A letter from The Tower editors


Photo by Jackson Marchal '21.

Alyssa Czech '19 and Bianca Pugliesi '19

A letter from the editors,


We appreciate the letter to The Tower from Dr. Gary Niehaus, and encourage others with strong opinions to reach out too. We hope administration at all levels, staff, parents, students and community members are all participating in the opportunity to listen and reflect on the conversation “Candid about culture” invites.


As journalists, we decided to write about the culture at South in November. We would hear comments from other students, about how the atmosphere was different. Everyone seemed more tense, stressed and uncomfortable around each other than years past.


In response to your belief we “presented information with a slant that makes it seem South and central administration are not responsive” to concerns, we want to acknowledge while the information presented in the article may have reflected negatively on the district and South administration, we conducted our interviews to provide fair and balanced reporting. We followed up with the district and administration at South to  hear all sides to the story.


In regards to your comment that our article “deemphasized changes made to improve culture since the survey cited,” we would like to clarify that we conducted our own anonymous staff surveys three months before our article was published. We found many of the same trends in the 2017-2018 GPPSS Employee Engagement Surveys. We did not publish these results initially in order to protect staff members from any form of retribution, but we would be happy to share the results. Would the district be willing to share this year’s (2018-2019) district survey with The Tower to see if there have been any significant changes?


We have worked to get all sides of the story, and cited sources with all different perspectives. However, The Tower is not a promotion machine; we are a forum for student voice, and work hard to represent all voices.


We acknowledge positive things the staff and administration does, but it is also necessary to acknowledge everything is not perfect. In our editorial from issue 18 of The Tower, “Drowning in stress”, we recognize the workload planning committee made a step to help manage students’ stress, but also recognized that, “like a bandaid on a gunshot wound, these policies are an appreciated effort, but merely the initial steps to solve a larger issue.” In the issue 19 editorial, “South has a voice, it’s time to listen”, we focus on how we have seen a culture of fear to speak up at South and how this has led to a lack of effective communication among staff, students, administration and the school board.


The culture of fear mentioned in our article is not defined by the safety of our schools or the policies in place. It is defined by the fear of speaking out. The main point of the article is not to about bathroom doors and hall monitors. It is to explore the changed atmosphere at South overall, and all of the contributing factors. In your letter, you state an open door policy. We would like to know what do you do when people come to you with concerns? Is there a record of these conversations?


We had a difficult time getting students and current staff members on the record about their opinions due to fear of repercussions from administration. The only way to have gotten many current GPPSS teachers on the record would be anonymously. To maintain credibility we went with on the record sources and used the survey from Grosse Pointe.


The discussions generated from this article are necessary, and we thank you for your interest in talking to South students. The goal of the article and The Tower is not to divide but to give a voice to all, to have conversations and to improve South. We want transparency and trust among administrators, board members, students and staff members in GPPSS.


Thank you for offering to come in and help change the culture at South. We are more than willing to meet with you.


Thank you,

Alyssa Czech & Bianca Pugliesi


A letter from the superintendent: https://thetowerpulse.net/30421/uncategorized/a-letter-from-the-superintendent/