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Faith, Fun and Fractions Spell Success at Ascension Catholic School

By Elizabeth R. Elstien

Began in 1961 when kindergarten through 5th grade classes were taught by two newly arrived sisters from Ireland, Ascension Catholic School just keeps expanding. Now accepting preschool through grade 8, this religious-based school in Melbourne was recognized as a National School of Excellence in 1986 by the U.S. Department of Education for its overall curriculum, practices, and policies. Their national test scores reflect the school's continued success.

The facilities have grown from the early days. Today's students now have access to 23 classrooms, science and computer labs, art and music rooms, media center, a clinic and a cafetorium, which Merriam-Webster online dictionary describes as a room "designed for use both as a cafeteria and an auditorium".

Academic coursework is rigorous, even for these young ages. At every turn, students are challenged. Not just technology, but also music and the arts, are important for a well-rounded person. Principal Anita Brady tells us, "Students study religion, language arts, math, social studies, science, Spanish language, physical education, music to include band, art, computer technology and take a visit the media center weekly." Catholic religion class adds 30 minutes to the school day, as students participate in age-appropriate classes on the 10 commandments, the golden rule, corporal works of mercy and sacraments.

All work and no play creates unbalance minds. In order to create a whole person, there are a number of extra-curricular activities to keep kids engaged and feeling the school spirit. Brady lists, "Chess Club, Google Coding, Cyber Patriots, Student Service Council, Odyssey of Mind, Lego League and sports programs for students in grades K-8." Teaching not just academics, but incorporating faith and fun, to lead to the formation of a complete and compassionate student capable of critical and creative thinking for a more just and humane world is the goal at Ascension. Such teaching leads to students who are holistic, balanced and centered.

Enter here and experience something different. "The atmosphere is a welcoming atmosphere," describes Brady, "where all are treated with kindness and respect." Asked what is the academy's greatest accomplishment in its over 50 years, and Brady tell us, "We are especially proud of our high academic achievement and the excellent behavior of our students." Can you spell success?

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