Niles School Board appoints two new members

NILES — Two lifelong Vikings officially took the helm of Niles Community Schools on Monday, Oct. 21 at the district’s board meeting.

Josh Asmus and Kathy Moore were ceremoniously sworn in by Superintendent Dan Applegate at the district’s new school board room at Niles Administration and Education Center at 1 Tyler St.

Both were approved by unanimous votes at two different meetings this month.

Asmus and Moore will serve terms that end Dec. 31, 2020, and they will be up for reelection next year.

The swearing in came after a committee of three board members interviewed candidates for the roles.

“All six were excellent, excellent candidates, so that just speaks to our district,” said president Dana Daniels, who interviewed the two members separately.

Asmus may be best known in the school district as the junior varsity softball coach. He has also coached Little League teams and through the YMCA.

“I was born and raised in Niles, been a Viking my whole life, been involved with the school system,” he said. “I care a lot about kids.”

Asmus said he remembers the strong school spirit in the district during his days as a Niles High School student. He remembers a school spirit bus being packed with students for trips to Battle Creek to watch teams compete.

While school spirit for him then was athletically related, he said he sees that spirit exists today in Niles education, too.

“Personally, and with my kids, too, the teachers are just really supportive,” Asmus said. “They put in a lot of work, and they care a lot about the students.”

Asmus, an electrician, said he is particularly interested in promoting Niles’ career technical education program, which teaches students skilled trades.

Like Asmus, Moore is a lifelong Viking and has children that are Vikings, too. She had spent nearly 30 years working with children, largely as a youth ministry pastor.

“I always wanted to give back, give something back to the community,” she said. “I retired last year, so I had some time. I wanted to do this for probably about 10 years.”

Moore said her experiences in youth ministry helped her realize that it can be tough to be a student, especially a teenaged one. Realities such as stress, pressure and bullying can make life difficult.

She said she wants to use her “go-getter” attitude to help students find their purpose.

“I think every person deserves to do as well as they can,” Moore said.

The following events also happened at the school board meeting:

• Two donations to Niles’ summer pop-up library and home visit program were unanimously approved. Berrien County Great Start Collaborative donated $5,500 and United Way of Southwest Michigan donated $29,000.

The program gives a free book and a free meal to students at different dates and locations during the summer.

• A presentation was given by graphic design teacher Alyse Hoyt on creating a standardized brand of fonts, colors, mascot designs and graphics for the district.

Hoyt and her graphic design students are working on the graphics, and Hoyt is working to create a Google folder and a website that is accessible to staff and approved students. The folder and site would provide the designs, explain graphic design jargon and give directions on their use.

“One of the nice things about this piece is that if we update things, if our staff is used to going here, then there is continuity in receiving the latest, newest, most revised files,” she said. “There’s longevity to this document.”

Applegate said Hoyt’s work will help put the district’s talk of being one school into action.

Hoyt previously served on the committee that chose Viktor Viking as Niles’ mascot.

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