Mohsen Nouraddin Airiyam, a sophomore at Hazel Park High, and Principal Matthew Dailey sit at Mabel Gray Jan. 10. The lunchtime trip was part of the Hazel Park school district’s “Be a10” program, rewarding students with 10 or fewer absences.

Mohsen Nouraddin Airiyam, a sophomore at Hazel Park High, and Principal Matthew Dailey sit at Mabel Gray Jan. 10. The lunchtime trip was part of the Hazel Park school district’s “Be a10” program, rewarding students with 10 or fewer absences.

Photo by Deb Jacques


Hazel Park High tackles tardiness with ‘Be a 10’ program

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published January 23, 2018

 James Rigato, owner and head chef of Mabel Gray, talks to the kids about his school days, his award-winning career and his passion for cooking.

James Rigato, owner and head chef of Mabel Gray, talks to the kids about his school days, his award-winning career and his passion for cooking.

Photo by Deb Jacques

HAZEL PARK — Twenty-five students from Hazel Park High School were recently treated to lunch at critically acclaimed restaurant Mabel Gray, part of the Hazel Park school district’s “Be a 10” program that aims to reduce tardiness by rewarding good attendance. 

The 25 students who attended the Jan. 10 event were hosted by celebrity chef James Rigato himself. They had Caesar salad, fried chicken, zesty mashed potatoes and chocolate chip cookies — with the cookies coming from the newly reopened Doug’s Delight. 

“The students were wonderful,” Hazel Park Superintendent Amy Kruppe said. “They enjoyed a conversation with James about schooling and how he had changed since going to school, and what he experienced. They had an opportunity to ask him questions about ‘farm to table,’ and even about how to get a job at his restaurant and why his restaurant was named Mabel Gray, and why he cooks what he cooks.” 

There were actually 65 students who qualified for the reward under the “Be a 10” program, which was first implemented in the current school year. The goal of the program is to have 10 or fewer absences during the school year. For the Mabel Gray event, the district also took into account students who had 10 or fewer referrals for bad behavior. 

“We’ve been concerned about our attendance since I’ve been here, and my guess before,” Kruppe said. “We put together a committee of teachers and administrators to begin studying research about ways to improve attendance. We know that it starts in the classroom with relationships with teachers. We’ve also been using www.attendance
works.org, with so many wonderful research programs that support attendance ideas for schools.” 

Matthew Dailey, principal at Hazel Park High, said the high school had a drawing during fall count day where students who were present were able to participate in a raffle by class period. Some of the items given away included Detroit Tigers memorabilia, gift cards to restaurants, and free passes to high school events. 

He said there are a number of reasons why students are tardy, including transportation challenges. He said the school takes the issue very seriously. The school has also diversified its curricular and extracurricular offerings, with a robotics class, an engineering club, multiple Advanced Placement courses and more. 

“We believe that our students cannot afford any lost minutes of learning,” Dailey said. “Attendance is a strong indicator of academic achievement. If students miss out on school, they miss out on learning. It’s important for us to foster an environment where students want to attend while also making sure we take care of our students’ academic and nonacademic needs.”