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Friday, May 23, 2014

Congratulations to Our Seniors!

When my boys were young they were excited to play with blocks. As they matured and gained greater dexterity, they began playing with Lego’s and other types of toys to build structures, vehicles and machines. Sometimes they would begin with a single block and then build wider and wider structures until they toppled over. However, when they built a structure with a wide base of support, they were successful in building amazing buildings, towering over the little Lego figures.

In much the same way our children must gain a wide base of learning to build on as they grow. Children who begin with a basic understanding of their multiplication facts and work to broaden their understanding through practice will be successful when they have to recall those basic facts. The same idea holds true in all of their subjects. It is important for our young children to begin reading each day so that when they are in middle school and high school they have the necessary skills to successfully complete their assignments.

Last evening I had the chance to see the results of a good learning foundation and how it affects our students as they grow and mature towards graduation by attending our Honors and Awards ceremony. Many students in the Class of 2014 have worked diligently over the years to earn high grades and a solid educational base. Our Top Twelve seniors are: Scott McCormick, Erik Gammon, Mark (Gus) Schissler Jr., Madalyn Holzapfel, Zachary Taylor, Kristina Howland, Westin Lane, Connor Sullivan, Collin Skonieski, Carly Petersen, Alexandria Huddleston, and Katherine McLaury. In addition to our Top Twelve seniors, there were 41 additional seniors awarded with a designation of Highest Honors and Honors.

One by one the students received honors, awards and thousands of dollars in scholarships for their outstanding achievement in academics, service and athletics. Many of the students exhibited a breadth of ability in their achievements. Eight students were awarded with the designation of earning the Lenawee County Athletic Association’s Academic All Conference Award. They were Alexandria Huddleston, Joshua Leppert, Katherine McLaury, Monica Messerly, Madelyn Ostrander, Payge Reed, Connor Sullivan, Zach Taylor and Nicole Yonkers. One student, Shelby Smith, received an award for her membership in the Jackson Area Career Center National Technical Honor Society. Congratulations to all of our students who received honors, awards and scholarships.

Many of our seniors started their academic journey in the Columbia Elementary preschool or in our kindergarten. These wonderful students began as young children intentionally building a solid foundation of learning and understanding. Their focused learning has resulted in a successful tenure at Columbia Schools. If you would like to have your child begin their education by attending our preschool, Early 5’s program, or kindergarten, please call us at 5175926641 or email me at

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Clipping Coupons and More!

One of my friends was frantically searching for specific coupons and her scissors were zipping along the dotted lines in the newspaper. Clipping coupons is a past-time for many households: Big coupons, small coupons, coupons with special requirements, coupons worth 25 cents and coupons worth one dollar are clipped. We clip the coupons to save money while purchasing items we need or items we want to try.

Everyone wants to get the most out of their money and Columbia School District is no exception. As we proceed through the bond projects we will carefully analyze each and every aspect of the project to ensure it will benefit our students and our community. The basic guide to our projects is the original State of Michigan Treasury document that outlines the bond based upon our facilities analysis that was completed last spring and summer.

During the Bond Issue campaign we used the slogan: Safe, Warm, Dry and Smart. This summer our projects will include elements of: Safe, Dry and Smart.

Safe projects to be completed this summer include: (1) The bus drive east of the middle school will come up and terminate in a bus parking area at the east end of the current CMS/CES parking area. (2) The parent drop off loop will go from west to east along School Street between the elementary and middle school. (3) The parent drop off loop will also contain a parking area for preschool parents and visitors. (4) There will be a new parking area for elementary parents and staff members at the west end of the elementary school. This parking lot will eliminate the need for parents and children to cross School Street. (5) The parking lot west of the middle school will become parent and staff parking for the middle school to eliminate the need for parents and students to cross School Street. (6) The gravel parking lot west of the middle school will be upgraded. (7) The Columbia Middle School campus, which will become an area for third through sixth graders in the fall of 2015, will receive a new playground, improved fencing, and upgraded walking path around the football field. (8) The Columbia Elementary playground will receive an upgraded walking path. (9) There will be new lighting for the parent drop off area between the middle and elementary schools. (10) There will be two additional fire hydrants on the CMS/CES campus.

The Dry projects for the summer of 2015 include new roofs, gutters and flashing for Columbia Central High School, Columbia Middle School, Columbia Elementary School and Columbia Options High School.

Smart projects include: (1) The purchase of several carts of Chromebooks for CCHS and CMS students and an additional iPad cart for CES. The carts will have wireless access points that will later be used during the upgrading of the wireless infrastructure at CCHS, CMS and CES. (2) The relocation of the CCHS Presentation Lab computers to the current Media Center Lab, and the relocation of the Media Center computers to the south end of the Media Center.

At this point the bid package for fall 2014 projects, which will go out to bid early this summer, will include Smart and Safe renovations: (1) The south wing of Columbia Central High School (the old shop wing) will be renovated to accommodate seventh and eighth grade students in the fall of 2015. (2) There will be initial wiring for upgraded technology. (3) There will be a bid for the separation of bus, parent and student traffic at CCHS.

At this time we are planning for the balance of the projects will go out to bid in approximately January of 2015 and will feature Warm, Safe, Dry and Smart elements including: new heating and cooling for all educational facilities, renovation of all educational facilities, upgrading the technology infrastructure at all buildings, addition of locker rooms for seventh and eighth grade students at CCHS, upgraded parking facilities at CCHS and Options High School, and the balance of projects included in the bond issue.

As we go through the renovation improvement process we will continue to have Facility Improvement Team meetings during which we will give updates regarding the progression of the projects. The meetings will be advertised on our website, the Columbia School District Facebook and the Restore the Soar Facebook page. Elements of the project will be outlined on the Restore the Soar Facebook page and the projects webpage. There will also be updates given at our monthly school board meetings, which are on the second Monday of each month in the Community Room of CCHS at 7 pm.

If you have any questions or would like to know how to register your child for one of our great Columbia Schools, please call me at 5175926641 or email me at

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Improving Our Environments!

Over the past week or so home improvement stores have been buzzing with business, selling flowers, bushes, decorative mulch and yard tools. Our friends and neighbors are doing their best to rake, shovel and trim their yards into shape. Today on a visit to my son’s house, he shared with me all he had done to clean up his yard. While we were looking at his yard, the neighbors were digging up sod to put in a new patio and his other neighbors were trimming their trees. Why are all of us working on our yards? It is because we take pride in our environments.

In much the same way, Columbia School District is working to improve the appearance of our schools through the Bond Issue projects. Working with Granger Construction Management and Kingscott Architects, Columbia School District bond committees have structured this summer’s emphasis to be at the middle and elementary school campus. While all of the schools will get new roofs this summer, the majority of the improvements will take place in Brooklyn at Columbia Middle and Elementary Schools.

Teachers and administrators met with design representatives from Kingscott to develop plans for the improvements on the inside of the schools. After hours and hours of planning, the Kingscott design architects have put together plans for both Columbia Elementary and Middle Schools. The designs for Columbia Central High School and Options High School are due to be finished in the next couple of weeks. Community members will have an opportunity to review the plans at the next Facility Improvement Team meeting on May 20th in the Community Room at Columbia Central High School.

It is an exciting time to be a Golden Eagle! Our planning for improvements to our schools is beginning to happen. Please join us as we continue to plan and work towards positive changes to our students’ learning environments! If you have questions, please email me at or call me at 5175926641.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

We Have Great Teachers & Staff Members!

This week is Teacher and Staff Appreciation Week in the Columbia School District and in schools across the country. The Columbia School District teachers and staff work hard to instill a love for learning in our students. They work to provide learning activities for our smallest children in preschool to our high school seniors who are actively engaged in determining whether to take a step towards college or careers. They are concerned with the well-being of our students. Our teachers teach with courage and vision challenging students to do their best and become life-long learners. The teachers are patient and support students as they work together through cooperative learning and problem solving activities.

Teaching is an important profession. Columbia School District has a host of great teachers who dedicate their lives to raising the knowledge level of their students. Our teachers arrive each morning with an enthusiasm for learning and a readiness to be attentive to the needs of their students.

Our staff members are adept at providing educational assistance for our students. The learning environment of our students includes tutoring, administrative assistance, helpful custodians, and food service support. The commitment of our teachers and staff members comes with a diligence to strive for excellence in the education of our students.

Columbia School District teachers and staff members are committed to securing a bright future for our students. Over the years our teachers and staff members caring attitude and nurturing spirit has increased the success rate of our students. If you have a chance to stop by a classroom please show your appreciation to your child’s teacher. Take an opportunity to say “Thank you!” in gratitude to the teachers and staff of their genuine support of student learning. Columbia Schools are a Great Place to Learn!