Monday, February 16, 2009

Please send Powers some money!

Are you a Powers High School graduate looking for a way to help out your old school and Flint at the same time? Well, there are two things you can do.

1. Go to the Powers website and update your contact information. This will get you on the mailing list and, of course, make it easier for the school to kindly ask you for a donation.

2. You could actually donate money to the school. There are several options, but one of the easiest is donating to the Annual Appeal. Just drop a check in the mail. Address it to Powers High School, G-2040 W. Carpenter Road, Flint, MI, 48505.

If this sounds like a great idea to you, please stop reading and go write that check!

If you are saying "Young has lost his mind if he thinks I'm giving any more money to that (pick your favorite Flint expletive and insert here) school," then please read on...

Now I know there may be a few things about Powers that make you reluctant to donate your hard-earned cash during a recession. I still harbor a few grudges myself. Let's see, there was the extremely unsympathetic math teacher who unsuccessfully tried to have me impeached as student body vice president, partly because the Dupont Street bus made me late for various meetings. That was sure a fun learning experience. And there was the vice-principal who once tried to humiliate me in front of a class because I hadn't worn socks that day. And there was the English teacher who almost failed me because I didn't take notes — my personal class notes, I should add — neatly enough. And the French teacher who...okay, I should stop now. You get the idea. I'm sure all you Catholic school veterans out there have your own lists.

My point is that I've set aside all of those petty grievances. In fact, I hardly ever even think about these indignities anymore. For the past 20 years or so, I've gladly sent off a small donation to Powers each year. (Well, to be totally accurate, my mom sent off the donation in my name for about 10 years. And then called repeatedly to remind me to send it myself for the next ten. And it's always been a very small donation.)

So while I'm hardly a good model for charitable giving, I know that I don't want Powers to be another Flint institution that just disappears like so many others. I don't want to be alarmist but like a lot of things in Flint Powers seems to be struggling.

Enrollment is hovering around 600, which is about half the size it was when I graduated. The fact that Powers didn't raise the money to relocate tells me that fundraising efforts are not going well. (For example, during last year's Annual Appeal, the class of 1984 had two donors out of 254 graduates. This might be payback for the school threatening to cancel our class trip because of our bad behavior but, again, let's not dwell on the negative.)

And remember, there were things we loved about Powers. Personally, I really liked spending almost an entire quarter in Felix Lehmkuhle's
class chasing butterflies behind the school with big nets. And it was great when the band would march through the hallways playing at full volume before pep rallies. And Goffe Gumbs and Tim McVey were two of the greatest coaches I ever had, partly because they could actually play soccer better than any one on the team.

So come on, cough up a few bucks for Powers. It's tax deductible.


  1. Quite apart from the donation thing and all, and surely not that I harbor any grudges either, no no, but might that have been the same English teacher who forced me up to the front of the class to copy each letter of the alphabet on the board based on her splendid example all because my handwriting wasn't neat enough? Hey -my handwriting is still awful - so take that!

  2. Redgirl, it has to be the same teacher. Without mentioning any names, was she prone to wearing polyester pantsuits? She dealt a crushing blow to my gpa freshman year and it never recovered.

  3. Okay, this same English teacher once shut the classroom door ON a girl when she tried to slip in as the class bell rang.

    My complaint against Powers is not the many teacher memories - the freshman science teacher in pink knit ties and cowboy boots, the assistant principal who always smelled like M & Ms, the anatomy/history teacher who taught our class how to vomit by sticking pencils down our throats - no, my complaint is those many classrooms with no windows. It was the constant gloom school.

    I remember some teacher saying that it was a no or miniwindow design to protect students from tornados. But I say bring on the tornados and give me some sunshine!

  4. I'm with you, RWard. What was going on with the high school architecture in the late sixties and seventies? I've often remarked that they look very similar to prison/jail architecture of the same period — tiny or now windows with a bunker-like feel. Northwestern is just a variation on the horrible Powers design.

    Pink ties and cowboy boots? We must be talking about Dan Duncan.

    And Mr. Rich was good at teaching you abstract theories and practical solutions to everyday problems. Drink too much? Here's how you use a pencil to throw up.

    And I'm using names here because these seem like positive comments.

  5. Powers is exceptional in its ugliness. It really gives Cold-War era Soviet architecture some competition on depressingly bleak design.

    Lucky for us Dan Duncan was sporting his pastel ties to lift the gloom!

  6. As I recall, there's a building in Ann Arbor that was built with very little windows in order to withstand riots and acts of vandalism... perhaps that's what 60's architecture was all about... ;)

  7. Since we named Dan Duncan - one of my favorite memories of him was a name game. A bunch of us were sitting in English class saying people's names backwards. All of a sudden I was struck with the genius inversion of "Nad Nacnud" or Dan Duncan backwards. In a scene straight out of a movie he walked into the room right at the moment it crossed my lips.

    This moniker made his "this classroom is my kingdom, in it I am the king and you are my subjects" much easier to take from then on.

  8. geewhy - she was not only prone to wearing polyester pantsuits, i swear she invented them...

  9. I'm not a Powers Grad, but when I read about Dan Duncan, could he possibly be the same guy who is now teaching Microbiology at Baker College? Tall guy?

  10. yes, tall, blondish hair. Used to have a beard. looks somewhat like a seventies era rock star.

  11. Umm, I hate to intrude on the memories of Dan Duncan, but the point is to get people to donate money to Powers. So please, donate some money. Do it for Dan!

  12. Isn't Powers located in Mt. Morris Township, a few miles north of Flint? Aren't the majority of Powers' students from Fenton, Flushing, and Grand Blanc?

  13. Yes, Powers is across the street from the Flint city limit, but it's obviously still a part of Flint. Would you consider Northwestern high more Flint or more Mt. Morris? Simply stroll over to the convenience store across the street from Powers and Northwestern and tell me if you're in Flint or Mt. Morris.

    And I've got no idea what the breakdown is on who goes there. When I was there I'd say it was about half city of Flint, half hinterlands.

  14. Ok...well...I had to contribute to the "Teacher Recognition" here. What about the famous Ecology teacher who would walk our class to the outdoor lab behind the school. I'm pretty sure he was smoking a lot of what he found out there in the woods. He looked a little like "Where's Waldo." I loved him though. He saved me from having to take Biology again.

  15. J. Forlenza personally asked [insisted] that I not attend graduation and handed my my diploma in his office. Difficult to explain this to my mother.

    I wouldn't give that school a nickle if I was minting them in my basement.

  16. Maybe they shouldn't charge so much to attend Powers and their attendance would be higher! (I say this as a former student.)


    The tuition listed below includes class fees and student admission to regular-season, home athletic contests and to drama productions. This amount does not include the non-refundable $50.00 registration fee or student textbooks. Annual tuition is payable in twelve equal monthly installments.

    Payment Schedule
    Families Registered With a Catholic Parish:
    June 1 - May 1 $ 575.00/mo. ($6,900)

    Families Not Registered With a Catholic Parish:

    June 1 - May 1
    $ 635.00/mo.


Thanks for commenting. I moderate comments, so it may take a while for your comment to appear. You might enjoy my book about Flint called "Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City," a Michigan Notable Book for 2014 and a finalist for the 33rd Annual Northern California Book Award for Creative NonFiction. Filmmaker Michael Moore described Teardown as "a brilliant chronicle of the Mad Maxization of a once-great American city." More information about Teardown is available at