June 16, 2023
Parcells eighth graders leave their mark
When the choir room at Parcells Middle School was renovated in 2014, drywall replaced windows and music teacher Leslie Saroli missed the natural light the room had previously.
Then she had an idea. Why not enlist her students to brighten up the room, while allowing them to express their individuality?
“You have given so much to this room,” she told the eighth graders that year. “Leave your mark.”
She had no idea where this would go, but year after year the departing eighth graders have transformed the space into someplace unique. Once the walls were filled, the students moved on to painting the choir room steps. The next level of steps remains blank due to COVID, but Leslie is hoping to bring those students back when they’re seniors and let them make their mark before they leave the Grosse Pointe Public School System.
This year, Leslie has 24 eighth graders in first hour. They began transforming a wall at the front of the school the first week of June, drawing playing cards at random to pick their cinderblock square. Students who chose the top row of squares painted the first day, adding designs the second day. Then the next group of students painted the middle squares, followed by the bottom squares, completely decorating the wall before the last day of school.
“I’ve been in choir since sixth grade and ever since I learned about this tradition, I’ve been waiting to do this and I am so excited,” said Ronan Smith before he began painting his square. “But now that I know I am doing it, I don’t know what to do.”
Liam Pinkney knew what he wanted to paint – an album cover for his favorite artist, SZA – but has mixed emotions about the experience.
“It is like I’m moving on because I’ve been here so long,” he said. “It’s sad that I’m leaving but it’s nice to know I am leaving my mark.”
Grace Piggott said when she joined choir in sixth grade, it was during COVID. When students returned from remote learning to face-to-face, “Mrs. Saroli is just a really welcoming teacher and made all of us feel comfortable with the tradition,” she recalled. “I remember going into the classroom and being surprised by how colorful it was. I asked her and she said, ‘Oh yes, every eighth grader gets to paint a square so we can remember them.’ I always thought that was amazing and I was always excited to do it.”
Anna Nguyen also joined choir in sixth grade. She remembers seeing the choir room that year and finding a square painted by her older sister, Amanda. As soon as she found it in the corner, she told Mrs. Saroli she wanted to paint a square, too.
“I just remember me and my friends always talking about doing it and we wanted to paint squares next to each other,” Anna recalled. “When eighth grade year came, I remember walking into the classroom and already having an idea of what I wanted to do.”
Paige Thomas’s sister also was in choir. Paige spotted her square when she joined the choir in seventh grade.
“It has a flower in the corner and her name, and it has the year she did it, and it’s next to all her friends,” Paige said. “I remember thinking I want to be like her; I want to do a square like her. She’s kind of a role model.”
The wall by Mrs. Saroli's 8th grade class of 2023 includes an "honorary" square for seventh graders enrolled in the eighth grade choir class.
Parcells welcomes new principal
Dr. Sara Delgado is pictured with her family, from left, her son Santiago, a fifth grader at Parcells, her husband, Alejandro, and her daughter Isabela, a seventh grader at Parcells. Not pictured is her oldest son, Alejandro, a freshman at Grosse Pointe North, who was home studying for finals.
Creating a sense of belonging
Dr. Sara Delgado is joining the Parcells Middle School community as the next principal on August 1.
Dr. Delgado previously served as the Director of Elementary Instruction for Fraser Public Schools. Prior to that, she was well known in the Grosse Pointe Public School System, first as a Spanish teacher, and then for over five years as principal at Kerby Elementary, and most recently as the district’s OneGP Virtual Coordinator during the pandemic.
What stood out about Dr. Delgado among the interview committee, was her “passion for collaborating with the Parcells community to create a learning environment focused on valuing diversity, empowering all stakeholders, and promoting students’ voices,” according to Deputy Superintendent for Educational Services Roy Bishop.
When recommending her appointment at the June 12 Board of Education meeting, Dr. Bishop stressed that Dr. Delgado has demonstrated a firm commitment to continuing the work already accomplished at Parcells while taking the school to new heights.
After her unanimous appointment at the meeting, Dr. Delgado thanked the over 25 teachers, administrators, parents and other members of the Parcells community who took the time out of their day to serve on the interview committee.
“Grosse Pointe Public School System shaped me as an educator and as a leader,” she said. “Throughout my time here as a teacher and administrator I was further able to develop my philosophy of leadership.”
That philosophy begins with creating a sense of belonging for every student, teacher and community member who walks through the door.
“A sense of belonging creates a space where students, teachers and families feel they can take risks, collaborate and learn together,” Dr. Delgado said. “Without these essential elements in a school community, student learning – which is our ultimate goal – cannot occur. I look forward to working collectively with all the members of the Parcells community to create that space.
"Education is not only my career, but it’s also my passion,” she concluded. “I thank you very much for the opportunity to share this passion with Parcells, and I look forward to returning to serve the community that I also call home.”
South crew team named national champs
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Richard recognized for character initiative
Congratulations to Richard Elementary, which was awarded a 2023 Promising Practice by the national school character organization, Character.org. The organization was founded by educators who envisioned a future where every school inspires young people to understand, care about, and practice the character strengths that will enable them to flourish in school, in the workplace, and as citizens.
In Principal John Kernan’s view, the certificate reflects the hard work Richard’s staff does every day to build academic and support the social and emotional well-being of all students.
“We developed a program at lunchtime helping the students regulate their emotions and learn how to interact with each other and respond to peers,” Dr. Kernan explained. “And we did it as a way to explore different activities and things they might not be in tune with, from yoga to finger knitting to breakout games.”
While students were having fun, they were developing important social skills that translate into long-term benefits while strengthening the overall school environment.
Transition Trender wrap-up
Enjoy the last edition of Transition Trender for the year! You won't want to miss the opportunity to learn more about how the district's Transition students benefit from work-based learning and all the wonderful businesses providing valuable job opportunities to them. Pictured here is Titan McKenzie who is moving from South High School to Community Campus to continue to work on employment and independent living skills. He is pictured here at one of our community job sites, Fresh Farms Market. If you own a local business and would be interested in hosting a student, contact Transition Coordinator Kimberly King at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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