March 24, 2023
Fifth and sixth graders got a glimpse into an aviation career during a special visit from U.S. Coast Guardsmen from Air Station Detroit, located on Selfridge Air National Guard base. The students learned about the importance of aviation support for primary missions such as search and rescue, law enforcement, and domestic icebreaking operations.
Career Day returns to Brownell
Anthony Ianni, keynote speaker for Brownell’s Career Day Friday morning, had some words of advice for the students:
“Whatever you do in life, do it for two reasons: passion and purpose. If you have those things, not only will you be great with what you do in your life, but I guarantee you will be greater as a person.”
He also told the students to be relentless about their dreams and to pursue their goals.
“We don’t dream about our goals,” he said. “At the end of the day, we live them.”
The motivational speaker and author of Centered: Autism, Basketball, and One Athlete’s Dreams also shared what it was like to be diagnosed with a type of autism at age 4 and go on to play NCAA basketball at Michigan State University.
Achieving this dream did not come without its share of hard work – and adversity, he reminded the students. While he was bullied for his autism and his height – now 6’8”, he was 6’ by the time he was 13 – he overcame it due to teachers, friends, family members and teammates who supported him.
He urged each of the students to be the one to stand up to bullying and make a difference in someone else’s life.
He concluded his talk by saying that as proud as he was of playing on a big 10 championship basketball team, he is even prouder to be the first basketball player in NCAA history diagnosed with autism. But the best part of the experience was the bonds he formed with his teammates.
“To this day, I call each of those guys my brothers,” he said. “One thing Coach Izzo taught us at Michigan State is it doesn’t matter where you go or what you do, you are part of the family and you’ve got that for life. That’s what you have here at Brownell. Broncos for life!”
Principal Rodger Hunwick left the special guest with a gift – a Bronco jersey with the former player’s number: 44.
“It will not fit you physically, but it will fit your values,” Mr. Hunwick said as he presented Mr. Ianni with the jersey. “It says, ‘Thank you, your inspiration will live with us forever.’”
Seventh and eighth graders spent the rest of the morning exploring a host of careers thanks to the special guests – including parents and community members -- who took the time to share their professions. This included an airline pilot, U.S. Army Colonel, commercial photographer, crime scene investigator, dentist, Disney Imagineer, infectious disease and emergency medicine physicians, baker and entrepreneur, executive producer of Local 4 News, filmmaker and cinematographer, interior and residential designer, real estate agent, social worker/psychotherapist and veterinarian.
Fifth and sixth graders enjoyed the keynote address along with a special visit from the U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Detroit.
Pictured with keynote speaker Anthony Ianni are, from left, Brownell counselors Dr. Angie Niforos and Corinne Oderfer and Assistant Principal Holli McNally, who were on the Career Day planning committee along with life skills teacher Dr. Taylor Barczyk.
A recipe for success
Pictured, clockwise from upper left, are Kindall Pratt and Ashleigh Washington (tied for 1st place); Isabella Yoakam and Leah Salisbury (tied for 1st place); Shamarie Davis and Ciahnna Avant (tied for 2nd place); and Evelyn Crevier and Danielle Gentile (tied for 2nd place).
Family & Consumer Science students participate in baking contest at leadership conference, run for state office
Staff members at Grosse Pointe North High School and GPPSS central office got a taste of what it takes to compete in a baking contest – literally.
Baking and pastry teacher Bryan Schuerman asked teachers, staff and administrators from the high school and Morningside to participate in a taste testing to select the top four contenders to compete in the Michigan Family, Careers and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) Cupcake Battle in Grand Rapids this week. This competition was part of the FCCLA leadership conference taking place Tuesday, March 21, through Thursday, March 23.
The bakers, who participated in the contest either in pairs or individually, are all students in Mr. Schuerman's Art of Pastry and Baking class. Tying for first place were Ashleigh Washington and Kindall Pratt and Isabella Yoakam and Leah Salisbury, while Evelyn Crevier and Danielle Gentile and Shamarie Davis and Ciahnna Avant tied for second place.
These eight students, along with Joelle Latta, North’s FCCLA Chapter President, and Ava Seiss, a baking and pastry student and FCCLA Chapter Vice President, had the opportunity to participate in competitive events and workshops while at the leadership conference. In addition to participating in the cupcake contest, Ava attended as a FCCLA state officer candidate.
North and Morningside staff participated in a taste testing to determine the winning entries among the 10 cupcake contestants.
The students baked the cupcakes on Monday, then iced and decorated them on Tuesday before transporting them to Grand Rapids. The judging took place on Tuesday evening. The cupcakes were evaluated based on display dimensions, the recipe (everything had to be made from scratch), responses to evaluators’ questions, overall appearance, originality, the cake flavor, texture and doneness, and the frosting consistency and flavor. They also received points for dressing professionally.
On Wednesday morning, the students helped FCCLA staff as timekeepers for other events taking place. In the afternoon they participated in character and professional development sessions and then attended a banquet and dance on Wednesday night. Thursday morning was the recognition session before the group headed back to Grosse Pointe.
Participating in this contest provided all the students in his class the opportunity to demonstrate the art of dessert and pastry preparation, Bryan said. He was pleased with the overall results, in particular the level of creativity and originality the students demonstrated.
He also appreciated the support of the North administration in making the experience possible for the students.
The group returned from the conference with impressive news to share. Not only did they receive the awards listed below, but sophomore Ava Seiss was elected to be a part of the Michigan 2023-24 State Executive Council as State Vice President of Membership. She is one of only four officers for the State of Michigan.
Grosse Pointe North High School FCCLA Chapter received the following Chapter Awards at State Leadership Conference:
- Gimme 5! State Membership Award
- Largest Chapter in the State of Michigan Award
- Chapter Charter Award (awarded to new founding chapters)
Student Proficiency Event Awards
The following students were awarded Silver Medals (80-89 out of 100 score) for their participation in the Michigan FCCLA State STAR (Students Taking Action with Recognition) Cupcake Battle Proficiency Event:
- Cihanna Avant
- Kindall Pratt
- Shamarie Davis
- Joelle Latta
- Evelyn Crevier
- Ava Seiss
- Ashleigh Washington
- Isabella Yoakam
Celebrating Music in Our Schools Month
Singers in the spotlight
Choir directors at Grosse Pointe North and Grosse Pointe South have been singing their students’ praises after recent successes in vocal competitions.
Two North seniors competed in the St. Clair Shores Community Chorus scholarship competition. Naima Wright took fourth place and Jake Sachs came in first, marking the second consecutive year a North student has won this competition, according to director of choral activities Ben Henri.
Jake performed “If Ever I Would Leave You” from Camelot. He plans to attend the University of Michigan, where he will double major in political science and German.
Naima performed “When I Have Sung My Songs,” by Ernest Charles. She plans to pursue a degree in education with a minor in music.
In addition, junior Sloane O’Neill is a finalist in the Italian Songs and Arias Vocal Competition put on by the Verdi Opera Theatre of Michigan. Sloane will go on to compete on April 30 for the $1,000 grand prize.
Receiving a top rating of 1 at the Michigan School Vocal Music Association (MSVMA) State High School Solo and Ensemble Festival on Saturday, March 18, were North ensembles AcaFella, CounterPointe and Pointe Chorale, and soloists Eva Jarvi, Marisa Licavoli, William Murray, Jillian Nixon, Sloane O’Neill, Jamie Wallace-Fought, Silas Wooten and Naima Wright.
Grosse Pointe South standouts
Also performing at the MSVMA State Solo and Ensemble Festival were Grosse Pointe South Choir students, continuing their tradition of excellence. Rhapsody in Blue, South's newest ensemble, received a 1st division rating for their superior performance. The following students performed in the Rhapsody in Blue ensemble: Henry Chesterton, Jocelyn Detweiler, Grace Euper, Amanda Frantz, Ava Griesbeck, Gabriella Kish-Salkovski, Julian Leo, and Joshua Sonnenberg.
In addition, soloist Mae Mathis Baliatico received a 2nd division rating for her excellent solo performance. Selga Jansons, Dylan DeMarco, and Gabriella Kish-Salkovski all received 1st division ratings for their superior solo performances.
Soloist Dylan DeMarco was selected by MSVMA judges to participate in MSVMA State Finals. Only 12 soloists from the entire state of Michigan are selected by MSVMA adjudicators to participate in this event. Dylan will sing at the MSVMA Recital of Outstanding Soloists at Michigan State University in East Lansing in mid-May.
Grosse Pointe South Choir photos courtesy of The Portrait Place
More high notes
In band and orchestra news, musicians from across the district competed in a number of competitions, including the MSBOA Band and Orchestra Festival. Read this week’s GPPSS Update for a full list of achievements from Parcells and North students.
In addition, GPPSS music department chair James Gross reports the following results from the south end of the district in the MSBOA Band and Orchestra Festival:
- Pierce Concert Orchestra – Division I Superior
- Pierce Concert Band Division I Superior
- Brownell Concert Orchestra Division I Superior
- Brownell Concert Band Division I Superior
- South Concert Band Division II Excellent
- South Concert Orchestra Division II Excellent
- South Symphony Orchestra Division I Superior
- South Wind Ensemble Division I Superior
Defer embarks on all-school reading journey
Young 5 and kindergarten buddies worked together to create dog puppets.
Reading takes one on many adventures, but this month, in celebration of National Reading Month, students and staff at Defer Elementary School went on a journey together as part of an annual One Book, One School project.
Each family received a copy of the book, Fenway and Hattie, by Victoria J. Coe, courtesy of Defer’s PTO.
According to a letter that went home to families, this book was selected because it can be followed and understood by younger students and yet will still captivate and stimulate older children.
The project kicked off with a school-wide assembly in which the teachers introduced the book to the students. Families were then asked to read the book at home according to a schedule on a bookmark the children brought home.
The goal of One Book, One School is to build a community of readers at Defer that includes everyone – students, teachers and parents – in a shared reading experience. Benefits of reading aloud together as a family include help setting up daily reading routines, building stronger vocabularies, developing fluency by listening to a read-aloud and, most importantly, fostering a love of reading.
Because Fenway and Hattie is narrated from the dog’s point of view, teachers and families were asked to send in a photo of a favorite animal – a pet, stuffed toy or photo from the internet or a magazine – captioned to reflect what that animal was thinking or could say if it could talk. These are hanging in the hallways, adding “a lot of fun and smiles,” according to fourth grade teacher Jane Nugent.
Other highlights of the book celebration included Trivia Tuesdays, in which one question from the previous week’s reading was shared on the morning video announcements, with each classroom holding a raffle of the correct answers and the winning student given a new Scholastic book generously purchased by the Defer PTO.
Students also enjoyed Fenway and Hattie Spirit Fridays, an all-school dog crafting day, dog-themed brain breaks, a visit from Pierce’s therapy dogs, Beatrice and Kim, and short fun or informational videos to accompany book chapters. For example, students learned about how dogs use their sense of small, interacted with a video from a dog’s “paw-spective,” and more.
More One Book, One School journeys
The Ferry Elementary community read King of Pets, by Cody Harmon. To celebrate this joint reading venture, students were invited to bring their favorite stuffed toy to school on Friday and enjoy a visit from Lou's Pet Shop.
Continuing the animal theme, Kerby read Flora & Ulysses, by Newbery medal winner Kate DiCamillo.
According to Principal Walter Fitzpatrick, "An unexpected accident is the start of a transformation of an ordinary squirrel into one with powers of strength, flight and misspelled poetry." Students were asked to draw themselves with super powers or create a comic strip describing the events of how they obtained their super powers.
Finally, One Book, One Richard focuses on the story A Boy Called Bat, about a boy with special needs who falls in love with a skunk kit and strives to raise him.
Said Richard Principal John Kernan, "The book helps reinforce empathy, differences between individuals, life experiences, and challenges we all face with friends, teachers and family."
Teachers included many activities throughout the month including weekly reflection questions, teacher-recorded read-a-louds, assemblies, and a mix-it-up reading day where students moved around the building in multi-aged groups to hear some of their favorite stories from their favorite staff members.
Participating in the Marshmallow Challenge are, from left, Alexa Gazepis, Henry Rennpage, Malik Copeland, Frankie Peeters and Mia Wilhelm.
A STEM challenge
Sixth graders at Parcells Middle School took on the Marshmallow Challenge on Friday.
The goal was to build the tallest freestanding structure using only the materials provided – and they had only 18 minutes to do it.
The kit included 20 sticks of spaghetti, one yard of tape, one yard of string and one marshmallow.
The structure needed to be freestanding and the marshmallow needed to be on the top of it. (Cutting – or eating – parts of the marshmallow was grounds for disqualification.)
The purpose of the grade-level activity was to promote STEM and teamwork. The three teams with the tallest structures measured from the table top surface to the top of the marshmallow were awarded prizes.
Catch up with what GPPSS students in the Special Education Transition Services are up to in this month's edition of Transition Trender. It includes highlights from South's Special Olympics Polar Plunge and the Special Needs Resource Fair held at The War Memorial.
Want to read more?
Look for your next edition of School Pointes on April 7 after spring break. In the meantime, check out past issues on the district website. Story ideas and photos are welcome and encouraged. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.