New classes coming to Kelly Middle School

Pre-engineering, beginning percussion and current event media to start in fall

By: Kevin Bunch | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published February 26, 2014


EASTPOINTE — Students at Kelly Middle School soon will have the choice of three new elective courses ranging from social studies to science to music.

The East Detroit Public Schools Board of Education unanimously approved the three new classes — pre-engineering, beginning percussion and current event media — at its Feb. 10 meeting, and Kelly Middle School Principal Ryan Melrose said sign-ups should begin in late March, with classes starting in the fall.

He said the school largely was looking for new elective classes that would interest students, and based on surveys taken by the kids the past few years, these three classes seemed like they would be good choices.

“We’re also shifting electives to being more apropos for the future here, especially social studies and the media,” Melrose said. “We hope with the interest with these classes, the social studies skill set, the math and engineering, will help build up the skill level for those students.”

The beginning percussion class was created out of an interest from students in a drum line-based class, and Melrose said he believed it would not only bring more students into music, but it would also get more students interested in the band program going into high school. The class will be open to students in grades 6-8.

The pre-engineering course would take concepts and ideas from the math and science classes and have students utilize them in a hands-on class. This would allow them to learn about real-world applications of these concepts, Melrose said. It would only be open to eighth-graders.

“This sort of course would look at those standards and apply them to bridge building, mouse-trap vehicles, simple machines — just different kinds of machines,” Melrose said during the Feb. 10 school board meeting.

The current event media course would focus on kids learning about major news events and help them learn about what’s going on in the world around them, Melrose said. He said most students currently seem to lack that focus.

They would learn how to pull important information from a newspaper, as well as how to operate programs like Google Drive and get information from digital sources, he said. It is open to kids in seventh and eighth grades.

Melrose does not believe there will be a major cost to the district to add these classes. He said the existing staff should be able to cover each of the courses, provided student interest is not so high that they need to hire additional staff to cover it.

The beginning percussion class would require about $1,000 from the school’s internal fund to buy an instruction book, drumsticks and practice pads, Melrose said. Pre-engineering would be able to use existing equipment from the woodshop, and the current event media would use the school’s existing iPad tablets, he added.

Any additional iPads could be purchased through the school’s Title I funds, leaving the general fund untouched, Melrose said.

School board Trustee Margaret Podsiadlik said she believed the programs would prove popular among students.

“Regarding the pre-engineering program, I have a boy who would absolutely love that,” she said, adding that her son went to a summer program that used hands-on experiments.

“It really engages the kids, helps them learn, and they find these interesting,” Podsiadlik said.

The classes should all have at least one section, Melrose said, with additional sections based on enrollment. On the off chance that not enough kids sign up for any class section, Melrose said it could be canceled and attempted again at a later date.

None of the classes are required or will provide high school credit, he added, but Melrose believes the subject matter can better prepare students for high school itself.

The school currently is not looking at adding any additional courses, as Melrose said he does not want to overload the school with new coursework. He said they would focus on making these three successful, and he hoped that building interest in the topics highlighted in them would transfer to higher grades.

“Anytime we can put something out there that ties together the objectives we want to cover, plus the interest of the students, I think it’s a win-win for everybody,” he said. “We’re really excited to put those in place.”