From The Principal

Lietz Picture

Dear Chieftain Families,

Well, winter is certainly giving us a run for our money this year, and I am happy to have February behind us! My fingers are crossed for some great weather going forward, but this is Michigan and we take the exceptionally beautiful with the rest! Thank you for rolling with mother nature’s punches this year! Aside from the hopeful change of the season, we’re also approaching the midway point of 3rd marking period. This first check-in of the second semester is accompanied by our Spring Conferences which are one night, Thursday, March 7 from 4 – 7pm in our Main Gym, Cafeteria and Media Center. If you cannot make conferences, please do not hesitate to reach out to your student’s teacher for questions about progress.

Reflecting on Semester 1, we had a very successful start to the year. As we finalize grades, 96% of grades submitted for S1, (7578 of 7911) were passing grades. That is continued improvement over three years, as we have increased from 89% (2016), to 94% (2017) and 95% last year. Of those grades, 77% were in the A/B range and another 12% in the C range. That passing rate continues to increase as more and more students are entering AP Courses, Honors courses, and other college prep curriculum (e.g. medical health sciences, computer science, etc.). That 1% growth may not seem significant, but when you get into the mid-90’s, ever percent held and gained is an important battle won! We also see a win at the other end with a nearly 50% reduction in our failing students; fewer than 3%.

We are a month away from the Michigan Merit Exam which is made up of the SAT, WorkKeys and MSTEP tests for 11th grade students and the PSAT10 for Utica sophomores. Those will begin on Tuesday, April 9, the day after we return from Spring break. We will send out the schedule later this month. It is critical that your sophomore and junior students utilize the next month to hone their skills and practice for this assess-ment. We have run four PSAT/SAT prep sessions after school and our classroom teachers have built their instructional practice around skills necessary to be successful, but practice makes better as my 1st grader likes to tell me! Practice on Khan Academy is not only tied to the College Board and prior student testing data but shows a direct correlation between hours of practice and improved performance on the test. It is targeted to student needs, it’s directly aligned with the assessment and it provides tutorials and practice that give stu-dents an opportunity to zero in through highly personalized instruction to improve. Six hours of practice has shown to provide a 90-point increase on the assessment.

AP Registration has been open and on the website since December under “How Do I” at the top and under “Academics” in the counseling section. However, it closes earlier this year, on March 10. So, it’s critical that students wishing to enroll in AP tests, which I think all AP students should, do so and quickly! Any questions can be directed to Mrs. Bronski in counseling.

Another sign of the spring is that scheduling has begun. Our counselors met with students this week to hand out scheduling documents. Next week, we will have our AP Scheduling Fair (Wed. Mar. 6) and Elective Fair (Thurs. Mar. 7) during lunches, so students can speak to peers about course options, challenges and opportunities. Our Curriculum Night will be coming up in a few weeks and will provide an opportunity for new and current students to discover available course op-tions. As scheduling continues, our incredible counselors and Mr. Paulon will start meeting with students about AP, Dual Enrollment, elective and other options. Our teachers will also engage in one-on-one conversations with students about scheduling options. Our hope is that through a constant stream of information and thoughtful advising, students will make more informed decisions. We hope students will examine their options, think about the development plan and career path-way, and take courses that fit! As our mission states, our goal is to develop successful learners through an equitable, rigor-ous and comprehensive education.

As you sit with your students and think about their next year or two years at Utica High, it’s critical to discuss those long-term plans. Their Career Pathways can help inform those conversations. The pathways include: Arts and Communication, Business Management Marketing and Technology, Health Sciences, Engineering and Manufacturing and Industrial Technology, Human Services and Natural Resources and Agriscience. Utica has offerings to help a student achieve success in each of these. Focusing on interest, as well as ability, and asking them to stretch and strive for greater than they may be-lieve possible is critical to our process. We have incredible AP offerings including the unique AP Capstone program and AP Computer Science Principles class, and our core area AP classes. We also have a one-of-a-kind Medical Health Science Program, award winning arts and CTE programs, a great and growing choir, a Jazz Band, and many other options including courses at Utica High and around the district. Yes, the arts are not only a Career Pathway, but an incredibly valued and valuable pathway. Parents, you need to have that conversation with your student. The college conversation should not start senior or even junior year, but sophomore year, or sooner. It’s never too late, but always better the earlier it happens!

The Naviance program is available to you and your students to help guide the exploration of those post-secondary options. The Naviance tools can help students look at possible career choices, and then from that inventory students can work back to the classes they would take to get there. They can then use College Match to look for the college that fits based on cost, location, size, programs, majors, and other selections to start narrowing down choices. College match will then allow you to compare schools, look at required entrance test scores, and GPAs, as well as a host of other information. After comparing colleges, students can then use the Naviance scatterplot to see how they size up to the averages at that school. Though the average GPA may be a 3.5, it’s important to realize there are a lot of exceptions! 

These tools give you as parents, and your students, unprecedented access to the information that ought to be criti-cal in helping you make decisions on classes, on test prep, and on the options that are available to you! And, once your student has been accepted, Scholarship Match will help find a way to subsidize payment of tuition. Senior parents, this is where you and your students ought to be now! Not only does it match you to scholarships based on everything from parent jobs and student demographics, but a host of other indicators as well, it also links you di-rectly to the appropriate forms and application deadlines. Each year millions of scholarship dollars go unclaimed and we’d like to make sure that’s not the case at UHS!

As you know, our UHS students perform incredibly well at state and national competition in the arts. Each year, the district provides an opportunity to bring those incredible student works to our community. The District Fine Arts Show is March 18-20 at Rose Kidd Elementary School from 6 – 8pm on Monday March 18th, and 1 – 8pm on Tuesday March 19th and Wednesday, March 20th. Admission is free and there will be shuttle buses from Steven-son High School on opening night due to limited parking.

We look forward to a great March, and an exciting spring to follow!


Tom Lietz

Orange Utica U

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.


For the spring of 2018, eleventh graders will take the Michigan Merit Examination (MME).  The MME consists of the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) as the state administered college assessment and the ACT WorkKeys for College and Career readiness.  Additionally, the Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress (M-STEP) assesses for science and social studies.  The tenth grade students will be given the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT) 10 assessment for College and Career Readiness.

To ensure all tenth and eleventh grade students have every opportunity to be successful on their particular assessment(s), the following testing schedule will be implemented for Tuesday, April 10, 2018 and Wednesday, April 11, 2018.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018: 11th GRADE TESTING
7:20 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. (Standard Testing Time)

11th grade students will report their home school at 7:10 a.m. and will be dismissed after testing.
10th and 12th grade students will report to school at 12:30 p.m.
Afternoon classes, 12:35 p.m. – 2:14 p.m., will be held for 10th and 12th grade students.
All MST/CSI classes are cancelled.
All shared-time programs are cancelled.
Lunch WILL NOT be served to students on this day.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018: 10th and 11th GRADE TESTING
7:20 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. (Standard Testing Time)
Regular school day for 10th and 11th grade students.
12th grade students will report to school at 12:00 p.m.
Afternoon classes, 12:15 p.m. – 2:14 p.m., will be held for all 10th, 11th, and 12th grade students.
All MST/CSI classes are cancelled.
All shared-time programs are cancelled.
Lunch will not be served to 12th grade students on this day. 

This schedule is an additional measure to provide our students every opportunity for success.  Additionally, it ensures that every student’s time in school is time well spent.  For more information regarding these assessments, refer to the following links:

SAT and PSAT 10:

ACT WorkKeys:

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns.