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Sunday, November 17, 2013

Earning Three Stars!

Recently I saw a young boy playing Angry Birds Star Wars edition on his iPad. Intently focused, he continued until he had three stars. He was not satisfied with earning one or two stars, but wanted to achieve the highest ranking of three stars. This young man seemed concerned about his scoring legacy and wanted to do his best. He said that sometimes it takes more than a day for him to get the top score, but he doggedly continues, taking as much time as necessary to achieve his goal.

Watching him play his game made me think about our desired outcome for updating our buildings. All of us want to do our best: we want three stars! Just like the young boy intently focusing on his game, we will intently focus on the process we will use to gather information. Proper information gathering is essential to having a result which will synthesize all sources and details. We will use a thorough planning process which will include input from community members, parents, school staff and board members.

Just like the game, where birds bump into each other and interact so they may achieve their goal, some of our information gathering will come from intentional targeted interactions with community members. Our Facility Improvement Team will meet to review the results of the facility audit we conducted last spring. Columbia School District staff members will have an opportunity to participate in focus group meetings designed to gather input on details for their buildings.

At our Construction Core Team meeting last week, we looked at a visual representation of a proposed timeline. As we move along the timeline, we will proceed from the information gathering process to the design phase. During the initial design phase our input groups will have an opportunity to react and evaluate possible results. Our desire is to have a positive legacy which will benefit our children. At each juncture, I will communicate our progress to the Columbia School District Community.

The proposed timeline depicts us selling the Bonds in February, gathering input on design details during the winter, evaluating designs during the spring, soliciting bids for the first phase in March for completion in late August, finalizing designs for the second phase in late fall 2014, followed by bidding for completion of the second phase in August of 2015. Throughout this process we will continue to strive for three stars!

Over the past two weeks since we passed the Bond Issue Proposals, I have spoken to many staff and community members. If you have questions or suggestions, please drop me an email at or a note in the mail to 11775 Hewitt Road, Brooklyn 49230.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Living Green!

If someone had mentioned “Living Green” when my children were small I would have thought they were talking about Ninja Turtles or Kermit the Frog. I might have imagined that they were talking about horticulture or that they had a “green thumb.” Now, we all have an understanding that “Living Green” refers to recycling, reusing and reducing our carbon footprint.

Our Columbia students are involved in many efforts designed to “Live Green.” Each week the Columbia Central High School Leadership students gather recyclables from classrooms, then sort and fill the recycling bins with plastic, paper and cardboard materials. In addition to their recycling efforts, CCHS students have spent many hours working on the Memorial Garden and the landscaping surrounding the high school.

For their efforts in “Living Green” the Columbia Central High School students were awarded the Green Award from the Dahlem Conservancy, Consumers Energy and the Jackson County Intermediate School District. The Green Award recognized Columbia Central High School for completing ten or more environmental projects during 2012-13 that helped save taxpayer dollars and natural resources. The students and staff members received a “Green School” flag, a laminated plaque, and a white pine seedling to plant.

Columbia Middle School students and staff members have a three pronged approach to “Living Green.” First, they have made recycling a priority. At Columbia Middle school they recycle paper, plastic and cans. Even their recyclable boxes are recycled cardboard boxes decorated and used to collect items which are collected on a weekly basis by students. They are also reusing plastic grocery bags for various uses including general office use, Science Trash Pick Up Day, Locker Clean Out Day, and Cobb’s Closet.

In addition to recycling items, the students and staff members also work to minimize the use of paper copies for fliers and announcements, purchase recycled, biodegradable school supplies. Rather than using mounds of paper for many of their assignments, the students are able to use their computer account to store and submit papers to their teachers.

Last spring our middle school students embarked upon an adventure into composting as part of their recycling priority. Students brought in scraps from home which were then fed to composting worms to become worm castings, which were then used in their “Global Bucket” project as fertilizer.

Columbia Middle School students also have focused on conserving energy through learning about alternative energy through science lessons. They also have reviewed energy reduction through the Honeywell energy audit results for the Columbia School District. For their efforts, Columbia Middle School earned the “Emerald Award” from the Dahlem Conservancy, Consumers Energy and the Jackson County Intermediate School District. Columbia Middle School also received a “Green School” flag, a laminated plaque, and a white pine seedling to plant.

For their efforts to “Live Green” Columbia Elementary School students were recently rewarded with a $5,000 second prize in the American Girl contest. The students, along with their art advisor, Mrs. Backus, used large plastic bottle cap art to design and interpret a scene from an American Girl story.

Congratulations to all of our Columbia School District students and staff members for their efforts to “Live Green!” If you are interested in learning more about the Columbia School District or would like to assist with our efforts to “Live Green” please contact me at or call me at 5175926641.