School safety gains, FFA students highlighted at Cassopolis’ Board of Education meeting

Published 1:47 pm Wednesday, March 1, 2023

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CASSOPOLIS — At Monday’s Cassopolis Public Schools Board meeting, School Security Officer Chris Bergen presented a report on school safety and the progress made during his first year in the position. 

He described his role as one of both maintaining security for the school district and providing someone for students to reach out to when in need. Throughout his report, he noted the importance of knowing students, staff, and faculty at all Cassopolis schools and how those relationships were as much a part of his job as the more traditional aspects of security. 

His report included changes already made and others in the works, based on numerous assessments of all buildings and school grounds. He highlighted changes to camera systems, increased accessibility for local law enforcement in the case of emergency, and emergency preparedness plans, drills, and tools for a variety of situations. School Board members shared their appreciation for his work and discussed options for increasing the number of employees on school grounds trained for emergency situations. 

Details on Safety and Security plans can be found on the Cassopolis Public Schools website at

Cassopolis High School students spoke at the meeting to invite the board and the public to their upcoming Ranger Theatre performance of My Fair Lady. The musical will take place in the high school auditorium with three performances; Friday, March 3rd and Saturday, March 4th at 7 p.m. and Sunday, March 5th at 2 p.m.

Cassopolis Public Schools Superintendent, Dr. John Ritzler, highlighted multiple students who had successfully advanced through district and regional competitions and were headed on to compete at the state level. Among them were wrestler Brandon Hemminger and multiple student members of the Future Farmers of America (FFA):

Prepared Public Speaking: Mason Smego

Demonstration Team: Katherine Gregory and Emily Carlisle

Greenhand Conduct of Meetings Team: Dickson Samadder, Jered Wellman, Jackson Bement, Chase DeBruine, Micah Christian, Tabitha Williamson, Alexandra Westphal, Kenyen Kennedy

Jr. High Conduct of Meetings Team:  Isabel Kennedy, Olivia Hayden, Brylee Jones, Colt Bement, Mason McMillen, Taeler DeBruine, Melody Bussey, Braxton Schoetzow

Ritzler, along with Coordinator of Instructional Supports Yara Neuerburg, also presented the School Accountability Summary and future plans for improvement. The reporting, required at both the state and federal level, highlighted a number of metrics, achievements at all three schools, and areas of needed improvement. 

Data from the reports is available online at the Cassopolis Public Schools website at and through the searchable database at The plans presented by Neuerburg focused on a three-tiered system of support, designed to promote working together both within each grade and with grades above and below to create unity and prepare students for their movement through their school careers.

Finally, the School Board expressed its welcome to new 8th Grade Math Teacher, Robert Fay.