THE DISTRICT DISPATCH Royal Oak Schools news, straight to your inbox


In This Issue

  • Message From Our Superintendent
  • Welcome New Staff Members
  • Future Fair Recap
  • Fresh Perspectives on Student Meals
  • Blessings Receives A Boost
  • Building Confidence in Female Students
  • ROS Board Member Receives Award
  • Around The District
  • Curriculum Insights
  • DEI Corner
  • Enhancing Our Safety: Meet Our New SRO
  • Nurturing Student Well-Being at ROMS
  • Royal Oak Students Unite in Song
  • Did You See It On Social?
  • November Calendar
  • Job Postings In The District
From The Superintendent


In October, parent/teacher conferences were held at the middle and high school levels, while our elementary appointments will be held this month. Consistent communication is very important to all of us, whether at conferences, via email, phone calls, or posts in Canvas or other tools. We have many ways to stay connected with you as parents and caregivers, so take advantage of all the best tools we offer, including our new Royal Oak Schools app and the Remind communication tool, which may not be so new for some of you. Throughout the K-12 experience, we count on various amounts of responsibility by our students when communicating, so it will look different at all levels. The more we share what happens bell to bell, the more engaged we hope our families will be in the classrooms and schools.

As the inclement weather approaches, we may need to get in touch with families in an emergency or provide important updates, so please ensure your contact information is up to date in MiStar. The district uses several ways to communicate with families to ensure that our stakeholders have the news they need promptly.

Wishing you and your families a relaxing Thanksgiving holiday and break.

- Mary Beth Fitzpatrick, Superintendent Royal Oak Schools

New Employees


Our numbers continue to grow as we draw in new staff to the district. We look forward to their valuable contributions in their respective roles.

  • Joanne Baker, Keller Paraprofessional
  • Elxis Garnes, Addams Paraprofessional
  • Amy Lipple, Keller Speech and Language Pathologist
  • Rachel Massoni, Addams DK Paraprofessional
  • Amy McLellan, Northwood DK Paraprofessional
  • Renee Mitchell, Churchill Continuing Education Counselor
  • Yevgeniya Pukalo, Churchill ESL Teacher
  • Emily Sarotte, Oak Ridge DK Paraprofessional
  • Jason Stys, ROHS AST Teacher
New staff members at Royal Oak High School.
Future Fair


On October 18, 2023, Royal Oak High School welcomed students and families to its Future Fair, and it was a hit. This event, packed with over 100 vendors, was a treasure trove of opportunities for everyone.

High school students, parents, and those looking for career options all found something to explore. Colleges, universities, businesses, and trade schools filled the event, making it a valuable resource for anyone planning for their future.

"We had a great turnout at the Future Fair," said Royal Oak High School Interim Principal Angela Ashburn. "This event is an excellent example of community partnerships. We had representatives available from colleges, universities, skilled trades, and the military. The students had the opportunity to meet face-to-face with any of our partners and explore future career paths."

Informative workshops and seminars ran throughout the event, covering college applications, financial aid, and career planning. It was an educational experience that went beyond the classroom.

Enhancing School Nutrition


As a crucial part of any educational institution, the school's food services department plays a pivotal role in shaping students' experiences and nourishing their bodies. With 48 dedicated personnel on the team, Royal Oak Schools Food Services Department ensures that students receive nutritious meals throughout the day. This team includes full-time staff as well as substitutes to maintain consistent service. The staff is shared across all school levels.

  • High School: A team of 17 professionals manages the high school kitchen, ensuring students can access quality meals.
  • Middle School: A team of 12 staff members oversees the middle school kitchen, offering a diverse range of food options.
  • Elementary Schools: The elementary schools benefit from 13 staff members who ensure younger students receive nutritious meals.

Our food services department has made significant enhancements to the menu. Building upon the successes of previous years, the department has added freshly grilled burgers, fresh chicken grilled to perfection, freshly cut fruit, salads, and various plant-based proteins. A notable improvement is the introduction of grilled chicken for elementary schools, prepared in the same fashion as the grilled hamburgers. This involves grilling boneless, skinless chicken breasts at the high school, freezing them, and shipping them to elementary schools for use. Additionally, hot breakfast items, including pancakes and bacon, are now available on late-start Wednesdays at the high school and middle school, with plans to expand this offering to the elementary schools.

The menu offerings vary across the school levels. The high school boasts six stations, each offering a wide variety of menu choices daily. The middle school has five stations, with a different meal at each station. Elementary schools currently offer all students two hot meal choices per day.

While plant-based proteins are available at ROHS and soon, ROMS, the food services department is actively exploring options to introduce them at the elementary school level, catering to a growing demand for plant-based meal choices. Look for plant-based protein options on the middle school menu starting November 13.

New this year, the Michigan School Meals Program, which provides free meals to all students, has had a remarkable impact on the district's food services department. Participation in school meals has increased by a staggering 60%, a testament to the program's success. This surge in participation, however, has added extra responsibilities and demands on the food service staff. Creative solutions have been implemented to alleviate this stress on staff, including visits from Cooper, a registered therapy dog, and chair shoulder massages administered by a licensed therapist.

High school students can give direct feedback to the food service department regarding school meals. To gauge the student body's opinions and preferences, the food services department utilizes ChattBack survey. This text-based, anonymous survey allows students to respond, ensuring their voices are heard when planning future menus.

For those who wish to contribute to school meal planning, joining the Wellness Committee's sub-committee that focuses on menu planning is an excellent way to get involved. Wellness Committee volunteers offer valuable insights into making the menu as diverse and nutritious as possible.

Royal Oak Schools Food Services Department continuously evolves to meet its students' dietary needs and preferences while facing new challenges like the Michigan Meals Program. As the department moves forward, it remains dedicated to providing healthy and delicious meals to nourish the young minds of the community. Watch the student-produced video below.

Blessings In A Backpack


At Royal Oak Schools, we are fortunate to have dedicated individuals like Shelley Lake, organizer of Blessings in a Backpack for Royal Oak Schools, who are passionate about making a difference in the lives of our students. Shelley firmly believes that no child should go hungry on the weekends.

"During the school year, students have access to breakfast and lunch, but the weekends present a different challenge," Lake said. "For those without access to food during this time, it means 59 hours without nourishment."

Shelley Lake's passion is ensuring students have food on weekends. Every Wednesday at 3:00 p.m., dedicated volunteers gather to pack individual bags, which are then meticulously counted into bins designated for each school in the district. These bins are then delivered to the schools, where school secretaries or their representatives discreetly place the bags in students' lockers. This approach eliminates any stigma associated with receiving a Blessings Bag and allows students to stow them in their personal backpacks to take them home. Bags contain items for two breakfasts, two lunches, and two dinners. While these may not always resemble typical meals, they provide essential sustenance, including protein, a drink, and a snack.

Shelley's dedication to Blessings has transformed it from a mere weekly activity into a full-fledged mission. From meticulous planning to fundraising and execution, Blessings has become an integral part of her life. This sentiment extends to the volunteers who share in her dedication and feel a sense of responsibility to make a difference. Completing the packing of Blessings Bags is a moment of celebration, with volunteers clapping and cheering, knowing they are making a profound impact on our students, she shared.

Helping Blessings In A Backpack to make that impact is Meijer. Last month, Shelley Lake was presented with a check from Woodward Corner Market (a Meijer store) for $5000. Natalie Rubino, Store Director, said, "Enriching lives in the communities we serve starts with our teams." She said that Woodward Corner Market was challenged to research, nominate, and vote on a local non-profit organization to receive a special one-time donation from Meijer. Blessings In A Backpack was the overwhelming winner. "Thank you for enriching lives in our communities — we appreciate your passion for serving others," she said in a letter congratulating Lake.

Left to Right: Ray Opezzo, Royal Oak Rotary Club President; Natalie Rubino, Woodward Corner Market Store Director; Lew Lake, Royal Oak Rotary Past President; Mary Beth Fitzpatrick, Royal Oak Schools Superintendent & Royal Oak Rotary Past President; Shelley Lake, Royal Oak Rotary Club Treasurer, Blessings In A Backpack

"I love Blessings and have made it part of my life," Lake said. "Blessings has been a perfect outlet for my energy and that I truly believe in Service Above Self. It puts a smile on my face every time we complete packing the bags."

For more information and for ways that you can help, please follow Blessings In A Backpack on Facebook. To sign up for Blessings In A Backpack, use this link.

Empowering Our Daughters


How can we help our female students feel more confident in themselves? We are examining how our female students have concerns about low self-esteem and how it affects their academic pursuits, body image, and career aspirations. This information was presented to our administrators and staff in a professional development session before the school year. Addressing these challenges and supporting our girls in building their self-confidence is crucial.

Research consistently shows that girls often exhibit lower levels of confidence in academic settings when compared to their male peers. This lack of self-assurance can lead them to doubt their abilities and hesitate when faced with challenging subjects or leadership roles. Ultimately, this can impact their academic performance and limit their achievements.

Body image is another area where girls frequently struggle with self-confidence. Unrealistic media portrayals of beauty standards and societal pressures can lead to body dissatisfaction and decreased self-confidence. This can have long-lasting effects on mental and emotional well-being.

When it comes to career ambitions, many girls underestimate their skills and downplay their aspirations. This self-doubt often discourages them from pursuing careers in traditionally male-dominated fields, limiting their potential for success.

Empowering our daughters to believe in themselves is a shared responsibility. By promoting self-acceptance, resilience, and a growth mindset, we can provide the support they need to thrive and reach their full potential.

To gain deeper insights into this issue, click this link.

Thomas F. Wurdock Award


The Royal Oak Historical Society has named Deborah Anderson the 2023 Thomas F. Wurdock Award recipient in recognition of her extensive community service. Anderson, a previous School Board President, and currently Secretary for the Royal Oak Schools Board of Education, has provided leadership and oversight of the district since 2006.

Anderson has been an active volunteer and community leader in Royal Oak for many years. She has served on the boards of the Royal Oak Schools Foundation and the Royal Oak Historical Society, including terms as president of both organizations.

Anderson was honored at a recent Royal Oak Historical Society Dinner. It was there that she shared that one of her proudest achievements was leading the effort to restore the historic Depression-era murals on display in the Royal Oak Middle School auditorium.

The Thomas F. Wurdock Award is named after the late Thomas F. Wurdock (1931-2015), who was dedicated to community service in Royal Oak, according to the ROHS. The award is given annually to a community member who carries on Wurdock's legacy through their own commitment and volunteerism.

"Tom Wurdock was the epitome of community service," Anderson said. "So it was especially humbling to receive this award that’s dedicated to him."

In announcing the award, Royal Oak Historical Society President Bob Muller said Anderson's assistance during his own tenure was invaluable in keeping the organization on track. He also noted her instrumental role in solving problems.

Anderson has contributed her time, talents, and leadership to make Royal Oak a better community. The Thomas F. Wurdock Award is a fitting honor for her decades of unwavering service.

Around The District


Addams Early Childhood Center students worked on projects, including a family tree with their handprints!
Addams fourth graders welcomed live owls from Stage Nature Center in Troy. After the presentation, each class dissected their very own owl pellets.
What fun at Keller Elementary! The student who raised the most money for the Huskies Fun Run got to silly-string Principal Dryden!
Northwood Elementary invited a guest reader to their Kindergarten classrooms. Sarah Schmansky read This is Ella. Mrs. Schmansky talked with the children about the similarities between children with Down Syndrome and their peers and how Down Syndrome affects those who are born with it. The staff continued to support Down Syndrome awareness by wearing blue and yellow honoring Down Syndrome Awareness Month.
Oakland students, parents, and staff had fun decorating their cars and collecting candy at Oakland's Trunk or Treat event!
Oak Ridge students from Ms. Karczewski's 1st-grade class saw "The Tortoise and the Hare: The Next Gen" at the Macomb Center for Performing Arts. They were also caught reading newly checked-out books in the library!
Upton 5th graders recorded the Upton in the Afternoon broadcast, where they report the news to the entire school every Monday.
Some athletes from ROMS and ROHS made the trip to Lawrence Tech University to listen to author Jon Gordon speak on positive leadership. It was a packed house hearing about changing your mindset from what you "get to do" instead of what you "have to do." #WeGetToInspire
ROHS congratulated the winners of the 2023 Cornhole Championships. Many students got into the fun this fall and the "Cornballs" came out on top.
Churchill Community High School students welcomed therapy dogs Charlie and Cooper into their school! Woof! CCHS students went on a field trip to OCC.
TRAILS students visited a farm and met many furry and feathered friends. They even got to try to milk a cow!
Insight Into Learning


This fall, our English Language Arts (ELA) Leadership Team has begun engaging in professional learning, curriculum review, and piloting to identify the best program to meet the needs of Royal Oak students. As a reminder, the ELA Leadership Team comprises of 19 elementary teachers, general and special education as well as instructional coaches representing grades DK - 5, and all six elementary schools. There will also be an opportunity for ancillary staff, Speech Language Pathologists, Occupational Therapists, and School Psychologists, to join the team.

As part of the ELA curriculum review, the team has entered the Research phase of the curriculum review cycle. The research phase will take place from September 2023 to March 2024.

In the research phase, the team will spend some time reviewing our district data to gain a better understanding of where our students are struggling and excelling. This information will help guide some of our next steps and inform our team about past performance. The leadership team will also identify research-based instructional strategies and practices that will help increase student achievement.

The ELA team will also use the strategic plan to review our district goals and values and then make intentional connections to our ELA pilot; in our research phase, we will use specific strategies that support our district goals and values outlined in the strategic plan. A needs analysis is also being conducted so that we can get a better idea of what our teachers need regarding the type of ELA resources that are necessary to support our students best.

The next phase for our ELA leadership team will start in March 2024. The resource phase is the next phase and will allow teachers on the committee to begin the process of analyzing and identifying what components of specific ELA resources are best to adopt and take to our next phase in this process.


This month’s Insight Into Curriculum video focuses on our mentor-mentee program. Our mentor-mentee program aims to provide new teachers to Royal Oak Schools an opportunity to connect with and learn from a current teacher in Royal Oak. The mentor teacher becomes a bridge to learning for our new teachers, creating a foundation that supports new teachers and helps them feel confident, successful, and included in our school community. Watch this month's "Insight Into Learning" edition with this link.

DEI Corner


November is recognized as National Native American Heritage Month. Congress chose the month of November to celebrate Native American culture because November concluded the traditional harvest season and was generally a time of thanksgiving and celebration for Native Americans. The Thanksgiving story of Pilgrims and Native Americans sharing a friendly meal will be reenacted and celebrated nationwide on November 23. Some groups believe that it wasn't so friendly and are calling on Americans to "decolonize" their Thanksgiving celebrations. Some ways of doing this include putting away Native American decorations, introducing native dishes to the dinner table, and engaging in conversations about Native American history with dinner guests.

Another celebration this time of year is Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead, which is celebrated on November 1st and 2nd. It's believed that on these two days, the spirits of the departed return to be with their families. *To welcome them, families create special altars in their homes. Common components include yellow marigolds, candles, photos of loved ones who have passed away, and colorful tissue paper designs known as "papel picado." Families also prepare delicious food and beverages to offer to their departed relatives. You might wonder why you see skulls everywhere during Día de los Muertos. These are called "Calaveras." They can be made from different materials like papier-mâché, clay, wood, metal, or even out of food. (*Information provided by The Mexican Museum.)

Meet SRO Antonio Lipscomb


Officer Antonio Lipscomb is a new face in the halls of Royal Oak High School this year, but he’s not new to the police department. Lipscomb has been a police officer for 15 years. He’s worked on the force, as a school resource officer, and on dispatch before finding himself back in Royal Oak and back in high school.

Officer Lipscomb replaced Officer Joe Yerke this year as Royal Oak Schools School Resource Officer. He says it may be cliche, but he likes helping people.

“The youth of today were having so many problems and issues, I was like man, somebody needs to reach out to these kids… who else to better to do it that than me?”

Lipscomb works alongside the students each day at Royal Oak High School. He goes to his desk and opens his computer to check his daily work log. Then he says he makes himself visible and accessible for the students to get to know him. He walks the halls, makes sure safety protocols are in place, interacts with students and staff, and even joins lunch. He says that the way he acts with the students is to be someone who they can and will feel comfortable approaching and talking about different concerns they may have.

"I want them to know that I have an open door policy and (they) can talk to me about anything." He says he wants to show them that police aren’t robots but regular people in and out of the uniform. "I look forward to breaking barriers," he said. "A lot of people (the students) may never have another encounter with a police officer."

Officer Lipscomb says he looks forward to educating the students from a different perspective, from a standpoint on where police officers are coming from. He hopes to impart some wisdom and knowledge to the students. "So they can remember my words and say, "Hey, Officer Lipscomb spoke about this with me," and that will help them in finding better solutions to deal with what may be happening." He added he’d rather educate the kids from here (inside the high school) than out there.

I will always try to protect these students and try to educate them so they can try to be better citizens."
Wellness Wednesdays


Inspired by "UMatter" week's success last year, Royal Oak Middle School counselors have decided to make mental health a regular part of student life. Every Wednesday in the Gathering Place during lunch, students are invited to join the Wednesday Wellness Sessions.

The first session held last month focused on origami, enhanced with positive messages. These folded creations reside in grade-level offices available for students needing a pick-me-up. Beyond indoor activities, ROMS offers daily outdoor recess with various sports and items donated by the community for the students to use. The school's grounds team created two flag football fields, a soccer, and a kickball field. Plans are in motion for a volleyball court due to rising interest.

ROMS's journey embodies its mission of inclusivity, diversity, and a focus on students, bringing the community together for wellness and excellence.

All City Vocal Festival


We're excited to invite you to the 43rd Annual All City Vocal Festival on Monday, November 20, at 7 p.m. This enchanting evening will feature performances from Royal Oak High School Ensembles, Royal Oak Middle School Ensembles, and our 5th Grade Select Choir, comprising all of our 6 elementary schools. Also, enjoy performances by the All-City Men and Women Choirs and a special combined choir performance by all of the students. The event is being held in the gymnasium at Royal Oak High School.

"I am certain, if you are able to attend, you will enjoy the great variety of repertoire and the vocal expertise of our amazing students," said Mary Johnson, Royal Oak Schools Music Coordinator.

The All-City Vocal Festival stands as a unique event in our district. It offers a rare opportunity to experience the talents of our youngest vocalists as well as our most advanced performers. Throughout this event, it is easy to observe the younger vocalists respect and admire those who are more advanced, anticipating the day when they too will be considered an advanced ensemble performer.

You can read the Performing Arts newsletter with this link.

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Dates for November


November 1, 15, 29 - Late Start For Students

November 7 - No School for Students

November 9 - School Board Meeting

November 16 - Half day for Elementary Only/Parent Teacher Conferences

November 18 - Craft Fair at ROHS

November 21 - Royal Oak Parent Advisory Committee Meeting

November 22-24, No School - Thanksgiving Break


December 25 - January 5, - No School - Holiday Break

January 8 - School Resumes

January 15 - MLK Jr. Day: No School, Day of Service

This newsletter has been honored to receive a national award from the School Public Relations Association for excellence.


We would love to invite you to join our team. You can use this link to apply for most jobs with Royal Oak Schools: https://bit.ly/3rO26d1workforros.

Food service workers and cashiers: Chartwells Food Service hires substitute food service workers. The cashier position is from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and pays $14/hr. The cook position is at the elementary schools from 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and pays $16.15/hr. After training, you would be "as needed" fill-in for sick calls, working on average 1-2 days per week. It could also become regular part-time when openings exist. Includes free lunch.

Substitute teachers: EDUStaff is our partner for substitute teachers. Please apply through their website at: edustaff.org.

Paraprofessionals: A paraprofessional works with a team of teachers to help qualified students be successful at school. These patient and caring individuals may implement academic, physical, behavioral, and self-care supports that empower students to engage with their education as independently as possible. All applicants should apply through the Oakland Schools Human Resources Consortium website at: bit.ly/3rO26d1workforros.

Individuals interested in working with and caring for school-age children before and after school for our Young Oaks (Latchkey) Program should contact the Addams Early Childhood Center at (248) 288-3220.

Bus Drivers: Durham School Services is hiring for our transportation department. A minimum of 20 hours is guaranteed, with options for more. Contact James Hollis at Durham to apply: jholls@durhamschoolservices.com.

Instructional and administrative positions: Check the Oakland Schools Consortium portal at bit.ly/3rO26d1workforros. Employment opportunities with Royal Oak Schools are on our website under Employment/HR. If you have any more questions, please contact Beth Caverly at the District Offices: elizabeth.caverly@royaloakschools.org or (248) 435-8400 x1210.


Send them to: communications@royaloakschools.org

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