Lori Whitmyer

Archived Story

Whitmyer joins Cass school board

Published 9:49pm Monday, July 16, 2012

CASSOPOLIS — Cassopolis Public Schools selected Lori Whitmyer from six candidates to fill a school board vacancy until November’s election.

The school board interviewed six candidates during a special meeting Monday night to fill the vacancy created by President Christine Locke stepping down.

Jeremy Carlisle was elected president at the board’s July 9 organizational meeting.

Also quizzed for the position with six questions were Justin Anderson, Deborah K. Deubner, Nancy A. McCaslin, Nancy C. Wilson and Toby Yuhas.

The board voted 4-1 to appoint Whitmyer, a 1999 Cassopolis graduate who operates West Michigan Drug Testing and Lakeside ice cream parlor. Carlisle voted no.

“I want to make sure my children have good schools to go to for a long time,” Whitmyer, who has two young boys nearing school age, said.

“A lot of people say, ‘The high school’s the problem.’ We need to fix that because Cassopolis kids are going to other schools.”

Janet Hall’s motion to delay the appointment because “we need to give it more thought” died for lack of a second. Hall suggested McCaslin for the appointment while Jason Pompey named Anderson, but there was no support until George Calvert offered Whitmyer, seconded by Sue Horstmann. Scott Ward was absent.

Anderson, a 1992 Cassopolis graduate and father of three, has a general contracting business.

“The community’s stagnant right now,” Anderson said. “I want to make sure we move forward. Communication needs improvement.”

Deubner, who graduated from high school in 1979, is a registered nurse in Elkhart General Hospital’s emergency room. Four of her children have graduated from Cassopolis. She has lived in Vandalia for 32 years.

“We need to pull together and find different ways for teachers to interact with children so they want to come to school and learn,” Deubner said.

McCaslin’s children are grown. She grew up in central Indiana, but the attorney and freelance writer taught in Edwardsburg.

“My family has always been involved in education and school boards. We agree budget is the number-one problem, but curriculum needs to be addressed. There are so many innovative ways for kids to learn.”

Wilson came to Cassopolis in 1956 when she married. Her four kids graduated from Cassopolis, as have three of her grandchildren.

“Academics have to be our No. 1 priority because colleges are looking harder at kids,” Wilson said.

Yuhas attended Cassopolis until ninth grade, when he moved from the district, but his daughter graduated here. He’s a business administration student at Southwestern Michigan College and interning at Council on Aging, including Front Street Crossing in Dowagiac.

“If we don’t educate kids, there’s no reason for the community to exist,” Yuhas said. “You have to establish a community of educated people” to attract economic development.

“It has to be instilled at a young age an education isn’t a social gathering, but a stepping stone to the rest of your life.”

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