School and Community Relations Coordinator Lacey Cornell, left, presents Kenneth Moreno, of Warren Mott High School, with his award for receiving a $1,000 scholarship.

School and Community Relations Coordinator Lacey Cornell, left, presents Kenneth Moreno, of Warren Mott High School, with his award for receiving a $1,000 scholarship.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Students, educators receive something ‘Extra’

By: Maria Allard | Warren Weekly | Published June 26, 2023

 Madison Caswell, who attends University of Michigan-Dearborn, right, receives her award from Cornell.

Madison Caswell, who attends University of Michigan-Dearborn, right, receives her award from Cornell.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

WARREN — A large group of students who left Ukraine during wartime are attending Immaculate Conception Catholic Schools.

With their studies, they are learning English, which has been made more effective with the recent addition of the Rosetta Stone Language Learning program.

Earlier this school year, Principal Mary Ann Gruda received $1,910 from Extra Credit Union through its school employee grant program to purchase Rosetta Stone.   

“We had a full ELS (English as a second language) program to teach those students with new teachers. They were learning English from the bottom up, so that when they go to our next school year or another school, they actually understand the language,” Gruda said. “Our families are so grateful to be able to come to this school and be part of a safe community because they left a very unsafe environment in Ukraine, because of the war with Russia.”

Gruda was among the staff members and students recognized during Extra Credit Union’s annual Excellence Awards Luncheon June 20 at the main office on Chicago Road. Many but not all of the recipients attended.

Ruthann Varosi, ECU assistant vice president of marketing, and ECU President CEO Deidra Williams offered the opening remarks.

“I’d like to thank everybody for coming, attending and helping us to celebrate the accomplishments of our students, our teachers and all of our families,” Williams said. “This is really a proud moment for all of you.”

Eight educators received teacher grants, including Center Line Public Schools Superintendent Joseph Haynes, who attended the luncheon with Director of Food Services Theresa Willis, and Sue Pauling, assistant to the superintendent. The Center Line officials used their $1,200 grant to help fund “Table Time,” in which 15 Wolfe Middle School students participated in a three-hour cooking lesson after school. The students learned how to make chicken burritos. In addition, they were given items to take home in which to make the meal with their families.

Roseville Middle School teacher Megan Baranski received $500 to purchase games for students to use during indoor lunch. Erik Rothenhauser, of St. Anne Catholic School, received $2,000 to help with the cost of purchasing new sports uniforms.

Center Line High School art teacher Michelle Keeran received $1,033 to purchase items for the art department’s printmaking entrepreneurship project. Angela Gilchrist, of Fitzgerald High School, used her $551 grant to purchase 50 yoga mats for the school’s new after-school program, “Yoga Fitz.”

Fitzgerald High School drama teacher Rebecca Mulligan received $820 to take 41 students to the Fox Theatre to see a play. The $2,000 grant Van Dyke Public Schools educator Kathleen Saunders received was used to buy equipment needed for the district’s auditorium.

This school year, six 2023 high school graduates received Richard J. Spence scholarships. The scholarship program was named after Spence, a former CEO who established the ECU’s school programs.

Leah Stchur, of Warren Mott High School, received $2,000 to study psychology at Michigan State University.

Kenneth Moreno, also of Warren Mott High School, received $1,000 to attend the University of Michigan as a computer science major.

Warren Woods Tower High School senior Kylie Portalski will use her $1,000 scholarship to attend Belmont University to study faith and social justice.

Romeo High School graduate Evalyn Vires will use her $500 toward attending Rowan University as a student in their dental program.

Kevin Adriaens, of Powers Catholic High School in Flint, received $500. He will study aviation at Northwestern Michigan College. Berkley High School graduate Ava Hines, who also received $500, will pursue studies in business at MSU.

ECU’s Continuing Education Scholarship program was created in 2018 to help students who return to a university, community college or a trade school after being out of high school. The five continuing education recipients were Ryan Glant, Alyssa Ziegler, Eliza Portalski, Madison Caswell and Eric Kausch.

Glant, who has an interest in information technology and broadcast cinema, received $1,000 to enroll at Central Michigan University.

With her $1,000 scholarship, Ziegler is going to attend Oakland University. She aspires to become a certified public accountant.

Portalski, whose desired occupation is social media management, received $1,000 with plans to attend Belmont University.

Caswell, who plans to become a criminal psychologist, will attend the University of Michigan-Dearborn. She received $1,000.

Kausch, the principal at Carleton Middle School in Warren Consolidated Schools, is working on his dissertation to become an education leader at the University of Arkansas. The U-A program is in a hybrid format. He primarily studies virtually; however, university officials have asked that students come to campus for a few days every semester, which Kausch did.

Several other ECU staff members present at the luncheon were Public Relations and Events Coordinator Mae Daniels, School and Community Relations Coordinator Lacey Cornell, School and Community Relations Coordinator Ashley Fordyce, and Promotions and Digital Coordinator Kelsey Hickey.

ECU has distributed over $95,000 through the Richard J. Spence scholarships, over $30,000 through the continuing education scholarships, and over $100,000 through the teacher grant program.