Reach for the world, read!

by CINDY KITZROW
Director of Library and Media Services

Each year the Rockford Public Schools’ (RPS) reading specialists and library staff have a tradition of promoting summer reading. The theme for the 2009 Summer Reading Program is “Reach the World… Read.” The primary purpose of the program is to encourage students to read throughout the summer.

The students are given a goal sheet. They record the books or minutes they spend reading. The students are asked to read 10 grade/age appropriate books or spend 15 hours reading throughout the summer. Each student who completes their reading goal will be invited to participate in a special celebration when they return to school in the fall.

Research and beginning-of-year scores show that children who do not read consistently over the summer lose fluency and are prone to more reading “errors” in the fall. The summer-reading effect on student achievement is well-researched. The long summer breaks the rhythm of instruction which leads to forgetting and requires a significant amount of review when the student returns in the fall. Reading programs have a positive effect in showing literacy growth. Studies support the findings that those who read more know more.

The culmination of our summer reading program will be celebrated with a one-day reading event. The Rockford Rotary Club is also charged to improve/increase literacy through various activity involvements. On Saturday, August 29, Rotary is sponsoring a reading celebration called “Reading Rocks in Rockford.” The Krause Memorial Library along with the RPS library staff, reading specialists and teachers are helping to plan numerous events for children of all ages. We will have Michigan authors, celebrity readers, and much more performing on the Garden Park stage. There will also be various reading activities throughout the city.

The community will also help kick off the RPS K-12 fall reading program called “Pennies for Peace.” We will be reading the books Three Cups of Tea and Listen to the Wind by Greg Mortenson. “Pennies for Peace” is a service-learning program. We will be collecting pennies to help support a school in the remote regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan. We all want to share our vision to reach communities around the world to increase and improve literacy.

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Deans Lists announced

Colleen Hamilton of Rockford, who graduated with a bachelor of arts degree and with summa cum laude high honors-with a degree in French with a teaching English to speakers of other languages minor-May 24, made the spring 2009 Dean’s List at Manchester College, in northern Indiana. Hamilton is a graduate of Rockford High School. To receive this honor, a student must complete at least 12 hours with a grade-point average of 3.5 or above for the semester. For more about the college, visit www.manchester.edu.

Michigan Technological University has released the Dean’s List for the spring 2009 semester, recognizing students who achieve grade-point averages of 3.5 or higher. Among the honorees was Katherine R. Henshaw of Rockford. Henshaw is a junior majoring in Communication and Culture Studies.

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Community Endowment connects present with historic figures

This spring, The Rockford Squire reported that five historic people in the Rockford area were honored at Recognition Plaza at Peppler Park. The event is a newer tradition in its second year and organized by the Rockford Area Community Endowment (RACE). Each year, RACE will honor people from the City of Rockford and the townships of Algoma, Cannon, Courtland and Plainfield.

The Endowment was initially formed in the 1960s to finance a school pool and the Towers downtown. It fell dormant after those goals were accomplished and was revived just a few years ago.

Among activities of the Endowment is honoring community heroes and leaders. Its purpose is to provide funding for projects in the greater Rockford area. This year the Endowment gave a $1,000 grant for National Night Out, $1,000 to the City of Rockford Police Department for a purchase, and each community in the Endowment received $1,000 for landscaping projects.

The Endowment is funded by brick sales at Peppler Park, where the public is invited to purchase a brick either in their own name or business or in honor of a person. The Rockford Squire has a brick there and editor Beth Altena purchased one for Publisher Roger Allen for his 80th birthday last year. It is a wonderful, lasting gift and is appropriate for the person who “has everything.” As of this spring, 269 bricks had been sold. Bricks are just $125 each. To purchase bricks, call the City of Rockford at (616) 866-4465.

Also contributing to the Endowment’s assets of $87,5000 (up from $65,000 a year ago) was a December 2008 gift from the Don Berg estate in the amount of $10,000.

In addition to the gift of grants, recognizing the people who have contributed significantly to the history of the area is among the Endowment’s goals. When visiting the beautiful Peppler Park Recognition Plaza (on the west side of the dam), take the time to read the names on the bricks under your feet and in plaques on the columns in the park. The following are some of the stories of this year’s honorees, with others to follow in future issues of the Squire.

 

racekitson1Gerald Leon Kitson

 

Gerald Leon Kitson was the son of Leon and Jenny Kitson, a pioneer farming family in Cannon Township. Gerald and his brother, Chuck, became tired of hand-feeding the chickens on the family farm, and together invented an automatic chicken-feeding system for which they held a USA Patent for 17 years, from 1947 to 1969.

They began the Kitson Poultry Equipment Company, a poultry equipment factory, and Gerald traveled much in the Midwest. In the 1970s, he began a new business called Kitson Farms on Belding Road, which was known as an experimental egg production farm. The farm was a well-known landmark in Cannon Township as fresh eggs were sold retail and employed many young people.

He owned Cycle Systems on Belding Road, which sold equipment to automatically  process eggs from inception to packaging.

Gerald and his wife, Una, were lifelong members of Bostwick Lake Congregational  Church, where he served on many church and community committees and was at one time lay pastor to the congregation.

He was the founding member of the Cannon and Grattan township historical societies, and was instrumental in leading all local historical societies to qualify for 501C tax exempt status as a nonprofit agency.

He photographed all the historic homesteads in Cannon Township and they are included in the township book he co-wrote called Cannon Township History 1837-1983.

Gerald was appointed supervisor of Cannon Township from 1990 to 1991, during a time of political contention, as he was well-known as a man of integrity, wisdom and peace.

He was so beloved by the community that at his funeral, his coffin was hoisted by firemen on top of a Cannon Township engine truck and carried to his final resting place at Bostwick Lake Cemetery.

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Kaleidoscoops helps celebrate Scouting birthdays

Enjoying an ice cream treat are (front, l–r) Girl Scouts Laurel Kurkjian and Chelsea Kurkjian, Cub Scouts Sean McLellan and Noah Kurkjian; (back) Mark Wiersum and Laura Lemming.

Enjoying an ice cream treat are (front, l–r) Girl Scouts Laurel Kurkjian and Chelsea Kurkjian, Cub Scouts Sean McLellan and Noah Kurkjian; (back) Mark Wiersum and Laura Lemming.

Nothing is better than ice cream to help celebrate a birthday, and Kaleidoscoops on West River Drive offered just that to local Cub Scouts and Girl Scouts. To honor their organizations’ birthdays this year, Scouts received a special birthday certificate for a free kid’s ice cream cone.

“This is just one way we can show our appreciation to the kids involved in Scouting, for all their hard work in our community,” said Mark Wiersum, owner.

A special program was also offered this year to local schools to reward kids for meeting their academic goals. “Whole families-parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and siblings-came in to help celebrate their students’ achievements. It is fun to hear from the kids what they are doing in school and to know that we are making their learning a little more special, too, with our treats,” said Wiersum.

Kaleidoscoops has also been chosen as the official ice cream caterer to the West Michigan Whitecaps, and provides the ice cream cakes for the stadium’s parties. In addition to ice cream products, the store also offers treats for all times of day, from specialty coffees and fresh-baked goods to homemade sandwiches.

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Put away bird feeders, garbage cans to keep yearling bears away

With mother bears leaving their yearling cubs in preparation for the breeding season, encounters with young bears attracted to backyard food sources are increasing across northern Michigan, according to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

As the young bears leave their mothers, they must look for food on their own for the first time. These young, inexperienced bears are often attracted to bird feeders, trash cans, pet food, grills and other items that smell like food as they learn to fend for themselves. To reduce the potential for attracting bears and habituating them to humans, DNR wildlife biologists recommend that any potential attractants be removed until the bear has moved on.

“These young bears were recently driven away from their mothers and are looking for handouts. Yearling bears just don’t know any better than to come into a backyard with a bird feeder,” said DNR wildlife biologist Terry McFadden. “Anyone with a young bear in the backyard should demonstrate that their yard is a hostile environment by banging pots and pans together and even throwing rocks in the bear’s direction. It won’t take long to scare the bear off.”

It is very rare for a bear to hang around without the lure of food sources, McFadden added, so be sure that all food sources, not just bird feeders, are subsequently removed from the area. With the cold start to summer, a late berry crop may also encourage bears of all ages to seek out food sources much closer to human populations than they would under normal conditions.

“Trapping of bears will only be authorized by the DNR when there is significant damage to property, or a threat to human safety,” McFadden said. “A bear coming into a bird feeder, or even destroying a bird feeder, does not meet those requirements. We do not have the manpower to respond to every bear complaint, and we need everyone to do their part to reduce these interactions before the bears become truly habituated and are then considered a nuisance.”

Anyone experiencing problems with backyard bears, and has taken the appropriate action to remove food sources for a period of one to two weeks but has not seen results, should contact the nearest DNR office and speak with a wildlife biologist or technician for further assistance.

For more information, go to the DNR website at www.michigan.gov/dnr and click on “Wildlife & Habitat.”

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