All Hallows Academy embraces faith-filled education in La Jolla

All Hallows Academy sits on the crest of Nautilus Street on Soledad Mountain and has served as a beacon to the La Jolla community and the students who go there for 50 years. Its motto is “where faith and education meet,” and that motto is reflected in its rigorous curriculum.

All Hallows has 230 students, ranging from pre-kindergarten to eighth-grade classes. Most students and their families are Catholic (about 70 percent), and the student/teacher ratio is 14 to 1. According to school statistics, 98 percent of students get into the high school of their choice when they graduate, which includes La Jolla High, St. Augustine, Cathedral Catholic, Our Lady of Peace, The Bishop’s School, Francis Parker, and Santa Fe Christian Academy.

The All Hallows campus recently completed a major renovation, including an upgraded sports field, sport courts, play areas and new shaded lunch tables. Inside the school, technology upgrades increased wireless access for teachers and students, especially for those in grades 6-8, who use iPads and MacBooks for their studies. The school has state-of-the-art, upgraded tech and science labs, as well as an art studio, library and learning center.

The school model is one of faith-filled living. Every day, first period is dedicated to religious studies which include Mass on Fridays for all grades. Students do daily readings and cantor. Prayer time happens three or four times a day.

Students take classes in math, language arts, social studies, science, health and computer literacy. Just about every student participates in a sport, including soccer, volleyball, basketball, cross country, track and football. The teams are all coached by parents.

Art and music are also incorporated into daily studies. Right now, eighth-graders are painting Celtic crosses fashioned out of clay that will be fired in the school kiln. Each class has selected a piece of music to perform at the school’s Spring Fine Arts Night. Students are taught how to read music with various instruments such as guitar, recorder and keyboard.

Community involvement also plays a big role at the school. According to principal Mary Skeen: “Each class selects an outreach project yearly to learn about and participate in nonprofit organizations which help those in our community. Currently, the entire school is creating their own project to raise money for Rady Children’s Hospital’s Celebration of Champions event. Other nonprofit organizations include Meals on Wheels, Father Joe’s Village, San Diego Food Bank, and American Red Cross, to name a few. My favorite part of the outreach projects is seeing students get excited about helping others. When they see how they can make a difference in the world, they do.”

This is Skeen’s first year as principal at All Hallows, but she’s been there for 15 years in other roles — starting as a primary school teacher, then Director of the Learning Center, then vice principal until this year. Skeen was born and raised in La Jolla and graduated from La Jolla High in 1984. In fact, her parents were part of the founding group for the All Hallows Parish, and she was baptized there. Her children, Megan and Patrick, are graduates of the Academy.

Skeen sees her role as a leader, facilitator, mentor and supporter. “As a leader, my responsibilities are to live daily as an example for the parents, teachers, and staff. My role recognizes that each family is unique and they are instrumental to their child’s success. It is my role to support our families as they go through the many stages of their development. I serve our staff by ensuring high standards are met, ensuring they are well resourced, and mentoring them along the way. I consider my role as an honor and as each situation arises, I ask myself, what is in the best interest of the children and families? The answer is always clear.”

Principal Skeen has a hope for every student who graduates from All Hallows. It is “that each and every student leaves with a motivation to learn, the curiosity to solve problems, the nature to ask questions, and the desire to make the world a better place.”

<square_bullet> WANT TO KNOW MORE? Call the school at (858) 459-6074 or visit allhallowsacademy.com

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