Friday, October 16, 2015

News and Notes: Volume 2, Number 6

On the day before the BIG game between U of M and MSU, the last place I wanted to be was Lansing. It is a nice city, but I'd personally feel more comfortable if the color blue was more openly displayed. My reason for being there was pretty cool, though. WLPS is going through its final phases of an annual audit. And the news was good. For the first time in years, we demonstrated growth in our fund balance. Few schools in our state have gone through a “cycle” like WLPS (new administration, annexation failure, enrollment decline, near depletion of fund balance in one year, etc.) to only turn around and add to their fund balance. The accountants gave praise, though they were hesitant to concede any victories to a school district so close to the Big House.

In all seriousness, though, financial stability doesn't always make for a great school story. But, the reality is, we cannot develop programs, maintain safe buildings, develop our staff--all essential to providing the best for our students--without first balancing our budget. The fact that we were able to balance the aforementioned while adding some to the fund balance is really important. This type of success allows the WLPS staff and Board of Education to focus more on its mission of exceptional, personalized education. A full audit report will be presented at the October 26 Board of Education meeting. 

Trobots Go to Lansing
I wasn’t the only one who recently spent some time in Lansing. Last week our high school Robotics team, the Trobots, headed to Lansing as part of the Robotics Day at the Capitol. Gretchen Driskell coordinated this event to show state legislators what is happening with robotics in Michigan. Six students representing our team were invited to join not only 11 other robotics teams from the state, but also businesses in the field of robotics and schools who build robots to be used outside of competitions (one school sends a team of students with their submersible robot to other countries looking for underwater mines left over from wars, as an example). Our students explained the program at WLHS to state legislators , demonstrated what our robot could do and also received a special tour of the state Capitol.

The Trobots’ next build season kicks off the second Saturday in January. They meet year-round on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to noon at 8845 Main Street and are accepting new members. Lead Mentor, Lynne Mead, encourages all students in grades 9-12 who like to write, work with statistics, finance, marketing, building things and/or programming to join, as it takes all types of talents to help the team reach its full potential. Students interested in joining can come any Saturday with a parent to fill out the necessary paperwork to participate, and then they will be good to go! If you are interested in donating to, sponsoring the team or have questions, contact

College Application Week
As we anticipate the battle of two of the best universities in our state, it is a perfect time to highlight what we do at WLHS to encourage our students to pursue higher education. Whitmore Lake High School recently was one of 100 schools across the state selected to receive a $5,000 grant from the Michigan College Access Network to boost our efforts to help students pursue education beyond high school. WLHS Counselor Kathy DeKeyser, who applied for the grant, already has plans on how to use it. She will be purchasing laptops for the counseling office for students to research colleges and submit applications, funding college visits for underclassmen so all our students visit a campus before their senior year, developing a college readiness activity appropriate for our elementary-aged students and funding College Application Week (CAW).

College Application Week is happening the last week of October and is an annual event focused on motivating every WLHS senior to apply to college. Last year was the first CAW at WLHS. The campaign’s main goal is to set our students up to have everything in place before their time at WLHS is complete, helping them get on the path to college. It is important to note that college is defined as “credentials beyond high school diploma.” We encourage our students to explore the many different ways they can continue to invest in their future after high school including four-year degrees, community colleges, trade schools and certificate programs.

Not to give away all the surprises in store for our seniors during CAW, I can tell you students will hear from WLHS graduates during an alumni panel, head off to a college visit, have time to fill out their applications during the school day and end the week with a special celebration for the time spent investing in their futures. All activities are centered around the theme, "You can get there from here," highlighting how the student's experience at WLHS will help them reach their goals.

During last year’s CAW, our students submitted 52 applications. Out of the 78 students in the Class of 2015, 32 of them indicated they will be the first in their family to attend college. It is a powerful thing we are helping these students achieve. I commend our Counseling department for securing this grant, for their work during CAW and the efforts year round to help our students secure successful paths after graduating from WLHS.

Halloween Events
If your kids are as anxious as mine to show off their Halloween costumes, there are a couple events coming up next week worth checking out: The WLES PTA Scare and Share and Whitmore Lake Community Recreation’s 5th Annual Boo Bash & Splash.

On Wednesday October 21, the WLES PTA is hosting Scare and Share from 6-8 p.m. Students get to hear spooky tales told by WLES staff at 6:10 p.m.; 6:25 p.m. and 6:40 p.m. There will also be a free Halloween costume grab and go where families can either donate gently worn costumes or take a costume at no charge. A WLES parent will have a germ machine that makes germs glow under a special light to highlight the importance of good hand washing techniques--more likely to cause parent’s nightmares, I’m sure. The event will end with a live nocturnal animal presentation by Howell Nature Center staff and critters at 7 p.m. Kids can get spooky tales of their own during the Monster Book Fair the entire evening as well. All events are free except for book fair purchases and popcorn treats PTA will be selling before the Howell Nature Center show. Students and their families are encouraged to wear their costumes to get in the Halloween spirit.

On Friday, October 23, Whitmore Lake Community Recreation is hosting their 5th Annual Boo Bash and Splash from 6:30.-8:30 p.m. at our Community Pool (7430 Whitmore Lake Rd.) Kids can play a variety of Halloween themed carnival games to win great prizes (American Licorice Company is a sponsor, so there is no shortage of candy) in the Multipurpose Room, decorate trick-or-treat bags, enjoy refreshments and enter the costume contests during the “Bash” portion of the event. New to this year is a kid-friendly haunted house organized by Elevate Concert Series. Then during the latter half, everyone can head to the pool for a spooky-open swim. It is $5 per child for advanced tickets and $8 at the door. Adults get into the Bash for free and pay $2.00 to swim. You can purchase tickets online HERE or at the WLCR office.

Tom DeKeyser
Superintendent, Whitmore Lake Public Schools
Principal, Whitmore Lake High School

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