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Rutherford Pool Free Swimming Lessons

We know everyone is itching to get into the pool, and the Friends of Rutherford Pool are extremely excited to be able to once again offer FREE swim lessons this summer thanks to funding from Huron-Clinton Metroparks’ Everyone in the Pool Initiative and Washtenaw County Parks! Keep reading to learn about some changes to registration.

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YCS 10th Anniversary

Tiny Steps, Big Leaps: Playground Dedications at Ford and Perry Early Learning Centers

In celebration of early childhood education, Ypsilanti Community Schools (YCS) and the Washtenaw Intermediate School District (WISD) recently dedicated two new preschool playgrounds for the youngest learners at Ford Early Learning Center and Perry Early Learning Center. 

These playgrounds, designed for preschoolers aged 3-7, signify a notable upgrade from equipment that had previously served the community for over 15 years. With a focus on safety and inclusivity, the new playgrounds will provide age-appropriate equipment and foster imaginative play. The district hopes that these structures serve as a place for students to form lasting friendships and explore the world around them.

“The best part of early elementary school is learning through play,” said Superintendent Alena Zachery-Ross. “We have three schools in our district dedicated to the instruction of our youngest students and we take pride in equipping them with the resources needed to make the education experience both academically rich and fun. We are grateful for the continued support we receive from our partners at the Washtenaw Immediate School District, providing once again that we are Stronger Together. I can’t wait to see the playgrounds in use!”

Playgrounds provide a pivotal role in nurturing essential skills, fostering friendships, and laying the foundation for a lifetime of curiosity, creativity and joy.  

We are proud to see the community’s commitment to providing Ypsilanti Community School children with safe and stimulating environments primed for their exploring, learning and growing. Together, let us continue to support and nurture the growth and development of our community's youngest members, one tiny step at a time.

 

Nurturing Bright Futures: A Community's Commitment to After-School Enrichment

Ypsilanti Community Schools (YCS) is proud to partner with Eastern Michigan University’s Bright Futures, an after-school program focused on illuminating the path to academic success and personal growth for students across the district. Bright Futures operates in eight sites across YCS, providing a safe and supportive environment for students of all ages to thrive outside of traditional school hours.

Bright Futures started in 2007 and has been present in YCS since 2009, before the district’s consolidation. At its inception, Bright Futures was driven by a commitment to student voice and empowerment, offering a variety of activities and clubs tailored to the interests and needs of the diverse student body. From academic support and enrichment clubs to social-emotional learning and leadership development, Bright Futures nurtures holistic growth while instilling a sense of agency and advocacy in its participants.

"Our students get the chance to take emotional risks in a low-stakes environment,” says Superintendent Alena Zachery-Ross. “They’re leading clubs, advocating for themselves and making their voices heard by their peers. This gives a supplemental opportunity for YCS scholars to better understand themselves and those around them.”

Each Bright Futures site operates year-round, offering 32 weeks of programming during the school year and six weeks of summer activities. Students engage in community building, all while fostering meaningful connections with peers and mentors. Through a cohort model, students at each school come together to participate in a variety of activities, ranging from music clubs to math assistance. The program emphasizes student-driven decision-making to push scholars to be bold and advocate for themselves inside and outside of the classroom. 

Bright Futures also values community involvement and collaboration. Volunteers and local organizations play a vital role in supporting the program, offering workshops, leading clubs, and providing valuable resources. Regular family nights and community events further strengthen the bond between Bright Futures and Ypsilanti families, fostering a sense of belonging and collective responsibility for student success.

“As a district, we’re proud to see the input parents, educators and community members have on the program,” Superintendent Zachery-Ross said. 

Bright Futures holds quarterly events to showcase club activities where students get the chance to recite their poetry, perform dances and present any other art form they’ve developed during the year. Parental and educator input is greatly valued to inform what clubs should be offered and what additional academic support is needed.

As Bright Futures continues to evolve, it remains committed to its mission of providing a safe, supportive, and enriching environment for students to thrive. Ypsilanti Community Schools remains focused on the needs of its students and the partnership with Bright Futures aids in cultivating the seeds of success to nurturing a brighter future for the entire community.

 

CTE Programs at YCHS

Did you know that in the 10 years since Ypsilanti Public Schools and Willow Run Public Schools consolidated into Ypsilanti Community Schools (YCS), the district has continued to bring excellent Career and Technical Education opportunities to its students? YCS takes pride in providing robust education offerings that support student academic, social and emotional growth.

Available programs currently include:

  • Collision Repair: This is an ASE-accredited training program, which is a two-year course of study where students are professionally trained in seven areas of collision repair. They use I-CAR LIVE curriculum and do structural and non-structural repairs on today's high-tech automobiles, including a newly donated 2015 Ford Focus. In this class, students learn the basics of automotive MIG welding, plastic welding and plastic repair.

  • Automotive Technology: This is an entry-level course for automotive technology students that utilizes the state-mandated ASE automotive maintenance and light repair curriculum. During this two-year course, students study personal and shop safety, tool, equipment, shop operations, basic engine fundamentals and basic technician skills. Students also study electrical and engine performance (tune-up), steering, suspension, alignment and brakes for a well-rounded learning experience. 

  • Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management: RCTC Culinary Arts and Bakery Science teaches culinary arts, bakery science and hospitality. In this class, students get hands-on experience in the culinary industry and bakery science industries using the National Restaurant Association ProStart curriculum. Through the ProStart program, high school students can learn career-building skills and get a taste for success in an industry that is hungry for new talent. Students become acquainted with the best practices in all phases of the culinary and bakery industry. 

  • Basic Nursing Assistant Skills: This state-approved 90-hour program prepares students for employment in a variety of healthcare settings, including nursing homes, hospitals and home healthcare agencies where they can hold positions as nursing assistants upon taking state clinical and knowledge tests for certification. 

  • Cosmetology: This CTE course allows students to participate in hands-on training in hair and skincare from industry experts. 

“We are proud to have so many incredible CTE opportunities for our students, but most importantly, we are thrilled with the number of exceptional educators that teach these courses,” said Superintendent Alena Zachery-Ross. “Their knowledge and dedication to their craft allows us to provide exceptional support to our scholars, which leads to successful outcomes after graduation.”

 

Meeting and exceeding potential with technology in every classroom

Ypsilanti Community Schools is dedicated to unleashing the potential of every student through technology. With a firm commitment to innovation, the district ensures that all students have access to the latest technology to support their learning journey. In today's digital age, technological literacy is essential, and YCS is paving the way for its students to excel in a tech-driven world.

Through the 1:1 Technology program, YCS empowers students with abundant online experiences, equipping them with the skills needed for success beyond their elementary and secondary education. Since becoming a 1:1 Technology District in 2020, Ypsilanti Community Schools has been providing each student with a learning device, ensuring that technology plays a pivotal role in their academic growth.

Superintendent Zachery-Ross emphasized, "Part of the mission at Ypsilanti Community Schools is to distribute resources to enrich teaching and inspire learning. By providing computers and teaching our students safe online habits, we are setting them up for success in and out of the classroom for the rest of their lives."

From first grade to twelfth grade, students are equipped with iPads or Chromebooks, fostering increased technological literacy, access to devices at home, independent learning, and additional resources. YCS instructors encourage students to safely explore the online world through strategic assignments, enhancing their learning opportunities.

YCS understands the importance of flexibility and alternative learning options. Providing each student with a device not only prepares them for an online classroom but also opens up additional learning opportunities at home, ensuring that every student can reach their highest potential.

Ypsilanti Community Schools is proud to advance the promise of success for all students and provide the resources necessary to support their journey toward excellence.

 

Magic of Christmas- Adopt a Family Foundation 

‘Tis the season the season of giving! At Ypsilanti Community Schools, working with The Magic of Christmas Adopt a Family Foundation is another way to spread joy and cheer to our students. Founded in 1996 by former University of Michigan athlete and community member, Debbie Williams-Hoak, this organization aims to provide children with magical Christmases. What started small, has blossomed into an annual event supplying Washtenaw County with Christmas delight. 

The Adopt a Family Foundation collaborates with Washtenaw County area schools, working with social workers to identify families in need. These families fill out wish lists, offering a glimpse into the specific needs and desires of each child. The community rallies together showcasing the remarkable generosity that defines our community. Not only are individuals signing up to give, but companies are participating in the adoption process.

“Our staff works hard every year to make this happen for our students,” said Superintendent Dr. Alena Zachery-Ross. “Our amazing social workers, led by Greta Furlong, identify the families in our community that would benefit most from this program, and work hard to get their wish lists to donors in the community. We also have a dedicated maintenance staff, led by Aaron Rose, Director of Facilities, to arrange district trucks to transport the gifts to schools for distribution. We are stronger together and this wouldn’t be possible without the tireless work of our staff.”

As wish lists are due on Halloween, the Magic of Christmas Foundation ensures a smooth process, allowing for organized data entry and providing donors with ample time to shop throughout November and December. By December 15th, all gifts are wrapped and labeled for YCS families to retrieve. 

The generosity demonstrated by our community further proves that we are Stronger Together. At Ypsilanti Community Schools, the magic of Christmas is not about the presents, but the giving spirit in the entire community.

 

Gratitude and Appreciation at Thanksgiving

Since 2013, the Achieving College and Career Education (ACCE) High School has opened its doors ahead of Thanksgiving for a fun, festive community Thanksgiving Appreciation Luncheon. This annual event is organized by ACCE students and staff, and supported by several wonderful community partners - M Den, Covington Insurance Agency and Taste of Soul. Together, YCS parents, supporters and alumni share delicious food and enjoy each other’s company.

“As a school district, we are still in our infancy,” said YCS Superintendent Alena Zachery-Ross. “To have traditions, such as the Thanksgiving Appreciation Luncheon, really demonstrates our commitment to creating an environment where all feel welcome inside our buildings. It is to our benefit that we have a passionate and dedicated community who show up by supporting our athletics, goods and food drives, and student initiatives like this one.”

This event allows over 100 members of the community to break bread as one and express appreciation for the support received year-round. An added benefit of this program is that those in attendance have the opportunity to go home with food for their personal Thanksgiving meals, including turkeys and pumpkin pies.

This year, Teacher Consultant and Teachers Union President Charlotte Tillerson was honored by having the ACCE food pantry named after her. Mrs. Tillerson is a valued member of our community, showing support to our students and staff by being present at school and showcasing what it means to be ‘Stronger Together.’ 

As YCS celebrates 10 years as a consolidated school district, gathering as a unified community for something as simple as a shared meal is joyful.

YCS Staff Thanksgiving Helpers  YCS Staff Thanksgiving Helpers  Parents, Staff, Students  Thanksgiving Dinner at ACCE - Staff, Parents and Students  Thanksgiving - Staff Member Decorating Bulletin Boards

 

Endless “Opportunities” at Ypsilanti Community Schools

On a festive fall day in Ypsilanti, the school community gathered together to celebrate the endless possibilities available to district students participating in STEM and Robotics programs during the Toyota’s Driving Possibilities event. The collaborative program between Toyota, Eastern Michigan University, Lincoln Consolidated Schools, Ypsilanti Community Schools,  and Washtenaw Intermediate School District is designed to prepare our scholars for careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). Through this partnership, members of the Ypsilanti school community, including students, families and staff, recently participated in the “Driving Possibilities” extravaganza in conjunction with a Grizzlies football game. 

Bringing the community together to provide exceptional support to scholars demonstrates the diversity of options available to the district’s students as they grow, develop and achieve . This year’s event included a robotics showcase, a variety of STEM-based activities for attendees to try, free food and a performance by the incredible Ypsilanti Community High School band.

“The Driving Possibilities event was one my favorite to attend this year because I got to connect with so many families as our students showed off their skills and make the community proud,” said YCS Superintendent Alena Zachery-Ross. “Regardless of the score on the board at the end of the football game, I know we all felt like winners to be there together demonstrating 10 years of strength, unity and community.”

The evening was incredibly special, as the district topped off the festivities with a celebration of its senior student-athletes on the football team.  It was truly an event filled with fun and community for all.

“We are tremendously grateful to our wonderful partners for the event, including Toyota , Detroit Science Center, WCC, EMU, YCS Central Office, Restoration Outreach Ministry, SEMIS, Ypsilanti Community High School & Lincoln High School Robotics Teams and Print Giants,” Superintendent Zachery-Ross continued. “We are so thankful to them for their ongoing dedication to our student’s success. Because of their collaboration, as well as the wonderful support we receive from our entire community, we are stronger together. “

Endless “Opportunities” at Ypsilanti Community SchoolsEndless “Opportunities” at Ypsilanti Community SchoolsEndless “Opportunities” at Ypsilanti Community SchoolsEndless “Opportunities” at Ypsilanti Community Schools 

 

In Thanks: YCS Automotive Technology’s New Car

The Automotive Technology class at Ypsilanti Community High School recently accepted a car donated by a community member and the students cannot wait to start tinkering with it.

The 2015 Ford Focus, generously donated by Mrs. Mediana Atchison, will help students become acquainted with newer technology, which is not often found in the cars they practice on during class. In fact, with this donation, students will have the opportunity to explore potential technology issues in vehicles and how to solve them, all before setting foot in a professional mechanic or collision shop.

Between YCS and Lincoln Consolidated Schools, the district’s Automotive Technology class has 88 students who will benefit from working on the donated car. Students have already gotten their hands dirty pulling the bumpers off to keep the car looking shiny and new, hopefully for years to come.

“As a consolidated school district, we know the value and importance of working together to achieve greatness,” said YCS Superintendent Alena Zachery-Ross. “This is why we open our classrooms to Lincoln students in the mornings so they can work with our talented teachers and staff members on their CTE skills before returning to their home school for the rest of their daily curriculum. We are grateful to Mrs. Atchison for her generosity and commitment to our students, further demonstrating that we’re strongest when working together.”

In addition the donated car, YCS’ Automotive class recently received Ford Mechanic Training from Ford Motor Company. This helped students deepen their knowledge about Ford cars before they set off to work on the Ford Focus. The specialized attention to detail will bolster their resumes and help students continue to be among the top competitors for mechanic jobs in the area.

CTE programs at YCS are historically successful, sending graduates to nearby auto shops and collision repair centers where they then have successful careers. In fact, nine recent graduates are working at local collision and mechanic shops with the knowledge they gained in YCS classrooms.

 YCS Automotive Technology’s New CarYCS Automotive Technology’s New Car

 

Empowering Tomorrow's Leaders: How Eastern Michigan University Athletes are Inspiring the Next Generation

Ypsilanti Community Schools is incredibly grateful for the continued support and partnership of Eastern Michigan University (EMU). YCS is fortunate to collaborate with community partners on several programs and activities for the benefit of student growth and success, including the mentorship program featuring EMU football players engaging with students at Perry Early Learning Center and Holmes Elementary School.

The look of awe and joy on our young students' faces when EMU football players stepped into their classrooms was incredibly heartwarming! It was a privilege for the district to host the athletes and hear their firsthand experiences, from when they were once small to getting to play football at the collegiate level. While onsite the players read captivating story books, engaged in lively Q&A sessions in each classroom, and even joined in on the fun with younger students during recess.

“The EMU football players became instant heroes to our students,” Principal Brian Dickerson said. “Even months later, our hallways still buzz with excitement as our students fondly reminisce about the experience. The players taught invaluable lessons about teamwork, dedication, and the excitement of playing football. We look forward to welcoming the team back next school year as we continue to build on the community partnerships that make us Stronger Together.”

With the help of EMU, YCS has created moments for its students that will fuel a sense of possibility and the belief that they, too, can achieve greatness. The district is grateful to have support igniting the spark of inspiration in young minds and for being champions both on and off the field. Here's to many more collaborations that empower our future leaders.

 

Michigan Learning Channel Blog

Michigan Learning Channel Blog

Free resources for YCS families support student growth

To support student growth, Ypsilanti Community Schools is working in partnership with Michigan Learning Channel (MLC) to provide elementary school scholars with additional academic resources. Through this partnership, educators and families have FREE access to PBS videos and printable resources designed to teach, practice, and reinforce instruction for students who need a little extra help in specific topics.

While YCS scholars can work on the material during the school day, what’s most attractive about this partnership is that the resources are also available at home, with Michigan teachers providing instructional content to families through a 24-hour online livestream.

MLC was launched in 2020 by Michigan educators alongside six PBS stations across the state to respond to the pandemic. At launch, the MLC served as an emergency learning platform to overcome internet access barriers for Michigan students but is now used across the district to ensure all students succeed.

“Ypsilanti Community Schools is grateful for the partnership it has developed with MLC over the past several years, and we are proud that one of the district’s Board of Education members –  Trustee Gillian Gainsley – serves as a key voice at the organization that is helping thousands of young children locally and across Michigan,” said Dr. Alena Zachery-Ross, superintendent. “The Michigan Learning Channel has been an invaluable resource to our school community, and we hope that our families continue to take advantage of all that it offers.”

 

EMU Education Day Video

Link to Video