Several exciting things have been happening in the Port Huron Area School District lately.
The Michigan College Access Network recently awarded the Ombudsman Award to four statewide school counselors, including Brandon Wardlow, who is currently a long-term substitute math teacher at Holland Woods Middle School.
Wardlow earned recognition for his work through AdviseMI at Port Huron High School for the 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 school years, district officials said in a press release.
MCAN appreciates the leadership and service of college advisors and coaches serving statewide, and this award honors a member of each Michigan Corps – AdviseMI, Michigan State University College Advising Corps, the Michigan College Advising Corps, and College Completion Corps – to acknowledge their on-the-ground efforts to reach “Sixty by 30,” the release states.
The Sixty by 30 movement aims for 60% of Michigan residents to earn a post-secondary certificate or diploma by the year 2030, states micollageaccess.org.
“The recipients of this award have a passion for college entry and success, have persevered through their years of service and are proud to represent AmeriCorps to students, families and the public,” the release read.
Through Wardlow’s efforts, Port Huron High School was recognized by MCAN as one of the top 10 schools in the state of Michigan to improve its Free Application for Federal Student Aid completion rate.
“The FAFSA form is a critical component that students must complete to ensure they are eligible for financial aid from the federal government to help pay for college,” the release states.
In March 2021, Port Huron High School Principal Mike Palmer acknowledged key supporters of the initiative and its success were Wardlow, Cliff Thomason, Kevin Totty, Marion Stewart and Tyrone Burrell.
“We are so proud of our students and the great results we achieved this year with their FAFSA completion,” Palmer said in the release. “Thanks to our university advisor, the funding from the PHS Endowment Fund and the support of the Athletic Factory and their partnership, this is a great achievement for our school. It prepares our students for success with funding opportunities before they even start college.
Robotics programs offered to all students
Thanks to grants from the Port Huron Schools Endowment Fund and the Michigan Department of Education, the PHASD now offers robotics programs for all students.
Most recently, the PHS Endowment Fund awarded $6,898 to improve robotics offerings at the elementary and high school levels, district officials said in a press release. Prior to the recent grants, the district had a unified high school FIRST Robotics team – the Mecanum Knights Team 3667 – and programs at STEAM Academy at Woodrow Wilson, Michigamme, and Thomas Edison Elementary Schools.
The MDE grant depended on matching funds, which were met. This has allowed the district to offer additional robotics programs for elementary and middle schools and update resources for current programs.
“Every student will have access to robotics programming this year,” Assistant Superintendent of Instruction Catherine Woolman said in the release. “This funding will enable students at all levels to further pursue their interest in this field.”
The Mecanum Knights qualified for the FIRST in Michigan State Championship during the 2021-2022 school year.
Lunch Buddies program returns
The “Lunch Buddies” community partner program, where community members can register to lunch with students and mentor, has returned to STEAM Academy in Woodrow Wilson.
“Lunch Buddies was a popular, positive-impact program that our students thoroughly enjoyed before the pandemic,” STEAM Academy Director Shylah Eagle said in a recent release. “We hope community participants return and are once again excited about supporting our students and building beneficial relationships as mentors.”
The commitment is a 25-minute lunch break per week or every other week for the remainder of the 2022-2023 school year. The staff of the STEAM Academy selects and matches the students and ‘buddies’.
Those interested in serving as lunch buddies can contact the elementary school front office at 810-984-6530 or email Eagle at [email protected]