March 2019 Newsletter

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From The Mouths of Babes (And a Farewell)

This Wednesday, we hosted 8th grade Eagle Scholars for a shadow day at Thurston. Students toured the school, sat in on some classes, including Mr. Brater’s legendary AP US History class, asked questions of a student panel, and shared their excitement and concerns about the transition to high school.

While we hope all of our Pierce students matriculate to Thurston, we know that some are looking at other high schools. Sometimes it’s a legacy issue, sometimes it’s a convenience issue, sometimes it’s about sports or reputation. So when a few students indicated their plans to go elsewhere on Wednesday in our debrief, we (Mr. Parsons, Mr. Brater, Mr. Madigan, me) were quick to promote Thurston. Between the four of us, we have over 40 years of experience either attending or working at THS. We went in full-blown, narrative bias, pontification mode, selling Thurston hard, imploring those planning to attend elsewhere to reconsider. The 8th graders looked stunned. Or maybe they were just bored.

Then, something awesome happened.

Unprovoked, a few of our freshmen who had been munching pizza with the 8th graders, chimed in. They said things like “People care about you here…the school does everything it can to make sure you succeed…if you ever need anything, there is always someone to talk to…you’ll get the challenge you need…you’ll have great opportunities to be involved.”

We, the all-knowing adults, stopped talking. I got that feeling in my throat you only get as a parent or an educator: the feeling of pride and awe when a child communicates with candor the very thing you’re trying to teach them.

One young lady summed it up, “It’s hard to describe. There’s something about Thurston. You want to be here. Trust me.”

It’s a shame that choosing a high school these days has become what choosing a college used to be. But as I told our 8th graders, if another school is the right fit, by all means go there. But do not go to another school without doing your due diligence, without getting past the reputation and the slick website. And do not overlook the value of having a built-in, close-knit community that will support you. Incidentally, this is same advice I give to our seniors during their college search.

If we ever needed evidence that Thurston produces outstanding young people, look no further than our outgoing assistant coordinator, Tony Parsons, someone who could have gone to a different high school, but thankfully did not. As a student in my AP English class nine years ago, Tony was one of those students I had to consider when I was planning my lesson the night before. I knew he’d be the kid who came up with the one question I hadn’t thought about. As a student, he was sharp, inquisitive, critical, thoughtful, and self-deprecating. Working alongside Tony these past few years, I have marveled at his focus, determination, dedication, and patience. While I know Tony will go on to great things at The Michigan College Access Network and beyond, we will miss him dearly.

Thank you, Tony, for everything you’ve done for our students and for our district. May you, as Thoreau said, continue to “build castles in the sky.”

--Mr. Hughes

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Thurston Updates

Important Dates:

subscribe to the calendar here

3/23: Free SAT test 3 at the Redford Library. Register here.

3/28-3/29: Hope College overnight visit (Juniors only)

4/9: SAT (Juniors only)

4/11: Albion College visit (Juniors only)

5/23: Honors Dinner

5/30: Kalamazoo College visit (Juniors only)

5/30: Honors Night

6/3: Eagle Scholars Program Orientation

6/3: AP Kickoff night

Acceptance letters are rolling in for our seniors from Howard University, U of M Ann Arbor, Michigan State, Leiden, Wayne State, EMU, CMU, Northern Michigan, University of Findlay, Ohio Northern, and others. Still waiting to hear from Harvard, Yale, Oxford, Stanford, Boston University, New York University, Kalamazoo College, Hope College, and The University of Chicago.

The Eagle Scholars Award application will be available in February for qualifying seniors. Last year we disbursed over $2000.

Students not meeting requirements for the program will be receiving probation or dismissal letters within the next week.

Juniors and Seniors will now be reporting to the media center for Advisory on Mondays.

You/your child should be thinking about what AP course(s) to take next year. AP courses for 10th graders: AP Government, AP Psychology, AP World History. Remember that all students must take AP Lang in either 11th or 12th grade.

Thursday study sessions are now in the cafeteria (2:45 - 3:45) Pizza is provided for $1 per slice.

Tutoring is now running Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday in the Media Center. Check in with Ms. Radecki or Ms. Thomas to connect with a tutor (or a tutee).

dents meet once a week at an all-you-can-eat buffet. Talk to Spencer K. for more details.


100% of proceeds go toward Eagle Scholars Award winners' college education. These are students who have gone above and beyond the requirements of the program. This is a tax-deductible donation.

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Pierce Updates

6th Grade ESP

6th Grade Scholars have begun a foray into some of their first Algebraic topics in Mrs. Wilson's class. They have started to translate word problems into equations with one variable, some have even been able to solve them! Mr. Parsons had the chance to guest teach a lesson and was blown away by the methods student developed to work through the problems and to conceptualize different answers. Additional resources on how to do these translations can be found here.

The Scholars are also progressing nicely through the Place Out of Time project. They have all selected the historical figures they will be this semester. Some of the people selected include Katniss Everdeen of the Hunger Games, Princess Diana, and Jane Goodall! This year's 6th grade Scholars have chosen a variety of great people, fictional and real to embrace! We look forward to seeing them in action at the conference in April!

7th Grade ESP

7th grade Scholars have been working diligently to complete two projects in honor of African-American History Month. In Language Arts, the Scholars have to create a one page biography in the fashion of a "Who Was" book on a lesser known African-American who has left a lasting impact on America. In Social Studies they have to complete a research project on an African-American Hero. While hero is broadly defined for the project, student have selected great historical figures like James Baldwin, Susie Taylor, Rosa Parks, and Maya Angelou! These projects will turn out fantastically! Look for them to be displayed at the Pierce showcase in May!

8th Grade ESP

The 8th grade Scholars have teamed up with Mr. Marchio's 11th grade class to read and debate the short story "The Bet" by Anton Checkov. Dealing with themes of freedom, choice, and isolationism, this story has a lot to offer both classes. The students will debate weekly using FlipGrid, which is a tool regularly employed by Mrs. Kus. The students will also have a few assignments where they will need to work collaboratively for their classes. We are all excited to see what this amazing partnership will yield!

General ESP

The Eagle Scholars Program would like to wish a fond farewell to Mr. Parsons. He has served as the Assistant Coordinator for a little over two years, but as of March 1st will be leaving the program. Mr. Parsons will be moving to Lansing, MI to begin a new position with the Michigan College Access Network. While we are sad to see Mr. Parsons go, and he is very sad to be leaving his family of Eagle Scholars, we know he will go on to do wonderful things in his role. We are already looking forward to when Mr. Parsons will come back for a visit!

The first semester ended on January 25, 2019. Students who have not met the requirements of the Eagle Scholars Program will need to speak with Mr. Hughes and their teachers to formulate a plan on how to move forward. Please note that the letter is only referring to the first semester, students with a GPA above a 3.0 cumulatively may have still received a letter by mistake!

“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.” — Alan Watts

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