Hearts for Heroes

Valentines for Frontline Workers

During the month of February, the Saints of Lakewood Catholic Academy wanted to share love with all those in our community who have become our heroes during the COVID-19 pandemic — our dedicated medical professionals and first responders.

Teachers and students collaborated on a school service project called Hearts for Heroes to share some hand-made valentines with these community heroes. The gifts were delivered to hospitals, firehouses and police stations in time for Valentine’s Day. Additionally, our Saints created an inspiring video message accompanied with music by our talented music teacher, Ms. Amanda Podhradsky.

LCA: Proud to be an IB World School

As the holiday season approaches, I find myself deeply grateful that we are here. There is truly no place I’d rather be than at LCA — in this bustling building filled with committed teachers and energetic students. Most of us are learning together physically. That opportunity comes with new routines and responsibilities. Some of us connect remotely. That opportunity comes with new technology and patience.

I am often asked what it means to be an IB World School. There is simply no way to answer that in one sentence. But I do believe that a central characteristic to a true IB World School is an ongoing openness to growth. What does growth really mean? And what does it feel like?

As anyone who has worked or learned at LCA can attest, growth is often the result of discomfort. Those who learn in our community are not promised an easy chair, rather they are promised a ladder. And given the ladder, they climb. With aching muscles they ascend. Our new reality has demanded that we develop new skills to become masterful climbers. Even the smallest moments of our day have changed, and that reality has truly exercised our brain.

The ability of the brain to form and reorganize is known as neuroplasticity. Stanford University brain expert David Eagleman believes that this challenging new reality is good for our brain. “Our brains typically make a model of the world so they can operate efficiently in it,” Eagleman says. “The Covid pandemic has knocked us all off our paths of least resistance, such that our brains are forced to rethink everything…But the tiny silver lining is that getting knocked off your path of least resistance is the best thing that can happen to your brain in terms of plasticity.” Our mental gymnastics, while often exhausting, do pay off in the long run.

We do not walk this journey alone. All across the world, teachers and students are creatively adapting. The common sentiment seems to be a deep desire for growth. And, as an IB World School, we honor that passion.

I invite you to take time to view and read content on our IB web page. This page is where you will find LCA IB newsletter issues, including our most recent compilation that tells the story of 2020 thus far. You will also find our four IB MYP Policies which, through reflection and collaboration, have been recently updated. Implicitly and explicitly referenced in our policies is our commitment to fostering growth. A hunger for growth is at the center of what it means to thrive at Lakewood Catholic Academy. And for that, I am grateful.

Be a Saint!
Eileen Murphy McGuire
Dean of the IB Program

Entertain and Engage Despite The 7-Day Forecast

The weather has a way of dampening our plans. Unfortunately, when you have kids, it also has a knack for causing cabin fever. When you are stuck indoors with little bundles of energy, you sometimes have to get super creative to figure out what to do. After all, you can only stand the sound of Minecraft music in the background for so long, and even your kids will eventually get bored without something challenging to pour their energy into.

When it’s Teens

When the temperature outside is in the single digits or a storm is brewing, teenagers may retreat to their bedroom with video games in-hand. While there’s nothing necessarily wrong with wasting a wet afternoon away battling Bulbasoar or searching Hyrule for Princess Zelda, Education World explains kids don’t get much educational benefit from it.

Have them change things up a bit by grabbing a laptop to help them play a few educational games or finish up any lingering homework. If you don’t have one already, it’s an investment that they can use for years to come. Before you buy, however, look for one that will last – durable, plenty of storage, and easily portable.

In the Middle

Middle school children – those between 11 and 14 years – may still enjoy a few hands-on activities. Red Ted Art offers several ideas for weather-themed arts and crafts that even tweens may find fun and challenging. You might, for example, build a sun catcher, sundial, or a bottle wind spinner.

You can also use these creative sessions for their personal development and to help them learn about the weather and the world around them. If your kids are into music, put their knowledge to the test by playing “name that tune.” You can download songs to your phone or simply hum them out loud.

Something else that the not-yet-adult crowd may enjoy is getting in the kitchen to cook with you. By this age, they are plenty old enough to crack eggs, use the blender, and take things out of the oven with supervision. Mom Junction’s ideas for easy desserts can serve as great inspiration, but don’t be afraid to let them dig through the cabinets and pantry to come up with their own dishes.

Keep kids busy by letting them help in the kitchen.

The Littles

The elementary and younger crowd are both the easiest and the hardest to keep busy when the backyard is off limits. If you have multiple age groups, the littles may have already gotten jealous that their big brothers or sisters got to help out in the kitchen.

You can appease their need to refine their own culinary skills by making no-churn ice cream together. While you will still need to do the whipping, this is a great recipe for little hands to gently mix the ingredients together, and of course, you can let them pick the flavor and any extra ingredients like nuts or chips.

With the sugar rush, the youngest members in confinement will need a way to burn off some excess energy. This is another place where music can come in handy. This time, however, plan a dance party in the living room or use your smart home speaker for an impromptu karaoke session. You can also play hide and seek, have an indoor scavenger hunt, or, when all else fails, let them jump on the bed until nap time.

Unpleasant and unpredictable weather does not have to ruin your time together. Look for activities that are age-appropriate and that can serve as instruments of fun and educational growth. Whether that’s math games on the computer or whipping up a sweet dairy treat in the kitchen, there are many activities that can easily pull double-duty on those days Mother Nature puts your parenting skills to the test.

~Guest Blog Post by Alice Jonas, educatorsupport.org.
Image courtesy of Pexels.

A Device-Free Holiday: Gift Ideas for Kids

It’s no secret that kids today often spend far too much time on their phones or in front of a screen. With experts recommending no more than one hour of screen time for preschool children — and limited time for kids of all ages — it’s important to make sure they have plenty of other ways to enjoy and interact with the world around them.

At LCA, we recognize the importance of limiting screen time while also providing meaningful technology instruction for our youngest Saints. In kindergarten through fourth grade, technology is integrated across all subject areas. PebbleGo, BookFlix, Edmentum and other apps are used, when appropriate, to enhance lessons. Beginning in second grade, students attend tech class once per week.

Fortunately, the holidays are a great time to provide kids with games, puzzles, and other items that will help them learn, have fun, and build skills in offline areas. Here are just a few suggestions for gifts that are fun, affordable, and educational — with no screen required!

For Young Children: Inspire the Imagination

Some of the best gifts for children allow them to use their imagination in a hands-on way. Consider something like a pretend doctor kit that allows them to dress up and check on imaginary patients, or a Kinetic Sandbox set through which they can build shapes and sculptures of their own design. These and other kits — from chemistry labs to art stations — come in a variety of sizes, so you can find the one that works for your child and your budget.

Don’t underestimate the value of a gift that brings the whole family together, such as a new board game. Young children will love the opportunity to play against you, siblings, or relatives, and with the seemingly limitless variety of games out there, it’s easy to find ones that fit your family’s style of fun. You can find educational games for various subjects, or stick with one of the classics that has stood the test of time. A two-person game like chess or checkers can offer more strategic thinking and one-on-one connection with your child, while group games — like Cranium, Ticket to Ride, or Codenames — offer a surefire way to bring everyone in on the fun.

For Older Children: Encourage Their Passions

As children get older, their unique interests and personalities begin to flourish. Help further those hobbies and curiosities during the holidays with gifts tailored to their pursuits. For children who love music, consider getting them an instrument to play for a host of mental, social, and emotional benefits. For a kid who’s obsessed with space and sci-fi, a telescope will allow them to explore the sky — and get their eyes off their phones. If athletics are your child’s passion, consider new gear or equipment to help them practice, which will further motivate them.

Find Ways to Help You Save Money

Some of these gifts for older children, in particular, can get expensive. The good news is that for many things like musical instruments and other hobby-specific items, second-hand choices are available that will offer the same value, while also being more forgiving of a novice’s inevitable blunders. Check out sites like eBay and others for endless used options on everything from saxophones to photography equipment to fishing rods. You can also look for eBay coupons and discount codes to save even further on online purchases.

Whatever you end up getting, remember that the best gift for a child — and the best example you can set — is to give them your time and undivided attention. So, set an example for their screen usage by limiting your time on your own devices, and get in the habit of leaving your phone in another room or turning it on silent when you’re spending quality time with them. You’ll be showing them the importance of real-world connections, and you won’t be too distracted to catch the smile on their face when they open the perfect present.

~Guest Blog Post by Alice Jonas, educatorsupport.org.
Image courtesy of Pixabay.

Lakewood Catholic Academy Changes the World!

Ecuador Service Trip

Service and social justice are at the very heart of the mission of Lakewood Catholic Academy. Students of all ages learn about social justice issues and participate in a variety of service initiatives in our local community. The Saints of LCA try to do their part to change their corner of the world for the better.

One unique aspect of Lakewood Catholic Academy’s social justice work is the international service learning experience. LCA is the only Catholic elementary school in the Diocese that provides international service opportunities to its middle school students.

Ecuador Service Trip

In June 2019, 26 courageous Saints traveled to the rainforest of Ecuador. While there, students participated in cultural events like dancing, jungle hikes and jewelry making. The students also learned about Ecuador’s history and the social issues facing its citizens including environmental, educational, health and water related struggles. Most importantly, the students of Lakewood Catholic Academy served the community by working on a clean water project that will provide safe water to a community that otherwise had no access. Additionally, students worked on an agricultural farm and planted banana trees.

The students and staff that participated in the Ecuador mission trip learned valuable lessons that they could not otherwise learn in the classroom. They realized although they are young, they have the power to change the world. Our traveling Saints also realized that their world was not THE world – they came to discover that the world is much bigger than they ever dreamed of, yet the distance between people of different cultures is closer than imagined.

Ecuador Service Trip

Ultimately, the Saints of Lakewood Catholic Academy lived out the Gospel imperative, “to whom much is given, much is expected,” and in doing so, their hearts were changed forever.