Looking for antiques? Shop local!

By Kathy Oswalt-Forsythe

Schoolcraft is home to two large antique stores, both located downtown on the west side of Grand Street: the Schoolcraft Antique Mall and the Grand Antique Gallery. The extensive offerings and unique finds at each shop are worth a stop.

The Schoolcraft Antique Mall is managed by Maria Dreon Pennington, daughter of owner Sally Dreon. Pennington has managed the business for several years and has a booth of her own. The old storefront is deep. Booths fill the space on the main floor. Collections continue in the basement as well, and unlike many old Michigan basements, the large room is well lit and comfortable. Seven different collectors have booths, each offering unique pieces. Art, pottery, china, mid-century furniture, primitives and jewelry are just a sampling of the treasures a shopper can find.

A few steps away, Sue and Dan Cooley and sons Miles and Bryce own and operate the Grand Antique Gallery, the former home of Norma’s Antiques. Sue, a retired art teacher, has collected for years, and began with running booths at several shops as well as hosting barn sales at the family’s former residence. The Cooleys’ inventory is theirs, and it is varied and interesting: salvaged lockers and architectural pieces; dishware and china; furniture and books. Take a trip up the stairs to enter the cavernous space of the former Schoolcraft opera house. This alone is worth a visit! All four of the Cooleys are artists, and their work hangs in the store, with many pieces for sale.

Looking for something unique or an item to complete a collection? Give these local establishments a try.

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.

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.

Eagles cross country team heads to regionals

By Mark Blentlinger

Schoolcraft’s cross country team is making a name for itself this season. Coach Kato says the girls team is looking very strong. Junior Caley Kirwin tied her personal best by going 21:04 at the K-Christian Invitational. Senior Annika Peterson ran her best time since her freshman year going 21:42.3

The team also has freshmen Arianna Pillot and Addison Blodgett and sophomores Jenna VanDussen Alyssa VanDusen all running strong.

The boys’ team is getting stronger after every meet, gaining more and more experience.

Freshman Dante Pillot has been leading the Eagles surpassing some of his own personal best times from earlier in the season.
Coach says he can’t wait to see how this young team grows over the next couple of years. Besides Pillot, the other freshman are Connar Candler, Dylan Danner and Ty Edwards. Other members are junior Rylan Osborn and senior Simon Sheen.

Schoolcraft High School clay target league begins

Front row from left to right: Addison Smith, Aiden Weiler, Grant Goelitz, Jadon Blodgett, Michael McCale, Caden Fritts, Austin Melville, and Chris Olsen. Kneeling in back: David Glerum, Gerrin Kinkela, and Hope Wright. Back row from left to right: Tristan VanCleave, Ethan DenHartigh, Eli Wedel, Thomas Rutkoksie, Mitchell Duong, and Gabe Redmond. Missing: Brady Bongard.

By Kathy Oswalt-Forsythe

Coach Chuck Fritts and Schoolcraft High School’s clay target team are having a successful first season. After learning more about the league, receiving help from Schoolcraft Athletic director Jeff Clark and a unanimous school board vote, Fritts assembled the team.

Besides the support from parents and the community, Fritts said this team is possible because of “the hard work and help from coaches Neil Kreamalmeyer, Wade Rutkoskie, Max Blodgett, and Randy Bongard.” 

Seventeen students shoot on Thursday evenings at the Lakes Area Sportsmans Club in Portage. Students are required to shoot two rounds of trap for an official score, and they compete with student scores from similar size teams in the league. This year’s conference has five teams: Pittsford, Will Carleton Academy, Valley Lutheran High School and Ionia High School.

Fritts says the students are having fun, learning well, and progressing in their skills. Several team members are ranked in their divisions. Hope Wright is shooting extremely well and is currently fifth in the female division in the league, first place in the women’s division in the conference and first place on the Schoolcraft team. Caden Fritts is also shooting well. He’s ranked fourth in the conference and is currently in second place on the Schoolcraft team. He has earned the AIM All State Award in Michigan and has attended several big competitions, as well as nationals.

Fritts said the 2021 SCTP Nationals “had record breaking attendance this year. Teams from 33 states had 7,658 student athletes competing. They shot 1.4 million white flyer targets, equivalent to 10 semi loads stretching the length of a football field.”

Other team members are shooting consistently and catching on quickly.

Practice is critical to the sport. For example, Fritts’ son Caden shoots approximately 6,000 clay targets a season. He practices three to four nights a week, shooting 300 to 400 shells per week. Thomas Rutkoskie is an example of this. Rutkoskie works at improving and shoots 3 days a week. He has gone from shooting high teens to 20’s consistently and is currently ranked 3rd place on the team.

Fritts said organizing and starting the program “have been really exciting; the amount of support from other coaches, parents, and club members have truly made this possible. Teaching youth safety and proper gun handling is the league’s top priority, and safety is the number one rule for the students. When you can attend shooting events with thousands of competitors and not a single accident, it really shows that safety is our number one rule.”