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6 Happy Facts for New Year
Linda Mah
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6 Happy Facts for New Year

New School Year Starts with Happy News

By Dr. Michael Rice

Happy news! Several weeks into the new school year, here are some happy Kalamazoo Public Schools facts.

(1) 13,250 students...and counting. KPS enrollment rose this fall for the 11th time in the last 13 years since the beginning of the Kalamazoo Promise in November 2005. With approximately 13,250 students in pre-K-12, KPS enrollment is at its highest level since the early 1980s. We have grown by more than 25 percent in our enrollment in the last 13 years. Thanks to our teachers, support staff, administrators, board of education, and community partners for their efforts to improve our schools on behalf of children.

(2) 692 graduates…and counting. In June 2005, five months before the Kalamazoo Promise was announced, 454 students graduated from KPS high schools. This summer, 692 students graduated, an increase of more than 50 percent. Again, thanks to our teachers, support staff, administrators, board of education, and community partners for their efforts in this area.

(3) 413 mentors, 1,168 mentees…and counting. Three years ago, KPS began small-group mentoring for KPS students. Last year, 413 staff and community mentors mentored 1,168 students in 9,572 weekly mentoring sessions! Thanks to the staff members and community organizations and mentors that have supported our children through mentoring in the last few years. Thanks to the following mentoring partners: Communities in Schools of Kalamazoo, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Kids Hope, Stones Church, Centerpoint Church, Elizabeth Upjohn Community Healing Center, Galilee Baptist Church, Kalamazoo College, Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety, Kiwanis Club, Milwood Community Church, Mt. Zion Baptist Church, New Life Fellowship Church of God in Christ, Redeemed Christian Church of God, Rotary Club of Kalamazoo, Trenches Community Church, Voyage Church, and Western Michigan University. If your organization would like to explore mentoring KPS students, please contact Jesse Herron at herronjt@

(4) OneCard…and reading. KPS and the Kalamazoo Public Library launched OneCard, a partnership that permits all KPS students to have access to the public library and to have any outstanding fines waived on a one-time basis. Thousands of KPS elementary school students will receive KPL library cards in October and November. Thousands of KPS middle and high school students have received KPL access with their student IDs this fall. Thanks to Ryan Wieber, Susan Warner, Kevin King, and the entire KPL team!

(5) Six…and singing. Congratulations to KPS graduates Chelsea Chavez, Reynardo Dixon, Curt Johnson, Jalen McPherson, and Brooklyn Washington and Kalamazoo Central student Phillip Marion, all of whom were among the more than 100 people who auditioned in the WOTV Idol contest and who were among the 20 selected for the finals on Oct. 3 and 4. Curt Johnson and Jalen McPherson advanced to the Final 5 in the competition, which serves as a screener for American Idol TV show. Congratulations to them all… and thanks to our music teachers who have helped nurture and develop their talent!

(6) 5,200 students…and counting. Wow! More than 5,200 KPS graduates have benefitted from Kalamazoo Promise scholarships since 2005. On behalf of thousands of Kalamazoo families, great thanks to the Kalamazoo Promise donors for their visionary and generous philanthropy!

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