An Exciting Board Meeting!
If you have ever watched a board meeting, you are scratching your head with the title of this week’s blog. Board meetings are seldom celebrated for their entertainment value. What made the May 11 meeting so much fun? I can think of three reasons.
- The Board presented lifetime athletic passes to Bill Wagner and Brad Tanner. The two gentlemen epitomize dedication and support for our schools. As long as I’ve known them, they have not wavered in that support. In fact, it seems to only get stronger. It was a privilege to see them honored in this manner
- The TroBots, WLHS Robotics team, introduced their team and shared their successes this year. The team showed off its award-winning robot. The team concluded its presentation to the Board by donating back to WLPS $858. The team sets a goal of fundraising $30,000. They slightly exceeded it this year and wanted the school to re-invest in its science curriculum. This gesture touched my heart because it represented a sense of giving to local causes. WLPS teachers and staff work every year to establish patterns of support for our community. Our goal in doing this is to offer assistance to people in our community who need help. AND, we do this work with our students to show them the importance of protecting their community. The Trobots got it!! What a classy group of students and volunteers.
- Finally, the BOE voted in support of continuing the Sinking Fund. The continuation of this special tax will require voter approval on August 7, 2018. I will be putting out more information on this issue in the coming weeks but here is a snapshot of what the Sinking Fund will do for WLPS:
- The law for sinking funds was changed recently and now allows for device purchasing. Our current Sinking Fund does not allow us to buy technology devices. With many computers reaching 10 years and older, WLPS needs to update to more reliable and current devices. Further, by the time we are done replacing the really old ones, the computers we purchased for students in the past two years will be ready for replacement. Thus, a 10-year plan was supported.
- Security updates at all schools is an ongoing process and one we continuously evaluate. Our most immediate expenditures would be a redesign of the elementary entrances. We are currently doing this at the middle/high school.
- Facility repairs were started immediately when the current Sinking Fund was supported. Parking lots alone are a big need but equipment is always going to need replacing, and it is unpredictable. The BOE doesn’t want to raid instructional budgets to pay for equipment needed to run buildings. In the past two years, over $70,000 has been spent on equipment repairs alone. We have avoided program cuts by having a Sinking Fund.
- Lastly, energy conservation and efficiencies are being evaluated and will be implemented. If it saves us money in the long run and reduces the overall demand for resources, then we should be evaluating it.
I don’t know if any meeting in the near future will make me as proud as this, so I thought I would share why sometimes board meetings remind me that it is a great day to be a Trojan.
With May being Mental Health Awareness month, WLHS has been offering a series of educational groups for students exploring a variety of mental health topics including bullying, self-care, and mental health challenges lead by our Project SUCCESS counselor Jessica Merrill.
Ms. Merrill is a Licensed Psychologist and Behavioral Specialist with a Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology. She has worked in outpatient individual counseling, taught DBT and other forms of groups, given presentations, worked in psychiatric facilities, and a few other experiences. She is on our campus Mondays and Fridays to serve as a resource for our students.
“Working with the students at WLPS is a cool and very different opportunity for me because I get to get involved in early intervention and help mold and create habits that will help students succeed throughout their life and hopefully navigate and manage their struggles in a much healthier manner. as both teens and then as adults, than those who have never had this opportunity,” Ms. Merrill shared.
The structure of the group changes depending on what topics the group is covering, the group members personalities and interactions. Generally, there is a combination of a strong emphasis on education about the topic, interaction and discussion, occasionally an activity, handouts, snacks, and even rewards earned through various forms of attendance and participation.
Ms. Merrill said though over 100 students expressed interest in the groups, attendance has started slow so far, she attributes in part to the stigma that is attached to mental health care. However, she says the support of connecting with other people and the empowerment from learning and understanding how to not only develop healthy skills but also how to implement those skills is invaluable. She encourages everyone to take a proactive approach to mental health the same way one would approach physical health.
“Life can be challenging and EVERYONE encounters experiences where these skills and practices will come in handy to help us navigate those moments not only in a crisis but on a daily basis for their own happiness, peace and well being. My goal is to help you live life to your fullest potential and to be the best you that you can be!” she shared.
This is all part of Project SUCCESS, a substance abuse prevention and early intervention program offered to all high schools and middle schools in Livingston County. On top of the groups for Mental Health Awareness month, Ms. Merrill has provided groups on grief, family matters, depression, anxiety, a boy’s group and anger management throughout the year.
If you would like to get in touch with Ms. Merril, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are the remaining group meetings and the topics discussed.
Mental Health Challenges Education: Learning Disorders (ADHD, Autism, Dyslexia), Anxiety, Worry and Stress, Eating Disorders, Substance Abuse
May 21: 5th Period
June 1: 6th Period
Self-Care: Sleep Hygiene, Understanding How Stress Affects You, Wise Mind, Relaxation Techniques
May 21: 6th Period
June 1: 2nd Period
Bullying: Understanding Bullying, Self-esteem, How to make a difference
May 21: 2nd Period
June 1: 3rd Period
Taking Learning Out of the Classroom
It might be a shorter list to tell you what grades haven’t been out of the classroom so far this month experiencing what they have been learning about out in the world first-hand. We love it when our students have the opportunity to leave our buildings and experience what they are learning in a new way. And we are dedicated to making this happen Preschool through 12th grade. Here is just a sampling of the fun an educational experiences this month.
- 7th-12th grade music students went to Mackinac Island
- Early Childhood Center took their preschoolers to the Cranbrook Institute of Science
- Physics and math went to Cedar Point
- 7th grade headed to Abrams Planetarium at Michigan State University
- Sports Management class attended Careers and Educational day at a Toledo Mud Hens game
- 3rd and 4th graders went to Mackinac Island to experience Michigan history
- First graders went to Hudson Mills to study plants
- Sophomores head to Washtenaw Community College
- Early Childhood Center goes to Potter Park Zoo
- 3rd grade will be going to downtown Whitmore Lake to plant flowers and clean up the community, ending with pizza party provided by the Downtown Development Association
- Our middle school students and 3rd and 4th graders also have in-school field trips next week with the Ann Arbor Hands on Museum coming to WLMS and the Native American Experience coming to WLES.
Project Playground Update
We wrap up week 10 of Project Playground (two weeks to go) having broken the $40,000 mark. Thanks to a successful Matching Monday lead by Ken and Wendy Dignan, a fantastic WLFEE Zumbathon and generous donations from Meijer, Whitmore Lake Health Equity Leadership Team, Kiwanis Club of Whitmore Lake and all our other individual investors, we have raised $41,462.
We will be back with another Matching Monday lead by the Kiwanis Club of Whitmore Lake. And we still have the $20 Hungry Howies coupon cards available for purchase, with $15 of the $20 going to Project Playground. And for those interested in helping build the new playground on Saturday, July 21, you can submit your interest and availability HERE.
And lastly, our students and staff also recently created a video about Project Playground to enter a content from KaBOOM that I wanted to share with you all. You can view it HERE Thank you for your continued support.