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Year in Review 2018

Community spirit: top story for 2018

Signs in support of former superintendent. Post photo by J. Reed

By Judy Reed

There were a lot of stories in 2018 that we could select as the top story of the year. However, after going through them, there was a particular thread running through them all: community spirit. When this community pulls together to help each other, support each other, and cheer each other on, there is nothing that can’t be accomplished.

Many of those demanding the resignation of the former superintendent marched to Cedar Springs High School from the Hilltop building Monday, March 27. Photo by Aleshia Smith.

One of the biggest examples occurred in March. After three years of complaints from teachers and community members against former Cedar Springs Superintendent Dr. Laura VanDuyn, the Cedar Springs Board of Education voted in March to accept her resignation. But it only came after a diverse group of community members, who wanted to support the district’s teachers and administrators and who felt like their voices were being ignored by the Board of Education, took action. They created an online petition listing what they felt the superintendent had done, and demanded her resignation, and the movement snowballed from there. The next Board of Ed meeting was standing room only, with speakers asking for the superintendent’s resignation. The group held a community forum that same week, with many teachers finally coming forward to air their stories, and over 500 people attended. The teacher’s union gave the superintendent a vote of no confidence the following week. 

Then on Monday, March 27, a sea of red shirts filled the Cedar Springs High School auditorium for the next board meeting, with many signs saying #Resign VanDuyn. The group, made up of parents, teachers, and other community members, had come to demand that either the board put the Superintendent on immediate leave pending an investigation, or that they negotiate with her to resign. They also had petitions for the recall of three board members.

The board came out of closed session and made a motion to accept the resignation of Laura VanDuyn. Cheers filled the auditorium as the motion was announced. 

Signs in support of former superintendent. Post photo by J. Reed.
The whole ordeal leading up to that moment had divided the community. But the Cedar Springs Strong group, as they called themselves, wanted unity again. The resignation of the superintendent made that possible. Residents then came together to work with the Board of Ed, who chose a new superintendent, Scott Smith, formerly an assistant superintendent at Hudsonville. Both school staff and residents were happy with the selection, and by all accounts, things are running much smoother.

Another example of community spirit was the response to a fire. The Weber family, of Courtland Township, lost their home in a fire in July. Six fire departments battled the blaze, but to no avail. They lost almost everything. The Post became a drop off point for clothing and other household goods, and the response was phenomenal. The Webers were touched by the community’s generosity—most from people they didn’t know.

The Weber family home burned in July. They are in the process of rebuilding. Post photo by J. Reed.

A third example was community support for the Ricker family. Brison Ricker, who would’ve been a senior this year, died of DIPG—a pediatric brain tumor—in December 2017 after a two-year battle with the disease. The community had rallied to help support the family during that time, and continued to do so in 2018, after his death. The family also set up a chapter of The Cure Starts now in Brison’s memory. In November, they held a special fundraiser on Giving Tuesday, and raised $1,200. 

Brison Ricker. The community is still helping to support the Ricker family and the charity set up in his honor. 

Community support for Red Hawk sports programs was also big this fall. Both the Cross Country team and the Football team won the OK White conference. When the football team entered the playoffs, they took a multitude of buses, and the bleachers were filled with parents, students, and community members. The community showed their pride, spirit, and support throughout the fall season, and it was a fantastic thing to be a part of.

Community spirit ran high in support of our sports teams this fall. Pictured is the football team (above) and the cross country team (below), both who won their first ever OK-White championships.

There are more stories we could list. A lot of things happened this year, both good and bad. And as we head into 2019, let our community spirit shine again this year—through thick and thin.

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