Cindy M. Cranmer

Rockford Aces finish third at World Choir Games

July 12, 2012 // 0 Comments

by CINDY M. CRANMER A crowd started gathering Monday night, July 9 in downtown Rockford to hear an impromptu performance by the Rockford Aces. This is not unusual as the group returned from Cincinnati as the top finishing team in their category in points in the United States and third in the world. The team returned from the World Choir Games on Sunday, July 8. The seventh World Choir Games (WCG), which takes place every two years, was in the United States for the first time this year. Choirs from all over the world participated in the events that began July 4 and continue through Saturday, July 14. More than 15,000 participants from 64 nations including 362 choirs registered to compete in the biggest international choral competition in the world known as “the Olympics of choral music.” “This was just incredible. It was a music lover’s dream,” said Connor Jewell, who graduated after three years in the Rockford Aces. The goal of the WCG is to unite people from all nations through singing in peaceful competition. Hundreds of thousands of spectators gather to hear the performances in the 23 different categories and two divisions: champion and non-champion. The Rockford Aces is an all-male choir consisting of 12 Rockford High School students from freshman to seniors. They performed in the champion category due to their successes at state competitions. The Rockford A Capella Extracurricular Singers (ACES) are led by Jed Scott, a composer and arranger. “I can’t tell you how proud I am of this group,” said Jed Scott, husband of Rockford High School choir teacher, Mandy Scott. “Every challenge I threw at them they met it with a resounding yes.” The group was formed when the Scotts moved to Rockford in 2008. The two categories the group performed in at WCG were Young Male Choirs, which is a classical category for ages 25 and under, and Popular Choral Music, which was open to all ages. Groups received medals on a point system. Earning 80 to 100 points meant someone could get a gold medal, 60 to 80 points earned a silver, and 40 to 60 points earned a bronze. The Rockford Aces was the highest silver medalist in the Young Male Choirs category with two […]

Water Polo does well in first year at Meijer State Games

July 12, 2012 // 0 Comments

by CINDY M. CRANMER Rockford water polo was well represented with its number of teams and their finishes at the Meijer State Games recently. More than 5,000 West Michigan athletes competed in events including archery, 3-D archery, basketball, BMX biking, bowling, boxing, cricket, cycling, disc golf, fencing, figure skating, golf, a fun run, hockey, judo, karate, lacrosse, mountain biking, pickleball, racquetball, rowing, rugby, skateboarding, various gun-shooting sports, softball, swimming, tae kwon do, track and field, volleyball, wakeboard, water polo and wrestling. The water polo event included three Rockford area teams in its first year at the games. The first Meijer State Games took place in 2010. Thousands of spectators now come out to watch the Parade of Athletes, the opening ceremonies and live entertainment and sports. The games opened on Friday, June 22 with Olympic-style competitions held at venues throughout West Michigan including Rockford, Sparta, East Grand Rapids and the entire greater Grand Rapids area. The Meijer State Games are modeled after the Olympics and have the philosophy of encouraging participation, good sportsmanship and healthy living. Coach Dave McWatters tries to stress these values, among other things, to Rockford’s water polo teams. McWatters said some area high schools sent players to Rockford’s team to be part of a unifying experience and to play. “It’s really a combination of many other sports played in the water,” McWatters said of water polo. He said the sport has elements of soccer, lacrosse, basketball, hockey and swimming. Each team has a goalie and six field players, who all swim throughout the game played in a deep pool, and try to score on the other goal. Players can only use one hand to field the ball or pass other than the goalie. McWatters said it’s an honor that water polo was chosen as one of the 30-plus sports now being played at the Meijer State Games. East Grand Rapids was the location for water polo games. Rockford put together two teams of current students, who were primarily from Rockford, and a team of students who graduated this year. The teams finished in second, third and sixth places out of about eight or “We tried to get as many kids involved as possible including kids from other schools,” McWatters said. Helping […]

Rockford family talks about seeing Biggest Loser finale live

July 5, 2012 // 0 Comments

by CINDY M. CRANMER Celebrating the accomplishment of a family friend typically does not involve a trip across the country and the opportunity to be part of the audience during the live season finale of “The Biggest Loser.” That is exactly what a Rockford family got to experience by celebrating the victory of Jeremy Britt on “The Biggest Loser.” Mike and Linda TenBrink, along with their son Graham and his fiancée Katie Couturier, traveled to California to watch Britt become the winner of season 13 of “The Biggest Loser.” Britt’s sister, Conda, took third place in the live finale that was broadcast to millions of television viewers in early May. Jeremy, 23, lost 199 pounds during the season, dropping his body weight to 190 pounds. Conda, 24, lost 115 pounds for her third-place finish. “This year’s Biggest Loser season was an amazing journey for Jeremy, Conda and their family and friends,” said Mike TenBrink. “We feel very blessed of having been afforded the opportunity to be in the audience for the finale in order to support Jeremy and Conda, and view it as one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences.” Mike said Jeremy demonstrated many qualities during the season and the show’s finale, but the one word he always thought best described Jeremy is “loyal.” “Jeremy has always been loyal to his friends and his family,” Mike said. Linda said their family got to know Jeremy as Graham and Jeremy graduated together from Rockford in 2007. “We have known him for about 10 years,” she said. The TenBrinks said they got to know Conda and Jeremy’s family through the season and better through the trip. “Jeremy was always so funny. He always had a story to tell,” Linda said. “About six years ago, I was watching ‘The Biggest Loser’ on TV and Jeremy was at the house. I told him to check out the show, as they lost weight and had the opportunity to win money, cars, etc. Jeremy was a baseball player when he was young and had athletic abilities. I told him that he should try out for the show because he could win.” Linda said trying out for the show was a long process and both he and Conda didn’t want to get their […]

Hundreds enjoy Lakes Art Make-and-Take event

June 28, 2012 // 0 Comments

by CINDY M. CRANMER A passion for art that started when he was a child turned into a 35-year career of inspiring students at Rockford schools. Lakes Elementary School had its annual Art Make-and-Take event on Thursday, April 26. The man who was behind the creation of the event teaches art at Lakes as well as teaching at other Rockford schools. “This is about the 30th year of the art show at Lakes,” said Kenn Vidro, art teacher. Vidro started his teaching career at Rockford High School with Lakes Elementary becoming his “anchor” school when the district decided to start an elementary art program in 1983. Although he has taught some art classes as part of the art staff at the other elementary schools over the years, Vidro has never stopped teaching at Lakes since he started with the school’s art program. The students at Lakes, from the newest kindergarten student to students who graduated many years ago, think fondly of “Mr. V” and his passion for art. “Kenn Vidro is a legend around here,” said Lakes Elementary School Principal Blake Bowman. “His passion, his humor, his joy for teaching basically makes him the Pied Piper.” Bowman joked that if Vidro played tuba, there would be 500 students playing tubas. “A night like this is a great chance for the parents to see the magic the kids see everyday,” Bowman said. Vidro not only influences young artists, but is an accomplished artist himself. As summer is approaching, Vidro is contemplating what his third entry into ArtPrize will be. ArtPrize is an art contest that takes place yearly in Grand Rapids and gets applicants locally, from the United States as well as other countries. Cartooning and painting are among the art mediums Vidro most enjoys. Last year, his ArtPrize entry focused on a series of 14 paintings from rhyming riddle books. The books consist of word riddles called “square pears” that Vidro wrote and illustrated himself. The clues to the answers are given in the form of words and in the form of cartoon illustrations. The answer is always a set of rhyming words. He is considering doing a large “I spy” type painting for his 2012 entry. Hundreds of students and community members came out […]

RHS crew members help special needs students experience fun on water

June 28, 2012 // 0 Comments

by CINDY M. CRANMER Working together to benefit special needs students was the goal of everyone involved in a recent activity on the Rogue River. About 40 Rockford High School (RHS) crew team members gave up part of their summer break to work with about 20 special needs students. RHS students have been giving back through the Rockford Athletes with a Mission of Service (R.A.M.S.) program. The Special Treasures group, which serves area special needs children, has been in existence for about three years. During the 2011-2012 year Special Treasures teamed up with the Special Education Parent Advisory Committee (SEPAC) in Rockford to put together athletic clinics for students with any type of special need. The most recent activity was in mid-June and involved coordinating efforts to get the special needs students on the Rogue River. Grace Smith—who has a son, Hayden, in the Special Treasures Group and a daughter, Eva, in crew—thought having a crew event would be fun, as the group has done various other sports such as cross country, volleyball, dance, basketball, bowling, soccer, tennis, track and baseball. “We all thought it would be a fun thing for the kids to do,” Smith said. However, crew team boats are expensive, so using them was not the best option. Melissa Sova, who has a stepson in the SEPAC group, was talking to a client of her salon, Xpress Clips in Rockford, about trying to make the event happen. The client, Mary Wiseman, had the answer. Wiseman, owner of AAA Canoes for the past five years, donated the use of 17 canoes, nine kayaks, and life jackets, and provided eight staff members to make the activity a reality. Each student was in a canoe with two crew team members. There also were lifeguards and spotters mixed in among the group. Grace and Eva Smith both said the event was “exciting” and “a great thing for everyone involved.” “I thought it would be a good way to give back to the community,” said Tori Porter, a sophomore. “We get to introduce kids to a sport that can be a lifelong pastime,” said Justin Adsitt, another crew team member. Wiseman and Sova coordinated the pickup of students in downtown Rockford and the drop-off at 12 Mile […]

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