By Sara E. Teller
THE MISSION OF THE HAZEL PARK SCHOOL DISTRICT (HPSD) is clear: “Inspiring and empowering all learners to achieve excellence.” Part of this means offering families a variety of options when it comes to learning. There are many programs available that are designed to cater to the individual needs of each and every student.
“We have a variety of school options in Hazel Park,” said Superintendent Amy Kruppe. For starters, there’s the Webster Early Childhood Center that houses the District’s Great Start Readiness Grant Program (GSRP). She explained, “GSRP is our State of Michigan grantfunded preschool program. This program uses HighScope curriculum.” The HighScope curriculum is research-based and used to prepare children for future school success.
There are also three elementary schools which house K-5 classes – United Oaks Elementary, Hoover Elementary, and Webb Elementary – as well as the District’s Junior High School and Hazel Park High School (HPHS).
“We also have two early five classrooms – one at Hoover and one at Webb – for students who are not eligible for kindergarten or perhaps not ready,” Kruppe said, adding, “We also have several options of schools for students who may need options to meet their individual needs.”
Advantage Alternative School is available for students grades 3-12 who have needs that may be best met in a smaller classroom setting. The program has been made available to those struggling in a traditional environment in order to encourage students to continue pursuing academics rather than dropping out. Invest Alternative School is also available for students grades 9-12 and provides an alternative environment to support students.
HPSD HAS SOME GREAT OPTIONS FOR THOSE WHO PREFER an online learning environment. ACCESS and MCA are both online alternative schools that give students an opportunity to access education from just about anywhere. These programs are for those who prefer to learn at home rather than in a classroom setting. Viking Virtual, which is led by Hazel Park staff members, is another option. It mirrors the in-classroom curriculum and is available to all students who opt for a more flexible environment. Learners can choose to attend online 100 percent of the time, or they can take some courses at the high school and log in virtually part of the time.
As part of its mission to “collaborate with stakeholders in order to prepare and support students for the future through innovation and technology,” HPSD has recently implemented advanced options in science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM) for students K-12.
“This is a growing program, and we are coordinating with programs yearly such as Oakland University, Project Lead the Way, and now are adding computer programs from Amazon,” Kruppe said, adding, “We also have programs such as access to Oakland County OTECH, UAW/Chrysler school to work program and more. And we should not forget that students who are living in the District are eligible for the Promise Zone.”
THE PROMISE ZONE IS A NONPROFIT ORGANIZATION founded in 2010. It is one of ten original “Promise Zones” created through legislation signed by Governor Granholm in 2009. It is offered alongside the Pell Grant program. Students attending Oakland Community College (OCC) are fully funded for up to 62 credits within four years of high school graduation through either Pell Grant and/or Hazel Park Promise Zone scholarship. A student attending a college or university other than OCC is eligible for up to $1,600 per semester for a total of $6,000. Pell Grant dollars awarded in a given semester are subtracted from the $1,600 for that particular semester.
In order to be considered for funding, a student must submit a Promise Zone scholarship application and inform the Promise Zone Executive Director which school he or she will be attending prior to college course registration. A student’s FAFSA student aide information must be fully processed by a college or university in order to receive Promise Zone scholarship funding.
“Our students this year are on track to receive over four million dollars in scholarships thanks to the support of our high school staff and the Michigan College Access Network, the Promise Zone,” Kruppe said.
RESIDENTS OF HAZEL PARK OR THOSE LIVING IN SPECIFIC PARTS OF FERNDALE are automatically assigned to Hazel Park Schools. The District also supports Schools of Choice. Students and their families interested in applying for inclusion must turn in their discipline and academic history for the last two years. This is reviewed at the District’s central office.
There is a set of beliefs all HPSD administrators and staff members abide by and, as a whole, the District “supports the social, emotional, physical, and academic needs of each child. Kindness, respect, diversity, equity, and integrity are valued, taught, and modeled. A caring, healthy, safe, and respectful environment is provided for all. Student achievement is the core of every decision. All students have the ability to learn. All students, staff, and families are engaged and support learning, and all stakeholders are provided high quality researched-based curriculum which is aligned with state standards.”
HPSD also has some stand-out extracurricular options for students to partake in, including many different clubs and sports.
“In the last several years our wrestling, track, softball, soccer, and baseball teams have had many stand out seasons. We’ve had several amazing boys’ basketball seasons as well,” Kruppe explained, adding, “Our band continues to be recognized yearly, and I enjoyed seeing them once again at Ford Field. Our junior high students are recognized each year with high band ratings as they “go-to” competitions. Our cheer teams continue to be successful. We are incredibly proud of all our students.”
In addition to these notable achievements, HPSD is growing its robotic teams and has one of the longest-standing dance teams in Michigan. There also has been an increased focus in recent years on improving students’ test scores. Currently, HPHS allows learners to access SAT prep resources.
“We are excited by the curriculum that we offer and continue to review K-12 on a yearly basis,” said Kruppe. “We are continually looking for ways to help our students grow and access best practices in education.”