Friday, December 16, 2016

News and Notes 3.12

Snow days are big news in a community so dedicated to its schools. I mean BIG news. My Twitter stays dormant for months. Then, the temperature drops and a snowflake falls and I'm besieged with Twitter comments, which I believe are called tweets? Everybody is encouraging me to make the "right" decision. In this particular case, closing was the right choice, and I was happy students enjoyed a day off. 

But, business didn't stop happening in our schools on Monday. Many departments functioned like no snow had fallen at all. And, we even held a Board Meeting. At that meeting, like many others before it, we did business. We honored a couple of former coaches (Bob Henry, Phil Davison, Ron Bender, and Cindi Lees) with lifetime passes to sporting events. We made financial transactions. We listened to student reports. New BOE members, John Meadows and Lee Cole were introduced. And, we said goodbye to two extremely dedicated members: Rita LaForest and Lynn Slagle. 

Rita and Lynn, I said it on Monday but not enough people heard it. Thank you for helping lead this district for many years. We have excellent facilities, produce high-quality graduates, honor dozens of these graduates with scholarships, and do it all in a safe, nurturing environment because all those things are important to both of you. Your "kids first" approach to Board level leadership will be missed, but you certainly left your mark. Below you can enjoy some parting thoughts Rita and Lynn shared as they reflected on their time serving on the board. 

And Rita and Lynn, enjoy your free Monday nights.

(Special shout to Serenity Woodworking out of South Lyon for constructing a few more of our special retirement gifts, and WLHS alumni, Alex Ellsworth, for adding the WL emblem).

Interview with Lynn Slagle
Q: How long did you serve on the WLPS Board of Education
A: I have served on the WLPS Board of Education for over 13 years.

Q: Why did you run for office 13 years ago?
A: It has always been a belief to give back to my community. Education is very important to me. Public schools allow everyone an equal chance to learn regardless of race, religion, socio-economic status, etc. I wanted to be a part of the team to keep educational opportunities alive in Whitmore Lake.

Q: What have been some of your proudest moments as a BOE member?
A: There are so many proud moments; personally my proudest moments were handling both of my children their diplomas when they graduated. Building the new high school was also a personal favorite. The proposed annexation with Ann Arbor Public Schools may have failed at the polls, but I had the opportunity to work with a fantastic group of people. The project brought our community together--students, parents, business owners, senior citizens and community members united in a way that only a small community can. I am proud to be a Trojan.

Q: What lead to you not running for an additional term?
A: It was an honor to be given the opportunity by the voters to serve this district. I have teamed with some great people to make things happen over the years. It is time now for someone else to have that opportunity.

Q: What are your plans in the near future?
A: We welcomed our first grandchild in 2015, and we plan on spending time with him and our family as much as possible.

Q: What are your hopes for the future of WLPS?
A: In these trying times, with everything in constant change mode, I hope that WLPS will continue to hold high standards for the students and staff. People can, will, and have risen to  the occasion for our students.

Q: Any words of wisdom, encouragement, parting words for the remaining board members?
A: Always do what you feel in your heart is "right for the kids of WLPS."

Q: What makes WLPS such a special place, in your opinion?
A: The people.

Q: Anything else to add?
A: Thank you to those who elected me. It is a very humbling experience to have so many people put their faith in you, especially where their children are concerned.

Interview with Rita LaForest
Q: How long have you served on the BOE at Whitmore Lake Public School?
A: Six Years
Q: What lead you to join the BOE in the first place?
A: To serve the students and community of Whitmore Lake.
Q: What have been some of our proudest moments as a BOE member?
A: We did not go into deficit spending and due to our wonderful teachers and staff, were able to give students a stellar education.
Q: What lead to you not run for an additional term?
A: There are health issues in my immediate family that have to be my priority. I will still be serving on the Community Scholarship Fund board, volunteering in the high school media center on Wednesdays, Feeding His Sheep and Listening Friends.

Q: What are your plans in the near future?
A: I would like to take my grandson on some great adventures. I would also like to visit my children and family members who live out of state.

Q: What are your hopes for the future of WLPS?
A: I hope that we can continue to educate our students to be able to do wonderful things in their futures. I have always loved the small school district where we all know each other.

Q: What words of wisdom/encouragement do you have for remaining board members?
A: Keep up the good work. Do not get discouraged even when you have to make tough decisions. It has its rewards.
Q: What advice would you give to parents and community members who are looking for ways to support Whitmore Lake Public Schools?
A: There are many opportunities to support the school district for parents and community members by attending student programs in athletics, music, theatre, Robotics and Quiz Bowl competitions, serving on committees like Community Scholarship Fund, Feeding His Sheep, Parent/Teacher Associations, and Athletic Associations for all age levels are some of the ways to become involved. For those with less time, Listening Friends at the elementary school or donations to specific organizations are always appreciated.

Q: What makes Whitmore Lake Public Schools such a special place, in your opinion?
A: I have been employed by Whitmore Lake Public Schools for 26 years and on the school board for six years. I went to a high school in Detroit (Denby) where there were 3,000 students in grades 10-12. Students got lost in the numbers. At Whitmore Lake Public Schools, we know the students and families because of our small size. This is a real plus.
Students that have graduated from here are successful. They work as doctors, lawyers, teachers, administrators, veterinarians, artists, musicians, in the trades and the military to name a few. This district and community care about our students and encourage them to follow their dreams.
Q: Anything else you would like to share?
A: We have a wonderful staff, great students and an innovative administration that leads our students to success. It has been a privilege to have served our school district.

Titanium Trojan Pride

Today one of our middle school robotics teams is headed to Lakeview High School in Battle Creek to compete in the FIRST in Michigan FIRST Tech Challenge State Championships! And you read that right--ONE of our teams. There has been so much interest from grades 5th-8th this year we had to start a second team so no students were turned away. Our existing team is #8492, Titanium Trojans (or T2) and our new team is #11679, Titanium Trojans Too (or T3).

With so many students on the team coming from grades 5th-6th and new to the sport, the season started with a bit of a learning curve.  At their first competition, Team 8492 was in 16th place and Team 11679 was in 28th.  Neither team was chosen for an alliance for the semi-finals.  At our second competition, Team 8492 was ranked 25th and Team 11679 was ranked 10th.  Team 8492 was chosen for an alliance for the semi-finals and that alliance went on to win the competition and qualify for the State Championship.  While Team 11679 didn’t qualify for States, many of the students on that team have been actively helping Team 8492 get ready and some will even be joining them in Battle Creek.


Business mentor for the two teams, Kelly Shew, explained the unique circumstances which lead to T2 heading to the championships:


"T3 was actually ranked in 10th place going into the alliance selection and T2 was in 25th-ish place.  We were thinking that T3 had a good chance of being selected.  However, earlier in the day, one of T2’s alliance partner’s robot had a specific thing it couldn't do in the autonomous section of the competition (when the robot navigates and acts only using the programming, with no human interaction) and they were looking for a robot that was able to stay out of their way while accomplishing another task or two.  The T2 robot couldn’t do that at the time, but a student and mentor were able to change the programming of the robot before their match, so that both robots could be successful during that portion of the competition.  We later heard from the other team that T2 was picked to be on their alliance for the semi-finals because of their willingness and ability to change the program on the fly, " Shew explained. 

This year their robots needed to be able to pick up and shoot balls through an elevated target, push items into a designated "storage" area, identify beacon coloring and switch it to the color representing their alliance and obtain, raise and place a large yoga ball in a designated area, all while trying to keep opponents from doing the same thing.  
The benefits our students take away from participating in this STEM-heavy program are endless. Beyond getting hands-on experience designing, building, and problem-solving, our students get to connect and learn from other students with similar interests, learn about logistics, project deadlines, and the list goes on.
"Past students of WL Robotics who have graduated from WLHS have gotten internships in engineering firms before even starting college, and have gone on to become engineers," Shew said.
But these programs are not cheap. On average, a single middle school robotics team requires between four to five thousand dollars per season. Program-wide (both middle and high school teams), the program costs thirty to thirty-five thousand dollars, all of which is raised through fundraising, grants, and donations from generous supporters ranging from family members of the teammates, local businesses, employers and community members or organizations.
Even more so with managing two teams, none of this would be possible without our team of mentors. In addition to Shew as the business mentor, Jeff Schwennesen is lead mentor. Dave Fanson, Paul Grzesik, Scott Shew, Matthew Goodrich, Kristin Poole and Natalie Jewell are mentors as well. And we thank them for all the time, effort and support they give our students, allowing them to pursue participating in robotics. While that is a good-sized list of mentors, the program is always in need of more.
"We've heard time and again how kids can't wait to be old enough to join one of our robotics teams. There are options available for younger students, but we could need adults to help run the programs," said Shew. "The great thing is you DON'T need to have designing, building or programming experiences to be a successful mentor! This is my ninth year involved and I have yet to actually touch any of the robots," she added.
If you are interested in mentoring or sponsoring robotics, contact Kelly Shew at
And for those who can head to cheer on Titanium Trojans Too, opening ceremonies will begin at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow, with the competition starting at 11.  Parking and admission is free. The matches will be available to stream online HERE.

Friday, December 9, 2016

News and Notes: 3.11

Mike Krebill is still inspiring people to learn

This past Monday night, I had the privilege of introducing Mike Krebill at a special event WLPS hosted to promote Mr. Krebill's new book The Scout's Guide to Wild Edibles.  Besides being completely impressed by his diligence in taking years of knowledge and putting it into a book, Mr. Krebill's memory of former students was incredible. As a former teacher, I will meet old students and I remember where they sat in my room and how they acted.  Most teachers can do this.  In fact, most teachers are inspired by their students as much as students are inspired by teachers, and most teachers can remember almost all of them.  But Mike's ability to recall former students years after teaching was at another level and so was his compassion for Whitmore Lake.  He was as proud to be here as we were to have him.
Mr. Krebill's personal approach to everything he did as a middle school science teacher was legendary.  I arrived as principal of WLHS in 2002, which was his last year as a teacher at WLMS.  Immediately upon arriving I started to hear about Mr. Krebill.  As a former science teacher, I was curious as to what all the fuss was about. I found out by watching him teach for a few minutes.  His subject knowledge was very impressive as was his passion for all things science.  But it was his personal approach to classroom management that elevated him to greatness.   He showed off those skills on Monday night!  As I listened to him share stories of our school and describe how he taught ,I remembered how important he was to our community.  Late in the fall of 2002, a focus group convened to craft a mission statement for our schools. "Providing an exceptional, personalized education" was born as a result of that group's collaboration.  More times than I can count, Mr. Krebill's name came up as the man who fit the mission. That is as true today as it was 14 years ago. 

Advanced Placement at WLHS
Throughout the year, we have four values that are sort of the "method behind the madness" at WLPS. They are balanced budget, safety, increased programs and options and higher achievement. At the core of higher achievement and program and options is our Advanced Placement programs at WLHS.

Advanced Placement (as we often refer to as AP) courses is an educational model aimed at facilitating the academic transition from high school to college run by the College Board. They provide our students with an opportunity to explore college-level coursework in high school. These courses culminate in an end-of-course assessment.  

The benefits of Advanced Placement courses are plenty. They help our students stand out in college admissions and help them develop college and career readiness skills. Students who pass the AP end of course exam can even earn college credit.

Currently at WLHS we are offering AP U.S. Government & Politics, AP Statistics, AP English Language & Composition and AP English Literature & Composition. To the left are some statistics for each of those classes, comparing WLHS students to the nation, that Jill Henry, Director of Instruction, presented to our Board of Education last August.

New this year all WLHS juniors were enrolled in AP Language & Composition. This means ALL students now have the opportunity to experience the rigors, challenges and expectations of a college-level course. Research consistently shows students who are successful in AP experience greater academic success in college. Furthermore, the AP English Language & Composition course is closely aligned to the Evidence-Based Reading & Writing and Essay sections of the SAT, further preparing our students for their post-secondary opportunities.

We are excited to see the impact this move will have on our students' abilities to succeed on the end-of-course exam, on the SAT and in meeting their future goals.

Wrestling in Whitmore Lake

With winter sports in full swing students, K-12, have a chance to participate in a brand new program this year---wrestling.

At the high school level, the co-ed team practices every day after school with head coach Brent Harvey. Approached by our Athletic Director, Brad McCormack, head coach Brett Harvey knew the timing was right to get back into wrestling. Harvey has been turning down coaching job offers for years waiting until his children graduated from high school so he could just coach--not serve as dad/coach. He felt it was important for his kids to have other coaches working with them. Harvey has wrestled since he was eight years old and has been coaching on and off since the early 90s. We are excited to have him lead the way for wrestling in Whitmore Lake.

Having had both of his daughters wrestle for Brighton and Lake Fenton High School and for Team USA internationally. Harvey, along with assistant coach Sam Miller, is particularly excited that the WLHS program is co-ed. He is a firm believer that the life lessons espoused by wrestling (dedication, sportsmanship, healthy lifestyle and diet, etc.) are learned by all wrestlers across all genders. 
In addition to the high school team, Harvey is
heading up a youth program for grades K-8. Practices are Tuesday and Thursday, 6:30-8:30 p.m. Though the team started practicing early November,  new wrestlers are welcome to join year-round. Kids can try out two practices at no cost to give it a try before signing up for the season. It is $125 to join and covers registration, singlet, t-shirt and USA card good for MUSAW, MMWA and NEMWA folkstyle seasons that run until mid-March. For more information contact Harvey by email at
If you would like to come see our high school wrestlers in action below is their regular season schedule. And I hope you will join me in welcoming Brett Harvey to the Trojan team.

Friday, December 23 JV round robin tournament Linden high school
Wednesday ,December 28 Columbia Central JV tournament
Wednesday, January 4 @ Morenci
Thursday, January 5 @ Manchester
Saturday, January 7th @Sandusky High School
Wednesday, January 11 @ Summerfield
Friday, January 13 @ West Ottawa JV tournament
Wednesday, January 18 @ Madison
Wednesday, January 25 @ Clinton
Saturday, January 28 JV @ Fenton high school
Wednesday, February 1 Summerfield @ Whitmore Lake

Friday, November 18, 2016

News and Notes: 3.10

I received a nice compliment this week on our sinking fund passing. The parent was really supportive of our schools. The conversation quickly turned to the value of conferencing with teachers (WLES Parent Conferences are next Monday and Tuesday). "My kid is doing great. Should I go?" the parent asked. "Yes!" I replied.  I couldn't have said it fast enough.

First, elementary teachers will teach every parent something new about his or her children. Second, the teachers are incredible. After each visit I make to a classroom, I leave impressed with their dedication, knowledge and caring. They move fast and efficiently but never miss a chance to compliment and encourage.

I also encourage you to take time to enjoy your family next week. Take a cue from our elementary and never miss a chance to compliment and encourage kids. The effort they put into school pays off in many ways.

I am most thankful to be a part of this staff.
2016 Volleyball Season: Interview with Coach Coleman
While the winter sport season is underway, I want to take some time to recap a successful fall girls volleyball season. How successful was it? Well as a point of reference, last year the varsity team finished 9-29-1, 0-14 in the Tri-County Conference. This year? This year they were 29-10-1, 12-2 in the TCC. That is quite a turnaround.
Maria Carter-Ewald, Community Relations and Recreation Director, had a chance to interview head Varsity coach, Kathy Coleman, on the season and her hopes for next year. Join me in congratulating them on a wonderful season. We can't wait to see what next year brings.
Q: Your team achieved A LOT this season! Competed in the district finals this year, finished 2nd in the TCC, won the Hudson Tournament and even got honorable mention in Class C rankings as you headed into district playoffs. What do those accomplishments mean to you and to the team?
A: The girls really worked  hard. Many of the girls had never had a winning season in any of their sports. This season they really saw positive results for all their hard work. It also gives us great building blocks for continued success in the future.

Our JV team had a good season as well, finishing 21-10-1 (11-3 in the TCC) under head coach Jamie (LaBram) Jackson, former WLHS volleyball  player and member of the class of 2005.

Q: What do you think lead to the Class C honorable mention? 
A: We had a good enough season to get noticed. We won some big matches: we beat Clinton twice (they are historically a good team/program.) We beat Lincoln, Belleville, Melvindale--all class A schools. Class A schools are much bigger than we are thus having a bigger pool of kids to make up their teams. And we were 9-0 in conference until late October.

Q: To what do attribute this season's success?
A: I wish I knew exactly to what I should attribute our success--then I could repeat it every game!

I think that the girls are really good friends and that is a big component, surely the commitment to volleyball through the summer and fall is a major part. We spend 10-20 hours in the gym every week. I also think that our new strength and conditioning program, Blue Lion, has really helped. The girls are so much stronger physically and mentally than they were previously. Since last January the volleyball players have participated 3 times a week in conditioning. It really gave them confidence and tenacity that I hadn't seen in them previously.

Q: How many seniors are you losing, and how will that affect next year?
A: Varsity is losing seven seniors--that's a ton. The make up of our team will surely be different, but that's part of the "gig." We will absolutely have some holes to fill next season, but I have no doubt the girls will work hard to compete for those and the other positions as well. Our team really wants to put a plaque on the championship board. We came close this year. We're working hard to use this as a stepping stone to get there.

Q: Anything else to add?
A:  It was a really fun season--time flew by. I enjoyed watching the girls have fun playing and winning volleyball. They really haven't had that experience much so it was great to see the joy they got out of a game that I love so much.

Chrysler LeBaron "Groovy"fied

If you see a 1986 Chrysler LeBaron around town that looks "groovy" you are witnessing the artwork of WLHS students in Artists and Techniques class taught by Krisanne Rae. Owner of the car and community member, David Gibbons, bought it 6 months ago and set out to transform it into a "hippy car." He began by painting a white peace sign on the hood and some red stripes. After realizing he was sticking true to Trojan colors and realizing the limits to his painting abilities, he had the idea of contacting WLHS to see if any students would be interested in helping him complete the art work. And the school project was born.

It has taken students 4-5 days to complete the 70s theme, covering the car in flowers, butterflies, peace signs and a variety of sayings. Most of the artwork is done by permanent marker that Mr. Gibbons plans on covering with a spray enamel to do his best in preserving the student's work. The car is equipped with its own "hitch-hiker" named Zork, a smiley face emoticon in the passenger seat.
This is just one of many unique art projects students have in the works. The ceiling of the art room will soon be adorned with 2"x2" squares painted by students. Before Thanksgiving the hall will display a paper weaving project along with a CD project completed by our middle school art students. And next time  you are in the media center check out the cardboard sculptures done in the style of young German artist, Bartek Elsner. So far students have created a lamp, cupcake, record player and toaster. They will be on display along with some incredible acrylic landscape paintings students are finishing up.
College Month Celebration
We featured College Month activities in News and Notes 3.5. Today was the celebration of all our students' accomplishments. Jumping off the "Saddle Up for College" western theme, the celebration included a pizza party, personalized boots filled with jolly "ranchers", Texas sheet cake and a mechanical bull from Xtreme Play N Go Party Rentals in Ypsilanti. Students who completed all three College Month tasks (a college application, the FAFSA and a college scholarship application) were entered in a drawing to win one of three mini fridges! We are proud of the class of 2017 and the bright futures they have ahead of them. Check out the videos and photos from today's event on our Facebook page.

Friday, November 11, 2016

News and Notes 3.9

In Tuesday’s, Nov. 8 election Whitmore Lake voters passed our sinking fund request with nearly 55 percent support. I send you all a big thank you on behalf of the students who use these facilities on a daily basis.

The three-year, 1-mill tax passed with 2,312 votes of support and 1,917 votes of opposition. Generating around $335,428 a year for three years, the millage will allow us to address facility updates while protecting our instructional budget.

We’ve worked hard to improve our fiscal stability and increase our community’s support for our schools. Having the sinking fund pass shows us that our community is confident in what we are doing and willing to invest in the future of WLPS.

Upgrading our wireless Internet network infrastructure will be at the top of the list of things WLPS will address with the fund, followed by resurfacing the high school track, updating heating and cooling equipment, remodeling some elementary classrooms to accommodate art and music classes as well as fixing drainage issues on some athletic fields.

After the first year of work, WLPS will develop another priority list for the remaining years of the fund.

Tuesday’s election also brought with it some new Board of Education members. Incumbents Michelle Kritzman and Laura Schwennesen and new member John Meadows Jr. were elected for six-year terms. Write in candidates for the partial term are being verified by Washtenaw County. Join me in congratulating all and thanking them for their service to our district.

And again, thank you for helping make Tuesday a great day to be a Trojan.

Top Grades on Annual Audit
The sinking fund victory comes shortly after another victory—an “A” report card on our annual audit.

During our October 24 Board of Education (BOE) meeting, we received commendation from auditors Maner Costerisan for the financial stability we have achieved this past year. They pointed out specifically that increasing our fund balance from less than one percent to over seven percent in two years is worthy of high praise. The auditors reinforced that the Michigan Department of Treasury has indicated school districts need to maintain a minimum of a 5 percent fund balance, which we currently exceed.

It is almost unheard of to have school districts Increase their fund balances while experiencing reduced funding from the state along with decreasing enrollment. But those people obviously haven't heard of Whitmore Lake Public Schools and all that we have achieved.

Needless to say, we were proud to have our hard work and accomplishments affirmed from an outside source.

We will continue to work together to push forward.

7-12 grade. 58 Houses. A whole lot of leaves.
Today was the annual Rake N Run service project at Whitmore Lake Middle and High School. This event sponsored by our Junior and National Honor Societies involves our student body, grades 7-12, spending the day out in the town, cleaning up the yards of community members. I encourage you to check out the photo album posted on our Facebook page HERE (thanks to Pam Blount for the great photos). This day is always a valuable opportunity for our students to learn the importance of serving their community.

And I also want to give a special shout-out to the Whitmore Lake Tavern who provided quite a lunch spread for our senior class today, free of charge.

What a great day to be in Whitmore Lake, and another great week to be a Trojan.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Facebook Live Friday

In lieu of News and Notes, on the first Friday of every month, I'll be doing something new. We call it Facebook Live Fridays! Essentially, a special guest will be joining me for a one-on-one interview while riding a school bus. We will discuss important issues and highlight exciting things happening in the district and community.

You can check out the very first Facebook Live Friday from earlier today on our Facebook page. I was joined by Trey Cucuro, WLHS Senior and cross country superstar, as he, Colton Seigle and Jordan Craven head to the state cross country meet tomorrow at Michigan International Speedway. Join me in wishing them good luck!

And I'll leave you with a reminder to get out and vote next Tuesday. Voters can find more information on the WLPS sinking fund proposal on our Facebook, website or at the links below.
For additional information on voting poll locations and more, click HERE.

Friday, October 28, 2016

News and Notes 3.8

Special Edition: Meet the Candidates

We are less than two weeks away from an election that is not only HUGE [read in a Donald Trump voice] for the nation, but is pretty important at our local level as well. We have our sinking fund millage up for vote. This millage will allow us to take care of some important updates to our district facilities. This includes a new wireless network that is currently severely outdated, limiting our ability to use technology in the classroom to the fullest, along with some much needed maintenance to athletic facilities and classrooms we have been putting off as we focused on stabilizing the district financially. You can find more information to read and share with other voters HERE.

We also have some Board of Education seats to fill. Three seats with six-year terms and one seat for a partial term are up for grabs. We have four candidates, Eliza Bivins-Fink; incumbent Michelle Kritzman; John Meadows Jr. and incumbent Laura Schwennesen running for the three six-year terms. No one is running for the partial term that would end in 2020, therefore the Board of Education would appoint someone for that position.

We wanted to help you inform your vote, so below you will find interviews with each of the candidates. Thank you for getting out and voting on November 8.

Eliza Bivins-Fink
Site Coordinator, EMU Bright Futures after school programming at Ypsilanti Community High School

Q: Tell us about your family.
My husband, Howard Fink, and I have one son, Elliot who is a year and half.

Q: What is your education background?
I graduated from Grand Rapids Union High School in 1996. I completed my Bachelor's Degree in English Language and Literature from Grand Valley State University in 2001. I earned my Masters of Arts in Education with Secondary Teaching Certification (content area: ELA) from the University of Michigan in 2013.

Q: What community organizations or causes are you dedicated to?
I am a strong supporter of community arts, health and education. I am not currently volunteering with any organizations.

Q: Why are you running for WLPS school board, and what makes you unique as a candidate?
I have a background in education and now that my family has settled in the district I want to get more involved. I believe strongly in the public education system and want to contribute to its health and longevity. I think I am a unique candidate because I have professional experience in many aspects of education. I was an admissions officer at a private school in Chicago, an Assistant Director of Fundraising and Development for an adult education program in Evanston, IL, and Director of Student Records at a Seminary in Chicago. I am also very passionate about equitable access to high quality education and educational programming for the whole community.

Michelle Kritzman
Nuclear Medical Physicist, Medical Physics Consultant

Q: Tell us about your family.
A: Jim and I have been married 19 years. We have three children, Mark (14-years-old in 9th grade) Luke (12-years-old in 7th grade) and Joey (6-years-old in 1st grade). Mark plays in the WLHS marching band and is my running buddy. We have completed multiple half marathons, and we just completed our second full marathon in September! Luke is participating in the MS drama club’s production of Sally Cotter and the Prisoner of Ala Katraz. I’m super excited to see the play on December 2-4. He also participates in robotics and the community recreation soccer league. Joey is enjoying being in first grade and participating in community recreation soccer. To round out the family, we have two Labrador retrievers, Moose and Higgins.

Q: What is your education background?
A: I graduated from Atherton High School (Burton, MI) in 1989. After high school, I attended Central Michigan University for two years before transferring to Ferris State University. I obtained a Bachelor of Science in Nuclear Medicine Technology in 1993. This included a one year internship at the University of Michigan Medical Center from 1992-1993. In 2000, I completed my Master of Science in Radiological Physics from Wayne State University.

Q: What community organizations or causes are you dedicated to?
A: I have served as the Whitmore Lake parent representative on the Parent Advisory Committee (PAC) at the Washtenaw Intermediate School District for over 7 years, coached community recreation soccer for 3-6 year olds for the past two seasons and was appointed to fill a vacated position on the Board of Education in December.  

Q: Why are you running for WLPS school board, and what makes you unique as a candidate?
The Board of Education plays an essential role in the academic success of our children. I am running for this position to support strong educational programming while maintaining fiscal responsibility to ensure a solid district in the future. I bring the experience that I have obtained while serving on the Board this year to make decisions that will continue to benefit WLPS. My greatest asset though is my children. With children in both schools, I am a voice for all of the children, from the young learning the basics to those preparing for success after graduation.

John Meadows Jr.
Crop Consultant and Dispatcher, Crop Production Service

Q: Tell us about your family.
I am married to Ramona, and we have two children, Jamie (12) and Natalie (10).

Q: What is your education background?
I went to WLPS (K-12) and graduated in 1990. I continued on to Michigan State University and earned a Bachelors Degree in Food Systems Economics and Management in 1995.   

Q: What community organizations or causes are you dedicated to?
I have been involved for several years with Whitmore Lake Junior Football and Cheer and have worked on many projects for both the football fields and school grounds. I have also been coaching basketball with the community recreation program for a couple years.

Q: Why are you running for WLPS school board, and what makes you unique as a candidate?
I am running for the WLPS school board for a variety of reasons:
1) To be part of a team of teachers and administrators that are providing an exceptional education to our students. I will work to grow and enhance WLPS.
2) I will help to continue down the path of fiscal responsibility. WLPS has a growing fund balance, and we are not a deficit spending district. With financial strength comes opportunity for our students both academic and extracurricular.
3) Stabilizing and growing our student population is critical to the success of WLPS and will be a top priority for me.
I have lived in this community for over 40 years. I was educated and graduated from WLHS. I understand the value of a small school and a personalized education. 

Whitmore Lake has experienced many highs and lows through the years. We are a community that perseveres. I believe the school is the backbone of our community. The opportunity to be on the WLPS school board will give me the chance to give back to the community that has given me so much. 

Laura Schwennesen
Director of Contracts, Altarum Institute

Q: Tell us about your family.
My husband Jeff and I just celebrated our 19th wedding anniversary. We have two kids who both attend school in Whitmore Lake. Matt is 15 and a sophomore and Claire is 14 and a freshman. We also have a cute and curly 4 year old labradoodle, Lucy. 

Q: What is your education background?
I graduated from Fenton High School in 1989. I earned my Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science from Western Michigan University. I have also taken courses toward a Masters in Public Adminstration from Eastern Michigan University. 

Q: What community organizations or causes are you dedicated to?
I support Whitmore Lake athletics and am a mentor for the High School Robotics team, the TroBots. I greatly support our community and have volunteered with Northfield Human Services. 

Q: Why are you running for WLPS school board, and what makes you unique as a candidate?
I think the heartbeat of any community is a strong school system--one that offers a personalized education, one that encourages students to reach their full potential, one that has great teachers and staff, one that offers extracurricular activities. Whitmore Lake Public Schools does all of that; and by serving on the Board of Education, I will have a wonderful opportunity to give back to our community and keep our schools strong. Having my children attending schools here gives me a unique perspective, and I am passionate about giving our students the best possible academic programming and offering sports and club activities for everyone. I truly see first hand the benefits of a small district that cares for all. 

Our district, like many others in the state, have faced some tough decisions recently. Our Board, administration and staff have come together to meet the needs of our students while operating in a fiscally responsible environment. That is a true testament to the dedication of everyone involved.

I believe staying engaged with the broader community to showcase all that WLPS has to offer is important for keeping our enrollment stablized and growing. Also maintaining our fiduciary obligations puts us on a good solid footing going forward.