Seiter calls two students, semi driver “heroes”

March 23, 2017

Northern Logistics semi driver Ben Florenza was honored Monday by Farwell Superintendent Carl Seiter for his heroic actions that may have saved the lives of children during the March 13 Freeman Township collision.

Northern Logistics semi driver Ben Florenza was honored Monday by Farwell Superintendent Carl Seiter for his heroic actions that may have saved the lives of children during the March 13 Freeman Township collision.

By Pat Maurer
Correspondent

It was an emotional moment for Farwell Superintendent Carl Seiter as he introduced two students he called “heroes” for their actions after the March 13 school bus collision with a semi at the intersection of Cedar (Twin Lakes) and M-115 early that morning.

Seiter said, “March 13 was a day that will live with me forever. It was a parent’s worst nightmare in the aftermath. We had a lot of heroes that day including these two amazing young adults who checked on and took care of the other kids on the bus. I am extremely proud of Floyd Robinson and Carol Griffin.” He went on to say that Carol even thought of and helped others out despite the cracked rib she suffered in the collision. He said Floyd wanted to also immediately check on the semi driver.

Later during the meeting he also introduced the semi driver, Benjamin Florenza, 40 of Freeland, whose attempt to avoid the collision by going into a ditch saved many lives, he said.

He presented Florenza with a certificate honoring him for his actions, telling the board and audience he was the father of three children who go to school in Freeland.

Florenza said he swerved toward the ditch because, “There was no way I was going to hit a school bus. I would do it again.” Clare County Sheriff’s deputies were called to the scene around 6:48 a.m. by the report of the accident in Freeman Township.

Students Floyd Robinson and Carol Griffin, shown here with Superintendent Seiter, were named heroes for their help in the aftermath of the semi/school bus collision on March 13.

Students Floyd Robinson and Carol Griffin, shown here with Superintendent Seiter, were named heroes for their help in the aftermath of the semi/school bus collision on March 13.

Deputies found that the school bus, driven by 54-year-old John Gretcka of Farwell, was northbound on Cedar and had stopped at the intersection of M-115 (Twin Lakes) to wait for a southbound vehicle to pass, and not seeing the semi because reduced visibility from the snowstorm and due to snow thrown up by the car that had just passed, started into the intersection where the bus was hit by the southbound semi around 6:30 a.m.

Although both the bus and semi were damaged, Florenza, Gretcka and two of the 15 children on the bus only had minor injuries and were transported to MidMichigan Medical Center – Clare where they were treated and released. The rest of the children on the bus were transferred to another bus and taken to Farwell Schools.

Farwell VFW Post 3039 donated $2,200 to the school district Monday evening. $1,700 of the funds will purchase a second AED for the schools. Shown here are Dennis Wissenger (VFW) Jane Jaime, Carl Seiter, Jack Allbee (VFW) and Board member and VFW member Bill Geyer.

Farwell VFW Post 3039 donated $2,200 to the school district Monday evening. $1,700 of the funds will purchase a second AED for the schools. Shown here are Dennis Wissenger (VFW) Jane Jaime, Carl Seiter, Jack Allbee (VFW) and Board member and VFW member Bill Geyer.

Celebrations were the highlight of Monday’s regular board meeting. Veterans of Foreign Wars members of Post 3039 Dennis Wissenger and Jack Allbee were there to present a $2,200 donation to the district. $1,700 of the funds will purchase a new AED (automated external defibrillator) to augment the one the school currently has and $500 for the materials that went into the Eagle Wall of Honor at the school, which honors Farwell graduates currently serving in the armed services. Future plans are to honor all of the hundreds of Farwell graduates who are now veterans. They said, “Over and over again this school has demonstrated patriotism and pride in, appreciation of, and support of veterans. We truly appreciate and thank you for all that this school does for veterans.”

Seiter said, “The VFW Post 3039 has been a wonderful member of the community for a very long time and they are still doing great things.” Farwell’s Eagles Cheer team was honored. Seiter said, “Not only are they JPC Champs, they shattered records and missed placing first at the Regional Championship by just one point. The cheerleaders placed 7th at the MHSAA State Finals.

The High School Symphonic Band was honored for achieving a “1” overall rating at the District Festival. They will compete at the State Festival on April 28.
Also honored were Farwell Wrestlers Jay Thrush with a 33-13 record ranking him in the top 12 in the State at his weight class and Glenn Beardsley with a 32-1 record and who second place in the recent State competition with a 145.

At the meeting March 6, Seiter also congratulated the Eagle Bowlers who went to State, saying Eagle Bowlers Jade Wilson and Caleb Brown competed. In his report to the board, Seiter outlined the training for “Illuminate,” the program to replace Data Director for student assessments; read a letter acknowledging Board VP Holly Thrush for her recent Level 1 Certification and Award of Merit from the Michigan Association of School Boards; and reminded everyone of the Women’s’ Club Craft Show from 9 to 3 on Saturday in the High School Gymnasium, Jamie Center and halls. He said there will be 75 to 80 crafters there.

Students of the Month were announced by Dean of Students & Athletic Director Kyle Woodruff. They include senior Glenn Beardsley, Junior Brittany Parker, Sophomore Brianna McQuiston, 9th grader Madison Nunn, 8th grader Thomas Murphy and Timberland student Jeff Lawrence.

In board action Monday: the donation from VFW Post 3039 was accepted; Invoices totaling $284,976.78 were approved; approval was given for computer purchases for next year, and the board approved moving the Superintendent Evaluation Process to a November/December time frame.

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