All Saints All Ready and Set to Go
By Penny Wiegert, Editor
August 8, 2019
ROCKFORD—The paint is dry, the floors and windows are squeaky clean, the staff is anxious and the doors are ready to open wide for students at All Saints Catholic Academy on Aug. 28.
Head of Schools, Renee Payne said Aug. 1 that supplies and equipment from the former Cathedral of St. Peter School and St. Edward Catholic School were received at All Saints and that final preparations in setting up classrooms were being completed. 
Other preparations to transform the former St. James School building into All Saints Catholic Academy included preparing the technology infrastructure to support Chromebooks and other devices to be used throughout the building, installation of Lite Touch interactive boards and whiteboards, as well as painting the gymnasium walls in school colors and adding the new school mascot to the floor.
Teachers have been meeting over the summer to get “to know each other and share curriculum discussions as well as their hopes, dreams and expectations for All Saints,” Payne said.
Teacher Evelyn Fuentes is coming from St. Edward School to teach preschool at All Saints Academy. But she is no stranger to the school building. While unpacking boxes in her All Saints classroom on July 31, she expressed her excitement at being there and said, “I went to school here at St. James, from pre-kindergarten through 8th grade. I’m coming back to my roots, but in a new way.”
The parent organization of All Saints, “Family And School Together” or FAST, has been busy preparing for opening day, coming up with activities to promote the school and social events for students and families.
Payne said the unique part of this collaboration and what will set ASCA apart from other schools is “the incorporation of Project Lead the Way into the STREAM program, our focus on celebrating the cultural diversity of the school with themes for school Masses, FAST events and the school curriculum.”
The curriculum at ASCA is aligned with major industries in the Rockford community such as aeronautics, health care and engineering to ensure students learn skills associated with careers available here. Payne said a school-wide writing curriculum will prepare all the students for expectations in high school and college, as well as for communication associated with careers.
Payne said it is a challenge to bring students together from four schools along with new students, but the challenge is also part of what makes ASCA unique.
Even before the doors open for the first time Aug. 28 the academy has already exceeded one expectation. According to Michael Kagan, diocesan superintendent of Catholic schools, administrators of ASCA budgeted for an enrollment of 300 students and enrollment as of July 30 was at 301 for pre-kindergarten through eighth grade.
“The first day of school will be a very special event featuring a ribbon cutting and blessing with Bishop David Malloy along with special guests that will include many donors to the school, diocesan administration members, community dignitaries, advisory board members, pastors and parishioners, as well as Mayor Tom McNamara,” Payne said.
Arrangements are being made for a reception and school tours after the ribbon cutting, sge added, Plans are also being completed for the Rockford Police to greet students at the end of their first school day.
Before then however, Payne said there will be a “meet the teacher night” so parents can visit classrooms, drop off supplies and gather information about individual classes.
“We are really looking forward to this great collaboration between the eight Rockford parishes,” Kagan said. 
“This coming together is exciting because it offers a fresh approach to Catholic education not just through its exciting curriculum but also by building relationships based on a common faith rather than simply on a single parish affiliation,” he continued. 
“All Saints is truly poised to prepare students and families for their experience in high school, preferably at Boylan Central Catholic High School,” Kagan said. 
More information and registration can be found at Watch for opening day photos in upcoming issues of The Observer.