School News

AJK Celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month

The Academy celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month with some very special performances.  Choreographed and directed by Candace Ferguson, Linda Juarez and Dr. Stacy Thomas, students sang traditional hispanic songs, read poetry from hispanic poets and danced to celebrate spanish heritage.

If you missed the performances… you can see them on the attached video!

Did you know...

Hispanic Heritage Month takes place September 15 to October 15 every year as a time to recognize and celebrate the many contributions, diverse cultures, and extensive histories of the American Latino community. Beginning in 1968, Hispanic Heritage Month was originally observed as “Hispanic Heritage Week” under President Lyndon Johnson, but it was later extended to a month during President Ronald Reagan’s term in 1988.

-Information provided by the U.S. Department of Education

R.R.C.C. September Dance!

The Academy hosted its first R.R.C.C. dance for the 2019-2020 school year. One of our main priorities here is to create a positive learning environment. 

Our core values are represented in R.R.C.C.

Respect for Self and Others
Responsible for All Our Actions
Commitment to Education
Commitment to Community

Students enter into A.J.K. Academy as Cadets.  Each quarter, the Cadets strive to become the next rank on the Road to Knighthood.  Students can move up in rank by meeting academic, attendance, and behavioral goals. Special privileges are earned with each move up in rank.

After the end of the first quarter, in order to make rank and become a Squire,  cadets must have maintained a 95% attendance rate, keep a C average or better, and not received more than 3 behavioral referrals in our first 9 weeks. It is also mandatory to speak to adults and peers in a respectful manner and one of our ways for implementing this respect for self and others is by using Sir and Ma’am with adults and referring to our fellow classmates by their name. 

Cadets who demonstrate positive behaviors as well as maintain at least a C average, will be invited to attend the Academy’s monthly dances. We look forward to our October dance!


Students and staff from AJK Academy, Alexander Elementary, Neal Math and Science Academy and North Chicago High School met before school to walk with a cop to school. As part of a community-engagement project, this event helps build relationships between the police department and the community.


This week, the North Chicago Fire Department talked to the cadets about fire prevention/safety.

Did you know… Fire Prevention Week was established to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire, the tragic 1871 fire that left 100,000 homeless, destroyed more than 17,400 structures and burned more than 2,000 acres. The fire began on October 8, but continued into and did most of its damage on October 9, 1871.

Since 1922, Fire Prevention Week has been observed on the Sunday through Saturday period in which October 9 falls.

Click here to learn about fire prevention week

Discover Day of Service

On Friday, September 13th,  4th grade cadets from the Academy had the opportunity to participate in some hands-on S.T.E.M. activities, during the Discover Day of Service. STEM is a curriculum based on the idea of educating students in four specific disciplines — Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Cadets were fortunate to have volunteers from Discover join us for a day of fun and learning. They learned about chemical reactions, blew bubbles inside another bubble and experimented with Pop Rocks and how the unique makeup of this candy can be combined with soda to blow up a balloon. At the end of the day, cadets were given a bag with more S.T.E.M. activities that they could do at home. Thank you Discover for your time and a great day of learning!

A Tribute to Mrs. Sanders

AJK Academy’s latest fine arts project is a tribute to their late Assistant Principal and friend Mrs. Louise Sanders. Inspired by glass artist Dale Chihuly, 5th grade art students who knew her best, created a vibrant mobile constructed of water bottles. The cascading bottles, with shades of blue, symbolize colorectal cancer awareness. This beautiful piece of art was engineered and installed by AJK Academy’s art teacher, Stacy Thomas and the AJKA Art Club.

Art Gallery Debut

Representatives of the “D187 Off the ChARTs” movement and AJKA Art Club members had the esteemed honor of debuting their artwork at Urban Edge Art Gallery in Waukegan, IL.

Kimmya Edwards, Andrea Alvarez, Mary Lee Brewton and Ashley Aguilar were among some of the other talented hands of designers from A.J. Katzenmaier Academy and other elementary students throughout the district.

The showing took place on December 1st at a World Aids Day event chaired by Alexian Brothers – The Harbor and supported by other community partners.

Our most valued accomplishment, “Blue Louise”, made its first public appearance at the event. From there it will be included in future presentations before it’s housed in the lobby of A.J. Katzenmaier Academy.

Cadet Wins Big!

The Academy would like to congratulate fourth grader Cadet Quetzaly Astudillo as the winner of our Ghost writing assignment! After finishing a whole school read on Jason Reynold’s chapter book Ghost, cadets were asked to write their own ending as the book ended abruptly with the start of the race and didn’t let the readers know what happened at the end. Cadets were given the last paragraph of the book and they were tasked with writing what they thought would happen next. Cadet Quetzaly wrote the following:
“And the contestants sprinted towards the finish line as if their life depended on it. On the far left was Ghost, who had a fierce concentration unmatched by the others. He started off strong with the lead and felt as though he was unstoppable. Then, out of nowhere, he felt the rough edge of what felt seemed like the largest pebble in the universe. In what seemed like slow motion, Ghost landed on the ground and watched as Brandon sprinted right by him. In that moment, Ghost had two options. He could either stay down and accept failure or get back up and not give up without a fight. He couldn’t stand the thought of not giving it his all. He knew he would rather lose the race giving it his all than not trying at all. Ghost got up and ran like he never ran before. He could hear the cheers coming from the crowd. He took the final steps to the finish line and it was all over. Brandon had won the race but that was okay because Ghost knew he was still a winner. He never gave up.”
I have just one word… AMAZING

Walk a Cop to School

Students and staff from AJK Academy, Alexander Elementary, Neal Math and Science Academy and North Chicago High School met before school to walk with a cop to school.  As part of a community-engagement project, this event helps build relationships between the police department and the community.

Read more about Walk a Cop to School in the Lake County News-Sun

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.”