Schools top local storyPublished 8:49pm Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Dowagiac will remember 2011 as the year devoted to devising a five-point educational dream to reinvent the school system.
The goal since February has been to build a “one in 100” district for the 21st century that will drive a Dowagiac renaissance.
Months in the making, since “Disney Way” author Bill Capodagli immersed Dowagiac Union Schools, City Hall, Southwestern Michigan College and Borgess-Lee Memorial Hospital in the customer service principles of “Dream, Believe, Dare, Do,” Superintendent Dr. Mark Daniel Aug. 31 unveiled the Dowagiac Educational Dream.
The vision, which could take until 2015 to fully realize, started Oct. 17 with the administration move from the Wolverine Building into City Hall.
The solution is to create three buildings housing five separate schools — a pre-kindergarten to first grade school housed in the same building as a separate school for grades 2-3, each led by an instructional leader/principal, an early education specialist and a math and reading development specialist.
The two schools would share the gym, cafeteria, art and music rooms and support staff.
A second building would house fourth and fifth grades.
The Dowagiac Middle School campus, opened in 2005, would support sixth, seventh and eighth grades with a separate high school for grades 9-12, again sharing common areas such as the gym, cafeteria and Performing Arts Center.
Three buildings, Patrick Hamilton, Sister Lakes and Kincheloe, would join the Wolverine Building to jettison overhead and invest in energy conservation that would make the undertaking financially feasible when voters weigh in early in 2012.
The five points that, thanks to Disney storyboarding with focus groups, reflect beliefs of the school board, administration, faculty/staff, parents and community, include collaboration, differentiated instruction (students grouped by interests and their level of understanding to build upon their accomplishments and to engage them in learning), literacy and early childhood initiatives so 100-percent of third graders read at grade level), technology and Smart Boards and grade levels grouped together through all building transitions to encourage long-term relationships with faculty, continuity in extra-curricular activities (sports, clubs, arts) and student (opportunities for college credit at SMC).
Dowagiac’s new fall festival, Under the Harvest Moon, is well-received and coincides with the opening of Foodies Fresh Cafe.
Springsteen Realty merged with Cressy and Everett in February.
Cass County hired its third administrator, Charles Cleaver, after interviewing five candidates at the Council on Aging Feb. 12.
Chuck Clarke served in the interim when Terry Proctor left after two decades.
The “round house” on M-51 South was torn down.
Firefighters from area departments spent all day Jan. 23 batting a blaze which devastated Edward Lowe Foundation headquarters near Cassopolis.
Fire March 3 destroyed the Glenwood landmark Drake’s Little Super northeast of Dowagiac.
Union High launched the 10th Interact club in Rotary’s 57-club District 6360 led by charter President Lauren Krueger Oct. 23.
Marissa Tidey was crowned Michigan Apple Queen for 2012.
Pokagon Band’s Four Winds Casino bet its second location, on Red Arrow Highway in Hartford, will hit the jackpot.
“Little Four Winds” opened Aug. 29, adding 400 jobs to Van Buren County from 12,000 applicants.
The New Buffalo location is expanding with another 250 hotel rooms in a nine-story tower, a multi-use event center and a Hard Rock Cafe opening this summer.
Dr. Nathan Ivey, Southwestern Michigan College’s first president from 1965-68, addresses graduates during the 44th commencement ceremony May 7.
Jimmy Keys, 31, was unanimous selection as Dowagiac Firefighter of the Year after losing his life in a Valentine’s Day crash in South Haven.
Deputy Fire Chief Dale Hutchings retired in June after 34 years with the city and was succeeded by Guy Evans.
Classic boat museum
opens in Cassopolis
Cassopolis June 15 debuted a “destination” boat museum. Mahogany Outfitters Classic Boat and Auto Museum, 980 E. State St., contains room after room of vintage boats often trailered behind classic cars from the same year and fills the former Hayden-Beardslee Ford dealership.
It is a companion piece to the 1948 Sinclair gas station replica overlooking Stone Lake downtown which also grew out of Dr. Roger Pecina of Afdent dental clinics and his hobby.
Premier Tool and Die Cast Corp. plans a $3.2 million expansion in Dowagiac expected to create 179 jobs by resurrecting the former ICG plant across Paul Street as a new zinc and aluminum die cast and assembly operation, it was announced July 5.
Cass County Council on Aging conducted a $350,000 campaign for a Dowagiac Senior Center adjacent to City Hall.
Russom Park garnered $600,000 in state grants in December thanks to a cooperative effort between Dowagiac and Silver Creek Township.
Three of five Keeler Township board members, 26-year Supervisor Bill Kays and Trustees Don Blackmond and Patrick Daly were recalled Aug. 2 in a close election precipitated by their decision at the annual meeting to contract for five years with Coloma Emergency Ambulance, which spelled the end of Sister Lakes’ service.
Dowagiac welcomed Belgium’s 58-member Maasmechelen Concert Band, which performed Aug. 9 in the Performing Arts Center.
SMC hosted a movie premiere Oct. 28 for Debra Tolchinsky’s “Fast Talk,” which makes debate a metaphor for the hectic pace of our lives.
Dailey Church in LaGrange Township turned 125 years old in August.
Leah Sovine is installed as Dowagiac postmaster Sept. 16.
Dowagiac author Michael Collins March 26 publishes his seventh novel, “Of Uncertain Significance,” and Sept. 8 receives the grand prize at the Deauville American Film Festival in France.
Eighty National Guard soldiers with “Charlie Company” (C Troop, 126th Cavalry) deploy to Afghanistan Sept. 24 after a farewell at Union High School.