Category Archives: Schoolcraft

Traditional Cream Tea at Schoolcraft Ladies Library

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A Cream Tea table setting from past years at the Schoolcraft Ladies Library.

By Deb Christiansen

Once a year in September, the Schoolcraft Ladies Library building becomes The Red Brick Tea Room when members host a traditional Cream Tea. This year’s theme is the Ladies’ Library Association’s 140-year anniversary entitled, “Have a cup of tea and think of thee.” It will be celebrating members past and present from Ada Brown, L.L.A.’s first president, to current president Jackie Skinner, and Jozie Rafferty, who will follow Skinner.

The tea will take place on Saturday, September 21 at The Red Brick Tea Room, 163 Hayward Street, located next to the Schoolcraft post office. A three-course menu consisting of breads, savories and sweets (and cream, of course!) will be served with two seatings at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

A cream tea, which is also known as a Devon cream tea, Devonshire tea, or Cornish cream tea is a form of a light meal, consisting of tea served with a combination of scones, clotted cream, and jam. Traditionally, this is a specialty of Devon and Cornwall and is offered for sale in tea rooms in those two counties, as well as in other parts of England, elsewhere in the Commonwealth – and in Schoolcraft.

The cost is $15 per person with seating at tables of four. Attendees will receive their seating assignment at the door. Members of the Library invite people to bring their friends and family for a step back in time at The Red Brick Tea Room. It is worlds away, but right next door. Seating is limited, so reserve seats soon. Tickets are available at or on the Facebook page or contact Jackie Skinner at 269-679-5764.

It was 140 years ago on July 8 when 18 Schoolcraft women gathered at the Red River Hall to form a Ladies’ Library Association. Born out of a love of reading and enlightenment, the L.L.A. has been in continuous existence in Schoolcraft since 1879. The red brick building housing the L.L.A. was dedicated in 1896 and was Schoolcraft’s lending library until 1988, when once again the citizens of Schoolcraft with a love of reading and enlightenment built the modern community library on Centre Street. The L.L.A. building was placed on the Michigan State Historic Site listing in 1996. The Association itself is a thriving organization that meets throughout the year with enriching programs presented on the first and third Tuesday of the month between October and May. There is no programming in January. All programs are open to the public without charge. Citizenship in Schoolcraft is not a requirement to be a member of the L.L.A. and dues are only $10 per year. See the website for more information.


Janice “Jan” Applebey, Vicksburg, passed away peacefully August 10. She was known as “Mom”, “Sis”, “Jan”, “Auntie Jan”, “Granny” and “Apple” to all who loved her. Jan was born January 18, 1940 to Stanley Hattis and Helena Shlagor in Kalamazoo. Jan is the proud mother of two children, Kerenda Applebey and Ron (Kim) Applebey; grandmother to Jynell (Clint) Tackett, Nick (Ashley) Ruggles and Martez (Jessica) White; and great grandmother to Melody Tackett, Brooklyn Tackett and Rylee Ballard. Jan is also sister to Althea Smith of Florida, Yona Reed of Florida, Stanley (Wanda) Hattis Jr. of Minnesota, Ronald Hattis of Michigan, and Larry (Ruth) Hattis of Alabama. She also leaves behind many nieces and nephews. Jan was preceded in death by her parents and her husband, Meredith “Jay” Applebey. Jan worked as a packer at Stewart-Sutherland Bag Company for 20-plus years. She enjoyed gardening, and driving around with her best friend looking for wildlife. She enjoyed sewing, painting, and knitting and crocheting. She played cards or dice almost every day. Visit her page at Donations may go to Rose Arbor Hospice.

William “Bill” Berner, Vicksburg, 77, passed away at Bronson Hospital in Kalamazoo. Bill was born April 8th, 1942 the son of William and Donna (Stratton) Berner. He was a Vicksburg resident for over 40 years. Bill is survived by his wife of 37 years, Vicki (Babbitt), his son Jeffrey Berner, his daughter Jodi (Briant) Daniel, grandchildren Benjamin (Alyssa) Berner, Jason (Emily) Wyman, and Nichole (Brian) Vane, as well as seven great-grandchildren. Bill’s life was dedicated to his wife and family. He was loving, funny, intelligent, generous, kind, accepting, and often a bit mischievous. His family was his pride and joy. In accordance with Bill’s wishes, cremation has taken place. Donations may go to the West Michigan Cancer Center. Visit his page at

June Bobish, 103, Schoolcraft, passed away June 19. June was one of four children, including her sister Margaret and brothers Forrest and John. Until June’s passing, she was the oldest living graduate of Vicksburg High School. After graduation, June went to cosmetology school in Grand Rapids. Upon graduation, she returned to Vicksburg to open her own beauty shop on Main Street. The Beauty Shop was open for 58 years. June married Tony Bobish at the age of 39. They were married 60 years before Tony passed away at the age of 106 years old in 2015. They lived together in the home Tony built until relocating to Gaylord. June turned 103 on June 18 of this year. She is survived by many nieces and nephews who loved her dearly. Visit her page at Donations may go to Hospice of Michigan. The family is being assisted by the McCowen & Secord Funeral Home, Rupert-Durham Chapel, Vicksburg.

Dennis (“Louie”) Layne Eberstein, 62, Schoolcraft, passed away July 30. He was born July 17, 1957 in Vicksburg to the late Robert and Barbara (Kline) Eberstein. Louie graduated from Schoolcraft High School, and after a year in California, returned home to Schoolcraft. Louie spent his time building a dedicated circle of friends and helping out those close to him. He also enjoyed riding his motorcycle, especially in the mountains of West Virginia. Marrying late in life, Louie adored and was dedicated and committed to his wife of 6 ½ years, Laura. Louie is survived by his wife, Laura Eberstein; and brother Mike (Jeanne) Eberstein. Following Louie’s wishes, he will be cremated and a celebration of life will be held at a later date. Donations may go to St. Jude Hospital for support of families and research; West Michigan cancer center to support research, or Schoolcraft’s Historical Society for operation and maintenance of the Underground Railroad House.

Bonnie Sue Gose, 83, East Leroy, passed away August 19. She was born on January 13, 1936 to Leonard and Grace (Williams) Davis. Cooking was a big part of Bonnie’s life; she was a wonderful cook. Nurturing was in Bonnie’s nature through her unconditional love. Bonnie is survived by her children, Rick (Vonda) Gose of Luther, Sandy (Ray) Smith of East Leroy, and Bob (Carol) Gose of Vicksburg; 13 grandchildren and numerous great-grandchildren. She is also survived by her siblings, Peggy (Charles) Sams of Marcellus and Mike (Linda) Davis of Indiana. Bonnie was preceded in death by her husband, Dale; daughter, Sarah Blankenship; siblings Bill Davis, Tom Davis, Noami McGill and twin siblings that passed at birth. Visit her page at Donations may go to Alzheimer’s Research.

Irene Green, 92, Vicksburg, passed away August 19. Irene was born on October 4, 1926 to Delbert and Mary (Bush) Burr. Irene’s family includes her daughter, Janet Green (Robert Poats); her sister-in-law, Doris Burr, as well as several nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her husband of 53 years, Merle, her son, Owen Green, siblings David, Pauline Miller, Merle and Stanley Burr. She was also preceded by a special companion of eight years, Ralph Ramlow. Irene started her working career as a truck driver for D&E Weiandt in 1958, becoming the first woman to join Teamsters Local No. 7. She retired in 1983 to travel in her Ford Model T’s. Those travels took her in 1984 from New York to Seattle on the 75th Anniversary Ford Rerun Tour and in 1987 from Texas to Alaska, a Model T adventure covering 10,500 miles. She was a member of the Model T Ford Club International, local chapter Tin Lizzie Travelers, Model T Ford Club of America and a member of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Three Rivers. Visit her page at Donations may go to Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan or St. Peter’s Lutheran Church.

Joyce D. Green, 86, Vicksburg, went to be with her Lord August 13 at Park Village Pines, Kalamazoo. She was born May 27, 1933 to the late James Roelofs and Dena Holthouse. Joyce married Robert Green on June 16, 1951. Settling in Vicksburg, they were together for 65 years. Joyce was a librarian at the Vicksburg District Library, retiring in 1991 and a member of the Victorian Garden Club. She was preceded in death by her parents; her husband, Robert; and her son, Michael James. Joyce is survived by her daughter, Cindy Hammond and her husband, Scott; son David Green and his wife, Amy; grandsons Jacob, Benjamin, and Noah; and numerous nieces, nephews, and friends. Donations may go to Generous Hands, Inc. or Lakeland Reformed Church.

Stuart Todd Hayner, passed from this earth July 2, embraced by family. Todd, born June 9, 1967 was curious over his entire life about the universe and metaphysics, keeping his parents, Clarence Hadley II and Rosemary Hadley, bewildered. Todd worked at Stewart Sutherland for years. It was during this time that he used his name, Stuart. Stuart owned and operated Selective Tree Service. He is survived by Judy Lee Hayner; his mother, Rosemary Hadley; his beautiful daughters, Brittany (Ryan) Bleeker and Emily Hayner; siblings Jason Hadley, Larry Davis, Leslie Gunderson, Kyle and James Hayner and Jennifer Bradley; stepchildren Jerry and Erica Root; grandsons Ryan and Eli Bleeker and JP Root; nieces and nephews, Alexis and Jaden Gunderson, Paige, Kyle, Lacey and Ella Hadley and Jake Davis. A potluck to celebrate his life and share memories will take place on Saturday September 21st at 3:00 PM at  906 Vicker Street, Vicksburg.

Robert “Bob” Hildebrand, 80, Vicksburg, passed away July 31. He was born to Rollin and Bessie Hildebrand on October 30, 1938. Bob attended Vicksburg schools and became a professional mason. He always had an impeccable yard that was the envy of the neighborhood. He built a pond in his backyard and spent a significant amount of time tending to his meticulous flowerbeds as well as cleaning the pond. Outside of his work, he was a professional fisherman, winning many tournaments over the past several years. Popular among the competitive fishing industry, he traveled the country to fish. Bob is survived by his wife of 61 years, Joyce; their son, Rick Hildebrand of Vicksburg; granddaughters Jodie (Chad) Ostertag of Portage and Jessica (Jim) Cutshaw of Vicksburg; great-grandchildren Kyllie Zeller, Jim Cutshaw, and Aaden Ostertag. He is also survived by siblings Ron (Marylou) Hildebrand of Vicksburg; Virginia Bogema of Schoolcraft; Ruth Fritz of Pennsylvania; and Margaret (Dick) Fifer of Scotts. He was preceded in death by his brother, Howard Hildebrand. Visit his page at Donations may go to Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan.

Bruce P. Loker, 89, Vicksburg, died Aug. 21, following a long illness. He was born in Fulton on March 21, 1930, the son of Perry C. and Marian (Vance) Loker. He graduated from Athens High School and served in the U.S. Army for two years as a military policeman. Bruce was married to Dolores Denny on Feb. 25, 1955. Together they raised their children and operated a dairy farm near Fulton. Bruce was a pilot and enjoyed flying his Cessna. He attended the Factoryville Bible Church. Bruce is survived by his wife, Dolores Loker; children Rodney (Roseann) Loker of Vicksburg, Raymond (Tracie) Loker of Fulton, Perry (Cheryl) Loker of Vicksburg, Penny (Matthew) Mills of Belton, Mo., and Dawn (Randy) Adams of Raymore, Mo.; 23 grandchildren; 41 great-grandchildren; a brother, Max (Elaine) Loker; sisters Margaret (Francis) West and Vera Boyer; a sister in law, Beatrice Loker; and several nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents; a son, Royce; granddaughter, Jenny; and brother, Dale. Donations may go to Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan. Visit his page at

Corey A. Theobald, 33, Schoolcraft, passed away July 30. Corey was born January 12, 1986 in Kalamazoo, a son of Peter and Judith (Oswalt) Theobald. He was a lifelong Kalamazoo area resident and was employed with Harding’s several years ago. Corey is survived by his parents; a brother, Kyle Theobald; and several grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Donations may go to Twelve Baskets Food Pantry. Visit his page at

Vivian Elizabeth Blevins Watz, 95, died peacefully July 29 at the Heritage Community Nursing Home in Kalamazoo. Vivian was born on July 19, 1924, in Detroit, the daughter of William and Vivian Duke. World War II took her husband Marty Watz overseas for three years and while he was gone, Vivian wrote faithfully to her husband every day. During the war, she worked third shift at a factory inspecting shells for the war effort. When Marty came home, they bought a home in Harper Woods, where they lived for the next 45 years, raising four children. Vivian worked as a telephone operator for many years. After Marty died in 2010, Vivian moved to Spring Manor Apartments in Portage. Vivian is survived by her children, Diane Watz-Frisinger, Martin, Jr. (Sandra), Janet Glaes (Charles) and Steven (RoseAnn); grandchildren, Joshua Frisinger, Melissa Heimbough (Hayes), Jonathan Glaes (Jessica), Tyler Glaes, Natalie Glaes, Steven Watz, and Alexandra Watz; and great-grandchildren Sophia Frisinger, Hunter Glaes, Mason Glaes, and Gabriella Glaes. Visit her page at Donations may go to Generous Hands, Alzheimer’s Association or the Vicksburg Community Schools Foundation.

Longtime Fourth of July Parade Chair Resigns

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Deb Reynolds, long-time parade chair; Virginia Mongreig, committee chair for the July 4 event; Jon Krum, fireworks money solicitor asked the Schoolcraft Village Council to come up with their replacements.

By Sue Moore

Deb Reynolds won’t organize another 4th of July parade, she told the Schoolcraft Village Council at its August meeting. “I’m tired, it’s not fun anymore, it’s a headache and I’m backing down.”

“If nobody comes forward [to volunteer] there won’t be a parade next year,” Reynolds said. “This is really hard and it’s emotional for me. I don’t just need help with the parade, I want to have someone who will take it over,” as she waved the long list of duties and contacts that she keeps each year in front of the council members.

When Reynolds started chairing the parade in 1981, there were 11 members on the committee, she said. Now there are three: Reynolds, Virginia Mongreig and Jon Krum, who said he would stay on one more year to collect money for the fireworks display. Mongreig has also officially resigned from the organizing committee.

“You can’t feel guilty,” council President Keith Gunnett told Reynolds. “You are due a big thank you. We will try to publicize the need and hope someone will step up.” Trustee John Stodola said it is time for the next generation to step up in Schoolcraft.

“It’s what you do because you live in Schoolcraft,” Mongreig said. “We’ve all grown up here but we are tired [after working on the 4th of July event] for so many years.”

Spring Clean-up to See Big Change

To save money, the Council voted to use a central drop-off place instead of the curbside clean up that cost $7,577 for the village in 2019. The drop-off is estimated to cost $1,830. It will be held on June 6 in 2020 from 9 a.m.-noon. The location is still to be determined.

The Sidewalk/Right of Way Committee Recommendations Tabled

Sidewalks have been a priority for a long time for former village council trustees. The most recent committee appointed to look at the issue turned into a combination sidewalk and right of way committee, according to Village Manager Cheri Lutz. “I saw sidewalk concerns morphing into right of way issues so renamed the committee to address it as a whole,” Lutz said in response to Trustee Mike Rochholz’s concerns. “It’s the procedural part of this recommendation that I object to,” he said.

The recommendations were to divide the village into four quadrants and have them inspected for violations of the ordinances that govern right of way from street pavement to sidewalk. Safety issues in the right of way, the report said, involve driveway approaches, mail box placement, signs, parked cars and piles of gravel.

All of these matters lead to damage to the edge of the road, DPW’s ability to access the right of way for emergency issues, snowplowing and general detraction of appearance to the community. The inspections would be carried out by Gunnett, Stodola, Russell Barnes, Todd Carlin, Rob Coffman and Cheri Lutz, according to the memo.

Rochholz felt the village council committee members are not qualified to make these decisions but are on the council to set policy and ask the administration to carry it out. “We want to be a great functioning village council.” The recommendations were tabled with the understanding that the whole Council would be involved in discussion and setting of a policy at the next board meeting.

The Council also approved two requests for street closures for block parties, one on West Street and the other on Tulip, with some restrictions.

Schoolcraft’s Facilities $39.9 Million Bond Proposal

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Jennifer Gottschalk, Schoolcraft school board president, holds up a campaign sign for the November bond proposal.

By Linda Lane

Schoolcraft school district voters on a Nov. 5 ballot will determine the fate of a $39.9 million bond proposal that includes a three-mill hike in homeowners’ current tax rates.

Included in the $39.9 million price tag are: a new pre-kindergarten-6th grade elementary school at a cost of $28.3 million; a new wing for grades 7 and 8 added to the High School, sharing common areas such as the library and cafeteria, for $8 million; improved security, additional accessibility for disabled students, more energy-efficient facilities and modernized learning spaces; and a renovation of athletic facilities, including a 6-lane running track at the Roy Davis Stadium, eight new tennis courts and other athletic improvements totaling $3.6 million.

For a homeowner with a $100,000 home in the district, the increase in property taxes of $3 per $1,000 taxable valuation will amount to approximately $150 per year.

Schoolcraft teachers, administrators, and community members received training to become “Informational Campaign Ambassadors” with a goal to help voters become informed on the bond proposal details. The training session was conducted by Rick Chambers, a communication consultant hired by the district. The session outlined “Top 10 Questions” on the bond proposal and basic details on why, what and how the bond proposal was developed.

The Schoolcraft Board of Education has had a Long-Term Facilities Planning Committee studying possible options for the district’s aging facilities for nearly two years. The committee boiled eight possible options for facility improvements down to two. After conducting a facility assessment last fall, the committee found a complete renovation of existing elementary and middle schools would cost $32 million—just $7.9 million less than the bond proposal. The committee decided the cost-effective approach was to replace them.

Proponents of the bond proposal say the new facilities are needed because:

The Elementary School is 50 years old and the Middle School is 64 years old. Both have heating systems which are outdated, inefficient and failing.

New buildings will provide facilities designed for “modern learning,” safer and more secure environments, energy efficiency, and long-term sustainability; improvements to athletic facilities are sorely needed, including tennis courts, restrooms, equipment storage, new six-lane track, bleacher safety railings, lighting and greater disabled accessibility; new facilities will greatly influence businesses decisions to invest in the district, providing a greater tax base and improved property values.

Opponents to the bond proposal cite the following concerns over what has been proposed: over half of parents surveyed by the district objected to mixing 7th and 8th grade students with high school students; the unknown impact and cost of the possible Village of Schoolcraft’s sewer project currently under discussion; properties of the out-of-district “school of choice” families, which comprise a small portion of the district’s enrollment, will not contribute to the tax levy, although those students do bring added state per-pupil money; the scope of the proposal and projects requested are too massive; athletics are already too much of a priority for the district; taxes are already too high.

Two surveys have been conducted by the district, one a survey of 372 Schoolcraft parents (Schoolcraft has 1,065 students) and a community survey of 200 of the district’s 3,200 voters conducted by Epic MRA from Lansing. Both surveys show strong support for Schoolcraft’s bond proposal. Information is available on the Schoolcraft Community School’s website under the main menu’s “facilities-study.”

“If voters approve the Bond Proposal, we will work with the community to develop a design that meets the district’s needs. It will likely take 12 months to finalize the design by working with school parents and community leaders. The facilities wouldn’t be built and ready for students until the fall of 2022,” said school board President Jennifer Gottschalk.

School Board Approves Changes to the Athletic Handbook

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Jeff Clark, Schoolcraft athletic director, reported the changes being recommended to the Athletic Handbook for the 2019/20 school year to the school board.

By Sue Moore

Holding Schoolcraft’s athletes to a higher standard was emphasized by Athletic Director Jeff Clark in proposing several changes to the athletic student handbook. Most of the changes were minimal, he told the school board at its August meeting.

Anyone out for a sport must have a passing grade in 80 percent of their classes, which Clark said hasn’t changed. Under the previous system, student athletes with low grades during the semester were given two weeks to study hard and get their grades up so they could compete. Now they only get one week per marking period to get their grades in order, he explained.

Another change that gives more flexibility permits students in several sports to use the gym at the same time. The intent is to urge student athletes to take part in more than one sport while in their middle and high school years, Clark said.

Head coaches drafted a new coaches’ conduct section that will be included in the handbook, Clark noted. Superintendent Rusty Stitt applauded the coaches for taking the lead in the revisions and Clark for facilitating what the board then approved.

Ticket prices for students were changed to $1 per event (with student ID) in order to encourage more kids to attend sporting contests when there might be several in one week. The prices for adults did not change, per the Southwestern Athletic Conference’s requirements; Schoolcraft is a member. A season pass will be offered to students for $25 and $60 for adults. Senior citizens, active military and veterans will get in free.

School budgeting came under discussion led by board President Jennifer Gottschalk when the board was presented with estimated closing general fund figures for the 2018-19 school year. The new information showed the year ending in the black rather than the red as had previously been projected. “It’s like putting a puzzle together without all the pieces,” Stitt said later. “We are still closing out the year and we don’t even know what the state per-pupil formula will be for the 2019-20 year so we recommended adopting a negative budget back in June. Now we have a better handle on our actual expenses for the past school year, so at least we know that we can meet our promises, especially to the teachers when it comes to figuring out the revenue sharing in November.”

“The discussion really was not so much about budget recommendations for 2018-19 – other than in the perfect world, the budget and actual would match at the end of the year,” explained Finance Director Rita Broekema after the meeting. “My world is not perfect and the Board would have liked [the numbers] to be closer than it was for 2018-19.  So would I, so we agree on that point.  The 2018-19 budget discussion was reminding everyone that we have a teacher contract that determines how we allocate any surplus revenue over expenditures.  It is binding and can only be altered through negotiations.”

Local Students Tour Europe with Ambassadors of Music

By Paul Stanton, director of Schoolcraft bands

Five Schoolcraft and two Vicksburg students were selected over a year ago to travel with the Michigan Ambassadors of Music (MAM) in this year’s summer tour of Europe. Their selection was based on the students’ outstanding musicianship, leadership, and character.

Students had the exciting opportunity to participate in the 16-day performance and educational tour of seven countries. Stops included London, Venice, Paris; Crans-Montana and Zermatt in Switzerland, Vaduz in Liechtenstein, Seefeld and Innsbruck in Austria, and Dachau and Rothenburg in Germany. The performances showcased the talent in the ensemble and proved that these students truly were musical ambassadors.

The Michigan Ambassadors of Music Europe Concert Tour was comprised of over 150 instrumental and vocal students from all over Michigan. Students for the group are nominated by their band and choir directors to participate in the Voyageurs International program, a company based in Colorado. Barry Martin, professor of music at Grand Valley State University and conductor of the Grand Rapids Symphonic Band, was the director of this year’s MAM Band.

Each year, students from 25 of the 50 states go overseas to sing in a choir or perform in a band. The next year, students from the other 25 states have the opportunity to participate. Over the two weeks the students were overseas, they had the opportunity to make friends with fellow Michigan band choir members and many remained in contact with their travel companions.

Schoolcraft senior Erin Lockwood said of the tour, “It was an amazing adventure filled with countless new experiences that I’m blessed to have had. MAM allowed us to see beautiful places and learn about the world around us while growing in our musical careers with new friends.”

Many of the students have shared their favorite place to visit was Switzerland, including a trip to the famous Matterhorn mountain. All students can certainly agree their travels this past summer were a life changing experience which has enriched their lives and musicianship.

Walking to Western for Schoolcraft Scholarships

By Sue Moore

A team of 10 Schoolcraft teachers and administrators continued Superintendent Rusty Stitt’s walk and ride in 2018 to raise money for scholarships last year. This August, they chose an 18-mile road trip to Western Michigan University (WMU) via the Kalamazoo Valley Community College campus.

The money raised will provide scholarships for the class of 2020.

Seven of the walkers made it all the way to the University campus through back roads and highways to be greeted by University administrators and the Schoolcraft High School band. When they arrived at the College of Education building, WMU pledged $500 scholarships for two students. Kalamazoo Valley Community College had pitched in with two more Trustee scholarships. The University’s scholarships will be awarded to Schoolcraft seniors who expect to major in education or human development.

The goal is $15,000. The fund now totals $13,445, according to Matt McCullough, director of innovation in teaching and learning in Schoolcraft.

Dr. Stitt was the only one on the team who ended up with blisters so bad that he had to drop out at the 16-mile mark. Two others had prior appointments and had to leave by 11:30. The team rolled into Western at about 12:30 and were bused back to the high school campus after the brief ceremony. Donations are still being sought to be able to offer the class of 2020 $7,500 worth of scholarships through this walk. The other half will go to the Schoolcraft Foundation to help grow the fund.