Academy Difference: Advisory Program

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The Academy Difference blog series explores how our faculty integrates the 6 “Cs” of Academy at the Lakes’ Core Curriculum. Our faculty ensures “the success of each individual at school, in the community, and in the world,” by connecting every classroom experience with at least one of our 6 Cs.  To learn more, visit our website.

Collaboration and Creative Thinking


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Hundreds of good old-fashioned, hand-written letters, the kind requiring pen to paper, are en route to Class of 2014 Academy graduates. The letters, written by Upper Division students, will land in New York and Chicago and as far as California.

And while those letters are bringing smiles to our alumni, current Wildcats are also spreading smiles on campus by writing letters during advisory and delivering them to their respective buddies.


Academy Advisory

Students meet with grade-level advisors each week to participate in planned activities. Advisory coordinators Susan Zalac and Sarah Gates are the brains behind the weekly activities.

According to Zalac, “Advisory time is meant to be spent reinforcing our culture.” Students and faculty can get caught up in the daily rigors of academics. Advisory brings them back to what is important – our shared values. Care, compassion, and kindness are reflected in Advisory activities such as Random Acts of Kindness.

Said Zalac; “I am most proud of Random Acts of Kindness (RAK) week. During RAK week, we encourage the students to attempt an act of kindness every day of the week. We want the students to learn to give from their hearts and not think of themselves. Quite often, these feelings of selflessness and appreciation for their actions carry to other facets of their lives.”

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Random Acts of Kindness Week activity

Zalac’s sentiment is echoed by alumnus Kristina Stark ’13 and confirms that Academy’s culture and core curriculum leave a lasting impression on our students. Said Stark; “In an academic community, especially college, it is often that you become absorbed in your own world and forget about all of the others around you in the same position. To go out of your way to do nice things brightens both the community and yourself.”


Advisory Tradition

And now a new tradition has born out of advisory – alumni and buddy letter writing.

The idea came to Zalac as she was thinking of her own nephew who is a freshman at Purdue University in Indiana.

“I thought about Ben experiencing his first semester being away from family and on his own, and I thought a letter would be nice. And then I thought about our Academy graduates.”

Care packages were already in the works for many of our alumni, so it was easy for the parents and faculty sending the packages to include the letters.

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Gates, the Middle Division Advisory coordinator, said her students were excited to write their letters.

“It was so cute. The students were genuinely excited to write their letters. Since the letters were being delivered to their buddies, along with Academy graduates, they had purpose in their writing.”

Fifth Grader Kayla Rodriguez ‘22 wrote to her senior buddies David Gamero ‘14 and Maria Baller ‘14.

Kayla said the letter writing was so much fun.

Said Kayla, “I have been here since Junior Kindergarten, so I have known my buddies for such a long time. I see them on campus, and they are both such kind people. I see them often now that I am on the same side of the campus and feel a connection. David will always smile when I see him and Maria says hi to me.”

Kayla expressed in her letters to David and Maria how sad she is that they will be graduating this year because she will miss seeing them.

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Skyler Boynton ‘14 and Mikey Mauger ’14, helped deliver the buddy letters to Lower Division and experienced the enthusiasm of the Lower Division students.

Said Mikey, “It was funny to see how excited the little kids were. It reinforces my belief that a small gesture of kindness can go a long way.”

Skyler felt the same way; “I thought it was a really cool experience to deliver the letters and see the little ones’ faces and how excited they got. They look up to us, so they were pretty excited about it.”


The Academy Difference

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Academy’s Advisory reflects our sense of community from top to bottom and reinforces the core curriculum.

Collaboration and creative thinking among students are evident in activities such as the public service announcements that Middle Division students create and design from writing the script to final production.

Said Gates; “The public service announcements truly reflect Academy’s core curriculum as well as Academy’s six pillars of good character. Students work collaboratively to design the public service announcements, which pull in critical thinking and reflect students’ multiple intelligences.”

Advisory also provides time for our Upper Division students nearing graduation to consider their futures. According to College Counselor Mrs. Debbie Pitcairn, who also coordinates several Advisory sessions, “We use Advisory sessions to engage students in exploring their learning styles and career interests, and to teach them about different types of colleges.”

Advisory is precious time for our juniors and seniors to focus on their future, which includes their college plans.

Whether promoting kindness, encouraging community, or planning one’s future, Advisory is meaningful time spent experiencing The Academy Difference.