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of Clare County

High/Highest Honors Students Attend BOE Meeting

By DIANNE ALWARD-BIERY

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HARRISON – The Pledge of Allegiance at the May 13 meeting of the Harrison Community Schools Board of Education was led by five 2024 high/highest honors graduating seniors. They included Matt Holmes [salutatorian], Grace Taylor, Ethan Wallace [valedictorian], Hailey LeVasseur and Orian Taylor.

When business manager Chad Hathcock asked them what plans they had for after high school, Holmes informed that he would be attending Michigan State University to study nursing. Grace Taylor noted she would be attending Northern Michigan University, possibly to study business. Wallace said his plan is to attend Mid Michigan College and pursue a journalism career. LeVasseur plans to attend MMC to fulfill prerequisite requirements for exercise science, then move on to Saginaw Valley State University. Orian Taylor conveyed his interest in pursuing the study of entomology.

Joe Ashcroft, HHS principal, described the end of the school year, three days of testing and Seniors Honors Night.

“It’s busy,” Ashcroft added. “And these five right here are great students, and a pleasure to have in the high school the last four years.”

After the Board members extended their congratulations to the five, HCS Superintendent Judy Walton added her own.

“It was nice to see all of you honored – and dozens more – last Monday at Honors,” she said. “And know some of you are jangling with your medals that we’ll see at graduation. We’re all just so super proud of all of you and what you’re going to go out in the world and do.”

Ashcroft then interjected that, at the Senior Honors Night, just over $24,000 was distributed in scholarships, which was in addition to any scholarships students had received previously. He said that was “pretty good for our school district, and that’s because of our community.”

The Board next approved the Consent Agenda, which include approval of April 8 meeting minutes and the April 1-30 financial reports. Also approved were the hirings of Madison Hamina as eighth grade volleyball coach, and Hannah McGahey and Vanessa Lang as Larson Elementary teachers.

The Non-Consent Agenda included only the Clare-Gladwin RESD Budget Resolution, which the Board promptly approved.

Informational Items included the resignations of Melissa Doughty and Brenda Blain, Larson Elementary special education teachers; Lacie Hutton, Larson Elementary music teacher; and Scott Haskell, maintenance supervisor. Walton noted that Blain and Haskell are retiring, and that Doughty is returning to her hometown to assist with a family special needs situation. Hutton was said to be returning to her hometown as well.

With no one seeking to speak in Public Comment, the meeting moved on to the Superintendent Report wherein Walton spoke of upcoming classroom visits around a math pilot program. That will enable monitoring of piloting materials being used, as well as chatting with students about their experience.

“We’re piloting two different resources in [grades] K-5, one resource in 6-8 and one resource in 9-12,” Walton said, adding that a recommendation would be brought to the June school board meeting.

She added to Ashcroft’s previous comment, elaborating on about how busy it’s been across the district. Walton listed the previous week’s trip by fifth-graders to a track meet in Clare; a middle school dance for eighth-graders which all three grades were able to attend; and an impending kindergarten field trip to Dow Gardens.

“We always love when we can tie learning to more real-world or other pieces to help our kids see things in real life,” she said. In that vein, also noted was a fourth-graders annual government field trip, as well as that week’s Cap and Gown Walk through the preschool and elementary school buildings.

“There’re always enthusiastic crowds at all the school,” she said. “But I’m not sure there’s a more enthusiastic crowd than our preschoolers watching people go by in caps and gowns.”

Another item highlighted by Walton was her previous post that Samantha Hopkins had set a record in both the long jump and 100 meters, adding that she had just learned that Hopkins had bested her long jump record. Walton said Hopkins is only a sophomore, so the schools will continue to watch her and other athletes get their own personal or school records.

She then moved to correct a statement from the April BOE meeting.

“When we were talking about the survey, I did say that there was no research around asking kids, if there’s a question, that we prompt them to do that behavior,” Walton said. “I will correct that by saying there was a study reported – out of 2006 in a literature review by a Ph.D. candidate – of college students experiencing that, when asked. But not in adolescents, and all the research in adolescents shows there is no connection to that.”

Walton described that small research study out of Duke University, done in the early 2000s, as being around college students who were already using, took the survey and then reported using after the survey.

The last item to be addressed was scheduling the BOE members to do a three-hour superintendent evaluation training. Dates proffered were bandied about and declared undoable. More of the June, July and August dates were to be offered, and decided upon in coming days.

The meeting then moved into closed session for discussion of contract negotiations. The Board meets next at 5:30 p.m. Monday, June 10 in the Board Room at 224, W. Main St. in Harrison.

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