Category Archives: Schools

Bye Bye Birdie Features Vicksburg Middle School Students

bye bye 7
Musical Director Dustin Morris rehearses singers for Bye Bye Birdie a musical featuring middle school and elementary students.

By Sue Moore

A lot of youngsters – what seems like hundreds of fourth to eighth graders but really isn’t that many – are practicing their musical and acting chops to perform Bye Bye Birdie on the big folks’ stage at the Performing Arts Center at Vicksburg High School.

They’re learning to sing and dance to a 1960s musical that draws ever so slightly on the early history of Elvis Presley. It will be performed at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, October 27 and 28 and at 2 p.m. Sunday, October 29.

This show played Broadway for many years and has been especially tailored for elementary and middle school students to strut their stuff. A young rock and roll teen heartthrob named Conrad Birdie is played by Kenny Dark, a Vicksburg eighth grader. He has been drafted into the Army (sound familiar?) and his agent is trying his best to keep his client’s name in the headlines before the fickle public can forget and move on to another musician.

It seems that Birdie is to publicly plant a kiss on a teenager from Sweet Apple, Ohio, played by seventh-grader Molly Young. Other leading actors and singers include Caleb Johnson as Albert the agent, Lily Puckett as Rosie and Olivia Cannizzaro as Mrs. MacAfee. Supporting this accomplished cast are students from Dustin Morris’ vocal music classes in Vicksburg’s three elementary schools and middle school. He is the musical director of the play that features such well-known songs as “Put on a Happy Face” and “A Lot of Livin’ To Do.” The musical is directed by Melissa Sparks, Vicksburg’s well-known director of all things on stage.

It features a tuneful high-energy score and a hilarious script and continues to thrill audiences around the world, according to its publicity agent. Tickets are available online at and at the ticket window before the performance.


Schoolcraft Approves Early Elementary Sale Proposal

reunion 4By Travis Smola

It was the end of an era in Schoolcraft as the school board accepted a proposal to sell the early elementary school building at its September board meeting. It was held in the former school on Cass Street.

Buyers Jamie and Windy Clark of Clark Logic are planning to use the building and property as a residential development. The couple displayed artist’s renderings of improvements they hope to make to modernize the building’s exterior slightly, but stressed how they wanted to re-use the existing buildings.

Stitt said the price of the sale was $75,000. The board and buyers hope to close the sale by October 31.

“We want to honor the history of Schoolcraft,” Jamie Clark said. “That’s the first and foremost priority of this project.”

He said they plan to have a yet undecided number of condos and they are hoping parts of the building such as the gym can be used in conjunction with their Wind and James event center. The event center is a brownfield renovation of the former Arco property on Eliza Street.

While residential is a new venture for the Three Rivers-based business, they are excited by the opportunity. “We really see it as a complimentary opportunity to expand our vision in the arts,” Windy Clark said.

“You can see just from the drawings, it’s a very professional approach to everything they do,” Village President Keith Gunnett said. “I think everyone in town will enjoy that it is not coming down.”

Trustee Jason Walther felt it was the perfect solution for the school and community. “It feels like you guys were part of our strategic planning session a few months ago,” Walther said. “One of our big challenges that we have in the community is just in housing.”

Former board trustee Skip Fox had many memories from the building and his children and grandchildren attending classes there. “If walls could talk, we’d probably all be a little shaken,” Fox said. He recalled watching basketball games in the tiny gym before the bleachers were walled off.

Former Principal Nancy Haas also felt the board was making the right decision in letting go of the building that has served as elementary, middle and high schools over the years. “A building is just a building, but it’s the memories that will be in your hearts,” she said.

Monsanto Awards $10,000 to Vicksburg Schools

Vicksburg High School’s mathematics department was awarded a $10,000 grant from Monsanto Corporation’s “America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education” program. Rob Richardson, a Vicksburg-area farmer, recommended the school for the grant and Gail VanDaff, curriculum director, helped to write and submit it.

The funds will benefit students in Algebra I and Geometry classes through an initiative called the “Agile Mind Program”. In this process, teachers will engage students with a state-of-the-art approach to mathematics instruction, using interactive digital resources, print materials and real time data to monitor and inform instruction.

The Grow Rural Education program allows eligible farmers to nominate their local public school district for grants to help enhance STEM education. Once nominated, school districts compete for grants for projects for their science, technology, engineering and mathematics curriculum. The grants are helping to improve test scores, but better yet, they’re getting kids to think bigger about their tomorrow, according to the Monsanto website.

Instructors in Vicksburg’s math department involved in the program are Gary Boyle-Holmes, Jim Cagney, Rachel King and Angela Walton.

Drumline Faceoff at Vicksburg Marching Band Invitational

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Emma Frisbie performs as part of the color guard for VHS’ Big Red Machine.

For those who love marching band music, there will be over seven hours of perpetual motion and music at the Vicksburg High School stadium from 2-9 p.m. on Saturday, October 7. The feature performance with be a face-off between the Vicksburg Big Red Machine drum line and the Portage Central drum line. Both have received excellent ratings over the years.

This is the Second Annual Vicksburg Bulldog Marching Band Invitational. It is sponsored by the Vicksburg Band Boosters and will showcase marching bands from 21 Class A-D high schools, with a total of more than 1,500 students playing for ratings. The show opens with class B bands, then class D bands. There will be a short recess, followed by C and A bands. The first competing band will perform at 2:15, and be followed by others at 15-minute intervals, with two or three breaks for judges built into the schedule.

To end the evening after the Big Red Machine band’s exhibition, the drumlines of Vicksburg and Portage Central will take center field for what should prove to be an exciting Drumline Face-Off at approximately 8:45 p.m.

Marching bands from the following area high schools are scheduled to perform: Schoolcraft, Three Rivers, Kalamazoo Hackett, Portage Central, Portage Northern, Mattawan, Gull Lake, Plainwell, Galesburg-Augusta, and Climax-Scotts. Other schools registered for this event include Constantine, Berrien Springs, Springport, Olivet, Dowagiac, Hartford, Coloma, Fennville, New Buffalo, and Camden-Frontier.

Whether you are a true “band geek” or just enjoy marching band performances, this is an event not to be missed, according to Craig Rolfe, chief organizer of the Invitational. The admission charge is $6, and pre-school age children are admitted free. A variety of food and beverages will be served throughout the day. Volunteers will guide vehicles to available on-site parking at the High School and adjacent Middle School, and nearby locations.

The Vicksburg Band Boosters are working hard to make this event an enjoyable experience for all as well as a successful fundraiser for the Vicksburg Bands program. A strong showing of support by the participating bands and an expected large audience will help solidify the Bulldog Invitational as the premiere annual marching band competition in this area, Rolfe said.

Alumni Association Announces Scholarship Winners

Schoolcraft Alumni Association 2017 Scholarship Recipients pictured below are (left to right): Taylor Bell, Jason Feddema, Megan West, Erin Seager, and Madison Hybels. Not pictured is Sophia Woodhams.

At its Annual Banquet on June 24, the Schoolcraft Alumni Association announced scholarships totaling $5,500.00 to six 2017 graduates:

Taylor Bell and Jason Feddema both received scholarships from the Alumni Association Scholarship fund. Taylor’s goal is to pursue art therapy at Prescott College in Arizona and make an impact on the lives of children she treats. Jason plans to attend KVCC to begin work toward his goal to become an elementary school teacher.

Megan West was awarded a specialized scholarship given by Bill and Sheila Nichols in honor of Harold B Nichols’ graduation from SHS 100 years ago in 1917. Mr. Nichols served in the US Navy during WWI, then went on to study engineering, work as an engineer, and travel the world with his wife Lillian. Megan will use her scholarship as she starts her educational journey at Grand Valley University with the goal of going to medical school to become a radiologist.

Three specialized scholarships were awarded in memory of a very special woman, Linda Pincumbe, who passed away early in 2017. Linda and her husband John Pincumbe came to Schoolcraft in 1978 and immersed themselves in the community and in supporting Schoolcraft Athletics. Linda ran a daycare and many Schoolcraft kids felt her immeasurable love. The Alumni Association was honored to present scholarship funds given in memory of Linda Pincumbe to Erin Seager, Madison Hybels, and Sophia Woodhams. Erin’s great love for animals has inspired her to study to become a veterinary technician at Baker College, Madison plans to attend Western Michigan University to study Health Informatics, and Sophia plans to study to become a neonatal nurse practitioner at the University of Michigan.

The Alumni Association banquet and annual meeting was attended by approximately 115 alumni and guests. President Judy Shelley Oliphant announced that the Alumni Association started a Specialized Scholarship program this year that funded four of the six scholarships awarded that evening. Judy encouraged alumni to stay in contact with the organization through its web pages on the Schoolcraft Schools website and/or its Facebook group.

Schoolcraft Homecoming Court Announced

sch homecomingSchoolcraft Homecoming royalty from left to right: Skyler Thompson freshman class rep; Grace Tremblay freshman class rep and princess; Brice Walther, junior class rep and prince; Payton Campbell, junior class rep; Lydia Goble, senior class rep; Zach Stokes, senior class rep and king; Paxton Green, senior class rep and queen; Collin Hampton, senior class rep; Zach Scott, senior class rep; Brooke Crissman, senior class rep; Levi Balcom sophomore class rep and Katie Parker, sophomore class rep. Photo by Stephanie Blentlinger, Lingering Memories Photography.