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As a freshman, the experience of private school was all new to me. Coming from Aptakisic Public school In Buffalo Grove, a dual-curriculum, dress code, and high school were all great changes. Freshman year, I struggled with my basic Judaic classes. With the help and support of my teachers, and the ICJA community, I have not only been able to “catch up” to my friends, but advance into the highest level of Judaic classes.

The teachers at the Academy are very supportive and are always willing to lend a hand to help a student. As I mentioned, at the start of high school, I required a lot of help with my Judaic studies, due to my public school background. Never once did any teacher refuse me the opportunity to review a class lesson or explain a Jewish topic. One of the unique the things about the Academy is the first day of school. As you walk into class, you receive a syllabus. On the front page of the syllabus, you find the teacher’s name and the class expectations; on the back page, you find the personal cell-phone number of the teacher. Coming from public school, I found it amazing that this type of personal connection permeated the entire community of Ida Crown.

Each freshman joining the Academy is assigned a senior leader. The job of the senior leader is to ensure that all freshmen have a smooth transition from middle school to high school. When I was a freshman, my senior leader not only showed me where my classes were, and how to get an A in Mrs. Arons’s English class, but also took me to Dunkin Donuts once or twice month. As a freshman, showing up to class with a bag of Dunkin made me cool, because none of my classmates had licenses yet, and Dunkin was too far to walk during our free periods. I valued my senior leader not only because he gave me great guidance and allowed my to score a few donuts, but also because he was the first of many valuable bonds I made over my years at the Academy that enabled me to connect to the larger Jewish community.

The most powerful reflection I can share as an example of the sense of community at Ida Crown is our commitment to our classmates. Last year, on the first Monday of winter break, a shacharit minyan was organized in merit of a refuah shleima for our classmate and dear friend who was undergoing treatment. Only expecting a small minyan, the school prepared a few tables, chairs, and siddurim. By the time that the chazzan said the final words of “aleinu,” over 80 students, parents, and teachers were packed into the room pouring their hearts into their tefillot. This communal support of a fellow student defines Ida Crown, and I feel privileged to have become part of this family.

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