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 Roberto Clemente School
Roberto Clemente School

Location: 4377 Textile, Ypsilanti, MI 48197
Principal: Joseph Dulin

Note: This entry is adapted from the history of Reberto Clemente Sdhool, which is included in their student planners.

Roberto Clemente School was conceived by the Ann Arbor Board of Education in the fall of 1973 under the leadership of Superintendent Dr. Harry Howard. He hired Joseph Dulin as the director of this new and innovative program. Joe hired his staff and developed the philosophy of the program.

The program originally was designed to provide the opportunity for continued schooling for students whose education had been interrupted by suspension from school, or whose behavior indicated that suspension may be imminent, and for whom other educational alternatives were not available. The major objective of the program was to equip students with those skills and abilities necessary to re-enter the mainstream of public school education, community, and family life.

Clemente opened it's doors in March 1974, though it was not named Clemente at the time, and it did not have it's own building! It started with a handful of students and a few teachers, and was given space at Forsythe Middle School after the regular school day was over. This was not very workable so the staff found a building in Sumpter Township outside of Belleville. They picked the students up in their vehicles every morning and returned them home in the aftenoon. By fall the district was able to move the program to Meadowview Elementary School on Textile Road in rural Pittsfield Township. The school consisted of four large classrooms, a small kitchen and two classroom portables. There was no gymnasium so the students were bused to other sights for physical education classes.

The students and staff were not happy having their school named The Alternative School for Disruptive Youth. They collaboratively changed the name to Roberto Clemente Student Development Center.

Roberto Clemente was a famous Puerto Rican baseball player with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He had just finished the 1972 season with his 3000 career hit, 1305 RBIs, and a .317 lifetime batting average. It was not, however, his impressive statistics which swayed the school, but the fact that he had lost his life in a humanitarian mission on New Years Eve in 1972. Instead of celebrating the New Year at home with his family, Roberto Clemente was flying his small plane filled with relief supplies for the victims of an earthquake in Nicaragua. His plane went down in the ocean. This symbol of giving and self-sacrifice is what this alternative school wanted to reflect.

In 1994 a brand new building replaced the original school. Roberto Clemente, Jr. spoke at the dedication of the new facility. Today Clemente still serves the needs of youngsters who find it difficult or are unable to function productively in the traditional school setting.

Clemente staff and students have a great deal of pride in our program. We provide a structured, yet caring environment for learning. We offer a full range of required academic classes and electives in music, art, technology, physical education, and Spanish.

What is fairly unique about Roberto Clemente School is the fact that students and staff are on a first name basis. The principal and teachers give out their home phone numbers and encourage students to call with questions or problems. Report cards are hand delivered to homes at the parents' convenience. These home visits help to build the connections between the school and the home.

Class sizes are limited to 15 students in most classes. Students appreciate the fact that they have to be in class, that it is impossible to skip. Every Wednesday we have our weekly "Rap Sessions," where the building comes together to listen and demonstrate positive interpersonal relationships. Issues impacting students are discussed as well as individual problems or concerns. We encourage everyone to discuss topics that affect students at school, home, or in the community. Positive steps toward achieving success at Clemente and upon returning to their home school are emphasized.

Clemente strongly encourages parental involvement. We have several Parent Breakfast Clubs throughout the school year and expect all our parents to participate in the annual NAAPID Day (National African American Parent Involvement Day), on the second Monday in February, which was founded by our principal, Joseph Dulin.

In fall 2003, Clemente changed its class schedule from the traditional six classes a day for an eighteen week semester to a Four-By-Four Block Schedule. Students take four classes a day for a nine week term. Each nine weeks, students will earn .500 credit for each class they pass. There are four terms in the course of the school year.

Reberto Clemente continues to provide a family atmosphere conducive for intellectual, emotional, social and physical growth. Students are brought to understand accountability for their own actions and personal development. We believe in the dignity of each person and demonstrate a respect for diversity within the school family.

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