School Beat — February 18, 2010

NRMS pilots Ram Buddies program

by LARRY WATTERS, Assistant Principal
North Rockford Middle School

In the words of Albus Dumbledore from the Harry Potter series, “It is our choices, Harry, that show what we really are, far more than our abilities.”

One of the choices we have made this year at Rockford Public Schools that I am extremely proud of is the Ram Buddies program being piloted by North Rockford Middle School (NRMS) and Lakes Elementary School. This program, initiated by parents active in the lives of their special needs children, is an opportunity for students without disabilities to develop relationships with students with special needs. This service learning activity helps to provide support, friendship and encouragement while reinforcing our goal of academic and social success through the cooperative efforts of staff, parents and peers.

The Ram Buddies application process required interested students to obtain parent permission and teachers’ recommendations prior to being selected for the program. Once selected, students received training from counseling and special education staff. The training consisted of the basics of friendship, leadership and disability awareness. When the training was completed, Ram Buddies were matched and made commitments to spend time together during the marking period. These commitments could be as simple as meeting at a locker, eating lunch together, visiting during intervention time, or possibly attending a sporting or after-school event together.

Currently at NRMS, 12 special needs children are “buddied” with 32 general education students. In most cases it is indistinguishable as to who is providing the service and who is receiving. As we assess the value of the program in the future, I am confident the benefits gained by the special needs students will be abundant, but the growth of everyone involved will be unmistakable.

It is our choices in life that help define us, and Ram Buddies is another reason Rockford Public Schools can be described as a student-centered district providing opportunities to learn and develop in a social world.

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Education Blackboard

Ed Lyons

Lyons on Deans List at Ferris State University 

Former Rockford High School graduate Nicholas Lyons has earned a place on the College of Engineering Technology Dean’s List for the 2009 fall semester at Ferris State University, College of Technology. The minimum requirement for the Dean’s List is a 3.50 honor point average for a 12 credit load.

Lyons has been on the Kent Skills HVACR Advisory committee for the past three years and an active member of the Michigan Service Contractors Association (MSCA).

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ERMS band students selected to perform at DeVos Hall

GOING PLACES—Austin Baar (percussion), Tessa Powers (oboe), Madalyn Steffen (flute) and East Rockford Middle School Band Director Mrs. Rebecca Kilgore-Longtin.


Three students from East Rockford Middle School were selected to participate in the All-State Middle School Band.

The selection process involved an audition process that included sight reading, scales and a prepared etude. Over 2,300 middle school students from around the state competed for a coveted spot in the concert. Three days of rehearsals culminated in a concert given at DeVos Performance Hall on January 23, 2010. The Middle School Band was directed by the renowned guest conductor Dr. Andrea DeRenzis Strauss.

The honored students only had three rehearsals to practice together on five new pieces of music before their performance in front of the lights and crowds at DeVos Hall. Between rehearsals, the students had an opportunity to visit the Michigan Music Conference, as well as attend concerts by the famous Boston Brass and the Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra.

The All-State Middle School Band was sponsored by the Michigan School Band and Orchestra Association

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And the winners of the Best Lip of Rockford are:

We received dozens and dozens of entries to this year’s Rockford Squire newspaper Best Lips of Rockford contest. It was very tough to chose, but the best male lips winner was Dennis Budzinski and the best female lips were othose of Michelle Zeck. Wendy Barnes of Merle Norman and Amy McGough, Avon distributor, provided The Squire with sample lipsticks. The quality was so good with these products that our male entrants couldn’t get the lipstick off afterwards. Oops.

Take a peek to see which one of our Rockford business professionals gave us their lips for this year’s contest and be sure to give them a ribbing next time you see them. Thanks for being such good sports, guys. We had so many entries we unfortunately couldn’t print them all.

A big thanks to the Cub Scout pack who kicked off this year’s contest as they visited the office for their communication badge tour.

Best Lips of Rockford


Wow, Michelle Zeck! A great set of lips which won the top place in this year's contest. Stop by the Squire for your prize.


What great smackers! Dennis Budzynski is our Best Lips male winner for 2010. Your prize is waiting for you at the Squire.


Chuck Premer of Rockford Ambulance contributed his lip print. He couldn't get the lipstick off.

Chuck Premer of Rockford Ambulance contributed his lip print. He couldn't get the lipstick off.

Jennifer McDaniel.

Jennifer McDaniel.


John Decker of John Decker Chevrolet.

John Decker of John Decker Chevrolet.


Stew VanderWerp of Rockford Floor Covering is our runner up winner for most entertaining lips.

Stu VanderWerp of Rockford Floor Covering is our runner up winner for most entertaining lips.


Floyd Havemeier of Herman's Boy.

Floyd Havemeier of Herman's Boy.

Shasta Fase of Old World Olive Press.

Shasta Fase of Old World Olive Press.


Cory DeLong of Krystal Kleen.

Cory DeLong of Krystal Kleen.

Jerry Coon of Action Tax and Money Concepts. Ew...messy!

Jerry Coon of Action Tax and Money Concepts. Ew...messy!


Randy VanderWerp of Rockford Floor Covering.

Randy VanderWerp of Rockford Floor Covering.

Tammy Newman from Overalls & Gumballs.

Tammy Newman from Overalls & Gumballs.

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Words on Weather & Climate, by Craig James

Meteorologist Craig James, new Squire columnist


Climate Data Part 1

It seems as if every time someone digs up anything new about the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate change (IPCC), something ugly crawls out. For example, the Dutch Environmental Assessment Agency has recently discovered the IPCC incorrectly reported that 55% of that country was below sea level and would be flooded by increasing sea levels. The number should only be 20%.

There have been many other revelations recently about the IPCC, the committee established to inform the world about climate change, but let’s move on to the two really important issues in climate change. Has this past decade been the warmest decade on record and have the global computer models been forecasting way too much warming?

Let’s take a look at how the climate data is obtained and then used to construct this chart from NASA below, which shows global temperatures warming about 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit since 1880. I’ll start first with what is called the United States Historical Climate Network or USHCN. There are currently 1,221 reporting stations in this network with records going back into the late 1800s.

A former television meteorologist by the name of Anthony Watts took on the enormous task of having all USHCN climate reporting stations surveyed to determine if they met the National Weather Service criteria for proper siting. Over 80% of the stations have now been studied and almost 90% of those stations failed to meet that criteria. The survey shows that nine out of every ten stations are likely reporting higher or rising temperatures because they are badly sited on or near tarmacs, next to buildings, on paved driveways and roads, in waste treatment plants, on rooftops, near air conditioner exhausts and more. You can read about the survey and see photos of some of the ridiculous locations of thermometers in this pdf: One of my favorite examples is from The University of Arizona showing where the thermometer has recently been placed over pavement in a parking lot. It used to be over grass. Would you think this move might produce higher daytime temperatures? The thermometer shows warming but certainly not from Carbon Dioxide.

This official USHCN weather station is located in the parking lot of the Atmospheric Science Department, University of Arizona, Tucson. Photo by WARREN MEYER


Poor current location of thermometers is just one of many problems. Since records began, most thermometers have been moved several times. In Grand Rapids, the official temperature readings have moved from North Park to several locations downtown, then out to the old airport at Madison and 36th street and finally to the current location at the Gerald R. Ford Airport.

How do you compare the temperatures taken at those various locations to get a true sense of how the climate has changed over time? The reading at any one time at each of those locations will likely be different. If you have a temperature readout on your car, you know that driving from one location to another, especially on a cold, calm, winter night, will give you many different readings.

Even in cases where the thermometer hasn’t moved, what was once a rural area in the late 1800s may have now become urban. This will now produce warmer temperature readings at that thermometer, especially at night, but it is not the result of CO2. This warming from urban crawl is known as the Urban Heat Island effect (UHI) and is noticeable even in small towns to anyone with a car thermometer. Believe it or not, some of the climate databases make no adjustment for UHI. Numerous peer-reviewed studies have found the lack of adequate urban heat island and local land use change adjustment could account for up to half of all apparent warming since 1900.

There are many other problems with temperature readings, including what time of day the maximum and minimum temperature readings were taken and what type of thermometer was used. Each thermometer has its own bias. In the 1980s, a change in thermometers at many locations resulted in over half a degree of warming that wasn’t real.

Another big issue is regular calibration of the thermometer. From what I have been told, a National Weather Service employee does not have to request a thermometer be recalibrated unless it is believed the temperature reading is off by three degrees or more, which is more than double what the supposed change has been since 1880. How can we know to a tenth of a degree how much the earth has warmed when the thermometers can be off by as much as three degrees at times?

This is just the beginning; the US data is the best in the world. Next week I’ll show you how the global data is gathered and then manipulated to produce warming when little or none existed in the raw data. This is important because it is the data used to initialize climate models.

Craig James has been retired since July 1, 2008, after 40 years of broadcasting television weather. He was chief meteorologist at WZZM-TV for 12 years and chief meteorologist at WOOD-TV for 24 years. He is a graduate of Penn State University, where he received a Centennial Fellowship Award. He was also honored as a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society.

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