Summer Assignments (For Parents)

May.  What a month!  It was refreshingly busy.  The buzz of activity here at school and in our personal lives was evidence that we are rising from the era defined by Covid.  Like any transition, this is not without its challenges.  We are re-learning how to juggle the busy schedule, gather as an audience or faith community, prioritize values, socialize compassionately, and plan for the future. 

Perhaps it was the graduation ceremonies I attended for two of my sons that challenged me.  Although more than 600 miles separated these two events, the themes of the speakers were eerily similar.  Lead with faith, honor and respect mentors, work very hard, say “I love you,” and “I’m sorry,” and, of course, change the world.  

No question – these kids are brilliant.  Undoubtedly, they should be questioning norms and looking for positive solutions to problems.  But if we are to place this heavy burden upon our kids, if we are counting on them to truly change the world for the better, we must be willing to be models.  And that brings me to our summer assignments.  Not our kids’ summer assignments, but our own.

In the era of Covid, what we now face is an opportunity to recalibrate.  We, the adults, must model what it means to lead a life well lived.  Parents are truly a child’s first and most important teacher.  So, here’s our summer homework:  Evaluate and, if necessary, recalibrate our personal standards.  Reflect on daily habits.  What are our prayer habits, fitness habits, tech habits, dietary habits, social habits, sleep habits?  How do we spend our time?  How do we treat the people we love?  How do we treat the people who frustrate us?  Are we working to “change the world for the better” despite the inconvenience and heartbreak that often entails?

For better or worse, we had our childhood.  We are now the adults, and that comes with awesome responsibility.  In my home this summer, we will take a bit of time to reflect and recalibrate.  For ours is not the perfect family.  I find perfection unnatural and nerve wracking.  But that doesn’t mean we ought not strive for high standards.  As the adults, let’s spend this summer paying deeper attention to our own habits and those of our kids.  As we reevaluate our own tech usage, we must be aware of how our kids are communicating with and using technology.  As we work on the things of faith, let’s make time for family prayer and Mass.  As we practice positive socialization, let’s discuss ways to be a supportive audience or classmate.  Most importantly, let’s cherish the time we have with our kids.  It is finite.  They are worth our effort to reach for high standards.

May this era of recalibration lift our families and our entire community.  Happy Summer!

~Eileen McGuire, Dean of the IB Program

LCA Looks Up … Continuing the Conversation

“When media and the digital world become omnipresent, their influence can stop people from learning how to live wisely, to think deeply, and to love generously.” ~Pope Francis, Laudato Si

I recently viewed the Netflix movie, The Social Dilemma, as a follow up to research into addictive technology that I had undertaken three years ago. One of the results of my research and that of others at LCA was LCA Looks Up: Student Engagement in a Wired World. In an environment where big educational technology companies pushed for more and more use of online platforms, we committed ourselves to preserving childhood, prioritizing collaborative, hands-on projects, and honoring face to face relationships.

It is time to continue that conversation.

While I thought The Social Dilemma film used some unnecessary hyperbolic dramatization, I was mesmerized by the candor of former tech executives. Their recollection of good intentions and their disappointment, even shame, at what has become of big tech, particularly social media platforms, is heart stopping. It is a massive mea culpa for unintended consequences.

“It’s easy today to lose sight of the fact that these tools have created some wonderful things in the world.  They’ve reunited lost family members.  They’ve found organ donors.  I mean there were meaningful systemic changes happening around the world because of these platforms that were positive!  I think we were naive about the flipside of that coin.” ~Tim Kendall, Former president of Pinterest and former Director of Monetization at Facebook

In Mrs. Metsch’s IB Language and Literature course, seventh graders learn about the classic forms of persuasive marketing – bandwagon technique; appeal to fear, pity, vanity; loaded language; and testimonial. These are marketing devices we all learned in our youth. They are as old as persuasion itself.  What changed around the turn of the century is that rather than brilliant marketers using these techniques to lure us to buy products, powerful artificially intelligent machines were being trained to use these techniques in a repetitive, accelerated, and targeted manner. Graduates of Stanford University’s Behavior Design Lab became designers and executives at Facebook, Google, Twitter and the like. And here we are.

“We are more profitable to a corporation if we’re spending time staring at a screen, staring at an ad, than if we’re spending that time living our lives in a rich way.” ~Justin Rosenstein, Inventor of the Facebook like button

What now?

We must recognize that most of us carry an addictive device with us all day. Yes – we parents are addicted as well. We are humans and thus persuadable and prone to habitual behavior. So often the use of tech is presented within and outside of our homes as a battle between parent and child. That is a false battle. The fight is not with each other. It is against an industry of billionaires designing platforms for addiction. We all deserve to be able to use technology and social media in a way that is empowering. We must develop collective will to make our case to regulate an unregulated industry. In the meantime, we must increase self awareness around our own use of technology.  

I am optimistic. While my visit to the 7th grade class was only the beginning of a conversation, these kids were clearly ready for it. They instinctively know and feel how distracting technology can be. Many had already deleted at least one app, and most were willing to take concrete steps to guard their precious attention. One 7th grader had already chosen this issue as her design problem solving topic. She presented an idea for an app called, “Breathable Minds,” that would mitigate against the harmful effects of too much tech in the daily lives of youth. Two 8th graders are working to advocate for thoughtful changes in young people’s approach to technology. They are developing their IB Community Project around this very issue. We are powerful when we are aware.

Suggestions for families:
Delete unnecessary apps
Turn off all notifications
Avoid click bait
Subscribe to and read newspapers
Take tech holidays

This Christmas, I challenge us all to embrace an “Instead of” mindset. What is the rich replacement of my time on technology? What will I do “instead of” scrolling? Walk? Read? Chat? Think? Pray? Live.

God has a plan for each one of us. While I don’t pretend to know the mind of God, I’m going to go out on a limb here and proclaim that God’s plan is not for us to endlessly scroll to the next newsfeed or entertaining video. We are given one finite, earthly life.  We are granted gifts, free will, and companions for the journey. We are called to be nothing less than Saints. Let us move forward with purpose and awareness in pursuit of a life well lived and for the greater glory of God.

~Eileen McGuire, Dean of the IB Program

Igniting the Spark!

The Spark Conference: LCA Reignites Creativity and Innovation in Elementary Education

Lakewood Catholic Academy is a leader in elementary education and provides professional development opportunities for other Catholic school educators and administrators. In 2018, LCA created The Spark Conference and it has become one of Cleveland’s largest conferences for Catholic elementary educators. This annual August event is a one day professional development experience that inspires and energizes teachers for the school year ahead.  The event features both nationally recognized leaders in education as well as breakout sessions led by Lakewood Catholic Academy teachers and administrators. In addition to showcasing the work of our brilliant LCA teachers, this event generates important revenue for the school that is reinvested in our own creative and innovative programming for our students and families and resources for our teachers.  

This year’s Spark Conference was held on our beautiful campus where we welcomed over 450 educators from Northeast Ohio. We are grateful for underwriting support from The Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland.  Spark 2021 showcased diverse leadership and talent with guest presenters Kayla August, Nyla Watson and Ron Clark, who is a NYTimes Best Selling Author, and Disney’s American Teacher of the Year.

In the words of Spark Attendees . . .

“Thank you for your incredible work at the Spark Conference! It was an amazing experience again! May God Bless you and thank you for your YES in serving the teachers in our Diocese.”

“Thank you for creating and hosting the premier event of the 21-22 school year. Your staff is to be commended for their extraordinary dedication to duty and devotion to our craft. As always, it was a day of unparalleled inspiration.”

“Once again, the Spark Conference did not disappoint! It has become my favorite way to kick off the new school year. The upbeat and positive messaging provides such an affirming feeling for the work that we do as well as inspire all in attendance to do our best for our students.”

Thank you very much for planning such an awesome professional development day for teachers in our state.  The speakers were excellent.  The energy was palpable.  The excitement was just what we needed to start the year!  Thank you for sharing your vision and expertise with so many teachers who otherwise would not have access to such first-class training.”

Dear Grown-Ups

It has been a challenging year, and the national violence at the beginning of January was almost too much to bear. Sometimes the wisdom of children is exactly what we need to hear in times of difficulty.  So, in that spirit, we asked some of our second, fourth and eighth grade saints to share some thoughts with the grown-ups of the world.  The following phrases are taken from what they shared with us…

Dear Grown-Ups,

We know that something is wrong.  We hear your hushed voices behind closed doors.  We see it when you turn on the news.

Why are you tearing each other apart?  When did it become a crime to compromise? Why have you let the world become such a toxic place?

You should consider asking yourself, “Is this what God wants?”

We think that adults and kids have swapped roles. If we acted the way some of you are acting, we would be sent to our rooms!

We hate to do it, but we have to use one of your lines, “We’re not mad, we’re just disappointed!”

You think your life experience has made you wise, but perhaps it has also hardened your heart.

So get your act together. We learn so much from you. We need you to be good examples for us.

Here is our advice:

Say you’re sorry when you do something wrong. If you do make a mistake, learn from it.

Try to understand others and see things from their point of view. We wish you would try to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. The world does not orbit around you.

Use words, not fists. Words have strong meanings, so choose the words you say wisely (and don’t use bad words).

Instead of fighting why don’t you say, “This is my idea, can I hear yours?”

If you get mad, stop, take a breath, and calm down.  It’s always good to calm down and breathe.

Try to focus on the truth. The truth is important – it just takes a lot of listening to find it.

Pray and be like the saints – spread hope and love to others. If you see someone hurt, help them. Don’t forget to love your enemies too.

If you don’t want to do these things for yourselves, do it for US!

Oh and grown-ups, there is one more thing…

Many thanks to Miss Lacey and Miss Mullins for helping with this project.
If you would like to see a video of this message with music by Ms. Podhradsky please click HERE.

Santa Delivered

This is always such a special time of year!

A time of reflection… Although, I’m pretty sure we are done thinking about this year.

A time to gather… or at least it used to be 🙂

A time to do for others… from your home. Actually, just stay over there.

A time to share food and drink… but in individually wrapped bags… and I can just leave it on your porch, thank you! No, no. That won’t be necessary to come out. Please don’t come out. I was actually just leaving. Ok, Bye! Merry Christmas!

And, a time to prepare for what’s ahead. ANYTHING. we will take anything!

My last December writing was about how to ‘take a deep breath in between all of the action’. This year I found myself arriving with – how to take a deep breath during 2020. That’s it. Just good ole’ life breathing…. you know, for survival 😉

But what if? What if Santa actually brought us what we’ve been secretly wishing for during all of those past holidays?! Did Santa already deliver?!

What if our gift is an actual quiet, reflective time of year? A holiday where gratitude is truly at the top of the list. Where the little things matter the most, because it might be all we have this year.

To truly spend time remembering those we cannot be with, and be grateful for those we can.

To look back on the ways we have come together for the greater good of humanity. Less greed. Our ego set aside. More how can I help YOU, and less, how can I help ME.

A reward if you will. A nod from Santa saying ‘sit down. enjoy this time. don’t worry. and thank you. Thank you for allowing yourself to show vulnerability this year. Thank you for believing! I know it’s easier for our kids to believe. But you adults… you can be tricky 😉

Believing in the world, believing in the spirit. And don’t you worry…. We WILL have festive Christmas’ again. We will gather again. Share food, drink, and hugs. Lots of hugs! But this year, my gift to you is… a silent night. A holy night.

You deserve it.

Love, Santa Claus

Be well.

Reflection written by LCA Parent and Founder of The Mat Project, Alysia McKean
Learn more about The Mat Project here:

Caring for Your Mind, Body, Spirit while at Home

As we transition to an approach to life that raises many questions, Lakewood Catholic Academy hopes to offer some direction as you and your families hunker down.

We are not health professionals, save the esteemed Mrs. Kocsan and Miss Higgs. We are, however, experienced educators confident in our ability to bring joy, learning and purpose into the lives of young saints. As you embark upon an unprecedented journey through the weeks ahead, we offer the following suggestions to ensure your time with your children is guided by a focus on maintaining a healthy mind, body and spirit.

Screen Time

Let’s acknowledge the obvious – your children’s solution to COVID-19 likely involves a regular dosage of screen time. Aside from any recreational screen time permitted in your home, the learning facilitated by our staff will require young eyes to spend some time focusing on screens. This is the world in which we live – a wired world in which there are many opportunities to use technology for good.

As our world changes, however, we must not become so fascinated by what technology can do that we forget what it can’t do. The world’s best technology will not inspire, motivate, console, encourage, or reward. At a time when we have been told to distance ourselves socially, we must work hard to socialize authentically.

  • Your children do not have cell phones with them during the school day. Do not hesitate to institute similar policies during this time at home. Staying connected to friends is important, but doing so exclusively through group texts and stories on the ‘Gram isn’t healthy. Encourage your children to call their friends. If your children are younger, perhaps that means putting them on speaker phone so that you, along with a parent in the friend’s house, can help to guide the conversation.
  • Video games cannot take over, nor can they take the place of you. Never has there been a better time to reinstitute family game night (or afternoon). Collect $200 when you pass Go, make it an enthusiastic Yahtzee when all five dice are the same, and help your children get to know Colonel Mustard & Mrs. Peacock.
  • Charlie Chaplin once said that, “Movies are a fad.” He clearly didn’t subscribe to Netflix or Disney+. You likely do, however, and your children will certainly be more than happy to ensure you get your money’s worth in the weeks ahead. As they watch their favorite movies and series, be sure that their time doing so is limited. Also be sure that it is monitored. Know what they are watching. Make some suggestions. Join them on the couch.

As adults, we too have become reliant on screens. This will be just as hard for us as it will for our children, but we must set the example. Especially during this time when we risk allowing screens to fill an expansive void, reconsider the tech policies in place in your home, and consider putting practices into place that will encourage your children, and you, to spend time looking up and looking to each other.

Especially for children, routines offer comfort, consistency and a sense of safety. For parents, they preserve sanity. There is nothing routine about the circumstances in which we find ourselves. The Serenity Prayer asks God to “grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.” We cannot change the impact of COVID-19, nor the resulting directives from our health and government leaders. We can, however, maintain our positions as kings and queens of our own castles. While each family will adjust to these changes as their own situation requires, we encourage all families to outline, to the degree possible, a daily schedule for your children. We have provided a sample schedule on our parent resource page.

Our world is changing in such a way that it is becoming smaller – quickly. Despite any limitations on access to space and resources, we encourage you to do all you can to maintain active lifestyles nourished by healthy diets.

Keep It Moving
Find a way for you and your children to stay active. Not only is a sedentary lifestyle bad for you physically, but significant amounts of inactivity may also contribute to anxiety and depression. Taking a walk, going on a run or riding a bike (with a helmet) is a simple way to put your body – and your children’s – to work. Do the kids need a sport to get them going? Throw around a ball or frisbee, shoot some hoops, or play some tennis. Need activity ideas for the kids without leaving home?

  • Do you have a driveway? Relay races, four square and hop-scotch are classics.
  • Do you have a way to play music? Dance party it is.
  • Do you have access to the internet? Yes, screens can help here. Visit (or download the app) for an assortment of movement and mindfulness videos.

Your Body is a Temple
Treat it as such. That starts with a good night’s sleep. Your children currently don’t need to be up for school each morning, so getting them to bed as if they did is not necessarily worth the argument. While you might be able to earn some “cool mama/papa” points by relaxing bedtime a bit, keep it within reason, based on the age of your child(ren). If you’re not already doing so, turning off screens 30-60 minutes before bed is a great way to help children (and adults) fall asleep, and keeping all screens out of bedrooms at night is a helpful step in making sure those blue wavelengths don’t interrupt that much needed slumber.

Violet Beauregarde proved that you are what you eat. We completely understand that the food available in your home depends on how well your grocery store shelves were stocked before the panic of the pandemic set in. That being said, snacks can be just as ineffective and inappropriate a solution to boredom as screens. To the best of your ability, have quality snacks in the house for your children. Sweets are certainly okay within reason, but make sure your children don’t take the approach of Violet’s friend, Augustus Gloop. Be just as mindful of what your children are drinking as what they are eating. They make it through each school day by hydrating primarily on water. There’s nothing wrong with those two hydrogen atoms and their oxygenated friend helping you out at home as well.

We encourage our students to talk with God. What better time to engage him in conversation? We also remind our students to give thanks for all the blessings, however small, they have in their lives. At a time when blessings that we all take for granted are now being limited or withheld, it is even more important that we show our children what it means to appreciate what you have. It is equally important that we bow our heads with our children as we pray for those who are without.  We have some faith-filled online resources available for parents on our parent resource page.

This is what you share with us each day. Your children are your greatest joy. That joy is understandably and inevitably impacted by the situation in which we find ourselves. Upon the announcement of the suspension of classes, many students cheered, only to quickly realize what that time away would really mean. School is more than textbooks and tests. It is a place of interaction, connectivity and engagement. We strive to create an environment in which each one of our students knows that he/she is loved and special. You do the same in your homes. We commit to doing all that we can during this time away to continue to bring joy to your children, and we commit to being here to support you and answer any and all questions you may have along the way.

Our entire faculty and staff will remain available throughout the suspension of classes. It is our recommendation that any communication with teachers and/or administrators be initiated via email. Be sure to keep an eye on your inbox throughout this time as we will be sharing information about at home learning at LCA. More importantly, we will be doing all we can to engage your children and to preserve those smiles that we love seeing every day.

~Michael Fletcher, Dean of Students

What To Say To Kids When The News Is Scary

What To Say To Kids When The News Is Scary

By Anya Kamenetz and Cory Turner, NPR

If you find the news out of Iran or Australia unsettling, imagine how a child might be feeling right now. NPR’s Life Kit spoke with a handful of child development experts about what parents, teachers and other caregivers can do to help prepare and protect kids from all the scary news out there, whether it’s fighting overseas, a school shooting or a devastating wildfire. Here’s what those experts had to say:

Limit their exposure to breaking news

“We can control the amount of information. We can control the amount of exposure,” says Rosemarie Truglio, senior vice president of curriculum and content at Sesame Workshop.

Truglio says that for starters, try not to let your children experience the news without you. That includes letting the TV or audio play in the background. In 2017, 42 percent of parents of young children told Common Sense Media that the TV is on “always” or “most” of the time.

As a little girl growing up in rural Louisiana, Alison Aucoin remembers her father watching the evening news during the Vietnam War. “The way that our house was set up, it was kind of impossible for me to completely miss it.”

Aucoin vividly recalls the rapid fire of rifles and the shouting of soldiers, but it was two words that the reporters and anchors kept using that truly frightened her.

“[I] heard the words ‘guerrilla warfare’ and … thought, gorillas — like apes,” Aucoin says. “And I literally had a plan for where I would hide in my closet when the gorillas came.”

While it’s important to limit your kids’ exposure to potentially frightening media, some stories are simply too big to avoid. And as kids get older, if they don’t hear about it at home, they’ll almost certainly hear something from classmates at school.

Tara Conley, a media researcher at Montclair State University, says adults should choose a quiet moment to check in with their kids, maybe at the dinner table or at bedtime.

The idea, she says, is to allow kids to “ask questions about what they’re seeing, how they’re feeling and what do they think.” In other words: Give kids a safe space to reflect and share.

Give kids facts and context

Check-ins also allow you to debunk memes, myths and misconceptions, and that’s important in the social media maelstrom, says Holly Korbey, author of Building Better Citizens, a new book on civics education. In the days since the recent Iran news broke, she says, “My own teenagers were showing me these memes and rumors on Instagram spreading about boys being drafted for World War III, no kidding.”

Korbey says, “One of the most important things parents can do in this scary climate is to talk to kids about facts. For example: ‘No, there is not a draft, and no we haven’t started World War III.'”

Truglio says that if scary news is happening far from home, the best thing a parent or caregiver can do is to reach for a map. Then, she says, a child could “see distance, that it’s not in their immediate environment.”

Some traumatic events, however, might be closer to home — a school shooting, for example. In that case, it’s important to convey that, overall, such events are incredibly rare. After all, that’s why it’s news.

When they ask why something happened, avoid labels like “bad guys.”

Evan Nierman, a father of two, lives in Parkland, Fla. His son turned 11 the day after the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and his daughter was 8. He says one of the toughest moments for him as a father was when his kids asked why the shooting happened. “And there’s obviously not a great answer for that. It’s hard to explain.”

Truglio says we should resist the temptation to label anyone “bad guys” or “evil.” It’s not helpful, and it may increase fear and confusion. Instead, she says, talk about people being in pain, being angry and making bad choices. That’s what Nierman and his wife settled on, telling their children that the shooter wasn’t well and needed help.

And according to Truglio, there’s one important thing parents shouldn’t be afraid to say: I don’t know.

“Sometimes we don’t have the answers to all of these whys,” she explains. “It’s important for parents to say … ‘I don’t know why it happened.’ ”

Encourage kids to process the story through play and art

Children often try to make sense of what they see and hear through art and creative play. Sometimes it can be disturbing for adults to see children reenact or draw something scary or violent, but this kind of play serves an important purpose.

Conley says, “Play is part of reconstructing [children’s] own stories.” She calls it “meaning-making” and says adults do it too — by discussing stories with friends or even sharing memes on social media. “It also helps us make sense of the world around us … when we’re being bombarded with information,” she explains, “and it helps us discern credible information.”

“Look for the helpers”

Fred Rogers, the beloved children’s TV host, famously passed on this advice from his mother: “When something scary is happening, look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

Truglio did this when she talked to her then-young son about the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting. The shooting happened on a Friday, and she kept him away from the television all weekend.

“We didn’t turn on the TV until President Obama spoke and there was a memorial service,” Truglio says. “We focused on the positive — how people were gathering and taking care of each other.”

There’s evidence that talking about helpers really does make a difference in how kids see their world. After the Columbine school shooting in 1999, Sesame Workshop studied school-age children’s perceptions of the world through their drawings. The images were full of violence, Truglio says: “guns and knives and dead people.”

But after the Sept. 11 attacks, just two years later, media coverage changed, she says, focusing more on themes like “the country is strong. The country’s coming together. We are united. We are going to get through this.” And this made a difference for kids: Their drawings featured American flags and heroes like police officers or firefighters.

Take positive action together

Alison Aucoin, who shared her memories and fears of the Vietnam War, is white; her daughter, Edelawit, was adopted from Ethiopia. Edelawit was just 7 years old when Michael Brown, a black teenager, was shot and killed while unarmed by a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo., in 2014.

“I was scared that something like this would happen to me,” Edelawit, now 12, says, and ever since, whenever a similar, police-related shooting happens, she and her mother follow a few steps. First, her mother shares the news.

“I always have time to process it,” Edelawit says. “And then she says what I can do to protect myself. And then we go and protest.”

“In talking with our children,” Conley says, “we also have to show them how we’re helping too, and asking them, ‘How do you see yourself as a helper in these situations?’ ”

You might consider bringing your child to a peaceful rally or protest, collecting donations together or writing to an elected official. A sense of agency can dramatically reduce a child’s anxiety.

In other words, don’t just look for the helpers … be the helpers.

This story was originally published on April 26, 2019.

Reading Makes a Difference

Here at LCA we work to instill a culture of reading engagement. It is essential that we promote reading as a lifestyle both at school and at home. It is also important that our students see their teachers reading. One way in which we promote this is by posting “What I’m Reading” signs outside our classroom doors each month. Mrs. Greggs collects the titles of books that teachers are personally reading and then hangs the book covers outside of the classrooms. Students have definitely taken notice of these signs and have started talking about them as well.

Our goal is to get students interested in reading by choice rather than by necessity. In the same way in which we teach our students both intrapersonal and interpersonal skills, we want to teach them to appreciate books and all they have to offer. Reading cultivates improved vocabulary, language, communication, and writing skills. In addition, reading also enhances critical thinking and analytical skills, along with improved attention and concentration. Reading allows us the opportunity to learn new things, explore ideas, broaden one’s imagination and creativity, plus it helps to improve knowledge and overall achievement in the classroom. As a Language Arts and Literature teacher for the last 18 years, I can confidently say that the students who read more are typically better writers and overall students than those who don’t read as often.

Ironically, I was not much of a reader as a child. My mom was persistent though and kept pushing me to pick up a book. Eventually I found books that I enjoyed reading, and once I learned how to effectively read, I grew more confident in myself and my performance in school improved as well. At Lakewood Catholic Academy, we will always foster a love and appreciation of reading. We encourage you to do the same at home by finding time to read with your child. Video games, cell phones, tablets, etc. make it easy to move from one thing to the next very quickly. Taking time out of your busy days to slow down, sit, and read can pay dividends to your child’s future success.

~Meghann Campbell, Middle School Department Chairperson

LCA Graduate Interns in New York City

Bethany Eckman, LCA Class of 2016, recently completed an amazing summer internship in New York City. Bethany had the unique opportunity to intern for HBO’s Chief Financial Officer, Jessica Holscott.

Bethany was able to sit in on multiple strategy and budget meetings for WarnerMedia’s new streaming service, HBO Max.  She had the chance to tour CNN and attend a “Girls Who Code” conference where the founder, Reshma Saujani, presented a keynote speech.  Bethany’s experiences allowed her to learn about international business, controllership, and accounting.

“It was an absolutely incredible experience. It was all encompassing because I was able to see what it was like to work in New York City, work for a large corporation, and what it would be like to work in finance. This has definitely confirmed my interest in business, particularly Business Analytics.”

Bethany also secretly “fangirled” over all of the Game of Thrones costumes that were on display throughout the office.

Bethany, now a senior at Magnificat High School, said of her elementary experience, “LCA made me fall in love with learning. I was pushed to think differently and encouraged to think outside of the box. All of my teachers were invested in my education and helped me beyond the classroom. My LCA class as a whole had respect for one another, a value that was both regularly taught and practiced. I learned about my faith through the action of service and class projects. I attribute LCA to helping form the person I am today.”


International Day at LCA

The international baccalaureate aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable, and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect. -IB Mission Statement

In our quest to develop intercultural understanding and respect, indeed to become true citizens of the world, it is critical that we stretch our literal and metaphorical borders as often as possible.  As an IB World School, we are mindful of our responsibility to promote appreciation of the larger world. One of the ways we do so is by including LCA International Day in our celebration of Catholic Schools Week.

As we entered Catholic Schools Week, international mindedness was on display at our 6th grade 18-hole UNESCO World Heritage Site Miniature Golf Course.  Sixth grade teams did a wonderful job of featuring their designated sites within the context of their holes. Through research and exploration, student teams grew very familiar with each site’s surrounding area and culture.  Several teams included details that reflected local custom, language, tradition, or history. One of the team members featuring Mt. Emei in China explained, “It took a long time to write each sentence in order to make our sign in Mandarin, but it was worth it!”  The team featuring Virunga National Park in Africa shared complex historical information that recognized the impact of political conflict on the local ecology.

Celebrating LCA International Day has become a Catholic Schools Week tradition.  International Day was celebrated on Friday. Activities included an introduction to the concept of fair trade along with a shopping opportunity courtesy of the One World Shop, multilingual schoolwide Bingo, a flag finding contest, and numerous classroom activities.  While we celebrated all cultures, we highlighted Ecuador this year as a “feature” country. This extended to our dining hall where a delicious lunch of arroz con pollo with empanadas was prepared by our incredibly talented dining hall chefs, and to our daily prayers which were shared in Spanish by Chrissy Krncevic and William Finucane. We look forward to hearing about the experiences of our 25 students and staff members who will visit Ecuador this June and volunteer to help build a school there!  

At the root of international mindedness is curiosity.  Curiosity is defined as “a strong desire to know or learn something.” Curiosity, by its very nature, opens us up to new learning, new experiences, and new ideas.  It implies no prejudgement, only a desire for growth. As we listened to the beautiful Spanish prayers, so eloquently shared by our students, as we ate delicious Ecuadorian food prepared by our fabulous kitchen staff, and as we researched facts about each country whose flag we located, we became a bit more open, a bit more curious about the world beyond our own borders.  

International mindedness and our development as global citizens cannot be limited to one day per year.  However, highlighting and celebrating our world as part of Catholic Schools Week reinforces what it means to be part of a global community, charged with creating a better and more peaceful world.

~Eileen McGuire, Dean of the International Baccalaureate Program

Best Day of School Ever!

At Lakewood Catholic Academy, we strive to make school fun, engaging, and rigorous every day.  We also work to create memorable, meaningful, and unique learning experiences for our students. In the seventh grade, that experience is the “Best Day of School Ever,” a day full of surprises and real world learning.  Parents and students receive minimal information about the day, aside from the date, time, and general location of the day (various locations in downtown Cleveland). Gratefully, our parents have been as excited as we have about the day, and they have allowed their children to participate without hesitation.

In order to make our Best Day of School Ever a reality, we began by considering what subjects students would focus on throughout the day.  We settled on three sessions lasting an hour and a half each, covering math, social studies, and language arts.

Once we solidified the session details, it was time to brainstorm locations in our local community where students likely would not otherwise have a chance to visit or go behind the scenes. At the same time, our chosen locations needed to provide an engaging, real world classroom.  After considering the various treasures we have in our city, we landed on FirstEnergy Stadium, home of the Cleveland Browns, the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, and the State Theatre in Playhouse Square.

As the Best Day of School Ever approached, students worked to discover where they would spend the day.  Some students came close, but none actually guessed any of the locations for the day. Students were excited for the unknown and were anxiously awaiting the experience designed just for them.

As soon as morning prayer ended, the bus left left campus and headed downtown.  Students were dropped a block away from their actual destination to ensure that other students on the bus remained unaware of where they would visit later in the day.  

The first stop of the day was FirstEnergy Stadium.  Mr. Fletcher, our Dean of Students, and Mrs. McGuire, our Dean of the IB Program, waited at the stadium ready for a day full of math.  Students used the Pythagorean Theorem to solve football-based equations, were granted field access and used the relative difference equation to compare their own 40-yard dash time to NFL players, and went through the LCA-combine, where they not only tackled math problems but took on physical challenges, like those at the NFL combine.

The second stop of the day was the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, where students participated in an economics lesson on supply and demand.  Students were divided into groups, each of which received a wallet with $200 in various denominations of “LCA money.” Students then received random products – ranging from paper clips, erasers, and straws, to pencils, Starbursts, and a full size Hershey bar – that they had to price and attempt to sell to other groups.  During the lesson, students learned that items that had no demand were virtually impossible to sell. After the lesson and discussion ended, we were lucky enough to receive a tour of the old and new bank vaults, where we learned the history of the Federal Reserve and learned about the technology that keeps the bank running today.

The third and final stop of the day was the State Theatre in Playhouse Square, where Mr. Sinchak taught a language arts session.  Students were awed by the beauty of the theatre, and were excited to be in the seats in which they had previously sat during productions.  During the lesson, the group examined the plot structure of both a play and a short story, and read and analyzed Gift of the Magi by O’Henry.

As they returned to campus, students excitedly shared their experiences with their friends, as well as with our younger Saints back at school. In each of these conversations, our seventh grade students agreed that they had, in fact, enjoyed the best day of school ever!

~Brenna Warrell, Principal

LCA Students Participate in United Nations We Day in New York City

At the end of September, I had the privilege of joining a few colleagues and 25 middle school students at WE Day UN in New York City. WE Day is a yearly celebration that works to empower young people to make a difference in their community, to be the change they want to see in the world. The day includes world-renowned speakers and advocates, musical performances, and inspirational stories of students who have made a difference in their own schools and communities. We had the opportunity to hear from Marc and Craig Kielburger (co-founders of WE), Sarah Michelle Gellar, Kareem Abdul-Jabar, Sparsh Shah, Esera Tuaolo, R.J.Palacio, Juan Manuel Santos, Princess Beatrice, David Robinson, and Spencer West. The energy and excitement in the Barclays Center was incredible. It was such a blessing to share this experience with our students. It was also priceless to see the wonder and amazement on their faces as we ambled the streets of New York City and made our way through Time Square.

Just over a week ago, LCA hosted its first WE Day for students in grade 4-8. Our very own, Amanda Podhradsky, opened the event with an incredible performance of This Is Me. Next, Mr. Sinchak introduced our keynote speaker, Mr. Spencer West. Spencer is a motivational speaker and WE Ambassador. Through his mantra of Redefine Possible, Spencer shared his story of the challenges he faced after losing his legs at the age of five. Rather than feeling sorry for himself or be defined by his disability, Spencer chose to dedicate his life’s work to making the world a better place. He shared powerful stories of his work to build schools in Africa and India, his 186 mile walk from Edmonton to Calgary, and his climbing of Mount Kilimanjaro in an effort to raise money for the clean water initiative. This emotional story brought many to tears as they listened to Spencer explain the physical demand this put on him and his friends, yet they refused to give up and accomplished their goal together.

Both WE Day events remind us how blessed and fortunate we all are in our lives. They also challenge us to think beyond ourselves, to find something we are passionate about, and be a positive change in the world, letting nothing hold us back.

~Meghann Campbell, Middle School Department Chairperson

Micah’s Leadership Challenge


The theme of this year’s 8th grade retreat came from Micah 6:8 – And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

We took time to explore the themes of justice, kindness, and humble gratitude through a variety of activities and reflections.  The theme of justice will be highlighted this year as our 8th graders participate in the IB Community Project.  This personal service project will require students to make choices, take action, and reflect on their experiences.

Our activities around the theme of kindness led to a recognition that each individual has a story.  Appreciating that fact and being willing to share and hear each other’s stories can lead to deeper mutual respect.  Students had the opportunity to give anonymous affirmations to one another, which led us all to the realization that we are surrounded by talented, kind, unique people each day, and that we all have gifts to share.

Micah’s call to walk humbly with God occurs more readily when we recognize that our accomplishments and talents are gifts.  We receive them from God, and we experience mentorship and help throughout our lives.  We took time to write private thank you notes to individuals who have helped us thus far in our journey through life.

As a reminder of our commitment to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with God, each student received a shoelace.  Our journey is long, and at times it is heavy.  May we remember that we do not walk alone.

Eighth grade represents a time of transition.  As with many transition phases in our lives, it is tempting to spend time imagining what the future will hold.  For some, thoughts of high school are exciting, for others, they can cause some anxiety.  Focusing on the future rather than the present can result in us missing the joyful moments, however simple they may be.  We concluded our retreat by reflecting on the importance of enjoying each phase of the journey of life.  The Station by Robert Hastings was our final reading for the day. Please join us in our commitment to treasure this culminating year with these exceptional children.  Let us not forget that these are the good old days!

Thank you for sharing your most treasured gifts, your children, with us.

~ Eileen McGuire and Brian Sinchak

Pro Aliis Winners – Women for Others

May is a special month at Lakewood Catholic Academy.   It is the time that we celebrate mothers, wrap up the school year and show our gratitude for people who give of themselves through service to the school.  This month, we will honor Mrs. Julia Artbauer and Mrs. Linda McCafferty with the school’s Pro Aliis award.   This is an annual award recognizing the volunteer efforts of people that serve the school and are “people for others”.

When making the decision on who we would present this award to, it was not difficult to choose.  These ladies have stepped in to help Lakewood Catholic Academy in leadership roles for the annual Gala, the school’s largest fundraiser.  Their specialty is to make things beautiful.  And how easy this comes for them . . . not only are they beautiful – inside and out – but they have a unique way of making everything look beautiful. 

In the development world, we often speak of our donors and friends as giving of their time, talent and treasure.  These words speak volumes of what Julia and Linda give to LCA and our families.

Time – In their already busy lives, they make thoughtful decisions and spend their time to make the event enjoyable for our guests who attend to support the students and faculty of LCA.  With any event, expenses can cut into the dollars actually raised.  It takes a lot of volunteer hours to make this happen and the cost of paying someone to do what they do would decrease the dollars raised.

Talent – Take a peak . . . a picture is worth a thousand words.

Treasure – It takes a special person who is willing to work hard.   But volunteering long hours with a smile on your face and a spark in your step is not always easy.  Their willingness to jump in when needed for the benefit of the school is invaluable.  In return, they ask for nothing. 

It is not surprising that on the same day we honor these special women, our students will participate in the May Crowning ceremony in which we honor the Virgin Mary as the “Queen of May and Heaven.”  Julia and Linda truly are the “Queens of LCA”.  These women give their time, talent and treasure.  Lakewood Catholic Academy is blessed that they share this with our school – they are women for others.  May God bless them and all of the mothers of Lakewood Catholic Academy.

~ Nikki Mohar, Director of Development

Easter Blessings

Christ has died. Christ has risen. Christ will come again. These words are a reminder of what has happened and allows us to think of what we must look forward to. As we celebrate Easter, the Resurrection of our Lord, we are reminded that Jesus overcame sin and death. This marks the victory of good over evil. Let us all live in the joy the Resurrection has brought us. As we are reminded that Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again, let us remember that Jesus is alive and in our midst each day. He is working through each one of us.

We have the opportunity to spread the love of Christ to all we encounter. On Holy Thursday, LCA teachers and administrators followed Jesus’ example of self-giving love and washed the hands of students at our Holy Thursday prayer service. May this be a reminder for us to serve our neighbor as Jesus has served us.

Let us rejoice as Jesus’ story does not end with death, but with a Savior whom we know, love, and serve. As we enter this Easter season, let us not forget to keep Christ at the center of our lives and lead as He did. We wish you all a Blessed Easter!

~ Courtney Ryan, Second Grade Teacher and Campus Minister

The Curtain Goes Up . . .

This month marks the celebration of the second annual Saints Showcase Theatre Production.  This new tradition has enhanced our already outstanding performing arts at Lakewood Catholic Academy.  We are proud to add theatrical performance to our arts department.

The production highlights the talent of our Lakewood Catholic Academy Saints in the fields of dance, instrumental, vocal and acting performance.  The show is unlike any other – each scene was created as a unique production number to highlight the talent of our student body.  Over 45 students have been involved in making the show come to life.  These young performers have inspired standing ovations from sell-out crowds!  They are brave and spirited boys and girls who light up the stage with joy. We look forward to many more shows under the bright lights of our LCA stage!

Bravo Saints, Bravo!

Redefining Potential

Lakewood Catholic Academy hosted its first annual Great Lake Shake this past December. This event was a sixth grade competition where students demonstrated their professional communication skills. They dined with educational leaders, conversed with area leaders and mingled with business professionals. The guest judges evaluated the students based upon their conversation skills, handshake, eye contact, etc. These soft skills are critically important in a world that increasingly values impersonal, technological communication.

The students confessed that they were nervous before the competition and didn’t know if they could do it. However, our sixth grade student saints were brilliant. The judges all commented how impressed they were with the skills of our students. Many judges admitted that the students did a better job than many business professionals!

Our two champions, Annabella DeFrasia and Eleanor Mitchell, recently traveled to Atlanta for the National Amazing Shake Competition hosted by The Ron Clark Academy. Annabella excelled in the preliminary rounds, and Eleanor continued to the final rounds of competition placing seventh in the nation. These young ladies represented Lakewood Catholic Academy exceptionally well.

We are already making plans for next year’s Great Lake Shake among many other programs. At LCA we redefine potential; we reimagine what is possible. We have high standards for ourselves and our students and that is what makes our school so extraordinary!

Here’s to an Extraordinary 2018!

Fifteen years ago this Sunday, I sat in church and listened to the priest deliver a homily that celebrated the return of the church calendar to “Ordinary Time.”  He poignantly put forth that it is in “ordinary” days that we find extraordinary blessings.  I listened to his words with a heavy heart.  For, I so longed for the ordinary.  However, within a couple of days, my family would move to Brussels, Belgium.  We would leave our extended family and community and begin a new life abroad.  In the early days of our move, everything felt out of the ordinary.  Unfamiliar. Foreign. I felt particularly inadequate trying to communicate in a new language and trying to intuit cultural expectations.  It would not be long, however, until we all felt at home in this new place.  Our days became “ordinary,” and in those days, in that community, we did experience extraordinary blessings.  What we learned there would challenge and change us.  Three and a half years later, we would again move, this time to Lakewood.  Soon we found ourselves part of a newly formed community – that of Lakewood Catholic Academy. 

This time of year, I often find myself reflecting upon that homily from so long ago.  I wonder, is there really any day that is truly “ordinary?”  Here at LCA, I really don’t think there is.

We ring in 2018 with a sense of deep gratitude for all who constitute the community of Lakewood Catholic Academy.  Our leaders, donors, support staff, teachers, families, and students bring unique talents, gifts, and diversity of thought to make LCA a uniquely energetic environment.  Even on this frigid day, I look over our incredible campus, majestic Great Lake, and beautiful neighboring Lakewood Park, and marvel at our blessings.  It is this place, its people, and, of course, the Holy Spirit that form the gift that is Lakewood Catholic Academy.  We are anything but ordinary.

As an IB school, we also celebrate an impressive milestone – the 50th anniversary of the International Baccalaureate Organization.   What a wonderful time to deeply reflect upon these lines from its ambitious mission statement:

The International Baccalaureate aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable, and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect.

Imagine this aim becoming a reality.  Imagine the power of a more peaceful world.  Imagine our children building it.  As we return to school, to routine, let us remember that it is in these “ordinary” days that extraordinary children grow and evolve.  May we all recognize, celebrate and share our extraordinary potential, a gift from God, to be used to build His Kingdom.

Best Wishes for an Extraordinary 2018!

~ Eileen McGuire, Dean of the International Baccalaureate Program

A Grateful Heart is a Magnet for Miracles

As parents we strive (and struggle) to get our children Christmas presents that bring them joy.  During this season of Advent and Christmas, I encourage you to consider helping your children cultivate gratitude – it can be one of the most important gifts you ever give your children.  I’ve heard it said that a grateful heart is a magnet for miracles, and I couldn’t agree more. I share with you this article to inspire you to continue to think about ways to foster a sense of gratitude in the lives of your children.

May you and your family enjoy a prayerful Advent and a holy Christmas!
~Brian Sinchak, President

How to Cultivate Everyday Gratitude in Kids
By Michelle Woo, Parenting Editor for Lifehacker

By now, we know how important it is to instill a sense of gratitude in our children—according to the book Making Grateful Kids: The Science of Building Character, those who practice thankfulness get better grades, have a lower risk of depression, and are more engaged in their hobbies and communities. And we’re trying. Around the parenting sphere, there are countless posts about teaching kids to write thank-you letters, start gratitude journals, toss their daily joys into the gratitude jar, and list their blessings at the dinner table. All are completely worthwhile rituals. It seems like parents are becoming really intentional about cultivating gratitude in their homes—or at least about writing about it on the internet. As a mom, I sure would like to become more disciplined in this area. Who wouldn’t?

But teaching kids about gratitude isn’t just sitting down for these heartwarming gestures. It’s more. There are opportunities to teach the skill in all sorts of everyday interactions. Here’s how to help your children harness more gratitude in ways beyond the literal counting of blessings:

Start modeling gratitude early. Really early.

“Thank you for letting me change your diaper. Would you please put your arms down so I can put on your bib? Thank you.” It may sound a little silly, but writer Emily Plank gives these examples to show how moms and dads can model gratitude to even the littlest beings. At this age, it may be more about shaping your own mindset and helping you understand that from the very beginning, you are connecting with a person who is paying close attention to what you say and how you say it. Show them respect and gratitude, as they grow up, they will do the same for you.

Have them chop the veggies.

Susan Roberts, author of My Kid Eats Everything, told The Atlantic that kids today have horrible diets because they are just being “fed.” In the past, as the article describes, “kids joined families in the kitchen, helping to prepare food, setting the table, clearing the table, and washing the dishes.” Before that, they even helped catch the family’s meals. Modern passivity has dissolved kids’ awareness of what goes into the food on their plate, so how can they be grateful for it? Involve kids in the whole process. Bring them with you to the grocery store. Show them your budget. Have them chop all the veggies. Let them know that food doesn’t just appear out of nowhere, and there is a finite amount of it.

If they lose or break their favorite toy, don’t replace it.

In this just-buy-a-new-one culture, it’s easy for kids to lose their sense of value for the things they have. I know that to quell my daughter’s sobbing, I’ve said, “It’s okay, we can get another one,” to I don’t even remember what. A dropped cookie? An Elmo? If she knew that was the only one she was getting, she might have been more grateful—and careful. Here’s a good reminder from Becoming Minimalist: “Kids who get everything they want believe they can have everything they want.”

Role-play potentially complicated social situations

Getting kids to say “thank you” shouldn’t become a power struggle (more on that in the next section), but it’s important to teach them basic manners. That includes prepping them for situations where they might receive a gift (or food or something else) that they don’t like. As Plank explains, “it’s unfair to expect a child to say ‘thank you’ for a gift she doesn’t want if we haven’t prepared her for that possibility. We are raising children to be truthful.”

She gives examples of how to practice saying no to kind gestures with gratitude:

Unwanted Food: Pretend you’re at a birthday party and Stephen offers you something you don’t like. If you say, “Yuck! I don’t like that!” it might hurt his feelings, or it might hurt the feelings of the other people at the table who do like it. Whenever you don’t want to eat what is offered to you, saying, “I don’t care for that. Thank you,” is a way you can communicate what you want and not hurt the cook’s feelings.

Don’t let “Say thank you” become a power struggle.

It’s a tough balance, because as much as you want to hear your kid to say thank you to the waiter who served her dinner, or the neighbor who picked up her ball, prompts like “What do you say?” can lead to annoyance and resentment. This issue is a big one for me because my four-year-old always shies away when any adult she doesn’t know tries to talk to her, even when they’re doing something nice. And when she doesn’t say thank you, I fume inside. But the best thing to do is keep practicing and modeling gratitude, and not force it upon kids. I liked the philosophy of Larissa Kosmos, who wrote the Washington Post piece, “I stopped forcing my kids to say thank you, and they learned true gratitude.”

“I launched a new habit in situations when someone deserves thanks: I illuminate for my children what has just transpired,” Kosmos writes. “For example, I’ll say, ‘Dad spent time fixing your toy instead of relaxing’ or ‘The librarian left the work at her desk to help you find that book.’ Instead of cuing words to be spoken, I’m aiming to trigger something deeper and more meaningful—awareness.”

All Saints Day at the Home of the Saints

As an IB school, we talk often about being risk-takers. We understand that we shouldn’t opt not to do something simply out of fear of failure. If we set a goal, and fail to achieve it, there is still much that can be learned and accomplished with that failure. On this day of All Saints, we recognize and celebrate those saints who have gone before us, and we realize that we too are called to be saints.

We use that phrase often enough, “Be a Saint,” but what if we actually tried it? The probability of over 500 students from a small Catholic school in Lakewood, Ohio being canonized through the Catholic Church is a complex math problem that should live in Mrs. McGuire’s classroom. If we all approached each day with that goal, however, imagine the great things we could do. Even if we fail to be recognized as worthy of universal veneration, the sincere attempt to live each day as a saint would impact so many lives.

Just yesterday, our preschool and kindergarten students paraded through the school to collect food that will change the lives of those who are hungry. Our 7th grade students are currently in the middle of a campaign to better the lives of amputees around the world. Fittingly, our service at St. Pat’s Hunger Center, now in its ninth year as a staple of LCA’s commitment to the greater community, begins this evening as a group of 6th & 7th grade students visits St. Pat’s to serve the first of over twenty meals that LCA will support this year. All of those are large scale efforts that require planning and coordination. We can also be Saints by holding the door, by helping picking up a dropped item, or by comforting someone who is upset.

Our challenge today, and in all the days ahead, is to truly Be a Saint. Even if we fail to reach official saintly status, we can still make a difference in many ways, in many lives.

Be a Saint!
~ Michael Fletcher, Dean of Students

You Want Me to Say What?

Praying the rosary once through, for a single set of Mysteries, involves a total of sixty-seven prayers. Fifty-three of those are Hail Marys. In this age of 140-character Tweets (word is they’re expanding to 280), live-streaming and short attention spans, does that seem at all to be a reasonable practice? There’s a smaller version of the physical rosary (Google: pocket rosary), why can’t we shorten the prayers as well?

Hail Mary, full of Grace, pray for us. Now, and at the hour of our death. Amen.

God knows what I want to say. Do I really need to say it?

At a time when our newsfeeds give us up-to-the-minute reports on natural disasters, political turmoil, and mass killings, the answer to the question above is yes – a resounding YES – we really do need to say it. Prayer is how we dialogue with God. It’s how we maintain and grow our relationship with him. Any prayer is better than no prayer at all, but at times, especially when we think the time doesn’t exist, we need to lose ourselves in conversation with God. Perhaps more accurately stated, we need to find ourselves, our individual selves and our collective selves, in prayer. Amid the perceived chaos of our own lives (reality check – many of the “huge problems” we have are extreme only in contrast to the many blessings we so often take for granted) and with an awareness of the degradation and despair that overshadows the lives of others around our country and our world, we must make, not find, a place for prayer – for meaningful prayer.

The Apostles’ Creed requires a reference sheet even at mass, and the Hail Holy Queen is a prayer that many don’t even know exists, but the other sixty-three prayers of the rosary are prayers that we know by heart. They are prayers that we should hold in our heart in such a way that as our mouths say them, our hearts and our thoughts can go beyond them – to contemplation of the Mysteries around which they exist, and to conversation with God about mysteries in our own world that trouble us. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops tells us that, “the gentle repetition of the words helps us to enter into the silence of our hearts, where Christ’s spirit dwells.”

In this month of the Holy Rosary, make time to enter that place where Christ’s spirit dwells. As educators, we are blessed to see that spirit each day in our students, your children, and it is our sincere hope that you see that same spirit – not only in your children, but in the other areas of your life that bring you joy. At the same time, we recognize that those moments of joy can be interrupted, and, at times, those interruptions are far too often. Especially during those interruptions, make time to find that joy, to find Christ’s spirit.

~ Michael Fletcher, Dean of Students

A Father’s Prayer

Dear LCA Families,

As a school community we have knelt in prayer and raised our voices in petition to our God in response to the tragedy in Las Vegas.  Our collective heart aches for all those whose lives were lost and those forever altered by this act of violence.

While I treasure my role as an educator, my most important role is that of father. In moments like these, that are becoming all too frequent, I feel lost as a parent.  How do I explain such cruelty to my son?  I not only weep for the victims of these tragedies but also for my son, and all children, who face a world increasingly filled with hatred and violence.  And so I pray. And then pray some more.  And then even more.

In my prayer, I have discovered a source of hope.  My son and your children have the benefit of being part of a school community and faith that teaches love – a radical love, Christ’s love, a love that knows no bounds, embraces the stranger, mercifully forgives and calls forth compassion. The type of love the world so desperately needs. 

In the midst of national and global heartache, I hope this brings you peace.  Your children are taught love.  Yes, they will learn our world class curriculum complete with all the subjects you are familiar with, but most of all they will learn love and kindness.  May the love learned within the walls of LCA and the love experienced in your family inspire our children to heal a broken world.  

May God embrace all those who have suffered as a result of recent violence.  And may God continue to bless and keep you and your family today and always.

Brian Sinchak

All You Need Is A Book . . .

When I am not at school, my favorite thing to do is to spend time with my family, and more specifically, with my five nieces.   They are all under five, so generally the first part of our time together is spent playing any number of games with a variety of toys.  Eventually, and without fail, one of the girls will bring me a book to read as she snuggles into my lap.  As I begin to read, I think of Dr. Seuss’ quote that, “you can find magic wherever you look. Sit back and relax, all you need is a book.” 

As the story comes to life, one by one my other nieces begin to listen.  By the time we’re nearing the end of the book, all five of them are usually standing or sitting around me, enchanted by the story we are sharing. I can tell by their faces and their concentration that they have found the magic in the book.  The magic is also evident in their requests for more books; stories through which they can become fairies, explore outer space, or venture out on a wild safari.

This love of books and eagerness to experience the magic of the stories within is something that we also strive to instill in our students at Lakewood Catholic Academy. In order to learn to read, students have to WANT to read.  With this goal in mind, we are changing the way that our kindergarten through fourth grade students experience reading by implementing the guided reading program.

Guided reading is a research-based literacy approach that is differentiated to support all students. Books are leveled from A-Z on a system developed by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell.  In order to determine each child’s reading level, he or she is benchmarked by the teacher and then placed into a reading group, where curriculum standards and skills will be taught by using a book that is just right for those students. Groups throughout the year are fluid, allowing students to move to the next level when ready.

In order to support the transition to guided reading, we have purchased a system through Scholastic that is comprised of $30,000 worth of books in the areas of fiction, non-fiction, and text types.  These books are located in our new book room, which I encourage you to visit at some point this year to look through all of the amazing resources that are now available for our students.  Our teachers have been extensively trained, and they are already enthusiastically implementing lessons from the program in each classroom.

I have had the pleasure of watching some of these lessons, in which students learn that reading is thinking, that there are many reasons why people choose books, and that there is a way to find a book that is “just right for you.”  Our teachers present these lessons with a joy and passion that makes it impossible to feel anything but excitement when thinking about reading.  Our students wait in anticipation to be called to get a book and find the magic in their own silent reading spot.  I encourage you to speak with our young Saints about reading class, and to learn about what magical world they were able to experience today.

~ Brenna Warrell, Principal

What Did You Do At School Today?

Every day my husband asks, “What did you do at school today?”  I love this question!  It’s not only because I am happy that he is interested in my work day, but it’s because I am truly excited to re-think about my day here at Lakewood Catholic Academy.  As I celebrate my one year anniversary as a Saint, I am so grateful for the wonderful parents, engaging students and amazing faculty and staff who have accepted me, taught me and loved me unconditionally. Even being an East-sider!

Being a Saint is no easy job. I see parents who work hard to give their children the best Catholic elementary education so they can begin their journey as successful students, learners and faith-filled adults. I see teachers who work tirelessly and cheerfully to fill their classrooms with faith, love and knowledge.  Daily, staff works long hours to make sure that the school runs effortlessly, that the halls are filled with joy and that every child receives what they need. And we all love to come to school every day.

People in admissions will tell you that their job is about enrollment, retention and open houses. To me, it’s much more than that. To me, it’s about YOU.  It’s about helping you become a part of our LCA family and to help you through all of the paperwork, forms and meetings.  I want you to feel as welcome and supported as I was made to feel during my first year.  I want you and your children to feel at home. The first step in learning begins at home, and if we can become your second home to partner in your child’s educational journey, then we will have full hearts.

St. Augustine said “Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe.” Thank you for believing in us, and I hope you will see the rewards of your faith as we begin a new school year together.

~ Paula Santa, Director of Admissions

Celebrating Earth Day, Everyday!

The earth is our environment to protect and the garden to tend to.  ~Pope Francis

As we welcome spring back into our world, we slowly see the rebirth of the earth around us. We see small buds on trees starting to open, flowers starting to peek their heads through the soil, and birds’ songs being carried on the wind. It is important to remember the importance of taking care of and treasuring these amazing natural signs of life that God has provided to us. At Lakewood Catholic Academy, we are committed to being Saintly Stewards of Creation. A steward of creation is someone who cares for the earth around them and takes responsibility for their actions towards it. Stewards are called to use resources wisely and encourage others to respect the environment. The students of Lakewood Catholic Academy learn about taking care of the environment right from the moment they walk through the doors.

Preschool students are taught to play and experience the outdoors on a daily basis, exploring and discovering the amazing natural earth we live on. As our students continue their environmental education through their primary years, recycling practices and energy conservation are encouraged both in and out of the classroom. Students learn about social justice issues in regards to clean water and global warming. As students enter their middle school years at Lakewood Catholic Academy, they are encouraged to “be the change” and a voice for our earth thus taking on a leadership role in the building and practicing what it truly means to be a Saint.

As Earth Day (April 22nd) draws near, I encourage you to experience the world around you by embracing the natural world in all its glory. One of the easiest ways to do this is by getting involved in your community. Look for ways to reduce your carbon footprint and help our planet stay clean and healthy. Some easy ways to this are by cleaning up the a nearby park, using reusable shopping bags, walking or riding your bike, drinking water from the tap, cleaning up waste after your dog, etc. Earth Day is not just a day to help reduce waste and clean, it is also a day to celebrate the earth. Go for a hike, ride your bike, organize a natural scavenger hunt with friends, visit the zoo, etc. The possibilities are endless on how we can celebrate the earth.

In my classroom, I teach my students that “one raindrop can raise the sea;” one small change can make a difference. So I ask you…How will you raise the sea? What will you do to make a difference in this world? How will you be the change?  Happy Earth Day!

~ Mrs. Leah Nagy, Fourth Grade Teacher

Lenten and Easter Blessings

As we embark upon our Lenten journey this year there will be many opportunities for each of us to participate in this special time of preparation for the greatest feast of the liturgical year. Many of us will attend Mass on Ash Wednesday, receiving the sign of ashes to remind us that our very lives are a gift from God. Perhaps we will give up one of our favorite foods or forms of social media as a daily reminder of Christ’s sacrifice for us. Maybe some of us will choose to do something extra this Lent, like giving extra compliments, attending Stations of the Cross with our family, spending time in Eucharistic adoration, or visiting a lonely relative or friend. Whatever we choose, we will do it in solidarity with Christ’s passion and crucifixion, remembering that we are the sinners that he died to save.

Whatever small sacrifices we choose this Lent, let us remember that the season for which we are preparing is not only a reminder of the crucifixion; it is a celebration of the miracle that happened three days later! Perhaps this year we can all make an effort to live in the deep joy that the Resurrection offers us. As Pope Francis reminds us, the Resurrection is the “beating heart which gives life to everything.”

May the victory of the Resurrection and the hope of Christ among us guide our hearts and minds during these Lent and Easter seasons, and may we always strive to joyfully live the words of St. John Paul II:

“We are the Easter people, and Hallelujah is our song!”

~ Mrs. Katie Brocklehurst, Good Shepherd Catechist

Saints Serve

What is a faith without justice? As a follower of Christ, I strive to be as much like Him as possible. How is this possible without working for justice? Here at Lakewood Catholic Academy, we instill in our saints the mission to embrace and live out a faith that brings justice through our Social Justice Curriculum.

Each grade learns about an injustice in our world. They then create a service project to help bring justice to this issue.   Our Preschool and Kindergarten saints have explored hunger. 1st grade is learning and serving the veterans. 2nd grade has cared for our local elderly. 3rd grade is exploring the injustices of education both locally and globally. 4th grade is working to help save the environment. 5th grade is exploring the challenges of those with developmental differences. 6th grade is diving deeper into the problems of hunger and homelessness both near and far. 7th grade continues to learn about healthcare and what challenges face those who do not have access to healthcare. Our 8th grade saints continue to learn about microfinancing and the international refugee crisis. Each saint will experience and work towards finding justice for injustices throughout the world by the time their journey at LCA is complete.

I firmly believe that the mission of a Catholic school is not to simply educate the mind, but the heart and whole child. I believe this happens best in a community where scholars respect others’ differences both in the classroom and beyond. Each opportunity our saints have to learn and explore different issues throughout the world helps fulfill this mission.

By exposing our saints to these issues during their time at LCA, we hope to open their eyes to a world beyond their own. These experiences help prepare well-rounded scholars to embrace the challenges of a changing world. LCA’s Social Justice Curriculum will help our saints to live out a faith that does justice.

~Miss Courtney Ryan, Second Grade Teacher and Campus Minister

Happy New Year!

New Year’s Resolutions – we all make them.  Some of us keep them, some of us only for a few days.  But, the idea behind a resolution is one of hope for improvement and a commitment to better ourselves.  What can be wrong with that? 

As I walk the halls each day and see the joy and laughter of our students, I see good things happening all around me.  I see a teacher taking the time to organize an out of school field trip so her students can experience the joy of feeding chickadees out of the palm of their hands.  I see administration in working lunch meetings discussing innovative ideas to help our students learn and serve.  I see parents streaming in and out to volunteer in the dining hall, the library, classrooms or for an event.  I see Nurse Kocsan running from one end of the school to the other to check on students, put a Band-Aid on a cut and offering a hug to a child with a bellyache.  I see families chipping in to help a family in need.  Great things happen every day here that inspire me to be a better person. 

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the definition of a resolution is a PROMISE to do something different in the New Year.  As I reflect on last year and my own promises for the New Year, there are many.   Besides the obvious things I need to work on by eating better and exercising more, I hope in the New Year I can make a difference in the lives of others and bring joy and happiness to my family, friends and colleagues.   What will your promise be?

Happy New Year from all of us at Lakewood Catholic Academy.  May God keep you happy, healthy and safe and each day filled with new promises.

~ Mrs. Nikki Mohar, Director of Development

The Greatest Gift

I didn’t really know what else to say, so I apologized. As I finished my late-November shopping trip, I shared with the cashier my hope that she would enjoy a good Thanksgiving the following day. “I’ll be here for most of it,” was the reply I received. Again, I wasn’t sure what else to say, so I apologized.

At the risk of offending anyone who has organized, promoted or participated in any of these pre-Black Friday (aka Thanksgiving Day) sales, I have to say that I believe we have gone too far. If the post-turkey nap you take on Thanksgiving has you rested enough to make the 4:00am Black Friday lines, more power to you. If the desire to get that bargain price has you motivated enough to embark upon a Thanksgiving day shopping spree, I ask that you consider to what you have given the power.

It is fitting that Thanksgiving falls just before the start of Advent, the season in which we prepare for the coming of our Savior. The timing of Thanksgiving allows us to enter the Advent season with hearts and minds that are both aware and appreciative of the many gifts with which we have been blessed – appropriate given that greatest gift we will receive on December 25th. Disagreements, quarrels and arguments aside, the next greatest gift we have received, after Jesus himself, is the gift of family and friends – those who love us and allow us to love them. My concern with Thanksgiving Day shopping is that it shifts the focus from what we should be giving to what we’ve been led to believe others want to receive. At a time when families should be together, when we should be sharing the gift of ourselves, we instead become concerned with accessories, apps and newest versions.

If you are reading this blog, you are likely a part of the LCA community. A school community. A community that revolves around children. The excitement those children have for Christmas morning stems from the anticipation you build in them. As you consider what gifts you will give, and as you think about what the people in your life, especially the children, really need, realize the gift that is you. Understand the importance not of a game bought, but of a game played together. Recognize the impact not of an upgrade, but of a chance to stay up late, just to talk. See that the greatest enjoyment comes not from what’s found under the tree, but from those who gather around it.

Thanksgiving has passed, but the feelings of appreciation and gratitude for all that we have are needed now, more than ever, as we prepare for Jesus’ birth. Make this time of preparation a time for family, friends and all those, who, like Christ, are blessings in our lives.

~Mr. Michael Fletcher, Dean of Students

Election 2016

9am – Tuesday, November 8, 2016.

I, like many Americans, have felt a deep sadness and a shameful anger for most of this tumultuous presidential campaign.  Surprisingly, on this election day I am filled with gratitude.  Perhaps that’s why elections are held during the month of Thanksgiving – to remind us of the unifying human need to give thanks. 

As I stood at my polling station in the darkness of the early morning hours, I held my nine-year old son’s hand as he witnessed his first presidential election.  Unlike most school days at 6:30am, his wide open eyes were shining with the brightness of the sun that had not yet risen.  He was full of excitement.  Despite his age, he wanted to vote.  Instead, he watched me bubble in circles on the ballot like the annual standardized test he takes in school.  He watched as I fed the ballot into the electronic machine like prize tickets at Dave and Busters.  He saw me put on my voting sticker and asked the poll worker if he could have one too – she gave him a sticker and a memory he won’t soon forget.

Children have a funny way of reminding us of what is most important.  My son reminded me of the joy of democracy.  Above the clamor and commercials, he inspired me to remember the importance and meaning of the democratic process.  Like prayer, election day offers us the opportunity to participate in something larger than ourselves. And sometimes, like today, voting is a prayer. 

As it turns out, my son did get to cast his own ballot, albeit one in our school’s mock election organized by Mrs. Arrighi.  He proudly showed me his voter registration card and the sticker he earned by voting at school.  He wasn’t the only little saint filled with excitement to vote, and he won’t be the last.  We, at Lakewood Catholic Academy, are committed to educating our students to prayerfully understand their role as citizens of our nation and world as well as their corresponding responsibility to thoughtfully participate in the process of democracy.  If you feel discouraged about the political landscape or need a booster shot of hope, I dare you to spend time on our campus – our students will inspire you as they do all who visit the Home of the Saints.        

No matter the outcome of today’s election, I remain profoundly thankful for the gift of our country and its dedication to democracy.  I am thankful for schools like ours that educate minds, form hearts and guide students’ hands in service.  I am thankful for teachers whose commitment to love knows no bounds.  I am thankful for parents who believe in our work and support our mission.  I am thankful for our faith which gives us strength to accept election results with grace.  Most of all, I am thankful for our students, our children, who touch our hardened hearts and remind us that there is always reason to hope for a better tomorrow.  I am thankful.

Today we may disagree with our neighbor on politics, but we should agree to be thankful for the gift of democracy and, more importantly, the gift of each other. 

May all the Saints, pray for us . . .

~Mr. Brian Sinchak, President

Our Faith-filled IB Journey

The lengthy online application read, “Please click the finish button…” to submit. At 4:30pm on Thursday, September 29, we clicked the finish button and submitted our application for authorization as an IB World School. The paradox is striking…we are not finished. The high bar that IB sets for us, and the one we set for ourselves, guarantee that we will never be quite finished.

This submission is, however, a very important milestone in our journey to becoming an IB World School offering the IB Middle Years Program.   At this juncture, I find myself reflecting on the essential elements that have led to the successes we have achieved thus far in this demanding process. Just as the IB Learner Profile closely connects with our faith, so the process has revealed surprisingly familiar faith elements:

Humility. It is tempting when faced with a challenging growth process to dwell on the ways we are “already doing these things.” Thanks to former principal, Maureen Arbeznik, it is true that many of the fundamental aspects of MYP pedagogy were alive and well at LCA. Teachers had been trained in conceptual instruction under the philosophy of Understanding by Design. We had already tackled some of the important differences between formative and summative assessment. LCA had long been a place that put students first in so many ways. However, to rest in the notion of what we “already do” would have denied our capacity for growth. I am proud to say, we do not often succumb to this temptation. When we are at our best, we humbly recognize areas in which we can grow and improve.

Prayerful Work. As noted earlier, there is no “finish line” to this continuous improvement process. The “water breaks” are few and far between as well. An impressive amount of work is required to foster an authentic IB educational environment. Teachers and administrators spend many extra hours, including summer hours, on important work impacting instruction, facilities, scheduling, and school culture. When we are at our best, this work is reflective and prayerful.

True Collaboration. We are better when we work together. This is true for teachers, administrators, students, and the entire LCA community. Teacher teams collaborate weekly to share ideas, methods, and strategies. Administrators collaborate to ensure delivery of support and resources. We gather regularly with our colleagues from Saint Edward High School to learn and grow. Students increasingly collaborate in our active classrooms. The LCA community comes together to advance exciting initiatives.  When we are at our best, we recognize and honor our own gifts and the gifts of others.

Our faith has always challenged us to humbly work together to follow the example of Jesus Christ. May we continue to integrate the faith elements of humility, prayerful work, and true collaboration into our vocation as educators and into our growth as a vibrant Catholic community.

It will be nearly a year before we receive notice of our status as an IB World School. At some point in the next several months, an IB verification team will visit our campus. In the meantime, we will enthusiastically continue to grow and develop. We are so very thankful for your prayers and support as we journey forward.

~ Mrs. Eileen McGuire, IB Coordinator

To learn more about our journey to IB, please visit our IB webpage


New House Leadership Program

You could feel the excitement in the gym as our 5th through 8th grade students gathered for LCA’s inaugural House Sorting Ceremony.  The same question was on the mind of every student: “Which House will be mine?”

“Only the wheel knows,” was the answer that Mr. Sinchak gave throughout the program.  It was true; no one in the building knew how students would be sorted.  Students lined up by grade level, but were allowed to get in line in any order.  As the students learned one by one which House they would now belong to, the students already in the House cheered and welcomed their newest member.  The energy was contagious, and the enthusiasm of the day set the tone for a great year to come.

Now that the students are sorted and House memberships are set, the House meetings will take place every Monday for an hour.  During that time, the Houses will complete activities based on themes that were planned by a group of teachers and administrators this past summer. Each theme will culminate in a convocation, where the Houses will compete for points in order to win the House Cup at the end of the school year.

While the Houses will be competing for points throughout the year, there is a bigger message for our new system: We are united in faith.  This is an important message that can be applied to the six Houses being united together through our Catholicity, but can also be applied to each House individually.  Once sorted, students will remain in the House for the duration of their time at LCA.  This allows the students and the House Guardians (the three teachers assigned to each House) to build meaningful relationships with each other, and to support each other in good times and through hard times.  It gives our 8th grade students the opportunity to be leaders and role models for the younger students in the House, and allows students to build friendships with students in other grade levels. 

We are excited to see how the House System transforms our Saints, and we are grateful for the overwhelming support that we have received as we begin this journey.

LCA House System at a Glance:

  • In order to find a common meeting time, we have created a new Monday schedule for our 7th and 8th grade students. We are calling this schedule our “Monday Mods.”  Students take 5 classes instead of their usual 8, and the classes meet for 60 minutes.  In both grades the Mod classes are Math, Theology, Literature & Language Arts, and PE/Design.  In 7th grade, the 5th Mod is Individuals & Societies, where in 8th grade it is Science.  
  • Students in grades 5 and 6 follow an abbreviated schedule on Mondays, which allows them to attend all 8 classes that they would attend during the rest of the week.
  • Students in grades 5-8 will meet with their House for an hour each Monday.
  • The name of each House comes from a different language from around the world, and each name has a special meaning. In addition, each House has a motto, a symbol, a Saint, and a color. 
  • The Six Houses are:
    • Speranza, the House of Hope.
    • Sabedoria, the House of Wisdom
    • Atenrosera, the House of Friendship
    • Ceartas, the House of Justice
    • Shanti, the House of Peace
    • Ujasiri, the House of Courage

In order to learn more about each House, click HERE.

~ Ms. Brenna Warrell, Dean of Academics

Back to School

A quick survey of the landscape in the Fletcher house: We have one starting high school, one starting kindergarten, one getting a head start on the terrible twos, and one joining the family in less than a month (Mrs. Fletcher is confident there are two). In addition, I’m doing my best to prepare for the coming year both as an administrator and a classroom teacher. In short, it’s a busy back-to-school season in our house – as it is in so many others. So how do we get ready?

Summer reading is done. We know how the kids will get to school each morning and have reasonable confidence as to how they’ll get home. We have backpacks and lunch boxes, as well as most of the items from our school supply lists.

On paper we look relatively well prepared. As in any good school, however, that which is of the greatest importance is often not found on paper…or in textbooks, lesson plans or state standards. When it comes to preparing for the school year ahead, the significance of one particular need far surpasses that of all others. As we take in the final days of summer and return to the world of academics, the most important thing to bring with us is enthusiasm.

As parents, it is the manner in which we send our children off to school each day that sets the tone for the experience they will have. As educators, it is the way in which we welcome our students into our halls and our classrooms that strengthens the eagerness and curiosity with which they enter them. As people of faith, that enthusiasm is affirmed by our commitment to the Catholic principles of peace, justice, equality, service and respect for all life.

If you send your children to school with nothing else on that first day, give them – model for them – an enthusiasm for the year to come.

~Mr. Michael Fletcher, Dean of Students

Power of the Pen

On Saturday, December 12, five 7th graders and six 8th graders competed in the Power of the Pen district competition against a dozen other schools at Monticello Middle School in Cleveland Heights. Michael Butterfield won 15th place and Elizabeth Starck won 3rd place for 7th Grade – Excellence in Writing. Jim Matousek 13th place, Jane Kalinowski 9th place, and Chloe Becker 1st place for 8th grade – Excellence in Writing. Our 8th grade Writing Team came in 3rd place overall. Jane Kalinowski also won an award the best creative writing story for one of the three writing prompts.
Congratulations to our outstanding young writers and best of luck in the regional competition!

Model United Nations Conference

Lakewood Catholic Academy is assisting St. Edward High School and the Cleveland Council of World Affairs in hosting the Cleveland International Model United Nations Conference (CLEIMUN). CLEIMUN is operating under a newly merged system, combining the North American, or Harvard-style conference, with the European, or THIMUN-style. The Harvard style provides greater scope for negotiation and the THIMUN style allows for more high quality resolution writing. By fusing the two styles, CLEIMUN hopes to achieve both excellent quality negotiation and debate, as well as some highly in-depth resolutions – a conference that’s the first of it’s kind in North America.  Follow the CLEIMUN Conference on Twitter @CLEIMUN15.

Opening School Liturgy

On the Feast of Saint Augustine 

Today we celebrate the opening liturgy of our new school year. Throughout this year, we, the Saints of Lakewood Catholic Academy, will recognize and celebrate the lives of those saints whose examples we strive to follow.

Today we celebrate the Feast of St. Augustine, a Bishop and Doctor of the church. St. Augustine holds a special place in our hearts. He is an example of how to recognize our wrongs and how to bring ourselves closer to God. We know, as students, that it is important for us to learn from our mistakes, and the life of St. Augustine offers a great example of that lesson.

St. Augustine is the patron saint of the Sisters of Charity, whose motherhouse once stood just a few feet from where we gather this afternoon. We continue their holy work today, on the holy ground that is 14808 Lake Avenue. St. Augustine is the saint after whom our building was once named – and to whom our own school library has been dedicated.

As we begin a new school year, we commit ourselves to following the example of St. Augustine by growing closer and closer to God each day.

New Faculty and Staff

Dear LCA Family,

Happy August 1st! It’s hard to believe that it is Back-to-School month. The administrative team and teacher leaders have been working all summer to make this coming year a fantastic one!

In honor of the start of August, I want to introduce to you the new faculty and staff here at LCA. They are a remarkable group of very talented educators and passionate professionals. Please welcome the newest members of our family of saints!

Be a Saint!
Brian Sinchak

Please Welcome Our New LCA Saints!

Abigail Alletto

Abigail Alletto will teach 2nd grade at LCA this upcoming year. Abigail received a Bachelor of Science from Ohio University and holds an Early Childhood Reading Endorsement. She spent last school year teaching kindergarten in Bay Village. Abigail has been recognized for her leadership in 21st century skills, and will work to integrate those skills into the classroom.

Mary Brown

Mary Brown will be joining LCA as the Science teacher for grades 7 and 8. Mary received a Bachelor of Science in Geology from Northern Arizona University, was a Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellow at University of Akron where she completed coursework in her Master of Secondary Science Education program, and is currently working toward her Master of Geological Sciences at Case Western Reserve University. She has experience as both a teaching assistant and gradate research assistant, and has been published several times.

Caroline Gainley

Caroline Gainley will be joining our LCA family as a physical education and health teacher. Caroline is a graduate of Case Western Reserve University. Caroline has been a competitive gymnast and has been an instructor at The Little Gym where she focused on a holistic learning approach to skill development. This approach was based on three core tenets: “Get Moving” to foster flexibility, strength, balance and coordination; “Brain Boost” to nurture listening skills, concentration and decision making; and “Citizen Kid” to promote sharing, teamwork, cooperation and leadership abilities.

Emma Gerdes

Emma Gerdes joins the LCA community as a 7th and 8th grade Literature and Language Arts teacher. Emma graduated from Baldwin Wallace University, and holds a Middle Childhood license. Emma has student taught in the subjects of Science, Social Studies, and Literacy. She uses a number of different technologies in her lessons, and has experience using laptops in a one-to-one classroom. Outside of school, Emma is a coach for the Lake Shore Swim Club.

Nathan Horne

Nathan Horne comes to LCA to fill the new position of part-time evening maintenance. Nathan has experience as a kitchen manager and sous chef, and currently works as a remodeling assistant.   Nathan volunteers at St. Patrick Church, assisting in the maintenance of the parish.

John Jackson

John Jackson joins LCA after two years of teaching in Oakland, California. John will be teaching 5th and 6th grade Math. John received a Bachelor of Arts from John Carroll University and a Master in Elementary Education from the University of Notre Dame. John has been recognized for his leadership, service, and commitment to Christian values, and has had mission experience in Ecuador and Florida.

Rita Tersigni-Grabowski

Rita Tersigni-Grabowski will be joining the LCA Business Office on September 1.  Rita is a CPA with over 20 years of experience.  As LCA’s Business Manager, Rita will oversee the accounting and finance functions of the school, and work closely with Marge Lanzola in LCA’s Business Office.   Rita supports other non-profit organizations, including LAND Studio, who is managing the redevelopment of Public Square.  Rita and her husband are active members of Gesu Parish, and her son is a sophomore at St. Ignatius High School.


New Academic Dean Joins the LCA Family

Lakewood Catholic Academy is proud to announce that Ms. Brenna Warrell has accepted the position of Dean of Academics to focus on the areas of curriculum, innovative instruction and educational technology.

President Brian Sinchak informed the school community of the appointment,  “I am confident that Ms. Warrell will be a valuable addition to our administrative team and will provide strong academic leadership and support to our classroom educators.”

Ms. Warrell is a graduate of Denison University where she earned a BA in History and Education.  She is completing her Masters in Educational Administration at Notre Dame College. Ms. Warrell is currently an educator at St. Christopher School in Rocky River where she has served in a variety of teacher-leader roles, including a time as interim principal during the principal’s medical leave. Additionally, she has earned recognition as an exemplary educator from the Ohio Council for Social Studies.

Jennifer Berardinelli, one of our Diocesan Superintendents, commented, “Every so often a teacher comes along whose skills and potential are immediately evident. Ms. Brenna Warrell is one of those rare individuals whose desire and love of education is matched only by her skill and dedication. Brenna is knowledgeable, organized and detail oriented. I am impressed by her enthusiasm, her willingness to be of service, her flexibility and sincere concern for the students. Brenna is a role model for our students and other teachers. She consistently demonstrates the values we desire in society: trustworthiness, honesty, perseverance, dedication and strength of character. Without a doubt, Brenna would be an asset to your community.”

Melissa Hokanson in the Office of Catholic Schools said, “Because Brenna is strong in technology and incorporating it into her classroom, our office has requested her expertise in facilitating events and leading groups in curriculum mapping.  Brenna is enthusiastic, dedicated to students, and is a team player.  She is a dedicated Catholic school educator who will bring many gifts to your staff and students.”

Sinchak concluded, “I am certain that we have hired a talented administrator devoted to her faith who will continue to enhance our school’s tradition of academic excellence.”

The Bank of Saints

Our students are literally changing the world!

Our 8th grade algebra students, under the guidance of Mrs. McGuire are in the process of providing loans to individuals in the developing world through a microfinance organization. The organization, Kiva International, builds relationships between perspective small business owners and individuals or organizations who have the ability and desire to offer a helping hand. As these loans are provided to launch small businesses, this effort is intended to help end the cycle of poverty for families around the world. The students in the 8th grade algebra class chose to invest in the following two individuals:

Foday in Sierra Leone (Activity: Pharmacy) $150.00

Foday is 45 years old. He is married and has 3 children, ages 19, 16, and 11. He has 2 additional dependents who live with him for schooling.

In 2001, Foday established his Patient Drug business. He began his business just to provide adequate support for his children and wife. His business is located at the city center and his main customers are all classes of business people. Working 7 days a week and 14 hours a day, he earns about 500,000 SLL a month from this business.

Foday would like a loan in the amount of 6,000,000 SLL. He has already received and successfully repaid 1 loan, and now requires a new loan in order to buy two cartons of Panadol (tabs) 500,000, Amoxcilline (cap) 500,000 and Ampicilline (cap) 500,000. He hopes that this loan will increase his stock levels.

In the future, Foday plans to educate his children and to create a business for his wife. He has been delayed in his goals of creating a business for his wife and also in educating his children. He thanks you for your support.

Musaidi in Kenya (Activity: Poultry) $100.00

Musaidi is a married woman and has been blessed with three kids who attend school. She lives in her own house that has neither electricity nor piped water. Her greatest monthly expense is school fees. Musaidi operates a poultry selling business, which has been operational for over two years. She mentioned disease outbreaks causing losses as a challenge in the business. Musaidi dreams of becoming a wholesaler of poultry in the future.With the loan of KES 30,000 she wants to purchase chicks and poultry feed. She joined Yehu to access loans to boost her business.

Engineering Wonders of the World

Sixth grade engineering teams were challenged to design and construct a working miniature golf hole representing a theme of a Wonder of the World.

To prepare for this challenge, students explored geometric principles including congruent, complementary and supplementary angles. They worked with pentominoes, scale drawings and levers. They conducted research on a wonder of the world. Finally, they followed the same steps engineers do in their jobs: ask, imagine, plan, create, and improve. Their impressive and creative putting holes are the result of many weeks of trial, improvement and success.

Many thanks to Mrs. McGuire for coordinating this innovative educational unit and congratulations to all of our young LCA engineers!

Catholic Schools Week 2015

At Lakewood Catholic Academy we celebrated Catholic Schools Week 2015 in some amazing ways . . .

On SUNDAY we hosted a very successful Open House where we welcomed new and interested families to our campus.  Our faculty, students and parent volunteers took pride in sharing all the great things that take place here at LCA.

On MONDAY we joined in prayer as a school family and participated in Mass led by Bishop Lennon.

On TUESDAY all of our students put their hands to use to be of service to our friends locally, nationally and internationally.  Our K-4th grade students created cards to be shared with our supporting parishes to thank them for their support of Catholic Education.  Our 5-8th grade students created hand-made Rosaries that will be given out on service trips.  We also had the opportunity to hear from LCA alumni who are students at St. Joseph Academy about their experiences of service.  LCA welcomed back to campus: Corinne Baker, Nicole Jamieson, Kerry Jamieson, Colleen FitzGerald, Juliana Withers and Allison Saracina.

On WEDNESDAY the whole school enjoyed an amazing concert by The Trash Talkers of St. Edward High School.

On THURSDAY we were inspired by guest speakers.  Our K-4th grade students participated in interactive scripture stories with Mr. Bob Kloos of Beacon Street Ministries. Our 5-8th grade students were moved by the powerful story of Justin Bachman a young man who founded the organization Honor Good Deeds.

On FRIDAY we had a blast with the traditional (and always entertaining) Faculty versus Student Basketball Games.

Thank you to all who helped to make this week possible including our phenomenal teachers, parent volunteers and our Saints Service Organization. 

May God continue to bless Lakewood Catholic Academy and may we remember to Live Christ Always!

Mass with Bishop Lennon

The Saints of Lakewood Catholic Academy were honored to welcome Bishop Lennon to campus on Monday, January 26th to celebrate Catholic Schools Week and the 10th Anniversary of our school.  Bishop Lennon visited with some students and administrators prior to celebrating Mass with the school community.  Our area superintendent as well as the Diocesan Secretariat for Catechetical Formation and Education also visited the school and joined with us in prayer.

During the liturgy the Bishop asked students and teachers why they loved LCA.  One young student stood up and answered, “I used to go to a school where I didn’t know God, but here I know God.”   This unscripted and sincere response is at the heart of the LCA experience and the mission of our outstanding Catholic school!

Junior Model United Nations

LCA’s Junior Model United Nations team brought home many honors from a competition sponsored by the Cleveland Council of World Affairs at John Carroll University last week. They competed against 275 middle school students from area schools.

Of the 13 LCA participants, five received honorable mention awards: Elizabeth Halko, Kelly Korpowski, Tristan Rumsey, Jack Viglianco, and Gwen Wojtkun. Michael Donnelly received the Golden Gavel award as his committee’s most outstanding delegate.

Junior Model United Nations provides an opportunity for middle school students to debate and discuss international issues of the day and learn more about complex global dilemmas. LCA students represented Australia, Jordan, and Russia after researching and preparing for this event.

We are very proud of our students’ accomplishments and all of their hard work!

Power of the Pen Champions!

Lakewood Catholic Academy is proud of both our 7th and 8th grade Power of the Pen teams.  The LCA teams competed in the district tournament on Saturday, January 10th. 

The district tournament featured approximately 90 students from each grade representing 15 school teams. 

Our 7th grade team were recognized as District Champions! 
The following students earned individual recognition:

Chloe Becker, 3rd place
Kelly Korpowski, 4th place
Jim Matousek, 9th place
Jane Kalinowski, 15th place
Best of Round Honorable Mentions were given to Kelly Korpowski and Chloe Becker (this indicates that their writing was the 2nd best response to a particular prompt out of all 90 writers).

Our 8th grade team placed 4th!
The following students earned individual recognition:

Maggie Cornelison, 11th place
Alex Baker, 14th place


First Liturgy of the New Year

The Lakewood Catholic Academy Saints gathered today for the first time since Christmas break to celebrate the Eucharist together.

The Gospel passage was the story of the miracle of the loaves and fishes, when Jesus performed a miracle to feed thousands of his followers. In his homily, Fr. Bill Rooney, Pastor of Transfiguration Parish, shared a reflection on the story.

“With so little, they were able to do so much,” he said. “May we all apply that attitude to our Christian lives.”

Celebrating the mass together was a great way for the LCA community to start off the new year. We look forward to many blessings to come in 2015!

‘APP’y New Year! LCA Announces APP

Lakewood Catholic Academy is proud to kick-off the New Year with the release of its first mobile APP for smartphones. This new resource is another example of the school’s ongoing commitment to communication and technology.

Welcome to the new Lakewood Catholic Academy (LCA) Mobile App!
Our mobile app helps parents, students and friends of the school stay connected and communicate with LCA. 

Our features include:
+ Full events calendar
+ Important faculty information
+ Prayer Requests
+ Donations
+ Prayer Resources including daily readings, interactive Rosary and Bible.
+ And much more!

To download our new free app, search for Lakewood Catholic Academy
in the App Store or Google Play.

Advent Service Project

During this Advent season, LCA students have been collecting toys and other items to donate to the St. Vincent de Paul Society Woodland Pantry, an organization that provides food and other items to over 700 households in the central Cleveland area.

On Thursday, December 18, three LCA eighth graders helped load the donated toys onto the St. Vincent de Paul Society’s truck, and then traveled to the pantry on Woodland Avenue to deliver them.

The toys will be distributed on Friday, December 19, starting at 8:30 a.m., but the operations manager expects that customers will start lining up around 5:30 a.m. Of the nearly 300 households that will be served tomorrow, about half are families with children.

After delivering the toys, the LCA students had the opportunity to take a tour of the facility. The Woodland Pantry also distributes groceries to central Cleveland residents on Friday mornings from 8:30 a.m. until 11:30 a.m., nearly every week of the year.

Thank you to all of the students and families that contributed and helped with this Advent service project. At LCA we are proud that our students are committed to helping our local community in service to others.

Diocesan Grant Award

I am proud to announce that I received official notification this week that LCA was awarded $35,000 in grant funding from the Diocesan Rooted in Faith – Forward in Hope campaign.  This funding represents 100% of our grant request and will be transformative in the life of the school, teacher professional development and the implementation of the International Baccalaureate Program. This grant is more than double the amount of funding LCA has received from Diocesan grants in previous years.

Thank you to those of you who contributed to this campaign through your parishes.  Your gifts have made a difference not only at LCA but throughout the Diocese of Cleveland.

I am grateful for the many gifts, including this grant, that help us live out our mission to educate tomorrow’s leaders by providing the highest quality academic and religious education through an innovative and challenging curriculum.

Be a Saint!
Brian Sinchak