Why Parents Choose the District of Choices

This feature appeared in the Progress Edition of the Lapeer County Press (March 2019)

LAPEER, Michigan — Ask any parent what they value about Lapeer Community Schools, and you’ll get answers as varied as the opportunities the District of Choices has to offer. In the past decade, we’ve witnessed an incredible surge in the perception of the District in our community and beyond, and the reason is crystal clear: our families wanted more, and we gave them more.

More science, more music, more college credits and more advanced opportunities than ever before. You can even find students in the same building working on a different academic calendar.

We are still listening; we wants to assess the needs of the community for the future and desire to know why our families are choosing Lapeer today.

For Laurel Droz and her 11-year-old daughter Kathryn, it’s Project Lead the Way, the nation’s leading STEM curriculum, which is now embedded in our science curriculum across the District.

“This program (PLTW) means the world to my daughter,” she said.

Kathryn is so stoked about STEM, she wakes up two hours early every day to participate in the program at the nearby CFI Campus (former West High School). For her, the appeal of one of the District’s most popular programs is simple: It’s engaging, collaborative and fun.

“I like doing big projects like the Rube Goldberg and the foot orthosis for people with things cerebral palsy,” she said. “I also like the idea that we get to use technology like 3-D printers and working on projects with my friends. I’ve learned a lot from it. I’m a lot better at engineering than I was…I feel like it helped me learn a lot more than a normal science class does.”

Ginny Jones loves the District’s offerings that are tailored to students with a wide variety of interests — including those who discover interests they couldn’t imagine they’d have.

“The kids love the Bee Club and Archery at Rolland-Warner,” Jones said. “It’s nice to have clubs for kids who aren’t into sports.”

For others, the District’s expansion of academic and extracurricular options has been music to their ears — quite literally. Lindsay Makela values the District’s array of band opportunities, so much so that she expects her student to have a difficult time “narrowing them down” once high school rolls around. 

“There’s truly something for everybody who wants to participate,” she said. 

Perhaps the most common refrain from parents represents a sea change in the District’s approach to advanced opportunities. In the past, students were pointed in the direction of advanced opportunities elsewhere. These days, the majority of the advanced opportunities available to students are brought directly to them, right here in Lapeer.

“The accelerated courses and dual enrollment opportunities (in Lapeer) are fantastic,” said Tammy Berry, a teacher and a parent in the District. “Lapeer has a small town vibe with many opportunities.”

For LCS Superintendent Matt Wandrie, the most pressing challenge for the District has been keeping pace with the demands. 

“As our families experience innovative programs, flexibility and choice, expectations change and there’s always a desire for more,” Wandrie said. “As we look to the future, I’m confident that more is coming.”

To learn more about Lapeer Community Schools, visit LapeerSchools.org or Facebook.com/LapeerSchools

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