Friday, September 22, 2017

News and Notes 4.2

It's Homecoming week, Trojans! One of our beloved retired English teachers, Sandi Klump, after reviewing an essay that needed a little more development would often say "Don't just tell me. Show me." I am taking her advice. I've captured little snapshots of the #TrojanPride felt in our Early Childhood Center through the 12th grade and beyond this week. You'll see how deep the pride for our schools, our community, where we have come from and where we are going runs. 

I hope you will join us at the homecoming tailgate (or Trojan Family Reunion) sponsored by the Whitmore Lake Wrestling Club, providing free hot dogs and refreshments before the game. Details can be found HERE

And if you missed the parade today, don't fear. We live-streamed it on our Facebook page, along with the pep assembly. (Our entire student body chanting "I believe in Whitmore Lake" lead by Coach Boron was a highlight for sure.) You can head HERE to check those out. 

It is a great day to be a Trojan! 

Trojan Athletic Spotlight
Last weekend our Equestrian team secured another District championship and a good looking trophy for their trophy case on Main Street at the High School. They finished 82 points ahead of the second place team. I would say that was a strong finish!

They head Regionals next weekend (September 29-October 1) at the Shiawassee County Fairgrounds in Corunna with their eyes on the ultimate prize: the state championship trophy. Having finished second place at last year's states, and all the hard work they put in over the summer, it is within their reach.

However, taking the athletes and horses off-site for 3+ days can be very costly, and the team is looking for support. If you are interested in sponsoring the team, check out the information HERE. And you can continue to follow their season by joining their Facebook group, HERE

Congratulations to the riders and their coaches, and best of luck the rest of the season! #TrojanPride

New Student Movement
In an effort to increase school spirit, students are putting their social media muscles to work as part of their Trojan Sports Management course taught by Jen Taylor. Having created a new WL Student Section group coordinating themes, encouraging fellow Trojans to come out to support fellow Trojans as part of the TroZone and more. You can check out what they are about and join them in their efforts on Twitter, HERE

Give a Trojan Spaghetti and Marshmallows...
During the first week of school our Algebra II class, taught by Ms. Lindeman, participated in a STEM Challenge where they were given spaghetti, string, tape and a marshmallow. They had to use all (or some) of the material to create a tower with the marshmallow on top. 

All our 5th and 6th graders took on the challenge this week with their own spin as part of the new Project Based Learning (PBL) Seminar class. 

The 5th and 6th graders were broken into groups and had to similarly create a spaghetti tower but with 40 pieces of spaghetti and 20 marshmallows to create the tallest free-standing tour they could. The record was 45 centimeters.

However, the overall goal of the activity, no matter the grade, is not necessarily to build the tallest and sturdiest structure but to build classroom community, strengthen their problem-solving and communication skills, and to learn the value of perseverance. 


Friday, September 15, 2017

News and Notes: 4.1

It was packed at the WLES Open House two weeks ago. Wednesday I could not find a parking spot at the Early Childhood Center for their orientation. Then later in the day, I talked to moms and dads late into the evening at the Middle School and High School Parent Night. School is officially back in session.

I love it when the students come back. It really is an exciting part of the year. Getting ready for their arrival is lively and chaotic. Luckily, we have great staff making it all happen, many in a role who aren't often thought of as we all prepare for the new school year.

I want to give a special #ThankATrojan "shout out" to all our employees behind the scenes who make the start of school a special, safe, and seamless experience.    

  • Our transportation crew is awesome.  They do the most problem solving of any department early in the year.  They keep their cool and get hundreds of children back and forth to schools amidst separation anxiety, construction, and reckless drivers.
  • Secretaries put in long hours in August. Fifteen hour days can be the norm because securing accurate information is critical to the safety and well being of our students.  
  • Maintenance and custodians are moving, cleaning and polishing nonstop. They take pride in what they do and our facilities show it.  To this day, visitors walk into our buildings, which mind you are over a decade old, and ask if they are new.
  • Paraprofessionals did an incredible job starting the year. They meet students at the buses, help them to classes, keep them organized during the onslaught of information coming at them, help with lunch choices and cleanup, and get them safely back on the buses at the end of the day.  We are not WLPS without them.

Finally, please read the end of this blog as I highlight Maria Carter-Ewald. Maria, who attended WLPS K-12, is the district's communications specialist - meaning she has to listen to my crazy ideas each week and try to put together a logical plan for sharing them. The WLPS Board of Education has been impressed with Maria from day one, and I am proud that she has earned some regional accolades for her ability to use the latest and greatest communication tools we have.

A big thank you to all for a safe start to our year. Enjoy your first News and Notes of the 2017-2018 school year.

Want to give a special shout-out to a fellow Trojan, staff member, student, etc.? Use #ThankATrojan on social media and make sure to tag us so we can share it too.

Today is a great day to be a Trojan.
Making Things Happen
You know that question we all get hit with when meeting someone new? “So what do you do?” Across the board, anyone working for WLPS could provide this simple answer: “I make things happen for kids.” That is exactly what our staff does. They make things happen. And this summer, even though their classrooms were empty, some stellar members of the Trojan family kept at it, tapping into resources to make more and more happen for our kids this school year.

Collectively they earned over $28k in grants.

At the top of the “PAC” is our WLHS Post-Secondary Advisory Council (PAC) geniuses Kathy DeKeyser, Jill Henry and Maria Carter-Ewald. They were awarded a whopping $25k from the Michigan College Access Network to propel forward our efforts in building a college-going culture K-12 (and they celebrated accordingly as you can see if the Boomerang video at the bottom). Ms. DeKeyser will be joining me in next month’s Between Two Ferns, my monthly Facebook Live! segment. We will be discussing the grant and what the PAC has in store for College Month in early October, so I won’t give a ton away. But to provide some highlights, the grant has allowed us to purchase cutting-edge blended-learning college and career planning curriculum, new technology needed to support that curriculum and put new programs in place to provide additional support not only to students who are the first in their families to attend college but also to their parents.
The mastermind behind the super successful June event, Book Bingo, Heidi Roy-Borland, our Early Literacy and MTSS Data Coach, had her first Donor Choose project fully funded to the tune of $986 this summer. She used the funds to purchase 45 Caldecott Award-winning books, durable canvas book bags and clear pocket plastic folders to create a traveling book review project. The books will be divided between the kindergarten and first grade classes. Students in those grades will take the books home, one at a time, and read them with their family. After reading, families will talk about the book and allow the student to write or draw what they thought about the book in the journal made out of the clear plastic folders. These book reviews will be shared in class so students can practice their speaking and listening skills too!

On top of that, Ms. Roy-Borland was one of three staff members, along with Eric Kobeck and Jennifer Petzke (pictured left) to receive a $100 Meemic Foundation Back to School Grant! Shortly after the Gordon Group stopped by to give her the award, Ms. Petzke wasted no time in putting that $100 to good use! She bought much-needed notebooks for writing workshops, composition books, post its and pencils. Ms. Roy-Borland also received an additional $100 from the Meemic Foundation through Scholastic.

Patti Kobeck and Ms. Roy-Borland (pictured left) also were chosen out of over 82k applicants to receive $500 and 500 bonus points as 2017 Patterson Partnership winners to help build their classroom libraries! This was all part of the James Patterson’s $1.75 Million Giveaway to support classroom libraries.

Adding to our overall total is our social worker at the Elementary School, Amber Masterson, who received a Unified Champion Schools Funding grant for $950 from Special Olympics Michigan. The goal of the grant is to create a positive school climate leading to student achievement and success by using inclusive sports, community service or school beautification projects and art displays in schools that focus on accomplishment, confidence, and pride for students to increase understanding, acceptance and sensitivity. They will use the funds to purchase art supplies, a bocce ball set, planting materials for a beautification project and snacks. This is in addition to $1,200 they received last May for the same project that was used to purchase bocce ball sets, soccer balls, a visual motor integration program called Bal-a-vis-x, scooter boards, resistance bands, and snacks.

And last but not least, our 1st-grade teachers teamed together and applied for a Delta Dental Foundation scholarship to take the entire grade to the Hands On Museum to explore not only the whole museum but also the Dental Health Exhibit on loan from the Impression 5 Science Center in Lansing. Congrats to Kim Bakker, Lori Milliman and Amy Anderson on receiving the $480 to cover all costs of the trip.

Join me in congratulating all these staff members on a job well done along with thanking the partners who make these grants possible. I look forward to seeing the impact they have on our students.

Now is also a good time to mention that our district foundation, Whitmore Lake Foundation for Educational Excellence, is currently accepting grant applications from WLPS staff members until October 15. If you want to learn more about WLFEE and how you can support grant opportunities in our district, head to

Representing WLPS in Detroit
This News and Notes is a little staff-centric, but it is exciting to highlight the cool stuff our team members are doing to put us on the map. Our Director of Community Relations and Recreation attended the Digital Summit in Detroit conference this week at Cobo Center where she had the opportunity to learn from the best of the best in the digital marketing industry. We are talking Pinterest, Google and even the CEO/Co-Founder of Buzzfeed and Co-Founder of Huffington Post. (I'm told this is a big deal).

If that wasn't enough, Digital Summit provided all 1200 attendees with an opportunity to receive a bunch of prizes for spreading the word about the conference. Putting her social media know-how to work, our very own Ms. Carter-Ewald was one of their top sharers!  She was able to attend a full day class on social media taught by the Senior Director of Digital Engagement & Social Media at Georgetown University, Laura Wilson, where she sat next to a CEO who flew all the way from Singapore to attend the training. The next day, along with receiving fun swag, she shot the t-shirt cannon from the stage and was able to sit down one-on-one with Ms. Wilson from Georgetown to get her insight on ideas specific to WLPS. The next day she was able to meet popular American documentary filmmaker (most would know him from Super Size Me) Morgan Spurlock who was the keynote speaker.  And the list goes on. 

Fittingly, she shared a lot of her experiences on her Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. I've included some of those pictures below. #TrojanPride #SheTaughtMeHowToUseHashtags 

Next week is Homecoming aka the Trojan Family reunion. Whether it is helping your kid get ready for spirit days, attending the parade, checking out our student Twitter takeover, enjoying a free hot dog at tailgating before the game, cheering on our fall Trojans sports or chaperoning the dance, we look forward to seeing all our students, parents, staff, community members and alumni come out to enjoy food, football and community. 

Friday, June 30, 2017

Summer News and Notes

The 2016-17 School Year Is In the Books

The time between the last day of classes and June 30th are always filled with deadlines and a flurry of business activities.  Honestly, it is not the best part of my job.  However, this year was a bit different.  Last week ended with three pieces of really good news that I wanted to share before July takes ahold of you and school is a distant memory.

1.  The teachers and the Board of Education worked out a two-year calendar for your planning convenience!  The 2017-18 and 2108-19 school calendars will be made available for viewing in the coming week.
2.  $1 Million Dollars! Our fund balance crested the $1,000,000 mark.  I cannot emphasize how incredible this accomplishment is. Very few school districts rebound in the fashion we have. I am proud to be a part of this district and community.
3.  No more Focus School!  I received news this week from the Michigan Department of Education that Whitmore Lake Elementary was released from its status as a Focus School. Congratulations to Mrs. Wanamaker and her staff.

On behalf of the Board of Education and our collective staff, I wish the students of Whitmore Lake Public Schools and their families an enjoyable summer.  Next time you hear from me will be in the Back to School Guide slated to be made available the first week of August.

This is a great summer to be a Trojan!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

News and Notes: 3.28

Top 10 (which turned into 11) from 2016/2017 School Year
We always end the year of News and Notes with a top ten, highlighting what I identify as my favorite stories from the past school year. Believe it or not, this is our 28th post this year for News and Notes, along with six episodes of Facebook Live Fridays, so narrowing it down wasn't easy. Therefore, I'm breaking the mold and going with top 11.  
I've spent the past month in particular reflecting upon the class of 2017 as they wrapped up their time at WLPS. I've been reflecting on the students who will eventually take their place and the need to continue to be creative and innovative with programming. And with the passing of our sinking fund and a variety of other events throughout the year, the support of our community (both within our buildings made up of teachers, staff and parents, along with the Whitmore Lake community at large) and the need to always stay connected with our alumni, our Trojan family, was at the front of my mind. The top 11 listed below are a representation of all that. I hope you enjoy reflecting on the successes of this past school year, as well, and enjoy your summer break.
See you in the fall.
9.   Student Athletes Signing Letters of Intent (3.16 and 3.17)
8.   Visiting Chinese Teachers (3.25)
7.   Community Based Instruction and Community Partnership in the Pool (3.13)
6.   Project Based Learning and the Free Little Library (3.24)
5.   Facebook Live Friday with WLES Kindergarteners
4.   Sinking Fund Success (3.9)
3.   New Programming at WLPS (3.20)
2.   Laura Sanderson's Second Every Day (3.27)
1.   Jump Rope for Heart All-Star, Mackenzie Williams (3.23)

Friday, June 9, 2017

News and Notes 3.27

Happy Friday, all! My name is Laura Sanderson, and as of last Sunday, I am now an official Whitmore Lake High School alumna. After moving to Whitmore Lake from South Lyon in 2013, I started attending WLHS at the beginning of my freshman year. The past four years have been unlike anything I had imagined when I first began my journey here. Even more unexpectedly, they have flown by. Before I knew it, my senior year was snowballing to a bittersweet end. I realized that I was going to miss this school, all the people in it, all the small details, traditions, and even quirks of life in Whitmore Lake.
This is when I saw a Ted Talk about a project called 1 Second Everyday, and knew it was something I wanted to do to further cherish the memories I’ve made this year. For the last fifty days of my high school career, I recorded at least one second of video every day that documented my personal experience as a senior at WLHS. Anything from my morning coffee, or a friend’s laugh, to Quiz Bowl State’s, Senior Skip Day, and more. While I also love to take photos, these videos enrich the memories further by including motion and sound. Even though they may seem simple to an outsider, just one second of video can trigger entire flashbacks to memories that may have otherwise gotten lost in the craziness of my life. I really wish that I would have started doing my 1 Second Everyday project sooner, but I hope that maybe some high schoolers now will start their own. I plan on continuing to record little bits of my life for an entire year, sort of as a video scrapbook. I look forward to not just telling, but also showing my kids what it was like to graduate high school, to go off to college, and more.
This fall, I will be studying at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Though I will only be 15 minutes away, there really is no place like home. Whitmore Lake shaped my identity and goals and led me to the success I have achieved today. I am very thankful to have this little fifty second video to remind me of how lucky I am to have been a part of this community, and I am so happy to share it with you.
Thank you to everyone who has contributed to these memories and to the lasting impact that WLHS has had on my character. I know that even as time persists, and my red and white fades to maize and blue, I will still always be a Trojan.
-Laura Sanderson
WLHS, Class of 2017

Friday, May 26, 2017

News and Notes: 3.26

No. I didn't mistake a comma for a period. This is the amount in scholarship money offered to the Whitmore Lake High School Class of 2017. That is a lot of incentives that colleges and universities across the country have put in front of the young men and women who are graduating from WLHS on June 4. In fact, it the highest dollar amount I can remember in my 15 years as principal. 
The amount was revealed at last night's Senior Awards Night.  It was the 31st consecutive time our school has presented the seniors with formal recognition of achievement, scholarship and community service.  It is, by far, my favorite night of the year.  Why?  It is the perfect blend of honoring the seniors who put a good deal of effort into making themselves better prepared for their next venture AND introducing them to a whole community of adults working both in and out of our schools to make sure those efforts are rewarded.   
Below is a listing of students honored and the award/scholarship received
A huge thank you to our Community Scholarship Fund for their efforts in helping so many students get financial support for college. Their board is made up of retired and current WLPS staff, parents, community members and alumni. Because of them, half of this year's graduates received a scholarship!  Amazing. You can find out more about their mission and how you can support it on their website
We'll continue to celebrate the Class of 2017 with a brunch and College Decision Day/Step Up assembly next Thursday morning along with baccalaureate in the evening. And then we'll all join together for graduation on June 4 at 2 p.m. We'll be broadcasting graduation live on our Facebook page, so if you have or are a loved one who can't make it, they can tune in there instead.
Congratulations, again, to the Class of 2017.
What a great day to be a Trojan.

Taking #TrojanPride Locally, State and Worldwide
Remember that scene in Mary Poppins where with a simple count of 1, 2...and a jump, she and the cast stepped into the chalk drawing on the sidewalk. Whether our students are learning about the physics of roller coasters, forts on Mackinaw Island or how long it took Michelangelo to paint the Sistine Chapel, I imagine many a-teacher has wished they had the powers to count 1..2.. and jump into the textbooks to really show the students what they are learning about. Luckily, at WLPS, we are intentional about providing opportunities for our students to get into the thick of what they are learning about.
Within the past two months, our 5th graders headed to Howell Nature Center for the long-standing tradition of 5th grade camp (Ms. Matovski took some great pictures which are posted on our Facebook page HERE). Seventh and 8th graders trekked to Washington D.C. (If you haven't viewed the video showcasing a highlight of the trip, you should check it out HERE); A group of juniors and seniors explored London, Paris and Barcelona. Ms. Lemons took her Physics class to Cedar Point, and the list goes on.
Knowing the benefit of experience what they are learning about first-hand, along with the camaraderie and independence gained from an overnight trip, Ms. Otterman presented to the board a proposal to take next year's 3rd and 4th graders on an overnight trip to Mackinaw Island to compliment their Michigan History curriculum. It was approved unanimously by our Board of Education. And a fun side-note, is a district parent, Caro Uhlemann-Short from Bob Rogers Travel will be coordinating the trip.
On their itinerary includes but is not limited to visit to the Historic Mill Creek Discover Park including a Zip Line Adventure Tour. They will explore Colonial Michilimackinac and Fort Mackinac along with a carriage ride around the island.
I'm excited to hear about our students' experiences and encourage 3rd and 4th grade parents to keep an eye out for more information coming your way soon.
Our current 9th and 10th graders have an opportunity to head to the Swiss Alps, Italy (including Venice, Florence and Rome, and the French Riviera) for the WLHS Trip Club 2019 Spring Break Trip. Students will dive into geography, history and culture of Europe.

As I mentioned above, over this year's Spring Break, twenty-four of our WLHS students traveled to Europe to visit iconic landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and the London Eye, tour Stonehenge and the English countryside, and relax on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea in Barcelona. Students on the trip did a Twitter takeover of the @wlschools twitter account. Check out the tweets in April to get a glimpse of the amazing experience the students had.
Parents of current 9th and 10th graders interested in the trip need to attend the parent meeting coming up on Thursday, June 1 at 6:30 PM in room A105. At the meeting they will learn more details about the itinerary, discuss cost and payment options and review enrollment procedures. 
If you can't make it to the meeting but are interested in learning more, please contact Jill Henry ( and Candy Huddleston ( ASAP.
Blue Out for Kindness
Helping reinforce WLES' commitment to cultivating a culture of kindness within their building and the Whitmore Lake community, yesterday they hosted a Blue out for Kindness. WLES PTA sold shirts for the day (which also served as a fundraiser for the upcoming June Field Day) and encouraged all students and staff to wear blue. Another great reason (though, do we really need more) to shout Go Blue! Check out the full album of pictures HERE.
Class of 2030
The end of the year is full of celebrations, including our Early Childhood Center Preschool graduation! Here are a few pictures of the members of the Class of 2030 to help kick off your Memorial Day weekend with an extra dose of adorable.