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Wilson students take center stage at APS meeting

News Photo by Steve Schulwitz Alpena Public Schools administrators, employees, and students from Wilson Elementary celebrate improvements made to the school made possible by the money from a bond proposal in 2020 with a ribbon cutting before Monday’s board of education meeting.

ALPENA — The students were the stars of Monday’s Alpena Public Schools Board of Education meeting at Wilson Elementary School.

Armed with inflatable guitars, and canisters of colorful tinsel, the kids, in their own words, told Board of Education trustees why Wilson rocks.

Public comment, which in the past has lasted several hours, took a back seat at least for one meeting, as only four people addressed the board about the current mask mandate and critical race theory.

A retired school teacher also praised the board for the mandate, which she says has helped keep kids in classrooms for in-person learning.

Before the kids took center stage, principal Jenny Marceau shared some facts about the school and what it means to the students and faculty, many of whom attended Wilson when they were young. She said the kids who were part of the presentation have been looking forward to their moment in the spotlight and that they spoke for the entire student body, which has a great deal of school spirit.

News Photo by Steve Schulwitz Students from Wilson Elementary School uncork cans of colored tinsel streamers to show off their school spirit. The kids each told the Alpena Public Schools Board of Education what Wilson School means to them and why it rocks. The next school board meeting will be at Lincoln School on Nov. 22, where its students are expected to make a presentation.

“They were so excited. I actually had one student ask me when the next school board meeting was, and I had to explain to them it was going to be at Lincoln School, and they were so bummed because they loved doing this,” Marceau said.

The district normally holds its school board meeting at the high school, but decided to mix things up and moved the next several meetings to other district schools so people can see improvements made from the $33.9 million in bond money that voters approved last March.

A ribbon cutting at the school to celebrate the improvements made at Wilson preceded the meeting. The school had a new roof and boilers installed, as well as a new parking lot, and many improvements indoors, which administrators say will help make a better learning environment.

Superintendent Dave Rabbideau said moving the meetings to different venues allows APS to show off the work that has been done, and other ongoing projects. He said it is also a good way to reach out to people who live out of town, who may not be able to attend meetings at the high school often.

He said seeing the excitement and school spirit expressed to the board by the kids, was a good way to kick off a meeting.

“The kids are the reason we are here and for them to have an opportunity to shine, which they haven’t been able to do in a long time, was amazing,” Rabbideau said. “I think moving the meetings is good because we may get into the habit of meeting in one place when we have a lot of schools spread out over a large distance. To be able to highlight all of these things that are going on. We want people to be able to see them for themselves and not just in pictures and on social media.”

After the kids made their exit to the applause of the crowd, the public comment session followed. For the last several months, board meetings in Alpena consisted of dozens of people making public comment, sometimes more than once. Often the comments and reaction to them from those in the crowd has been contentious and divisive. That wasn’t the case Monday as only four people made comment and although there was some applause from some in the audience, it was peaceful and respectful.

Rabbideau said the students at Lincoln will have their time to shine when the school board meets there on Nov. 22 at 5:30 p.m.

Steve Schulwitz can be reached at 989-358-5689 at sschulwitz@thealpenanews.com. Follow him on Twitter @ss_alpenanews.com.

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