School of the Week: Ludington Magnet Middle School

Continuing a legacy of excellence propelled by new and innovative programs

 As the first-year principal at Ludington Magnet Middle School, Allan Cosma came to the school with a plan in hand. He organized four Open Houses during the 2013 Summer Enrollment Campaign—although the requirement for each school was to only host one Open House event—and has been extremely proactive in meeting parents and community members to hear their concerns and educate them on the plans he has in store to keep Ludington on top.

History of Excellence

Ludington Magnet Middle School is an application school for grades 5-8 and is nationally recognized as a “School to Watch” by the National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform. Ludington is the only school in Wayne County with this level of national attention and achievement. Ludington is also known as a “High Performing School,” distinguished by the Skillman Foundation’s Good Schools Initiative. 

Ludington’s longstanding tradition of academic achievement and excellence began with its creation by a Federal Court in 1970. Ludington became a citywide magnet middle school of choice that continues to attract students from inside and outside the greater Detroit metropolitan area. In recent years Ludington went through a merger phase, which transitioned two programs—the Ludington Application Program and the Neighborhood 5-8 Program—into one program.

Principal Cosma, staff, parent volunteers and alumni have been active in maintaining the Ludington legacy of excellence by initiating new programs for students and providing a strong Parent Advisory Council on Student Achievement (PACSA) and alumni program that not only support students, but the school and community as well.

‘Work hard, play hard!’ New and innovative programs continue the legacy

“It is one of our mottos here at the school: If we work hard, we can play hard. If we do our homework and keep our grades up, we can play and have fun activities at the school,” Cosma said.

Ludington supports high achievement by having the standard of 100% homework by all students, total school participation in science projects, and project-based learning through engineering, gardening, government and other programs.

In the fall of 2013, a new Gardening Program, sponsored by the DPS Office of School Nutrition, Michigan State University, and the 4-H Foundation was added at Ludington. This initiative consists of students building and assembling flower beds in a variety of shapes and sizes that will be displayed around the school’s campus.

“This is an extremely unique project because Ludington is eco-friendly, and with that in mind the ground-breaking for the flower beds may involve a Clydesdale horse to assure our school is being eco-conscious and not using any material or machinery that will interrupt the organic state of the land,” Cosma said.

In January, Ludington will add Ludington University to its extensive afterschool offerings. In partnership with Michigan State University Extension and the 4H Foundation, this program will provide six-to-eight-week courses to students in subjects that are not a part of the traditional school curriculum such as public speaking, educational planning, gardening, cooking, sewing, dance, painting, engineering, Detroit Area Pre-College Engineering Program (DAPCEP) and a variety of other classes that students will be able to select based on their interests.

All courses offered will tie into the state of Michigan’s Common Core Standards to enhance student achievement.

“My goal is to have a total education plan that educates children before, during and after school,” Cosma said.

Early start time & safe routes

Principal Cosma has incorporated an Early Start Program to assure all students are in the building and accounted for before the school’s first bell. Ludington has a start time of 7:40 a.m., but you can find many students in the school by 7:15 a.m. at full attention, ready for announcements and student performances.

Principal Cosma’s vision is to teach students the importance of arriving at least 15 minutes early to assure students are prepared, refreshed and ready to learn. This act of punctuality also sets students up for success in regard to time management and attendance in their future academic and professional careers.

Many volunteer teachers and parents help to open the school at 7:15 a.m. to allow students to warm up and unwind before they enter their homerooms.

Starting early also helps to ensure students arrive to school safely, Cosma said.

“With our school being very close to major freeways and highways, it is very important to have students arrive early and safely. At Ludington, we have parents that position themselves outside and in cars so that students have a safe way to school. This is also why I am developing relationships around the community so that people know Ludington is a part of the community. Opening the school earlier also eliminates the long line outside of the building so that our students are safer and can walk right in the building,” Cosma said.

Ludington’s commitment to student achievement is further exemplified with the school’s new Early Morning Study Hall available every day for students in the library before school.

After School Study Hall is also available where parents and teachers have donated their time from 2:30- 4:30 p.m. This program depends heavily on the school’s active PACSA volunteers. This time allows students to have access to the computer lab, study hall and homework time.

“One of the goals of this program is to give students on sports teams and students who need a quiet place to study an environment to fulfill that goal. The success of this program is because of the support of volunteer parents and teachers,” Cosma said.

More than a legacy, we’re a family’

It is evident that Principal Cosma, his staff, and parent volunteers are passionate about what they do and how they are molding the young ladies and men of Ludington into proactive members of society. Acting as a family unit is something that Principal Cosma strives for within the school building and in the community.

Ludington also has a strong tradition of alumni members staying in contact with one another and giving back to the school by volunteering their time whenever needed.

“What is unique about Ludington is the diverse population we have at our school,” said Ayanna Ellison, 6th-7th grade English Language Arts teacher. “We really cultivate family amongst one other, and I’ve never met teachers so dedicated who go above and beyond in their jobs.”

Principal Cosma said he wants Ludington to be a place that students are proud of and excited to come back to visit. With that in mind, teachers have begun displaying artwork and other student-made pieces on the walls throughout the school to serve as a living museum.

“Being a student at Ludington is a lifetime commitment because we believe in giving back, and Ludington Alumni always give back to the next generation. Here you will find life-long friends along with top-ranking sports and academic teams who continue to make the middle school experience one to remember,” Cosma said.

Something you didn’t know…

The Leading Ladies Mentorship Program is coordinated by Ellison and consists of 25 5th, 6th and 7th grade girls identified by Ludington teachers. This program encourages students to build self confidence, know their self worth, create goals, and participate in cooking classes and community service. The formal initiation ceremony was Thursday, December 19, 2013 where parents and family members were invited to see students receive their acceptance letters.

“We have so many negative examples of ladies in this world,” Ellison said. “We want to show these girls positive examples and really help them understand what it means to be a leading lady.”

Something else you didn’t know…

On October 23, 2013, the entire school supported Breast Cancer Awareness by wearing pink Ludington shirts and assembling on the school’s lawn to create a 540-person human breast cancer ribbon. After the event, a group of students stayed two hours after school to help clean the surrounding neighborhood.

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