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Ron Port

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.

Teacher of the Month!

November’s Teacher of the Month:1030150803 Brian Eck, for his involvement in creating a PBIS system of support that involves all stakeholders and makes ownership a key to our success.

Putting A Cap On Drugs

downloadfile-2During Red Ribbon Week, AJK celebrated saying no to drugs by signing a pledge to be drug free.  Each day this week, we had a different “themed” out of dress code day to support this pledge.

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