Old Waverly school might house substance abuse program

By Liv Larsen
Lansing Township News

Lansing Township  – The Waverly School District has offered an old building to house a substance abuse program for women, and the program sponsor is waiting for rezoning approval.

Holy Cross Services Program Operations Director Sharon Berkobien gave a presentation on the possible future plans for the building if the rezoning approval is granted to the Waverly School Board at its meeting on October 20.

“Windemere View closed in 2011,” said School Board Treasurer Alan Wright. “It had been a K-4 elementary building…[we] chose to reorganize the district to address lower enrollment…and [Windemere] View closed. Since then [it] has sat empty. The board voted to explore selling the property this year, and almost immediately we were contacted by Holy Cross.”

This building would serve women ages 18 and up with any sort of substance abuse issues. These women are referred to Holy Cross Services by the Community Mental Health Authority of Clinton, Eaton, and Ingham counties, or CEI.

“[We] try and treat the whole person, and what we can’t treat, we work with other organizations. We wrap ourselves around the whole person,” said Berkobien, in order “to help that person rebuild their whole life.”

Holy Cross Services was informed by the CEI of the need for the program in the Lansing area, and so began the hunt for the perfect building that met the criteria they followed for its other buildings across the state.

“We look for schools, business [and] buildings that are no longer being used,” said Berkobien. “We want them on a bus line, some place to be outside in the fresh air, something that is close and accessible to different things.”

Berkobien said she “just stumbled across the school.”

Holy Cross is still waiting on getting the rezoning approval from the Lansing Township Board of Trustees before any of the renovating can begin.

“You never know how that’s going to go. I get it,” said Berkobien. “We’re looking at plan B in case it doesn’t work. Regardless, we’d like to be able to come to Lansing.”

Berkobien isn’t the only one is hoping to be able to remodel the old school.

“I think it’ll bring something proactive to the building that doesn’t currently exist,” said School Board Trustee Calvin Jones. “Everyone feels like they’re getting something out of it…it’s a good program, and as long as we have citizens that require this service, I think it’s a matter of providing a [place] where they can go.”

Sharon Berkobein presents the Holy Cross substance abuse program for women, that will potentially be moving into the Lansing area,  to the Waverly School Board at its last meeting.

Sharon Berkobien presents the Holy Cross substance abuse program for women, that will potentially be moving into the Lansing area, to the Waverly School Board at its last meeting.

Cole Academy continues to beat odds

By Kelsie Patrick
Lansing Township News

 

UntitledLANSING TOWNSHIP– Cole Academy is not your average charter school. Through new additions to the school, increased technology in the classroom and impressive state test scores, Cole Academy is making strides toward increased success.

Cole Academy, located on Mt. Hope, between Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. and Pleasant Grove Road, is a charter school, which means it is a publicly funded independent school established by teachers, parents or community groups under the terms of a charter with a local or national authority.

Cole Academy is Lansing’s longest-standing charter school and received a charter through Central Michigan University in 1995. The Academy originated as an early childhood center and over the years, gradually became a K-6 public school. Cole Academy currently holds 210 students.

Cole Academy is run by Central Michigan University’s assessment system. This system consists of a MAP– Measures of Academic Progress– test. The academy is required to have all students take this test three times a year. The test is used to see what level of learning students are at, and in turn creates a unique learning path for each student depending on their results.

Newest student school board representative gets started

Bolling

Waverly High School junior Atiyaa Bolling, middle, listens during the Waverly Community Schools Board of Education meeting on Oct. 20. Bolling is this year’s school board representative as elected by the school’s student government. (Photo: Nick Barnowski)

By Nick Barnowski
Lansing Township News

DELTA TWP. – As the seven Waverly Community Schools Board of Education members took their seats on Oct. 20, an eighth sat down right next to them.

The meeting was the beginning Atiyaa Bolling’s tenure as school board representative. Waverly High School’s student government elected the 16-year-old junior.

“I was told it’s really hard to fill the position, so I decided to step up and fill it,” Bolling said.

The Oct. 20 meeting was Bolling’s first.

“I was really nervous but the school board members are really nice so I felt pretty comfortable,” she said.

Bolling sat at the front of the room just like every other board member and was given the opportunity to comment on meeting issues. While she does not vote on reports or proposals, the position establishes a communication avenue between students and board members.

She was given a spot on the agenda to deliver her report to the board, which included an update on Waverly’s homecoming and information about an upcoming debate that will be hosted at the school Oct. 23.

Future Board of Education meetings will follow the same agenda in regards to her role.

Trustee Calvin Jones said Bolling’s position helps the board better reach the student body.

“It’s a great idea,” Jones said. “It’s good to have our students here as part of the process so they can let us know how things are going and let us know if there are some things we could do differently.”

Waverly High School Principal Chris Huff, who has known Bolling for three years, said the position allows the volleyball player and band member to be the “eyes and ears” of the student body.

“Anything students are concerned with, she brings to me first so we can discuss it,” Huff said. “She then forwards anything that’s pertinent on to the school board.

“She gets to represent 1,110 kids and bring the issues and the events and the pride of the student population and represent them in front of our highest level of administration.”

The school board representative position is not unique to this year. Jones, who has sat on the board since 2001, said the board has had a student member every year since before he was appointed.

While Bolling is not the first, the position offers a unique experience to high school students who are looking to make a difference in their community.

“It gives them the ability to speak in front of people that they don’t know and share their enthusiasm and their excitement for being a citizen of Waverly Community Schools,” Jones said.

Bolling, who is also a member of the Spanish Honor Society and student union, wants to study engineering at Stanford University following high school. Huff said the position would bode well for her as she moves on and chooses a career.

“I’m hoping to be more involved in the community and get more comfortable with public speaking when I present to people,” she said.

Waverly High School prepares student voters

By Liv Larsen
Lansing Township News

Lansing Township- A sense of patriotism is evident from the first step into the office of Deputy Principal Tracy Thomas, where a scale model of the Twin Towers rests front and center on his desk. But the patriotism at Waverly High School is more than symbolic; this school wholly involves its students in an important American right: voting.

At the end of each school year, Waverly High School gathers a list of all the students who will be eligible to vote in the next election, and gives them the opportunity of registering to vote so they’ll be ready to fulfill their role of citizenship.

“We partner with other people to give our kids more opportunities…to get registered to vote,” said Thomas. “Last year May, it was the League of Women Voters in the Lansing area.”

Tracy Thomas sits at his desk behind his scale model of the Twin Tower buildings. Thomas plays an important role in the school when it comes to educating students on the voting process.

Tracy Thomas sits at his desk behind his scale model of the Twin Tower buildings. Thomas plays an important role in the school when it comes to educating students on the voting process.

The chosen organization visits the school to help students register while providing nonpartisan voting information.

“We set up a date where they come in and set up a presentation” and they also explain to the students “kinds of questions that voters need to know about…and they register them too,” said Thomas.

Waverly Community Schools welcome huge advances thanks to technology bond

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Waverly eleventh graders Sarah Miller (left), Angel Hague (second from right) and friends use newly improved learning space to decorate volleyball posters.

By Jordan Jennings
Lansing Township

LANSING TOWNSHIP — Waverly Community Schools have welcomed COWs” (Computers On Wheels), learning spaces and huge advances thanks to their technology bond that was passed this summer.

“[From] what’s behind the walls—the wiring— to what’s in our closets —the network hardware, the servers—all the way to the desktop computers, everything is brand new this year,” said David Palme, supervisor of LEA technology services at Waverly Community Schools.

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Previously two classrooms, this area of the Waverly Middle School is now remodeled into a learning space, complete with TVs on each wall.

The major technology construction project included about 25 miles of network and cabling, several alternative learning spaces and a One-to-One learning program.

Waverly school board members unopposed in Nov. 4 election

By Kelsie Patrick
Lansing Township News

 

waverly2LANSING TOWNSHIP — The four Waverly School Board members running unopposed to keep their seats next month will spend their terms seeing through a five-year plan to improve the school district.

The board members are Calvin L. Jones, Mary Ann Martin, Britt Slocum and Alan Wright. All citizens within the school district can vote on Tuesday, Nov. 4.

The Waverly Board of Education approved the 2011-2016 plan in May 2011. This Strategic Planning Team was made up of district staff, parents and community members.

The plan consists of five strategies: communications, professional development, instruction, character development and technology. Each of these strategies consists of elements and action plans to enhance Waverly Community Schools. For example, raising standards for new staff in the hiring process, using technology to better educate students and integrating social and behavioral skills into the curriculum.

One Waverly mother said she has noticed some changes.

“One thing I’ve noticed is how much more my kids use technology every year for school,” said Mandy Martin, whose two children attend Waverly schools. “Waverly has really implemented that into their methods of learning.”

After six years, the mess left behind by General Motors is still an issue in Lansing Township

by Liv Larsen
Lansing Township News

LANSING TOWNSHIP -- Since 2011, the Lansing Township Board of Trustees has been working with RACER Trust in the cleanup and redevelopment of the old General Motor plants when they closed in 2008. RACER trust was created after the General Motors bankruptcy and started this project with $4.2 million. On Wednesday October 7, the board members discussed their frustration over the length of this project.

Susan Aten and Kathleen Rodgers listen intently at the Board of Trustees meeting on October 7, 2014

Susan Aten and Kathleen Rodgers listen intently at the Board of Trustees meeting on October 7, 2014

“It’s been taking a long time,” said Lansing Township Supervisor Kathleen Rodgers. “And it will be a long time before these properties will be sold and marketed.”

Part of the reason this project has been taking so long is because when the GM plants moved out, they left a lot of contamination in their wake.

“There has to be a plan to cap or get rid of the contamination of that site. That has to be approved by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality,” Rodgers said. There have been “numerous extensions because of the contamination.”

Because the old plant area is known for the left behind contaminants, Rodgers worries that this could affect how people see neighboring properties of the site.

“People are reluctant to buy property next to a contaminated site,” Rodgers said. “[There's] some PCB (polycholrinated biphenyl) and dioxins.” But she assures that the contamination has “not reached the water table, [and] has not encroached on the groundwater.”

Despite the types of contaminates known to be on the site, RACER Trust officials feel confident they have a handle on the situation. Michigan Cleanup Manger for RACER Trust Grant Trigger said in an emailed statement that the company wouldn’t characterize the work as a struggle and feels that its team will be able to safely complete to work.

From the beginning, township officials have kept the well being of the township at the forefront of their minds and planning.

“We met with GM and asked them what was gonna happen,” said Lansing Township Planning Director Steve Hayward. They told him that they wanted the “highest and best use for this property.” Hayward asked them if “that [meant] to our residents or [their] stockholders…they said stockholders.”

That conversation with GM leaders has inspired the city officials to try and turn this property into something that can benefit the people of Lansing Township.

“At this point we’re trying to take a more affirmative stance on how this property is going to be used so it’s not detrimental,” said Hayward. “We need to have these properties not be a drag on the township.”

Some Lansing Township residents are equally concerned with how the ongoing emptiness of the lots are starting to affect the rest of the area.

“They need to be cleaning up this property,” said Lansing Township resident Vicki Simmons.“We need to get this stuff taken care of [and] bring this town back to life.”