This Week in the Ann Arbor Public Schools

April 14, 2014

This Week’s Good News!

•  Welcome back!  I hope everyone had a wonderful spring vacation.

•  Huron senior, Aviva Gordon, has been named a National Achievement Scholar and will receive a $2,500 scholarship.

•  The Community High School Mock Trial Team won the State of Michigan’s Mock Trial Championship and will advance to the National Mock Trial Championship in Madison, WI, May 8-10, 2014.  Mock Trial is taught by Community High School Faculty Member Chloe Root and the team members are:  Avery Farmer, Christina Chang, Leòn Pescador, Graehm Fazio, Nate Porter, Eve Kausch, Gabe Schat, Lynus Zullo, Liam Sullivan and Taylor Tucker: Timer.

•  Below are the results of the annual U of M School of Natural Resources and Environment student postcard contest.  The contest is open to all K-12 visual art students in the Ann Arbor area.  This year's theme was "Protect Our Pollinators," a great cross-curricular Art/Science opportunity.  AAPS students had a strong showing  and we are proud of all their efforts.  The winners are listed below along with their school and art teacher.

Age 4-6

1st: Shannen Lee,  Lakewood School (Peg Leonard)
2nd: Esme Belanger, Angell Elementary (Sue Sanch)
3rd: Gabby Thompson, Angell Elementary (Sue Sanch)

Age 7-9

1st:  Rita Young, Carpenter School (Meredith Giltner)

Age 10-12

1st: Susan Xi,, Lakewood Elementary (Peg Leonard)
2nd: Fritz Geschner, Lakewood Elementary (Peg Leonard)
3rd: Catherine Bass,Tappan Middle School (Sue Sanch)

Age 13+

1st: Bolin Lee, Tappan Middle School (Sue Sanch)
2nd: Emma Winegarden, Tappan Middle School (Sue Sanch)
3rd: Nicole Tooley, Tappan Middle School (Sue Sanch)

Other Awards: 

"Judge's Choice" Award - Roan Brady (Peg Leonard)
The "Most Biodiversity" Award - Elaine Cui (Peg Leonard)
"Most Dramatic Storyline" Award - Corinne Carter (Sue Sanch)
"Funniest Postcard" Award - Alayna Offredi (Sue Sanch)
"Best Description" Award - Mary Debona (Sue Sanch)

•  Huron's Science Olympiad team took second place at the Regional competition held at Adrian College.  They finished 11 points off first place, behind Saline. Skyline took Third Place and Pioneer took Fourth.  The top two teams advance to the State Tournament at MSU on April 26th.  The following forward contains all of our first and second place events.

Here is our list of first and second place winners.

First place:

Anatomy: Renee Zhao and Preethi Gopal
Circuit Lab: Mitch Lin and Sam Tenka
Designer Genes: Susanne Sheng and Hadley VanRenterghem
GeoLogic Mapping: Sam Tenka and David Yoon
Rocks and Minerals: Ben Chiang and Shangbo Liao
Water Quality: Caleb Cheng and Lisa Ruan

Second place:

Boomilever: Allen Chang and Mitch Lin
Chemistry Lab: Sam Tenka and Caleb Cheng
Compoun Machines: Lisa Ruan and Daniel Geng
Disease Detectives: Preethi Gopal and Allen Chang
Glider: Caleb Cheng and Susanne Sheng
MagLev: Sam Tenka and Daniel Geng
Materials Science: Shalini Lakshmanan and Hadley VanRenterghem
Technical Problem Solving: Mitch Lin, Shalini Lakshmanan, Grace Li, and Jessica Chen
Circuit Lab: Aaron Liu and Grace Li

•  Seventy-five German students from Pioneer, Huron. Slauson,  and Tappan  competed in the 30th annual German Day at the University of Michigan.  This year’s theme was music, and the categories of competition were art, musical performance, poetry recitation, conversational interactions, reading, skits, commercials, spelling bee, cooking and website design.  The winners from the Ann Arbor Public Schools are: 

Katie (Mina) Lee, Slauson Middle School, Musical Performance, 2nd place
Michelle Merritte, Slauson Middle School, Poetry Recitation, Level II, 3rd place
Masaki Hada, Slauson Middle School, Reading, Level I, 3rd place
Emma Pinell & Erik Kirokosyan, Tappan, Websites Level I, 1st place
Izzy Reyes, Megan Holmes & Fiona Lynch, Tappan, Level II, 1st place
Nicole Xu, Pioneer High School, Musical Performance, 1st place
Hera Kaplan, Pioneer High School, Poetry Recitation, Level III, 1st place
Isaac Kazcor, Pioneer High School, Reading, Level II, 1st place
Pablo Sanchez, Pioneer High School, Speaking, Level II, 3rd place
Derek Li, Pioneer High School, Spelling Bee, Level I, 1st place
Henry Fuchs, Pioneer High School, Spelling Bee, Level I, 3rd place

•  This past weekend, a group of AAPS Home Building students went to Grand Rapids for the annual SkillsUSA State Championships.  SkillsUSA's motto is "Champions at Work", and our students personified this. The students met every day at the site during their spring break to practice and prepare for the many phases of the competitions.  Their efforts were rewarded with great results. 

Community senior, Dillon Hakken, finished second in the Carpentry competition and tied another student with a 98% score on the written test. He took home the silver medal.

In the TeamWorks competition, we sent a carpenter, Skyline senior David Pacurar, a mason, Skyline senior Rudi Gerdenich, an electrician, Skyline senior Donnie Tye, and a plumber, Community junior Nathan Corry.  The students continued the AAPS domination and won the State gold medal for the fourth year running.  Home Building teacher, John Birko, received many positive comments from the parents, instructors and observers of the competition on the professional demeanor and courteous behavior with which our students conducted themselves. It was tough competition and he is very proud of them.

•  Thurston second grade student, Christofer Poplar, had a good reason for missing school on April 2.  He went to see President Obama speak at the University of Michigan and personally met and had his picture taken with the President during the VIP Meet and Greet.  Christofer's grandmother,  recently retired AAPS social worker, Christina Montague, and his mother 1994 Huron  graduate, Teesha Montague,  both report they are so happy for Christofer and can't wait to get the photos from the White House.  Christina Montague said longtime family friend Virgie Rollins arranged the introduction for Christofer.

•  Chosen through a blind audition of submitted audio recordings, the Pioneer High School A Cappella Choir, conducted by Steven Lorenz, is one of two ensembles in the state who will perform at the Gala Concert of the Michigan Youth Arts Festival.  The Gala Concert takes place on Friday, May 9, 2014, at 7:00 p.m., in Miller Auditorium, on the campus of Western Michigan University.  The Michigan Youth Arts Festival is a celebration of the best high school student performances in the fine and performing arts from across the state.  A description of the Gala Concert is below, courtesy of

The Gala Concert begins with two incredible featured choirs, and the presentation of the Touchstone Awards to outstanding arts educators.  Then, one by one, the five gala soloists take the stage, performing concerto excerpts, accompanied by a full orchestra, with a level of virtuosity rarely seen in teen-age musicians.

•  In addition, the Choraliers, a subset of the Pioneer A Cappella Choir, who rehearse approximately 17 minutes per week during their lunch,  were selected to perform at the MSVMA Outstanding Solo & Ensemble MYAF Recitals.  This is the third straight year the Pioneer Choraliers have been selected for this honor.

•  A number of Ann Arbor Public Schools art students have had their artwork selected for the Ann Arbor Art Center's show “Potential.” Students from all of the high schools in Washtenaw County were invited to submit artwork for this show and the top works were selected by a jury.

The show runs from April 11 until May 11 at the Ann Arbor Art Center. The following students will have their work on display:

Huron, Art Instructors: Darlene Tankersley, Jay Howe, Jonathan Smigell, Kristin Kubacki

Emma Alson, Dominique Ang, Elise Blaauw, Kate DenHouter, J.R. Habaradas Eisma, Jasper Johns, Anzhu Ling, Mark Miller, Kathryn Shivak, Rena Swopes and Madeline Woods.

Pioneer, Art Instructor: Michael Benedict

Sierre Wolfkostin, Claire Hesseltine, Lilian Huang and Masha Pejovic.

Community, Art Instructors: Steve Coron and Elena Flores

Sean Jacobi, Sterling Stoll, Eve Kausch, Avery Pieronick, Trey Sarmento, Lang Straub, Ada Banks, Audrey Sieczka, Jula Heckendorn, Noah Moorehouse, Mason Kupina, Emma Sowder and Natsume Ono.

Roberto Clemente. Art Instructor: Beth Portincasa

Anais Terraza

•  Michael Hodges, art critic from the Detroit News, was at Community High to take pictures of the Community High Art Show.   The students’ artwork will be in the GO entertainment section of the Detroit News on April 17, 2014.  The show is at the Washington Street Gallery, 306 S. Main, Ann Arbor. The show began on March 25th and ends May 3rd.

• Every year, Congressman Dingle holds an art competition for students in his district. Five pieces are selected to move on to a national Congressional Art Show in Washington D. C. This year, two of the five award winners are from Pioneer High School!

Third Place went to Vivian Li who is a freshman at Pioneer and her teacher is Helen Bunch. The title of her piece is “Zentangle,” and is a pen and ink drawing in black and white.

Irene Wei is a junior at Pioneer and her teacher is Michael Benedict.  The title of her piece is “Reaching for the Moon,” and is a pencil drawing.

•  The Community High Jazz Program was asked to provide music for the University Musical Society’s Ford Honors Gala on March 31, where 9-time Grammy and Pulitzer Prize winning jazz trumpet star Wynton Marsalis was this year's honoree. Mr. Marsalis, members of The Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra (LCJO), and nearly three hundred guests were in attendance for the ceremony and dinner. The Community High Jazz Combo "Superbad," directed by Jack Wagner, played for Mr. Marsalis and the crowd for several hours. At one point when the organizers were trying to get Marsalis to another room to take some photos, he said "Hang on. I don't want to disrespect the musicians. In fact, I want to go play with them." Marsalis then surprised "Superbad" by joining them on the Miles Davis tune All Blues. It was supremely exciting for the students and the audience. Marsalis said afterward "I love them! They can really play, man. They're swingin'!" When Wagner thanked him for playing with them, the gracious Marsalis said "Please don't thank me. The pleasure was all mine. They sound great." Members of "Superbad" are Adlai Reinhart (trumpet), Aidan Wada-Dawson (alto sax), Eddie Codrington (tenor sax), Zoe Cutler (trombone), Oren Levin (piano), Sam Collins (bass), and Deondrae Jones (drums). 

• The following Community students will be on the Ann Arbor poetry slam team competing in Philadelphia this July:  Leon Pescador, runner up (2nd place), Isaac Scobey-Thal, and Carson Borbely.  Clara Kaul is an alternate.  

Other CHS students competing in the slam finals were: Tracy Scherdt, Jacob Johnson, and Cody Zeisler.  The team is coached by Ellen Stone, CHS Faculty member.  Ellen's recent book of poetry, " The Solid Living World" was published in June, 2013.

•  Jeff Gaynor, 6th grade teacher at Clague Middle School, was one of  24 teachers from across the country to be chosen to spend five weeks in South Africa during the summer of 2013 as part of a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Teacher Study Trip.  Jeff will be sharing what he experienced and learned at the downtown Ann Arbor District Library Multi-Purpose Room on Thursday, May 22, 7:00 - 8:30 pm.  With a look at the History, the People, and the Land, the focus will be on similarities to issues we face here in the U.S.  This presentation is free and open to all.


Jeanice K. Swift

Superintendent of Schools
Ann Arbor Public Schools
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48104