Our View: Let’s get real: Grosse Pointe News supports students, teachers and schools week in, week out

Perception can be a funny thing. It often can begin as one’s opinion or perspective on something, but can eventually become accepted as fact — erroneously so — as it gets passed along.

With the nonstop chatter about our upcoming school board elections, we are hearing some things that just aren’t supported by facts. The one most important for us to correct is that the Grosse Pointe News “attacks” our school system and does not provide positive coverage of the many happenings within our district, nor of its students, teachers and alumni.

We can’t stand idle on this one. It’s due time for us to reiterate the hundreds of positive, uplifting and deserving stories we have covered related to the Grosse Pointe Public School System, since January 2022 alone.

First and foremost, we support our students in spades.

Head to page 4A today and you will read a Pointer of Interest article on Grosse Pointe South student Margot Murphy. An AP photography student, Murphy is the associate web editor of The Tower, South’s award-winning student newspaper. We have used Miss Murphy’s photography in some of our girls’ swim team coverage this fall and, obviously, we are wowed by her talent.

This week, we covered North’s and South’s National Merit semifinalists on page 13A. We will follow up with coverage when finalists are named, should any be from the Pointes. Last week we covered two South seniors who received their acceptances to Butler University in unique fashion, courtesy of an early morning, in-person visit from the Bulldogs’ mascot, Blue IV. Our amazing photojournalist, Renee Landuyt, woke up before sunrise to cover Blue’s arrival and capture the bleary-eyed, but happy reactions of the students and their families.

Mrs. Landuyt and GP News staff attend a great number of school-related events, often during off hours, weekends, before and after sunrise, to ensure these deserving students, ceremonies, games and events receive recognition in our community’s paper.

In addition, we promoted countless school-based fundraisers this year, including Richard’s “Sail into Spring” event, Kerby’s playground fundraiser, Mason’s “Manatee Movement” and this fall’s joint Defer-Pierce fundraiser. We also covered countless fundraising efforts from Mothers Club, Parents Club and a multitude of athletic teams and PTOs.

We featured human interest stories on our students, including Grosse Pointe North’s Massimo Todesco, who recently hosted a successful hockey equipment drive for underserved kids.

We brought you stories of then-fourth grader Max McPartlin, who made good on his word to walk to school every day while at Maire Elementary, and new South grad Alex Blyth, an extraordinary fisherman and golfer who takes time to teach his passions to young kids.

We covered the Parcells spring concert where students sang an original song, “Light of Day,” penned by two GPPSS teachers and students at the school. We covered awards won by The Tower and Northpointe, our high schools’ student newspapers, and results from Quiz Bowls and math competitions, as well as scholarship and Rotary Club award winners. We published stories and photos of each high school’s graduation ceremony in June.

We also reported on our strong arts program with articles on winners from our high school Artfest, choir and soloist competitions. We consistently promoted and enthusiastically covered school plays in our middle schools and high schools.

We supported our STEM students with coverage on our robotics teams and engineering-based teams like Team 1189 Gearheads, a combined effort between students from North and South.

And speaking of talented students, we proudly employed two Grosse Pointe North students, Grace Cueter (’23) and new alum Clare Ramsdell (’22), last summer in our internship program.

Today marks the 32nd student-athlete we have showcased this year in our weekly Athlete of the Week feature. Last August, we awarded five of last season’s featured athletes $500 scholarships towards their college educations.

Between game stories, features and photos, we have recognized the achievements of hundreds of student-athletes and teams each season, including “off-season” sports such as summer swimming, sailing and Little League.

We support our teachers and staff.

This year, we let you know the exciting news on teacher Chris Takis’ Band Director of the Year award. We featured Parcell’s teacher Alexis Lecnar’s innovative, award-winning instruction methods in her classroom. We told you about Jonathan Byrne’s Adviser of the Year award for leading North’s student association. We covered the Grosse Pointe Teachers Association’s Teacher of the Year winners and dedicated space on our opinion pages to mark National Teacher Appreciation Week, which expressed the importance of valuing our teachers.

We also incorporated GPPSS experts into our feature coverage, like Brownell counselor Dr. Angie Niforos, who provided her professional expertise to a question submitted to our local advice column.

We brought you the human interest side of our schools, by featuring staff members like Brownell science teacher Mark Sonnenberg, a South alum who now coaches South’s boys cross country and track. We told you how his experiences at South led him to a career teaching and coaching. We featured North grad Bill Fleming, a retired FBI agent and current softball coach at South. Mr. Fleming’s story detailed how his time as a Norseman set him up for career success.

We support our alumni.

Each month, we run our Pride of the Pointes feature, letting you know about the accomplishments of college students hailing from GP. We have featured nearly 350 students since January.

We make it a point of emphasis to cover stories on our GPPSS alums and feature their successes. Last June, we created a first-of-its-kind, eight-page photo spread on 40 new college graduates from the class of 2022, who hail from Grosse Pointe. We wrote op-eds congratulating the tenacity of our graduating colleagues, who survived four full semesters of remote or hybrid learning. We wrote feature stories on Hollywood actress Hollis Andrews, University of Wisconsin golfer Coalter Smith, Hope College singer Marella Piazza, Ph.D. student Erykah Benson, nurse and North track coach Michah Darnell, tattoo artist and small business owner Sammy Wittstock and female Naval pilot Chelsea McGriff — and that’s just a sample of the GPPSS alums we have highlighted.

As a newspaper, we offer a reflection of what’s happening throughout town week to week — whether good, bad, interesting, new or thought-provoking. Yes, we cover our school board meetings, elections and our administration. We write editorials on this page when we believe a school-based issue warrants it.

By no means does this mitigate or minimize our overwhelmingly positive school coverage. News and editorials are separate silos. We are just covering what’s there. We consider ourselves effective when people walk away from reading our paper with a clearer snapshot and insight on our town’s state of affairs than they did before reading our content.

If you say we don’t cover the “good news,” or that we only indict our schools in our coverage this year, then you simply aren’t reading this paper. And if you don’t read this paper, but continue perpetuating and spreading the misconception that we don’t report on the accomplishments of people and programs of our district, then you are complicit in contributing to any image problem our school district may have.

We won’t shy away from asking tough questions of our district’s leadership. We won’t back down from reporting on proposals or decisions that affect our students. We also will continue writing pointed editorial pieces on our opinion pages when an issue warrants it. That doesn’t make us biased or agenda based; it makes us watch dogs. To report only the good news, while leaving out the ability to question poor decision-making or to pursue the deeper story changes us from a newspaper to a PR newsletter. We won’t do that.

We are committed to bringing this community the whole picture. For the good of all of us in this district, make sure you take time to read with a wider lens and not just focus on using a certain, myopic one.

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