A senior moment: ‘Just what do older adults want?’

By Danna Downing

We hear the question all the time. It’s a good one to be asking on a regular basis. What makes it challenging is the fact that what seniors want depends on so many variables. The only truly universal answer would be: “It depends!”

For example, a researcher may want to know answers to a set of questions but measure any changes between pre-COVID, during-COVID or post-COVID experiences, especially considering the huge impact the pandemic had on all segments of the population. Age, health, geographic location and income also have a bearing on answers. It is complicated and can be confusing, to say the least. That’s why Michigan is lucky to have the National Poll on Healthy Aging (NPHA). The poll began in 2017 with no one thinking it would become a household name so quickly.

Its success is largely due to a partnership between the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) and the University of Michigan Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation (IHPI), where the poll is housed. Normally, results from polls would be released to the public slowly, beginning with academic journals that go to a limited population. In contrast, AARP has thirty-eight million members (largest circulation in the United States) for whom the partnership provides a direct conduit to a large sample of older adults from across the country. AARP works with medical experts to hone and amplify critical health messages that are accurate and readable.

What do older adults want most? Affordability and access to insurance and healthcare is the most pervasive issue for them, and the National Poll on Healthy Aging research helps influence policy-making that supports high-quality health care for the senior population. For example, in 2020, Congress passed legislation limiting surprise medical bills from out-of-network providers based on NPHA findings. NPHA data released in March of 2021 show 93% of older adults are in favor of adding a dental benefit to Medicare. It is critical to be doing high-quality research on an ongoing basis so that decision-makers have the information in hand and can use it to take advantage of opportunities to make changes in service delivery.

Accurate data can help individuals, healthcare providers and communities make better programming decisions also. For example, the growing evidence of loneliness experienced by older adults can stimulate a senior service provider or church group to seriously consider adding a program where college student volunteers engage with local older adults to visit, do grocery shopping or some other enjoyable activity on a regular basis. Similar existing programs have already demonstrated how this type of program is good for young and older. So often, the experience of one can become the positive experience of many. A recent NPHA showed that 88% of older adults report that their pets help them enjoy their lives. What could South County residents do with that information to help our older adults?


Think about what you really want to age well and then do something to make it happen.

Don’t forget Insurance Open Enrollment ends December 7!

Crock pot adobo chicken

Contributed by Elvie Marfil, Portage Lions Club District 11-B2

2 lbs chicken thighs and/or breasts
1/3 cup soy sauce
3 pcs bay leaves
1/3 white vinegar
1 head garlic cloves
1/3 cup water
½ tsp black pepper
1 lemon
1 small onion
potatoes (optional)

First, mix up the adobo marinade – 1/3 cup of white vinegar, 1/3 cup of soy sauce and 1/3 cup of water.

Put the chicken in the crock pot, pour the adobo marinade, sprinkle with pepper, garlic, bay leaves, onion and lemon juice.

Cook on low for 5-6 hours or until chicken is tender.

Serve with white rice. Note: Put the thighs at bottom of the crock pot, then the breasts.

The rink

By Marilyn Jones, Schoolcraft’s Poet Laureate

We once had an ice skating rink
In the middle of our backyard,
A November birthday gift for Steve
He learned of the present from his card.

The kids were all expectant
It would be so much fun,
First, Dad had to purchase big boards
(They weighed about a ton.)

The frame began to take shape
A huge tarp was spread out and nailed down
Soon all it needed was some water
The next H20 bill would make us frown.

In three days it was frozen solid
Excited children laced their skates up,
With a few stumbles, falls and laughter
And barking from Smoky, our black Lab pup.

Laurie invited her Brownie troupe
To a skating party after school,
That day it snowed four inches
This Mom shoveled like a fool.

So ten little girls could have a good time
Cookies and hot chocolate ended their play,
The boys helped, but I shoveled every day
“Please, no more snow this year,” I’d pray.

Eventually, we had a spring thaw
Our skating rink was a puddle of mud,
Dad disassembled it and packed it away
As the crocuses and violets began to bud.

As for skating rinks in our town
Ours was the one and only,
I said, “If we do it again next year
By gosh, we’re getting a Zamboni!”

Schoolcraft schools survey community on COVID

By Travis Smola

The Schoolcraft School District community is divided on issues related to COVID-19, with more than half of parents responding to a survey saying they should decide if their children should wear masks while attending school.

Superintendent Rick Frens described results of the survey to the Board of Education.

The district received 720 responses. Frens included a long list of the written responses to each board member and encouraged all of them to read in their spare time.

“Read the comments. They are all over,” Frens said. “There’s just a lot of good feedback in there.”

Among parents, more than half the respondents felt parents should be the ones to decide if their children should be masked at school or not. The rest were split almost evenly between supporting the current mask mandate for students and staff in young-five through sixth grade and those who think it should go through 12th grade.

While not all parents are in favor of masks, 60.5 percent of respondents supported the increased use of rapid testing in the district to reduce the number of school days missed. The district also asked parents how safe they felt their child was at school on a scale from 1-10. Only 14 parents responded with a one on the scale. Most parents, 278 responses making up 38.7 percent of the total, gave the district a 10. A majority also said they would feel safe sending their child back to school if a mandate was lifted.

Among staff, the 78 responses varied a bit from the parents. The responses showed 44.7 percent of staff agreed parents should be able to choose whether to mask their children. Only 23.7 percent were in favor of a Pre-K through 12 mandate on masking.

Twenty staff members gave the district a 10 on how safe they felt at school; 11 respondents gave a five, and 17 gave an eight. Only one respondent gave a one.

The survey also asked staff their thoughts on possible vaccine mandates or weekly rapid testing. Approximately 85 percent of responders said they would continue working for the district if either was put into place. Frens said two respondents indicated they would not continue to work for the district if there was an order mandating vaccination. Another two staff members said they were not sure.

For now, Frens said the district is not doing anything until administrators see what happens with an order mandating the vaccine. He believes it is an issue that may get caught up in the courts for a while, so they are staying the course.

In other news, the board approved a request for proposals to update the district’s logos and signage and standardize the appearance. The district is putting the request out to local companies.

The board also approved a larger request for four schools to join the SAC Conference. Athletic Director Jeff Clark said the move is widely supported for Allegan, South Haven, Bridgeman and Black River to join the SAC by districts and coaches. The move could save the district a little on travel since they will be able to find more games closer to home in their league.

Vicksburg Middle School jazz band to continue

By Jef Rietsma

Vicksburg Middle School’s music program once again will feature an eighth-grade jazz band.

The district’s board of education at an Oct. 11 meeting granted a request from department chair Ben Rosier seeking funding to buy needed materials for the class.

Rosier said the curriculum proposal is unique; the district has had an eighth-grade jazz band in each of the 15 years he has been with the district. The band feeds into two high school jazz bands.

Jay Bennett has replaced a band teacher who retired in the past year. That led to schedule changes. “We changed the schedule around, so there’s not a band director in the middle school in the afternoon. The eighth-grade jazz band that usually met at the end of the day is no longer because we are now team-teaching marching band,” Rosier said. “We want to add that eighth-grade jazz band offering back into our curriculum, which means we need to include it into our eighth-grade band, normal, everyday class.”

That required a new textbook.The proposal includes the purchase of new workbooks at a total cost of just under $800, Rosier said.

“Each student in eighth-grade band would have a book to work out of, learning improvisatory ideas through music that they already know, but also adding to that in the jazz band world,” Rosier said. “Jazz is kind of like a whole new language in and of itself.”

Rosier said every eighth-grade band member will have to take jazz band, which was previously an elective.

Members of the eighth-grade jazz band program will assemble in March to prepare two pieces for a spring concert as well as marching in the Memorial Day parade.

Rosier said the high school’s top jazz group has established a solid reputation, as it has had an all-state player each of the past 10 years.

Board president Skip Knowles said the cost is a small price to pay for helping kids develop and thrive in a critical area of the fine arts.

“I just can’t say enough about our band program, and the things Ben and the staff have done,” he said. “Anything we can do with the younger kids to promote a love and an interest in jazz coming into the high school is a wonderful thing.”

Eagles volleyball team soars above Parchment

By Jordon Buell

The Schoolcraft Varsity volleyball team continued its display of dominance this season in a 3-0 win at home against Parchment on October 12th.

Led by Coach Christina Duchene, the Eagles have been off to a hot start this year with a conference record of 7-1. The Eagles have a roster filled with juniors and seniors. They’re experienced and handle pressure well.

Senior Sophia Ridge, who is the team’s libero and captain, showed leadership and determination with her team-high 13 digs. Ridge is known to be a hard worker and great passer to her teammates as well. Junior Abbi Curtis and senior Allie Walther, who are outside hitters, shared seven kills apiece on the night. Curtis, a defensive specialist, also added four aces to the stat sheet.

Juniors Heidi Sheen and Camden Brunner showed defensive skills with two blocks a piece. Sheen had nine kills, three aces with Brunner adding five kills also. Sheen is a very impressive middle blocker, Duchene said. Setter Paige Outman, a junior, had an impressive 27 assists on the night.

The Eagles also celebrated Senior Night at home October 21 against Constantine, winning 3 sets to 0. Seniors Allie Walther and Sophia Ridge had a night to remember, with Walther having an impressive 10 kills, two blocks and Ridge collecting 17 digs for the night.

The juniors put together a great performance alongside their fellow seniors as well, with setter Paige Outman’s 29 assists, Heidi Sheen adding 14 kills, four aces, three blocks to the stat sheet, and Abbi Curtis also adding 11 kills with five aces.

Schoolcraft sends first lady golfer to championships

By Mark Blentlinger

Haley Earles.

The Schoolcraft girls’ golf team sent its first-ever player on to the Division 4 state championship at Michigan State University in mid-October. Junior Haley Earles finished with a tie for 18th place out of 120 Division 4 golfers, shooting her best scores of the season, an 88 and 86.

She earned her way forward in early-October regionals, hosted by Hackett Catholic at Milham Park Golf Course, finishing third with a 93. In all, 14 schools competed as teams and as individuals. Along with Earles, Kayla Collins of NorthPointe Christian and Sydney Barnes of South Haven went on to play at the state level. Barnes finished the highest of the three, tying for fourth. Kayla Collins placed 21st.

Haley finished her regular season with the fourth best average in the KVA among a total of 35 golfers. Coach Jason Evans said that he loves Haley’s positive attitude and her tremendous family support. Evans also said it was great to see how she responded to the pressure of regionals and state where she shot her best rounds of the season.

Haley is also on the Schoolcraft bowling team. Her father, Chad Earles, coaches the boys soccer team that won its first district championship. Her brother, Nate, is on that team.

Eagle boys varsity soccer wins district championship

By Jordon Buell

You get what you work for, not what you wish for. For the Schoolcraft varsity soccer team, that hard work placed the team winning its first ever district championship October 23, at Lawton High School.

The team put on a dominant performance against Cassopolis, with a final score of 7-2. To be in its first District Finals and perform at such a high level shows how well put together and hard working the Eagles team is.

Standout performances from the night included Nathan Riddle with two goals, Eder Prado with three, Ronan Thompson and Nate Earles each with one.

The Eagles finished the regular season with a record of nine wins, nine losses, putting them at fifth place in the league. However, even with a district championship and a finished season, there is still work to do.

Rare down season for Eagles football

#4 Ryan Ling carries the ball. Photo by Stephanie Blentlinger, Lingering Memories Photography.

By Mark Blentlinger

Schoolcraft’s 2021 football season came to an end Oct. 22 with a win against the Delton Panthers.

The Eagles will end up missing the playoffs for the first time since 2008, finishing with a 3-5 record. The Eagles’ three wins came against Galesburg-Augusta, 37-28, Leslie, 31-24, and Delton, 31-6. At the last game, Coach Nathan Ferency saw some sparks from his young team. With the Panthers at 5-3, the win gives them the coveted six wins that would send them directly into the post season. Delton finished the night with 218 total yards of offense while the Eagles had 243.

The Eagles won the air attack passing for 85 yards to the Panthers’e 29. Sophomore Eagle Quarterback Ryan Ling went 5/8 passing for 67 yards and one TD While Nolan Strake had one pass for 24 yards and a TD to Trey Schneider. Nolan Strake led the Eagle offense from the ground, having 24 carries for 103 yards and two touchdowns. On the defensive side of the ball, the Eagles stepped up with lots of big plays to stop the Panthers’ momentum. John Zinsmaster led the team with five solo tackles and five assists followed by Nolan Strake with four solo and nine assists.

The Eagles will graduate nine players this year including Hannah Thompson, the first ever female Eagle football player to score a point. Thompson, known for her domination on the soccer field, joined the Eagles football team to be the extra point/field goal kicker.