Let's Focus on Students

I think students are upset, and we need to start focusing on their needs.

Driving through my neighborhood the other day, I saw a small SUV with the letters "L.K.O.D." in the rear windows.  That phrase refers to "Lahser Knights or Die," which was coined by a group of Lahser students who clearly do not want their school to close or long-held traditions to end.

I am sorry for them.  I wish I could help them.  I wish I could offer some "magic words" to make them feel better about what is going on in our schools.

I tried.  But I can't fight a stealth, low-turnout, election, and those on the receiving end of millions of new tax dollars generally know that to be true.

The fact is that Lahser (and Andover) no longer exist.  We will have a new, single high school.  Because about 8000 voters said "yes" last May 8. 

Was there a better way to solve the problems of the BHSD?  Yes.  In fact, there were many.  A really good plan would have passed on a large-turnout, general election, even-year November ballot, like the one we will face on Nov. 6. 

The best way to get valid community input is at the polls in a high-turnout election.  Holding elections for financial issues in Feb., May and August are good ways to pass unpopular taxes for unpopular plans.

The May 8 election cost BHSD taxpayers about $70,000.

In the long run, how much will it cost this district to trick district taxpayers into building a school that they do not want?  We'll have to wait and see.

(Several Michigan school districts will request renewals and new funding on Nov. 6.  If their taxpayers feel that the money will be well-spent, they will pass.)

Supposedly, a "transition plan" is being executed by the district, but I don't see much in the way of positive effect.  I think that many of our high school students realize that they are getting a bad deal. 

Are you sure we put our students first with this plan?  I'm not sure of that at all.

I have heard that some feel that they are "throw away kids" being forced to stuff themselves into a "throw away school" for the next couple of years.

Perhaps some are really excited about the new 12-lane pool, and others can't wait to put on a play at the new Performing Arts Center. 

But, I doubt many will be happy to sit in traffic in the area, and fight for parking spots on the new high school campus.  I doubt that many top students will enjoy working collaboratively with other students and I am not sure that many great teachers will enjoy working as parts of a team.

And, I'm not sure at all that anyone asked them about it.

Are two small schools better than one large one?

Could we have renovated two small buildings and constructed a Performing Arts Center and collegiate-type sports arena and Performing Arts Center at the school farm property?  Or elsewhere?  Where acreage, parking and freeway access is readily available?

I see a lot on the Patch about union-bashing and lack of respect for teachers.

I'm more concerned about our students.

Let's put the needs of our students FIRST.  They have never needed the support of adults more than they do right now.


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Neal Charness November 01, 2012 at 10:30 AM
With all due respect this blog is about Jenny complaining about past elections and not getting her way. There is nothing in here showing concern for students despite the title. Instead, she picks at the new high school and revisits the bond issue which was overwhelmingly passed by the voters, 61% to 39%. There's nothing positive in this blog unlike the blogs of other posters. Please give her the 4th election rejection.
Mac November 01, 2012 at 11:51 AM
First, "Lahser Knights or Die" is a spirit group that has nothing to do with the new high school. Mr. Fellin also tried to attach the slogan to worries about the new high school last May, and ended up making a serious error. Second, yes, someone did, and has been, asking and talking to the students about it. You are not a parent of a student who will be in the new high school. I am. That is why I, and many, many other parents, were very involved in the process for designing the new school. That is why so many of us fervently supported the "Yes" vote in May. I didn't consider the constant bussing between schools a part of a good education. Neither did my future high schooler. I didn't see cutting AP classes or extra-curriculars as part of a good education. Neither did my future high schooler. My child loves to be on stage. A real stage, maybe even with a backstage area and a bathroom, gives her as much as I had in high school. My child loves music. Now the temperature in the orchestra room will get over 60 degrees. I plan to attend the transition meetings. My child wears a BHHS bracelet. He helped choose the logo. We're as included as we choose to be. Deep, contrived empathy for the passengers in a passing SUV does not educate one on the needs of our students, or qualify you for the school board.
Tressa Mucci November 01, 2012 at 12:16 PM
In case no one was aware of this, possibly the author of this blog since she no longer has students in the district, Lahser has been closed for one and a half days this week due to a power outage. The students knew this was coming because Lahser always losses power. It is old. It is falling apart. It is a building. It is going to "die". LKOD is about the spirit living on. The students have come to terms with it, maybe others should too. I have three (not 0) children involved with this transition. My junior (in the senior mix next year) is warming up to it. It would be misleading to say she is excited, she just UNDERSTANDS. My freshman is pretty much just fine with it, he already knows lots of "those" Andover kids and likes them. My 7th grader feels that he is the luckiest kid around. One year at the 9th grade facility together with everyone to come together and get their identity as a class, then on to the new building where they get to put their "mark" on it. I think I understand what the kids are going through. I just didn't see a bumper sticker, I talk to the students, I live with the students, I hear the students. It's time to move forward.
Ken Jackson November 01, 2012 at 12:16 PM
Mac, Thank you -- always a great source of information.
Amy Cardin November 01, 2012 at 12:53 PM
In the BHSD we have never shied away from something just because it's hard. Is the building phase and transition to our new high school going to be hard? Yes. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't do it. I would argue that the students you purportedly care so much about, Jenny, will get extra added attention because our administration and school board believe they will need it. Unlike you, the students and their educational success IS their top priority. And you know full well that students and staff have been involved in every step of the process. More buckshot. Your campaign slogan of "get back to education" is about yourself only...the rest of the district never left it!
Carl C. November 01, 2012 at 12:58 PM
To focus on students, one might have to get out of one's car.
Judy Weiner November 01, 2012 at 01:29 PM
Who didn't ask students? Jenny, it must have been you. Students have been telling staff and administration for every bit of ten years that the spaces in school do not facilitate the things they want in education, from flexible spaces to technology that they use in the world every day. Students absolutely have been part of focus groups. Check your FNI workbook, Jenny, as detailed information about students'involvement in the process is laid out and even includes names of participants. The results of student research is made public in this detailed study of what our students and community want. Did you not read the workbook? Further, sdhools, through their Student Councils, clubs, athletics and more, are already working to bring both schools of students together. The students are engaged and looking forward to the opportunities this union will afford them. And in a couple of years, high schoolers will enter BHHS and never know that two smaller schools existed previously. It will be the new normal. Jenny, I know you've seen the FNI workbook and I know you may have asked one or two kids who have probably graduated from the BHSD what they think. But I'm assuming you did not ask the staff or the students who will be part of this exciting change because if you had done that part of your homework, it would nullify everything you spun in today's web of deceit. Vote for Rob Herner or Joan Berndt on November 6.
Brandon Kaufman November 01, 2012 at 01:33 PM
Ms. Greenwell is not qualified to be a board candidate. She continues to manipulate information, live in the past and offer no constructive solutions, only complaints. My 8th grade son is extremely excited for high school. We were talking last night about all the opportunities he will have, and how it’s a time to be a risk taker and try new things. I can’t imagine how having her on the school board would be good for the students, or our community.
Elizabeth Fellows November 01, 2012 at 03:27 PM
Here is what is going on positively in the high schools-the teachers at both schools are and have been working together, the administrators are and have been working together, the parents are and have been working together (this year all our PTO meetings are jointly held with the exception of the first), and the students are and have been working together...all to make this transition run as smoothly as possible. Did you know that last week approximately 20 students from each school participated in a leadership conference? Did you know that there is a club that was started this year by students called Bloomfield United-the intent being organizing and hosting events where students can meet and interact before the consolidation? Did you know that for the past few years the students from both schools have been working together during Charity Week to raise funds for one charity? In fact, did you know that the Student Leadership from both schools have been meeting regularly to plan joint events? Did you know that this year for the first time there will be a Junior Prom and it will be held jointly? Did you know that many of the students have already established friendships because of taking classes together (over 300 students travel between the buildings)? Change can be hard, but it can also be exciting, I choose to look at this change as being one of opportunity and so do many of the students I talk to.
Ann November 01, 2012 at 04:37 PM
Every candidate running for the two year seat has a child who graduated from BHSD. Joan Berndt has a son who graduated from Lahser. Rob Herner has both a graduate and a current student. Two of the three candidates for the six year seat have children who graduated from the BHSD. Ingrid Day has two children who graduated from BHSD schools. She is also distinguished by her excellent Board service over five difficult years.
Neal Charness November 01, 2012 at 05:39 PM
Below, once again, Chris says a reference to him is completely false. His protestations seem to be more numerous than Ms. Greenwell's blogs. The statements Chris complains of are from many, many posters. At some point the old saying: "where there's smoke, there's fire" might apply here. I don't believe your protestations any longer, I don't know how many others outside the core group of Greenwell/Moigis supporters do either.
Amy Cardin November 01, 2012 at 06:04 PM
Chris, can you tell me one "unique experience" that Greenwell or Moigis bring to the table? By all accounts Mr. Moigis is a nice, pleasant man, however, he is woefully overshadowed by the experience, leadership qualities, business acumen and knowledge of education today possessed by both Ingrid Day and Howard Baron. And in regard to the 2 year seat, both Joan Berndt and Rob Herner have been walking the walk as active and involved appointed board trustees. They both bring myriad experiences that will be positive if they are elected. My only regret is that we cannot vote for both of these qualified candidates. I cannot say the same for Mrs. Greenwell. I fear if Greenwell is elected our district will be subject to more of her negative rantings, open hostility toward her fellow board members and the pushing of her own agenda. This is a time for our district to stay together. We need to continue the positive momentum started by the passage of the high school bond proposal. Our students need a focused, unified, goal-oriented board of education now more than ever. Please vote for Day, Baron and either Berndt or Herner. These candidates are worthy of our support and will serve our students and community well.
M Henley November 01, 2012 at 06:34 PM
Part 1 The new BHSD high school project has a major focus on the students, and the benefits of this are evident to me based upon my experience. I have a sense of déjà vu about this project because when I was in high school in the 1970’s I was lucky to be in a brand new public Ohio high school full of innovations and excellent education. We had team teaching, open classrooms, collaborative learning, interdisciplinary classes, flexible work spaces, many individual and group project assignments. There were very few desks (tables instead), most learning spaces did not have walls. There was a large aspect of student accountability; in some classes we were instructed to turn in projects not by a due date but when we, the students, felt they were completed to our own best standards. We could take traditional American history or classes such as “American Thought and People” and “American Social Movements” and similar choices were available in other core academic disciplines. I experienced first-hand benefits of team teaching. Some classes had few tests, but used other assessments. We had one stadium-seating-style small lecture hall used for things such as visiting educators/lecturers and multimedia demonstrations for groups of 50-70 students. Many classes were taught in round gatherings…no hiding in the back row was possible. I believe the term 21st Century Style Education was used back then.
M Henley November 01, 2012 at 06:34 PM
Part 2 Although most of the educational innovations were successful, some were used and then scrapped. For example we had 28 15-min periods (mods) a day, and no two days of the week were the same in one student’s schedule. Some science classes were 7 mods long (1 hr 45min) and some French language vocabulary drill classes were one mod long (15 min). This meant some students were on the move between classes every 15 min and the master scheduling for several hundred students must have been a HUGE task (this was in the days when computers were 4 function calculators). A more traditional schedule was used after a few years. Although I suppose a critic could have called us guinea pigs, there was no sense of any negativity in trying new things. I was also part of the group of students who had make-shift learning spaces for the two years while the high school was being built. We were in the basement of a school for some classes and in a repurposed school for a year. Although the temporary learning spaces were not optimal, our teachers and administrators took care of delivering sound education, and we developed resiliency and adaptation skills in a nurturing environment, along with some extra camaraderie.
M Henley November 01, 2012 at 06:35 PM
Part 3 When our kids were in elementary school in the 1990s, I was first introduced to the BHSD high schools, which I thought were very “old fashioned” and I even spoke to the former superintendent, Gary Doyle, about this, hoping our kids would have a modern high school by the time they were there. Although this was not to be (they are all Lahser grads now), our kids’ educations were excellent and prepared them well for the future. But, had they had the benefits designed into the new Bloomfield Hills High School and the types of education delivery that will be facilitated there, I think their educations would have been more optimal and more enjoyable. I am grateful to the school board and the community, and the teachers where I went to K-12 school for their vision and implementation of education. I think the families of current and future students of the new school will be grateful to the community, concerned educators, and school board members, who will help to make the transition years good, and the high school educational opportunities even better than what this community has had.
J Arch November 01, 2012 at 06:46 PM
Jenny continues to ignore facts and simply throw out unfounded comments to convince the unknowing that she somehow has a better vision. Let's dissect some of her statements above, shall we? 1. The question of renovating the existing Andover and Lahser buildings separately was answered. It would cost more to fix all the deficiencies in those two separate buildings than the cost of the consolidated campus plan and you would still have buildings that were designed for 1960's era learning environments. 2. Placing the millage vote on the May ballot allowed the project, once approved, to proceed on a schedule that will save multiple times the $70K cost of the election because of how the construction schedule better syncs with the school calendar. This was explained in detail in anticipation of the claims that it was otherwise a "stealth election" attempt. That election had one of the highest, if not the highest, turnouts for a local election in this area, further refuting that claim. If 8,000 Yes votes is somehow a lack of affirmation, what does that mean about the No vote tally that was less than that in the previous election for the prior plan? (Continued)
J Arch November 01, 2012 at 06:47 PM
(Continued from previous post) 3. The claim that students were not asked for their input on the consolidation is a false statement by Jenny. As a parent that is on his third child moving thru Lahser, I can attest that they were given lots of opportunities to discuss the pending consolidation. 4. Lahser Knights Or Die (LKOD): Obviously Jenny has not talked to any of those students or spent time in Lahser or Andover to understand that the transition plan underway encourages students to honor their love for their current school while at the same time embracing the future of a single high school. Attending the many combined events between the schools at final rivalry sports matches and other organized activities this year would amply demonstrate. The support for our students during this transition on the part of the teachers (I've talked to many), administrators (I've talked to many) and parents (I talk to many every day as a parent with a student at Lahser) is firmly in place. Let's stop politicizing the process and instead get behind it and help assure its success. J. Wagner
Timothy November 01, 2012 at 11:02 PM
Part 1 of 2 Mrs. Greenwell, As a student at Lahser, you will struggle to find a student who takes more pride in being a Lahser Knight than I do. Mrs. Greenwell, L.K.O.D. isn’t a motto, it is a lifestyle. I live the L.K.O.D. lifestyle, a lifestyle in which I make it my goal to make the last year at Lahser the BEST. On the other hand Mrs. Greenwell, I can guarantee that next year, you will absolutely not find a student cheering louder for my Blackhawks. If it is the spirit you are worried about, think of this, when one graduates High School, the move on to College. At college you don’t see students still considering themselves to be a Baron or Knight; they consider themselves to be a Spartan or a Wolverine. As students, we will MOVE ON, and fully support the new school, but for now, we want to cherish the cultures of Andover and Lahser and make their last year, their best year.
Timothy November 01, 2012 at 11:03 PM
Part 2 of 2 This past week, I was invited to attend Bloomfield Communication and Leadership Conference (BCLC), which comprised of 66 Andover and Lahser Sophomores and Juniors. All conference we discussed the merger. We discussed our concerns about it for maybe 10% of the time. For the rest of the time, we discussed how we can make this transition the best possible. As students, the conference as a whole came to the conclusion that, although we will miss both Andover and Lahser, we are ready for the transition and we are willing to do anything to make it run as smoothly as possible. We discussed for hours about what we were excited about, what we wanted, and how we were going to change the community’s attitude toward this merger. See, as students, we understand first hand that the schools HAVE to merge, we may not be jumping for joy that they are, but we certainly aren't throwing hissy fits. You see Mrs. Greenwell, we have MOVED ON! The fact that you do not have the capability to move on when things don't go your way clearly demonstrates your incapability to become a school board member. For the students, could you move on? I do not think so and that is why you are not suitable to sit on the board. I ask the readers to, for the students, please vote for Ms. Day, Mr. Baron, and Mr. Herner for school board. Sincerely, Timothy
Judy Weiner November 02, 2012 at 12:32 AM
Timothy, you certainly said it best. Thank you.
S Sera November 02, 2012 at 12:37 AM
If I were his parent I would be "kvelling" after reading what he has written!
Ken Jackson November 02, 2012 at 01:16 AM
That's how to write!
J Arch November 02, 2012 at 11:56 AM
As a parent of a Lahser student and one that spends hours every week in the building, I can attest that the sentiments expressed by Timothy are those of the overwhelming majority of the students there. The high school kids at Lahser and Andover are more perceptive and understanding than some in our community give them credit for, especially those that don't have any direct connections to the schools. That is why I find it incredibly irresponsible for Jenny Greenwell to speculate as to what she believes the student state of mind is. Her tactic is using our students to further a political agenda and it should not be rewarded. J. Wagner
Charles Gaba November 02, 2012 at 01:37 PM
Beautifully written, Timothy. I happen to support Ms. Berndt, but Mr. Herner would do right by the district (and the new high school) as well. Ms. Greenwell strikes me, at this point, as flailing about, desperately seeking to hold on to some of the relevance that she once had. It's kind of depressing to see, really.


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