CRYSTAL FALLS—The Forest Park school forest will be getting some new life this spring.
At its March 25 monthly meeting, the Forest Park School Board approved a tree planting project in the school forest, located in the Panola Plains area.
Board Member Don Peterson said one bid had already been received as of the meeting. (The bid deadline was three days later.) Five loggers received the specifications.
Peterson said the school forest was cut in 2002 and needs to be replanted. He wants to purchase a thousand trees this year (cost: about $156), which would be planted by Jen Toivonen’s high school class of about 30 students. Four foresters are already lined up to work with the students, and a class of fifth graders may also be involved.
The planting will take place in late April or whenever conditions allow. Students will be planting red (Norway) pines, about two years old and 8 to 12 inches in height.
Next year, Peterson said, he hopes to get a grant and continue the replanting “into the future.” WPS (Wisconsin Public Service) will provide up to $3,000 for trees that the students can plant.
• Board President Jim Nocerini didn’t have kind things to say about the State Board of Education’s decision to revise state graduation requirements. Michigan students will now be required to earn credits for a second year of algebra and a foreign language in order to get their diplomas.
“That hurt our vocational kids—bad,” he told the audience, “because it takes time away from vocational classes.” The new state requirements, he said, reduce the students’ options.
Advanced algebra and foreign languages are fine for college-bound students, he said, but “We still need plumbers, electricians, carpenters and mechanics,” and they have different needs.
“What’s happening,” he said later, “is that we are gearing so much towards college—which is fine for many, many kids. But there are many other kids I am concerned about who are going into vocations.”
The state core curriculum requirements, he said, cut deeply into the time available for vocational classes. “This is wrong,” he continued. “We should be a society meeting the needs of all our kids, not just one segment.
“We have to be diversified. What the state has done has really cut back on our vocational education.”
Nocerini, a former voc ed teacher at Forest Park and a member of the Dickinson-Iron Intermediate School District board, said the local ISD has an excellent voc curriculum, and he also noted West Iron County’ building trades program. Area students want to take these classes, but requirements for the two extra classes will make it harder for them to fit everything into their class schedules.
Nocerini said the state board has disregarded opposition “from those on the firing line, such as the boards, the teachers and things like that.” He said Rep. Ed McBroom of Iron Mountain also tried, but “It’s falling upon deaf ears.”
“There’s no reason,” Nocerini said. “We can be diversified and have everything. But we still have to have mechanics and all these things.
“It all looks good: ‘Let’s make the curriculum this, this and that. Let’s make the state look ahead. Let’s do this. Let’s do that.’ But how many kids are we hurting by doing that?
“That’s my frustration.”
• The board approved the annual junior class college visitation trip, which takes place April 18 to 20. Transportation costs are paid for by the Academic Boosters, with students paying about $300. (Some get scholarships.) Making the trip will be 31 students plus three chaperones and advisor Harold Payne.
Payne said the trip is planned each year to give students an opportunity to see schools more distant than Northern Michigan and Michigan Tech. Schools are selected so they can visit two in one day. “It’s an eye-opening experience for our kids.”
This year, the students will visit Lake Superior State University, Western Michigan, Kendall College (Grand Rapids), Ferris State and Central Michigan.
Superintendent Becky Waters said the variety of schools gives students a chance to experience schools of different sizes, as they decide where they want to go.
Funs for the trip were raised by the Academic Boosters through pasty and sloppy joe sales and donations from community residents.
• The board also approved the sixth grade’s trip to Chicago. It will take place May 29 to 31, and the students will be staying at Hinsdale Academy. A total of 29 students and 11 adults will make the trip, and the group has all the chaperones it needs.
The group will visit the Museum of Science and Industry, Medieval Times and the Shedd Aquarium. The cost is $185 for students and $200 for adults.
The sixth graders ran concessions stands at athletic events and held other fund-raisers. A pizza sale is planned for late April/early May.
• Forest Park’s basketball teams and coaches were praised for “a phenomenal year.” Both the boys and the girls teams won district titles, and the girls team also won its second straight regional title, finally losing to eventual Class D state champion St. Ignace at the quarterfinals.
Nocerini included the school’s cheerleaders, who cheered on Trojan teams as much as four nights in a week, and the student body in general for their noisy support of the Trojans. “They were fantastic this year,” the board president said.
• The Business Professionals of America group was also congratulated for its success at the state tournament. “We have a number of people to thank,” the board president said.
• Forest Park students should expect to pay 25 cents more for school lunches during the 2013-14 school year. The increase is to keep up with the reimbursement rate from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.