November 6, 2022
Update from Superintendent Shuldiner
Dear Lansing School District Community,
I hope this newsletter finds you well. As always, it is a pleasure to be writing to you all. Hopefully, you were able to enjoy some of this wonderful weather, and the wind didn't do any damage to your homes. Please try to remember these glorious sunny mid-60-degree days in two months when we are under a foot of snow.
My parents were in town this weekend, and I took them to a cider mill. If that isn't proof I am becoming a Michigander; I don't know what is 🙂
Speaking of family, next week is Veteran's Day. Both my grandfathers served in WWII, one in the Army, the other in the Navy. One stayed stateside; the other served in the Pacific Asian Theater. Both served humbly and proudly without expecting accolades or honorariums, but I will give them nonetheless. Thank you to Joseph Florentine and Bernie Shuldiner, and thank you to all our veterans for their service to our country. As with all things, it is important that we acknowledge the people who make things possible.
But I would be remiss if I didn't mention that the original holiday was actually a celebration of peace. At the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, an armistice was signed to ostensibly end WWI. The precursor to a formal treaty, an armistice, is an agreement to stop fighting, stop shooting, and stop killing. On November 11th, 1918, millions of people around the world poured into the streets to commemorate the end to the worst bloodshed the world had ever seen up to that point. I hope that we, today in 2022, can remember that idea. There is far too much fighting in this world, too much shooting, and too much killing. Let us think of an armistice for our time and our community. A Lansing without fighting, without shooting, and without killing. I ask that on November 11th, 2022, you all remember the veterans who served but that you also think about how we can remember the original celebration of peace. Remember the Book of Isaiah and the Analects of Confucius; both suggest to the reader that we beat our swords into plowshares and our spears into pruning hooks; that we take implements of destruction and turn them into tools of prosperity.
In addition to Veteran's Day, Election Day, Tuesday, November 8th, is this week. A day we should also celebrate. Our country, enshrined in our laws, is a place where all eligible voters are supposed to be given their chance to cast a ballot. Though at times we take that right for granted and at other times those rights have been wrongfully abridged, Lansing, Michigan, and the United States writ large, allow for free and open voice of its citizens. In this venue, I will not and, of course, should not advocate for any candidate or proposition, but I can and should urge all eligible voters to cast a ballot so that your voice is heard. So many important positions are up for election, be it Governor or School Board Member, Attorney General, or State Senator. Learn about the candidates, learn about the propositions, and then cast your ballot proudly.
As you all know, there is no school on election day since many of our schools and facilities are used as polling places. In fact, I have the honor of exercising my right to vote at the Don Johnson Field House. If you are able, please try to bring your children when you vote. Expose them to the process. Show them how important this act of democracy is to you and our community. Hopefully, through your example, you will be encouraging the next generation to vote as well. Exercise that right to vote.
And lastly, speaking of voice, this week, we sent your invitation to the family Fall survey. In order for the school district to do the best job possible, we need to hear from you about what is working well and what needs to improve. We need to learn from your experience in the district so that we can continue to grow and get better. Last year we piloted this survey. It worked well, but we had a relatively low number of responses. This iteration, we hope as many families as possible respond. Even if you can't answer every question, any response helps. We would love to have over 50% of families respond.
If you have any questions about the survey, please feel free to contact your school or me. We tried to get it out in time for many parent-teacher conferences. So, if you plan on visiting a school, you can ask to take the survey at the building. We have plenty of laptops and a good wifi signal. Anything we can do to help support you, telling us the current state of things at your school, the better. Thank you for spending the time to fill out the survey.
Once you take the survey, I would love to hear your thoughts about the questions, the way it was sent to you, or anything else that would help us make the survey easier to take, use, or understand.
Thank you so much for all of your incredible support of our district. Together, we will do great things for the children of Lansing.
Benjamin Shuldiner, Superintendent
Lansing School District
Don't forget, there is no school on Tuesday, November 8th.
Get out and rock the vote!
Meet Our Featured Student!
Deanthony Thurber, Beekman Center
Deanthony Thurber is an incredibly kindhearted and helpful young man in one of the amazing young adult transition classrooms at Beekman. Deanthony always goes out of his way to help staff and peers throughout the building by decorating the halls, setting up for the holiday program each year, and assisting students on and off the bus. He looks out for his friends and takes pride in being a good listener when they need someone to talk to. Deanthony also loves to make people laugh and is eager to impress others with his cartoon voices. He is a proud member of the Beekman hockey and basketball teams and loves to participate in Special Olympics each year. He also loves working at the horse barn, especially with his favorite horse Bella.
Deanthony says that when he first walked down the Street of Stores, he knew he was going to like it at Beekman. Now, he proudly states that his favorite aspect of coming to Beekman is that it is a judgment-free zone where he is unafraid to be himself. He states, “Beekman is like a family, I love it here. If I didn’t love it, I wouldn’t be here.” When Deanthony graduates, he would like to work in a helping profession, such as working at a shelter for unhoused individuals. “Either that,” he says, “or a professional gamer. Maybe a professional wrestler!” Until then, the staff and students at Beekman are lucky to have his hardworking and positive personality shine a light in our halls. “And remember,” he proudly states, as our interview comes to an end, “life throws curveballs at you often, but as long as you keep the people you love close, you can get through anything!”
Staff Feature of the Week
Elizebeth Newburn, Mt. Hope STEAM Elementary
This week's staff feature comes to us from Mt. Hope STEAM Elementary. Elizabeth Newburn, or Ms. Newburn as her students call her, serves the school as an enthusiastic and innovative 6th grade teacher. She also serves as the school's Teacher in Charge which means that she has been appointed by Principal Danielle Bowden to provide supervision and leadership to school staff and perform other administrative duties in her absence or as needed. Ms. Newburn is a highly dedicated teacher who creates a classroom atmosphere that engages all students.
Mt. Hope STEAM is proud to have her as a part of their staff.
Conversations with Rose Taphouse
Everett Dancers "Move Like a Proton" at the Wharton Center
In the 1990's in a place not too far away, a college-aged Missy Lilje (Trustee for the Lansing School District Board of Education and Director of Development and Education at Happendance) was blown away by the creativity and inclusivity of Dance Exchange when they did a residency her alma mata: University of Michigan. So much so that in the summer of 1998 she seized the opportunity to take a six-week course with the award-winning, non-profit national dance company.
Since that day, she was hooked. "It changed how I looked at dance,” Lilje said. “When I became leader of Happendance, the way we made dance accessible to people was 100 percent influenced by them.” She dreamed of working with them on a local project.
Fast forward to 2017 when Liz Lerman, Dance Exchange founder and choreographer, created a multi-media performance titled “The Matter of Origins,” that got the attention of the physics community, including Michigan State University's FRIB (or Facility for Rare Isotope Beams) astrophysicist Artemis Spyrou. Spyrou, inspired by the troupes creative energy, wanted to harness it to educate and excite the Greater Lansing Community about the FRIB's cutting-edge research. A plan was hatched and put into motion.
Lilje received the call that year. They wanted to know if Happendance would partner with Dance Exchange and FRIB for a special performance. Her response to her dream come true was an immediate yes! That yes saw Lilje and Everett Dance instructor Clara Martinez board a plane to Washington D.C. in 2018 to collaborate and brainstorm with Dance Exchange. Missy says the experience was "much like Physics 101." The group read papers from FRIB about their research and thought of creative ways to tell those stories with dance.
The program was up and running, with collaborations happening via Zoom, but in 2019, shortly after Everett dancers toured the Wharton Center, the pandemic hit. The project was put on hold until October when Dance Exchange Co-creator Keith Thompson worked out materials with local dancers via Zoom. The last two weeks have been a blur as his troupe's dancers held a series of intense rehearsals to prepare for this week's performances.
Our Everett dancers took the Wharton Center stage today to dance in of "Of Equal Place: Isotopes in Motion," and they knocked it out of the park! An unseen benefit? Melding dance with science WORKS - at least for increasing awareness and understanding anyway (in the lab, that scenario may harken back to Dexter's sister Dede performing in his laboratory). Lilje, surprised, said she was "learning, as a 40-something who thought she was bad at science, that she understood these concepts for the first time through dance."
Way to go Everett dancers! Special thanks to Missy Lilje, Clara Martinez, Happendance, Dance Exchange dance company, and all the staff at MSU and FRIB that helped bring this all together. What an excellent opportunity for dance — and learning.
This story was covered by multiple news outlets.
Miss this weekend's performance? Check out the EVDC's 2022 fall dance showcase!
December 9 • 7:00 p.m. • Everett Auditorium
or check them out when they perform before tipoff at an upcoming Pistons game!
March 1, 2023 • 7:00 p.m. • Little Ceasars Arena
Veteran's Day is November 11th!
This holiday started as a day to reflect upon the heroism of those who died in our country's service and was originally called Armistice Day. It fell on Nov. 11 because that is the anniversary of the signing of the Armistice that ended World War I. However, in 1954, the holiday was changed to "Veterans Day" in order to account for all veterans in all wars.