From The Principal


Dear Utica High families,

October is my favorite month of the year.  I love the weather, the changing colors, the Halloween celebration and the sports.  It’s been a great start to the fall as our athletics have been off to a strong start from girls swim and dive, girls golf, boys and girls cross country soccer, boys tennis, and the rest, we’ve had an awesome start!  We always think of football in the fall, and they’ve done well too!  The team will come home in a couple weeks for favorite week of the year, homecoming, on October 13th

We’ve noticed increasing numbers of students leaving without checking out with the office for early dismissals.  Per the student handbook, when an early dismissal is necessary, the parent/guardian must make contact with the school prior to the student leaving the building.  Starting on Monday, October 2nd, we will have a sign out sheet in the main office.  Regardless of where a student is parked, if the student leaves without prior authorization and/or doesn’t sign out, it will be an unexcused absence.  A call after the fact will not excuse that absence. 

I have sent quite a bit of communication about the PSAT/NMSQT and its importance to our juniors!  If you have a junior and would like to register, go to our PaySchool link under Parents and “My Utica High” and click on the PaySchool Link.  It’s not only the qualifier for the National Merit Scholarship for juniors but is the best first practice opportunity for the SAT that will determine college entrance for the majority of our students!  We want this to be a great experience, and that means we want students to take advantage of as much practice as possible.

That desire to practice has led to a partnership with Khan Academy and the College Board.  Utica High is making sure we provide students with an opportunity to do self-guided practice on Khan Academy on a regular basis to ensure students have meaningful practice on the SAT.  Khan provides free customized test preparation.  And, even for our seniors, allows them to look at skills that are college-critical from the SAT and practice them.  That means a student is less likely to require remediation for a skill that they haven’t studied since junior high!

Our hope is that with these concerted efforts, students will be well positioned for the college and post-secondary application process.  Next week we have college visits from schools ranging from Macomb, Wayne and EMU to Michigan State, U of M Dearborn and the University of Alabama.  These schools are all great opportunities for students and they should sign up via Naviance to attend.  But, I have been challenging students and parents to stretch outside of these bounds.  There are a number of students already applied to college.  Currently that number sits at 15.7% and I believe we should be much higher. 

I sent an Email about ‘early application’ last week. In this newsletter, I want to encourage families to capitalize on this by also thinking about applying to schools you may have felt out of your reach.  Not only does Naviance allow you to explore colleges, but see whether you’re a fit academically via their scatterplots and other tools. Most parents and students rule out highly selective schools because of cost, and I would challenge you on that assumption! Did you know that for many parents, Harvard and Princeton might be the same or less money than Wayne State?  A family with a gross income of under $120,000 with no other students in college can expect to pay roughly $17,000/year for room, board and tuition at these two Ivy League schools based on their tuition calculators.  The moral of the story is, aim high and take a look at what your options truly encompass!  

Finally, homecoming week is a busy one!  The week of October 9 – 13 will be a great week!  As you may have realized, we have conferences on Thursday, October 12 from 11:30 am – 2:30 pm and from 4 – 8 pm.  As a result of that half day, we have moved our Competition Assembly to Thursday.  It will be during the first three hours of the day, and then students will be released.  We will still announce Homecoming Court on Monday, Oct. 9, but felt this made the most sense to maximize an already busy week!  Of course, our parade will be on Friday, October 13th starting at 4pm and followed by our Football game at 7:05.  On Saturday, October 14, we will have the PSAT at 8am.  Our Homecoming Dance will be at 7pm on Saturday night and we expect to have an incredible evening! Though I probably don’t need to remind everyone, all school rules apply at the dance. 

Have a wonderful month of October!


Tom Lietz

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Utica High School Vision Statement: 
Empowering students to reach their full potential as members of a global community. 

Utica High School Mission Statement:  
The mission of Utica High School is to develop successful learners with the support of our community of educators, students, and parents. Our diverse student body will have an equitable, rigorous, and comprehensive education in a safe and supportive environment that promotes self-discipline, motivation, and excellence in learning. We aim to cultivate individual learners with active and creative minds, and a sense of understanding and compassion for others.