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February 05, 1978 - Image 13

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Michigan Daily, 1978-02-05
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Page 10-Sunday, February 5, 1978-The Michigan Daily

The Michigan Daily--Sunday,

the 'U'-
(Continued from Page 3)
class. This year they're finding it very
tough and it sure isn't because they're
less bright."
Students have not objected to the in-
creased rigidity. In fact there's been a
trend recently toward increasing
enrollment in the traditionally difficult
"Kids are all of a sudden taking more
math and science, and they're doing it
because they think they'll need it in
college," says Huron senior counselor
Jim Zornes. "And they think they'll
need it in college because they sense the
difficulty of University of Michigan
The University's power over what
high school students study is not quite
that indirect. The University has long
been acting in an2dvisory capacity on
questions of curriculum. Moreover, by
occasionally supplying tutors as well as
facilities which the high schools can not
duplicate, the University encourages a
higher level of study than is found in
most high schools. Pioneer brags it was
one of the first high schools in the coun-
try to offer Advanced Placement (AP)
and Accelerated Courses (AC) as well
as humanities classes, and nobody
doubts where the inspiration for these
innovations came frcm.
"Over the years there has been a
very natural relationship between the
high schools and the University," says
Sjogren. "We've been working on their
programs with them for a long time."
The comparatively high retention
rate of Ann Arbor-educated students
who enroll in the University demon-
strates, if nothing else, the abiity of the
high school educators to prepare their
students intellectually for the Univer-
sity of Michigan. And for some studen-
ts, that's enough.
There is another student, however,
who many claim the high schools have
run roughshed over in their race to
prepare the college bound majority.
Although both Huron and Pioneer offer
a vocational curriculum of sorts,
students and accreditation officials
alike have criticized the schools for
failing to encourage study in this area
and for not accommodating the
vocational student by tailoring certain
academic courses to meet his needs.
"It's a higher education-oriented
community," says school board mem-
ber Mary Pence, "and because of that
the other student is too often left
AST MARCH, a team of state
educators comprising the
North Central Evaluation Com-
mittee descended on Huron
and Pioneer for several days to study
the schools and then offer evaluation
reports. The evaluations were con-
sistently glowing on almost every count
but one: 'Do more for the vocational
"The professional staff can be proud
of their successes with the
academically talented," read Huron's
evaluation, "but we note an overall
deficiency in program opportunity for
those studentsat the other end of the
ability continuum."
Speaking directly to Huron's in-
dustrial arts and vocational program,
one committee member listed as a
primary concern: "How and why a
community of this size with the interest
it has in quality education does not sup-
port a more developed program in
vocational education... With as much
industry located in Ann Arbor, there
should bea better vocationalfacility."
. The assessments of oterdeprtmen-

ts in the school were also peppered with
complaints about the lack of oppor-
tunities for the non-college bound
Pioneer's evaluation was not quite so
harsh on this count, but the school was
found to be deficient nonetheless. "The
counselors might argue with the
premise, but the fact remains that
many students and a number of the
faculty feel that there is not enough at-
tention paid to advising and placing of
the non-college bound student," the
appraisal read. "Perhaps, too, more
course offerings need to be made avail-
able to meet the needs of these stu-
And fifth on a list of weaknesses of the
school staff and administration was this
familiar refrain: "Many staff members
assume that the task of the high school
is in exact relationship to that of a
Jerry Lanskey, a senior at Pioneer, is
a victim of the alleged neglect.
Although he has been enrolled
primarily in vocational classes since
his freshman year and plans to continue
the snow removal and lawn care
career, which he began five years ago,
Jerry complains he has had little or no
support from teachers, counselors or
friends. Even his parents, though they
didn't attend college, "wanted me to go
for more school," he says.
"They all tell me that I'm not going to
get anything out of the welding and auto
classes I take and that I should go to
college and make something
professional of myself," he complains.
"But I like doing labor, I like to work,
and I don't want to go to school and
waste time reading books, because
that's what it would be for me-a
Jerry, who already owns his own
snow removal and lawn equipment,
sparkles when he speaks of the trade he
has chosen. He brags that he could
produce "50 references by tomorrow
from my customers," and derives
much pleasure from hiring some of the
same friends who ridicule his career
choice, and paying them "twice as
much as they make at their regular
"When I told my counselor that I
didn't want to go to college and told him
what I wanted to do-that I wanted to
make a business-he just laughed,"
recalls Jerry.
VEN HIS teachers in the voca-
tional department, he says,
have discouraged him and tried
to route him through college.
"My welding teacher is always trying
to tell me how rough it is without a
college degree. He says we oughta
'get a degree first and just use a trade
as something to. fall back on. But I
don't think that way. I like my work.
When I get outside in the summer or
when the snow's -really deep the
exercise makes me feel great. My
friends, they're all going to college
and they think this is a passing fancy.
But I'm going to stick with it."
Roland Schwab, a counselor at
Pioneer, says it is rare for an Ann
Arbor student to be as candid as
Jerry about non-academic career
goals. Schwab says he has even
heard students lie about plans to
attend college just to ward off peer
pressure, which he claims is some-
times vicious. He adds that the
elitism, which some school officials
defend as "sophistication", extends
not only to non-college-bound stu-
dents, but occasionally to non-Uni-
versity of Michigan-bound students
as well.

B ehind every

Daily Photo by WAYNE CABLE
"Some students here think the
University is the only place to go,"
says Schwab. "Because of that
snobbery, places like Washtenaw
(Community College) really get the
shaft. They have some excellent
courses, but some students who
belong there won't consider it be-
cause it isn't prestigious enough."
Jill Sonstegard, a Pioneer senior,
has fought the battle of prestige for
several years now. The daughter of a
University professor, Jill says family
pressure to attend a quality college
after graduation has been applied for
as long as she can remember. So
when Jill, a model student (vice
president of Student Council, an
honors student, member of the
Parent, Teacher, Student Organiza-
tion) decided to drop out of Pioneer
last November to sort out her
academic goals, the action caused
more than its share of debate.
"My dad was angry, the teachers
couldn't understand it, and neither
could other students," recalls Jill.
"People look at you and say, 'My
God, you must be stupid,' but I'm not
stupid. They think, 'There must be
something wrong with you,' but
there's nothing wrong with me."
Because of the pressure on Jill to
attend a prestigious university, the
pressure to perform well academ-
ically in high school became the
natural accompaniment. Living in
Ann Arbor, she reasons, didn't make
matters any easier, and now Jill
longs for the "small, friendly, non-
college town" in New Jersey where
she lived until the fifth grade.
"Just living in this city puts a lot of
strain and stress on students, a lot of
demands are made. High school
becomes too competitive - competi-
tive in a way that's not healthy.

"Before I dropped out I spent a lot
of time in AP classes and they all
became a race to see who could get
the 'A's. The teachers would decide
on a curve at the beginning of the
term that allowed only five students
to get 'A's and nobody in the class
could really become friends because
you were all competing for the five
'A' positions. And since the Univer-
sity is the reason we have AP classes
to begin with, the University be-
comes the reason for the pressure. It
takes a while to see just how influen-
tial that school is."
ILL SAYS she doesn't hold any-
thing against the University itself
-"I use the University's libra-
ries, I've used its microscope, I
go to its concerts, I go to its plays" -
but she is bitter about the competi-
tion and academic elitism it subtlely
nurtures at Pioneer.
"People frowned upon my decision
to leave school for a time and they all
figured I must be a juvenile delin-
quent or something. But I'm a good
student," Jill insists. When she
decided to return to school this term,
she said she considered enrolling in
Community High "because I thought I
would be too embarrassed to go back
to Pioneer. When you drop out of
school, even if it's only for a while,
students conclude you're either stu-
pid or a burn-out. But I finally de-
cided to go back and screw them all."
While Jill was out of school last.
term she decided to apply to college.
That first decision pleased her
father, "who believes it's the only
thing to do." Her second decision, to
apply to Kalamazoo College, fulfilled
his quality requirement.
But Jill's not sure if a student with
a "black mark" on her transcript
will be granted admittance, and she
doesn't know yet if Kalamazoo will
let her enroll next winter term,
allowing her time to complete her
high school credits.
"I'm going to talk to the U-M
director of admissions to see if he can
help me get into Kalamazoo in the
winter;" she says. "And if not, I'll
apply here and end up going to the
University of Michigan. Doesn't


lurks the




By Ann Marie Lipinski

HE NORTH WINDOWS at Pioneer High
T bare an ominous view: Out past the
school parking lot, just across Main
Street, the University sports kingdom
rises out of the ground like a midwestern Taj
Mahal. Gold painted gates guard the football
stadium, the palace of fall, and just behind the
concave structure, Crisler Arena lurks like a red
brick sentry guarding passing into the Univer-
sity community.
Pioneer High, old, decaying, is small by com-
parison and rests squarely in the shadow of the
sports complex. On the other side of town,
Pioneer's pretty sister, Huron High, enjoys a
freedom from the physical suggestion of the
University. Sufficiently distant from North
Campus, Huron is the lone proprietor of a
healthy stretch of Fuller Road. Like Pioneer,
however, Huron cannot escape the reach of the
shadow. The umbra cast by the stadium and the
powerful university with which it is associated
spans the distance from Pioneer to Huron. It
creeps into the homes of the 4,375 students who
are the concerns of those high schools, influences
PTA meetings, falls over teachers and, most
significantly, colors the schools' curricula.
Huron and Pioneer Highs, some have
suggested, are merely appendages of the
University. And for Huron and Pioneer students,
the effect is obvious.
"Ann Arbor kids are born," said one Huron
Ann Marie Lipinski is a former co-editor
of the Daily.

Ann Arbor
pressure a
tend college after g
is to be expected, sa
the students come
parents have atten
even teach here or
colleges in the area
ted by staffs that
University. Further
tion is ultimately u
board with a histori
bound student.
If these circum
pressure, these stai
a national average
seniors go on fo:
graduation. Howeve
of last year's Pionee
learning institution
cent of Huron's sem
"The pressure to
Huron counselor R
year it becomes evi
had kids who scored
my office and say
terrible.' I guarant
terrible, but how c
react when he lives
has one parent who
and another who's a
Recently, the acai
Arbor high school s
like the University
Huron and Pioneer
rampant grade infl
just last term ado
system, which son
suggest was institut
grading systems w
minus approach the
1975. Whatever the
fen competition a
Cliff Sjo
sees app
cedures b
Arbor students who
year, has complaint
Ann Arbor classi
severe inflation wh
Arbor high schools
rated in the top th
high school teache
"There's no dou
"Teachers here are
ago my students
history had practi


(Continued from Page 5)
N THE meantime, Graham deals
with individual cases of homo-
sexuality "just as any other prob-
lem would be handled.
"I speak of it as a problem just
because our society has not accepted it
yet," she adds quickly. "These people
are still a minority no matter how you
look at it."
Students at Pioneer and Huron con-
firm that their high schools are harsh
environments for gays. "If you go to
Huron High and you say you're gay,
you're called a fairy, you're called a
fag, you're laughed at and made fun
of," says Robin Hunter, who is active in
the Huron Student Council. And Steve
Bennish, a January grad of Huron,
says, "They wouldn't be foolish enough
to come out. A gay would probably be
beaten up. The ridicule that person
would undergo would be so vicious and
so damaging it wouldn't be worth it."
In the '60s and early '70s high school
activists gleaned much of their in-
spiration from such outside influences
as the radical Rainbow People's Party.

Today, while lesbian and gay
liberationists around Ann Arbor would
like to help high school homosexuals
assert themselves, they are inhibited
by visions of legal entanglements that
are often by-products of such con-
troversial association with minors.
Tom Brown, a University junior and
Gay Hotline counselor, explains,
"There are a lot of things that are legal
that high school students just can't get
involved in. It may be technically legal,
but the administration and parents
would exert so much pressure against it
that it's almost impossible to do it.
"With the Gay Hotline, the students
have somewhere else to go where they
don't have to get into the trouble they'd
have to face in the schools."
And still, while young gays are liberal
users of the faceless telephone hotline,
says Brown, his attempt to organize a
meeting at the Ozone House last sum-
mer failed. People promised, but no one.
What's more, Brown'wasn't really
See POLITICS, Page 12

counselor, "with big, black 'M's' branded right
in the middle of their foreheads."
The subtle, but almost symbiotic relationship
between the University and Ann Arbor's two
traditional high schools is a dubious one. On the
one hand, city high school students are a
privileged class: they are welcome in the
University libraries, can borrow University
computers, and have been lent evenings behind
the University's electron microscope. The
University's Matt Mann pool has been used for
their swimming meets, Fisher Field handles
their baseball games, and the first time Pioneer
and Huron fought over pigskin was at Michigan
Stadium. For $1.50 they, too, can see Casablanca
one more time, for a cold morning in line they
can purchase the Ella Fitzgerald seat right next
to yours, and for those who are 18, or at least
have ID that says they are, Dooley's is an easy
The suburban high school lament-"There's
nothing to do here"-is easily quieted in this
kinetic college town. Frederic Wiseman's high
schoolers never had it so good.
But there's a flip side to this cheery tune, a pic-
ture that-reflects the necessary evils of playing
house with an institution as large and as power-
ful and as influential as the University of
Michigan. There is a cost to pay for the
proximity to the Harvard of the Midwest that for
some students renders the benefits negligible..

Daily Photos by WAYNE CABLE


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