration.  As a part of this program, AJK 3rd grade students will meet with 5th grade “reading buddies” from Oak Grove Elementary School, three times throughout year, read a book together, share a snack and participate in an enrichment activity surrounding the theme of the book.

AJK Hosts its First Monthly Inspection

Monthly Inspections are used at AJK to instill a sense of accountability among its Cadets and push our District’s mission of growing global citizens. Inspection, for AJK, is intended for administration, staff and cadets to get a feel for what is working within our climate and culture and what needs to be coached up. It will show trending data that cadets do and do not understand within this specific component to our Core Values. The administration tries to bring in groups of individuals, who themselves, have a set of core values similar to our own for inspections. That being noted, AJK was honored to have our beloved Marine Corps report for our November Inspection.

This particular inspection’s focus was centered on the following areas:

  1. Morning Meeting
  2. Hallway Climate
  3. Locker Inspection
  4. Knowing our core values (R.R.C.C.)

Our marines were briefed by administration in regards to our Core Values and then provided a list of questions to ask random cadets relative to the focus areas of the inspection. They were then asked to provide a point value for the responses they heard and tell us why they scored as they did. The responses are as follows:

Category: Morning Meeting

Point Value: 4.78 (out of a 5 point scale)


“High motivation and coordinative efforts. Not much work needed for perfection.”

“Morning meeting was good. The purpose of allowing the children the opportunity to understand why they are here is great.”

 “This is the first school I have visited that has a motivated song in the end, which is very motivating and gets the blood flowing. Also, some schools don’t recite the Pledge of Allegiance but this school does that. I wish my school was like this.”

“Students were involved. Lots of energy! Very motivating! Great way of getting the day started.”

“Very motivated. Tons of energy. These kids look ready to accomplish the goals set in front of them. Most of the kids look like they are having fun. I am also impressed on how the principal can speak to the children like adults and still have them understand.”


Category: Hallway Culture and Climate

Point Value: 4.78 (out of a 5 point scale)


“Hallway culture and climate was great. The students keep up with the hallway.”

“Hallway was quiet and students only spoke when they were spoken to. I was addressed by sir when speaking to children.”

 “It was very quiet and the students were very responsive to teachers’ orders. The students were very respectful toward myself and the teachers.”


Category: Locker Inspection

Point Value: 4.89 (out of a 5 point scale)


“Lockers are clean and organized.”

“The lockers were very clean and organized and they seemed to take pride in the placement of their school items.”

“Lockers were very clean and looked organized. Jackets were hung and books were neatly stacked.”

“Three random lockers were inspected. One of them had hygiene products covered and aligned military style. I was impressed.”


Category: RRCC

Point Value: 4.63 (out of a 5 point scale)

Comments for RRCC: N/A

Overall Comments of the School:

“The students were very motivated. The school is well-organized and morning meetings are a great way to start the day. I thought this was great.”

“The school is very clean and organized. The school is diverse and I think the kids are very respectful and you just don’t see kids like this in schools. The kids know their RRCC and I asked some kids in random if they respect others outside the school and they all said yes.”

“Children were very respectful and quiet. The amount of patience and discipline these kids have is amazing. Speaking to the children, they were so respectful and answered all of the questions correctly.”

“The students are very respectful and have good manners. I like that they are not talking when someone else is talking and that they are paying attention to their surroundings.”    

“I think this school has a positive impact on the kids not only while they are attending this school, but it will have a lasting impact when they reach adulthood.”

Fun with STEM and Harvest Hope

On Saturday, November 14, North Chicago Community Partners (NCCP) and Lake Forest Academy (LFA) hosted a two-part event at A.J. Katzenmaier School (AJK), Fun with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and Harvest Hope. Throughout the day, 65 AJK students and their LFA buddies were engaged in hands-on, STEM education activities and more than 190 members of the AJK School Community shopped for holiday-dinner themed groceries. In addition, the LFA families and parents contributed to the day’s events by hosting a food drive and pancake breakfast.

Non-Perishable Food Drive
In the weeks leading up to the event, LFA students collected 2,239 individual, non-perishable food items including brownie mix, macaroni and cheese, canned fruits and vegetables and more! As if that wasn’t amazing enough, a LFA parent coordinated a donation from ACH Foods of 1,000 individual items.

Pancake Breakfast
LFA parent volunteers got the morning started by preparing the most important meal of the day. Together, AJK and LFA students enjoyed pancakes, sausage, milk and fresh fruit before diving into the STEM-fun!

Fun with STEM
AJK students had the opportunity to engage as young scientists, engineers and mathematicians for the day. Introducing the concepts of gravity, air resistance and propulsion, the students and their LFA buddies designed parachutes to save their eggs from cracking, built mini cannons to launch marshmallows and used Lego candies to solve math problems! At the conclusion of the morning, students were able to take home a bag of STEM-related goodies, generously funded by an LFA parent, to continue the STEM education at home.

Harvest Hope
The afternoon concluded with the opening of the Harvest Hope grocery store. In addition to the items donated by the LFA community, NCCP purchased an additional 4,000 pounds of meat, produce, bread and more from the Northern Illinois Food Bank.

None of this would have been possible without the 75 helping hands of Lake Forest Academy students, parents and staff members. North Chicago Community Partners is incredibly thankful for the opportunity to partner with Lake Forest Academy, for the fifth consecutive year, to make Fun with STEM and Harvest Hope an incredible learning and relationship building opportunity for all involved.

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AJK and AdvancED Partnership

A.J. Katzenmaier has spent the last couple of months preparing for a visit from AdvancED.  AdvancED is the largest community of education professionals in the world. They are a non-profit, non-partisan organization that conducts rigorous, on-site external reviews of PreK-12 schools and school systems to ensure that all learners realize their full potential. While their expertise is grounded in more than a hundred years of work in school accreditation, AdvancED is far from a typical accrediting agency. Their goal isn’t to certify that schools are good enough. Rather, their commitment is to help schools improve.

A.J. Katzenmaier went through a pre-accreditation review to see where we currently are in order to create a school improvement plan that would highly impact our cadets’ learning in the classrooms as well as the culture and climate of the building. The results were as follows:

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1st Parent Night… A Huge Success!

We had an amazing time at our 1st parent night!  Parents discussed and shared thoughts and ideas for our school, while students and staff engaged in fun activities.