Williamston schools gives students access to library resources

Williamston Community Schools recently became the 10th school district in the Ingham County area to partner with the Capital Area District Libraries to implement the Student Success Initiative, a program that automatically enrolls students within a school district with a Capital Area District Library card regardless of where the student lives.

Williamston Pop-up Arts and Crafts Show returns this weekend

Madison RoseThe Williamston Pop-Up Arts and Crafts Show will take place Saturday, Nov. 13, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. inside Keller’s Plaza in Williamston,

After nearly a two-year hiatus, the Williamston Pop Up Arts and Crafts Show will return to Keller’s Plaza in Williamston on Saturday, Nov. 13, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The show will feature handmade items from a number of local artisans and makers, including watercolor, graphite and acrylic paint artists. “It’s a fun day to get artisans and crafters and people up here,” said show coordinator and The Artisan Alcove Gallery and Gifts Owner Matt Mulford. “It helps rejuvenate us, invigorate us and inspire us to keep at it.”

How COVID-19 affected the show and business

In March 2020, Mulford made the decision to cancel the show for safety reasons without knowing that the pandemic would prevent another show the following year. 

The shutdown significantly hindered the local artists’ businesses as they were unable to sell their work in person for at least six weeks. 

The pandemic forced Watercolorist and Owner of the Michigan Lighthouse Art Gallery Anita Saviko to switch her watercolor classes to Zoom for six months. 

Despite her disdain of teaching online, it was the only way to pay the rent. 

“I had the little gallery over here for about eight years,” Saviko said.

Nonprofits regain strength from Ingham County grant program

Ingham County granted dozens of nonprofits the ability to create a lot of meaningful change. The Lansing Economic Area Partnership is a private-public partnership that works to bring business to Lansing and boost the local economy. $1.25 million out of the $11 million in the Ingham County Sunrise Small Business Grant Program, was awarded to 83 nonprofits across the county at the beginning of October. For many of these organizations, this means they have the ability to re-open for the first time since the pandemic began. This program operates through the LEAP to use American Rescue Plan Act Funds to fill in gaps in the community, according to Ingham County Board of Commissioners Chairman Bryan Crenshaw. 

Team G.L.A.S.S., $10,000

Willie Glass, coach of Greater Lansing Area Specialized Sports, said “The money we were awarded was much needed and it’s for a great cause and a great purpose.

Customers shop for pumpkins, gourds and squash at Barkham Creek Farms on Oct. 10.

Williamston fall attractions reap benefits despite COVID-19

For some businesses and attractions open during the fall – specifically, pumpkin patches, corn mazes and farmers markets – in Williamston the pandemic affected them in different ways. 

Bestmaze Corn Maze

Bestmaze Corn Maze is located at 3803 Noble Road in Williamston. 

Owner of Bestmaze Corn Maze Mark Benjamin said after surveying people who came to the maze last season, he figures about half the regular customers stayed home due to the pandemic. “Because other places were closed, we got a lot of brand new people who had never been here before,” Benjamin said. “We ended up having one of our best seasons ever of 20 years.” 

Despite COVID-19 concerns and cutting back advertising about 80% last year, Benjamin said the maze experienced huge crowds. “The thing that shocked us (is), we were never slammed,” Benjamin said. “It was just like, a car pulled in, a car pulled out … all day long.

Weekend Survival Kits set students up for success

Credit: Isabella Johnson

In Williamston Community schools, 16.2% of students receive free or reduced lunch while at school, but the program does not support students during the weekends or time away from school. Jeff Gorsline and his wife Heather noticed this gap and founded Weekend Survival Kits 12 years ago. The organization and its volunteers get together semimonthly to package and send out nutritious foods to schools for their students facing food insecurity to have during non-school hours. Credit: Isabella Johnson

The mission

Gorsline, who also serves as Executive Director, said the foundation of the organization is packaging food and sending it to the schools for distribution, but the true objective goes deeper than just keeping kids fed. “We do send people food on the weekends, but it’s just a means to our real mission,” Gorsline said.

Williamston Community Schools Board of Education members sit and discuss agenda topics, during the Board of Education meeting held on Oct. 4, in Williamston Middle School.

Williamston School Board implements new classroom evaluation program

Williamston Superintendent Adam Spina, introduced the Board of Education’s top goal — a growth-oriented evaluation program — during the board’s monthly meeting on Oct. 4.“Strategy one is that an appropriate, evidence-based evaluation system will be developed and implemented for all staff,” Spina said. “The second part … is that district administrators will demonstrate instructional leadership by prioritizing time spent in the classrooms, meeting with staff and providing actual meaningful feedback and accurate documentation respective to teaching and learning.”Instead of a one-hour observation once a year, Spina said the goal is get principals to conduct more frequent visits – planned or spontaneous – with teachers throughout the year to provide them with feedback on their teaching and classroom. “One thing I would encourage principals to do,” Spina said. “If you’re walking down a hallway and you see something that piques your curiosity, you can pop into the classroom, because this is about feedback and conversations.