Martin Luther King Day


On January 19th, Troy School District held a celebration in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. The event was held at Troy Athens High School, and it was open to everyone from all schools K-12. The masters of ceremonies were Dr. Richard Machesky (Troy Schools Superintendent) and Brian Kischnick (Troy City Manager). The keynote speaker was Jyarland Daniels (Marketing Communications Director of Race Forward).

Following the singing of the national anthem by the Athens High School Concert Choir & Magic, the program opened with a unity walk around the grounds of the school. The event was well attended by many members of the community. There were also several dignitaries including members of the Troy City Council and Troy School Board, as well as Dave Trott (U.S. Congressman from the 11th District).


There were readings by winners of the student essay contest and screenings of videos created by middle school and high school contest winners. Two Athens students, Isabella Warmbrunn and Christina Warmbrunn, read poems by Langston Hughes. The keynote address by Ms. Daniels centered on the questions “Who is our neighbor?” and “How will we respond to our neighbor in 2014?” She mentioned various people who had contributed to the cause of freedom and equality, and the audience responded by saying, “We speak your name.” Finally, she asked everyone to say their own name out loud to signify their part in the ongoing effort to fulfill Dr. King’s dream.

Director Michelle Fredericks and accompanist Jackie Koehler led the choir in “I Had a Dream” by Teresa Jennings and “Pride (In the Name of Love)” by U2, after which the entire audience joined in “We Shall Overcome.” There was also an art exhibit and a delicious breakfast. As you look at these photos, think about the question that people were asking themselves: “What am I doing to make a positive change in my community?”


1st Place: Ameen Sinaph
2nd Place: Jennie Yang, Richard Yang

1st Place: Ava Taconelli, Dea Hodaj, Elle Etzkorn, Olivia Swider
2nd Place: Noel Rezanka, Fiona Warner
3rd Place: Zach St. Pierre, Kailee Corr, Jenna Youness
Honorable Mention: Richard Lu Li

1st Place: Ellen Zhang
2nd Place: Natasha DeSouza
3rd Place: Ruchica Chandnani

1st Place: Anjana Pisupati
2nd Place: Arushi Chandrakapure
3rd Place: Preethi Kumaran
Honorable Mention: Libby Jackson

1st Place: June Choi
2nd Place: Daeun (Dana) Lee

1st Place: Emily Wu
2nd Place: Adhithi Athikumar
3rd Place: Ashley Weinberg
Honorable Mention: Aimee Zheng

Photos by Ed Morykwas, School Life Troy.

Troy Wins Again


BREAKING NEWS – Friday, January 16, 2014

Troy High’s Biology Competitions Club has been selected as the Best in Region winner for the Verizon Innovative App Challenge. Mrs. Rebecca Brewer, Troy science teacher and moderator of the club, received an email from the Verizon Foundation informing her of the news.

Back row: Jeff Guan, Sebin Choi, Vikas Sharma, and Wesley Chiu
Front row: Raahul Ravi and Johanan Isaac

As a Best in Region team, they will receive a $5,000 Verizon Foundation grant to advance or start-up their STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) programs. The Troy High team is now in the running to win Best in Nation. The students will present their “Thryve” app concept to a panel of judges via a webinar in the week of January 21-23.

If they are selected Best in Nation, the students will receive Samsung tablets and learn directly from the MIT Media Lab on how to code and bring their app to life. In addition, they will receive an additional $15,000 grant to advance STEM programs.

The email announcement went on to say:

“When you think about the number of app concepts received from throughout the country and your team has been selected as a Best in Region – this is quite an honor and accomplishment. You and your students should feel very very good!”

You can

Photo by Ed Morykwas, School Life Troy.

Dissecting a Heart


6th graders from Boulan Park Middle School joined with 5th graders from Schroeder Elementary School for a very special science activity: dissecting a cow’s heart. An observer could easily imagine some future doctors in that cafeteria today. The older students supervised, and the younger ones followed directions with care.

The session took lots of planning, hard work, and cooperation. Boulan science teacher Tammy Gilbert joined Schroeder 5th grade teachers Jason Cichowicz, Kaitlin Bucchare, Tammy Polena, and Shannon Kocher — along with former student teacher Amanda Marshalek — in making everything run smoothly. Also in attendance were Troy Schools superintendent Richard Machesky, principals Brian Canfield and Jo Kwasny, and teacher consultant Carolyn Szymanski.

As you can see from these photos, it was a fascinating and productive afternoon!

Photos by Ed Morykwas, School Life Troy.

Spelling Bee Championship


A classic spelling battle took place at Boulan Park Middle School on January 15th. It was the final school round of the Scripps National Spelling Bee. The winner would get to move on to the regional contest at Oakland Schools in February — and then possibly to the national finals — while everyone else would have to wait until next year.

The competition was administered by April Reem and Sue Dornin, co-department heads for ELA (English Language Arts). Thirty-one students participated at the beginning; only one was left standing at the end. It took a full 10 rounds to find the winner. The words were increasingly difficult, coming first from the Scripps list and ultimately from the dictionary. Students were allowed to ask for the word’s definition, origin, part of speech, and its use in a sentence. A computer was sometimes used to repeat the pronunciation.

6th graders: Alex Xu, Pehar Rampal, Sawyer Darish, Shraddha Gatla, Irene Jung, Purvi Raj, Angela Lee, Navneet Ramadurai, Girish Kotagiri, Danielle Kurkowski, Jason Li

7th graders: Sujin Moon, Fathema Ahmed, Shruthi Sunilkumar, Gina Moy, Kevin Zhao, Ananya Bhemanadhuni

8th graders: Sribharat Koripella, Kevin Huang, Laura Nicholas, Sahaja Pinnu, Siddarth Marthi, Ashwal Shastry, Sara Stroud, Malavika Venkatesh, Yulie Wang, Jiarong (Jason) Song

As students were eliminated one by one, the teachers thanked them for their efforts and praised them for doing well. It’s no easy accomplishment to rise to the top of your class in spelling. Every competitor was a champion in his or her own way.

In the end, Malavika Venkatesh and Shannon Li were tied for third place. Irene Jung took second place. The grand prize winner was… Sribharat Koripella, who said that his victory felt “Great!” Sribharat had won 10th place two years ago, 3rd place last year, and 1st place this year. His winning word? P-S-O-R-I-A-S-I-S.


Photos by Ed Morykwas, School Life Troy.

Cyber Security at Boulan


Troy police officer Gail Jasak is an expert at cyber security.  She recently addressed a group of teachers at Boulan Park Middle School about how to protect kids online.  She spoke about safety from predators, preventing identity theft, and making wise choices on the Internet.  She stressed how parents must be involved in monitoring their kids’ activities.  it’s up to all of us to keep our families and community safe.


Photos by Ed Morykwas, School Life Troy.

THS Verizon App Winners


Six talented 10th graders from Troy High School won a Best in State award in the Verizon Innovation App Challenge.  Their goal was to develop an original concept for a mobile app that incorporates STEM principles and content and addresses a real need or problem in their school or community.  STEM stands for “science, technology, engineering, and math.”  The competition offers $20,000 grants to winning middle schools and high schools.

Back row:  Jeff Guan, Sebin Choi, Vikas Sharma, and Wesley Chiu
Front row:  Raahul Ravi and Johanan Isaac

Teacher Rebecca Brewer is the moderator of Troy High’s Biology Competitions Club.  She said that this is the third year in a row that her students have won this competition!

She explained:

The problem that they wanted to address was about farming. In the United States alone, 2.2 million farms dot the rural landscape. Often times during farming, fertilizer and pesticides are overused and the excess enters nearby water sources which can affect water quality and the organisms. Second, farmers commonly overuse water which wastes precious resources and money, further draining the depleted lakes and aquifers. Third, farmers usually don’t achieve maximum yield. Since every plant is specific in its growing necessities, farmers do not always fulfill all conditions required for optimal growth. Their app targets farmers and innovative farming universities. It would educate any farmer about saving the use of water and the careful use of fertilizer to improve their own yields.

The Troy students will find out this week if they won the regionals, and then the grand prize is the nationals.  You can read more about the competition at the Verizon website.

Photo by Ed Morykwas, School Life Troy.



Jim “Basketball” Jones

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Schroeder Elementary School welcomed Jim “Basketball” Jones yesterday. Jim is a very popular speaker in schools, having performed at over five thousand assemblies in the past 15 years. He has awesome basketball skills, a great sense of humor, and knows how to connect with an audience. His theme was character building and anti-bullying.

The assembly was sponsored by the Schroeder PTO, thanks to fundraising dollars from the jogathon. You can visit Jim’s website at  The photos for this article are by Kaitlin Bucchare (5th grade teacher) and Stephanie Hicks (long-term substitute teacher).

Photos by Ed Morykwas, School Life Troy.

Comcast Scholarship Winner


Troy High senior Frank Boudon has been awarded $1,000 in scholarship money from Comcast as part of its Leaders and Achievers Program. This is a significant honor because only one student can be nominated per school. Frank was chosen for his high grades, leadership ability, and commitment to community service.

From the Comcast website:

“Each year, Comcast asks principals and guidance counselors to help us identify the best and the brightest high school seniors for recognition as Comcast Leaders and Achievers. Our signature scholarship program rewards young people for getting involved in their schools and making positive change in their communities. In recognition of their community service, academic achievement and leadership skills, winners receive one-time college scholarships. Since the first Leaders and Achievers were recognized in 2001, Comcast has awarded more than $21.6 million in scholarships to help about 21,000 students pursue higher education.”

Behind every great student stands a great teacher.  Frank would like to recognize his social studies teacher, Meghan Hall, for being a positive influence in his education.


Photos by Ed Morykwas, School Life Troy.

School Life Newspaper

The January edition of the School Life Troy newspaper has arrived!  It is packed with articles, photos, and features about Troy School District.  Look for it at your school today.

Photos by Ed Morykwas, School Life Troy.

Looking Back at 2014


In case you missed them, here are some of the top stories we covered in 2014.  Click any photo below to read more.







Bemis and Wattles were chosen as national
Blue Ribbon Schools of Excellence…






Troy students won college scholarships…

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“Romeo and Juliet” and “Emma!” were hits
at Troy High and Athens…

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Students learned all about their heritage…

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They explored science and math…

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They learned about service to others…

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They celebrated Halloween, and 5th graders
chatted with Taylor Swift…

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They sang, danced, and showed that they
are true superstars in every way…

Troy Schools look forward to 2015.
Happy Holidays!

Photos by Ed Morykwas, School Life Troy.

International Fashion Show

A celebration of many lands and cultures was held at Barnard Elementary School on December 19.  It was organized by 4th grade teacher Gwen Simon, along with her fellow 4th grade teachers Debbie Rosenman, Claire Agnello, and Nicole Coffer.  The program’s musical director was Rosanne Thomas.

The 4th grade students were the stars of the show.  Many dressed in clothing that represented the country of their heritage.

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Ms. Simon explained it this way: “The 10th annual International Fashion Show was a culminating activity for a unit on Cultural Awareness.  Students spent the month of December developing a cultural awareness and appreciation of their family heritage.  They interviewed older family members to find out what life was like when they were young.   Students learned about traditions that are important to their families.  In addition, students learned about special family treasures, items that may have been passed down for generations.  Additional activities included making Family Heritage books and an Ethnic Foods Feast.”


The show started with a colorful parade of flags from around the world.  Then twenty-five students modeled traditional clothing from their native culture.   Students also performed songs and dances that highlighted cultures around the world.

Among the guests were Ellen Hodorek (Troy City Council),  Dr. Rich Machesky (TSD Superintendent), Jan Keeling (TSD Assistant Superintendent), Rick West (TSD Assistant Superintendent), Kerry Birmingham (TSD Communication Director), and Jen Hilzinger (Troy Diversity Council), as well as proud friends and family members.

Photos by Ed Morykwas, School Life Troy.



Native American Experience


On Friday, December 19, Schroeder Elementary School had a very special visitor. His name is Gary Ghareeb. He is an expert on Native American history, culture, and customs. (You can explore his website at  The event was organized by teachers Tammy Polena, Shannon Kocher, Jason Cichowicz, and Kaitlyn Bucchare.

“All four 5th grade classes have been studying about Native American cultural regions,” Ms. Polena explained. “This is going to bring the text to life. It’s like a whole-day, in-school Native American field trip. The students will hear a presentation, and then they’ll have lots of hands-on experiences. They’ll get to play games, to dress in Native American outfits, and to handle actual artifacts.”

Gary Ghareeb is an energetic speaker who knows his subject well. He displayed his collection of tools and weapons, animal skins and furs, and many other items used by Native American people. Using a historical map of North America, Mr. Ghareeb explained to the 5th graders how different tribes adapted to the places where they lived. “This my passion,” he said. He personally made many things himself using traditional methods. “My wife is a teacher so I started as a volunteer, visiting classrooms to tell kids about this important part of our history. Now it’s a full-time business.”

Everyone really appreciated this excellent presentation and learned a lot in just one day.  In these photos, you’ll see teacher Shannon Kocher and her wonderful 5th grade students.

Photos by Ed Morykwas, School Life Troy.

Athens Holiday Concert


Troy Athens High School held its annual holiday concert on Friday, December 19th.  It featured  the Freshman Orchestra, the Concert Orchestra, and the Symphony Orchestra — all conducted by Mr. Geoffrey Benes.

Students performed a variety of pieces, some familiar and some new to most of the audience.  Parents, family members, and friends applauded enthusiastically for the talented musicians, many of whom dressed in Santa hats or other holiday apparel.

There was also a silent auction and a bake sale to help raise funds for a trip to New York and Carnegie Hall.  It’s not too late  if you’d like to donate.  Just contact Mr. Benes or any Athens musician.

Photos by Ed Morykwas, School Life Troy.

Wattles Blue Ribbon Day


Wattles Elementary has been named a Blue Ribbon School of Excellence by the U.S. Department of Education. Only 7 schools in Michigan received this honor in 2014, so it’s really a huge accomplishment.

The school held a special ceremony on December 16 to celebrate its award. Principal Joyce Brasington told the students they should be very proud of themselves, their teachers and staff, their families and their community. Troy Schools superintendent Dr. Rich Machesky encouraged everyone to always strive for greatness. Troy mayor Dane Slater presented a commemorative plaque signed by himself and the city council to mark the occasion.

The combined 4th and 5th grade choir sang “Best Day of My Life.” Doug Scheer entertained the assembly with his hilarious magic show, reinforcing the theme that “Wattles Is Magic.” (Doug’s website is  Special wristbands were presented to all students, and a beautiful banner was unveiled which will be permanently displayed in the school.

Dignitaries included Mrs. Jan Keeling (Assistant Superintendent of Elementary Instruction), Mrs. Paula Fleming (Troy School Board), Mrs. Kerry Birmingham (Communications, Troy School District), Mr. Gary Curtis (Masons – donated money for bracelets), Mrs. Claire Forney (Retired Wattles Teacher), and Dr. Judy Garrett (Retired Wattles Principal) who received an enthusiastic welcome from the children.

These photos will show you how exciting it was to be there.

Photos by Ed Morykwas, School Life Troy.