Mercy High continues to innovate, celebrates 70 years

Thomas Franz

FARMINGTON HILLS — As a student, Cheryl Kreger was part of one of the most important moments in Mercy High’s history.

Kreger was a junior at Mercy when it moved from its Detroit location to Farmington Hills in 1965, and she became part of the school’s first graduating class at the new campus.

Fast-forward to the present day, and Kreger, now in her sixth year as president of Mercy, has helped oversee the all-girls school’s 70th anniversary celebrations during the Sept. 25 weekend.

To describe what has made Mercy special to her and other students, Kreger echoed the words of a recent student council class president.

“There’s just a feeling of being at home. Our student council president last year said that when she leaves to go to Mercy,  she leaves home to go home, and that kind of says it all,” Kreger said.

Approximately 500 people registered to attend a celebratory luncheon at the school Sept. 26, a turnout much higher than what Kreger had expected. Another 100 were scheduled to attend an invitation-only president’s dinner that weekend, which also included a bonfire event, Mass and a golf outing.

Visitors to the school were able to see the finished work of a three-year project to create a history display of the school’s 70 years.

“It welcomes you into the school and gives people a flavor of everything that’s gone on for the last 70 years,” Kreger said.

Mercy’s current enrollment is roughly 800 students, which draws from 70 communities across metro Detroit. About 80 percent of the student population is Catholic.

Mercy was founded in 1945 by the Sisters of Mercy, an order founded by Catherine McAuley in 1831 in Ireland. McAuley, who is in the process of being declared a saint, created an educational model that Kreger said Mercy emulates presently.

“Her focus was educating young women and using the best cutting-edge practices, and we continue that today,” Kreger said.

To accomplish that goal, Mercy has undergone several transformations over the years to enhance technology and environmental initiatives.

Mercy earned an “Emerald School” distinction from the state for its conservation efforts, which includes having the largest solar panel array of any school in Michigan on its roof.

For 10 years, Mercy has been a one-to-one school where each student has a technological device for school work. Kreger said the devices have been integrated in every subject, and that helped Mercy become an “Apple Distinguished School.” Mercy has also hosted technology workshops for other local schools each of the past two years.

In addition to integrating technology with learning, Mercy students experience a modular schedule where no consecutive days are the same, which Kreger said imitates a college schedule.

That work to enhance the classroom experience has been paying off, as Mercy graduates last year combined to receive $20 million in scholarships.

On the sports field, the Marlins are perennial contenders for state titles in several sports, and they sent 19 student-athletes on to play college sports last year.

“We’re thriving because of our spirit and our ability to educate young women to become leaders,” Kreger said.

To continue to innovate in education and evolve Mercy’s campus, Kreger said that a campaign to update the school’s courtyards, lobby and media center was just completed. A project to design and create a commons area in the school is next on the horizon.

“It would really transform the school, and that’s what we think we really need to compete with some other excellent schools in the area,” Kreger said. “The commons area would really bring us into the 21st century.”