03-14-2019 Ric Seager named Watervliet Schools Superintendent; History making Sin’cere Taylor clai

GOING PLACES FOR BLOSSOMTIME… The 2019 Mr. and Miss Blossomtime and their Court were crowned after a two-day pageant event to find the Southwest Michigan royalty. Back row (from the left): 2nd Runner-up Cody Adkins of Edwardsburg; Mr. Blossomtime and Mr. Nice Guy Sin’cere Taylor from Coloma; and 1st Runner-up Jacob Smith of New Buffalo. Front row (from the left): Miss Congeniality Maya Schuhknecht from the community of Buchanan; 2nd Runner-up Krystin Buist from the community of Bridgman; Miss Blossomtime Olivia Ellis from the community of Bangor; and 1st Runner-up Claudia Moore from the community of Three Oaks/River Valley. (TCR photo by Annette Christie)


Ric Seager named Watervliet Schools Superintendent

By Kristy Noack

Ric Seager, principal at Schoolcraft High School, was offered the position of superintendent of Watervliet Public Schools following a special school board meeting and second interview session Tuesday evening.

Seager was one of two finalists for the position. He and Jonathan Whan, the superintendent of Grant Public Schools, answered a second round of questions posed by the Watervliet Board of Education and presented their 90-day transition plans, effectively communicating the goals they would tackle the first three months in the position of superintendent. Additionally, both candidates visited Watervliet Public Schools, spoke with staff, teachers, and administrators, and toured the city.

Following their individual one-hour interview sessions, Dave Killips, Regional President of the Michigan Leadership Institute, provided instructions to the board regarding the decision making process. After a short discussion, the board members unanimously approved extending an offer to Seager.

“I think we are very pleased with the process,” remarked board president Bill Spaulding. “We had two outstanding finalists. We are delighted with the vision and passion and proven leadership and academic achievement that Ric Seager has demonstrated in his career. We look forward to him continuing to deliver for the Watervliet Public Schools.”

Killips, who oversaw the hiring process, commented, “Mr. Seager will be an asset to the school district.”

Seager has been the Schoolcraft High School principal since January 2015. Before that position, he was the director of school improvement and assessment at Kalamazoo Public Schools, a role he held from 2010 to 2015.

From 2004-2010, Seager was the principal at Bronson Junior/Senior High School. Also, he has been a teacher at Northwest Community Schools and Belding Area Schools.

Seager holds a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics and Computer Science from Indiana University South Bend. In 1996 he earned a Master of Science in Education Administration and Supervision from Western Michigan University. In 2005, he was awarded a Master of Science in Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment from Walden University.

The board’s finance committee, comprised of Spaulding, Eric Laws, Matt Clay, and alternate Ted Tees, was approved to enter into contract negotiations. Pending a successful negotiation, a special meeting will be set for the board to approve the signed contract.

During his interview, Segar stressed, “Empathy, awareness, and compassion are at the heart of my leadership.”

Seager laid out a timeline that included making connections, listening and learning about the district, creating a theory of action which would become the foundation of the district’s strategic plan, and reporting back to the board.

Seager’s interview answers reflected a primary goal of being focused. “I am a big believer in knowing where you are and knowing where you’re going.”

Monday’s regular school board meeting

The Watervliet Board of Education regular meeting, held on Monday, March 11, provided an update as to the status of the search for a new superintendent.

In addition to the two rounds of interview questions, board members also contacted candidates’ references and made visits to their current employers.

Dietz presents winter sports update

Watervliet High School athletic director Ken Dietz was on hand to provide the board with an update regarding winter sports, sportsmanship, and the hunt for a new varsity football coach.

Last year, Dietz recommended that the district concentrate their efforts on promoting sportsmanship between players, coaches, and parents. The athletic department utilized productive messaging during games and throughout the school to remind athletes, fans, and parents about the importance of being a good sport. According to Dietz, “I couldn’t be more pleased with how our kids, coaches, community, and spectators have embraced sportsmanship.”

Dietz also shared that senior Matt Melcher finished fourth overall in the state wrestling tournament. Melcher wrestled in the 215 lb. weight class. He was joined in the state finals competition by fellow Panther wrestlers Alex Isbrecht (125 lbs.) and Trever Pelton (112 lbs.).

Dietz advised the board that the open position of varsity football coach was posted on March 5 both internally and externally. To date, Dietz has received notification that one internal and three external applicants have applied for the position. The job posting is active until Thursday, March 28.

Once the job posting is closed, and following the April 1 through April 5 spring break week, Dietz will create a committee to review the applications.

Parchment Schools has accepted an invitation issued by the Southwestern Athletic Conference to become a new member in the 2019-20 school year.

Currently, Coloma, Constantine, Delton Kellogg, Fennville, Galesburg Augusta, Gobles, Kalamazoo Hackett, Kalamazoo Christian, Lawton, Martin, Saugatuck, Schoolcraft and Watervliet are SAC member schools. With the addition of Parchment, the conference will grow to 14 teams overall and allow for seven schools in each of the two divisions, Lakeshore and Valley.

The athletic directors of the current 13 schools met on Tuesday, March 12 to approve the inclusion of Parchment. Following the vote, each AD will return to their respective school board with a measure for approval.

Finances and board policies approved

The board approved February general fund expenses be paid in the amount of $1,064,214.26. The motion passed unanimously.

The board also approved the revision of 24 policies, the creation of one new policy, and the replacement of one policy.

Policy topics ranged from Bylaws and Powers and Philosophy to Meetings, Anti-Harassment, Family Engagement, Graduation Requirements, Equal Employment, and School Report Card.

The next regular meeting of the school board is scheduled for Monday, April 15 at 6:00 p.m. in the middle/high school media center.

History making Sin’cere Taylor claims King and Nice Guy titles Miss Blossomtime is Olivia Ellis

By Annette Christie

Mr. Coloma, Sin’cere Taylor, made history on March 10, 2019, when he was named the first ever Mr. Blossomtime to also claim the title of Mr. Nice Guy.

Taylor, 17, is a senior attending Coloma High School. He is the son of Tuesday Clay and Sinatra Taylor.

In high school, Taylor is involved in football, track and field, and indoor track. He was named the most improved athlete in track and has received an academic award for his high G.P.A.

Following graduation, Taylor hopes to obtain a scholarship to further his education and to continue to contribute to the track sport at the college level. He plans to major in medicine.

In response to his Top 10 question, Taylor said that the opportunities that the Blossomtime Festival will offer are to meet new people, see new places in Southwest Michigan, and to do great things.

Besides Coloma’s Taylor, Hartford’s Alexander Lehnert and Watervliet’s Allen Chapin III also represented the Tri-City area in the Top 10.

Jacob Smith of New Buffalo was crowned first runner-up to Mr. Blossomtime. The 18-year-old senior attends New Buffalo High School. The son of Jason Smith and Brandi Smith, he is also dual-enrolled at Purdue Northwest. On the weekends he is taking part in an internship at Whirlpool.

In high school, he is in the National Honor Society, band, and is on the wrestling team.

His future goals are to train a new section leader in band and to win the Envirothon State competition. He would like to maintain his “A” honor roll status. He hopes to have enough success in his career to be able to support his family emotionally, physically, and financially.

Second runner-up honors went to Cody Adkins of Edwardsburg. The 18-year-old is a senior attending Edwardsburg High School.

The son of Fran Cordell and Dwayne Adkins plans to complete the required pre-pharmacy classes at Southwestern Michigan College. He plans to continue the program at Ferris State University in hopes of becoming a pharmacist.

In high school, he is involved in chorale, tennis and theatre. He has received the Scholar Athlete Award, was named the Captain of the Varsity Tennis Team and has performed in multiple theatrical presentations.

In all, there were 28 contestants vying for the title of Mr. Blossomtime. Other local contestants include David Hiler and Zackary Lake of Coloma; Xavier Salinas and Noah Wade of Hartford; and Derrick Burkhardt of Watervliet.

The king contestants had a one-on-one interview with the judges, had two formal presentations, an opening dance, a lip sync competition with the queens, and a modeling segment.

The individual modeling awards were given to Gregory Hill of Benton Harbor, Cody Adkins of Edwardsburg, and Allen Chapin III, of Watervliet.

The Mr. Blossomtime judges were Kelli Pfefferman Brady (Miss Bloomingdale and Miss Blossomtime 2000), Katlynn Kennedy (Miss Spirit and Miss Blossomtime 2013), and Bill Farwig (Vice President of Midwest Human Resources for Lockton Companies).

Showcase of Queens

The Sunday night Mr. Blossomtime Contest, also allows the audience to see a glimpse of those community queens vying for the title of Miss Blossomtime. During the event, they are judged in the categories of modeling, photogenic, and communications.

The queens donned their “After 5” cocktail dresses and pantsuits for the modeling segment. Winners in that category include Hartford’s Brynn Duffy, Miss Spirit Maya Schuhknecht, and Miss Niles Aliea Bakerson.

Based on the event program photos, the queens were judged for their photogenic characteristics. Winners in this category include Miss Spirit Maya Schuhknecht, Miss St. Joseph Sydney Briney, and Miss Lawton Kathryne Kuhlmann.

The communications segment this year, put the community kings and queens together for a lip sync battle that included points for costume, props, presentation, and of course the ability to lip sync.

The group singing, dancing, and playing to Jailhouse Rock by Elvis Presley won the competition. Included in the group were the communities of Benton Harbor, St. Joseph, and Stevensville.

Judges for the Showcase of Queens were Barbara Campbell (seasoned Blossomtime judge from Indianapolis), Darren T. McCormick (Mr. Benton Harbor and Mr. Blossomtime 2011), and Kimberly Smith Harness (Miss Gobles and Miss Blossomtime 1976).

Miss Blossomtime

Miss Watervliet Hannah Yerington and Miss Hartford Brynn Duffy made the Top 10 for the Miss Blossomtime Pageant held Monday, March 12, 2019 at Lake Michigan College Mendel Center.

Miss Bangor Olivia Ellis won the Miss Blossomtime title. The 17-year-old is a senior attending South Haven High School.

She is the daughter of James and Kelly Ellis. In high school she is involved in National Honor Society, volleyball, Youth Advisory Committee, student government, and softball.

Her future plans include attending Manchester University in Indiana to play softball and to study exercise science. She hopes to become an athletic trainer for high school students.

Miss Three Oaks/ River Valley Claudia Moore won the first runner-up title. She is the daughter of James Moore and Angela Moore.

The 17-year-old is a senior attending Berrien Springs High School. In high school she is involved in band, track, soccer, and is the wrestling team manager.

Her future plans include attending Western Michigan University to pursue a degree in Computer Science.

Miss Bridgman Krystin Buist was named second runner-up. She is the daughter of Joel and Sarah Buist.

Buist, 17, is a senior attending Bridgman High School. She is involved in sideline cheerleading, competitive cheerleading, softball, band, and DECA.

Her future plans are to attend Twin City Beauty College, followed by Southwestern Michigan College to receive a degree in cosmetology and to study business. She hopes to own her own beauty salon someday.

Miss Congeniality, selected by her sister queens, was bestowed upon Miss Spirit Maya Schuhknecht. This seems to be a trend, to choose Miss Spirit as Miss Congeniality, the only title they may achieve in the Miss Blossomtime Pageant.

The Miss Spirit Pageant offers an opportunity for all of the first runners-up to the community queens to vie for one more title and to take part in the Miss Blossomtime Pageant. While they are not eligible to win Miss Blossomtime, they can be selected as Miss Congeniality and they do have the opportunity to participate in tour week with all of the other 22 sister queens.

Schuhknecht, from the community of Buchanan, is an 18-year-old senior attending Buchanan High School. She is the daughter of Michael and Jennifer Schuhknecht.

She is in National Honor Society, Student Council, Art Club, Spanish Club, and HOBY. She also participates on the basketball and tennis teams.

Following high school she will be attending Michigan State University to pursue a degree in Graphic Design and Creative Advertising.

Hannah Yerington, Miss Watervliet, won the People’s Choice Award. The votes are cast by paying $1 per vote. She will receive 10% of the proceeds from that selection in the form of a college scholarship. The 17-year-old senior attends Watervliet High School. She is the daughter of Orville and Rhonda Yerington.

The communities that sell the most tickets to the Blossomtime Pageants were named at the contest and received cash back towards purchases from Blossomtime. The community of Hartford sold the most tickets, followed by the communities of Buchanan and Watervliet.

The judges for the Miss Blossomtime Pageant were James E. Campbell, Brandy Godush Cox, and Bret McAtee.

The Grand Floral Parade that will feature all of the community representatives will be held on Saturday, May 4.

Look for the Leprechaun at the Coloma St. Pat’s Day Celebration Saturday! See Page 6 for the schedule of events and merchant specials!


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