THIS KUTE KID IS… Isai Balcazar, on a trip to the Windy City last fall. His proud parents are Itzel and Enrique Balcazar of Hartford. Isai’s loving grandparents are Eliazar and Gonzalo Garcia of Hartford and Alicia Morales of Mexico.
55TH ANNIVERSARY… Larry Downey and Dovie Liles were married on March 28, 1965 at the home of his parents in Coloma. Larry is the son of the late Woodrow & Dovie Marie Downey of Coloma. Dovie Mae is the daughter of the late Delbert and Lawanda Liles of Black Oak, Arkansas. They met at the Ramona Roller Rink in Sister Lakes in January 1965. Mr. & Mrs. Downey have two children; Scott (Ashley) Downey and Candi (Ted) Sinclair both of Hartford. They also have two grandsons Jake Sinclair and Gavin Downey. Larry and Dovie are lifelong residents of Watervliet. They enjoy spending time with family and their many friends. They have also been enjoying their retirement years together traveling and making many more memories. The Downeys will be celebrating their anniversary with the loves of their lives, Scott, Ashley, Gavin, Candi, Ted and Jake.
Miracle League representatives address Paw Paw Lake Rotary Club
Becky Young and Brenda Wolf from the Tri-City Area Miracle League baseball teams were guest speakers in February at the Paw Paw Lake Rotary Club. Becky has been a Miracle League coach for many years, and she thanked the Rotary for their continued support. She has a special needs son who is now 23 years old and he started in the league when he was 6 or 7 years old. Many of the team members travel long distances to be in the league. There are seventy-five team members in the league. Each year the teams have different color t-shirts and the shirts are worn throughout the year. The season starts the second week in May and runs for seven weeks. The first week is getting shirts distributed and paperwork completed. The games start the third week in May on Tuesday, 6 p.m. at the Washington School in Coloma. The league has three different levels of players. Brenda takes care of the higher functioning players who are 26 years and above and they play three innings with live pitches. Becky does the middle functioning players and they hit off a tee. There is a minor league whose players are younger. The games are fun for the players as everyone scores and gets to run the bases. The league needs buddies to be on the field to help the players. Organizers invite anyone interested to volunteer and help out. The league is getting new equipment this year, such as helmets and bats. Through the Rotary donation, special balls are purchased. One or two of these balls are given out at each game. Players are also given participation metals. The league is invited to the Mattawan Jamboree. The teams get awards, have mascots, and are provided free lunch. There is no cost to the parents for their children to be in the Miracle League; all costs are covered by donations. Paw Paw Lake Rotary Club meetings are held on Wednesdays at 12:15 p.m. at Lakeland Hospital, Watervliet.
HOST TO MIRACLE LEAGUE… Paw Paw Lake Rotary Club hosted representatives from the Miracle League at a luncheon meeting in February. Pictured are: (from the left) Ron Clark – Rotary Program Chair, Brenda Wolf – Miracle League coach, Dan Schofield – Rotary President and Becky Young – Miracle League coach.
Coloma School Board OKs pre-Labor Day start up
By Annette Christie
The Coloma School Board gave final approval to schedule a pre-Labor Day start for the 2020-2021 school year. At their meeting on Monday, March 9, 2020, Superintendent Dave Ehlers said that they will take advantage of the new calendar option by starting on August 31, 2020 with a half day. In doing so, students will have their first semester end at Christmas break which will allow for a natural learning break and truly no homework. They also set it up so that at the Thanksgiving holiday, school will be closed the Wednesday before as well, allowing more time off for families that travel.
Berrien RESA sought an exemption from the post Labor Day start which they were granted by the state. Now, individually, school districts can choose to move their start date to before Labor Day. Ehlers told the board that making the change will also reduce some transportation costs by eliminating the half day schedules for only some of the students. Students will still end up with 180 student days and their calendars will align more with college schedules. “If we didn’t do this, based on where Labor Day falls this year, we would be here until the third week of June,” Ehlers said.
High School Principal Mike Churchill reported that 50 families attended Freshmen Orientation. He will be attending a professional development session in Lansing to obtain additional information on laws and legal issues pertaining to school administration.
Junior High Principal Wendy Tremblay noted that parent-teacher conferences attendance was a little lower. She suspected that the team meeting format that was used last year may have been more receptive. They will try to work into that format in the future. She stated that the Behavioral Specialist position that has been filled has started serving in the junior high for three days a week and two days in the intermediate school. She said having the position filled has really freed up teachers and administrators and allows a student who may be having some problems to have someone specific to work with them.
Intermediate School Principal Karra Hafer announced that March is reading month and many activities are underway. The theme is ‘Oh the Places You Will Go’. “Kids are excited. They are reading and sharing how many books they’ve read,” Hafer said.
Mr. Kline, the Elementary School Principal stated that the One Book One School program has kicked off. Additional funding has allowed for 10 literacy aids in all the classrooms. Staff members are taking turns reading to students on YouTube.
3rd Grade Reading
The district has sent out a letter about the 3rd Grade reading law to the parents of students in that grade. The law passed in 2016 states that a student that does not score as high as the child should in English Language could possibly be held back. “We don’t believe holding kids back is the answer,” Ehlers said.
The letter explains the process and alerts parents that they may be contacted by the state. Ehlers said the letter outlines the steps the district will do to help parents in this position.
Ehlers showed a video informing the board about a new lighting system available on buses. The Guardian Bus Safety lights, when installed on a school bus, includes additional strobe lights and lights up the path that the children should take with crossing to the bus. The light systems could be installed on buses for under $1,200. The lights help to reduce the risk of the bus being rear ended and by illuminating the area where students are walking, keeps them lit up as well so the bus driver can see them.
School Board President Heidi Ishmael reminded the board members that most of them will be on the ballot in the November election. All of the school board members with the exception of Nicole Hickmon and Heidi Ishmael will need to make sure they submit their candidate information by July 21.
Ehlers said all of the superintendents have been meeting to discuss the coronavirus (COVID-19) and how best to prepare if it hits this area. He will be sending information out to parents and staff about what might be in store and how to avoid it. The school systems are working closely with the Berrien County Health Department.
In the area of food service, where the funding is plentiful, the excess must be utilized. Food Service Director Shelly Mazigian suggested that the junior high cafeteria should be remodeled and updated. Come next school year, students and staff will find it freshened up with new equipment, paint and positive words as murals.
Going forward, the school board meetings will be held in Room #46 at the junior high.