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May 22, 1976 - Image 7

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Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1976-05-22

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Saturday, May 22, 1976

THE MICHIGAN DAILY

Page Seven

Saturday, May 22, 1976 THE MICHIGAN DAILY Page Seven

Tim, 13, takes a break from his studies in a classroom
for the students' leisure-time use.

tends past the physical school to include
the student's parents. Signs and murals an-
nouncing "Black and White is Really Tight"
and "Clemente is Love" occupy prominent
positions on the school's institutional green
wialls.
V\ERItYBODY NEEDS an extended fami-
ly," says Dulin. "With families break-
ing up, there is a need to feel close."
Dulin believes a crossection of society is
represented in a school such as Clemente,
where "we're talking about the traditional
black child of Ann Arbor and the Appala-
chian white." One third of Clemente's stu-
dents have had some confrontation with
the police.

"Some kids won't go back (to the traditional
school)," says Dulin. "If they do, they'll
never make it through school. We've sent
them back. Some last one month, others a
week or a day."
UMILLIE SMITH, (not her real name),
whose daughter attends Clemente,
stands in front of a dozen students during
one of the school's frequent parent-child
exchanges. Looking much younger than her
37 years, Millie is now a senior nursing
student at the University of Michigan. The
mother of six, one of her boys was con-
victed of the recent kidnap of the son
of a prominent automobile executive.
"I'm 37 and I did not graduate high

kid . .. Now I can't get him out of there
(jail). It hurts like hell
TO SOME IT MIGHT SEEM like a scare
tactic, but Millie's speech fits right in
with the Clemente plan of communication
- a sharing of one's experiences with the
students so that, according to Dulin, "they
(the students) don't make the same mis-
akes she made."
Later, Millie speaks of the school, using
the same emphatic tone reminiscent of
her previous address. "I think when the
teachers in the school system here get a
kid who's different, what they call differ-
ent, that they'll have to teach, put some
energy into, they'll label the kid disruptive
so hey won't have to teach him." They're
the failures, not the kids," she adds. "This
school says kids are not failures."
j LEMENTE ENCOMPASSES g r a d e s
seven to twelve in a building with an
institutional, cinderblock motif. Students
attend school from 7:30 to 1:30, but enjoy
five minute breaks interspersed through-
out the day for smoking cigaretts, listen-
ing to blaring radios or shooting pool on a
wobbly table. The school offers four re-
quired courses: English, math, social stti-
dies and science an dtwo electives. "Sur-
vival courses" such as auto mechanics are
also offered, and two computers are avail-
able for the students to freely punch away
But the traditionality ends with the mun-
dane course titles. Students cluster around
the teacher in small groups, free to inter-
ject a thought or share an idea. The teach-
ers frequently softens the stodgy quantita-
tive components of learning with concepts
the student can readily identify. Compu-
tations measured in pieces of "Kentucky
Fried Chicken" are not uncommon.
Mike Cross, who becomes more serious
outside the classroom, believes there is no
limit to the number of ways a student can
be motivated to learn. "We coninually try
to refine our methods in achieving our
goals, objectives, and principles. says
Cross. "If I can't do something new in that
classroom everyday, that means I have
stopped."
"They've seen us laugh and they've seen
us cry and they're free to speak." says
Donna, another teacher, "It's really a
unique environment,"
Maria, an eighteen year old senior who
sports a puffy Afro and pink ensemble,
lauds the staff as "wonderful". "They're
just like me - people," she says, nursing
a Virginia Slim and talking quietly. "At
Huron (her old high school) it was like
dealing with robots; they (the teachers)
were all starched up . . . there's no phoni-
ness here." Maria, who now plans to at-
tend college out west after graduation,
passes the cigarette to someone else for a
light before she continues, "The school has
helped me become a stronger person and
see how important it is to learn as much
as I can. I'm more aware of things than
I've ever been."
WEDNESDAY'S NEARING a close when
students and teachers begin to file
into the building's largest room for the
weekly rap session, an instrumental part
of Clemente's teaching method. Everyone
takes seats around a large circle; smok-
ing, sewing, fidgeting.
Suddenly, Dulin pops into the middle of
the room, accompanied by a chorus of
"Hello Joe's" and "Hi Pops". He gazes
sharply around the room, waiting for the
voices to subside. They do,
"Good afternoon, members of the Cle-
mente family," he begins, shedding his
blue windbreaker. The session begins
slowly, with talk of summer school, drivers
ed, and having the visitor from the Daily
explain why he has been observing the
school for two days.
Business aside, Dulin becomes sponta-
neous and electric. With his voice rising
and falling, playing up to the students's
emotions ,he brings up the case of three

female students who took some money
from a local bookstore. Imitating one of
the girls with a squealish tone, and crack-
ing up the entire room with his showman

sense of humor, he recaps the story in an
animated fashion. Spurts of applause, boos
and cross-room conversation puntuate the
hilarity. But just when the group has
reached its peak of frenzy, Dulin's tone
suddenly drops to a note of seriousness.
"VOU WERE taking up people's time,"
he tells them, seeking apologies for the
inconvenience their actions brought to him-
self, the staff and the shop-owner. "The
thing is we won't let rsrselves get into this
position again." he finally concludes.
Then it's Chuck's tnrn. A slight fifteen
year old, he was caught in a lie when ac-
cused of smoking cigaretts on the school
bus.
But this time it is one- of the other boys
who confront Chuck. After a few minutes
of conversation, the two boys jump out of
their chairs and into the center of the
room. The larger boy begins to wrestle
Chuck to the ground, coaxing the truth.
Chuck's voice begins to break, his eyes
moisten. He's being defeated. The teach-
ers watch calmly. While students cheer the
larger boy on noisly.
AFTER A FEW minutes, Chuck is freed;
he disappears in a momentary state
of embarrassment. Everyone files out of
the building. Despite Chuck's temporary
humiliation, the incident fit in with the
school's script. The lie was brought out into
the open tinder a controlled situation. Peer
pressure was used. The truth was out. But
was "verbal confrontation without physi-
cal abuse" violated?
"He wasn't hurt," dismisses Dulin.
"Chuck knows he can't tell lies. We bring
out the truth and he has to deal with it."
Chuck returns shortly after, calm and
collected. The room has emptied out.
"What did you learn from that, Chuck?"
the visitor from the Daily asks.
"Don't be smoking and lying about ev-
erything," he says sternly. Dulin smiles.
Chck scampers out of the building to
board the school his for home.
JayTx vin is o-diorial direr/or of The
sumnrer Daly,
ilLe C/.1menke
By 1ennis
There once was a little school
just down Textile road. This school
was for just the rejects of all the
other schools.
In this little school there was
big kids, little kids, fat kids, skinny
kids, black kids, white kids and just
about everything else alive, but yet
they are not alive cause they've all
been rejected.
The staff of this school is,
just a few, but this staff
is the best of all the schools.
They laugh, they cry, they
learn, they teach, and the thing
is they care.
We have a mini school and
a mean school, but we don't
have to worry ahout our
so little school cause we care.
We are the

Roberto Clemente Family.

The
Saturday
Magazine

Because of the emphasis placed on "fam-
ly," racism is nonexistest in a school with
I two-to-one black-white ratio. Donald, a
andsome, athletic-looking 15 year old who
vas expelled from Ann Arbor's Clay school
ar fighting too often, has drastically al-
ered his stand on white folks since com-
sg to Clemente.
"There ain't a lot of prejudice here,"
e says. "I used to want to beat the shit
't of white people, man. At Clay, they'd
o around acting foolish after school. Now,
'hite people are cool-they're about the
Mme as black people to me."
Clemente is part of the Ann Arbor School
ystem, and most of its students are re-
erred there by other local schools. Students
Ce interviewed before acceptance. And be-
ause the school is hampered with a small
udget, with threadbare facilities, many are
lrned away.
According to Dulin, one of Clemente's
sajor problems is that the Ann Arbor school
eard wants it as a "re-entry school," that
a medium for the students to be gradu-
ly reinstated back into the "mainstream."

school ...," she begins, her voice serious,
tinged with emotion. ". .. when you're be-
ing denied something, it becomes a passion
with you. When somebody stands up and
tells me I can't apply for a job to sell
clothes on the floor, just because I'm
black, it becomes a passion with me to see
why I can't sell those clothes ... it doesn't
take brains to do many things, only things
blacks in my town had to look forward to
was to go to work in the foundry and
have a baby."
As Millie continues her story, the dozen
students remained attentive, watching her
closely.
"Clinton is my 20 year old. He was one
of the young men in the kidnaping charge
of a thirteen year old in Bloomfield. Hey,
do you know how it it to know you're 20
and won't have sex for 17 years? When
you're a young, black male, there are
many things to feel good about - a car,
lady, nice clothes, but if you don't have a
job, how are you going to get these things?
One of the easy ways was to kidnap this

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