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Farwell parent tells BOE overcrowding must be addressed

By Cathy Taylor                                                                                                                                           Correspondent

The Farwell School Board of Education meeting was held April 15th, 2013 at the Garfield Township Hall in Lake Station with two members absent, Board President Rose Sharp and Board Secretary Irene Haner.

The meeting began with a presentation by High School instructor Laura Baker that showcased the talents of many of her students.

“We put cameras in their hands and encouraged them to take pictures at school and at home of whatever prompted them,” Baker began.  “It could be something they lost and would never get back, or something of historical importance that had a significant appeal to them, or something that was totally useless to them.”

According to Baker, the kids were very creative with their cameras.  The hardest part of the project was writing the accompanying stories that explained the concepts and emotions behind the photos.

“They kept going back and re-editing their writing until they were happy with it,” said Baker.  “I was so impressed with these kids and their enthusiasm.”

The project was part of a student research program through the CMU College of Education.  The Dean of the College has provided funding for the students’ work to be placed on exhibit at the college campus and is currently on display for public viewing.

Also presented at the Monday night meeting were the names of the Timberland Alternative Education Students of the Month .   Representing the Freshman class was Hunter Verdon.  Hunter’s parents are Corey and Michelle Verdon.  Representing the Sophomore class was Lauren O’Dell, daughter of Richard and Sheryl O’Dell.  Hannah Mae Boyd, daughter of Connie Boyd, was elected the Junior class Student of the Month with Julie Swineheart, daughter of Chris and Dawn Swineheart, rounding out the list for the Senior class representative.

Clare County Sheriff’s Department Officer Erica Vredevelt was on hand at the meeting to introduce Timberland student Ashlee Wale to the Board.  Ashlee is an amazing young lady who was recently awarded the MMCC Turnaround Student of the Year award for her amazing strides in getting back on track with her graduation requirements.

Also honored at the BOE meeting were nine of Farwell School choir students  who gave a live choral performance at a recent Saginaw Spirit hockey game.

During the public participation segment, several guests took the opportunity to express concerns over various school matters.  A Farwell High School student appealed to the Board to allow him entry to the school prom.  He reported that he was denied access to the prom and doesn’t exactly know why.  He said that repeated attempts to contact school officials over the matter has not brought any relief.

Board Vice President Paula Sullivan thanked the young man for his concern but informed him that the Board has no jurisdiction over such a matter.  Superintendent Carl Seiter suggested that he apply for re-admission to the event by filling out the proper documents.

A concerned parent spoke up during the meeting concerning the overcrowding in two of the second grade classrooms.  He assumed that the Chinese program was the cause of the situation, but it seems to be a bigger problem this year than last.  Sullivan admitted that the Board has been fielding many other comments concerning this issue and that they are working to rectify the situation.

Elementary School Principal Tim Moore made a special presentation of three homemade quilts made from individual blocks of fabric designed by Farwell elementary students.

“A lady by the name of Mrs. Harper, from Harrison, found the quilt blocks in a box of quilting fabric she bought at a yard sale,” Moore stated.  “The blocks were made by students in the Farwell Elementary School back in 1987 and 1988.”

Moore said that Mrs. Harper’s original thought was to discard the quilt blocks since they were no good to her.  But she started thinking that these blocks might mean something special to the families whose children made them.  So she decided to piece them altogether and donate them to the school.

“This is an incredible piece of Farwell School history that this lady has preserved for us,” Moore said.  “We will have all three quilts hanging in our library for everyone to see.”

Superintendent Carl Seiter stated that Friday, April 12th was the 9th official snow day for the district.  He admitted that it is rather unusual for snow days to be called after the first day of April.  He informed the Board that there is a process in which a school district can appeal to the state for forgiveness for any day called for inclement weather after April 1st.

Seiter stated that if the appeal for the snow day is granted, the school would only be looking at two additional full days of instruction—May 30th and the 31st.  If the appeal is rejected, students may be scheduled for full classroom instruction on June 3rd, 4th and 5th.

In other Board business, a motion was made and approved to add a new course to the High School curriculum.  The new course would familiarize students with the formal college essay writing process, making the transition from high school to college level English easier.  The course will also enhance the students research skills and writing abilities.

As the last order of business, the board accepted the resignation/retirement of Bernie Starns. Bernie has been an asset to the Farwell Schools and will be greatly missed.

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