A dragon marched in Friday’s Michigan State University homecoming parade, bobbing above handlers from the Chinese Undergraduate Students Association. People lined the streets for the annual parade and, at noon Saturday, about 30,000 extra people were expected for the football game against Northwestern. East Lansing bars, restaurants, hotels and police put on extra people and brought in supplies for the busy weekend.
When it comes to school safety, parent Kath Edsall rarely speaks to her children about the issue. Edsall currently has five children enrolled in East Lansing Public Schools, with three more already graduated, she leaves the responsibility of educating her kids about safety up to the schools they attend. “I don’t want to panic my children, you know I’m not going to have them paranoid and scared to death about every little boogeyman,” Edsall said. “I’m not going to panic them about weapons in school, the school is doing what they need to do at this point in time and I hope for a day when we don’t have to have lockdown drills,” Edsall said. “I think (the schools are) doing everything that we need to do right now, you know my kids say they’re practicing,” Edsall said.
A long line of people waits inside the Hannah Community Center, reaching almost all the way to the front doors. Parents with baby carriers and strollers stand chatting with each other. Children scamper up and down the hallways. The crowd has gathered for an unlikely reason: to celebrate early literacy. Early literacy is lagging in Michigan, where overall reading levels have been in decline since 2003 and only 44 percent of third-graders are proficient readers, according to 2016-2017 state assessment data from the State of Michigan Education Report.
University towns like East Lansing can be pivotal places of self-discovery and debate, but some say a better dialogue is still needed when it comes to religious freedom and sexual identity. Conversations between churches and the LGBT community can be polarizing. Although roughly 54 percent of U.S. Christians across denominations think homosexuality should be accepted by society, according to a 2014 survey conducted by Pew Research Center, many churches don’t fall into this category. “In my view, we’re letting the extremes on both sides define this debate and I think what we’re losing is the opportunity to try to find common ground,” said Frank Ravitch, a professor of law at Michigan State University, and author of “Freedom’s Edge: Religious Freedom, Sexual Freedom, and the Future of America.” According to Ravitch, religious entities like churches reserve the right to discriminate based on sexual identity, but not all types of discrimination should be conflated.
East Lansing Public Schools, while currently not the most diverse school district, is making efforts to change for the better. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics’ Census data from 2000, the city of East Lansing has 5,398 residents under the age of 18. A whopping 3,806 of these children are white. Students and parents alike are taking notice to this fact. East Lansing High School sophomore and student of color, Megan Pemba, commented on her view of the level of diversity.
In downtown East Lansing, a major land redevelopment project is in the works that will affect land and street regulation. This project is known as Shaping the Avenue, and is a new initiative funded by the Capital Area Transportation Authority (CATA) that will focus on analyzing and evolving how land is used in Lansing, East Lansing, Lansing Township, and Meridian Township, particularly on Grand River Avenue and Michigan Avenue. One important aspect of this project will be the use of form-based codes that will help dictate how buildings, walkways and roads will look in the future. “(This project) will address transit-oriented development, zoning ordinances, how buildings and streets would look, and really kind of more consistently, you’ll see development more consistently be implemented along the corridor,” said Laurie Robison, the director of marketing for CATA. Robison also explained the role that CATA is playing in this project.
On March 14, 2018, roughly 200 Grand Ledge High School students participated in the national school walkout against gun violence. Around 200 students in Grand Ledge High School walked out of their classes on March 14 to be involved in the nationwide #ENOUGH movement, honoring the 17 victims of the Parkland, Florida school shooting and acting against gun violence. Jonathan Shiflett, president of the Grand Ledge School Board, said the student walkout went “smoothly.”
“There really wasn’t any incident. I mean, it wasn’t something that we were actively encouraging or discouraging,” he said. “We just, you know, wanted to make sure that the kids were safe and that was it.”
The student walkout occurred weeks after Grand Ledge High School received a bomb threat that resulted in multiple evacuations and other precautions within the school district.
Lisa Wegner, community health promotion specialist at the Barry-Eaton District Health Department, went up to the podium at the Grand Ledge City Council meeting on Monday, March 12 to speak about the department’s several programs.
Wegner addressed the department’s Hepatitis A vaccinations, their Pathways to Better Health program and their Michigan traffic crash report and accident prevention. Abigail Lynch, also a community health promotion specialist for Barry-Eaton District Health Department, said the Barry-Eaton District Health Department serves 21 communities in Barry County and 26 communities in Eaton County through providing helpful and affordable programs.
“The Hepatitis A outbreak in Michigan started back in the fall of 2016 and Eaton County saw its first case that was linked to the outbreak in December of 2017,” she said. “Because we’re now considered to be part of the outbreak, we have funding from the state to really ramp up our prevention efforts to keep people from getting Hepatitis A.”
In addition to providing walk-in Hepatitis A vaccinations, Lynch said the health department also works together to provide helpful resources that help prevent diseases and other factors that play into health. “We track the rates of chronic disease, we track the rates of communicable disease, all sorts of these things that can affect health,” she said. “One of those things is accident and injury prevention, so we were looking at data from 2011 to 2015 and trying to figure out the major causes of deaths through accidents was, and one of the top factors in that was traffic crashes.”
The traffic report done by the health department was shared at the Grand Ledge City Council meeting and will be shared at other meetings around the Lansing area.
Preuss Pets is not an average pet store. With exotic animals including amphibians, lizards, snakes, invertebrates, parrots and more, the store resembles its animals with an adventurous interior design. Owner, Rick Preuss said customers are surprised with the knowledge they need to acquire when owning an animal. With 65 employees, he said they focus their energy on educating and assisting customers’ journey of pet keeping.
For most people, high school is a far ways away from establishing yourself as a bonafide, contributing member to society. For others, like Grand Ledge High School seniors Hunter Crane and Ryan Whitacre, age is just a number, and it’s never too early to start doing what you love. 4284 Clothing started in the first week of January this year, when students Crane and Whitacre became motivated by the massive amount of business startups that are now surfacing throughout the retail market. “We became motivated by the stuff we’ve been seeing around,” said Crane. “We used the coordinates for Grand Ledge because we live, love, and breathe this town.”
Crane, 17, has toyed with the idea of entrepreneurship throughout the latter half of his high school career, using his high, dedicated work ethic to land himself into positions that are rather advantageous to his dreams of success.