Walkerville's success is stuff of movies

If this were football, they’d make a movie. Then again, tiny Walkerville doesn’t have a football team.

Pulling perhaps the biggest upset in Bridge Magazine’s Academic State Championships, Walkerville Public Schools, with 314 students and one of the highest rates of poverty among Michigan school districts, is the State Champion of 8th Grade Math. Not just champion among other rural, poor schools -- but against every school in the state.

“Generally speaking, there is a close relationship between high poverty and low academic scores,” said John Adams, Walkerville Middle School principal and math teacher. “But it doesn’t mean you can’t have an impact. It just takes effort.”

Walkerville is surrounded by the Manistee National Forest in northwest Lower Michigan. Last year, 79 percent of its students received free lunch, a rate higher than that in Detroit Public Schools and in the bottom 2 percent of all schools in the state. Yet 100 percent of its eighth-graders tested at proficiency

More coverage

Three cheers for academic success

And the winners are ...

Haslett builds readers, 20 minutes at a time

BRIDGE PHOTOS: Images of success 

level or higher last year on the math section of the Michigan Educational Assessment Program, or MEAP, test.

The kids were well-prepared for success by a string of good teachers and a community that values education, Adams said. But just as important was finding a way to motivate the students.

“Schools are held accountable to the (MEAP) scores, but students aren’t,”Adamssaid. “It doesn’t matter if they do well or poorly, it has no effect on them."

So Adams motivated his students by using a sports analogy. “When we’re reviewing (for the MEAP) I say it’s like practicing for the Super Bowl,” Adams told the kids. “We’re competing against all the other schools in the state.

“We don’t want the neighboring schools to beat us.”Adams said. “It’s getting them to buy in to team spirit.”

8th Grade Math Champions

The winners for 8th Grade Math are:

Mona Shores, Division 1

Niles, Division 2

Forest Hills, Division 3

Edwardsburg, Division 4

Michigan Center, Division 5

Houghton-Portage, Division 6

Ashley, Division 7

Walkerville, Division 8

Facts matter. Trust matters. Journalism matters.

If you learned something from the story you're reading please consider supporting our work. Your donation allows us to keep our Michigan-focused reporting and analysis free and accessible to all. All donations are voluntary, but for as little as $1 you can become a member of Bridge Club and support freedom of the press in Michigan during a crucial election year.

Pay with VISA Pay with MasterCard Pay with American Express Donate now

Comment Form

Add new comment

Dear Reader: We value your thoughts and criticism on the articles, but insist on civility. Criticizing comments or ideas is welcome, but Bridge won’t tolerate comments that are false or defamatory or that demean, personally attack, spread hate or harmful stereotypes. Violating these standards could result in a ban.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.


Leslie Tonnesen
Wed, 11/16/2011 - 5:10pm
This is truly wonderful, to know they are at such a disadvantage and made the best of it. Congratulations to the young people and the teachers who teach them. Go walkerville! Just goes to show, poor children don't have to stay poor in learning! And may they all have a bright future ahead!
Wed, 11/16/2016 - 1:55pm
My girls attend Walkerville and the small school has heart. Of course you have the normal issues but the teams have soul they are more then just class mates. I can say that they pull together to help one another. I choose to send them there. It is school of choice for us. I truly believe they learn so much more then just studies......
Thu, 11/17/2016 - 7:40am
Good job staff and students. I'm Walkerville alumni and in reality that school has an advantage that others don't. It is small and makes for a family atmosphere. Proud of our little town. It really does have a wonderful staff!
Fred walker
Thu, 11/17/2016 - 1:55pm
I'm am so proud of the students and staff of Wallerville Public Schools For many years now you have struggled with funding cuts and dropping enrollment but you continue to persevere! This is something the students, staff and community can all be proud of. Keep up the great work. I am looking forward to seeing more of these achievements in the future