A unique educational partnership has produced its first class of high school graduates. In 2019, the closure of Marygrove College gave way to a different approach to education on the same campus with the Detroit Public School’s new School at Marygrove, a social justice, engineering and education-focused school.

The School at Marygrove is part of a “cradle to career” program called the P-20 Partnership. It’s a collaboration among several organizations including Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD), the Kresge Foundation, the Marygrove Conservancy, Starfish Family Services and the University of Michigan School of Education.

The School at Marygrove held a monumental commencement ceremony for its first graduating high school class, which collectively received over $6 million in post-secondary scholarships and awards. One Detroit contributor Daijah Moss stopped by Music Hall Detroit to capture the celebration.

At the commencement, graduates share their experiences at the new school. University of Michigan School of Education Dean Elizabeth Birr Moje talks about the college’s commitment to the next generation of teachers and students. The commencement ceremony featured school principal Lisa Williams and founding teachers, DPSCD Board Members, Michigan Supreme Court Justice Kyra Bolden, and the graduation class’s valedictorian and salutatorian.


Full Transcript:

Lisa Williams, Principal, The School at Marygrove: I bring you greetings on behalf of the Detroit Public Schools Community District and my amazing faculty and staff. Welcome to the first commencement exercise for the school at Marygrove.

Daijah Moss, Contributing Producer, One Detroit: The School at Marygrove. A new school, opening new doors for students in the City of Detroit. After opening in 2019, right before the pandemic, the social justice and engineering-focused school has officially had its first graduating class.

Sister Jane, IHM / Marygrove: For over 90 years, Marygrove College has served with excellence in education and served the city of Detroit. It is with great pride that this tradition continues through the school at Marygrove, part of the Detroit Public Schools and the Conservancy.

LaTrice McClendon, DPSCD Board Member: Today is a testament to what happens when partners across the city come together to make a dream come true.

Justice Kyra Bolden, Supreme Court: Whether it’s the Kresge Foundation, PNC Bank, the University of Michigan School of Education, or many other wonderful and dedicated partners, the entire community is integral and an integral part of the school at Marygrove.

Michael Chrzan, Founding Teacher, The School at Marygrove: We know the quite literal work, sweat, and tears it took to get here. Ours included. To open a brand new school. It’s hard enough to open a school in a pandemic where we all lost someone or something. With almost annual leadership turnover through virtual teaching and learning, and in what amounted to an active construction zone for four years. Well, it’s quite difficult. Let’s just say that.

Imani Daniels, Class of 2023 Salutatorian, The School at Marygrove: Today, we stand on the threshold of a new chapter, a chapter brimming with endless possibilities and exciting opportunities. The hard work, dedication, perseverance, craftsmanship, integrity, social responsibility and empathy we have demonstrated, has led us to this very moment.

Dana Odums, Class of 2023 Valedictorian, The School at Marygrove: What does it mean to be Marygrove Made? It means that we not only prescribe to the rigor of academic challenge but devote ourselves, to embodying core values that have shaped our educational career and that we will carry throughout the remainder of our lives.

Michael Chrzan: When TSM was merely an idea, we envisioned a place where education would transcend traditional boundaries. We set out on a journey to create a safe haven of learning, a place where critical thinking and community-mindedness would flourish. A place where joy and community. We’re just as important, if not more, than formulas and essays.  You have exemplified the spirit of our school, embodying the portrait of a graduate that we so passionately crafted.

Elizabeth Birr Moje, Dean, University of Michigan Marsal Family School of Education: We’re really committed to preparing the very best teachers for our children throughout society. And we send students, our graduates all over the country. But one of the things that we haven’t always done is stay with them. The school at Marygrove and our partnership with Detroit Public Schools Community District gives us the opportunity to continue to work with our graduates. 

David Henry, Math Teacher, The School at Marygrove: This graduating class is–I’m especially fond of them because they were my first class as a teacher. They didn’t have any examples. They had no role models. They didn’t know what seniors were supposed to do. They didn’t know about senior dues. They didn’t know. So they learned together every step of the way and I’m so proud of them.

Hunter Janness, Senior Teacher, The School at Marygrove: Not only were they learning how to be high schoolers, they were building a school and they were also facing something that none of us had ever faced before, all while trying to just pass their classes. So, I mean, it’s been quite a journey for them. We’re really proud of them for being able to make it.

Juwan Bralon Torres, 2023 Graduate, The School at Marygrove: I applied my freshman year, didn’t get in. Sophomore year, didn’t get in. My junior year, I didn’t get it. But then they reevaluated my application. They told me I got it and I cried. I cried because it was like I was fighting for this battle. I fought tooth and nail for it. So once I actually got it, and then once I got into school and talked to the people and it was so embracing and loving to me, I was like, Man, this is really one of the best choices I could have made.

Dariana Mallett, 2023 Graduate, The School at Marygrove: My teachers was a different experience that I never had before. So, they definitely are what I’m going to remember the most and I want to keep in contact.

Rashaad Anderson, 2023 Graduate, The School at Marygrove: That first day, man, when I walked in, I was like dang, I don’t know nobody. I gotta try to adapt and just try to learn who I want to be around. But I feel like it went well and we all came together.

Amaia Dior Gooden, 2023 Graduate, The School at Marygrove: Today is kind of weird, my father passed on May 31st ten years ago. So it’s kind of hard to be here because I feel like everything is coming and hitting me all at once. The amount of support that I had got from the student body was immaculate.

Rashaad Anderson: It took all of us just working together, working hard, putting our best foot forward, always trying to get our assignments in on time. And that got us here.

Juwan Bralon Torres: One of a kind. You’re not going to find no school like this anywhere, it’s a family. We ain’t just some kids that chose to just go to school together, or we was forced here, we loved each other as a family.

Michael Chrzan: I want people to know that as all things striving for greatness, art is a work in progress. If there’s ever a time where we got to a place where we’re like, All right, we’re done. We built the best school. We’re missing something, right? And so, I want people to know it’s a work in progress to understand what they’re getting themselves into, but that it is a community of support. That we are building the plane as we’re flying it, but we are building it together.

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