May 26, 2023
Clockwise from upper left: Members of the Conjoined Twins team presented their research to Board of Education members Ginny Jeup, Valarie St. John and (not pictured) David Brumbaugh; Superintendent Jon Dean learns about stem cells from a team of researchers; Maddie LoPorto, Ashleigh Washington and Hayley Zalewski researched why symptoms and pain persist after Lyme Disease is cured; Alex Agius and Henry Orlowski focused their research on the pathophysiology of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE).
A sweet take on science
The seniors in Sue Speirs’ Applied Medical Research with Clinical Investigations class at Grosse Pointe North High School were exposed to clinical rounds and medical research that opened their eyes to future career paths. Throughout the year they enjoyed shadowing experiences in clinical rounds at hospitals, doctors’ offices and university research departments to supplement what they learned in the course. Class seminars, both didactic and collaborative, deepened their understanding of pathophysiology and presented challenging medical case studies.
The icing on the cake of all this in-depth study is Sweet Tooth Science, a multidisciplinary, scientific celebration featuring decorated dessert models -- and a 13-year tradition in Mrs. Speirs' class.
A total of 12 exhibitor teams presented their capstone projects on Friday, May 19, to teachers, administrators, school board members, doctors, nurses and other special guests who ranked their top three entries as part of the judging component. While the judging results were not part of the rubric determining the students’ grade, the opportunity to present their work allowed them to showcase their work and come prepared with their “A+ game,” Mrs. Speirs said.
The students chose a topic of intense interest. Then they dove into the research.
“Most of the posters have at least 16 sources,” Sue explained. “There are primary journal articles that the students have gone through, case studies to analyze. The goal is to show that you are the expert. You know your work better than anyone. It’s that level of mastery that you really want kids to have.”
Topics on display were dementia, cystic fibrosis, stem cells, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, Lyme disease, chicken pox, multiple sclerosis axonal demyelination, conjoined twins, heartbreak syndrome cardiomyopathy, poor diets and NAD+, teeth alignment, and a rare genetic disorder known as Fibrodysplasia Ossificans Progressiva, or Stone Man Syndrome.
Ronan Macmaster, who worked with his teammates Edison Jarvi, Grace McCormick and Maddy Olson to research how MS demyelination develops and its effects on the body, had a personal stake in this topic. His mother passed away from the disease last January.
“I sat in a room with my own mother when she was diagnosed with MS,” he said. “One thing that rang in my head was the doctor told her, ‘You won’t die from this.’ While the prognosis does shorten your life expectancy by about 10 years, complications that arise from MS leave you susceptible to other diseases.”
COVID was the complicating factor for Ronan’s mother. Sharing her story and awareness of the disease “has been incredibly important and a big motivator for my own research,” he said. “I think a lot of treatment and research isn’t where it should be in this field. It impacts millions of Americans – women twice as much as men. I think so many people should be aware of this disease. To be able to share that story and talk about the impact of it has been really cool in this whole project.”
Mural project a work in progress
Senior Elise Harr works on a panel of the Salvador Dalí-inspired mural for the Morningside office.
Students in Alexander Finney’s AP 2D Design and AP Drawing class at Grosse Pointe South High School are working collaboratively on a Salvador Dalí-inspired mural for installation in the central administration office at Morningside.
The idea for the project came about when Morningside staff reached out to the art departments at both high schools to see if any student or group of students had an interest in creating artwork for the new office space. Mr. Finney responded that he had a small group of students in mind and the project, made possible by a grant from the Grosse Pointe Foundation for Public Education, grew from there.
The students who committed to the mural are seniors Skylar Carsten, Elise Harr, Mia Pellerito, Devin Strong, Ellie Summerfield and Sam Tull. They are creating the artwork on panels for later installation in the district offices, and the GPFPE provided the necessary materials and supplies.
Mr. Finney drew inspiration from a partnership he has formed with the Salvador Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg. His idea was to create a mural based on Dalí’s process and surrealist imagery with guidance from a museum educator he has met with previously via Zoom. Alex arranged for this museum educator to present to the students about surrealism.
The art panels are loosely based on this Dali connection, he explained. Each panel depicts a juxtaposition of size relationships in which students interacting with the environment around them are depicted in the foreground as larger than life, while the modes of transportation – a freighter and hot air balloon, for example – are seen in the background on a much smaller scale.
“The concept is that everything we do in the schools is for the kids,” Alex said, serving as a reminder “that the kids are small, but they’re the big reason."
Senior Skylar Carsen adds finishing touches to a panel.
Students help host suicide prevention event
Members of North's P2P club gathered on May 21 to promote mental health awareness.
More than 200 people attended the Suicide Prevention Walk & Mental Health Fair last Sunday held on Grosse Pointe North’s campus. The purpose was to show community-wide support to those affected by suicide and to bring awareness to a wide variety of mental health resources available in our area.
Members of North’s Peer 2 Peer club worked with The Family Center to host the event. While attendance was free, any donations went to Kevin’s Song, a local non-profit whose mission is to empower communities to save lives and to offer hope and healing to survivors.
Speakers included Kevin Fischer, Executive Director of NAMI-Detroit (National Alliance on Mental Illness) and La Toya Bond, a radio/podcast host, author and suicide awareness advocate. Both spoke about how the loss of family members to suicide closely impacted them.
P2P members, introduced by their adviser and North social worker Lauren Klein, also spoke.
“Sometimes we forget to prioritize our mental health,” said Kristina Sabas, a ninth grader. “I think it’s really important that we do prioritize our mental health because it can affect even the smallest things in our lives. I hope by being here today that you all gain a sense of community because we all deserve that.”
“I joined Peer 2 Peer so I can be the person I needed when I was struggling with my mental health,” said ninth grader Aine Mahoney. “I am very grateful to be in this community that is so supportive in talking about mental health and making sure that people know that they’re not less than when they struggle with it. I also want to show the light that is at the end of the tunnel even though the tunnel may be filled with lots of ups and downs, but there’s a beautiful flower garden at the end."
“I joined Peer to Peer because helping others and making a difference is important to me,” said Marisa Licavoli, a junior. “Educating teenagers on mental health and decreasing the stigma surrounding it is something that I am very passionate about. It’s so important how to recognize others that are struggling and to be able to create a safe outlet for them. This walk is one of many ways we can help educate each other on mental illness and create a loving and welcoming environment for those who are struggling.”
A 1.5-mile walk down Vernier and along Lake Shore Road followed the speeches. Vendors offering a variety of mental health resources remained for the entirety of the event.
Enjoy this brief video that captures a bit of the spirit of the day.
Partners in time
Second graders in Sarah Neely’s’ classroom at Maire Elementary visited their pen pals at The Helm at the Boll Life Center last Thursday for a game of Bingo.
The students began their correspondence with their senior pals earlier in the year. Partners in Time has been a partnership for the last 14 years, starting when the senior center was called Services for Older Citizens and was housed at The Neighborhood Club.
A walk through time
The second graders also enjoyed a walk down history lane on their own school grounds. To answer the question, “Why should we learn about Maire history?” the students visited several sites on school property. Stops on the tour included the cornerstone, the building plaque, a portrait of Lewis E. Maire, the historic place marker, and the site of the time capsule that is not to be opened until 2036.
Afterwards, former Maire teacher Donna Bednarczyk talked the students through the historical significance behind the two murals created 25 years apart by the same muralist, Dennis Orlowski.
“The students were amazed to watch actual video footage of the 1936 construction of Maire and the kids’ first day,” Mrs. Neely said.
German students study impressionists at the DIA
On May 18, Grosse Pointe South's Advanced Placement and Level 4 German students took a field trip to the Detroit Institute of Arts to see German impressionist artists firsthand. Students were challenged to a scavenger hunt in the DIA using an app called Goosechase, in which they had to complete missions throughout the museum.
"It was a wonderful experience as our four (and in some cases, five) years together come to a close," said German teacher Rebecca Petrilli.
Rotary Awards 2023
Service above self
On Wednesday, May 24, Judy Masserang and Mark Weber announced the Grosse Pointe Rotary Foundation Max Gardner Interact Scholarship recipient and six Frank Sladen Scholarships. All of the recipients participate in Interact, the high school Rotary Club where young people learn leadership skills and the value of “Service Above Self” while having fun along the way.
Interact exists in 145 countries, giving it a wide scope and impact. There are 343,000 Interact members in 15,000 Interact clubs. The Grosse Pointe Rotary Club sponsors the Interact Club of South High School and has long given scholarships to Interact Club leaders. The Interact Scholarship recently was renamed in honor and memory of Max Gardner, who was an active member of the club for 41 years and served as club president and district governor. He was a psychiatrist by profession and helped Rotary and the community in many ways, especially with youth. His son-in-law, Mark Zmyslowski, who is also a past club president and past district governor, and Max’s daughter Gail, attended the scholarship celebration.
Festivities began with Kevin Cox, a member of Grosse Pointe Rotary club and the faculty sponsor of the South Interact Club, introducing the 2023 Max Gardner Scholarship winner, South’s Meredith Tiderington, and the members of this year’s Interact leadership team.
This year’s Interact leadership team included:
Publicist Anamarie Garberding
Treasurer Maeve Hix
Secretary Mimi Mager
Vice President Jane Maxwell
President Meredith Tiderington
Meredith helped guide the club through many service projects this year, including:
Fall and spring Moross Greenway clean-ups
Assisting with the Sunrise Rotary Grosse Pointe Run
A successful book drive benefiting Detroit Public Schools Community District
Two snack-pack sessions to benefit community and home supports in Detroit
Promoting the Kids Against Hunger session
Holiday card creation and kindness notes for The Helm and local senior facilities
In addition to her leadership duties via Interact, Meredith has served through Soar tutoring and The Children's Center of Detroit. As a student athlete, she excelled on South’s field hockey team and lacrosse teams, and has coached field hockey through the Neighborhood Club. She has also been involved in DECA, National Honor Society, and South’s Link Crew mentoring program. Meredith plans to study engineering at Purdue next fall.
Next the six Frank Sladen award winners were introduced and shared their future plans.
Heavenly Reeves, North High School, is heading to Michigan State University and plans to study psychology.
Martin Daher, North High School, is heading to Notre Dame, where he plans to major in electrical engineering
Desmond Charlet, North High School, is heading to MIAT College of Technology and plans to study aviation technology
Jane Kuhnlein, South High School, is heading to University of Michigan and plans to study economics.
Madison Duff, South High School, is heading to Brown University and plans to study applied mathematics, business and finance.
Savvanna Cardaris, South High School, is heading to Oakland University to study business and is currently working on her esthetician license through the Co-Op program at South
Dr. Dan Hartley, Director of Secondary Instruction, thanked the Rotary for their generous support of our students and congratulated the diverse group of scholarship recipients. Deb Fuga, Executive Assistant to the Superintendent, was also given a certificate of appreciation for Service above Self coordinating the scholarship process with the Rotary club.
More about the scholarships
Max Gardner Scholarships are awarded to graduating students who have actively participated in the Interact Club, are dedicated students, active in the community, and will attend a college, university, or trade school within the next two years.
Frank Sladen scholarships are awarded mainly on character, challenge, and service above self - all passions relevant to the life of Frank Sladen and to the ideals of the Grosse Pointe Rotary Club. Frank devoted his life to the mission of Rotary and was a Michigan District Governor, and was a Rotary International Director. Frank also served as a distinguished board member of the Grosse Pointe Public School System.
To learn more about Rotary, please visit https://www.grossepointerotary.org.