MARQUETTE - Although Macy Niemisto lives in Negaunee Township, she doesn't go to school in Negaunee.
Niemisto, 16, is a sophomore at Marquette Senior High School. She made the decision to attend Marquette Area Public Schools prior to her freshman year of high school.
The state's schools of choice program allows students to enroll in schools outside of the districts where they live. Public school districts' participation in the program is voluntary.
Sisters Macy Niemisto, 16, left, and Lindsay Niemisto, 18, go over homework at their home in Negaunee Township. Macy attends Marquette Senior High School although she lives in Negaunee Township thanks to school of choice. Lindsay attended the Marquette Alternative School and has since graduated and moved on to Northern Michigan University. (Journal photo by Danielle Pemble)
"One of the reasons I chose to be a school of choice student at MSHS is I like the bigger school environment," she said.
Niemisto takes dance classes in Marquette and said one of her friends from the class helped her get acquainted with her new school and classmates.
"I have met so many different and great friends since first attending Marquette Senior High, thanks to one of my best friends whom I have known and been good friends with since fifth grade. We have been dancing together for years now and once she found out I would be going to Marquette schools freshman year, she stepped in and introduced me to all her friends, invited me to parties and sleepovers so I could meet some of my future classmates the summer before I started," she said.
She also made friends on her own while attending the school and kept contact with her old friends from Negaunee.
"It was sad leaving my friends at my old school but the good thing about school of choice is you don't really move so you still keep and see your old friends while attending classes with and meeting new friends every day," she said.
Macy's mother, Lisa, said Macy had a Halloween party where she introduced her Marquette friends to her Negaunee friends.
"It went pretty well; of course they did have sidewalk chalk wars out on the driveway about which school was better," she said.
Macy started cheering for Marquette football in the fall of 2010 and joined the Redettes gymnastics team in the winter.
"Being included in the school spirit around students made me feel even more part of the school," she said.
She also took part in the freshmen class science fair and won first prize. She's received outstanding grades - last year her grade-point average was 4.0.
Her freshman year she car pooled with her sister, Lindsay, who attended Marquette Alternative High School at Graveraet, but now Macy can drive herself. The commute from Negaunee Township to Marquette is familiar to most of the Niemisto family, according to Lisa.
She said both her and her husband work in Marquette and their family spends a lot of time in the city. She said they spend a lot on gas money but it's worth it.
"(Macy) had an excellent math teacher (last year) ... she said 'Mom, I finally understand this algebra.' And she got all As, whereas she struggled the year before that. She said the way he taught really clicked with her way of learning," she said.
Lisa said all she had to do when enrolling Macy at MAPS was to fill out some forms, and then the school took care of getting her school records. She said MAPS officials were welcoming and helpful.
"I had all kinds of questions, and they were really patient with me. They always returned phone calls even though they were super busy. I thought 'If they can put up with me and all these questions then this is a good fit,'" Lisa said.
Macy said she is very satisfied with her choice to change schools.
"I feel part of the MSHS class of 2014 100 percent now. I feel I have balanced all the changes in my life well in the past year," she said.
Christopher Diem can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242.