Friday, May 24, 2013

Clare-Gladwin S.P.A.R.K.S. grant not renewed; seven sites to close this summer

UPDATE: For those interested in expressing feedback to legislators about the funding available for 21st Century Community Learning Centers, click below to contact Sen. Carl Levin and/or Rep. Dave Camp.

The Clare-Gladwin RESD S.P.A.R.K.S. program will be forced to close seven of its 13 sites after the grants that provide the program’s funding were not renewed for the 2013-2014 school year. As a result, the program’s after-school and summer-school opportunities will no longer be available to students at Beaverton Primary School, Beaverton Middle School, Farwell High School, Gladwin Elementary School, Gladwin Intermediate School, Gladwin Junior High School, and Gladwin High School following the conclusion of their summer sessions this June. Additionally, eight full-time RESD employees and approximately 70 contracted part-time employees will be laid off.

“Over the last ten years, SPARKS has produced measurable student success thanks to the work of our dedicated staff, the partnerships formed with the local districts, and the support of the families in our community,” said S.P.A.R.K.S. Director Joe Trommater. “It is with great sadness to see some of that come to end.”

As one of the largest and longest-running 21st Century Community Learning Centers (CCLC) in Michigan, S.P.A.R.K.S. (Students Participating in Academics and Recreation for Knowledge and Success) offers students in Beaverton, Farwell, Gladwin, and Harrison school districts homework help, tutoring, and activities that enhance the regular school day curriculum and focus on the development of character and leadership. S.P.A.R.K.S. also provides high school students with free high school credit recovery through their after-school Learning Centers.

Each site of the Clare-Gladwin S.P.A.R.K.S. program is made possible by 21st CCLC grants, which must be reapplied for every five years. According to Trommater, this year’s grant score was actually higher than the score they received last year when they were awarded funding. However, due to the recent sequestration, the federal government had $4 million less than they've had in the past to allot to this year’s renewal sites. Additionally, a revised grant scoring system gave preference to applicants named as Priority Schools; Michigan public schools identified in the bottom 5 percent of the statewide Top to Bottom ranking. “These factors made the competition just that much tighter,” he said.

The grants would have brought $1 million per year for the next five years to the S.P.A.R.K.S. program.
“We are proud of our proven track record of helping students in real and meaningful ways and we are committed to pursuing other grant opportunities in the future,” said Trommater, who plans to reapply for the 21st CCLC grants next year in hopes of bringing the programs back. “Ultimately, it’s about the students succeeding and we will continue to do all that we can to provide more for our kids.”

On average, 46 credits are recovered at each participating high school annually through the Learning Centers. In one district last year, 28 percent of the seniors graduated on time because of program. Additionally, research has shown that students who participate in S.P.A.R.K.S. for one or more years miss fewer days of school and have higher grade point averages. Of the sites that are ending, 1,361 students have taken part in the program.

Clare-Gladwin RESD Superintendent Sheryl Presler said the loss of funding will have a profound effect on the community as well.  “The impact of S.P.A.R.K.S. on the local communities extends far beyond the school doors. Supplies and materials have been purchased from local merchants, and transportation has been provided by either the County Transit systems or the local school district busses.  Field trips to local establishments have taken place, and local teens and community members have had the opportunity to earn income through part-time S.P.A.R.K.S. employment,” she said. “The RESD is saddened not only by the diminished opportunities for students but also by the negative impact that not having the S.P.A.R.K.S. programs will have on our communities.”

The six remaining S.P.A.R.K.S. sites are currently served by other 21st CCLC grants previously awarded to Clare-Gladwin RESD. These sites include, Beaverton High School, Farwell Elementary School, Farwell Middle School, Harrison Middle School, Harrison High School, and Harrison Larson/Hillside Elementary School. 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Clare-Gladwin Middle College welcomes new students

The Clare-Gladwin Middle College, a program of the Clare-Gladwin Career Center, welcomed 17 new students during its orientation for the 2013-2014 school year on May 2. The Clare-Gladwin Middle College offers a select number of students from Beaverton, Clare, Farwell, Gladwin, and Harrison schools the opportunity to earn college credits from Mid Michigan Community College while still in high school. The juniors and seniors spend half of their school day at their high school and the other half attending classes at Mid.

With only 25 spots available at the Middle College per year, Middle College Mentor Candace Opalewski said the selection process is competitive and all of the applicants are interviewed before a decision is made. 

“Many, many factors go into this final selection process. We look at the challenges the student has faced, if they are driven to achieve more despite their circumstances, if they’ll utilize the support services the Middle College offers, what their future college plans entail, and more,” she said. “It’s a very tough decision. All of the applicants are amazing and so are their stories.”  

Opalewski provides the students with tutoring, as well as extra support and guidance to help them succeed during their first experience with college courses.

The Clare-Gladwin Career Center is operated by the Clare-Gladwin RESD.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Turn-Around Achievement Awards honor students who have ‘taken charge of their futures’

The 2013 Turn-Around Achievement Award Recipients.
To see more photos, click here. 
Twenty students from ten local high schools were recognized at the eighth annual Clare-Gladwin Area School Board Association’s Turn-Around Achievement Awards on May 2. Held at Mid Michigan Community College, community leaders in education celebrated the accomplishments of local high school students who have made a positive and significant change in their lives during their high school careers.

Every students story is different. Some have overcome academic challenges, while others have figured out how to handle negative peer pressure,” said Sheryl Presler, Clare-Gladwin Regional Education Service District superintendent. “This ceremony is designed to honor the students who have persevered during some very difficult personal or family situations and have taken charge of their futures.

The Keynote Speaker at the awards ceremony was 1996 Harrison High School graduate Cora Hallauer. Holding an associate’s degree in elementary education and business from Mid Michigan Community College, Hallauer revealed details of her turbulent upbringing and how, despite her circumstances, she was able to achieve her goals. Hallauer and her husband currently own three area businesses.

As the awards were presented, tears of joy and pride were shared by both the students and the teachers as they reflected on their arduous journeys to success. Many award recipients thanked their educators, families, and friends for their encouragement along the way.

“As a principal, it’s days like today that make it all worthwhile,” said Beaverton High School Principal Joe Passalacqua.

In addition to a certificate, recipients of the Turn-Around Achievement Awards were given one of three scholarships, each of which entitles them to six credit hours of in-district tuition at MMCC. The Scholarships included the Doug Dodge Academic Opportunity Award for the Beaverton, Clare, Farwell, Gladwin, and Harrison schools students; the Al Roeseler Academic Opportunity Award for the students from Coleman High School; and the Tom Gilstad Academic Opportunity Award for those attending Bullock Creek High School or Meridian High School. 

“This is why we go into education,” said Farwell High School Principal Dee Yarger. “We don’t always get to celebrate these successes, but with events like this, we can. It’s just phenomenal.”

Turn-Around Achievement Award recipients include:

Beaverton High School
Kalene Batoha
Haeden McVicker

Bullock Creek High School
Bethany Coyle
Cody Evans

Clare High School
Poppy Adams
Gabrielle Cooper

Coleman High School
Elizabeth Bushre
Steven Snear

Farwell High School
Shane Cox
Mariah Veenstra

Farwell Timberland High School
Devon Verdon
Ashlee Wale

Gladwin High School
Ashlee Height
Andrew Teal

Harrison High School
Vanessa Kocur
Dylan LaPorte

Harrison Community/Alternative Education
Stacee Bonovitch
Summerlee Darabos

Meridian High School
Victoria Conway
Jarid Hoyt