Students Share Ferndale Schools Experience at Community Breakfast
By, Crystal A. Proxmire (2/1/2010)
“I love this school so much. My dream is to come back to Ferndale to be a history teacher,” said Ferndale High School senior Bridget Salogar as she and nineteen fellow students answered questions at the annual Ferndale Schools Community Breakfast.
The event, held at Ferndale High School on Wednesday, January 27, 2010, introduced community and business leaders to students from Ferndale High School and University High School as well as principals from all grade levels.
“It’s clear that our students have had the kind of successes that make us proud and are indicative of the education afforded to them here,” said Superintendent Gary Meier. As visitors from the Chamber of Commerce, parents and newly elected councilperson Melanie Piana enjoyed a light breakfast, the Superintendent gave an overview of the school district’s “points of pride” for 2009. The Ferndale High School Marching Band took first place in the State Championships. School Board of Education Vice President Keith Warnick won a Level 1 Award of Merit from the Michigan Association of School Boards. And in 2009, 98% of University High School seniors graduated in 2009, with 99% of them going on to college and 1% going into the military.
“It’s easy to look at our schools and compare them with other districts. But in order to grow we need to look at how we are improving from within. It’s important to see how we’re doing compared to our baseline,” Meier said. “Our test scores are going up and more students are succeeding. We have many different students with different types of needs.”
Students spoke about their personal experiences at both district high schools. The young people talked about involvement in groups like National Honor Society, student government, sports, band, school newspaper, and business-focused groups like DECA.
“The school provided me with tons of opportunities to try different things, and go into any career field,” said Halara Johnson, a senior at University High School. “My personal choice is business technology. I plan to build a business empire someday.” Johnson is currently debating between Michigan State University and Perdue.
In addition to the academic and extracurricular environment, students also valued the culture of their schools. “I like that we’re small. We don’t have the problems that bigger schools have with people not fitting in or with bullys or anything like that. Everybody knows you here,” said University High School senior Alexandria Elliot.
At Ferndale High School the climate seems to be the same. “I love the diversity. You’re not just hanging out with the same type of people that you grew up with. Chaldeans don’t just talk to Chaldeans, Caucasians don’t just talk to Caucasians. We’re all here to learn and get along and I don’t think it’s like that at other schools,” said Ferndale High School Senior Class President Eva Sinawi.
Principals from lower-grade level schools also talked about what their schools have to offer younger students. Deana Krause, principal at Roosevelt Primary, talked about the various ways they help young minds get focused on learning. The school has over 400 students in grades K-3. “Every morning we play soft music for the first five minutes of the day. That gives parents a chance to say goodbye and lets students know that it’s time to learn.” They also have football players from Ferndale High School come every Thursday to interact with the kids, and they have their own form of student government called Kindness Club.
Meier says that he expects Ferndale Schools to continue to improve. In the past year Ferndale High School has created a Dean of Students position with an academic performance focus. Meier’s two main goals are financial stability and student achievement. Last year the district operated at a slight surplus. “Next year things are going to be tougher. There will be additional cuts in State funding, but we will find a way to continue to achieve our goals so that we can continue to offer a good education for our children.”