You know the role teachers play in the lives of your children, right? I ask that as a question rather than making my own statement declaring their critical importance to set the stage for a "shout out." Next week, is Teacher Appreciation Week. Several years ago, a day was set aside in the calendar to honor those in the professionals dedicated to the mission of educating this nation's youth. Teacher Day, as it was called, was usually the first in May and was celebrated across the country. It evolved into an entire week of appreciation in large part because of the impact teachers have on ...well, all of us.
On behalf of the WLPS Board of Education and myself, I am extending a thank you to all our classroom teachers and para-educators for making every day a great to be a Trojan!
Facebook Live Friday Zumba Style
Mark next Friday, May 5, 12:30 p.m. on your calendar for our May Facebook Live Friday. On the first Friday of every month, in lieu of News and Notes, I invite a special guest to join me on a school bus to discuss an issue, event or topic important to Whitmore Lake Public Schools. Next Friday I will be joined on the school bus with WLPS Community Relations and Recreation Director, Maria Carter-Ewald, who is also Whitmore Lake Community Recreation's certified Zumba instructor and Vice President of WLFEE, the Whitmore Lake Foundation for Educational Excellence. Not only will we be discussing the upcoming Zumbathon Charity Event for WLFEE, but you will also enjoy a LIVE mini Zumba class at the end when Maria will be joined by community members, fellow Zumba instructors and WLHS students to do some Zumba. For those looking for a better idea of what Zumba is, you can learn more here. I hope you'll join me live next Friday.
Small School: Big Heart
While we are always blown away by the generosity of our community, the Jump Rope for Heart campaign at our Elementary is one that stands out year after year. This year, with the leadership of our physical education teacher, Aimee Taylor, our school raised $16,650 putting our small school 15th place in the state. Impressive.
But what really stood out this year was the efforts of one of our students and her family who, unfortunately, have a personal connection to Jump Rope for Heart (JRFH).
Mackenzie Williams has been raised by her aunt and uncle until she lost her uncle in February 2015 when he had a massive heart attack in his sleep. He passed away at the age of 47. He had no previous medical problems.
Since his death, JRFH has been extremely important to their family, as Mackenzie's aunt, Vicki, put it, it is something small they can do in Dave's name to keep his memory alive.
But I would hesitate to call what they accomplish "small". This year alone, Mackenzie set a goal of raising $3,000 and ended up raising $3,635 putting her in second place in the entire state of Michigan.
"I was a little nervous [about the $3,000 goal] but I wasn't about to let her know. I knew I had to come up with some new ideas to raise that kind of money in 6 weeks," said Vicki.
They held bake sales and walked door-to-door asking for donations as Mackenzie explained why she was collecting the money and the impact of each dollar donated. They also collected donations online, posting on Facebook a video Mackenzie made about the cause and what it means to her. They held an open gym fundraiser at Infinity Gymnastics and even set up an online auction. They auctioned off haircuts, birthday parties at roller rinks, LuLaroe leggings, cleaning supplies, handmade shirts and even had a friend donate a three-story Chalet in Harbor Springs for a weekend getaway for the auction.
As a prize for her efforts, Mackenzie was invited to a Detroit Pistons game where she got to meet and high-five the Piston players and run down the tunnel. By far, this was a much-deserved reward for her incredible job.
Mackenzie was joined by other students who worked hard to secure donations for the cause. Alex Kurth raised over $1,000 followed by Julia Zolenski who raised over $500. Ryan Riel, Michael Corrie, Joey Kritzman, Emerzon Matovski, Erin Carr, Molly Meza, Abigail Watenpool and Aiden Bare all raised over $300. Jacob Vibbart, Liam Smith, Abby Schmaus, Renato Ianni, Ruby Even, Holly Bendardi, Olivia Kurtz, Bailey Bare and Nolan Collins all raised over $200!
Because our school reached our goal, surpassing it by $1,500, students will enjoy an inflatable obstacle course at the school on May 25. In addition, they have earned $1,150 in gift certificates for physical education equipment.
"Each year my students continue to amaze me. I am so proud of all of their efforts and dedication. So many students have a personal story about someone in their life that has been affected by heart disease. Our students really care about helping others, this make me SO proud! They really understand the reason why we raise money for the American Heart Association. It's not for the thank you gifts, but to help save lives and honor those who are no longer here," said Ms. Aimee Taylor.
Talk about #TrojanPride.
Stock Market Challenge
Tenth place out of 1607. That is how Austin Tanner, WLHS senior, finished his stock market simulation challenge in Ms. Jen Taylor's Financial Management class. At one point during the competition he was even as high as second place.
In this contest coordinated by SIFMA Foundation's Stock Market Game each participant or group is given $100k in virtual (fake) cash to invest in the stock market. Participants then must research and decide what stocks would do well and make their investments, judged on the success of those investments.
Having shown an interest in the stock market previously, the contest tapped into and built upon Tanner's previous knowledge. After researching the companies, noticing their trends, determining what sector they are in and what their estimated earnings per share (EPS) were supposed to be, Tanner started his project.
"The best decision I made, where I made the most, was shorting Snapchat, meaning I sold it, hoped it would go down in price, and then rebought it. I read two months ago that all the millennials would love the stock because it was the biggest IPO; they all thought it would be the next Facebook. But if you looked at the stats, they showed it would be a terrible investment because it wouldn't turn a profit until 2021," Tanner explained.
Tanner made $8,000 from his 2000 Snapchat shares.
Blackberry was another successful move. He bought 3500 shares at $7 and held them until the challenge was over when they went up to $9, making $7,000 on that investment.
Because of his success, Tanner has a chance to win a prize from the contest. Along with his tenth-place finish, they will evaluate the essay he wrote on value-based and socially responsible investing regarding energy-based stocks that treat the environment well. He chose to write about Low Carbon ETF.
Tanner plans on attending Michigan State University in the fall to study mechanical engineering.
In addition to Tanner's success with the project, five groups from the Financial Management class finished in the top 25%.
Congrats on a job well done.
Week of the Young Child
We celebrated the Week of the Young Child this week at WLPS, an annual event celebrating early learning, young children, their teachers and families. The week's highlights include a concert for the Board of Education this past Monday and a visit from the Spirit of Alexandria Nature Bus yesterday. They brought with them the Birds of Prey exhibit from the Howell Nature Center. This great opportunity was provided by a grant from the Spirit of Alexandria Foundation applied for by Early Childhood Center staff member Hillary Hawkes.
"Programs like these give the children the opportunity to learn in different ways, outside of the classroom, and learn more about the world around them. We are always finding new and creative ways to provide these types of programs for our children. Last month, we were awarded a grant from the Detroit Zoological Society, and the entire ECC went to the Detroit Zoo for free," said Charlie Basham, Family Service Worker for the Whitmore Lake Head Start and GSRP who also serves at the McKinney-Vento and Foster Youth Liason for WLPS.
The Spirit of Alexandria Foundation was created to carry on the legacy of Alexandria Bennett, a little girl whose passion for nature and generosity was evident to everyone around her. Now they use that foundation to help children experience nature. You can learn more about Alexandria here.
We are grateful to benefit from the Foundation's work and thank Ms. Hawkes for securing the grant to provide this program for our students.
To learn more about programs our Early Childhood Center has to offer, visit their website here. And to check out pictures from this week's events, click here.