Our Team of Bloggers


By Rico  12.11.19

Brooke Johnson: A Natural Leader

By Shaniya  12.9.19

2019: A Football Season to Remember

By Rico  11.30.19

The Rim Protector
Daniyah Ward


By Camren  11.18.19


Soulard’s Secret

John Pearcy, or you may know him as the owner of the donut shop, is a mainstay in the Soulard neighborhood. I recently interviewed him about his shop, discussing the ins and outs of the shop and what it takes to run it. 

John and his team come in at 9 pm in order to prep for the next day. They spend hours preparing the dough only to return at 5 am to fry and enhance the donuts with icing and sprinkles. 

The shop has been open for a jaw-dropping 37 years, feeding the community for almost four decades. When you enter the store you get hit with a unique feel that brings the city of Metropolis, IL into St. Louis. Metropolis is known for its love of the DC comic character, Superman, along with its rural feel. John’s Donuts captures this perfectly.  The eccentric decor along with the great donuts make for an amazing experience!

Living just a few miles away, John says that he feels the store’s ties to the community are important. They have had long lasting customers that have been coming for years. John states, ̈our customer base has changed a whole lot.¨

 Here’s what a couple of customers said about their experience, Kyle C: “Loved it! Omg best donuts and apple fritters I’ve ever had – no lie – hands down!! This place needs to be talked up more!!!” He gave the store five stars.

And Ama K: “Secret treasure in the Kosciusko neighborhood. Old school, tasty classic donuts. The butter twist is a must.” She also gave a five-star review.

When asked how long he predicts the shop will remain open, John responded, “A couple of years longer. I’m 73 years old I don’t know if it’ll go past my generation or not.” I was definitely saddened to hear that but we can still appreciate what John’s Donuts has done for the community for so many years. When the store closes there will definitely be a (donut) hole left in the community.


By Shaniya & Rico




It’s Our Time Now

As football’s regular season comes to an end. We have some athletes who are getting themselves ready for basketball season … working hard, sweating bullets, and being as one team.  Teams who are real competition, won’t be competition anymore.


Corey Sparksman, six-foot center, loves that he can play with his team as a family, look at them as brothers. He also loves being on the court, feeling the rushing energy and adrenaline. The energy keeps them going especially when they score. He likes dunking and blocking people’s shots. He started playing his freshman year,  people told him that he should play because of his height. It just went on from there. His team, coaches, mom, and son inspire him to play. He enjoys playing for Lift for Life. He loves the freedom, and having a class specifically for basketball. He knows that playing basketball may help him gain a path to college but he’s not sure if he’ll play in college. 


Dakari Gray, six-foot-two power forward, loves connecting with his brothers and having a family bond with them. Basketball is life to him. I asked him, “ Oh, ball is life, huh?¨ He told me,  ̈no ball is wife.¨ He feels a true love for the game when he plays basketball.  This is his first year playing for Lift for Life  and he likes his teammates and coaches . His mom inspires him to play because she passed away awhile back, so he works his hardest to keep going for her. He wants to continue basketball in college, doesn’t know where yet, but knows that it’s something he wants to do.. 


Malcolm Johnson Jr, five-foot-ten point guard, loves to play with his friends and win a lot. He also enjoys playing during his free time. Lebron James inspires him to play because of how motivated and dedicated he is. Basketball keeps him off the streets and he knows that basketball could possibly take him to college. He gives his all in games. But when people trash talk him it makes him go harder than usual. After practices and games, he’s exhausted but feels good at the same time because he worked hard. 

For Malcolm, Lift for Life is one big family so he feels a great vibe while playing at this school.,His mom and dad motivate him to  work hard because they want the best for him. He knows that they want him to do everything he can because he has the potential to be great. And, for Malcolm, a basketball scholarship would be the ultimate gift for playing the game he loves.

By Kenna   11.14.19


How LFLA is Challenging Global Warming

Ms. Diana Hensley

Lately there has been much talk about climate change. On the news, we’ve seen activists, like 16 year old Greta Thunberg, who is creating a huge worldwide movement among youth. Global warming is becoming more known and others are taking action in preventing it from getting worse. Millions are protesting climate change and the message is starting to take hold.

In particular, one of our staff members has already taken action to better our earth and school. Ms. Hensley is the building manager and has been working at LFLA for nearly five years. She is responsible for maintaining all our buildings, carrying out requests that teachers have regarding their classrooms, and managing the trash and recycling.

Van monitoring the compost buckets.

Since last year, students and staff have been asked to scrape their leftovers into specific buckets. Our scraps are then collected by Total Organics Recycling (TOR) , and then composted to create rich soil. By doing this task we are reducing the amount of trash we generate and subsequently what goes into the landfill. Everyone could choose to collect their food scraps and create their own home compost pile. This would be an easy way to help our planet.. 

Ms. Hensley is attending science classes to inform students about our composting efforts, and is planning fields trips to institutions for us to see. Global warming is very real and already having an effect on our communities. 

What are you doing to better your communities?



By Amarion  11.8.19


Ms. Redel: To Asia and Back

Ms. Redel has been an English teacher at Lift for Life for two years. Before coming to  Lift for Life she taught children in Thailand and Myanmar. She also taught monks how to speak English and other things. You can see the pictures of her students on the wall in her classroom.

Ms. Sara Redel

“Working in Thailand and Myanmar was a very formative experience for me,” she said. She was  exposed to very different cultures and was heavily influenced by her experiences in Thailand and Myanmar. ”It definitely shaped  my early adulthood a lot.”

Ms.Redel found an organization called Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE)that helped her get hired in a foreign school. She applied for Thailand school because she didn’t have to be fluent in the language and wanted to be in Southeast Asia. This got her hired at a school.”I would have had no idea how to do that just moving to Thailand on my own.”

When interviewed Ms. Redel said,”I think I knew even in high school that I wanted to teach.”  When asked how students in Thailand differ from students in America, Ms. Redel remarked, “Students in Myanmar and Thailand were monks, so they worried about the group more than themselves. Students treated teachers as parents and did not express their feelings as much; in America, students express their feelings much more.”

Ms. Redel wants students to know that there is so much that they don’t know and wants them to have their eyes open to learning new things.

By Jasmine Nguyen   11.7.19


Ms. Bogard’s New Group Explores Novel Writing

Ms. Denise Bogard

Ms. Denise Bogard, who was a writing and English teacher for fourteen years at LFLA, taught an elective English class in creative writing during her last couple years to help the students start on their novels/writings and also help them put those writings out to the public. 

She says, “I had about twelve to fourteen kids that wrote novels in high school and three of those kids wrote enough drafts that  their novels were of publishable quality. Those novels are in our library right now and it was such a cool experience for them. That’s why I decided to keep this going.” 

This semester, as a teacher volunteer, she’s meeting every Thursday with students who want to develop their novel writing skills. She hopes that the students she works with now will be able to get their novels completely written by the time their senior year comes and she also hopes that they’ll be published to the public as well, just like the students in her very first group.

By Camren and Rosalind  10.23.19



A Fashion Statement

Emiya Strong a junior, has been part of the fashion class here at LFLA since the start of the year. Emiya says, “Fashion class has given me the opportunity to express the person that I am through my clothes. Emiya says also, “I see myself continuing to pursue a fashion design career after high school and into college.”

She then spoke about the annual fashion shows Lift For Life Academy holds. “I personally like the Ritz Carlton show because it’s not a competition. As to the Lindenwood show it is, it’s a competition between our outfits. The Ritz isn’t a competition and everybody’s piece is just as equal as the other.”


Lift For Life is enhanced with donations. If it weren’t for the generous hearts of St. Louisans, there would be no LFLA. And the fashion class is no different. They receive at least half of their budget through donations. Emiya stated in our interview that, “without the donations I feel like we would be limited budget wise to the things we can and cannot make.”


Amya Wright, a senior, has been in the fashion class for two years.  Amya says, “fashion class has given me the opportunity to do bigger and better things. I’m very artistic and creative so when i get the chance to design it describes me. I’m able to put a piece of myself in these pieces.” .  

Amya is a very artistic person and really loves to draw. She feels like fashion class gives her a way to express herself. It shows her creativity. Since being in fashion class, she wants to become a fashion designer when she gets older and will most definitely  pursue a career in fashion.

Alexis Cook is the person behind the success of LFLA’s fashion design class.  She became a teacher about five years ago and says that she actually never thought of being a teacher in her “wildest dreams!” The opportunity was offered to Alexis a day before she graduated with her Fashion Design degree. 

Alexis Cook

Ms. Cook became interested in fashion and design when she was young. “I designed and created a

Mario sewing his project.

lot of things when I was in middle and high school. I had a small business called ‘Alexis’ Sassy Sandals’ when I was 13-14 years old. I jazzed up flip flops for $5.50 a pair They were a hit! I saved and saved until I was able to purchase my first sewing machine. ince then you can’t find me too far away from one. I was always a homebody. But it allowed me to spend a lot of time with my grandma, who always inspired me to do more with my creativity!” 

Her biggest fashion influencer is 98 year old Iris Apfel. “Her style is eccentric and so unexpected in the best way. I just adore her,” Ms.Cook said.  She also adores her new classroom. “The new room is a complete dream studio. I was able to meet with the architect and design it to the littlest detail. (Thanks, Mr. Cohen!)”

Her relationship with the kids is positive. “I honestly feel like a mama to hundreds of kids. The students at LFLA are so special, different and unique in their own ways. I like to think that one of my best teacher qualities is being able to develop a strong, respectful relationship with the students.”  

Her thoughts about fashion are definitive. Fashion is a part of everyday life!  Everyone wakes up and gets dressed for the day, picks out an outfit and shoes. Fashion isn’t just supermodels walking on runways with couture garments on. Even with a uniform students show off a sense of style with the way they have their hair done, trendy jackets and cardigans, and definitely shoes and purses. Also, even if my students don’t pursue fashion in life, I’m able to give them basic life skills that they can use forever! The best is being able to see my students rock the runway at the end of the year with a smile portraying so much accomplishment!


By Jaylon & Javon 10.23.19


A Taste of the Elementary School


Tonya Webb, the new chef at the elementary school, is determined to serve young students healthy foods and in a way that appeals to them. The first day she served strawberry and banana smoothies which provides them with two servings of fruit along with yogurt. They loved them!.

Chef Webb worked for Bailey’s Restaurants prior to coming here, giving her a wealth of culinary experience. She was attracted to the position here due to the challenge of cooking for young kids. She also thought our school was “innovative” because of our location in a historic bank. At home, Chef Webb enjoys cooking for her family. Her favorite dish to make is ratatouille, because it’s very complex.  

Chef Webb

Chef Webb also has a side interest. She enjoys making her own laundry detergent, moisturizers,and soap. She  makes her own stuff from scratch because she doesn’t trust the ingredients they put in manufactured products. She thinks these products can cause diseases to form in your body. Chef Webb is all about health!

Principal Devitt

Thomas Devitt, the first principal at Lift for Life Elementary, is creating the best learning experience ever for the little kids. Principal Devitt believes the kids are eager to learn and enjoy coming to school. He also thinks that the meals Chef Webb prepares increase their energy and make them more positive.

This is Mr.Devitt’s first time being a principal. He was motivated to become a principal by his two mentors, Dr. Noble and Mr. Edwards. They have given him support and guidance through the years and the inspiration to become a principal. “I’ve just been trying to model everything I saw Mr. Edwards doing while running Lift for Life Middle School,” said Principal Devitt. And, now he’s running his own school … Lift For Life Academy’s elementary school.


By Jasmine Nguyen 10.15.19

New IT Intern Program, a Win-Win for Students and LFLA

Lift for Life Academy is offering an informational technology (IT) intern program for high school students, providing opportunities for them to learn and actually perform needed IT functions within the school. This could be beneficial for students who haven’t had the experience of being in a workplace. 

Danny Commes, Data & Tech Coordinator

Danny Commes, coordinator of the data and tech committee, came up with the idea and explained:

“We had a difficult shift this summer after Ms. Steimel, school librarian, resigned because she actually did a lot with our technology stuff. We thought we needed a way to pick up some of the things that she did and so we were trying to brainstorm ideas that could divide up this work and kind of make all these things still work out for us. So we decided that some of this stuff that we’re doing could be an awesome learning opportunity for the kids, like how to fix basic computer components, how to organize programs, and how to make sure that our campus is running smoothly.”

With this plan in mind, Dr. Katrice Noble, deputy director, began “assigning students to the class period,” Commes said. Right now, there are about seven students in the program, assisting with technical issues.  Deshawn, one of the IT students states, “I’m hoping to start my own tech business in the future so I’m excited to learn from this intern program at LFLA.”

By Amarion 9.23.19


Getting to Know Mary Vansuch, new Math Teacher

Mary Vansuch traveled over 800 miles from Washington D.C. to St. Louis to begin a new teaching position at LFLA this school year. Her first impressions of St. Louis and our Academy are very positive. “St. Louis is a nice town  and LFLA seems like a “happy place with a family atmosphere.”

She became a math teacher because she enjoys working with data and numbers and also likes interacting with students. “Doing strictly data analysis is boring and It wasn’t what I wanted to do with the rest of my life,” she said.

Ms. Mary Vansuch

She began her teaching career in the DC public school system as a middle school math teacher and taught there for two years.. Two months ago she made the move to St. Louis and accepted a teaching position at LFLA. Her boyfriend had moved to St. Louis the previous year to attend Saint Louis University and she didn’t want to do the long distance relationship anymore.

She likes LFLA because she thinks the students come to learn and  much prefers teaching high school students which she’s doing now. “High schoolers are easier to relate to and are starting to think about what they want to do in life,” she expressed.

She enjoys getting to know the students but  one of the challenging things is determining everyone’s learning styles. Also challenging are the phones.“Students are distracted by their phones,” she says. 

Ms.Vansuch wants her students to leave  her class with a confidence in their mathematics ability and it’s obvious from one of her quotes on the wall –  ¨you may encounter many defeats but you must not be defeated.¨


By Rosalind and Camren 9.26.19



New Faces at Lift For Life Academy

Too many times during the start of a school year, new students often feel like they don’t have a voice. Not being heard can lead to isolation.  So we thought this shouldn’t be the norm. Rosalind and I went out to find as many new kids as possible and give them a voice at LFLA. We’ve worked hard to let their voices be heard and welcome them to LFLA.

Corlin, a new 7th grader at Lift For Life said his first couple of weeks here have been fun, He feels like the work is challenging but easy to him. “ The teachers here actually care and if I’d known sooner about LFLA I would’ve come much sooner.” 


Corlin plans on spending the rest of his middle school here and then attending high school for four years. He says that the culture here at LFLA is way better than his last school and believes that he has a much brighter future attending Lift For Life Academy than any other school.


Anais, a junior, says that since being at LFLA she has been open to creative ideas. The teachers have helped her academically more than any previous school. “They come in early and stay late to make sure each student gets to where they need to be. There’s a different perspective on learning than what I’m used to,” expressed Anais.  Anias decided to enroll at LFLA because of its reputation.“The culture here is like a family. Although we have a diverse groups of kids and groups, they are all welcoming. When you enter LFLA you’re introduced to smiling faces.” By the end of her first day, she didn’t feel like the new kid anymore. If she doesn’t move again, her foreseeable future is definitely at LFLA.  


Amya is a new Lift For Life Academy senior and says that her experience has been good so far. She enjoys meeting new people and having the freedom to go off campus for lunch. She states that foreign classes here at LFLA are way better than her last school. Her favorite class and teacher are Spanish.

She loves the uniform policy because it makes everyone look professional and unified. On the other hand, she could express herself more if she was able to wear the things she likes. All in all,  Amya says that if she had known about Lift For Life earlier, she would have transferred here much sooner.


 Kori , a new sophomore student, described her LFLA experience. “It’s been great so far. The students are nice. The teachers that I’ve encountered are nice. The work is a very good amount to where i’m not always stressed.” Kori says that she decided on coming to Lift For Life due to the broad curriculum.  “I was looking for a school that was close to the city. I really wanted a school that had a variety of classes and sports and that’s exactly what LFLA has to offer. Cooking, sewing, fashion, and media of course.”

“A major difference between my previous school and this one is honestly the students. Kids at my last school were always stressed, never 100% happy. At Lift For Life, people are happy. Teachers are happy. It’s just a very enlightening mood!” 

“I most definitely see LFLA as my future home, I plan to graduate from here. I do think they are getting me prepared for college because of all the opportunities to take college classes.” 


By Shaniya and Rico 9.27.19



“No matter what I always give 110%.”

Football season is upon us. It’s rigorous practice, a revved up energy in the halls on game days, cheerleaders bringing spirit and pep to the school and a feeling of pride. What does it mean for the athletes?  We recently talked to four football players about the game. It’s their season and they’re currently 2-1. Each athlete gave a different image, different experience, and a different feeling about the sport.


Treveon, senior corner, stated, “No matter what I always give 110%.” That stood out to us because that’s really the kind of energy we love to have at Lift for Life. It doesn’t matter if it’s just practice, games, or workouts; hard work pays off. 

His mom pushed him to play when he was only five years old and he’s grateful. He loves the competition, the intensity and the confidence it’s given him. He enjoys playing for Life For Life and states that the coaching staff is excellent. Following graduation, his goal is to play college football. For now, he’s happy to be at LFLA and maybe more important he’s “gained a family from playing on the team.”


Antonio, senior running back, is a determined athlete. He has a passion for both football and track. These sports have changed his life in many ways … making him a better and stronger person. 

His sports idol, Jeff Hardy, a professional wrestler, motivates him because of his charisma, Antonio finds wrestling inspiring. In fact he often works out at home after practice. His plan is to play college football and he’s currently working on a commitment video which will go LIVE on February 1, 2020.  Look for it!

“I’ve got faith in my team …”


Malcolm, senior quarterback, loves the football team, coaching staff, and the winning records. He knows that they’re a good team but feels as if they can be even better. “I’ve got faith in my team and KNOW that they’ll be winning state this year.” 

Malcolm believes that his team improves with every practice. “Everyone gets better!” His favorite football player is Odell Beckham Jr. with the Cleveland Browns, “I look up to him.” Malcolm hopes to play college football and work his way to the NFL.



For Omowale, senior outside linebacker, football is his life, his passion. He’s been playing since he was four years old and it’s really a part of his family culture. His father played football and his many trophies are displayed at the house. His brother, Antonio also plays LFLA football and they motivate each other to be the very best that they can be. 

Football for Omowale is also fun. “It’s an adrenaline rush, and gets a lot of anger out so it’s a healthy outlet.” He loves playing for Lift For Life because he can play with his brother and others that he’s played with his entire life. It’s definitely a winning combination for Omowale.



By Jordan  9.27.19


                      Senior Lounge of 2020

For the past 20 years Lift for Life has been around, just about every class has said that they’ll redesign the senior lounge. It’s not the prettiest place and has been in desperate need of a facelift. But no class took it on until the class of 2020. 

It all started one day in early summer.  Ariel Y. came to me and said that we needed to change the senior lounge. She came to me because she knew I was reliable to get this done and I wouldn’t take complete control. I was fully on board. When we took it up to administration, they approved the idea and asked us to lead the project with assistance from our facility manager, Ms. Hensley, and maintenance staff, Mr. Culpepper. Our plan included the construction of a bench and several tabletops and Mr. Culpepper would be able to design and build those for us.

Our plan also included fresh paint on the walls and new furniture, But first, we needed to raise money so we planned a car wash, engaging a number of seniors and promoting the event to staff and teachers. The car wash ended up being a huge success. We made around $500! 

The very next day we bought red paint and began painting the walls to match our school colors. One of our teachers, Ms. Owens  was so impressed with our work that she paid for us to get a newly painted floor.  She thought the old carpet was disgusting and we didn’t deserve to have so many cool new things with that ugly green carpet.I yanked out the old green carpet and Mr. Culpepper painted the new floor a gleaming gray color – so much better for our school color scheme (red, black and gold) than an old green color. Soon after that, Culpepper finished making three tables as well. 

When the base of the Senior Lounge was done, it was time to decorate. We started by buying wooden letters that said “SENIORS.” We spray painted those silver. However, when we stuck the letters on the wall, it didn’t stand out enough. We knew we needed more color to make it pop out. To solve this, we bought numbers that said 2020, and we painted the 2s red and the 0s black. The results were better than we both expected.

To finish off this project, we inserted furniture. We bought eight long chairs for the table. We placed a gray rug on the floor, and on top of the rug we put two black fluffy chairs. We placed a round table in the center. And we asked Mr. Culpepper to hang up a white board. We then posted a black and white border around it.

By the time we finished this, there were only three days until the day of school. However, we still weren’t done. During the second week of school, we added two black and red gaming chairs and two red bean bag chairs.

Ariel says this whole process was fun and challenging. Thinking it through was the easy part, but executing was a bit difficult, especially when you consider factors that aren’t even your fault, such as students who didn’t meet their commitment in participating in the car wash. But by the end, she was so proud.

One of our seniors, Janae says, “It’s brighter, it has more comforting items, it does look like it’s been here since 1964, and there are more places to work.”


By Kenna 9.27.19

Making Music Come to Life

Recently, I had the opportunity to talk with Eric Johnson, the new music teacher, who specializes in band music. We discussed his plans for our band’s future and also looked into his private life. 

Coming from a musical family he explained his inspiration and how his love for music came to be.

Mr. Eric Johnson, Music Teacher

 “I came from a musical family, predominantly singers, but there was something about instrumental music that moved my soul a bit more than the voice did. And at the time life was rough but music lit a way for me.” He’s been playing music ever since and said he wants to pass on his love for it at LFLA. 

“Well, I heard the story about the school beginning 20 years ago. I was really intrigued after speaking with Mr. Marshall {Cohen}., You know he told me that we have all these instruments here and we really want someone that can teach the kids.  This is inner city, where I was born and raised, so this is  my way of giving back … to share my knowledge of music with the youngsters.” 

Mr. Johnson stated that even though he’s teaching band class, he will explore other genres of music than the trends. “I’ve been telling them since day one we’re not just playing popular music. This is still an educational course, so they’re really gonna get a taste of classical music.”

Though he loves his work, there is more to him than being a musician. He’s also a family man. “I’m a dad… I am a professional musician. I’m also a boyfriend to my lovely lady who has been my inspiration over the past two years. I’m a pretty busy guy, a family guy. I’m always helping out my siblings or parents, always one of the first people called.  I like to think of myself – not like the savior but more like a backbone.” 

Mr. Johnson has shown he has many plans for this school and will work hard with the students to guide them.


By Javon and Jaylon  9.27.19



     Little People Come to LFLA

I know you guys have heard of the new Lift for life Elementary School. We recently visited and spoke to a few of the staff including:  Ms.Price and Ms.Pichon.  Ms.Price transitioned from being a middle school teacher to becoming an elementary teacher.  “It’s been an adventure,” expressed Ms. Price, “ and the kindergarteners have been more emotional than the middle schoolers. It’s an adjustment coming to school, having rules and limited play time.”

Ms. Price

When asked about her relationship with her students, Ms.Price replied, “I have a good relationship with the students.  They are lovable students, full of hugs and ‘I love yous’.”  Ms. Price enjoys working for Elementary School Principal Thomas Devitt. “He was  a mentor to me when we were both at the middle school.and now he’s my boss. We have a really  good relationship.” Ms. Price is happy to be here and so are her students. You can tell by the many hugs!

Ms. Pichon

We asked Ms.Pichon about her experience since being at Lift For Life Elementary.  Ms.Pichon replied, “My experience has been pretty good here so far, and I really enjoy the kids. They’re very caring.”   Next we asked Ms.Pichon how she decided to teach at Lift For Life.  Ms.Pichon responded, “My cousin was talking about a lot of great things Lift For Life has accomplished so I decided that I should apply.’’

When asked what stood out when she walked into Lift For Life Academy, Ms.Pichon said,’’ Soon as I walked in it looked very organized, and well put together.’’

Lastly we asked her about her relationship with the students.  ’ I have a very good relationship with them. One of my students is participating in a fashion show this weekend and I’m going to attend. Another student is playing in a basketball game and I’ll be there to show my support.’’