Friday, March 29, 2013

Hoover door art depicts scenes from 'The Cay'

Hoover Middle School students worked during their Enrichment classes to depict parts of the book, "The Cay." 

They posted their finished products on doors in the school, and various judges graded the work on creativity, neatness and participation.

After Hoover students recently finished reading "The Cay," actor Langston Fishburne visited the school to read it aloud to the students.

Paws makes an appearance at Hoover Middle School

Ms Betke of Hoover Middle School, last seen reading with author Langston Fishburne, found herself in yet another host's role recently at the school, this time with the mascot of the Detroit Tigers, none other than Paws!

Paws came to introduce the next book in the school-wide reading program, "The Batboy." It's a fictional story about a batboy for the Tigers and the lessons he learns about heroes. 

The book comes with perfect timing since Opening Day is right around the corner.

Paws, who is not stage shy, jumped right into the event with the help of some Hoover teachers, who collectively danced their way into infamy during the 2013 Hoover Idol Assembly (eventually more to come on that one ...)

And, of course, there was also a little time to play some baseball. Batter Up!

Eureka Heights lays an egg ... in fact, it laid a few!

The Eureka Heights Elementary School PIE group sponsored egg hunts for pupils during the week before the Easter break. Two hunts were offered, one including kindergarten through second grade and the other third grade through fifth.

All students were able to pick eight prize-filled eggs from the field. Some contained a special ticket, and those ticket-winning pupils are pictured above. They were able to pick out prizes from a cache that Principal Hall offered.

By the way, that "man" in the photo above just happens to be Principal Hall, who dressed as a man as a reward for the student council's efforts earlier this year, when they raised $500 for playground improvements at the school.

First-grade parents 'all in' during March is Reading Month at Eureka Heights

Parents at Eureka Heights Elementary School celebrated March is Reading Month by spending time doing just that with their children. Principal Hall was very happy with the participation of the parents of the first-graders.

West 'marathoners' totaled 950 miles earlier in the school year

Earlier in the school year, West Middle School incorporated a walk-jog marathon into its intramural sports programming.

Students, staff and parents met twice a week for a period of time in an attempt to meet their goal of walking, jogging or running 26.2 miles, which equals a marathon distance.

West had an outstanding turnout of 62 total participants. Members of the group moved around the perimeter of the school when the weather was nice and took their work inside on bad days.

Eventually, 37 members of the group reached their goal and earned a T-shirt, thanks to Renaissance Chiropractic Center, located on Wick Road in Taylor. The T-shirt ran: "We Run This School."

As a group, the effort covered over 950 miles.

McDowell pupils get busy with reading

It was busy at McDowell Elementary School right before the Easter break.

Fifth-grade pupils in Mr. Tomassion's class set a March is Reading Month goal to read 6,000 minutes outside of the classroom. As of the last count, they had read 6,419 minutes ... and were still reading.

Meanwhile, pupils in the classes of Mrs. VanDerworp and Ms. Bochenek received a visit from The Fur Angels, which shared dog safety tips and spent time reading with the third-grade pupils.

The Fur Angels reading program is the inspiration of former Taylor reading teacher Kate Capion, now a volunteer trainer with the Taylor Reading Corps, and Fur Angels founder Martha Hall. It is a program that uses the combination of dog therapy and reading as a way to entice learning in a positive, safe environment.

Increased reading fluency usually results in:

  • Decreased absenteeism
  • Improved self-confidence and self-esteem
  • A sense of pride
  • Students become interested in other school activities
  • Improve hygiene
  • A gentler and more respectful interaction with animals
  • Students participate more in class
  • Students check out more books and ask about them

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Can you pass the test at Blair Moody?

Pupils at Blair Moody Elementary School can qualify as members of the "100s Club" by meeting certain criteria while doing multiplication problems.

In order to qualify, a pupil must complete 100 multiplication problems within a set time frame. Third-graders have six minutes, while fourth-graders have five and fifth-graders three.

Once a pupil completes the task 10 times, they qualify for the club and receive a fabulous "100s Club" T-shirt.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Mustangs claim Bitty Ball title!

Congratulations to the 2012-13 Bitty Ball Champions from Myers Elementary School!

The team, coached by Jimmy Moultire, is captained by Justin Dixon and Michael Lewis. Team members are Jamari Moultire, Raphael Nash, James Davis, Jalin Pitchford, Oscar Rodriguez, Tamon White, Charles Glass, DeShawn Smith, Thomas Lewis and Khari Lewis.

Hats off to the Mustangs!

DECA members put on successful prom fashion show

Truman High School students hosted their annual DECA prom fashion show on March 22. 

The male models in the event wore tuxedos courtesy of Men's Warehouse. The female models wore dresses provided by Yazee's Boutique and David's Bridal. Lulu by Design provided all the jewelry. 

The partnership with Men's Warehouse is a notable one: Any Truman student who rents their tux from the store will receive a discount, and the company will donate a portion of the profit to the Truman DECA Club.

The event was organized and hosted by DECA marketing students. According to sponsor Carly Lundgren, the students is a fantastic job of marketing, promoting, set designing and selling for the show. All those skills were learned in the marketing classes at Truman High School. 

The event was a huge success and Lundgren said that she is proud of all of the students. All the proceeds will go to help pay for DECA competitions at the district, state and national levels.

"And we'd also like to thank all of those who supported us," she said.

Blair Moody honors March 'Students of the Month'

Blair Moody Elementary School recently hosted its "Student of the Month" breakfast celebration for March.

Each month, each teacher chooses a student to be honored. Together, the student and the teacher make a poster, which remains on display for the month in the main hallway of the building.

After the celebration, the student gets to take the poster home, as well as a framed photo of the student and their parents. The parents enjoy seeing their child honors and school staff enjoys honors pupils who make good choices on a daily basis.

Hat's off to the students of the month for March!

Mayor reads at Taylor Parks Elementary School

The March is Reading Month activities continued recently with Mayor Jeffrey Lamarand of Taylor stopped by Mrs. Young's and Ms. Saucier's first-grade classes at Taylor Parks Elementary School.

The pupils were thrilled to have a "VIP" in their midst. Lamarand, a former high school teacher, read to both classes and answered questions from the children.

Michigan Reading Association honors the Taylor Reading Corps

Karl Ziomek (left), Armando Sardanopoli and Geno Salomone accept the Michigan Reading Association’s annual statewide award for standout accomplishments in the reading and literacy agency category from MRA President Grace Velchansky. The TRC was awarded during the MRA’s annual winter conference and convention in Grand Rapids earlier this month. The TRC, a non-profit 501(c)(3), recruits, trains and supervises adult reading mentors in the Taylor School District. It is the brainchild of Salmone, a judge in the 23rd District Court. Ziomek, a former editor at The News-Herald and the author of this blog, is the vice-chairman of the TRC board, while Sardanopoli, a Grosse Ile resident and former member of the GI Board of Education, is a current member of the Taylor Rotary and chairman of the TRC’s volunteer committee.

TAYLOR – The Michigan Reading Association honored the Taylor Reading Corps with its statewide agency award during the MRA’s winter conference and convention in Grand Rapids earlier this month.

The annual convention, “Lighting the Way for Literacy,” took place March 8-10 and drew more than 2,000 authors, educators and more to the DeVos Place in downtown Grand Rapids. The MRA is a non-profit group that is dedicated to promoting literacy in education and beyond.

Six statewide honors were awarded by the MRA. The MRA recognized the Taylor Reading Corps for its development as a non-profit literacy incubator since it was created in late 2011. TRC Board of Directors members Armando Sardanopoli, Geno Salomone and Karl Ziomek traveled to Grand Rapids to accept the award.

The Taylor Reading Corps is a direct result of Salomone’s effort to create a volunteer adult reading force to work with students in the Taylor School District. A judge in the 23rd District Court and a lifelong resident of Taylor, Salmone witnessed first-hand in his courtroom the negative effects that come about through a lack of education.

“There is a direct correlation between a person’s lack of education and the increase probability of becoming a defendant (in court),” he said. “(The TRC) is the first step toward insuring that anyone graduating from a Taylor high school has the actual ability to perform at a 12th-grade level. We want student to have the actual educational ability, not just a diploma.”

National statistics underscore Salomone’s concern. There is a link between poor reading skills and academic failure and delinquency, violence and crime. In fact, according to a U.S. Department of Justice report in 2010, 75 percent of inmates in American prisons cannot read above the fourth-grade level.

Now in its second year, the TRC has sought to aid Taylor School District pupils at the preschool and lower-elementary school level. It started recruiting, training and supervising adult reading volunteers last year, beginning on the kindergarten level. The corps ended up with approximately 100 adult mentors working with about 200 non-reading-proficient pupils. Despite the fact that the TRC was only able to work with those students for approximately half the school year, educators noted gains in their reading proficiency.

Through a partnership with Wayne State University, which analyzes data from the TRC program each year, last year’s results indicated that pupils involved in the corps’ mentoring program “closed the gap” on their more academically ready peers in the school system. Dr. Kate Roberts, an assistant professor of Reading, Language and Literature at WSU, is scheduled to analyze the TRC data each year to add objective, third-party creditability to the program’s results.

“The data showed that we are closing the cap,” said Emily Graham, then the school improvement coordinator for the Taylor School District. “Though the (pupils being mentored through the TRC had) not completely ‘caught up’ to their peers by the end of last year, they made great gains in approaching grade-level targets.”

The fact that the TRC program closed the reading gap last year cannot be underestimated. The ultimate goal is to have all students in the Taylor School District reading at or above grade level by the end of the third grade. Studies have shown that pupils who are non-proficient readers by the end of the third grade have trouble at the high school level. In fact, nearly a quarter of below basic readers in third-grade drop out or fail to finish school on time. According to a Pew Foundation report in 2010, the national adult illiteracy rate lingers around 18 percent, while the adult illiteracy rate in the Detroit metro area is as high as 47 percent.

Therefore, it is highly important to teach good reading skills as early as possible.

“We have to remember that the group we are targeting (the youngest of the elementary school non-proficient readers) has been consistently falling behind their peers for year,” Graham said. “So the fact that we are closing that gap is of huge significance.”

About half of the incoming kindergarten pupils entering Taylor each year need special assistance in reading. That statistic, over time, will be mitigated by a new TRC-PNC partnership.

This year the TRC has expanded its program. Through a “Grow Up Great” grant from the PNC Foundation, the corps is now mentoring preschoolers with PNC Bank employees serving as the volunteer adult reading mentors. Other new adult mentors recruited and trained this year are working with new Taylor kindergarten pupils, while last year’s adult mentors continue to work with their own pupils, most of which have moved to the first-grade level. Next year, the program will continue its expansion, including the second-grade level.

Currently, the TRC has approximately 200 adult volunteers working with about 300 students, but it is sorely still in need of volunteers. Volunteering can be very easy: The TRC supplies in-house training and plenty of learning and background materials. TRC staff tailors the mentoring schedule as best as possible around the requests of the individual volunteer, scheduling them in the school that they prefer at times that they prefer. As part of the program, the TRC also hosts ongoing educational sessions for adult mentors – all on a totally voluntary basis. Many of those sessions include other adult peers who just trade stories and other tidbits to aid in the mentoring process.

The TRC has been very fortunate to partner with some tremendous donors. PNC’s “Grow Up Great” program tops a list that also includes McKinley Properties Inc., Fritz Industries, Walmart of Taylor and Sax Pharmacy (which has donated the TRC office space in the Wick-Pardee plaza) along with dozens of others. In fact, PNC Regional President Ric DeVore and McKinley CEO Albert Berriz both serve on TRC’s capital campaign committee. U.S. Rep. John Dingell (D-12th District) is the honorary capital campaign chairman.

The TRC continue to seek volunteers or donations. To volunteer or donate to the Taylor Reading Corps, email or telephone 1-313-769-6730. Anyone interested in the program can also click on the Web site at, or write to the TRC, PO Box 276, Taylor, MI, 48180. The TRC is open during regular business hours Mondays through Fridays in the old U.S. Army recruiting storefront office at 22755 Wick, inside the Sax Pharmacy plaza (Wick Road at Pardee). 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Second-grade parents share school experience

Second-grade parents at Eureka Heights Elementary School attended class, had breakfast and read with their students on March 22 as a part of March is Reading Month.

Eureka pupils, parents gather for 'Book Bingo'

Eureka Heights Elementary School families flocked to the building on March 25 to play "Book Bingo."

Everyone that attended left with a book (or two!).

In addition, families had an opportunity to visit the school's book fair.

Choral members shine at Eureka Heights!

Eureka Heights Elementary School's fourth- and fifth-grade pupils shined during their sprint concert performance on March 22.

In total, 99 pupils sang, including 10 soloists. Seventy-seven parents attended the performance.

Hats off to all the children and Mr. Fulton for a beautiful performance.

'Super Readers' receive Texas-style lunch!

Eureka Heights Elementary School continued to celebrate March is Reading Month with a special luncheon provided by the Texas Roadhouse.

Three "super readers" were chosen by each classroom teacher to participate in the showcase event. Principal Hall enjoyed serving all the students.

Robotics team finishes 17th of 40, takes home competition's 'Gracious Professionalism Award'

TnT 280, the Taylor School District's robotics team, advanced all the way to the quarterfinals of the FIRST Robotics Detroit Centerline Competition on March 15-16.

FIRST stands for "For Inspiration and Recognition of Technology.

TnT 280 finished 17th overall during the competition, which included 40 teams. 

The Taylor contingent was the entire competition's winner of the "Gracious Professionalism Award," which is sponsored by Johnson & Johnson. The award is one of the most central to the competition and based on the team that best delivers the "FIRST" message.

During the event, Taylor students helped over 15 other competitors fix their robots.

Anyone interested in the program should note that TnT 280's next competition will be at Livonia Churchill High School on March 29-30.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Myers posts its All-Star lineup for the second trimester!

The Myers Elementary School ALL-STAR Student Assembly was held Friday (March 22) to celebrate the schools' second trimester standout pupils.

Each teacher selects two students who have been academic role models for the grading period. Those pupils have also exhibited positive behavior and have proven to be Mighty Myers Mustangs!

Parents are invited to watch their child receive a certificate, a write-up from their teacher and a "goofy bag" of goodies.

Congratulations from the Myers Elementary School community to this trimester's All-Star pupils!