I began this school year with the understanding that it was to be my last year as principal and that it would bring to a close a relationship with Lee that began in 1960. What I didn't realize last August was just how quickly this year would pass. It is now time to prepare not only for this 87th Commencement and the series of events that mark the end of a school year, but also the rapidly approaching end to my career. I am leaving my school district for something I really never gave a great deal of thought...retirement.
When I first entered the Lee building, it was the fall of 1960. When we said the Pledge of Allegiance, the President of the United States was Dwight D. Eisenhower. John F. Kennedy was in a close contest with Richard Nixon for the presidency. Many of my teachers I was to meet over the next six years had joined the school district in the 1930's. Our Principal, Mr. Reuben Young, had joined the staff just after the 1923 dedication of the Lee building. Since that first day, I have seen 51 years pass and in that passage of time, the evolution of a school and a district. Trust me...I could fill pages with my memories of staff and students. For the most part, those stories will leave with me.
As I prepare to depart, I would report to you that I have never been more proud of the staff and students of the Godfrey-Lee School District. The 2010-2011 staff and our administration have reached new heights through a dedication that is powered by relentless professionalism. They are focused upon offering our students the best possible education as they prepare these young people for the challenges and responsibilities that await them. I find it difficult to imagine not being a part of this wonderful staff.
I am one of those educators who lived for the classroom and the young people who would walk into my life each year. They remain the best part of my career and I would like you to know that the generations of Lee graduates have continued to uphold this school district's traditions of service, dedication to community, and family. Trust me.
In what has to be a triumph of planning, I have made certain that I would be a part of Lee's future after my 2011 retirement. My son, Peter G. Foote, will be beginning his sixth year as a member of the Lee faculty. He will be teaching history and I am very proud of him.
Finally, I would like to express my gratitude and deep admiration to the staff, faculty, and administration of the Godfrey-Lee School District. To those who have kept the faith and dedicated themselves to the ideals of education since 1923, you have given your students the foundation and framework so necessary to lead a good life.
Lee Middle & High School
"It is our objective in Lee High School to assist the individual pupil in attaining and developing those abilities, characteristics, and ideals that will best fit the student for intelligent and responsible citizenship in the community. How well we succeed in the objective will be determined in large part by the degree of active and intelligent participation which our graduates take in the betterment of the social, spiritual, and civic life of that community. It is with this thought in mind that the attention of this graduating class is directed to the responsibilities and duties that are theirs." ~ Principal Reuben L. Young 1936
I have the honor of serving in the dual capacity as district superintendent and principal for our secondary school system, which includes Lee Middle School, Lee High School and East Lee Campus (formerly known as Vision Quest High School).
I begin this new responsibility by first acknowledging the fantastic job by Mr. Pete Foote not only in his capacity as principal the past three years, but his 37 years of touching the lives of thousands of Lee students as a teacher, mentor, and faculty leader. In his final year with Godfrey-Lee, Mr. Foote led the faculty and staff at Lee High School as they tackled the challenge of improving student achievement in the classroom. As a result, Lee out performed every public school in the region in terms of improvement in overall college readiness as measured by the ACT test. Thank you Mr. Foote and staff for a job well done.
During 2011-12, I plan to work together with our current secondary team, students, and parents as we continue to achieve new heights in college and career readiness while expanding our use of 21st century learning techniques in every classroom.
~ Mr. David Britten
On behalf of the Lee community, I would like to welcome our School Improvement Team to our District and to Lee High School. Christine, Steve, Debbie, and Tracy have been very involved from the first few days. There is no doubt that together we are not only going to meet the challenges placed before us, but we will exceed them. The SIG team has been meeting over the past two weeks to develop a logical and effective approach to improving learning across the board. In the course of our meetings, they have repeatedly expressed an admiration for the professionalism and openness of the staff.
A significant part of the Grant is the Scholastic program. This sophisticated and proven program is being instituted in the High School. It is designed to impact literacy in a significant way and it has a proven track record. We have dedicated labs and the ELA department is fully committed to the success of this program. The program is supported by an amazing collection of reading materials and other tools. The conference room was filled with Scholastic supplies this week ready to head out to the Read 180/System 44 classrooms!
Hall of Fame
Four new members will be inducted into the Hall Of Fame Friday, Feb 5, 6:30 p.m. The 3rd Annual Rebel Hall of Fame Induction ceremony will , take place in the Lee Gymnasium between the Varsity games. Plaques honoring each of the following individuals have been installed in the front hallway of Lee Middle & High.
Ms. Loralee (Lorie) Norden , Class of 1970 ~ A "Rebel for Life," having attended Godfrey and Lee from kindergarten through graduation, Lorie was a particularly active and ambitious student at Lee, serving at times and in various leadership capacities in Future Teachers of America, National Honor Society, Band, Pep Band, Latin Club, Pep Club, Ski Club, G.A.A., and as senior class secretary. She also worked on the Ariel student newspaper and was senior editor of the Echo yearbook. After graduating with honors, Lori attended Hope College and returned to Lee High School in 1976 where she began a 31-year career as a physical education instructor and coach. At one point, she also taught science. Retiring in 2007, Lorie left Lee as one of its most successful coaches and bedrock for the girls' athletic program. Under her tutelage, the softball program saw three district championships, two regional championships, were Class C state runners-up in 1981, and returned to the state semi-finals in 1982. Her 1984 volleyball squad won the district championship. In all, Lorie provided leadership for girls' athletics that spanned fifteen years as softball coach, ten years coaching volleyball, and seven years with the junior varsity basketball team. Beyond that, Lorie was a mainstay at supervising track and field competitions and other athletic events.
Cornelius and Patsy DeLaat (posthumous) ~ Active supporters and fans of Lee High School for more than forty years, Cornie and Patsy set a high standard for themselves and those that follow. Everywhere a Rebel team went, the DeLaats were sure to be there. They established a reputation of going out of their way to do whatever was needed for a student, teacher, administrator, coach, athlete or team. Cornie and Patsy could often be found filling the role of parents to many student athletes over the years, providing financial, emotional, and intellectual support to many. Even many years after their own four children graduated from Lee High School, they could be counted on for continual support to the school and community. Cornie served the area as a city employee and both were active members of Eighth Reformed Church. Patsy volunteered as a Kids Hope mentor at the Early Childhood Center and could be seen regularly working with area students through the Very Exciting Bible School program. Patsy graduated from Lee High School as a member of the Class of 1956.
Dr. Bernard Eisenga , Class of 1970 ~ a member of the National Honor Society, Varsity Club president, and four-year letterman in Cross Country, Dr. Eisenga attended Calvin College where he majored in pre-med before earning his advance degree in pharmacology from the Louisiana State University Medical Center in 1989, graduating first in his class. Four years later, he completed a medical degree at that same university, where he was recognized as the first student in the history of the university to that time graduating with a perfect 4.0, and received a number of prestigious awards and recognition. In 1993, Dr. Eisenga became medical director for the Spectrum Health Poison Center and held that position until budget cuts closed the center this past summer. He is continuing his role as a Spectrum Health physician.
This is the third year for the Hall of Fame. We encourage all to attend this event; this is a great opportunity to show our pride in this school and underscore to our honorees the support we give not only to them, but to our students.
Where a calculator on the ENIAC is equipped with 18,000 vacuum tubes and weighs 30 tons, computers in the future may have only 1,000 vacuum tubes and perhaps weigh 1.5 tons.
As a U.S. History teacher, one of my favorite lessons was developed from a late 19th century editorial found in a New York newspaper. The writer had finally had enough of the tons of horse excrement found in the streets. The Essential Question he presented to New Yorkers was related to when, in the near future, would New York disappear under this rising tide of manure. Of course, the advent of the automobile made that dooms day prediction null and void.
The quote above stuck me as being equally myopic. The point of my history lesson was that fundamental dynamics WILL suddenly emerge or evolve out of today's status quo. It has never been a good idea to look about your world and come to the conclusion that all is lost. There is always an option and always a suggestion of a better future if you remain balanced, analytical, and have the courage to make that bold stroke. Then, I would read that year's Darwin Awards to them and we would discuss decisions made by those who lacked the above.
This District is fast approaching that day when ranked priorities and final budget decisions will have to be made. In addition, we will soon begin critical contract negotiations that will focus on solving jointly perceived challenges. In the midst of all of this, I am optimistic at our shared future. I have never been more aware of the compassion and professionalism that is a hallmark of our staff. From 6th through 12th...our students are our first priority.
The students and staff at Lee are remarkably calm and that shows in the classrooms and in the halls. Calm is contagious and I am proud that this staff has sheltered our students during these trying times.
As a teacher, I would also teach the kids that progress and insight only comes through adversity, adapting, and overcoming. I am convinced that this crisis in education is what some refer to as a 'force multiplier.' It is forcing all of us to work more closely together and to respond to pressing challenges together. We are redefining our mission as professionals as we work to prepare our students for a tough world.
The Glass is most definitely half full at Lee.
Godfrey-Lee Public Schools was recently mentioned in an article published by the South West Advance newspaper and authored by Herb Woerpel. This article highlights the unveiling of our new campus for 21st century learning. We are very excited to provide this unique atmosphere to our students and the community. To read the article in its entirety, please follow the link below.
January 20 Open House/Budget Forum
The 6th grade staff will host an open house for the parents of our 6th grade students. Following will be a Budget Forum in the Media Center for the community.
5:45 pm - Community Open House for 6th Grade Campus
6:30 pm - Raising Academic Achievement in a Budget Crisis, Public Budget Forum, Lee Media Center.
We are all still trying to get our minds around the disaster in Haiti and what the future holds for that nation. Of course, we have a number of students at Lee who came from Haiti. We added a member of the LaGuerre family to our NewComers Program the day before the earthquake. Our immediate response was to dedicate the proceeds of that nights wrestling tournament to the Red Cross. I am certain that we will continue to do what we can for the people of Haiti.
"The indispensable first step to getting the thing you want out of life is this: decide what you want."
The quote from Ben Stein is one of those very simple sentences that carries with it a profound understanding of the nature of things. Whether it is the craft of teaching during tumultuous times, or the imperatives of fiscal crisis, we must decide what we want. Having done that through collaborative and transparent discussion, we make the bold stroke that will most likely bring us close to that desired end. It is not enough to survive adversity in this business. We are charged with teaching children and with caring for each other as we pursue those ideals.
There is not a doubt in my mind that we are stronger and better positioned today due to a number of basic decisions that were made up to a year ago in this District and at Lee. I would like all of us to Focus on advances we have made on a number of critical fronts during that time. Our Association and our Administration now sit at the same table monthly to consider the business of the District and how we are to meet challenges to all of us...or to a part of us. In the face of economic crisis and the realities of economic Darwinism, we began to establish priorities and data that would support decisions that protect those moral and ethical priorities. We recognized that education and children are a changing dynamic in this new century and committed to a new building with a new culture designed to open our minds and potential. We began to develop an honest appreciation for each other from the 6th grade through the 12th grade and across departments. There is a growing sense of competency and power that comes from the recognition that those who stand with you as professionals are dedicated and gifted. The decision to replace our windows and to continue upgrades across the board, when possible, is reassuring. The Technology department and the Media Center have begun to act as another catalyst bringing change to the culture of this building and this district.
Within a few weeks we will begin operation of the 21st Century Learning Center and we will have brought to a close this very challenging year of 2009. We have done a great job this year.
Seven new members will be inducted into the Hall Of Fame tonight. Plaques honoring each of the following individuals have been installed in the front hallway of Lee Middle & High. This is our second year for the Hall of Fame program.
Headlining this year’s honored class of individuals is Mrs. Pat Cook, the late wife of Mr. Peter C. Cook. Mr. Cook will be here to attend the induction ceremony to accept the award and speak on her behalf.
Six other distinguished individuals will be honored:
Stephanie Leonardos, President & CEO,
Frank “Stubby” Overmire—Class of 1937 LHS
John H. Rose—Class of 1949 LHS
Robert N. DeYoung—Class of 1952
Simon Jeltes– Head Custodian & Maintenance
Supervisor @ LHS from 1953-73
Terry Rice—Teacher, Coach, Athletic Director 1963-2004
It is with great honor that I announce that US News & World Report has once again selected Lee High School as a bronze medal winner in its annual America's Best High School awards. Everyone in this District shares this award because of the positive impact they had on our current High School Students.
Only six schools in Kent County received this distinction and only 75 high schools in Michigan:
City Middle/High School, Bronze
East Grand Rapids High School, Silver
Forest Hills Central High School, Silver
Lee High School, Bronze *
Lowell Senior High School, Silver
Ottawa Montessori School, Bronze
For more information about Lee's Performance follow the link below:
I was taught long ago that when opportunity knocks it is best to be there to answer the door. Last week I was given the opportunity to succeed David Britten as principal of Lee Middle and High School. The Godfrey-Lee Board of Education and Mr. Britten have given me the opportunity to serve as the tenth principal in the history of the Lee building. While this position is challenging, I have absolute confidence in my community, my students, our staff, our administrators, and our Board of Education. Our community and our schools have always been caring and unhesitatingly committed to the best possible total education for our young people.
The reason that I am so secure in my respect for Godfrey-Lee schools and the neighborhood is because of the part this school has played in my life. I came to Lee in 1960. When I was enrolled I thought this was the biggest building I had ever seen. From that first fall day so long ago, the people who were here took me into their care and I began to become a better person and student day by day. I graduated from Lee in 1967. As I went into the world this school and the people who taught me remained touchstones during difficult times.
I served two tours in Vietnam and the second was as a boat captain on a river patrol boat in the northern part of the country. When I did get home I stopped by the school, saw many of my teachers and the staff, and I committed myself to becoming a teacher After attending college at Grand Valley I began my teaching career during a recession. Mr. Jack McKindley, Lee Principal, had me working as a substitute teacher. An opening occurred and I was offered a faculty position. I have been teaching here ever since. As I entered my thirty fifth year I had no idea that I would be able to take the same position as Mr. McKindley or Mr. Reuben Young (my principal and a Lee legend). I am the first Lee graduate to be installed as principal. I wish that some of my long departed teachers could know that, in spite of myself, they taught me well.
I wish to thank all those, especially our students, who have helped in the transition and who have offered me their support during this time. The history of this community and of this school district is rich with all of those qualities we instill in our children. Mr. Young wrote this in 1936 and I read it often.
“It is our objective in Lee High School to assist the individual pupil in attaining and developing those abilities, characteristics, and ideals that will best fit the student for intelligent and responsible citizenship in the community. How well we succeed in the objective will be determined in large part by the degree of active and intelligent participation which our graduates take in the betterment of the social, spiritual, and civic life of that community. It is with this thought in mind that the attention of this graduating class is directed to the responsibilities and duties that are theirs."
I close by thanking our Board of Education and Mr. Britten for their confidence in my abilities to move Lee forward on behalf of our children. I look forward to an exceptional year for all of us. Please do not hesitate to use our web site in order to stay informed and involved with Lee."
Tuesday, Nov. 11, is Veterans Day. Veterans Day was first established in the United States as Armistice Day to celebrate the end of World War I. In 1954 the national holiday was changed to Veterans Day and President Dwight Eisenhower called on all Americans to recognize the bravery and sacrifices of America's veterans.
Since then, Veterans Day has been observed as a national holiday, but like so many other things today it has lost its meaning. Veterans Day is not about supporting war or about supporting a certain political party or agenda. Veterans Day is about the veterans. It is about honoring their service for our country. Veterans Day is about recognizing that these brave men and women are ready at any time to serve America when it is in danger.
In World War I, America's veterans answered the call to fight the war to end all wars. They fought to keep freedom and liberty in countries a world away from home.
In World War II, America's veterans stormed the beaches of Normandy. They fought for the boys of Pearl Harbor, for the defenseless in Europe and for freedom. They raised the flag at Iwo Jima and brought peace and freedom back to the world.
In Korea, they fought for the ideals and beliefs that founded America. They fought to preserve what their comrades had fought for in WWII.
In Vietnam, veterans answered the call to fight for America's way of life. Even as those they fought for turned their backs on them, they held their heads high and fought valiantly for God and country.
In Desert Storm, they fought once again to prevent the innocent from being destroyed by the evil aggression of a mad man.
In Afghanistan and in Iraq, America's veterans fight against a faceless evil, one that is bent on opposing freedom and democracy at all costs. Now, perhaps more than ever they are being tested and are prevailing.
Across America, veterans and their families and friends will gather in small towns, American Legion Posts and Veterans of Foreign Wars Posts to remember. It is the duty of citizens to thank them. That is all Veterans Day is about. It's not about elaborate parades or ceremonies, or even about helping veterans. Veterans Day is about remembering the sacrifices of America's veterans and of their families.
The inaugural Hall of Fame Class of 2007 has been selected and will be inducted on Saturday, February 2, 2008. Selections included one team and eleven individuals representing several different eras in the life of Lee High School. Those selected include:
1940 Football Team - the only undefeated and unscored-upon team in Lee's history
John Jeltes, Class of 1954 and former Kentwood Public Schools superintendent
Art Kraai, former teacher and coach, recently elected to the Michigan Coach's Hall of Fame
Betty Lark, former high school secretary and mentor to many students
Randall J. Lark, Class of 1979, all-state football player and 3-year starter for MSU
Thomas Nauta, Class of 1966, all-state in three different sports and member of the Michigan Softball Hall of Fame
Harold Sabin, former coach, athletic director, guidance counselor, and one of the organizers of the O-K Conference
Robert Schellenberg, Sr., Class of 1939, World War II veteran, and long-time member of the school board
Jelt Sietsema, Class of 1939 and former Michigan State Representative
Thomas Thompson, Class of 1959, four-time letter winner in three sports and former coach and teacher for 30-plus year
Deborah Traxinger, Class of 1978, all-state and Parade Magazine All-American basketball player, four-year point guard for MSU and named to the All Big Ten squad
Reuben L. Young, former high school principal from 1928-1965 and chair of the committee that organized the O-K Conference
All of our alumni, faculty, students and families are proud of the accomplishments of these individuals!
Deadline for nominations for the Hall of Fame Class of 2008 is November 1, 2008.