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St. Clair Shores

October 22, 2013

Former students, parents enjoy Wheat for the second time

Lakeview reopens school after selling it more than 30 years ago
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Preschool teachers check out where they will work next year at the Wheat Educational Campus. From left are preschool teacher Pat O’Callaghan, retired preschool teacher Shirley Brady and current teacher Janet Brady.

ST. CLAIR SHORES — Among the teachers, administrators and students milling around the new Wheat Educational Campus in Lakeview Public Schools, there were a few looking at the building through different eyes.

Dorothy and Richard Mispelon were just two of the people who knew the building as what it used to be — Wheat Elementary, which was sold by the district in 1980. The district repurchased the building at the end of 2012 to house administrative offices and classrooms for different programs.

Five Mispelon children traveled through the Wheat Elementary halls as students, said Dorothy Mispelon.

“You have no idea how we worked so hard to keep this building, and now it’s back,” said Mispelon, a member of the school Parent-Teacher Organization at the time. “And it’s beautiful … how they combined the higher education with the special education with the growth of the children.”

One of her daughters was friends with LeeAnne Hensel, who attended Wheat Elementary for a year and a half beginning in 1954 before transferring to Ardmore Elementary.

“It’s just a way of life. We come to everything, and everybody sees each other,” said Hensel, who graduated from Lakeview High School in 1966 and then came back from 1970-1977 to teach at Gordon Elementary, which was located on Gordon Street between Greater Mack and Jefferson avenues before closing in 1983.

She said there have been a lot of changes to the building since she was last in it. The entryway, however, was saved.

Although the building has been in use by the district since the spring, the Wheat Educational Campus held an open house Oct. 15. The milestone celebration for the school, which opened to students taking Wayne State University classes at Lakeview High School this fall, was the second opening for the building, said Superintendent Karl Paulson.

“Nineteen Twenty-six would have been its first time (it opened),” he said.

He said it was important for the district to open the building to the public.

“Lakeview hasn’t opened a building since the mid-1950s,” he said. “We spent a lot of time in our design — made sure we serve the needs of the future.”

He said he wasn’t surprised to see old students in the halls, though — they’ve been coming since the administration moved its offices over in the spring.

The building houses the district’s administrative staff, 112 high school students taking WSU courses at Lakeview High School, a computer-based class for middle school and high school students who need intensive courses to catch them back up academically with their peers, and six classrooms of preschool students in the fall of 2014.

“We’re extremely excited,” said Janet Brady, who teaches 4-year-old preschool at the district’s Salturelli Preschool, which is currently housed at Greenwood Elementary. “The buildings are so full. We’ll have a gym here.”

Chris Brown, executive director of student services at Lakeview Public Schools, said they are trying to create a state-of-the-art preschool experience for Lakeview students.

“What our research knows (is) getting that early start” is key for student success, she said.

The renovated building, she said, is “so kid-friendly.”

St. Clair Shores City Council member John Caron said he thinks current students will have as great an experience in the building as he did — he attended kindergarten-second grade at Wheat Elementary. Then, the building closed to students.

“It’s great that it’s becoming an educational facility again,” he said. “It’s great to be able to come back.”