Board of Education shakes things up

Lancer Summer Coverage 

With seven seats on the South Lake Schools Board of Education and five of them up for grabs, the November election will prove interesting as to who will fill these empty seats.

But due to the unexpected retirement of Treasurer Christi Frazier, an appointment for her seat was held on July 16th where by vote, Julie Magee Swetlic was appointed to the board. However the seat is only temporary and Swetlic will have to run in November in order to retain the seat as Frazier would have, had she not retired.

The final date to file to run for a position on the Board was July 22nd. The candidates for the November election are Michael Damiani, appointee Julie Magee Swetlic, and incumbents Lois Cardenas and Kelly Gattuso.

The Board of Education is saying farewell to Vice President Paula Mack-Crouchman and Trustee Karla Anderson who have decided not to pursue another term on the BOE.

“Its an interesting time,” said School Board President Ellen Dunn, “with so many vacancies. But I am hopeful that passionate candidates will be elected on November 4th.” Dunn added.

However because there will be five seats open but only four candidates running, this means one seat will be left open even after the November election.

“When a seat is open, the Board is required by law to fill it by appointment within 30 days.” said Dunn.

This indicates that there will be one final appointment after the November election and all current candidates in the November election are guaranteed seats.

Posted in Community, News

Lancer says farewell for summer

Robert Swetlic ‘16


As I sit in front of the screen of my MacBook at 10:00 o’clock, I struggle to come up with the words to describe this monumental year.

It feels like just yesterday that we had begun the school year with a full Journalism class and plenty of story ideas to go around.

And it is with the dedication of these few students that we were able to finish the year strongly and on the right track.

I am happy to say that The Lancer received a Bronze award from the Michigan Interscholastic Press Association this year and next year we have set our sights on a Spartan Award.

I am also happy to report that this is the first year in three years that The Lancer has printed monthly, and next year, we are increasing print production by ceasing to print “mini issues” in favor of a full sized Lancer each month.

In addition, I am more than thrilled to report that we are seeing many new faces, as well as some familiar ones, in Journalism next year.

But just because summer is here doesn’t mean our staff is standing still. We are all working diligently over the summer to come up with new plans, exciting activities and great new content ideas.

I would like to thank everyone who has supported our publication throughout the year and helped us create the products that you have seen during this school year. Some of the people we cannot forget to mention are, Marsha Salome, Pam Balint, Carmen Kennedy and Michael Fringer. We have to give the most thanks to our advisor Tim Allen who always puts up with our crazy antics. I would also like to personally thank my “best friend” Eileen Hilton for letting us storm into her office at any time during the day to talk and also my other best friend and Yearbook Editor, Gabrielle Pruitt.

I think I speak for the whole staff when I say we are more than excited to get started on working to improve our program and take the content of our paper to the next level.

Be sure to look out over the summer for our extensive coverage of the bond proposal on August 5th. Have a safe and happy summer and we’ll see you in the fall!

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Posted in Announcements

The new standard. Tenure reform in Michigan.


Under Governor Rick Snyder, education has come into the spot- light as he vies to reform and make cuts to the public education system.

In 2011 Governor Rick Snyder signed tenure reform into law. A big part of this law was subtracting the “Last in, first out” policy, which basi- cally eliminates the use of seniority for teachers. This also means when teachers are being laid off from a district, seniority will no longer be the deciding factor on who stays and who goes, it says that those who show more effective teaching techniques will be the ones who stay on staff.

The new tenure laws enact a teacher evaluation method, which is used to determine the effectiveness of teachers. It is only after three years of effective ratings that a teacher can attain tenure. In addition, teachers that have tenure and receive poor ratings can lose their tenure and be dismissed from their position.

The reform also sets a lower standard for the grounds for dismissal, therefore making it easier to fire teachers for lesser offenses.It is projected that teachers will feel the full effects of the reforms by 2016. With 49% of teacher evaluations based on student achievement, The Lancer staff has taken a firm stance against the new tenure reforms.

In every classroom, teachers can find students with no motivation or drive to learn. There are also some kids that do not have the family sup- port to aid them in their studies. And sometimes in these cases, the students are unwilling to accept help from their educators and as a result attain low scores and grades. We believe that the dismissal of a teachers based on students that refuse to learn in unfair. Teachers cannot be blamed for students that do not want to learn. In addition, it cannot be a teacher’s sole responsibility to be every low achieving student’s motivator. With some teachers seeing upwards of 30 kids in a classroom with five or six classes a day, it is unfeasible to entertain the needs of every student that refuses to accept responsibility of their actions and take the reins of their own education.

However despite serious down- falls, the laws will make it easier to remove protection from teachers that abuse tenure. In a famous case, a teacher who was on school premises while intoxicated received a pass and protection from termination by the union under tenure. Now intoxication will no longer be tolerated, and it is grounds for immediate termination.

The Lancer staff does agree with this end of the deal. If students are are faced with consequences for intoxication on school grounds, teachers should face consequences as well. So if a student would receive immediate expulsion, then it seems only fair to us that the people charged with educating us should accept a similar consequence.

However this raises the question of “where does it end?” Where do administrators draw the line on what is a fireable offense or not? How do these new laws provide job security for educators? The answer is, they don’t.

This worries our staff as a whole. No one wants to see their favorite teacher leave their school, especially when its because of students that refuse to learn. Furthermore, we firmly believe that in order to attain an education, you have to want it. No one can force another individual to want to learn or better themselves, it has to be internal. Therefore, trying to force the responsibility of accountability of student’s grades and scores onto teachers is unfair.

Teachers are proponents of the law, not parents. We believe it is the responsibility of the student to take the initiative to improve their performance and not the responsibility of those who give them the tools to do so.

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Posted in Editorials, Opinion

New Band Teacher hired

Alyssa McNamara ’16

Staff Reporter 

After former Band Teacher Joe Verbeke took a leave of absence, the district hired Stephen Cross to fill the open position in the music department.

“I think Mr. Cross is beneficial to the program,” said Junior Jessica Parker. “He has a system for everything, its different than how Verbeke taught, but I think he’s good overall.” Parker added.

Though Cross was met with some resistance from students, as the year comes to an end, the band is learning to adjust to his style of teaching.

“Mr. Cross is more than qualified to teach music, he’s done a stellar job so far.” said Principal Carmen Kennedy.

Below: Cross instructs band students on how to improve their rendition of Pomp and Circumstance

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Posted in Briefs, News

High School Band Teacher takes leave

Above: Verbeke says goodbye to band students in the cafeteria. Many students were emotional upon hearing the news.

Kiera Yaden ’15

Staff Reporter

In light of recent events, our very own Joseph Verbeke, band director, has announced his plans to stop teaching in order to open his own yogurt franchise.

He had been laying these plans for months, but not many knew of Mr. Verbeke’s goal. Now that he has informed students and staff, there were mixed feelings to the departure of the beloved music teacher. While he has not been teaching at the high school for long, many students and staff members had grown fond of the band teacher.

“I was upset about Verbeke leaving,” said Band Student Faith Fleming. “He wasn’t just a teacher he was like a friend.”

Only filing for a leave of absence two weeks before his scheduled leave date, the last day before spring break, leaves a few choice problems for the future of the musical students. On such short notice and so late in the year, it proves difficult to find an appropriate replacement that both knows music and is qualified to take on high school students for more than a few days at a time.

“Mr. Verbeke’s departure was a loss, but I respect his decision.” said Principal Carmen Kennedy.

Students congregated to the cafeteria

on Friday, April 5th, during seventh hour, to say final good byes to Mr. Verbeke. There were laughs and tears while both teacher and students exchanged memories and well whishes. Many students likened the music teacher’s departure to the death of a friend, while others made it clear that they respected his career choice.

“I trust him, and I trust his choices,” said senior Joe Breitner.

In tears, Verbeke accounted for every student, “I hope as time goes on, we can remain acquainted, and have a good friendship further in life.”

Verbeke’s absence is wide felt, but also understood. And its safe to say he will not be forgotten by the students he taught.

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Posted in News

Welles voted teacher of the year

History Teacher Beth Welles’ day starts at 7:30 a.m. and doesn’t end until the last student leaves her classroom. But despite coming down with the flu she can still be found at her post, helping her students with their schoolwork. Welles even makes time for this nosy reporter to interview her about winning the Teacher of the Year Award.

“It’s very humbling to be nominated with so many good teachers,” says Wells “I’m honored they feel I deserve this award.”

This year Welles implemented new techniques using data so she can analyze the weak spots of her students From there she pinpoints what needs to be further reviewed. Welles believes this tactic is what contributed to her nomination.

The staff at the high school are responsible for nominating other staff members and then voting on the nominees. Principal Carmen Kennedy was extremely proud of Welles for winning the award.

“Of course I believe she deserved the award, she’s a leader in this school,” said Principal Carmen Kennedy, “I call her the South Lake Cheerleader.” Kennedy said it was Welles’ consistency in the classroom and her dedication to her students that attributed to her award.

Welles teaches AP Government, Government and Current Issues.

AP Government student Jasmine Forbers says Welles knows how to adapt her teaching style and really get hands-on with students. “She gives lectures, but they’re not boring,” said Forbers.  “She really explains how things work and gives you an idea of how the government works.”

Welles also uses unique teaching techniques such as simulations so that her students can act out diplomatic negotiations and get hands on experience with how a government works.

“I like the hands on approach that you get with the simulations.” said AP Gov student Errol French. French says Welles’ techniques help him as a student because he is more of a visual, hands on learner.

Welles shows her dedication to her students by investing her time in creating projects and simulations and staying after school to help students.

“During the day my time is split between so many kids,” said Welles, “I feel like I need to be here after school, to help students with additional work and really get prepared for the next day.”

This is the second time Welles has been Teacher of the Year, having won previously in April 2008.

Below: Welles stands at the head of the room and instructs her AP Government class.

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Posted in Faculty, News

The Lancer Person of the Year: Phil Whitlow

Kiera Yaden ’15

Staff Reporter

Everyone has seen Custodial Staff Member Phil Whitlow walking the halls, maybe listening to music, on his way to help someone out, and he always has a smile on his face.

For students he is a role model, and for staff members, a colleague and friend. Whitlow began working for the school in August of 2011, and ever since he has become an iconic member of the staff. He radiates a positive attitude that affects students and staff alike.

With such a good reputation, it’s not hard to believe that Phil is Person of the Year.

“When Phil is around you can’t help but smile,” says Executive Assistant Eileen Hilton. “I have never met someone with more dedication to his job than Phil has. He seldom misses a day of work, and he is missed when he does.” Hilton added.

“I get up and smile, because of my family and because I can come to this school,” says Whitlow Whitlow looks forward to waking up every day and just enjoying life. Whitlow says that since he has started working for the district, his work ethic has improved greatly. Whitlow looks forward to going to work now.

Labeled as the “go-to guy,” Whitlow is an extraordinary example of a hard worker. Whenever asked to do something, someone can expect an immediate, “I sure would!”

Whitlow not only connects with staff, but he holds a close relationship with the students. He is always willing to lend a helping hand.

Whitlow is known to help students in need as well.

Assistant to Chef Shepherd, Marsha Salome states that whenever she is in need in the kitchen, Whitlow will drop anything to lend a helping hand. “It helps that Phil is always so polite yet personable, it really affects the students in a positive way.”

The general consensus about Phil Whitlow is that he is a valuable member of the staff. Students along with teachers are all in agreement when they say that Whitlow is a South Lake favorite.

The Lancer’s Editors are proud to award the first Lancer Person of the Year Award to Phil Whitlow.

Below: Whitlow tops for a picture after assisting in the cleanup of Senior Hallway on the Senior’s Last Day.

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Posted in News

Editor reflects on the bond proposal

Robert Swetlic ‘16

Associate Editor

While I wasn’t particularly happy with the fact that central administration failed to mention Journalism improvements when promoting the bond, not one single person can deny that this bond is not a sensational improvement to the high school and the entire district.

I often fail to look at things from a student perspective due to the fact that I am used to looking at things from the point of view of an Editor. But as a student, I am more than excited for the bond proposal.

While The Lancer recently published what some considered a scathing Editorial concerning the bond and the lack of Journalism improvements offered, I personally am a strong supporter of the bond proposal.

The bond proposal is an amazing deal that is put on the table for a special vote on August 5th.

This bond brings in so many needed, capital improvements as well as additions to existing programs and technology.

I believe this bond is a way for South Lake to show the community that we are on the cusp of something great, our own renaissance if you will. Our district can get a bad rep for just about anything. And through social media and the anonymity of the internet, it is easy to start rumors about “gangs” at the high school and even easier for them to spread.

Many people also know that neighbouring districts use fear tactics to spread vicious rumors about our school and intimidate parents into sending their kids to their schools.

It is a true testament to staff of the entire district that despite the loss of high achieving students, test scores continue to rise thanks to the hard work and dedication of the teachers.

All of our schools and our students are ready to show the community what we’ve got and the bond is one way that we plan to do this.

I urge all voters of St. Clair Shores to VOTE YES on the South Lake Schools BOND PROPOSAL that will be on the ballot on AUGUST 5TH.

I am a student of South Lake, a proud graduate of Elmwood Elementary and the Middle School. And I am asking you personally, to vote yes, support me, my friends, this paper, its staff, our schools and everyone in them.

The Lancer Editorial and Opinion Policy:

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Posted in Opinion

Community warms up to bond proposal, Journalism left in the cold

On August 5th, 2014, a special vote will be taking place. And the outcome of the vote will determine whether or not South Lake Schools will receive a 25 million dollar bond.

The proposed bond has been exciting students and teachers alike with the prospects of increased program funding and new and improved facilities.

However one of the first things we noticed was that funding for the print issue of the Lancer was left off the bond proposal.  In addition, while “new technology and computers” is listed as an improvement, what is not mentioned is whether or not the Journalism program will be given the funds to purchase newer Apple Macintosh computers.

Meanwhile, the yearbook is down to one camera, after the aged Nikon D40 took its last photo back in February and the bond shows no signs of a new camera for the Shield anytime soon.  Considering that The Lancer supplies photos for school and district use, it is essential that we have the proper camera equipment.

Some of our staff questioned the decision of the Administration to approve new band lockers and a new band room. Not many of us understood the benefits of this and why it is necessary. Surely if lockers for the band program are necessary, then shouldn’t new Macs and camera equipment be essential to a class that focuses on print and digital media? In addition, the Lancer and Shield still manage to turn out efficient products with no budget, whereas the over twenty thousand dollar mechatronics program has suffered from low enrollment..

Although our staff is more than thankful to have received 13 refurbished iMacs from the district, we have to acknowledge the the computers are still old and that one of the came to us broken, and the 14th and 15th never arrived at all.   Because of the mediums we use to produce our publication, we cannot be expected to function on technology that is failing to support newer websites and programs.

Many programs come and go, but the newspaper and yearbook have remained.  In recent years however, we’ve had to sustain ourselves with very little district support.  With the bond there is an opportunity to bring about a huge revival in our publications. As the “student’s voice” the Lancer and Shield are supposed to represent the school fairly and in an unbiased fashion, and we must continue to do so.

The Editorial Staff hopes that the central office administration will show a little love to the Journalism program and provide us with the equipment and the funding we need to once again become award winning publications.

The Lancer Editorial and Opinion Policy:

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Posted in Editorials, Opinion

The Bond Proposal; What you need to know

Robert Swetlic ’16 and Kiera Yaden ’15

Associate Editor and Staff Reporter

1. The money was predetermined

The budget was approved by the state, it cannot be spent on items that were not already predetermined in the bond spending outline. All improvements had to be approved by the Department of the Treasury.

2. A millage and a bond are different

A millage is money that can be spent at will on programs, a bond is predetermined for capital and construction improvements and major upgrades.

3. Not for salaries

A bond cannot be used for salary or raises. The South Lake Schools bond has not allotted money for staff salaries or raises.

4. Capital improvements

The bond, if passes, will allow for new roofing, new ceilings, renovated bathrooms, added security at the elementary schools and upgrades to the athletic field. Most items on the budget are for major construction upgrades

5. By voting “no” you are preventing students from a safe environment

While the entire district has the standard security measures implemented around all schools, the bond will build on the basics and make our schools the safest buildings for students. By voting “no” it potentially puts students at risk, which is not something that most people would wish onto students.

6. This directly and indirectly affects students

By voting “no” all students are affected. Furthermore, certain groups of students are more affected than others. Athletes are directly affected in two ways. As students they will not get to take advantage of the improvements, but as athletes, they will not get the equipment upgrades for their select sports. The same is said for any students that also doubles as an active student and member of the community.

7. This affects all St. Clair Shores Citizens

Right now, South Lake Schools are asking that you pass it’s bond. If it does not pass, then why would South Lake parents vote “yes” for a neighboring districts bond? We all live together and we have to co-exist. If parents from Lakeview and Lakeshore pass the South Lake bond, then in return our parents might pass future bonds for those districts.

8. Would you like a 25 million dollar bond with that big mac?

*Graphic information is based on price per month. 

Did we miss something? If you have something to add, email us at or post a comment in the forums and we will add you suggestion with your name. If you do not want your name published, leave your email/comment unsigned.

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Posted in News


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