GUEST COLUMN: Niles school district continues to develop

Published 9:36 am Monday, April 22, 2019

With summer just around the corner, Niles Community Schools has a number of new programs and developments underway, and several others launching in the months to come that we are excited to tell you about.

In early April, we finished the construction of a new stage in our auditorium at Niles High School. The stage was in desperate need of repair and it will now provide a solid foundation for students to further their exploration of the arts and participation in school plays, musicals and assemblies. Funding for the stage was provided by the Upton Foundation and Niles Education Foundation as well as fundraising efforts by Niles New Tech learners and others. We would like to thank all of them for their generosity.

We also hosted an open house in mid-April to display our new adult education center, created in partnership with the Niles District Library and housed on the library’s lower level. We are planning to use the center to provide accessible, visible and supportive services to adult learners in a central location. The social work program in the library and various events for children provide wraparound support services to adults enrolled in courses.

As always, the safety of our staff and students remains the main priority for Niles Community Schools. We recently received more than $440,000 in funding from the Michigan State Police Competitive School Safety Grant Program because of our ongoing proactive safety initiatives. This grant award will be used to install advanced security cameras in ultimately every school throughout the district.

The new monitoring system allows local agencies — including fire departments, police departments and other emergency dispatch responders — to share resources and reduce delays in crisis responses. The deadline to have all work completed is June 1, 2020, though we aim to complete the project even more quickly.

The district will also host a Career and Technical Education Camp this summer that is possible because of a newly approved grant from a local foundation dedicated to supporting the community. The goal of the camp is to expose middle school students to different career pathways and local businesses, providing them with a better understanding of available career training and potential future career opportunities.

Career pathways that can be explored include welding technology, graphic design, culinary arts, health science and robotics — all of which mirror programs we have available at Niles High School during the school year. We have also submitted an application for a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Exploration Camp for girls. If approved, this camp is designed to encourage girls to explore career options in STEM, giving students the opportunity to work alongside female professionals in the field.

Stay tuned for additional opportunities that will be available through our partnership with the YMCA including the current award winning Summer My Way program and Pop Up Libraries.

At Niles, we strive to inspire and prepare all learners through a variety of opportunities to learn and grow. All of these new and ongoing district developments are a result of the efforts of many — teachers, students, staff and the community.

As I look forward to the year ahead, I want to extend my sincere appreciation for the entire community of Niles that has contributed to our shared progress. The district-wide developments we invest in today will serve our students — and the Niles community — for years to come.


Dr. Dan Applegate is the superintendent of Niles Community Schools.