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University Liggett School hosts Young Americans, PBS special

By: Maria Allard | Grosse Pointe Times | Published January 21, 2020

 Members of the Young Americans stayed in town one extra day because of the snowstorm Jan. 18. Here they are volunteering to make plastic blankets for the homeless while they were still  in town.

Members of the Young Americans stayed in town one extra day because of the snowstorm Jan. 18. Here they are volunteering to make plastic blankets for the homeless while they were still in town.

Photo provided by the Young Americans

GROSSE POINTE WOODS — Two different events have placed University Liggett School in the spotlight.

On Jan. 27, the school will star in its own documentary set to air at 7:30 p.m. on Detroit Public Television.

The film, “Making School Matter — University Liggett School & The Academic Research Program,” highlights the impact of the school’s Academic Research Program.

Liggett educators will host a public screening of the film and panel discussion at 7 p.m. Jan. 27 at the school, located at 1045 Cook Road. The event is free and open to the public. To register, visit

According to a Liggett media release, the documentary was four years in the making. The film follows Liggett students as they research and prepare their ARP. The ARP is an intensive, inquiry-led educational program that allows students to pursue their natural curiosities, identify topics that inspire them, and conduct in-depth research on those subjects over the course of their high school education.

“At University Liggett School, we endeavor to make education matter to kids, and learning is much more than a passive experience,” Head of School Bart Bronk said. “The Academic Research Program puts our students in control of their education. It allows them to explore, question and research topics that stoke their curiosity, and then to contribute meaningfully to the academic conversations in those fields.”

The main students featured in the documentary include Alexander Azar, Alyssa Hamilton, Brooke Hudson and William Kopicki.

Azar’s ARP focused on how the craft beer industry has aided in the redevelopment of Detroit. Hamilton’s project researched how the availability and quality of mental health resources at University Liggett School can be improved.

Hudson’s ARP centered on how gene editing can be used to treat or prevent Huntington’s disease. Kopicki’s project researched the production of synthetic spider silk and what effect it has on the fashion, medical and military industries.

Nearly 300 students have completed ARP projects since 2013. Currently, 78 seniors are participating in their fourth year of the program. The students will present the results of their four-year projects at Liggett’s 2020 Celebration of Research event, scheduled for May 26-29 on the school’s campus.

In other Liggett news, Liggett students received a visit from the Young Americans Jan. 15-17. The Young Americans is a nonprofit, California-based performing arts group and music education organization. The visit at Liggett occurred during its Spring Performing Arts Workshop Tour. The Young Americans are soloists, ensemble members and dancers who travel and share their love of music and dance with others.

At Liggett, the cast taught three-day performing arts workshops, which included classes in singing, dancing and performance. On the final day, a two-hour performance was held.

“Music is a universal language, and because we use music as our main tool, our programs are successful in every region that we visit,” Young Americans Chief Artistic Officer Bill Brawley said. “There is nothing greater than watching a community come together and work as a team in a matter of days. Not only do the students learn how to sing and dance, they also develop new friendships, improve self-esteem and find acceptance among their peers.”