I am a senior at Michigan State University studying international reporting, international development and educational studies. I plan to use the intersection of these perspectives to do my part in ending educational inequity and closing the racial achievement gap in the United States.
The 2020 presidential election consumed social media platforms for weeks leading up to Nov. 3. Public diplomacy allows anyone with a social media account to publish an opinion or claim fact, and Okemos voters recognized the role this played in voter intimidation. The global pandemic caused 65 million people to send in their votes early via mail. Although this method decreases exposure to other people in the forms of COVID-19 and voter intimidation, the polarized social media posts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter leading up to the election left first-time voters and MSU senior Abigail Scroggie frustrated.
The Spirit Halloween in Okemos takes over the empty Younkers department store in Meridian Mall from late August to early November, providing local residents like Robin Garrett and her family an opportunity to find costumes for her neighborhood’s socially-distanced trick-or-treating. Despite the curtailed Halloween plan, Garrett’s daughters were excited about the costumes they bought at Spirit Halloween. “I like it, the girls like it,” Garrett said. “We always go there, you’ll find us looking around.”
Spirit Halloween sets up in Meridian Mall as a temporary store each year. Photo by Kamryn Romano
In an article by the National Retail Federation, Spirit Halloween CEO Steven Silverstein said that even though Halloween looks different this year, a majority of the 1,300 stores nationwide are still open.
Spirit Halloween has received criticism for its business model, and some wonder how they’ve survived this long.
Okemos Public Schools, or OPS, drafted a “Safe Return to School Plan” that was presented Oct. 12 to the Board of Education. The board will take action on the plan on Oct. 26.
The school district conducted a survey among parents, guardians and teachers about their comfortability reentering the classroom. Families respond to call for schools to open
According to the survey, only 29% of families would be very comfortable sending their child back to school during Phase four, while 53% of families would be very uncomfortable or uncomfortable sending their child back to school during Phase four of the MI Safe Start Plan Framework.
The Meridian Township Board announced Amber Clark as the new Director of Neighborhoods and Economic Development during its last meeting on Oct. 5.
Clark proposed the position be restructured to serve neighborhoods, as most of Okemos and Haslett residents live in suburban areas. Keeping neighborhoods in the loop
As Clark moved into the director position, she told the city manager and team about her plans to reinvigorate the role. “Upon taking the position, I told the team I was interested in drawing in the neighborhoods of such a residential-heavy township,” Clark said. “The core areas looking to develop immediately touch the residents in these neighborhoods, and economic development isn’t just about bringing in new businesses.”
If redevelopment funding is secured, the development team plans to complete demolition and asbestos abatement of buildings on the west side of the community by Dec.
As Okemos residents and nearby college students dive into school and work, they are able to nurture their physical and mental health with workouts outside of their homes. Powerhouse Gym Okemos employee Katie Boncore said the gym is taking a multitude of precautions to remain COVID-safe. “The gym is currently enforcing the six feet social distancing rules with every other cardio machine turned off, markers on the floor and all machines distanced,” Boncore said. There are sanitation stations set up very frequently in the gym — these include hand sanitizers, buckets of wipes, spray bottles and towels. On top of that, Boncore said the gym is enforcing the governor’s mask mandate, along with the 25% capacity rules.