School Bells: 8th annual chess tourney planned for Jan. 22

8th Annual Thurston School Chess Tournament

The Thurston Chess Tournament is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 22, 2011 at Thurston Elementary School, 2300 Prairie Street, Ann Arbor. Ann Arbor students in grades K-8 are invited to play; students from other schools including those taking the classes of Ray Garrison, our tournament director, may also be invited to play if there is space. Visit for information and registration form.

The Thurston Elementary School PTO sponsors the only annual, local K-8 chess tournament, directed by Garrison, who has had chess classes in Ann Arbor schools for many years. It is an opportunity for families to experience their child’s first chess tournament, and a timely warm-up for those who want to play in the upcoming statewide competitions.

There are four sections based on age and chess level, with afternoon-only sessions for newer players (including one section dedicated to K-1 players) and all-day sessions for more experienced players. The tournament typically draws between 80-100 students, and all players receive a participation certificate.  Fees range from $6-15, with all proceeds going to the Thurston PTO.

Early registration deadline is Jan. 7, 2011 and pre-registration is required. Space is limited. For more information, call Gene Darnell, Thurston parent, at 734- 913-0657 or via e-mail at

Community High 2011 orientations scheduled

Five parent and student orientation sessions have been announced for families interested in applying for Community High School’s freshmen slots for school year 2011-2012. The sessions will be held at the school located at 401 North Division Street and are scheduled from 7-8:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 6, Monday, Jan. 10, Tuesday, Feb. 1, Monday, Feb. 7 and Thursday, Feb. 10.

Application deadline is 4 p.m. Friday, Feb. 11. Application packets will be available Jan. 4 at all Ann Arbor Public School middle schools, the Balas Administration Building, 2555 South State St., and Community High School, 401 N. Division St.. Applications may also be downloaded from the website at:

To be eligible for one of 114 open freshman slots, applicants must be current 8th graders, meet the district’s residency requirements at the time of application, attend an orientation meeting with parent/guardian, and submit a completed application to the Main Office, CHS, by 4 p.m. Friday, Feb. 11.  The school’s random selection will be on Feb. 16, 2011.

Internal phone change planned for 2011

In order to eliminate confusion that sometimes occurs using “9” to dial out from the district’s phone system, the Ann Arbor Public Schools will begin using “8” to access outside lines starting in February.

According to Randy Trent, executive director for physical properties, the use of “9” can cause confusion and erroneous calls to 911 and the change would stop those problems. Both the dialing of “8” and “9” will be functioning until Feb. 2 when the dial “8” will take effect. The “8” will not be needed to access emergency 911 from school buildings.

Home building students compete in Oakland

Six students from the Ann Arbor Student Building Industry Program and their teacher John Birko, attended the Oakland County Holiday Invitational Construction Competition on Dec. 9.  The three-person carpentry team was one of only two teams to complete the project and took home the first-place prize.  The three-person masonry team placed third.

Birko said the students worked well together, especially considering they are from different classes, met for the first time for the competition and the only practice the students had was their on-site work in building the program’s house.

The first-place carpentry team included Huron High School senior captain Brian Ziemba, Huron High senior Jose’ Tavarez and Pioneer High School senior Christopher Champagne. Third Place Masonry Team included Huron High School senior captain Aaron Wyse, Huron High senior Dillon Davis and Pioneer High School senior Amjad Imran.

Skyline juniors earn Optimist award

Skyline juniors Juliet Rutledge and Nathan Edmunds, both 16, have earned the “Harold Eastman Outstanding Youth Achievement Award” from the Breakfast Optimist Club of Ann Arbor. The award is giving for academic achievement, leadership, industry and community service.

Rutledge is the daughter of Shelley and Bonnie Billups and Edmunds is the son of Chris and Cynthia Warren.

Library offers tutoring and homework help

Students can receive free tutoring and homework help at the Ann Arbor District Library, downtown branch at Fifth and LIberty from 4-8 p.m. Mondays, Jan. 10, Jan. 24 and Jan. 31 and Wednesdays Jan. 12, Jan. 19 and Jan. 26.

The tutoring is for students in grades K-12 and is conducted by college students from the University of Michigan Circle K Chapter. It takes place in the Youth Story Corner.

Online homework help is also available through the library’s online tutor, Brainfuse (, for grades three through adult. Brainfuse may be accessed from home or through library computers. Online tutors are available from 2-11 p.m. daily in math, English/language arts, science, and social studies. The service is available in English and Spanish at no charge but requires an AADL library card.

For more information about in-person or online tutoring, call the Youth Department at 734-327-8301.

UMS book discussion for teachers scheduled

A facilitated book discussion for teachers on “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” by Sherman Alexie will take place from 4:30-6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 11 at the downtown branch of the Ann Arbor District Library, Fifth at Liberty, in the multi-purpose room.

The discussion is part of the monthly University Musical Society “Reading Culture” Book Club for educators that expands and builds upon ideas within the UMS season of events using relevant works of literature. The first 30 registrants receive a free copy of the book; registration is required.

To register, call the University Musical Society at 734-615-0122 or e-mail

Health lecture on dyslexia help offered Jan. 12

Joanne Marttila Pierson will lecture on “Dyslexia Help, Dyslexia Hope” from 7-8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 12 at the downtown branch of the Ann Arbor District Library in the multipurpose room.

Dyslexia is a language-based learning disability that affects between 5-10 percent of the population and affects reading, spelling and writing. Marttila Pierson discusses this learning disability and introduces the University of Michigan Center for the Development of Language and Literacy (UCLL)’s new dyslexia web-based curriculum and resource center of which she is the associate director. She will also discuss strategies to help navigate the school years and build a strong foundation for success.

This event is co-sponsored by the Institute For Human Adjustment at the University of Michigan. Details: 327-4555 or visit our website at

Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Reads discussion Jan. 15, author event Jan. 22

An open discussion of the book “Life is So Good,” the autobiography of George Dawson, co-authored by Richard Glaubman, will take place from 2-3 p.m. Jan. 15 at the Traverwood Branch of the Ann Arbor District Library program room. The branch is at 3333 Traverwood Drive, on the southwest corner of Traverwood and Huron Parkway.

This book, published in 2000, is the focus of this year’s Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Reads. The discussion will be led by Ann Arbor District Library staff and will examine this award-winning book which is the true story of a man who learned to read at the age of 98. He enrolled in a literacy program, becoming a celebrated student.

Copies of the book are available at the Ann Arbor District Library, the Ypsilanti District Library and area bookstores. For more information on Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Reads 2011, visit For more information on this event, call the Library at 327-4555 or visit our website at

Also, on Saturday, Jan. 22, from 1:30-3 p.m., Glaubman will make a special appearance at the Washtenaw Community College Morris Lawrence Building. Glaubman will discuss this book and his friendship with George Dawson, the co-author and subject of the book. A book signing will follow and books will be on sale at this event, courtesy of Borders.

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