Category Archives: Schoolcraft

Schoolcraft Play Features the Tale of the Ugly Duckling

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Seniors Ben Sampley and Phillip Stafford rehearse their parts in Honk! It will be performed at the Schoolcraft Performing Arts Center.

By Sue Moore

This spring the Schoolcraft Drama Club will present Honk!, a musical retelling of the Ugly Duckling story with a cast and crew including both high school and middle school students. It will be performed March 21 and March 22 at 7 p.m., March 23 at 2 and 7 p.m., and March 24 at 2 p.m.

Tickets are $10 for general admission, $7 for students and seniors, and are available at the door or through this website

In Honk!, the Ugly Duckling, senior Ben Sampley, must go on a journey of self-discovery after being separated from his mother, Ida, played by senior Kiaha Grey. The machinations of the hungry Cat, sophomore Isabella Parker, and the scorn of the other ducks and chickens in the duck yard is hard on the Ugly Duckling. Along the way he meets a full cast of cats, chickens, military geese, bullfrogs, tadpoles, and a beautiful young swan named Penny, played by senior Bridgett Crofoot. Through many trials and dangers Ugly comes to accept his fate as an outcast, only to discover that his very existence is not what it seems. Guided by the wise words of the bullfrog, played by senior Phillip Stafford, Ugly and his duck yard family come to understand that someone is always going to love you, warts and all.

“I chose Honk! as a good first show to integrate the middle school into the musical program,” Director Leigh Fryling explained. “Musicals require a lot of extra help. They are usually larger productions. In the future, the spring musical will likely be a joint effort between the middle and high school. The fall play, which has more adult themes, will be exclusively performed by the High School.”

Honk! is an all ages friendly show. “It’s important to make sure that everyone in Schoolcraft Schools is getting an opportunity to enjoy the theatre and become excited to support or become part of our program,” Fryling said. She took over the directorial responsibilities in 2018 from long-time Drama Club director, Christine Sargeant.

“This is the year of the seniors, we have 10 seniors involved in the show. We will be very sorry to lose them at the end of the year,” Fryling said. “They are almost a third of the entire company. Because so many of them are graduating out of the program, we may have to consider some smaller shows going forward until our numbers go back up. Of the five major leads in the show, four of them are performed by seniors.”

A generous donation from Edward Jones of Schoolcraft meant the drama club was able to take students on a field trip to see a show at Western Michigan University. They were given a guided tour of the facilities and a talk-back with the cast, crew, and designers of “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance”. “We are looking forward to adding more opportunities for the drama students, and are excitedly planning our first major fundraiser, a murder mystery spaghetti dinner in late May.

“We were able with a donation from last years’ senior class to afford a new set of stage microphones. We are hoping with the proceeds of the murder mystery fundraiser to revamp/remodel our costume shop and set shop. We have big plans for the future,” Fryling said.

America & Me Essay Contest Winners

Essay winners left to right: Catherine Wright, Abigail Curtis, and Remy Kasten.

Schoolcraft 8th graders are following in a tradition of writing in the America & Me essay contest. The top three students and their work will advance to the state-wide competition sponsored by the Michigan Farm Bureau.

Remy Kasten took first place with his essay, naming his sister Gabrielle as his Personal Michigan Hero. Abigail Curtis was second with her essay on Grandpa Padoo. Catherine Wright took third honoring her 5th grade teacher, Kelli Mein.

The three will receive award certificates with the first-place winner having an engraved plaque for permanent display at Schoolcraft Middle School. All eighth graders in Mary Visscher’s English Language Arts class wrote about their Michigan heroes.

Schoolcraft Robotics Team Learns Real-World Skills

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Schoolcraft students David Keim, Ben Sampley and Alex Watterson discuss the best strategies on how to get their robot to climb a raised 15-inch platform. Photo by Travis Smola.

By Travis Smola

Schoolcraft High School was quiet on a cold, windy February Saturday, except for the racket coming from one classroom where a handful of students, parents and a teacher were hard at work building a robot.

They were preparing for a robotics competition organized by FIRST, a not-for-profit organzation which holds competitions for several age groups. The Schoolcraft team has just six weeks to design, build and program a robot for competition. This is Schoolcraft’s sixth year competing.

“The kids actually fabricate most of the robot,” teacher Donya Dobbins said.

The FIRST Robotics competitions give students a variety of options on how they want to approach the challenges laid out for them. This year’s challenge revolves around moving cargo from one area to another and removing and replacing hatch panels to hold the cargo in place. It simulates how a robot might transfer supplies from a rocket to astronauts on a space station.

Competitions pit teams three on three against each other. They must strategize with the other teams in their group to accomplish as many tasks as they can in a little over two minutes. Most teams focus on one niche task. Schoolcraft is focusing on moving and replacing the cargo hatch.

“The goal for the three teams is to get as many points on our half of the field as quickly as we can,” Dobbins said.

Points are earned for each task they complete. And there are many opportunities for bonus points. For instance, they can earn more if their robot can climb back onto the raised platform it started on, which is no easy task considering the robot can weigh up to 125 pounds.

The rules vary from game to game, but some defense can also be played by blocking an opponent’s robot from its tasks or by stealing the other team’s cargo – although this isn’t Battlebots; there is a penalty for contact with an opponent. The teams with the most points moves to the next round.

The competitions are mostly for bragging rights. There is the possibility to advance to the state and national level. But there is also the chance to connect with different science professionals and colleges. Most of all, the competitions are about learning.

Senior Ben Sampley has been in the program his whole high school career. He loves the challenge of designing and real-world problem solving and science that comes with it.
“That stuff directly transfers to how the (engineering) industry runs things,” Sampley said. “They kind of help take everything we’re learning in school and help implement it. Then they help give you the connections and the practices that you need to be successful in the engineering industry,” he added.

Sampley said he has learned everything from computer-aided design software to MIG and TIG welding to programming and machining as a result. Some of those skills should directly translate to his chosen major of aviation when he attends WMU next year.

He isn’t the only one who sees the competition as helping to build skills for a future career. Freshman Brynleigh MacInnes thinks the things she’s learning could help her as she pursues a career in marine biology. “I want to make technology that can go deeper underwater,” MacInnes said.

She’s learned a lot even before the first competition has taken place. “The most fun for me has been learning how to program,” she said.

One of the biggest challenges is just funding the program. The entry fee costs $5,000. Dobbins said they have received donations this year from Denso, the Kalamazoo Pool Players Association and Parker Hannifin. Big C Lumber donated all the wood the students are using to make wooden platforms and the hatch panels they’ll use to practice on. Volunteers, both parents and from local businesses, help with the construction and some of the programming.

There are also the costs for the robot. The team recycles many parts from year-to-year, but they are also constantly upgrading. They added $1,200 in parts this year alone. “We do a lot of pneumatics, so it’s expensive,” Dobbins said.

A few marketing students are also on board to help deal with the costs for the team, providing yet another learning opportunity as the team is run almost like a business. “We could always use support, money, mentors, students,” Dobbins said. She said they are also open to working with students from other districts who may not have a team.

Sampley said that is another huge plus about the competitions, the chance to connect with other like-minded “nerdy” students from other schools. You step into an environment that is pretty much nerd-tastic,” Sampley said. “It is so nerdy there, it’s awesome. It’s kind of like going to Comic Con.”

The team’s first competition will be at Battle Creek Lakeview schools on March 8 and 9.

Schoolcraft and Vicksburg Homecoming Courts

Schoolcraft royaltySchoolcraft’s basketball Homecoming court are pictured from left: Freshman class representatives: Kiarae Brooks and Rickey Peters; Junior class representatives: Paige Reid and Prince Garret Buchheit; senior class representatives:  Grey Buchheit and Dean Morris, Annika Varker and King Brady Flynn, Queen Abby Blodgett and Phillip Stafford; sophomore representatives: Princess Maeve Stitt and Tom Dailey. Photo by Stephanie Blentlinger, Lingering Memories Photography.

IMG_1994Vicksburg’s basketball Homecoming court are pictured from left: Brendan Monroe, Avalee Goodman Sophomores; Jack Tomer and Anna Moore, juniors; Shane Earl and Micayla Bozeman, Kevin Veld, Madeline Geiger, Nick Armitage, Kaytee Harvey, seniors; David Pitts, junior prince, Autumn Johnson, junior Princess; Kyle Kelly, senior King; Mia Mulhearn, senior Queen; Levi Shepard, Emily White, juniors; Levi Sehy, Nevaeh Gates sophomores; Blake Ford, Savina Centofanti freshmen.

Four Eagle Wrestlers Win a Trip to State Tournament

River Fox stands on the podium as champion in his weight class (heavyweight) for Division 4 in Michigan, the first ever from Schoolcraft. He beat Jake Renfer from Manton High School 7-1 in the final round. Photo by Stephanie Blentlinger, Lingering Memories Photography.

By Mark Blentlinger

Four Schoolcraft Eagle wrestlers were heading to Ford Field on March 1 and 2 for their chance at making history, to become a state champion for Schoolcraft. Senior River Fox took the state championship at 285 lbs. Caden Sukich, Mark Fox, and sophomore Hunter Martens competed but did not make it to the final rounds.

River is in his final season as an Eagle wrestler. He has an impressive 50-2 record and is the number one ranked wrestler, at 285 lbs, in Division 4. Hunter Martens has a 42-12 record and was the only sophomore going to state for Schoolcraft wrestling. He competed in the 119 lb class. Mark Fox joined his cousin River, with a 41-10 record in the 152 lb class.

Rounding out the Eagle Grapplers is Caden Sukich, at 112 lbs. Caden noted that he was going in with an overall record of 47-7. He has also added to his resume, being a two-time state qualifier, two-time SAC and District Champion. He has been wrestling since he was 7 years old. This will be his 10th season altogether. He said he wanted to “thank all of his coaches both on and off the mat. They have been big influence’s in my life.” He stated, he “couldn’t have done all that he has, without the love and support of his family, over countless weekends and weekdays, doing what he loves.”

Schoolcraft Wrestling Takes First Regional Championship

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Hunter Martens is shown here wrestling in the regionals. Mark Fox and Hunter Martens got beat in Round 2 at state. Caden Sukich made it to the 3rd round at state. Photo by Stephanie Blentlinger, Lingering Memories Photography.

By Mark Blentlinger

The Schoolcraft wrestling team had won conference and district championships in the past. But until Feb. 13, it had yet to win a regional. That’s when the Eagles arrived at Watervliet High School. They first defeated Niles-Brandywine, then went on to beat the White Pigeon Chiefs, 40-33, to take the school’s first-ever regional championship.

The Eagles had faced the Chiefs earlier in the season and were defeated. This time it was for more than just a mark in the win column. The Eagles started out strong with wins by Hunter Martens, Jett Gott, Riley Watts and Mark Fox. Trailing by 12 points, it was River Fox’s turn to face off against the Number 2 ranked wrestler in the state. River was able to show why he is ranked number 1, answering the call with a pin. Lane Deloof then pinned his opponent, which brought the score to a tie. Last to wrestle was Caden Sukich. Caden was able to lock up the regional title win with a pin.

Schoolcraft was seeded 8th on its first-ever trip to the state championships. That meant it had to face the number-one seeded Clinton High School team Feb. 22, at Kalamazoo Wings Event Center. Clinton showed why it was ranked number one. Only two of the Eagle wrestlers were able to take away wins: River Fox pinned his opponent quickly. Caden Sukich took his bout all the way to the end, winning with a 17-7 decision.

Head Coach Rob Ling was awarded the Regional Coach of the year by the Michigan Wrestling Association. He said it was an honor and a direct reflection of his assistant coaches James Bippus, Zach VanZile and Vaughn Copeland. Rob said how proud he is of the young men and one young lady, Silver Fox. He is humbled to be part of such a great wrestling family.

Cliffhanger for Eagles vs. Irish Boys’ Basketball Teams

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Brady Flynn drives to the basket against Kalamazoo Hackett, scoring a team high 11 points. Photo by Stephanie Blentlinger, Lingering Memories Photography.

By Mark Blentlinger

For the third time this season, the Eagles boys’ basketball team met with the Irish from Hackett. The game was to determine which team would continue to the Breslin Center and the MHSAA championship – and which would start getting ready for baseball season. The intensity of both of these teams was high as expected for a winner-take-all game.

The end of the first quarter saw the Eagles on top by six, 19-13. The second quarter saw the Eagles continuing to apply the pressure. Senior Brady Flynn, was on a mission, putting up four shots from the outside of the arc, three of them successful, adding nine points. The Eagles hit the half-time break still leading the Irish by 11, 35-24. Fifteen seconds into the third quarter, Chris Cooper drew a foul and put down two shots from the line. They say it’s tough to beat a team twice in the same season, but three times could be almost impossible.  The Hackett players were doing everything they could to compete for the three-peat. The Eagles on the other hand, were not going to make it easy on them.

Quarter four, the final eight minutes of one team’s season. Small mistakes by both teams seemed to make the quarter last forever. The Irish appeared to be on the upside of some calls that sent them to the line, time after time. With four minutes left in the game, the Irish were creeping back up, slowly, making it a 4-point game, 59-55, with Eagles still leading.

In the final 52 seconds, a Hackett foul sent Kobe Clark to the line for a shot, but it went unanswered. Hackett responded and the score stood at 59-58 Eagles with 1.3 seconds left. Hackett was at the line. Their shots were in and out. With .29 seconds left the Irish fouled Brice Walther. Back at the foul line, he split the two shots, 60-58 Eagles. The Irish took possession with a last-ditch effort at .03 seconds to go for two points, a tie and force overtime. The inbound pass was deflected by Chris Cooper as the buzzer sounded.

Eagles advanced on to their third consecutive District championship, scheduled to play Bloomingdale March 1 at Gobles High school. Schoolcraft moves on to 18-4 for the season. Leading scorers for the Eagles were Brady Flynn 11, Bryce VanderWiere 10, Brice Walther 9, Trevor DeGroote 9, Ty Rykse 8, Kobe Clark 7, Chris Cooper 6.

The setup for the Schoolcraft-Hackett game was another nailbiter ending in a win against Kalamazoo Christian at Gobles. There were four lead changes in the first quarter alone. By halftime, it looked like the game could go either way. Kalamazoo Christian brought the score to a tie at 24-all late into the 3rd quarter, and soon took a 1-point lead after Aaron DeJong hit a 3 pointer. Ty Rykse scored on the very next possession and the Eagles never let the Comets back on top for the rest of the game and took the win, 36-33, to end the Comet’s season.

In that game, top-scoring Eagles were Bryce VanderWiere with 13. Chris Cooper and Bryce Walther with with six, Rykse with four; Brady Flynn with two and Kobe Clark with one.