The Oak Park Advantage

January 2021 Second Edition Newsletter

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“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter”.

~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. National Day of Observance

On Monday, January 18, 2021, all Oak Park Schools will be closed for students and staff in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday.

To observe the holiday, Mr. Grayling Mercer, K-12 Science Instructional Coach & Planetarium Coordinator led a virtual field trip opportunity in a private live-stream event with civil rights icon, Ambassador Andrew Young. Ambassador Young shared his fondest memories of Dr. King from the early days, to planning marches, to being by his side on the balcony on the day he was assassinated.

To honor Dr. King with your family during this historic time in our nation, please consider the following virtual community activities:

Saturday, January 16 – Monday, January 18 Virtual MLK Events

National Museum of African American History & Culture: Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Virtual Exhibitions, Online Collections and Digital Resources

Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History: Virtually Celebrate MLK Day with the Wright – Virtually explore the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History.

Eastern Michigan University: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration – MLK Celebration 2021

Michigan State University: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration

Oakland University: Keeper of the Dream

University of Michigan: MLK Children & Youth Program & Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Symposium

Wayne State University: Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Virtual Tribute 2021 & National Day of Healing from Racism

NOTE: Please review the events above to ensure they are age-appropriate for your children and family.


On Friday, January 8, Governor Whitmer urged all school districts to consider an in-person learning option by March 1. In order to gather the most up to date information, we are asking ALL families to complete the survey below by 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, January 19. We realize that you have already completed many surveys, but COVID-19 presents ever-changing challenges. We value the input of our families, students, and staff in our decision-making process.

Please click here on the active link: OPS Return to School Survey and complete the survey no later than Tuesday, January 19 OR click here: complete the survey.

Thank you in advance for completing the survey above by Tuesday, January 19 at 5:00 p.m. The results of the survey will be included in our return to in-person instruction recommendation to the Oak Park School District Board of Education on Monday, January 25 at 7:00 p.m.

If you have any questions, please contact your child’s school principal. For assistance with technology, social emotional support or virtual medical or mental health care, please call 248-336-7667. Please stay healthy and safe.



In honor of School Board Recognition Month, we thank Menachem Hojda, Al Elvin, Claudette Lunkins, Yosef Klein, Maxine Gutfreund, Dawn Corporan, and Albert Smith for their dedication to our school community. Oak Park Schools appreciates this educated, caring leadership team!

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Saturday, Jan. 16th, 12pm

14600 Common Road

Warren, MI

MHSAA Playoff Football: State Semi-Final
Our Oak Park Knight Football team will face the Warren DeLasalle Pilots in the MHSAA Football Division 2 State Semi-Final, Saturday, January 16, 12pm at Warren DeLasalle High School.

The winner will advance to the MHSAA Division 2 State Championship game at Ford Field and face the winner of the Muskegon Mona Shores/Traverse City Central game.

With the landscape of the 2020 Michigan high school football season affected by COVID-19, the MHSAA has loosened its restrictions on live-streamed broadcasts to help alleviate the burden on fans having less opportunity to watch games in person due to COVID-19 attendance restrictions. The regional championship game will be livestreamed at

Oak Park at Livonia Churchill | Football | 1-9-21 | STATE CHAMPS! Michigan
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Below is information on the COVID-19 vaccination program:

State of MI COVID-19 Vaccines FAQ link:


When I receive the COVID-19 vaccine, will I have to continue to practice other mitigation measures?


Yes, while vaccines are a key part of fighting the pandemic, wearing masks, social distancing, and handwashing will help reduce your chance of being exposed to the COVID-19 virus or spreading it to others.

Stay Healthy and Happy New Year!

Vanessa Long

Oak Park Schools District Nurse

(248) 342-9944


The Oakland County Health Department (OCHD) has started “Save your Spot” in line for the COVID-19 vaccine. Save your Spot will help inform them of your interest in getting the vaccine as well as organize the distribution of their vaccine supply.

According to OCHD, when you are eligible to set an appointment and vaccine doses are available, they will contact you by phone, text or email. To learn more information, please log onto: and complete the form. The site also provides an Oakland County COVID-19 Vaccination Dashboard so you can monitor the following in real time:

  • Total Doses Received
  • Doses Administered
  • Vaccine Appointments Set (secured through a certain date – meaning the amount of doses they have already received and scheduled appointments for)
  • Number of Appointments Available

You can also register your email address to receive news and information about Oakland County vaccination appointments and COVID-19 resources or text OAKGOV to 28748.


Henry Ford Health System is offering free, walk-in COVID-19 testing at Oak Park High School and multiple locations throughout Metro Detroit through Wednesday, March 31.

No appointment, physician referral, prescription or insurance is needed. The PCR (nasal swab) tests are available for adults and children.

Results will be provided within 48 hours. If you are having symptoms or suspect that you may have COVID-19, please take advantage of this free service.

Because testing dates, times and locations may change, please visit for updates. Or, call 313-876-1363 Monday through Friday between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.

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Office of Teaching and Learning

District Wide Updates

w/o January 11, 2021

  • Fall 2020 NWEA Results for all K-12 students are now uploaded to MISTAR Parent Portal!

  • All Conference PD videos from August, October, and November have been compiled and uploaded for your learning pleasure! We also have uploaded the (6-12) Nepris Professional Learning session from December 7. If you are interested in additional learning from our Return To Schools Conference, our October PD Conference, or November 5D+ PD, or Nepris please click the links below! The uploads can also be found under “Staff Links” on our district website!

  • Please join us throughout the day today, January 15th, for an Oak Park High School Hoffman Planetarium Private Live-Stream Event as we honor the legacy and dream of Dr. King by hosting a special fireside chat with his close friend and confidant, Ambassador Andrew Young. Ambassador Young will share his fondest memories of Dr. King from the early days, to planning marches, to being by his side on the balcony the day he was assassinated.

After the fireside chat, younger students will also have the opportunity to delve into a Minecraft Education experience entitled "Lessons in Good Trouble" where they will complete challenges as they journey through time with Congressman John Lewis to meet leaders of social justice movements such as MLK and Nelson Mandela who were catalysts for Good Trouble and positive change. If you are interested in attending with your class, please RSVP HERE.

  • Shout-Outs!

    • A special shout out goes to Linette Thomas and ALL support staff across the district. The amount supports our staff, students, and families need throughout these challenging times can seem overwhelming. Nonetheless, our support staff continue to answer the bell on behalf of students and families and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts! Please take a look at these two resources provided by Ms. Thomas around supporting marginalized students. Here are some tips for educators and tips for parents

  • ​​​Article of the Week:

    • Kids do a lot of listening in class. They should also be Reading, Writing, Speaking every day! Check out this article!

  • Professional Learning Opportunities:

    • Oakland Schools is offering free 1 hour professional development sessions for all math teachers. All participants will receive 1 SCHECH hour for every session they attend. Check out the calendar of events for the school year and register if you’re interested.

    • Developing and Assessing Math Fact Fluency

      • Audience:K-5 Math Teachers and 6-8 Math Essential Teachers

      • Presenter: Gina Kling - Math Instructor at Western Michigan University

      • Description: Have you noticed students who are struggling with math fact fluency and are interested in ways to build and assess student fluency in a meaningful way? Join Ms. Kling as she provides proven strategies to help struggling students develop an understanding of fluency and learn games that will help them in a key mathematic focus area.

      • Dates/Times: Feb 11, Feb 18, and Feb 25 from 7 to 9 pm

      • Registration: FREE, closes February 4 (

    • MASSP is providing a free, asynchronous, learning opportunity to help teachers familiarize themselves with CEL's 5D instructional framework and 5D+ evaluation tool. In this session participants will gain both an understanding of the background and purpose for using the 5 Dimensions of Teaching and Learning (5D™) instructional framework, the 5D+™ Rubric for Instructional Growth & Teacher Evaluation and their roles and responsibilities within cycles of inquiry. The course is offered through Michigan Virtual and is completely self-paced. Upon completion of the online course you will receive 3 SCHECHs applied to your recertification license. The course is open to all educators, whether you are new to the district and have never used the 5D framework, or simply want a refresher on the dimensions and how to use the tool to increase your instructional effectiveness. ​ If you are interested in learning more click here to register.


On January 5th, Oak Park School's Assistant Superintendent of Teaching & Learning Cassandra Baptiste participated in the latest Educationally Speaking podcast discussing education access during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed many issues when it comes to education access. Nationwide, there has been an increase in the number of students absent from school and it's not due to illness. This same issue has also been noticed in our state and Oakland County is no exception. More and more children are missing from classrooms and there is a myriad of reasons why.

check it out along with other Educationally Speaking podcasts at:


Please join us for this Oak Park High School Hoffman Planetarium Private Live-Stream Event as we honor the legacy and dream of Dr. King by hosting a special fireside chat with his close friend and confidant, Ambassador Andrew Young. Ambassador Young will share his fondest memories of Dr. King from the early days, to planning marches, to being by his side on the balcony the day he was assassinated.

After the fireside chat, younger students will also have the opportunity to delve into a Minecraft Education experience entitled "Lessons in Good Trouble" where they will complete challenges as they journey through time with Congressman John Lewis to meet leaders of social justice movements such as MLK and Nelson Mandela who were catalysts for Good Trouble and positive change.

For more information, click on


OPS Educators,

To commemorate the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated Founders Day, January 13, the Southfield Alumnae Chapter selected Oak Park Schools to show their sincerest appreciation to all educators on their special day.

For those of you who may not be aware, according to the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated website (2021), the organization is a “private, not-for-profit organization whose purpose is to provide assistance and support through established programs in local communities throughout the world. The organization is a sisterhood of predominantly Black, college educated women” (p. 1). The organization was originally founded on January 13, 1913 by 22 women at Howard University.

Oak Park Schools is humbled by their recognition of the hard work and dedication of Oak Park Schools educators. Please click on the active link to view the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated Celebration of Educators Video & the accompanying certificate.

A special thanks to Beverly Allen, Founders Day Committee Chair and the Southfield Alumnae Chapter! Happy Founders Day to all of the Oak Park Schools staff who are members of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated. Have a great day!

Thank You, Educators!


Congratulations to our Oak Park High School Health Science Academy students on their success at the HOSA Competitive Events Program regional competition in December. This year’s competition was intense, but six of eight students that competed finished in the top ten and are now qualified to compete in the state competition in April. Huge shoutout to these dedicated students as they sacrificed time during their holiday break to represent Oak Park High School and our HOSA program.

Student Name Competitive Event

Cartwright, R’reanna - Health Science: Medical Terminology (State Qualifier)

Cook, Dashari - Teamwork. Public Service Announcement (State Qualifier)

Thompson, Destiny - Emergency Preparedness: CPR and First Aid (State Qualifier)

Wahhab, Tumani - Emergency Preparedness: CPR and First Aid (State Qualifier)

Welch, Dejuan - Teamwork. Public Service Announcement (State Qualifier)

Wilson, Genaya - Teamwork. Public Service Announcement (State Qualifier)

Chalk, Donyel - Health Science: Nutrition (Regional Honorable Mention)

Thornton, Kamari - Health Science: Medical Terminology (Regional Honorable Mention)

Through the HOSA Competitive Events Program, members can compete in teams or as individuals in over 55 different events related to all aspects of the health care industry. HOSA integrates into the Health Science Education curriculum to develop and recognize smart, dedicated, and passionate future health professionals.

HOSA exists to enhance the delivery of compassionate, quality health care by providing opportunities for knowledge, skill, and leadership development of high school, post-secondary, and middle school students interested in healthcare.

For further information about the Oak Park High School HOSA program please contact our Health Science CTE Instructor, Mrs. Jennifer Gebhardt-Lavetter, RN at

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Important Announcement Regarding Technology Services

Beginning January 4, 2021, Oak Park School District’s Technology Helpdesk will be serviced by Oakland Schools. You will receive an email within the next day or two from the “OS Service Desk”. This email will include your Service Desk login and a temporary password. Please follow the instructions on the email to activate your account, change your password, and access the new Service Desk.

You will now be able to access Technology Services help in four different ways:

(1) Login and create a ticket via a link on

(2) Chat online with a Service Desk agent

(3) Email the Service Desk

(4) Call the Service Desk.

Our Student support line 248-336-7667 will still remain, and students may press 1 for Technology Support. This will transfer the calls to Oakland Schools automatically.

Our staff Support number will change to 248-209-2060.

Support will be available Monday – Friday from 7:00am to 6:00pm!

Maintenance and Building requests will still be created using the Oak Park Schools Ready desk Ticket system. In the future, Maintenance requests will move to another platform as well.

Oak Park Schools Technology Services

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Kids Kicking Cancer has partnered with Pepper Elementary School for the past two years bringing the Hero’s Circle to second and third graders. The program consisted of professional development for teachers, daily instruction by teachers, videos, and weekly instruction from sensei masters.

The program centers on learning to control your brain so that you can reach your goal. The Hero's Circle recognizes that it takes hard work, dedication, and perseverance to reach one’s goals. The Hero’s Circle is a tool to help one reach their goals.

Kids Kicking Cancer now offers help and services to not only cancer patients, but any child in pain from a serious illness.

Using martial arts therapy, Kids Kicking Cancer staff teaches ill children and their siblings to:

  • Regain a sense of control over the chaos of their lives.
  • Become empowered partners in their own healing.
  • Push away the messages of pain, fear, and anger.
  • Provide inspiration and light to others facing life-challenges.
  • Teach other children, and even adults, how to take control.
  • See themselves as victors, not victims.

Martial arts techniques unlock the student’s Power, and the focused breathing and relaxation work brings them Peace. While teaching Kids Kicking Cancer’s Breath Brake to others, they find great Purpose in their young lives.


Kids Kicking Cancer was created in 1999 by Rabbi Elimelech Goldberg, a black belt rabbi and clinical assistant professor of pediatrics. Rabbi G lost his first child to leukemia at the age of two and brings a wealth of personal experience and sensitivity to dealing with children and families facing life-threatening illness.

This program, which began with a handful of children at Children’s Hospital of Michigan, now teaches over 7,000 children in 90 hospitals and program locations in 7 countries.

The most unique and powerful element of the model is that each child becomes a teacher to others. Kids Kicking Cancer’s mantra is Power Peace Purpose. When asked what is your purpose? The children yell out, “To teach the world.”

Kids Kicking Cancer also has a “black-belt” program for patients who are not responding to treatments. This end of life care program provides ongoing meditation and family focus in a palliative format that culminates in the child receiving a black-belt in a public ceremony, usually a few days before he or she dies. Embroidered on the black-belt are the words “Master Teacher” because that child is truly teaching the world how to use the power of light to break through darkness.

Rabbi Goldberg is an awardee of the Robert Wood Johnson, Community Health Leaders Award in Washington D.C., known as the United States’ highest award in community public health. He has been honored as a Hero in People Magazine, CNN Top Ten Heroes, and the Ford Motor Company’s Heroes Gallery, amongst the many media stories featuring the work of Kids Kicking Cancer.

For further information please visit

A Look Into The Classroom at Kids Kicking Cancer!


Fall Science Introduction
The Hoffman Planetarium is an engaging, interactive full dome classroom. It is powered by advanced programs including, Starry Night, The Layered Earth and Zygote Body. The SciDome IQ2400 brings real-time space and earth science into a unique, innovative teaching environment.

We immerse students in the planetarium’s interactive visual macrocosm, explored Earth’s 3D topography and layers in spectacular detail. Each individual high school Science course and grade level courses in kindergarten through eighth grade participate in a developmentally appropriate interactive presentations tailored to the curriculum and/or Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) disciplinary core ideas while providing a connection to the astronomical 'big picture' - the Universe.

At the Hoffman Planetarium, we believe that 'your journey into the mysteries of space begins here...

Planetarium Offerings

  • Upon arrival into the Planetarium, students view a presentation specifically designed for their current science unit. For example, the 5th grade Earth Science show is entitled “Our Place in the Solar System” and explores most of the Next Generation Earth Science Standards (NGSS) for the 5th-grade level.
  • Students are also provided with an opportunity, during their Science Lab experience, to complete a hands-on activity related to their current unit. For 5th grade students, the activity allows students to construct a model of the solar system. Additionally, students also access the Virtual Labs available through the FOSS Science Curriculum and/or online Virtual Labs related to the unit material.

We have accommodations for both wheel-chair bound and students with disabilities, including devices for the hearing impaired. Our goal is to ensure that all students have access to the unique, interactive learning experience that the Planetarium offers!

Preparing Students for a Lifetime of Success: Next Generation Science Standards Alignment

Within the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), there are three distinct and equally important dimensions to learning science-core ideas, practice and cross-cutting. The implementation of new science standards with the support of Planetarium programs provides an opportunity to advance science education for all students. To learn more information, please review the NGSS Parent Guides below

Elementary School (Einstein, Key & Pepper)

Grades K- 2: Download the Grades K-2 Parent Guide

Grades 3- 5: Download the Grades 3-5 Parent Guide

Middle School (Oak Park Preparatory Academy)

Grades 6-8: Download the Grades 6-8 Parent Guide

High School (Oak Park High School)

Grades 9-12: Download the Grades 9-12 Parent Guide

Planetarium Coordinator

To learn additional information about the Hoffman Planetarium or schedule a visit, please contact Mr. Grayling Mercer at or 248.336.7620


Our mission is to provide a quality education that promotes respect for the individual and cultural differences of students and provides college and career readiness skills to become lifelong learners and productive citizens.

The Oak Park School District’s nearly 4,500 students are served at Einstein, Key and Pepper elementary schools (grades PreK-5), the Oak Park Preparatory Academy (grades 6-8), , Oak Park High School (grades 9 -12), NOVA (grades 3-12) the Oak Park Alternative Education Center (ages 16-19 years old) and My Virtual Academy of Oak Park (grades 5-12) in Oak Park, MI in Oakland County located in a suburban community near Detroit with approximately 30,000 residents. Our district consists of over 450 staff members, including 250 teachers and 11 building administrators.

Our school district boasts an abundance of educational and co/extra-curricular programs to meet the needs of a vast array of learners from Pre-K through twelfth grade. We encourage students to challenge themselves academically, explore comprehensive course offerings, and take risks to discover their individual gifts. We are dedicated to providing an intellectually challenging educational experience in safe, nurturing school environments that thrive on cultivating and empowering students to be their authentic selves. In addition, our academic and co/extra-curricular opportunities provide agency and shape self-identity, which are critical components to the adolescent development process.

Oak Park Advantage

The Oak Park Advantage is a holistic approach to education that not only prepares students academically, fosters a sense of belonging but creates long-lasting connections to the Oak Park community. While attending Oak Park Schools, students develop a confidence that is woven throughout their post-secondary, professional and social-emotional well-being years after they graduate.

Contact an Oak Park School District principal and take a tour! Get the Oak Park Advantage!

Our 2020 Goals

Maintain dynamic, healthy, and safe learning environments that inspire unlimited equitable opportunities for optimal classroom instruction to increase student achievement.

Implement ongoing transparent best practices to reduce operating costs to create opportunities to invest in human capital and professional learning, sustain quality facilities, establish a healthier organizational culture, and ensure fiscal stability.

Strategically design and implement organizational systems to increase efficiency, boost productivity to allow staff and students to focus entirely on student learning and social-emotional well-being.

Review and refresh curricular needs and resources employing planned adoption schedules based on current research with technology integration for classroom instruction.

Operate collaboratively district-wide and abandon ineffective silos.