Feb / Mar 2016

Story and photos by Jeff Lilly

From its inception, rail has been one of the cornerstones of American transportation. These days, with increasing concern about climate change, rail has gotten a lot of accolades for its ability to move a great deal of cargo for relatively little fuel per mile. But trains have their drawbacks. Where rail lines intersect with roads, the train wins the battle. Train horns are loud, and being woken up from a sound sleep at two in the morning is no fun at all. Residents I spoke to who live near the tracks have reported coping strategies ranging from earplugs to moving their bedrooms to less-exposed sides of the house. Others simply live with it as best they can.

ff1162627_Page_2_Image_0002Trains also block the roads. While a passing passenger train goes by quickly, a long freight or switching operations can close an intersection for far longer, affecting commutes, local businesses, and emergency response.

This is the balancing act. Trains bring revenue and jobs to town, but they reduce home values near their tracks. The utility and advantages of trains are obvious, but rail infrastructure is subject to the philosophy of NIMBY — Not In My Back Yard — more often than others.

There are four crossings in Ferndale: Woodward Heights, Cambourne, 9 Mile Road and Hilton Road. All four are subject to noise, and the latter two, especially, are susceptible to blockage due to their proximity to the rail yard. However, the city has been working with planners including the SRF Consulting Group and CN to reduce both noise and blockages.

ff1162627_Page_2_Image_0001The noise issue will be handled under the auspices of “quiet zones.” Trains blow their horns to warn vehicles and pedestrians at the intersections of their coming. If the crossings are upgraded with new devices to prevent accidents, then the need for horns is eliminated.

Ferndale completed a letter of intent last November, a plan to qualify for “quiet zone” status. The regulations say that quiet zones “must be equipped with gates and lights with power-out indicators” and CWT (Constant Warning Time) detectors. All four crossings have been so equipped at the time of this writing. The city is also planning to install new non-traversable medians where possible at the crossings (these prevent vehicles from crossing to the other lane in order to get around the gates, a major cause of accidents.) CN is helping the City of Ferndale with funding these improvements.

The proposal is now subject to rounds of review and inspection, and it will take up to 18 months for the quiet zone to go into effect. Horns might still be heard during yard operations, for example, but eventually there will be no more long, repeated blasts at the intersections.

The blockage issue is a little more complex. There’s no doubt that businesses in the 9 Mile and Hilton area have been affected by the closings, which can last over an hour in some cases. Mike Lambrecht, owner of Nick’s Pizza, points out that they have two crossings within 100 yards of their shop. This makes it tough to deliver to “any customers west or south of us. We need to go a mile north, and then come back again, to get around.” Lambrecht notes that his business has been negatively impacted, saying “A few minutes (of blockage) isn’t a problem. An hour is. When a 45-minute delivery becomes 60 minutes, customers don’t call back.”

ff1162627_Page_1_Image_0003Frank, the owner of 9 & Hilton Market, is similarly affected. ”It costs me thousands of dollars of business a month.” He reports. “(The trains) just stop there for an hour in the middle of rush hour. It’s unheard of.” In 2014, things got so bad that he seriously considered selling his business. While he notes that the blockages have been somewhat reduced in the last year, he blames loosening of federal regulations on train companies that block intersections. Intended to spur growth, new guidelines also do away with fines and contribute to CN’s lack of concern with causing delays, he says.

Not all businesses see the effects as negative, though. Colleen Pank at the Apple Fritter Donut Shop says that the stoppages actually help their business. “A lot of people pull in for coffee and a donut while they wait for the train.” She reports. They’ve even gone out to stopped cars and offered free donuts as a kind of calling card. The regulars also aren’t deterred. Some say that they climbed between the stopped train cars to get to the shop.

For others, its a mixed bag. Calvin Kashat, manager at Auto Pro Service Center, says that during a long delay, “There’s 50 cars parked in front of my facility, looking at it.” Some might even pull in for things like an oil change while they wait. On the other hand, people get frustrated. Last year, someone used his parking lot as a turnaround and tore through “at 30 miles per hour. Almost caused an accident.”

How about emergency services? I spoke with Ferndale Fire Chief Kevin Sullivan. While he confirmed that blockages can affect response times, “That’s why we have two fire stations.” Ferndale is a compact 4.9 square miles, and in addition to the second station, he wants to assure residents that “We can call on outside resources.” Ferndale has mutual aid agreements with neighboring cities, including Madison Heights, Hazel Park, Southfield, and Royal Oak. Sullivan confirms that the new federal regulations have allowed train companies to block intersections with impunity, but praises CN’s willingness to work with emergency services, citing the rail company’s help during the flooding of August 2014, as well as at least one instance of a train decoupling to allow emergency vehicles through.

Ferndale City Manager April Lynch, in addition to helpfully providing information on the quiet zone plans, confirms that CN has plans to expand and reconfigure the yard at 9 Mile and Hilton to allow for more efficient operations. “The city is supportive of the expansion.” She says. “They plan to re-align their footprint to be more efficient.”

Patrick Waldron, CN’s Public Affairs Officer at their headquarters in Montreal, says “The expansion of the terminal will allow more efficient…operations at the entire facility, including train movements. CN continuously works to minimize instances of blocked crossing along our network. Our operations team is sensitive to crossing delays at 9 Mile Road and Hilton Road and has worked to reduce the amount of time… trains arriving and departing the terminal occupy those crossings.” No timetable was available at press time for these expanions.

Ferndale Friends will continue to report on this story as it develops over the coming months and years, as our government, CN, and local people work together so that the trains come to be seen as less of a nuisance, and more of a good neighbor.

City of Ferndale website: www.ferndalemi.gov CN Rail: www.cn.ca

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Story and photos by Kevin Alan Lamb

ON JANUARY 16, PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA declared a state of emergency in Flint, where close to 100,000 citizens are unable to drink their tap water because it’s laced with poisonous lead. As a result, $5 million in federal aid has been immediately allocated in an effort to reduce the public health crisis. Yet time continues to tick, and the damage continues to mount.

Officials elected to serve and protect the best interest of our state’s residents denied the water’s danger until last Fall, when a local pediatrician documented high lead levels in Flint childrens’ blood. Lead poisoning is a serious condition, sometimes causing severe mental and physical impairment, and even death. Young children and their growing bodies are most vulnerable to lead poisoning; the damage it causes cannot be reversed.

ff1161416_Page_1_Image_0004Last September officials also dismissed reports made by Virginia Tech civil engineering professor Marc Edwards, revealing that the city’s water contained high levels of lead. Edwards then filed Freedom of Information Act requests which exposed the state’s knowledge of citizens’ exposure to high lead levels.

In early October, Dr. Mona Hanna- Attisha, director of the pediatric residency program at the Hurley Medical Center in Flint, reported that the number of children with high amounts of lead in their blood had doubled. “This poisoning of an entire population was entirely preventable,” Hanna- Attisha told HuffPost.

While there is nothing left to deny, Flint citizens continue to suffer as a result of this colossal governmental scandal. Residents are expected to pay for poisoned water, at an inflated rate! Many of these residents are low-income seniors and families struggling with low-paying jobs. If residents aren’t able to get help with clearing their unpaid bills, they will be without water and the bottled water donations won’t last long.

“I’ve lived here in Flint my whole life, and this situation has only made the news because of the way they handled things. But this has been going on for a few years now, and I’m really upset that I still have to pay an exorbitant water bill and I can’t use my water. That’s really frustrating, and thank God I have a car… what if I didn’t have a car? I couldn’t get to the water. They have a number you can call, but it’s a recording, and who knows how long it will be before they can get to delivering any water?” Ms. Josh, 38, said.

Metro Community Development has established a ‘Flint Water Shut-Off Fund’ to assist residents who have received water shut-off notices. Their mission is to serve as a leader and catalyst to expand and enhance quality housing and community development initiatives for underserved people and communities in Flint and Genesee County.

Unlike the Highland Park water crisis, this story has made your newsfeed; you may have changed your profile picture, and you likely have been inspired by the immediate and extraordinary relief response by everyone other than our local government, but has that inspiration moved you to action? Have you explored the efforts being made in your community, and contributed? Have you considered what life would be like if you were unknowingly drinking poisoned water, yet still expected to make payment or else be denied the right to running water in your home? Have you looked into your child’s eyes and felt the devastation of discovering that your government may have sentenced him or her to brain damage, nerve damage, and developmental delay?

“My hope is that each of us in Ferndale thinks about our long-term commitment. All hands on decks. Let Ferndale be an allegory – there are so many issues and it can be overwhelming, but we’re trying to illustrate that this is terrible – collective culpability. A result of a failed government system. But we can ask ourselves, ‘What do we want the basic quality of life in Michigan to look like? Can we have conversations about what is happening, and do something about it? Even if it’s hard…” Liz Lamoste said, who organized From Ferndale to Flint, which seeks to collect and deliver donated water. It’s a community-wide effort to ensure the people of Flint have both an immediate and prolonged source of relief, support, and compassion.

“I connected with Bobby Jackson, and the Mission of Hope who have been doing emergency waterwork since February, 2014. I asked what they needed, and organized with the intent to have an impact.”

ff1161416_Page_2_Image_0001“They needed more storage, we got it. We visited Flint, and want to scale this effort and inspire other cities to do the same. Individuals are very capable of having an impact, especially when combined with others. People often feel powerless, but once a community is assembled, and brings attention to a cause, there is a call for accountability,” Lamoste said.

Given gifts to encourage and empower others, it is in these desperate times we must share the blessing of our Ferndale community with our Flint friends to the north. Let us continue to lead by example and pave the path for other communities to follow.

“The people of Ferndale are amazing. We will maintain our relationship with Flint because don’t know what the government help will look like. We are asking for recurring financial and water contributions, and for people’s continued attention.”

Despite the initial roar for relief made here in Ferndale, Lamoste has some plausible concerns moving forward. “It’s hard to maintain passion long-term. And time, staying current in a rapidly evolving situation can be difficult, understanding what’s happening in Flint and how we can help.”

Few avenues offer a more accurate glimpse into the current state of affairs than presence. The presence of six concerned men and women who traveled as far as Indianapolis, and near as Ferndale, intent on fighting this injustice from the trenches, shoulder to shoulder, and heart to heart with those victimized by bureaucratic indecency. People like Courtney Brooks, who likely would prefer to remain unnamed, because in his words, “It’s about them, not us.”

Brooks and his friends drove 309 miles with over 8,000 bottles of water to see the look in people’s eyes who needed it; to thank the good citizens of Flint who made it a priority to ensure people like us could help; and to remind that each and every one of us is part of the most beautiful and unique community in the world.

“I’m speechless, and I’m trying not to cry. I’ve been feeling an overwhelming amount of love,” Carma Lewis said, Community Program Director at the Neighborhood Engagement Hub.

The Neighborhood Engagement Hub exists to strengthen and restore communities by providing these communities and neighborhoods with a strong shared source for information, education, facilitation, project development, advocacy, supportive equipment and materials.

“I’m hoping this effort enables us to focus on other issues that deserve attention just as badly as Flint does, like Detroit public schools,” Lamoste said.

From Indy to Ferndale, and Ferndale to Flint. “Making new friends, that’s what’s happening,” said Lewis.

How to help:

Flint Water Shut-Off Fund: http://www.metrocommunity.org/
On Facebook: From Ferndale to Flint
Use hashtag #fromferndaletoflint
For inquiries on how you can help,
contact Liz Lamoste at Elizabeth.lamoste@gmail.com

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STUDENTS OF Kennedy Elementary recently took on The Great Kindness Challenge. The students were provided with a list of 50 suggestions of wonderful ways to be kind, such as, calling your grandma or grandpa, making a new friend, or saying good morning to five people.

Mrs. Trolinger’s second grade class decided that they would be kind by giving back to the community and supporting 2 local Ferndale businesses. On Saturday, January 30, Mrs. Trolinger and seven students from her second grade class made a visit to the Ferndale Catfe’ Lounge. They brought donations collected in the classroom, including cat beds, food and cat toys.

The students were greeted by Deanne Iovan, chief pooper scooper at the Catfe’ Lounge, and volunteer Julie Brennan. The Catfe’ Lounge is full of nooks and crannies for the cats to play and hide in. There is even a catwalk along the walls near the ceiling where the cats can go to get a better view of things. The students learned to be quiet and calm in the cats’ environment and, while many of the cats seemed to enjoy the attention, a couple fled to the catwalk.

Mrs. Trolinger, who has been teaching at Kennedy for ten years, and in the Ferndale district for almost 20, would like to keep this going all year round. She may schedule another visit to the Catfe’ near the end of the school year.

The Catfe’ is located at 821 Livernois. Visits are on a donation basis.

MEETING WITH AJ O’Neill is a refreshing experience – he is a man on a mission! Many of us got to know O’Neill at “AJ’s Music Café” in Ferndale, where he supported local art, music and social causes. The Café was also home to the 50 Hour ‘Danny Boy’ Marathon in 2008, creating a world record for continuous live music! His fervent passion in supporting the local economy/local people, combined with creating a high quality coffee brand, is truly inspiring.

O’Neill’s new project is ambitious, but after all, he is not known as a man who takes ‘no’ for an answer! The ‘Million Bag March’ has been established by the Detroit Bold Foundation and Eastern Market, where the goal is to open several community cafes throughout Detroit area neighborhoods. The DBF, created by O’Neill, is a 501©3 organization. The current target of fund-raising is set at 1 million bags of Detroit Bold “MBM Special Blend” coffee. For each bag sold, $5 goes toward fixing up buildings, training staff, and opening community-friendly coffee-shops! O’Neill is fully committed to setting up a “viable place” for people to meet, converse, create and – of course – drink lots of coffee!

To launch this project, O’Neill is hosting a ‘Sadie Hawkins Party’ with live music on February 27, from 7-10pm. Tickets for the event are on sale online for $10, and a free swag-bag will be given to the first 100 guests! The party location is at Eastern Market, Shed #5 2934 Russell St, Detroit, which is fully heated. Notably, Kroger is already onboard as the first Senior Sponsor in the Million Bag March campaign.

How can you get involved? Very simple! Special numbered/signed bags of the MBM Special Blend are available at the Mootown Creamery on Russell Street in Eastern Market, and on the website: www.DetroitBoldCoffee.com. Additionally, if you see the ‘Boldmobile’ driving around (a 2013 Ford Transit Van), feel free to flag it down – this is a rolling billboard / Detroit Bold Coffee warehouse! Various direct contribution levels are also available, ranging from the ‘Buy a Bag’ level of $10, all the up to the high-level ‘Campaign Launch Sponsor Package’ (see website) So mark your calendars- come out and support this worthy cause at the launch event on the 27th- I hope to see you all there!

AJ O’Neill would like to thank you in advance for supporting the BOLD mission in developing viable Detroit-area neighborhoods! Visit the website for more information: www.DetroitBoldCoffee.com.

ff11671_Page_1_Image_0014JIMMIE THOMPSON, who creates Ferntales for these very pages, will be exhibiting a selection of his artwork at MIX Ypsilanti through the end of February. Jimmie has been putting smiles on faces for years. He’s best known for his whimsical, jawdropping float designs featured in America’s Thanksgiving Parade in Detroit. A quarter century of his float design concept drawings, other design work for festivals and events, and some 3D sculptures are on view. Selected works, as well as prints, are for sale.

The opening night celebration on February 5 was lively and well-attended. If you’re in the Ypsilanti / Ann Arbor area, be sure to stop by and join the parade!

ff11671_Page_1_Image_0001MIX Ypsilanti is located at 130 West Michigan Avenue in downtown Ypsilanti. In addition to their gallery space, they also feature quality, gently-used clothing and vintage housewares. Check out their blog at www.mix thestore. com/blog or call them at (734) 961 8704.

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Story by Cheri Clair

This organization began as the Michigan Suburbs Alliance in early 2002. It started as a group of southeast Michigan’s older suburbs banding together to deal with the problem of losing residents to newer subdivisions in younger suburbs. Developers were passing them over because they did not want to deal with the complications of “redeveloping” already existing infrastructure and a deficient state finance system that was disproportionately hurting their aging communities.

In ten years time, the Alliance had grown to include 31 of the region’s mature, “inner-ring” suburbs, representing more than one million residents. They have formed many partnerships and collaborations. Much local action was brought about by the experience and wisdom of many.

By the early 2010s, the Alliance realized their mission had changed. Their best successes had come about through collaborations with local government, business leaders, civic leaders, and advocacy organizations. Through their work, they saw the need for, and decided to become, a new organization, one that would consistently create new opportunities.

The organization knew their strength was in their interdependence. They recognized that by focusing on their similarities rather than their differences, their potential as a region could open far more opportunities for successful change.

The organization had been working with the City of Detroit, and many more stakeholders. However, they noticed there was a discrepancy between their beliefs and their practices. Their identity had to change, so they began the process of re-branding the organization. After more than a year of research and planning, they unveiled their new identity: Metro Matters.

Their website proclaims as their vision: “Pursuing a future where communities share economic, environmental and social success, Metro Matters envisions metropolitan centers that preserve the unique character of individual communities while striving toward a unified and equitable region where the citizens are empowered as an effective regional force.”

Their 14-member Board of Directors, which includes city managers, professors, mayors, and other civic leaders, guides Metro Matters. Additionally, they engage a diverse group of residents in municipal and regional affairs.

They engage residents through providing access to basic information through programs like “On Board,” as well as providing resources to participate in high-level decision making through programs like “Regionwise.”

One of the things they are doing is building vibrant cities, through programs such as “Green Anchors.” The organization transformed a handful of foreclosed homes in a single neighborhood into living examples of sustainable buildings and communities. From this small beginning, Green Anchors seeks to reinvent residential communities, one house at a time.

If you are interested in becoming involved in what Metro Matters does, it is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization which recruits talented, entrepreneurial people who share their desire to advance regionalism and equity. Information can be found on their website. Scroll over ‘About’ and click on ‘Careers.’ There is also a page on their site where interested parties can donate to the organization.

Metro Matters
22757 Woodward Avenue, Suite 250
Ferndale, MI 48220
(866) 960-8803

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By: Rudy Serra

Q: I’VE BEEN GETTING CITATIONS from the City because I have a car with a flat tire and another car that I’m repairing in my garage. They’re on private property, and I have a privacy fence. I don’t understand how they can do that when the cars are my private property, being kept on my private property.

Answer: The issue is not whether you have a right to privacy. You do. Generally, this means that government agents can’t enter or search your property without a warrant in a criminal matter. The right to privacy protects people and not places. The fact that property is designated “private” does not mean it is immune from government regulation, taxes and other laws.

The government does not need a warrant if something in on private property but is in “plain view.” If they can see a car from the street or from any of the neighbor’s property, then they would be entitled to act on what they see without a warrant.

Building and Code Enforcement regulations vary from city to city. In your city, a “warning” is issued. You complained that the printed form allowed you 72 hours to correct the problem and that the officer scratched that out and wrote in 24 hours. In either case, you are given an opportunity to correct the problem before anything else is done. You may have an argument, however, that the officer should not have discretion to arbitrarily take 48 hours notice away from you.

Some code violations are not crimes. They are “civil infractions.” You can be charged fines and you can be charged the cost of correcting a problem if the government unit takes action after you don’t. You cannot be jailed for a civil infraction.

Motor vehicles present additional issues. The state requires cars to be licensed and insured if they are operable. Local codes often forbid storing a car that is not operable. In your case, neither car is currently licensed or insured because you don’t drive them. Whether or not you license or insure them, each car has a “title” based on Vehicle Identification Number on file with the Secretary of State. If you have title to a car that shows up at a crime scene, or disabled or abandoned, whoever has title will be held responsible. You hold title to both the cars involved here. In your case, if the city sends a wrecker to remove the cars, you can be billed for the costs, and the city can sue you to try to force you to pay the bill.

Every parcel in a city is in a “zone” that allows certain uses. Your property is zoned as “residential.” The code in your city does not allow a person to store an inoperable vehicle on any residential property for more than a short time period.

Zoning and building codes are part of the “police power” of the local government. The city has the authority to enter private property in order to protect public health, safety or morals. This can be the health, safety and morals of yourself or of neighbors or the community as a whole. Since motor vehicles involve fuel, lubricants, chemicals, deterioration and rust, the government almost never encounters a successful challenge to code violations for junked cars.

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By: Sgt. Baron Brown, Ferndale Police

RECENTLY, THE FERNDALE POLICE Department investigated a case of a committed stalker. This incident didn’t result in any physical contact or injury to the male victim, but did result in the victim suffering considerable emotional injury and a feeling of helplessness and loss of control. This got me to thinking about how much our readers really know about stalking. January is National Stalking Awareness Month and a good opportunity to spread some useful knowledge and resource information about stalking. Stalking is such a widespread illegal behavior in this country that all 50 states have stalking laws. According to a recent study by the Center for Disease Control, approximately 7.5 million people were stalked in just one year. Victims are most often stalked by someone they know. Frequently, stalkers are ex-partners or acquaintances of the victim with only 1 in 8 females and 1 in 5 males being victims of stranger stalking. Stalking is seriously under-reported. For many reasons, including the victim’s belief that the behavior isn’t criminal, the police won’t take the report seriously or a victim minimizing the seriousness of the behavior, only about approximately 37% of males and 41% of females will actually make a report with the police.

As with the victimization risk for most crimes, the youngest members of our society are most at risk. Stalking victims are typically in the 18 to 24 year old age range. The overrepresentation of this age group may play an increased role in the underreporting of this crime. This age group is also highly involved in social media, which is an ideal vehicle for a stalker to commit their illegal acts. In addition to using social media, stalkers also follow their victims, inundate them with phone calls and text messages, show up at locations that the victim is likely to be, and send messages through third parties. Unfortunately, the increased availability of easy to use technology such as home surveillance systems and global positioning devices make it harder for a victim to escape stalking behavior.

Studies show that ignoring a stalker isn’t necessarily effective in stopping the behavior. In fact, ignoring a stalker in some cases can increase the frequency and seriousness of the stalking behavior. One might think that stalkers are mentally ill but that notion isn’t supported by fact. Researchers have found that while some stalkers are mentally ill, there is no evidence that most stalkers are mentally ill.

In Michigan stalking occurs when there are 2 or more unwanted contacts that could cause a reasonable person to suffer emotional distress and does cause a victim to actually suffer emotional distress. A person guilty of stalking is responsible for a misdemeanor and can be imprisoned for not more than 1 year and fined up to $1000. If a victim is less than 18 years old and the stalker is more than 5 years older than the victim it’s a felony punishable by a prison term of not more than 5 years and up to a $10,000 fine. A person is guilty of aggravated stalking if they violate a court order prohibiting stalking behavior, make a credible threat, or have been convicted of misdemeanor stalking in the past.

Aggravated stalking is a felony punishable by a prison term of not more than 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Again, if the victim is less than 18 and is stalked by someone more than 5 years older the penalty can increase to a term of imprisonment of not more than 10 years and a fine of up to $15,000. If you feel you are a victim of stalking please report it to the police.

Intervention is key and the criminal behavior is best addressed by initiating a criminal investigation into the incident. Reporting the behavior to police allows the prosecutor to charge aggravated stalking with harsher penalties in the future. It also allows the prosecutor to show a pattern of behavior by the stalker in court proceedings. When you report a case of stalking to the Ferndale Police Department, the case will be investigated and resources will be made available to you, including information on how to acquire a Personal Protection Order.

For more information, visit Haven’s website or call their 24-hour crisis and support line 248-334-1274. (information taken from stalkingawarenessmonth.org)

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By: Ann Heler, President

THIS IS THE YEAR that you think about your health. What one thing can you do that would be healthier than what you are doing now? Great examples: Drinking one less bottle of pop, brushing your teeth one more time, eating a piece of fruit once a day, walking around the block once a day.

We are announcing the date for our 8th Annual Dinner, Friday May 6. We are going to go back to the Dossin Museum on Belle Isle. Just the right size, lots of our lake and river history and a great view of the Detroit River. More to come, as they say.


Call the appointment line and tell them you want a health insurance appointment. Even if all you have is questions, call 248-677-2273.

Tobacco Cessation Online programs:

• National Cancer Institute: www.smokefree.gov or 1-800-480- 7848. It’s free.

• Mayo Clinic: www.becomeanex.org. Also free!

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By: Blake Prewitt, Superintendent, Ferndale Public Schools

LAST MONTH, THROUGH THE statewide partnership of the Michigan Film and Digital Media Office and Google, Ferndale Middle School joined the growing list of Michigan schools utilizing the Google-based computer science (CS) program, CS First.

CS First is an online curriculum that increases student access and exposure to computer science education through after-school, in-school, and summer programs. All clubs are run by teachers and/or community volunteers.

A total of 26 students participated in the first after-school Google CS First club at Ferndale Middle School. The theme was storytelling, and students were engaged with creating digital stories through coding. Students used the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Scratch program which introduces coding through blocks and forms a foundation for learning other computer programming languages.

The program was so successful that the Ferndale Board of Education approved the creation of a new elective coding class to begin at Ferndale Middle School for the second semester of this year. This course will use the Google CS First curriculum to introduce students to computer science concepts through the semester using engaging topics like video games, fashion and design, social media, and music and sound.

Only one in 10 K-12 schools in the United States offers computer science classes. In addition, 75 percent of the population is underrepresented in computer science even though exposure to computer science leads to some of the highest paying jobs in the world. Opportunities for graduates with computer science degrees are plentiful with jobs in computing growing at twice the national rate of other types of jobs.

By 2020, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that there will be one million more computer science jobs than graduating students qualified for them. In Michigan alone, the demand for computing jobs is growing at over three times the state average with the average earnings for those employed in digital-media related industries in Michigan nearly $89,000.

Ferndale Schools could not be more excited to add the CS First coding class to Ferndale Middle School. In addition to our internationally ranked robotics team and the new STEM classes from Project Lead the Way, the Google CS First curriculum allows all of our middle school students to have an incredible foundation which will soundly prepare them for the jobs of the future.