October 09, 2013 - Oxford Community Schools is one of eight school districts who are celebrating more success after being announced as recipient of the 2013 Michigan's Best Award by the Michigan Association of School Boards (MASB).
OCS is being recognized for two programs. First: For its PreK-12 Fifth Core World Language & Culture Program in the improving Student Achievement in Language Arts category. Second: Lakeville Elementary for its Legacy Team program in the Improving Student Achievement in Student-Created Initiatives category.
Both programs will accept their awards on Oct. 26 at a ceremony co-hosted by MASB and SET SEG School Insurance Specialists. For each award the school is receiving $2,500 to sustain the efforts of the program
"As far as Fifth Core goes, we are the only public school in the state that prioritizes a mandated K-10 world language program, with the option to take it in 11th and 12th grade," said Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum & Instruction Dr. James Schwarz. "No one else is doing that."
With over 800 international businesses in Oakland County and the United States' largest trading partners being Mexico and China, OCS believes teaching Mandarin Chinese and Spanish is both "relevant and necessary."
"This generation is going to work more inter-globally than any other generation before it and this only sets them up for success. When these young folks go out for jobs they will be at the top of the pile of resumes having had this language experience under their belt, particularly if it's a company that's going to be dealing globally," Schwarz added. "This (award) just underscores our success in giving that opportunity and sustaining that opportunity for students."
Lakeville's Legacy Team was created three years ago as a way to give students an opportunity to take action in their school community. The team is a group of fifth graders (who are picked by teachers) and are charged with the task of leaving a legacy. The team researches a school problem, develops a plan to influence change and implements the plan to leave their legacy.
For example: last year's team focused on the issue of Bullying.
"We made a few comics about bullying and did a bunch of stuff to raise awareness for the school," said current sixth grader Majerle Marshall, who was a part of last year's team.
However bullying is not the only issue they've covered, according to Seventh grader Cavan Vince, who was a part of the Lakeville's first Legacy Team, which created a book and set of rules for the school to follow known as "The Wildcat Way."
Vince said he liked being on Legacy Team for three reasons.
"One, you got to make new friends. Two, they were people similiar to us and three: we got to help our school out in some form," he said.
Marshall liked that it was student led.
"I had a lot of fun doing it," she said. "I got to hangout with a lot of my friends and we did it during lunch and recess."
"I think we have a good Legacy Team coming in," Marshall added. "I know we have a great group of kids coming in who have great ideas."
Not only did the Legacy Team win the $2,500 for the Michigan Best, but they also received a $400 Education Excellence Award earlier in the year for SET SEG and MASB.
"At first, I couldn't speak when I found out we got the first one, which was $400," Marshall said. "It was amazing. Then when I found out we were getting a second one for $2,500 I couldn't even speak for probably 20 minutes and couldn't believe our legacy team actually won that award."
Vince also said he was speechless.
"I thought it was pretty cool winning all the prizes," he added. "I felt like they were all well deserved."
Marshall's mom and Lakeville Principal Kristy Gibson-Marshall said they were "surprised the first time" with the first award and "really surprised the second time."
"I think it was a little surprising because we're just doing this program as a way to get the kids to take some leadership in the building," Gibson-Marshall said. "It was kind of cool that their leadership won our award."
Trevor graduated with degrees in English and communications from Rochester College. He wrote for his college and LA View newspapers before joining The Clarkston News in May 2007.