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December 2023 Newsletter

December 2023 Newsletter

Often, in the all-too-busy run up to Christmas, we forget about Advent. The poet, Denise Levetov, in her poem “Annunciation,” helps us to remember this most mysterious of times. “……to bear in her wombInfinite weight and lightness; to carryin hidden, finite inwardness,nine months of Eternity; to containin slender vase of being,the sum of power – in narrow flesh,the sum of light.Then bring forth to birth,push out into air, a Man-childneeding, like any other,milk and love – but who was God.” May we all carry and bring forth, each in our own way, some of Mary’s light, Emmanuel. -Head of School, Mike Maruca

Perfectly Made

Lower school students were given homemade winter hats, lovingly knit and personally delivered by very special guests — Mike Maruca’s mom, Sally, and sister, Nina. On chilly days, students pull them on to stay cozy as they head outside for recess. Each hat is unique and perfectly made, just like the little ones wearing them!

Sally and Nina Maruca visit Mrs. Robinson’s Kindergarten class.


Ava shows off her new hat.                                Staying warm during recess.



Meet The Teacher

Middle School Math Teacher, Daniel Martin

Introducing Mr. Martin, AJC’s new 7th and 8th grade Math Teacher. Daniel graduated from Lee University in Cleveland, TN, and has been teaching for 5 years. In his spare time he enjoys playing guitar and always has a few tricks up his sleeve…literally! He seems to have a deck of cards handy wherever he goes to show off the many magic tricks he’s mastered. Lucky for us, he’s happy to share the secrets behind his illusions with curious students. We recently asked Daniel who inspired him to become a teacher, what he sees AJC doing that he wishes all schools would try, and the greatest challenges his students face: 

Who inspired you to become a teacher? I always had an inclination toward teaching. I love sharing my knowledge with others (you could call me a bit of a know-it-all) and I love working with kids and teens because they’re so vibrant and full of life. My favorite teacher growing up was my 6th grade teacher, Mr. Walker, because he was the first male teacher I ever had. He was intelligent, clever, funny, and he was able to walk that line between caring deeply about his students and holding us to a high standard.  

Is there anything AJC is doing differently that you wish you could share with other schools? Yes, we take an individual approach to ensuring success for each student rather than grouping them all together and expecting them to learn and be exactly the same. 

 What are the greatest challenges you believe our students face and how do you work to address them? Systemic inequalities. The school can’t fix that, but we can make a difference in the lives of students here day after day and provide opportunities to help level the playing field.  

LEGO Robotics Team Brings Home A Win

The AJC Robotics team won 1st place for their Innovation Project at a recent city-wide LEGO Robotics Competition, held at Maggie Walker Governor’s School.  The team put in work on the weekends to perfect their robot design, computer programs, and presentation.  After competing in robot challenges and presenting their innovation project to a panel of judges, they fielded questions with confidence.  When asked what their favorite LEGO Core Value was, they all agreed: Teamwork. Mary, naturally artistic, created an engaging presentation board; Za’Reeq contributed great ideas and building skills; Ti’Yanna, team leader, encouraged everyone to stay on task; Kha’Mari persisted through the trial-and-error process of programming robot missions. In their words, “All of us have our different strengths and we all use them in our projects, missions, and building to make a great competition day.”  A huge shout out to the team for pushing beyond their comfort zones and bringing home the win!

1st Place Award for AJC’s innovation project.


Students work on their project presentation.

Robot mission game at Maggie Walker Governor’s School

Graduate Spotlight 

Zykerria prepares chili for homeless veterans.

Graduates spent a recent Sunday afternoon at Liberation Veteran Services (LVS), serving local veterans struggling with homelessness and mental health challenges.   Grads lent a helping hand to make homemade meals and visited with veterans as they enjoyed their dinner. Conversation flowed as one student connected with a gentleman who served during the same war as his own grandpa. Students gathered around another veteran to sing “Happy Birthday.” The experience was eye-opening for grads, who walked away with a new perspective and appreciation for their blessings. It was a wonderful opportunity for kids to feel the joy of uplifting others. Marchelle Roane of UPRVA, our grad support non-profit partner, coordinated the community service day and said it was so well-attended that she plans to offer the opportunity monthly.  We’re proud of our grads and the many ways they shine their light in the world!

Holiday Hoops Tournament

Basketball is back, and our 2nd Annual Holiday Hoops Tourney was another huge success!  Time and again, many great ideas have gone from last year’s, “let’s give it a try,” to this year’s “Second Annual.” Holiday Hoops was no exception. Although the ladies went out after the first round, the boys beat St. Chris, Elijah House Academy, St. Micheals and 7 Hills Academy to win the tournament! Another big win? Seeing our home gym at its full potential –  packed with families, students and visiting teams. 

Thanks to all who purchased AJC swag throughour Pop-Up Fan Shop!  

Orders are out for delivery, and should arrive by Christmas! If you didn’t get a chance to order, not to worry, the Fan Shop will open again in February.
Did you know? Anna Julia Cooper is the only woman quoted in the current US Passport. Aptly appearing alongside the Statue of Liberty, her words proclaim:“The cause of freedom is not the cause of a race or a sect or a party or a class – it is the cause of humankind, the very birthright of humanity.”  Stay tuned for more about the life of amazing Anna Julia Cooper, and the many ways she let her brilliant light shine.

Want to get involved?

There are many ways to support AJC!

Visit us for a tour, join our army of volunteers, send school supplies from our Amazon Wishlist, or make a donation.  Please visit our website or contact Katye Snipes at [email protected] to get plugged in! To all who let their light shine here at AJC: thank you for making our mission possible!

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Anna Julia Cooper School
2100 North 29th Street
Richmond, Virginia 23223
(804) 822-6610
(804) 447-5784 (fax)
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