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Posted on Mon, Feb 4, 2013 : 10:20 p.m.

Ypsilanti-Willow Run school board unanimously approves name for new consolidated district

By Danielle Arndt

The unified Ypsilanti-Willow Run school district is nameless no more.


The unified Ypsilanti-Willow Run school board.

The joint Board of Education unanimously approved Monday calling the new consolidated district "Ypsilanti Community Schools."

Trustee Maria Sheler-Edwards, co-chairwoman of the unified district naming committee, said the committee, which was comprised evenly of staff members and parents from both districts, immediately dismissed Ypsilanti United School District as an option.

That left Ypsilanti Community Schools and Eastern Washtenaw Community Schools.

Sheler-Edwards said after these three finalists emerged from the list of more than 280 name proposals, the committee received a vast array of additional public input from a variety of outlets and polls among community members.

"What was most immediately clear was that Ypsilanti United was a very distant third," she said.

The committee took a vote on the remaining two names and voted 8-3 in favor of Ypsilanti Community Schools. However, the committee chose not to endorse one over the other and brought both names back to the table Monday for the board to decide.

Sheler-Edwards said the committee's caution and hesitation was in wanting to equally uphold the history, honor and tradition of both districts. Willow Run Superintendent Laura Lisiscki explained the "community" part of Willow Run Community Schools was, historically, the most important part.

She said when the change was made from "public schools," it was because the district consciously was moving toward embracing what it meant to employ a community school model and philosophy and was focused on embracing a "we're all family" mindset.

Lisiscki also said school districts in Michigan traditionally are named after the city in which they are located.

When the naming committee conducted the public forums and spoke with others in the community, "people spoke passionately about how Ypsilanti is the thing that we share," Sheler-Edwards said. A number of board members echoed the sentiment, adding it would be important for uniting people moving forward.

Vice President Don Garrett, a Willow Run High School graduate, made the motion to adopt Ypsilanti Community Schools as the district's new name, but not without an explanation.

He received so many phone calls about "killing Willow Run" and "Willow Run getting buried," that he "wanted to change his phone number," he joked at Monday's meeting. But he said when he thinks about Willow Run, it is the family aspect and that close-knit characteristic that stick with him.

"Everybody knows everybody, ... and when it comes to our kids I want the whole city of Ypsilanti to feel that way... To embrace that we are one city, one family," Garrett said.

Garrett said if the new district were to be called Eastern Washtenaw Community Schools, people would lose their identity. Even Willow Run parents and students associate with living in Ypsilanti, he said.

Danielle Arndt covers K-12 education for Follow her on Twitter @DanielleArndt or email her at


Cant Blieve itsgone

Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 9:17 p.m.

I drive past WR every day because I still live there. I get a sense of pride every time I drive past the school and remember what a good time I had as a student. Besides, we're not talking about the WR area (although that's probably next on the agenda) were talking about the school. "ABC" school district would have been a much better choice because at least it would have been a brand new name for both districts, but once again WR gets the shaft.


Wed, Feb 6, 2013 : 6:58 p.m.

Not really the shaft. More like revitalization. I am glad to see two school systems becoming one unit. I wish them luck with the transition.


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 7:03 p.m.


Cant Blieve itsgone

Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 5:03 p.m.

Willow Run was such a great school when I attended. It was on track to becoming something great. We had a great faculty and administration that really cared about the district. Since then, things have taken a nose dive. Many scandals and money hungry members of the administration who had no real connection with WR or desire to see it succeed. I guess it was to much to overcome. I was all for the merger because I thought at least some remnant of WR would remain. It's become a sad day for me since I found out WR is gone forever. All we get is "community" in the name....(be for real). Sayonara WR....R.I.P.


Wed, Feb 6, 2013 : 6:57 p.m.

Michigan Reader? WR High School is slated to be closed as of the last day of school in WR. I am not sure what they are going to do with that building. Although the toying idea of that building being a middle school and keeping Ypsilanti Hi a high school does sound feasible. Otherwise, no, one high school is being proposed because this school can handle all the incoming. What a transition this is going to be in September.

Michigan Reader

Wed, Feb 6, 2013 : 3:04 a.m.

The high schools will still keep their same names, won't they? So there's still a Willow Run High School, it's just in the Ypsilanti Community Schools district.


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 11:18 p.m.

We all knew this day was coming. Glad to hear it is sooner rather then later.

Dan r OBryan

Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 8:12 p.m.

beardown! willow run was doing much better than ypsi go back and read the articles our numbers were up in the buildings. willow run is bailing out ypsi. and we are a big family we care about our kids in school and the ones that already graduated. we look back and remember our high school years because were proud of our community and school, maybe you don't because you didn't enjoy it like most which is sad!.


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 7:19 p.m.

Did Willow Run go somewhere? The area was still there went I went out today, did I miss it being moved? I went to my high school for 4 years, I had a good time and met people I still talk to 20 years later, I graduated, and have never been back. I have never defined myself as a graduate of any school I went to and I fail to understand this need to tie personal or regional identity to a school or name. There is too much tied into the naming of this school and the mascot and I think it takes away from the actual work that needs to be done. WR was a bad school district. It was a failure, like Ypsi. For all the love people have for it, it failed the children of the area. That's the simple fact of the matter, for whatever reason be it corruption, mass exodus of students, racial issues, whatever it was. What people need to focus on is rebuilding these two failed schools into one at least satisfactory, then hopefully excellent, school district. If the school is going to get better (which is the plan) and the education is going to improve (plan as well), who cares what the name is? It could be called ABC School District and it would not change the fact that they have three months to fire and hire staff and administrators for 5k students, try and stop the mass exodus of students out of the district, figure out how to make the district self sufficient, and then try and make a success out of two failures.


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 3:39 p.m.

'School District of Ypsilanti' and 'Willow Run Community Schools' combining into 'Ypsilanti Community Schools' is a logical decision. May this new board put aside personal ideas and make decisions as to what is best for kids.


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 3:36 p.m.

Makes Willow Run feel like the red-headed stepchild.. not having any of it's name in the new title. ( and no community doesn't count) But then people have been trying to banish willow run for years.


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 7:21 p.m.

What would you have liked to call it? And last time I checked, the three options came from the people of the two school districts. You may feel like the "red-headed stepchild" by not having Willow Run in the name of the school, but the facts say that the majority of the people around you did not. "But then people have been trying to banish willow run for years." Banish where? To another reality? Universe? State?


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 2:07 p.m.

Glad to hear that they finally settled on a name. Hopefully, this combine partnership will mean a better learning experience for all the students.


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 1:43 p.m.

So we call it YCS? I voted for Brave RUNNERS!! No disrespect only RESPECT for the American Indian, god rest his soul So ow long we giving this new BANKRUPT partnership? I'm betting 5 years! Hit like please send a message...


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 12:08 p.m.

Call us anything.....just don't waste our money. We will be watching.


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 11:17 p.m.

Cash? Does that go with Call Me Maybe?


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 5:31 p.m.

I like it, Treetown!


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 3:24 p.m.

I still think it should have been called Atlantis, and the high school mascot could be the Poseidons.


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 6:03 a.m.

Excellent Name! Now! If the School Board could finally "get its act together" and perform like a School Board concerned with its students, rather than "perks" and trips to Florida and other places for "conferences" in Florida and Las Vegas. What About Those? Can the School Board Justify those $$$ Expenditures? Waiting for your Reply School Board!


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 4:57 a.m.

"She said when the change was made from "public schools," it was because the district consciously was moving toward embracing what it meant to employ a community school model and was focused on embracing a "we are all family" mindset." Public schools are not "we are all family"? There is some subtlety of meaning here that escapes me.

Basic Bob

Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 10:54 a.m.

"Public" has been corrupted by terms such as "public toilet", "public housing", and "public transportation". Community sounds so much better, but they are still "public" in any other sense.

Fresh Start

Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 4:36 a.m.

Awesome!!! Big props to the Garrett Family!! And hats off to the new board for unanimously selecting and endorsing the new name!!!

dading dont delete me bro

Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 3:58 a.m.

whew...glad that's been settled