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Churchill High School Livonia Rotary AM Tour

Inspiration Behind Door 21

The Livonia Rotary AM Club met at Churchill High School for a private tour of the facility organized by Mike Ladwig a member of Rotary and former student. Little did we know that behind door 21, where we assembled, we would experience an environment that exceeded our expectations in the educator’s approach and aspirations to learning.

Paul Shepich the school district Superintendent and Melissa Carruth, the Assistant Superintendent were our tour guides, and their enthusiasm was contagious as they outlined the school’s curriculum and current project to build a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Lab (STEM). Computer-generated pictures of the built-out lab were shown and we learned that the Clarenceville School District is four square miles and consists of two elementary schools, a middle school, and a high school. The schools are in Wayne County, but they are designated as part of Oakland County Intermediate School District. The district is classified as a “Title One,” community meaning that the medium-income level is below average.

Funding for the new lab was through corporate donations from MASCO and other sources. It was explained that many of their capital improvements are made through their own foundation and outside support. Annual fundraisers such as golf outings are part of their funding strategy. It became apparent that this small district was ready to hustle for the resources their students needed.

Currently, the school district handles 1689 students of which 48% live outside the school district boundaries and are enrolled through the “School of Choice Program.” Although most of their students are from Livonia a large group are from Redford, Detroit, and as far away as Southfield.

A testimony to their perceived success with students.

As we toured an Engineering Lab we learned that the teacher, Deb Krummer was a former mechanical engineer and her repour with the students was dynamic. Smiles crossed the faces of her students as she explained they taught electrical, mechanical, and chemical engineering in the lab.

A walk through the current STEM Lab we were shown “Tiny Houses,” built by students and their current project to design a colony on the planet Mars.

These classes went way beyond books in terms of critical thinking, working in teams, and using their creative minds and hands.

Melissa pointed out they needed more 3D printers ($620) and Robotic arms ($2,000) for the labs and were looking for sponsors. We also learned that the school has a partnership with OTC and Schoolcraft College for additional classes and access to their labs.

In addition to the STEM and Engineering Programs, the school had a curriculum in CAD, IT Coding, and Woodworking. On the cultural side of learning the school offered Broadcasting, Journalism, Choir, Theatre, Art, Ceramics, and Graphic Design Programs. A strong Athletic Program is supported by the district.

The food pantry was the last stop on the tour, and we learned that the pantry provides groceries to families who are in need determined by the Student Support Coordinator and Social Worker located in each school building in the district. The pantry is operated by cognitively impaired students as a means of teaching life skills. These students also grow organic foods such as zucchini in a garden on site. The zucchini was used to bake muffins served to our group with coffee in the cafeteria before we left. These students bake cookies and muffins for sale at their “Trojan Store,” located in the school. Melissa pointed out that the pantry needed a walk-in cooler for perishables items. This item could cost from $4,000 to $10,000 dollars.

As we left, the rain was falling but our spirits were rising thinking about the commitment and excitement the teachers and administration exhibited during the tour.

Nancy Darga


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Rotary Club of Livonia AM

Join Rotary’s 1.2 million neighbors, friends, leaders, and problem-solvers who see a world where people unite and take action to create lasting change – across the globe, in our communities, and in ourselves.

37637 Five Mile Road, #179

Livonia, MI 48154

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