Lake Shore food services employee Lynn Wunderlich delivers bag breakfasts and lunches for students at Lake Shore High School March 17. The district is offering food pickup at the high school and Kennedy Middle School on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Lake Shore food services employee Lynn Wunderlich delivers bag breakfasts and lunches for students at Lake Shore High School March 17. The district is offering food pickup at the high school and Kennedy Middle School on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Photo by Kristyne E. Demske


St. Clair Shores schools focus on ‘more than just learning’

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published March 20, 2020

 On the first day of distribution, Lake Shore Public Schools gave away 1,575 meals to children.

On the first day of distribution, Lake Shore Public Schools gave away 1,575 meals to children.

Photo by Kristyne E. Demske

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ST. CLAIR SHORES — School may be closed for weeks on end, but that doesn’t mean students suddenly don’t need the resources and support they get inside those walls.

Across St. Clair Shores, school districts are working to get meals to students who need them and develop resources to keep their minds sharp while buildings are closed in response to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive order to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, COVID-19.

The goal of providing such resources is, as Lakeview Public Schools Superintendent Karl Paulson put it in a YouTube video to parents, to “reinforce and support learning that has already occurred ... to prevent an early summer, COVID-19 academic slide.”

Lake Shore, Lakeview and South Lake school districts are also distributing breakfasts and lunches to children at different pickup points during the closures. Whitmer ordered schools to close until at least April 6, but most districts are out until April 13 because of preplanned spring break.

“So many kids depend on us for more than just learning,” Superintendent Joseph DiPonio said as he stood outside Lake Shore High School March 17. “We’ve got considerable resources and we want to make sure we use them.”

Lake Shore Public Schools, in partnership with Chartwells Food Services, is providing free, healthy meals to all children younger than 18, and to special needs children up to age 26, regardless of where they attend school or whether they qualify for free or reduced-price meals.

The district began hosting two distribution locations March 17 — one at Lake Shore High School, 22980 E. 13 Mile Road, and one at Kennedy Middle School, 23101 Masonic Blvd. The locations will be open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Tuesdays and Fridays for students or parents to collect breakfasts and lunches to take home.

Lakeview Public Schools began food distribution March 18, and planned to continue March 19 and 20 from 6:30 to 7:30 a.m. and from 10 a.m. to noon at Lakeview High School, 21100 11 Mile Road. Parents or students can pick up breakfast and lunch through the window of their vehicle during those times. Distribution at those same times would then continue on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

In South Lake Schools, the South Lake Bistro, 21900 Nine Mile Road, is open from 10:30 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday to provide carryout breakfast and lunch. South Lake Schools Superintendent Ted Von Hiltmayer said that chef Darrel Shepherd is also working with local grocers to get ingredients to be able to provide soup on Fridays to “help people to carry over to the weekend.”

Lynn Wunderlich, a food services employee distributing meals at Lake Shore High School, said that they were just asking those who arrived how many children they had at home and then giving them enough breakfasts and lunches for that number of children to last until the next distribution day.

“There’s so many hungry children,” she said. “We’ve got the food and got the people to do it.”

She said there was a line of vehicles waiting for the distribution to open the first day, many who expressed their appreciation for the district’s efforts.

Mom Stacey Zelenak said she had four children at home.

“It’s helpful that I don’t have to go to the store ... to have them exposed (to other shoppers),” she said. Her children usually eat breakfast and lunch at school, “so this is really helpful.”

Lake Shore’s DiPonio said that district teachers have also begun making contact with each of their students to see if there is anything they need health- or resource-wise. Teaching remotely moving forward, “it’s going to look different at the secondary level than the elementary,” he said.

“Whatever happens, it’s not going to be to the detriment of the kids,” DiPonio said, stressing that whenever the district could, it would hold prom and graduation.

With students in the district already each having a device with Lake Shore’s one-to-one initiative, many classes are already set up to be able to interact online. The challenge, he said, is that at the high school, the new trimester has just begun; high school students took their finals the last day school was open.

“It’s a new group of kids for a lot of (teachers),” he said.

Lake Shore also set up an email, COVID19help@lsps.org, for anyone who needs assistance at this time, whether it’s that they can’t pick up a meal during the scheduled time or need help in another way. DiPonio said that the district was also working to get mobile hotspots to some students who didn’t have access to the internet at home.

In Lakeview Public Schools, Paulson said that teachers and staff are working to provide enrichment for students through a variety of resources while schools are closed. To that end, the district was providing a laptop computer to any district family that did not already have access to one.

“For the next couple of weeks, we have to look at our role as educators through a new lens — a lens where students will have some tasks as opposed to seat time; a lens where kids will reinforce and review, not learn new,” he said in a YouTube video to parents.

He said that he envisions the district providing a platform of instructional enrichment and review for students, linked through the Lakeview website, and he thanked staff members for banding together to accomplish that goal.

“We can continue to support our families by offering these remote services, technology access and meals for students during the shutdown, in accordance with state guidelines,” Paulson said. “I want us to be safe and, at the same time, provide some stability for the children and families that need us most.”

South Lake Schools is working to get supplemental materials to students as well, Von Hiltmayer said.

“We would have hard copies available if people need it,” he said, explaining that the goal is to determine “what can we provide to our families so that it keeps our students engaged.”

“We’re not trying to replace the instruction they would have received,” he added.

All three superintendents stressed that the goal is a moving target.

“Right now, this is how we’re approaching it,” as a way for parents to “have something that they can do with their children,” Von Hiltmayer said.

District officials said that collaborating remotely with staff is new to them as well.

“Hopefully, this is a short-term thing, but we don’t really know what’s going to happen,” Von Hiltmayer said.

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