It isn’t lost on me that our theme for this year was #BestYearEver. When we chose that theme, it wasn’t a declaration of this being the best year there ever was. It was more of a challenge for all of us to be intentional with our time, to try new things, to push ourselves to find an opportunity to grow no matter what the year may hold. Well, we never anticipated this year would include a pandemic forcing us all to stay home, close our schools and sacrifice a lot of the things that for all of us make it a good year, let alone the best year. However, we are Trojans. And every day is a great day to be a Trojan because we make it that way. It doesn’t surprise me, that when you take some time to think about it, many of our Trojans have found ways to make the best out of this challenging time.
To jump-start Distance Learning, middle and high school teacher, Carrie Betz, asked her English 10 students to submit photo/narratives titled “4 Bright Spots Amid the Gloom.” Inspired, I thought it would be a great exercise to grab a hold of some of the good things happening in our community and share them in hopes of brightening your day. Have four bright spots of your own? Send them our way through any of our social channels or firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to share them as well.
Find the Helpers
A mom of a WLES first and fifth-grader turned to a local Facebook group to share her struggles with distance learning in hopes of letting other parents who might be feeling overwhelmed know that they were not alone. Little did she know she would get this message from WLHS senior, Gareth Romine.
“When I saw her post, I almost immediately sent her a message because I felt that this is such a hard time for everyone, so if I could ease her stress and help her focus on her own work, then I [would] do anything to help her children with their school work,” Gareth shared.
While Jennifer hasn’t taken Gareth up on his offer just yet, she has shared his offer with a few other people and they may reach out for help. The impact of his offer went beyond just helping with school work, though.
“[I was] surprised and impressed that someone of his generation has such an amazing attitude and would reach out to help. We need more teens like this,” Jennifer said.
Gareth credits his parents for teaching him the importance of helping others, as well as following the example many of his teachers have set over the years.
“I hope my offer made her realize that here at Whitmore Lake there are always people willing to help and that’s what makes this school system and community unique,” added Gareth.
I couldn’t have said it any better. If you are a parent or a student and think some extra support would make distant learning more do-able, message us at email@example.com and we will put you in touch with Gareth or another one of our outstanding seniors ready and willing to help.
Let the Games Begin
When the MHSAA made the decision to cancel the Spring sports season, it was disheartening for our student-athletes, to say the least. Athletic Director Brad McCormack’s video response captured most of our feelings about it. You can check it out HERE.
As they say, when one door closes, another one opens. After a conversation with a WLHS parent, Paul Ellinger, about ways to fill the void for all students, the concept of a socially-distant competition began to take form. After collaborating with other MIAC league Athletic Directors and putting social media channels to use, the MIAC Games came to life! Brad provides a great overview in a video HERE.
The first game of the competition rolled out this week. Each school in our league will choose a male and female player to compete in a game of H-O-R-S-E via Instagram. Representing the Trojans this week is freshman Kristina Peach and senior Brendan Ely. A new game will be announced each week.
The MIAC Games aren’t JUST sport competitions. There will be singing, dancing, and engineering competitions in an effort to engage all students.
“We are hoping to keep the kids competitively engaged and create lasting relationships with the students from other schools. We also hope the kids have fun,” Brad said.
Head on over to wl_athletics on Instagram and Whitmore Lake Athletics on Facebook for a front-row seat to the competition.
Our district’s creativity hasn’t gone unnoticed either. Brad McCormack joined Plymouth Christian Academy’s Athletic Director, Matt Windle, on StateChamps! Livestream to share information about the MIAC games. Watch the broadcast HERE.
One group of students at the top of our minds is the Class of 2020. In an effort to make sure their fellow classmates feel like they aren’t being forgotten and are still celebrated, the senior class officers created an Instagram account, 2020wltrojans. The senior class officers include President, Gareth Romine; Co Vice President, Catherine Romine; Co Vice President, Zachary Brady; Treasurer, Abbigail Fraga; and Secretary, Eveliina Taylor.
Seniors can submit their senior picture, their plans for after high school, and a message they would like to share and the creators will design and post a special spotlight. Classmates, family, and community members can then leave well-wishes for that graduate in the comments.
Catherine Romine, co vice president, said “A lot of amazing things have been going on to honor us and this is what the officers thought they could do to honor our graduates! It brings less focus to the end of high school and more focus on the excitement of the future!”
What makes the future more exciting is the attention these posts have gotten from the college and universities students are attending this fall. While we have been reposting these profiles on our social media, the colleges and universities have also been reposting giving a special social media welcome to our Trojans, adding an extra element of excitement for our students.
I commend the senior officers for finding a way to honor their classmates in these abnormal times.
Ain’t No Mountain High Enough
One thing that has not changed with the way we do business at WLPS is our staff’s dedication to moving mountains to reach our students. They constantly come up with creative, personalized, and heartfelt ways to support their students and their families. I wish I could list every example that I’ve come across, but I’m told these blogs should have a word limit. However, know these tidbits are a collective shout out to our WLPS staff for everything they have done, are doing, and will do as we make the most of learning at home.
- Jennifer Petzke coordinated a virtual picnic with 42 eighth-graders on Zoom. They all brought their lunches and had a chance to talk and catch up.
- First-grade teacher Tara Ouillette invited her students to record themselves reading books, and she leaves her students voice messages to give them encouragement and help them with their reading skills.
- After seeing a student who was struggling with his grades and his mom on their porch while out dropping off groceries to her mom, fifth and sixth-grade ELA teacher Patti Kobeck stopped to reassure him that if he worked diligently over the next few weeks, he could end the school year successfully.
- Second-grade teacher Kim Bakker posted an assignment in Seesaw for her second-graders that asked families to have a dance party and share a video. The Kmiecik family didn’t hold back, and luckily we are able to share that video with you all HERE.
- Sue Corrie made videos of herself doing fun science experiments, cooking lessons, and phonic lessons to inspire students.
- Tara Muchow picked up a school iPad and delivered it to one of her student’s homes. (He completed his first assignment 20 minutes later.)
- Fifth and sixth-grade math teacher Kara Weinstein tracked down a student on Instagram when she hadn’t heard from them.
I could go on. Again, none of this surprises me. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. We have the best teachers and staff around. Whether we are in our buildings or not, they make things happen for our kids. They are indeed a bright spot.