Maria Allard bio image

Maria Allard

C&G Staff Reporter – Warren Weekly, Grosse Pointe Times, Sterling Heights Sentry


Staff Writer Maria Allard covers the school districts of Center Line, Fitzgerald, Van Dyke, Warren Consolidated and Warren Woods, and Macomb Community College for the Warren Weekly and Sterling Heights Sentry newspapers. She also covers the City of Grosse Pointe Woods and the Grosse Pointe Public Schools System for the Grosse Pointe Times newspaper. Allard has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Wayne State University, and she is in love with the Rolling Stones.

Published September 12, 2012

WARREN — “I can say for certain it’s good to be home,” a tired Zachary “Zach” Welsing told a crowd of about 20 family members and friends who welcomed him home the evening of Sept. 5.

Welsing had logged nearly 750 miles on his bicycle from Fort Bragg, N.C., a journey that took him three weeks. The bike ride was his unique way of exiting the U.S. Army after serving five years in the service, including one year in Iraq.

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Published September 5, 2012

FRASER — With the Fraser Education Association still in contract negotiations, there was a bit of confusion over the official start date for teachers for the 2012-13 school year.

Typically the teachers come back to class the Tuesday and Wednesday prior to Labor Day to prepare for the new school year before students return. As per state law, the school year for students in public schools must start after Labor Day.

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Published August 28, 2012

FRASER — Fraser Public Schools parent Bob Chapp addressed school officials during a school board meeting Aug. 20 about the new Latchkey program pay structure.

School officials changed the fee structure from an hourly rate to a flat fee for the 2012-2013 school year, which will greatly increase Chapp’s payment.

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Published August 28, 2012

On the evening of Aug. 21, Zachary Welsing slept in an interesting place for the night: a greenhouse inside a general store in Hillsville, Va.

It is among the many stops the 2007 Center Line High School graduate is making on bicycle as he finishes out his five-year stint in the U.S. Army.

On Aug. 16, Welsing loaded up his sleeping bag, water, Nook tablet, snacks, iPad and change of clothes, hopped onto his bike and left Fort Bragg, N.C., for what he is calling “Operation Ragnar Home.”

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Published August 22, 2012

When Jason Peach’s father, Dan, was in the hospital back in 2001, a stuffed animal sometimes was his only companion after visiting hours ended.

During that time, Dan received the plush toy from his wife — Peach’s stepmother. It brought him comfort when family and friends left for the evening.

“He was in the hospital on and off for two years for a cyst on his pancreas that grew to 14 inches in length,” Peach said, adding that family members took turns spending time with Dan, who underwent various treatments.

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Published August 15, 2012

The recently released Michigan Department of Education School Report Cards, made public Aug. 2, were revamped in an effort to provide “greater transparency on student achievement.”

While the results still include a report card grade for public schools statewide and whether or not each school made Adequate Yearly Progress, the MDE has added “focus,” “priority” and “reward” categories.

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Published August 10, 2012

WARREN — Parents of children from infancy to age 5 are welcome to attend a weekly play-and-learn group that began July 10. Ready Children/Ready Communities meets every Tuesday at Westview Elementary School, 24077 Warner.

The play and learn group is from 10-11:30 a.m. In addition, a parent resource center operates in the same location from 9-10 a.m., and from 11:30 a.m. until noon. The resource center gives parents the opportunity to speak with qualified staff about early childhood development and have access to different resources.

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Published August 10, 2012

A revamped method of classifying results — touted by the Michigan Department of Education as providing “greater transparency” — is shaping the latest Michigan School Report Card grades.

Newly established “reward,” “focus” and “priority” categories denote schools that are highest in achievement or multi-year progress levels, have “wide achievement between various student populations” and “need to improve their attention on student learning,” respectively.

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Published August 10, 2012

CENTER LINE — A large group of Center Line Public Schools students continued learning over the summer months by enrolling in one of three summer school programs offered at Roose Elementary School.

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Published August 6, 2012

CLINTON TOWNSHIP — With Clintondale Community Schools following a state-mandated deficit elimination plan, school officials were required to adopt a proposed budget for the 2012-13 school year that came without a shortfall.

They succeeded. On June 11, the school board voted to approve a “general appropriations of Clintondale Community Schools” for the incoming school year.

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Published August 6, 2012

WARREN — It’s impossible not to have fun inside Stacy Jekielek’s classroom at Westwood Elementary School this summer.

Jekielek, who is teaching a summer school class for Warren Woods Public Schools students entering first-grade this fall, set up a number of activities designed to strengthen the students’ reading, writing and math skills. They’re enjoying the assignments so much it’s more like playtime rather than school.

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Published July 27, 2012

CENTER LINE — After a trip to his dentist five years ago, retired Center Line High School teacher Richard Dziurda discovered he needed a bridge replacement.

The cost of the procedure — even with medical insurance — was more than he could afford. He hoped to set up a payment plan over several months that fit into his budget, but because that wasn’t possible, Dziurda shopped around.

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Published July 20, 2012

WARREN — Warren Woods Public Schools officials will dip into the district’s fund balance account to balance the original budget for the 2012-13 school year.

At a school board meeting June 29, the school board voted 6-0 to adopt the 2012-13 original budget. Trustee Gerry Barkey was absent.

Revenues — which include local, state and federal dollars — were predicted at $30.32 million. Expenditures — retirements, salaries, benefits, utility costs, and supply and purchase services — were predicted at $33 million.

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Published July 20, 2012

CENTER LINE/WARREN — In recent weeks, 25 Center Line Public Schools teachers were laid off as school officials worked to balance the preliminary budget for the 2012-13 school year.

At a school board meeting June 18, the school board voted 7-0 to approve the preliminary budget for the next school year.

Since that time, a percentage of the teachers were called back to work, and district officials predict more laid-off educators will return to the classroom. District Director of Business Services Cindy Schwark said the layoffs were “based on seniority.”

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Published July 13, 2012

The Michigan Merit Examination scores for Michigan’s 11th-graders, recently released to the public, reflect positive one-year improvements and “even larger” four-year swells in math, reading, science and writing, according to the Michigan Department of Education.

Composite scores on the ACT exam, administered as part of the MME in the spring, also went up for the fourth year in a row, the MDE reported, along with the number of students deemed “career- and college-ready.”

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