2nd Annual Poetry Night

Ms. Claire Jost and her 4th grade class have been studying poetry and writing their own original pieces in preparation for the LFLA 2nd Annual Poetry Night, hosted last week in the Donn Lux Family Performing Arts Theatre. Students used a variety of poetry worksheets to put together different types of poems, and Ms. Jost showed them videos of poetry nights from a few schools in the U.S. to see what it might look like. When planning out their poetry topics, Ms. Jost said, “we talked about things that we thought we needed to speak up about like kids voices being heard, social justice, and even what foods we like.” Students started by writing about what they know, then worked together to create final poems and practice them in front of one another.

Check out the video below to hear some of the final pieces!

Middle School Literacy Initiative

Lift For Life Academy’s middle school launched its own library initiative this fall: encouraging its students to sign up for library cards at the St. Louis Public Library. As a result, more than 150 middle school students showed proof of library membership – and earned a special lunch at a food truck event. That number represents more than half of the students in grades 5-8. The 5/6th grade team is only 37 students away from having 100% of their students signed up with the St. Louis Public Library.

To encourage reading and promote the benefits of having a library card, the middle school students went on a field trip to the SLPS Central Library to learn from the librarians what is available and included with their membership. Students went to the teen lounge and explored the hundreds of titles available for them to check out. 

Librarians also showed students the “Creative Experience”, a makerspace that offers library customers the opportunity to create, learn, explore, and share. Creative Experience has computers, design and editing programs, 3D printers, audio production & recording rooms, laser cutters, and more available for free to all library card holders.

Middle school students will go on field trips to the public library throughout the school year, and LFLA will provide future incentives for the rest of its students to get library cards.

Be on the lookout for the Fall Annual Report Magazine to read more about the LFLA Reading and Literacy Initiatives happening this year!

New School Start Times and Homework Policy

LFLA has updated several of its policies this school year in ways that directly affect students’ experiences - and some changes have been more popular with students than others.

The first major shift occurred around school start times. In previous years, the high school started its classes around 7:15 a.m., followed 30 minutes later by middle school and elementary school. (Students who ride LFLA’s buses typically arrive 30 minutes prior to school start times in order to eat breakfast.)

A member of the Education Committee advocated for changes based on research that older students fare better at school when the school day starts later to accommodate their natural sleep rhythms. Dr. Mark Harrington cited research that shows that test scores on college entrance exams rose dramatically at high schools that shifted to later start times, and school administrators agreed to the change. Starting this year, the middle school and elementary school start around 7:25 to 7:50 a.m., followed by high school at 8:18 a.m.

Principals at all three Academies have seen a drastic change in students’ behavior as a result of the schedule changes. High School Principal Jeff Edwards said that attendance in first-hour classes has improved dramatically, and late arrivals have gone down. Elementary School Principal Dr. Tommy Devitt said the new schedule has been popular not only with staff but also with parents and students.

And Middle School Principal Dr. Alicia Leathers said that middle school students experienced better focus after the change. 

“The kids get a lot of instructional time in, before their energy and attention levels drop,” Dr. Leathers said.

Less popular - at least among students - is the addition of homework to students’ schedules. After LFLA changed its policy that all students regularly be assigned homework, instead of finishing all their work during class, members of the 8th Grade Honors Program decided they had something to say about it. They put together a presentation in their Project-Based Learning class and invited a panel of teachers, school administrators, and School Board members to hear their reasons against homework.

The students took turns presenting their viewpoint supported by a slideshow containing a variety of sources and persuasive arguments: interviews with fellow students; information about other schools’ practices; and research about the potentially negative impact of homework on student learning, test scores and mental health.

The audience then had an opportunity to question the students about their work, and discuss some of the positive aspects of homework. Among the pros: building study skills for high school and college; practicing independent learning and time management; and staying competitive with students from other schools.

As one administrator pointed out - the students had used after-school time to create their anti-homework project. So maybe homework isn’t so bad as long as you’re passionate about the subject?

Volleyball's Powerful Season!

Congratulations to the Lady Hawks Volleyball team that placed 2nd in Districts this year! After a tenacious season, the varsity team finished 18-12.

LFLA has 5 volleyball squads (elementary, middle, freshmen, JV, and varsity), which means this program is just going to keep getting better! Keep your eye out next fall to see these ladies continue to dominate the court!


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Kate Hatfield 


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Ernest K. (Ernie) Banks

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