May 27, 2022
Maire second grader Zachary Watt selected Ford Motor Company founder Henry Ford for his Living Museum research project.
Maire students bring history to life
PTO Council President Meghan Parent has five children – one in college, three at Grosse Pointe South, and one at Pierce Middle School. All five of them have fond memories of participating in Maire Elementary’s Living Museum as second graders.
“They found the research materials, they wrote the speech, rehearsed it and got to present it,” Meghan recalls. “It was a study in learning how to do research, learning how to do public speaking and how to present to their friends. It was such a valuable lesson.”
Meghan is happy to see the tradition continuing on at Maire this year. Walking the halls of the building this week and last were the likes of Amelia Earhart, Barack Obama, Elizabeth Hamilton, Dr. Seuss, Temple Grandin, Martin Luther King, Jr., Pocahontas, Dolly Parton, Horner Stryker, Simone Byles, Harriet Tubman, Sally Ride, Bruce Lee, Jan Pol, Frida Kahlo, and Thomas Edison and his contemporary and friend, Henry Ford -- among many others.
All three second grade classes, under the instruction of their teachers, Gina Green, Danielle Miller and Sarah Neely, opened the doors of their Living Museum on separate days for their students to present their historical figures to their peers, families and special guests.
"The Living Museum is a highlight in the second-grade experience," Principal Ryan Francis said. "Students are able to explore their interests and select a person that has influenced the world in a positive way. Each student takes a deep dive into researching each person, learning all about their childhood, accomplishments, and also their failures. So many of the people researched have overcome obstacles or setbacks, but persevered anyway. The Living Museum showcases leaders and inspires our students to be leaders that can change the world. By having the community and other classrooms come in and see our second grade students dressed up as their person, we hope they get inspired too."
Maire second graders opened the doors to their Living Museum this week and last. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your guess on what historical figures are pictured in this photo montage. Anyone who guesses correctly will receive a 100-anniversary commemorative water bottle.
A "Who's Who" of community leaders filled the gymnasium of Ferry Elementary School during the Community Luncheon on Wednesday, May 25.
Luncheon connects community
The 10th annual Community Luncheon celebrated community and service on Wednesday. In attendance at Ferry Elementary were mayors, city managers, police chiefs and judges from all five Grosse Pointes and Harper Woods, school administrators, clergy members, and representatives from media, business associations, hospitals, and local organizations such as the Grosse Pointe Board of Realtors, League of Women Voters of Grosse Pointe, NAACP Grosse Pointes & Harper Woods Branch, The Ford House, Grosse Pointe Chamber of Commerce, The Family Center of Grosse Pointe & Harper Woods, the Grosse Pointe Historical Society and The War Memorial.
Principal Jodie Randazzo welcomed the guests by telling a brief history of the school, which was named after Dexter Ferry, a philanthropist with a successful seed company who commissioned the Grosse Pointe Public Library and contributed to the development of the Detroit Institute of Arts.
“Something that makes Ferry unique is our diverse learners,” Mrs. Randazzo pointed out. “We have three categorical classrooms of children with diverse learning needs, one of which created the centerpieces at your table. We also have a magnet class and a variety of general education classrooms, all who collaborate and learn together every day.
“Ferry’s inclusiveness aligns with our district’s strategic plan and creates a positive influence on our community, much like Dexter Ferry,” she added. “I happen to think Dexter Ferry would be very proud of his namesake.”
Superintendent Jon Dean thanked Mrs. Randazzo and the Ferry staff for serving as hosts and the Grosse Pointe News and owner and publisher Sean Cotton for sponsoring the luncheon.
In celebrating 100 years of excellence in the school district, he noted it was important to ask “how and why we got here.”
“It’s pretty simple,” he said. “This is a great community. We have great institutions, we have great cities, and as the backbone of that we have great schools.”
Important to preparing for the next 100 years, he continued, were the mission and vision of the district’s Strategic Plan to continue to cultivate academic excellence by fostering curiosity, creating a culture of unity, developing leaders, and providing equity of access and opportunity.
“The last tenet of our strategic plan is creating a culture of family and community engagement,” Dr. Dean concluded. “I don’t need to talk about that. You’re all here today to engage with our community to make this a better place, celebrating the past 100 years, and figuring out how to make this the best next 100 years for everyone in this community.”
The celebration of community and service continued with a presentation on the contributions of the organizations represented at the luncheon and how they are all interconnected, directly benefiting the school system and the community as a whole.
The luncheon concluded with a performance by Ferry’s fourth grade choir under the direction of music teacher Elly Scannell. Immediately afterwards, fourth grade members of the Student Lighthouse Team provided tours for interested guests.
Click here to view a montage of 100-anniversary promotional videos that played as guests arrived for the luncheon. These videos were created by Grosse Pointe North and Grosse Pointe South’s advanced TV production classes.
Fourth graders served as tour guides for luncheon guests. Pictured with Grosse Pointe Woods Mayor Art Bryant are, from left, Avery Rodeghier, Sydney Jensen, Ada Cavanagh, Silas Venet and Terren Sloan.
North student named U.S. Presidential Scholar Semifinalist
Sophia Graham, a member of Grosse Pointe North’s Class of 2022, was among 17 high school seniors across Michigan and 620 nationwide selected as a semifinalist for the 2022 U.S. Presidential Scholars Program. Over 5,000 students were identified as candidates in this program. This means she is in the top .0222% in the nation! Sophia is headed to Yale University in the fall.
Scholars are initially chosen in partnership between the Michigan Department of Education and the Michigan Council for History Education. They are then recommended by MCHE to the U.S. Department of Education based on their achievements in many areas – academic and artistic success, accomplishment in career and technical fields, leadership, and involvement in school and the community.
The U.S. Presidential Scholars program was established in 1964 by President Lyndon B. Johnson to recognize and honor some of this nation’s most distinguished graduating high school seniors.
Pictured, front row, from left, are Dalina Kokoshi, Paige Garbo and Elle Sutorka; back row, Eva Zoyes, Bethany Strong, Nefeli Dionysopoulos, Victoria Porter, Mari Macuga, Verity Suson and Liam Denner.
Pierce students win social studies awards
Nine Pierce sixth graders brought home awards in this year’s Michigan Social Studies Olympiad.
The theme for the 2022 Olympiad, hosted by the Michigan Council for the Social Studies, was “Who We Are and What Unites Us.”
This theme explores the famous quote by President John F. Kennedy, “What unites us is far greater than what divides us."
According to the Council website, the hope was the theme would “inspire students to examine and discover who we are as an individual, a group, a nation, and as a global society. Through this exploration, students will discover that what unites us is much greater than our differences and how embracing our differences can in fact bring us closer together.”
Students could participate in any category to demonstrate the theme. All sixth-grade students participated and were judged at the school level. The school winners moved on to be judged at the state level with other middle school students from across Michigan. Pierce sixth graders competed against other sixth to eighth graders from Michigan schools.
The following students won awards at the state level: Elle Sutorka, second place, collage poster; Mari Macuga, first place, artistic poster; Eva Zoyes, second place, poetry; Verity Suson, honorable mention, poetry; Liam Denner, honorable mention, current event editorial essay; Bethany Strong, third place, collage poster; Tori Porter and Dalina Kokoshi, honorable mention, Take a Stand essay; and Paige Garbo, third place, quiltathon.
In celebration of their success, the winners enjoyed a pizza party on Thursday hosted by social studies teachers and Olympiad advisers Andrea Doherty and Becky Churray.
Field trip for English learners
Over 30 students in the district's English Learners program went on a field trip to the Detroit Historical Museum last Saturday. They were accompanied by several staff members and Grosse Pointe North students, who helped chaperone and, according to EL District Coordinator Nancy Rieth, "did an excellent job interacting with our younger students."
The students learned about American culture and Detroit history. Michael Heenan, art teacher at Maire and Mason Elementary, helped design the EL T-shirts for the event.
ALUMNI THROUGH THE DECADES
Grosse Pointe South High School
Class of 2017
Erykah Benson has always loved school – which explains why, at age 23, she is pursuing a doctorate in sociology at the University of Michigan.
Erykah moved to Grosse Pointe when she was in middle school and attended Pierce, then Grosse Pointe South. Both experiences were "awesome," she recalls, and gave her the opportunity to get involved in activities outside of her passion for school.
Her love for journalism began at Pierce, where she worked on the student paper.
At South, she served as a copy editor, page editor and, her senior year, editor-in-chief at The Tower.
“That was really foundational to my experiences as a scholar and a writer,” Erykah said. “It was pretty much the center of my experience of learning the skills of being a writer, and that inquisitiveness that is necessary to being a journalist is something I carried with me into college. Eventually, even though I didn’t end up pursuing journalism per se, I can apply those same investigative skills as a researcher and sociologist.”
While Tower was her main focus outside of her studies, she also was a member of the National Honor Society and the Gay-Straight Alliance, and participated on South’s softball team, which she describes as one of her favorite memories due to her teammates and coaches.
“I loved my softball team,” she said. “Even though we didn’t win a lot, every experience was awesome.”
Erykah largely attributes the academic foundation she built to her formative years at South and gives a “big shout-out” to her teachers.
After graduating in 2017, Erykah attended Michigan State University, where she received a bachelor's degree in interdisciplinary studies in social science.
What ultimately led her to her current field is the research she became heavily involved in while at MSU. A member of the Social Science Scholars Program, she was among a cohort of students who conducted research, worked closely with the faculty, and took on leadership roles on campus and in the community. This program also afforded her the opportunity to study abroad in the United Kingdom.
Erykah’s undergraduate research focused on an image content analysis of high school history textbooks and how they tell the stories of racial and ethnic minorities through visuals. While this research was put on pause during the pandemic, she started up a research team in 2019 and that work is being carried on by a group of undergraduates who won an award for it last year.
Erykah graduated from MSU in the spring of 2021 and, inspired by the passion for research she developed as an undergraduate, started her Ph.D. program at U of M the following fall. What she finds most exciting about research is not only the discovery of something new, but being part of scholarly investigations that preceded her work.
“To be able to contribute to that conversation is a really exciting part of the research,” she said.
Erykah specializes in demography, in particular population studies, and feels fortunate to be at a university that is a major hub in survey research. Her particular areas of interest are residential segregation, economic well-being, and entrepreneurship in America.
These focus areas evolved from her interest in food desserts and economic disparities that occur among certain urban and rural communities.
“I’m really interested in this deep, long history in the United States of the inequities that are rooted in racism, that are rooted in the way that different groups of people have been relegated to certain areas in an urban or rural landscape, and all of it is due to the inequitable distribution of resources and power,” she said. “Grosse Pointe and Detroit specifically are a really important story to tell in that history.”
As someone who switched majors a lot as an undergraduate, Erykah's advice to college-bound seniors today is, "Don't put so much pressure on yourself to figure it all out, because there will always be something connected to your interest. It's OK to change."
She recommends having a tentative five-year plan, but remaining "open to the opportunities that open up before you.”
She also recommends finding good mentors. She found that mentor at Grosse Pointe South in Tower adviser Kaitlin Edgerton.
“Edge gave me so much support and continues to give me so much support,” Erykah said, adding that since leaving South, she has continued to gain “a really good circle of mentors in positions that I want to pursue – people I look up to and can always turn to for advice.”
Nominate your favorite GPPSS alum!
We are partnering with the Grosse Pointe Alumni & Friends Association to feature 100 alumni as part of the district's 100th anniversary. Click here for details on how to nominate an alum of your choice.
Class of 2022 Clap-out Date Change
Mark your calendars for the Senior Clap-out at elementary schools on Monday, June 6, from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m., rescheduled from Tuesday, June 7. This treasured tradition gives elementary students the opportunity to celebrate the seniors as they visit their former elementary schools in their caps and gowns. Afterwards, members of the Class of 2022 pose outdoors for a group photo.
Our Vision: One Inclusive Community Learning Together
Our Mission: Cultivate Educational Excellence By:
- Empowering Students
- Valuing Diversity
- Inspiring Curiosity
- Pushing Possibilities