Positive and driven young woman not afraid to stand up for her beliefs Cailie Johnson, 17, is the daughter of Chuck and Sheryl Johnson and sister to Ivy, 15, Madye, 13, and Mavis, 9. Cailie is considered a leader at Rockford High School, where she always has a smile on her face and is ready to bring out the best in those around her. This student encourages others with her tireless enthusiasm. In all she does, Cailie’s leadership abilities are clear. On her volleyball team she keeps fellow student athletes working hard while having fun. This National Honor Society student is also involved in her church youth group, Student Council, community service programs, and summer camps. She is known as an extremely hardworking person, whether it is on the volleyball court, in student leadership events or in the classroom. This positive and driven young woman wants to be kind to all, but is not afraid to stand up for something she strongly believes in. She has a desire to always improve herself. Cailie was elected mayor of Student Council by her classmates. She was junior class president and was elected to the homecoming court for her class. She is on the National Honor Society and is a Board of Education student representative. Cailie is excited to play volleyball at Grand Valley State University next year. Currently she plays volleyball for Rockford and on the prestigious Michigan Volleyball Academy Travel volleyball team. She loves politics and planning school events through student council. Among Cailie’s other pastimes are watching movies and spending time with her family. She also is involved with a weekly small group Bible study. Staff at Rockford High School are confident that this young woman has a bright future and will continue to make a difference in the lives of those around her.
Rachel Cruden, 10, is the daughter of John and Lisa Cruden and sister to Andy, 9, and Hannah, 7, and has been named as one of the “Examples in Excellence” for 2010 through Rockford Public Schools. This hardworking student is committed to accomplishing her goals and is helpful to her teachers, her classmates and at home. Staff at Parkside Elementary say that Rachel often goes out of her way to help and mentor others. She is described as courageous and helps her peers believe in their own abilities. Rachel is also known for her responsibility and respect for others. Among Rachel’s accomplishments are her participation in Odyssey of the Mind and her church outreach program where she helps distribute food at St. Stephen Lutheran Church’s pantry. She was the top speller in her fourth-grade spelling bee and is involved in Girl Scouts. Rachel is a problem-solver, and doesn’t take the easy route in life. She pushes herself to be the best she can be and her attitude is contagious to those around her. This year Rachel had open heart surgery, and while in the hospital she made friends with her roommate, a friendship she still maintains. Rachel is interested in music, gymnastics, reading and writing and has had her work published. She would like to be an author someday. Teachers and staff recognize the tenacious spirit of this student who is not afraid to take a stand for what she knows is right.
by JUDY REED West Michigan wants changes in the way education is funded. And West Michigan residents weren’t shy about telling that to a panel of legislators and educators on Monday evening, Dec. 7, at an education forum at Cedar Springs High School. On hand to discuss the issues were Senator Mark Jansma (28th District), Representative Tom Pearce (73rd District), Senator Ron Jelinek (21st District), legislative liaison and former representative Mike Pumford, Forest Hills teacher Jim Ward (Political Action Committee chair of the Kent County Education Association), and Dr. Michael Shibler, Superintendent of Rockford Public Schools. Cedar Springs School Superintendent Ron McDermed moderated the forum. School districts across the state took another cut this year of $167 per student, then another $127 per student. “The system is broken, it’s not working, and needs to be fixed,” remarked Shibler. “We’re counting on you folks, who are the grassroots [to make sure it gets changed]. It’s going to take a lot of work.” Shibler said Rockford’s budget is $74 million, and they are cutting $4.8 million. The panel discussed issues such as how Proposal A was intended to work, the disparity in funding across districts, the Headlee Amendment, consolidation of schools and services, federal regulations, taxing services, health insurance premiums, and the difference between when the school must have its budget in and when the state fiscal year starts. “Proposal A worked in a robust economy,” said Pearce. “Returning the state to a robust economy is key. We need to change the formula and enact cost reforms.” Pumford explained that under the Headlee Amendment, the state could not collect more than 9.5 percent of disposable income from taxpayers. “In 2001 we hit that, and then started cutting taxes. It’s now 7.3 percent—that’s $8 billion in tax cuts. In some point in time, they will need to ask you to pay more. Over 50 percent of disposable income was spent on commodities before 1994, and now we spend that on services. We’ve cut too many taxes, period.” The audience heartily applauded Pumford’s remarks. Jelinek commented that the state has reduced all budgets much more than the K-12 budget, including eliminating the arts and libraries budget. “I support the need for strong police and fire, those are necessary services,” […]