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Posted on Sat, Jun 1, 2013 : 3:50 p.m.

Students and staff say goodbye to 164-year-old Ypsilanti Public Schools

By Lisa Carolin


There was plenty of food and entertainment at Saturday's Ypsilanti Public Schools farewell celebration at the district's high school.

Lisa Carolin |

Current and former students and staff came to Ypsilanti High School Saturday to bid farewell to a a 164-year-old era. It was a bittersweet celebration: the end of one school district and the beginning of another.

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."


Dedrick Martin, superintendent of the Ypsilanti school district, hosted Saturday's farewell event and welcomed student Kharee Kinder to sing the national anthem.

Lisa Carolin |

Martin is optimistic about the transition to the new school district and says it's all about having a positive mindset.

"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."



Sun, Jun 2, 2013 : 3:49 p.m.

Everyone is so doom and gloom about this. Get over it. The bus drivers and monitors did. So will you. I think this is a wonderful opportunity to join two aging communities from money pitfalls to probably more money in September to help restructure the new system. Can't wait to see how it all falls together or apart in September. Good luck with that one.


Sun, Jun 2, 2013 : 3:59 p.m.

Too bad both districts are STILL FACING a deficit after combining "forces". Refer to a earlier story by reporter Danielle Arndt.


Sun, Jun 2, 2013 : 2:56 p.m.

My Dad actually was the principal of willow run, not the superintendent as I told the reporter Maybe he told me he was to scare me into doing my homework!


Sun, Jun 2, 2013 : 3:52 p.m.

I remember your dad being the principal while I was going there in the 60's. I would say he was one of the finest principals ever there, but he was there when I was. Many changes have been made over the years, and unless many more changes are made I am afraid that the consolidation of these two school districts will also end in failure. If my memory serves me correctly, we need more principals like your dad was then.


Sun, Jun 2, 2013 : 12:12 p.m.

What a bitter-sweet time was yesterday, but it was all good. Thanks to all who attended and supported each other in this challenging time. Good people; good memories!!! As someone said, this merger is long overdo.... it will work out well for the kids in both districts... and the communities as well. Welcome Ypsilanti Community Schools. The best is yet to come for both communities!

Crystal Harding

Sat, Jun 1, 2013 : 8:49 p.m.

I graduated in 1983, not 1972. Geez, I can't win!

Crystal Harding

Mon, Jun 3, 2013 : 4:15 p.m.

Thanks for the correction. And Bob, I would be proud to have graduated in '72, but I didn't.


Sun, Jun 2, 2013 : 2:58 p.m.

hey ms H, whats wrong with "72"?

Bob Needham

Sat, Jun 1, 2013 : 8:56 p.m.

Sorry, that's been corrected.