Students and staff say goodbye to 164-year-old Ypsilanti Public Schools
Lisa Carolin | AnnArbor.com
The Ypsilanti and Willow Run school districts officially merge on July 1 to become Ypsilanti Community Schools.
"The merger is a great opportunity for both school communities to take the best of what we have and improve in other areas that need serious attention," said Dedrick Martin, superintendent of Ypsilanti Public Schools and host of Saturday's event.
Martin accepted a job as superintendent of St. Johns Public Schools for next school year. He helped organize Saturday's program, which included performances by students and presentations to honor the district including the retirement of the Ypsilanti school district jersey. "There's a lot of potential for improvement with the new district," said Ypsilanti High School student Jacob Moorer, who will graduate in the new district's first graduating class in 2014. "Many students have a passion for this school district and a lot of pride."
"The merger is supposed to be better for the community and for funding," said Tracy Smith, a 1984 alumnus of Ypsilanti High School. "I just hope it all works out." Kendra Wiedbusch is a 1982 Ypsilanti High School graduate who attended today's gathering.
"It's very sad but something had to be done because of enrollment," said Wiedbusch, whose parents were 1951 and 1954 graduates of the school and whose sisters graduated in 1971 and 1977.
Gwen Heard, a 15-year employee of the Ypsilanti school district, says she's been crying a lot lately.
"I feel really sad," said Heard. "There are a lot of good memories and a lot of good people here. I just came to say goodbye."
Lisa Carolin | AnnArbor.com
"While change is always difficult, through the years, I've found that most children are extremely resilient," he said. "I believe that they will be able to handle the changes if we as adults help them embrace the unique and positive aspects to come."
Student Kharee Kinder received enthusiastic applause for his performance of the national anthem at Saturday's event. Music teacher Crystal Harding's second- through sixth-graders who are part of the "You Can't Stop Me Project" also performed.
"We just like to sing positive music," said Harding, a 1983 alumnus and 26-year teacher in the district who will be returning in the fall with an unknown assignment.
Her fellow alumnus Bob Garfield attended Saturday's event because he said, "We were proud to be the Braves. Our class was close. I think that the two school districts should have merged a while ago."
Garfield's father, James Garfield, was a former superintendent in the Willow Run district.
Ypsilanti High School Senior Dejanae Jorris will be graduating in the district's final graduation Tuesday, June 4.
"I'm happy to get out now," she said. "It will be messy at first, but it's nice to have both communities come together. I'm glad to be graduating in the last class of Ypsilanti High School."