The 2013 Graduation Celebration is part of DPTV’s American Graduate initiative - celebrating students and the people who have helped them reach an important milestone toward becoming self-sufficient adults. Graduation is not just a goal to reach. It’s also the starting line for a number of job and career options. Host Fred Nahhat spoke with high school graduating students on their accomplishments and their plans to continue their education. The program also showcased the first graduating class from the Turnaround Schools managed by the United Way for Southeast Michigan as well as Can’t Hold Me Back an ITVS film that profiles a student from Southwest Detroit who was the first in his family to graduate from high school.
Detroit Public Television worked with the Center for Michigan on The Public’s Agenda for Public Education, released on January 22, 2013. The report reflects the results of more than 250 community conversations that engaged thousands of citizens across the state of Michigan on education topics. This was followed by a televised town hall meeting with the Center for Michigan to explore early childhood education and the future of education. Journalist Christy McDonald led two panel discussions with Michigan education experts. The special included an interview with Governor Rick Snyder, and is available on demand here.
Last year’s Graduation Celebration helped parents, teachers and members of the larger community recognize resources that can help students reach graduation. The four student stories from the Graduation Celebration came from community partners and were selected from over a dozen student nominations. The “heroes” in these stories illustrate how students have overcome tough odds to graduate from high school and how youth can use education as a path out of poverty and into a brighter future. DPTV also aired a Ready for School broadcast, aimed at preparing early elementary students and their parents for their first year in school.
Detroit Public Television held a Teacher Town Hall moderated by PBS NewsHour's Hari Sreenivasan. The town hall brought together more than 100 local teachers, parents and participants from the Michigan State Department of Education and City Year and focused on the challenges and solutions for keeping students interested and engaged in school. A team of local youth reporters participating in the PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs covered the event.
Since the Town Hall, DPTV has been working with PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs at three local schools. One school, Fraser High School, in suburban Detroit has been very active in the program and was awarded a student equivalent of an Emmy for this piece. DPTV held five sessions with youths at agencies providing homeless student supports, homeless shelters, foster care supports, transitional housing, or outreach programs.
DPTV has also created training videos for teachers to accompany the Winning Futures life skills and goal setting curriculum. The videos are being used in classrooms throughout the region.
Last Fall, DPTV aired American Graduate Day on September 22 and featured partner organizations including Black Family Development, City Year, Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation, the Michigan Department of Education and others.
WGVU’s local project, “Get Your Diploma. Get Your Dream,” focused its second year on capturing student voices. In partnership with Michigan Gear Up, which supports at-risk students from seventh grade through their first year in college, WGVU worked with eight graders at six inner city middle schools to create stories about their challenges, successes, and life on a college campus.
WGVU aired a weekly series on its morning show related to the dropout crisis and held a community meeting, Helping Our Kids Graduate, to generate input from the community — students, parents, educators and neighbors — about how to increase the graduation rate in Grand Rapids. WGVU is currently offering broadcast classes within six middle schools that encourage and train students to create messages about their struggles.
Last year, the station hosted "Parents & Their 8th Graders Speak Out about their Challenges and Champions," a roundtable dinner conversation about college and careers. More than 120 parents, their eighth grade children and school principals and administrators from six inner city middle schools gathered for a meal and round table conversations about the challenges they face and the champions in their lives. The goal is to encourage parents and their children to talk with one another about college and careers. Students and parents had the opportunity to speak freely and candidly in front of a video camera about their concerns, questions, hopes and dreams.
Key partners included the Michigan Gear Up Program- GVSU Office of Multicultural Affairs, Kent Intermediate School District and Kent School Services Network, Heart of West Michigan United Way, Hispanic Center of Western Michigan, Kids Food Basket, Literacy Center of West Michigan, and Grand Rapids Public Schools.