By Sue Moore
Clearing scrub trees for a pond on the family property is just one of the quarantine projects Vicksburg High School senior Jacob Baird has been working on in his spare time. In the fall, he’ll leave home to attend Texas Christian University (TCU) in Fort Worth, on a scholarship.
Jacob and his dad, Josh, are clearing land that they had long ago set aside for some sort of waterway on their property. They were also raising pine trees on the family’s rural Vicksburg property with Jacob’s grandfather’s help. In the meantime, Jacob is trying to study a few hours a day. The motivation is hard to come by, he admits.
He sported a 3.97 grade-point average going into the coronavirus shutdown. Now it appears the grades will either be pass/fail, taking some of the urgency off all the seniors’ study habits. Baird has attended classes at the Kalamazoo Area Math and Science Center for almost four years and has Zoom lessons to work on twice a week from the teachers at KAMSC. It’s definitely an adjustment with Vicksburg teachers sending assignments through Google Classroom, he said.
At TCU he plans to major in biology as part of the broad pre-health scientist/medicine track the school offers, along with business management as a minor. That figures – the family owns the Dome in Schoolcraft. It has an outdoor golf range that is open to those who want to practice their golf strokes while social distancing by staying six feet apart, he said.
The management of the Dome has donated land next to it for construction of the Miracle Field to host baseball games for children with disabilities. “It is still on track with hopes to have a ground-breaking ceremony in May.” Baird said.
Organizers are still out raising funds. Baird and his high school friends from Portage Central, Schoolcraft High and Hackett Catholic Prep formed the Southwest Michigan Miracle Field Youth Board. They helped by raising $7,500 in donations. “I think the cool part about this Youth Board is that it brought a lot of people together from different schools, as well as athletes of all abilities who didn’t know each other before, to work towards a common goal,” Baird said.
The project is estimated to cost over $1,000,000 and is chaired by Jud Hoff. He is being assisted by a board of directors with the original idea coming from David Olson in Vicksburg.
There will be a graduation ceremony, Baird has been assured by Superintendent Keevin O’Neill. “We just don’t know what it is going to look like, given that everything has been shut down for so long now,” Baird said. “Despite everything changing, I am grateful that we will still have a graduation ceremony and I am very excited about that. I’m doing my best to stay on top of it all while staying close to home.”