Schoolcraft school board honors top 10 graduates

Sitting on school grounds during Fourth of July fireworks was discussed by the board.

By Travis Smola

High School Principal Matt Dailey officially recognized the top 10 2022 graduates of Schoolcraft Community Schools at the Board of Education’s May meeting.

Topping the list was Tyler DeGroote, followed by Marisa Faulk, Maleah Hampton, Haley Matthews, Sophie Ridge, Shayla Strake, Hannah Thompson, Allie Walther, Sam Woodhams and Tyler Zito. Dailey noted this year’s seniors faced a bevy of challenges the last couple years as Covid-19 complicated the challenges of education.

“Think about two years in a pandemic out of 12 years or 13 years of education, a significant percent of what these kids have done, and they’ve weathered that storm, and not just survived, but thrived academically,” Dailey said. “I’m really proud about what they’ve been able to accomplish, and I’m really excited about what they’re going to do in the future.”

It was a short meeting in May with only a few items on the agenda. Superintendent Rick Frens noted costs for dairy and bread bids has gone up. The district is also looking at a $13,000 increase for the cost of a new bus. The district tries to purchase a new bus every year to keep its fleet updated and in good shape. This is a purchase that is currently slated for January. However, Board President Jennifer Gottschalk brought up the prospect of purchasing a new bus sooner rather than later. She wants to get ahead of rising costs.

“Can we put the order in so we can get it and we’re not getting nailed with price increases? I mean, there’s going to be more (increases),” Gottschalk said.

Frens noted there’s a lot of variables to current supply chain and inflation issues factoring into the decision of when they make their next bus purchase. He also noted the district passed its last bus inspection “with flying colors.” However, he agreed with Gottschalk it was worth looking into, and he told the trustees he would be back to them with more information later.

Gottschalk also informed the other trustees that she has had further communication with the Fourth of July committee. It has supplied insurance and applications for fireworks to the district. The committee additionally made a request for people to sit on portions of the lawn in front of the school, at the soccer field, and football field as viewing areas for the display.

“They wanted to know if people could sit on the football field. I don’t know that we’re too excited about that,” Gottschalk said.

The committee did promise to have people come to clean these areas the following day, including local boy and girl scouts. Trustee Rudy Blankenship said he thought the soccer field was fine, but he didn’t want anyone on the football field and bleachers due to safety concerns. Gottschalk also clarified for Trustee Adam Haley that it was only for seating purposes. No traffic will be allowed on the fields.

Except for the football field, the board agreed to allow seating in the other areas. Gottschalk noted it will need to pay attention to construction process as the holiday approaches. It plans to make work areas off-limits during the display.

Vicksburg schools losing nine to retirement

By Jef Rietsma

Vicksburg Community Schools will say goodbye to nine retiring employees at the end of the school year. They include:

Kathy Forsythe, who has spent 18 years at VHS and previously subbed for several years in the district. Forsythe’s most-recent position is 10th and 11th grade English. Forsythe started in the district as a special-education teacher and gradually moved into full-time English. “It was a great way to start because I was able to work with many of my co-workers and I learned so much from them. They are amazing teachers,” she said. Forsythe is editor of South County News. 

Linda VanderStraaten is a 22-year employee retiring as transportation administrative assistant at the bus garage. VanderStraaten trained three bus directors in her time at VCS. and was the friendly voice familiar to Vicksburg families when they contacted the transportation department. District officials noted VanderStraaten was the department’s guardian who looked out for everyone, with hugs for all who needed one and a contagious laugh that made everyone feel at home.

Margo Staunton is completing a decade of employment with VCS. Her most-recent position was secondary school library media specialist. Staunton’s work through the years has been at VMS and VHS.

Jane Herbener is retiring as fourth-grade teacher at Tobey Elementary. She has spent all 33 years of her VCS career at Tobey. Herbener has taught every grade except second at Tobey. A Tobey icon, Herbener is now teaching the second generation of Tobey Tigers – many of her current students’ parents were in her class. Herbener said she loves fourth grade because kids unlock their love of reading and begin to make connections with the world.

Lisa Harbour is retiring after teaching eighth-grade science for 24 years, and sixth-grade design and modeling the last five. Harbour, Science Night coordinator, said she has given 100 percent of herself to her students for the past 24 years. “I will need to reinvent myself as my job has been my life,” she said. “I will continue to take sports photos for VHS.”

Stephanie Mallery is a 25-year employee of VCS. Most recently, she has served as the district’s instructional coach and its ELA coordinator. Her work has placed her at Indian Lake Elementary, Sunset Lake Elementary, Tobey Elementary and the district’s administration building. “For the last 25 years, VCS has been my home away from home. Thank you to the many VCS educators, administrators and mentors who have supported me for the last 25 years and provided me with opportunities, tools and training to do my job well,” Mallery said. “While the decision to retire was difficult, I am so excited to spend additional time with my family and friends, and explore exciting, new opportunities.”

Linda Colter has been with the district 17 years. She is evening custodian at VHS, where she has spent her entire VCS career. Colter said she is excited to catch up on reading and tackling projects around the house.

Kathy Brandt has spent 26 years with VCS and is retiring as Indian Lake Library Aide. She enjoyed the position, especially working with Terri Negri. She found working with children enriching and fulfilling, especially when they first realize they love to read! She looks forward to some new adventures. She and her husband, Robert, enjoy music. Kathy also enjoys hiking, birding, kayaking, her granddaughters and their little cabin up north.

Terri Negri is another longtime employee. She has been with VCS 35 years, serving as elementary-school librarian at all three elementary buildings.

Superintendent Keevin O’Neill said the district is grateful to the retiring employees for their commitment to the district’s students.

“I want to thank all our VCS retirees for their service, dedication and commitment to our precious students and community over the years. We refer to our staff as our VCS family and they will always be a part of our cherished VCS family. They will be missed and I hope retirement is all they imagined it to be.”

Big Read Machine brings the books to you

The Big Read Machine, Vicksburg Community Schools’ library on wheels, will make the following rounds through the district from June 13 through mid-August.

June 13: 6-8:30 p.m., Portage Terrace
June 14: 5-7:30 p.m., The Mill, food trucks
June 15: 6-7 p.m., Sunset Lake; 7:15-8:15 p.m., Centennial
June 16: 6-7 p.m., Tobey; 7:30-8:30 p.m., Indian Lake
June 17: 2-6 p.m., Farmers Market
June 21: 9:30 a.m.-noon, Sunset Lake
June 22: 9:30 a.m.-noon, Tobey
June 23: 9:45-10:45 a.m., Lakeland CB; 11 a.m.-noon, Kids Court
June 27: 6-8:30 p.m., Portage Terrace
June 29: 6-7 p.m., Sunset Lake; 7:15-8:15 p.m., Centennial
June 30: 6-7 p.m., Tobey; 7:30-8:30 p.m., Indian Lake

July 1: 2-6 p.m., Farmers Market
July 2: noon-2 p.m. Vicksburg Historic Village
July 5: 9:30 a.m.-noon, Sunset Lake
July 6: 9:30 a.m.-noon, Tobey
July 7: 9:45-10:45 a.m., Lakeland CB; 11 a.m.-noon, Kids Court
July 11: 6-8:30 p.m., Portage Terrace
July 12: 5-7:30 p.m., The Mill, food trucks
July 13: 6-7 p.m., Sunset Lake; 7:15-8:15 p.m., Centennial
July 14: 6-7 p.m., Tobey; 7:30-8:30 p.m., Indian Lake
July 15: 2-6 p.m., Farmers Market
July 16: noon-2 p.m., Vicksburg Historic Village
July 19: 9:30 a.m.-noon, Sunset Lake
July 20: 9:30 a.m.-noon, Tobey
July 21: 9:45-10:45 a.m., Lakeland CB; 11 a.m.-noon, Kids Court
July 25: 6-8:30 p.m., Portage Terrace
July 27: 6-7 p.m., Sunset Lake; 7:15-8:15 p.m. Centennial
July 28: 6-7 p.m., Tobey; 7:30-8:30 p.m., Indian Lake
July 29: 2-6 p.m., Farmers Market
July 30: noon-2 p.m., Vicksburg Historic Village

August 2: 9:30 a.m.-noon, Sunset Lake
August 3: 9:30 a.m.-noon, Tobey
August 4: 9:45-10:45 a.m., Lakeland CB; 11 a.m.-noon, Kids Court
August 8: 6-8:30 p.m., Portage Terrace
August 9: 5-7:30 p.m., The Mill, food trucks
August 10: 6-7 p.m., Sunset Lake; 7:15-8:15 p.m. Centennial
August 11: 6-7 p.m., Tobey; 7:30-8:30 p.m., Indian Lake
August 12: 2-6 p.m., Farmers Market

Sunset Lake Elementary School, 201 N Boulevard St.
Tobey Elementary, 8551 E. Long Lake Dr.
Indian Lake Elementary, 11901 S. 30th St.
Food Trucks at The Mill, entrance on W Ave. west of Michigan St.
Kids Court Learning Center, 12786 S Sprinkle Rd.
Lakeland Creative Beginnings, 10442 S. Sprinkle Rd.
Centennial – Allen Edwin Homes, 1530 Harper Grove Ln.
Portage Terrace Mobile Home Park, 11247 Portage Rd.
Historic Village, 300 N. Richardson