Academy renamed in former school board member’s honor

By: Eric Czarnik | C&G Newspapers | Published July 17, 2020

 The Utica Community Schools Board of Education recently voted to rename the Utica Academy for International Studies in honor of the late Gene L. Klida, a longtime advocate and Board of Education member.

The Utica Community Schools Board of Education recently voted to rename the Utica Academy for International Studies in honor of the late Gene L. Klida, a longtime advocate and Board of Education member.

Photo by Deb Jacques

 Gene L. Klida

Gene L. Klida

Advertisement

STERLING HEIGHTS/UTICA/SHELBY TOWNSHIP — The Utica Academy for International Studies is getting a name change in honor of a longtime Utica Community Schools advocate and Board of Education member.

Starting this fall, students will know UAIS as the Gene L. Klida Utica Academy for International Studies. The UCS Board of Education unanimously voted June 22 to give the school a name change.

The district credits Klida with being a “driving force” in making UAIS and its International Baccalaureate program a reality. The school, which opened in 2008, offers an accelerated curriculum as well as the coveted IB distinction. According to UCS, the school says it enrolled fewer than 400 students.

UCS Superintendent Christine Johns said Klida knew that the program would be successful and would benefit students’ futures.

“Mrs. Klida believed in this community and, most importantly, believed in our students,” Johns said in a statement. “She was a true champion of all children who advocated and had high expectations for their success.”

Before Klida died in October 2019 at age 64, she was a known factor at UCS for over 20 years, serving on the UCS Board of Education 1998-2018 in various roles, including trustee, secretary, vice president and president.

She also was involved in various organizations related to education and the community. Examples included the UCS Foundation for Educational Excellence, the Utica Community Action Team, Science Olympiad, the Macomb County Schools Board Association and the Macomb County Art Institute Authority.

Klida’s name will be on the school thanks to a collaborative group composed of UCS teachers, graduates and other community members. They urged the district to consider the name change.

Deanna Galer, who graduated from UAIS in 2013, said she was involved in the campaign to rename the school. She said she wrote a letter to the UCS Board of Education on why it should be bestowed with Klida’s name.

“Mrs. Klida really helped found it,” Galer said. “She was instrumental in creating the program and my high school experience.”

Galer said her former principal, Tom Lietz, reached out to her in early April, asking her to write the letter. At the time, Galer was in Philadelphia where she lives, and she and Lietz corresponded over a Zoom conference. Then she composed the letter.

“I spoke about what a champion of students she was, and she was always in favor of supporting students holistically,” Galer said.

Galer said she looks up to Klida’s example, calling her a servant leader who made a difference every day. Galer added that she was thrilled to hear that the district acted on her proposal.

“I think the Board of Education and the naming committee made a strong statement by honoring Mrs. Klida’s legacy this way,” she said.

The Gene L. Klida Utica Academy for International Studies is located at 37400 Dodge Park Road in Sterling Heights. Find out more about Utica Community Schools by visiting www.uticak12.org or by calling (586) 797-1000.

Advertisement