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Super blood wolf moon 2019

This super blood wolf moon photo was taken by Laura Newland-Herweyer of Zombie Photography, in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

By Judy Reed

Many of you braved the frigid temperature Sunday evening to catch one of the most memorable lunar eclipses in recent history.

On Sunday evening, January 20, we were treated to a super blood wolf moon—a big red ball in the sky at the peak of the lunar eclipse. 

The moon began to enter the earth’s shadow at 10:34 p.m., and was fully darkened at 11:41 p.m. It started to see the light again about 12:43 a.m.

How did this type of eclipse get its name? According to space.com, the eclipse coincided with a supermoon—a full moon that occurs when the natural satellite is at or near its closest point to Earth during its elliptical orbit. Supermoons appear slightly bigger and brighter in the sky than normal full moons.

The “blood” part refers to the ruddy color fully eclipsed moons often assume, the result of Earth’s atmosphere bending some sunlight onto the mostly dark lunar surface. Red light preferentially makes it through, because it has long wavelengths; shorter-wavelength light such as yellow and blue gets blocked and scattered by our planet’s air.

The “wolf” part refers to the full moon of January—likely named for the howling of wolves at the moon this time of year.

If you missed the spectacle, you can go to www.space.com to see it.

Several of you sent some good photos, and we will try to run a few more next week, as space allows.

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Nailed it! At the library


Sierra Fifield nailed the minion cake and won the golden spoon. Photo by honeysagephotography.

Kids had a great time decorating their treats at the Cedar Springs Library. Photo by honeysagephotography.

Kids had the opportunity to hone their skills at decorating at the Cedar Springs Library last week.

Just like the popular Netflix show Nailed it, the kids were challenged to recreate Pinterest worthy treats. They had three timed baking challenges, the first an emoji cake pop; second a melted snowman cookie; and for the final challenge they had to recreate a minions cake. 

The winner of the final and largest round won the coveted golden spoon trophy and nailed the challenge. All of the kids worked hard and all deserved to win but Sierra Fifield nailed the minion cake and went home with the golden spoon. 

 “The event was enjoyed by all and the kids raved about it,” said Library Director Donna Clark.

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DNR reports weekend of deadly snowmobile crashes


A group of snowmobilers riding right in Gogebic County on a cold day during the winter of 2017-2018. Photo by Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

Michigan Department of Natural Resources conservation officers continued their safety and enforcement patrols last weekend, a deadly weekend that claimed the lives of five snowmobilers in a single day.

Police agencies in the Upper Peninsula and northern Lower Peninsula investigated the deaths Friday of two snowmobilers in Gogebic County and one each in Luce, Alger, and Kalkaska counties.

This winter, six snowmobilers have died in the U.P. and three in Lower Michigan. The statewide snowmobile fatality total for the entire winter of 2017-2018 was 15, with 10 of those fatalities occurring north of the Mackinac Bridge.

“This recent rash of deadly crashes illustrates the critical importance of snowmobile safety,” said Lt. Ryan Aho, a DNR district law supervisor in Marquette. “Many fatalities occur because of drinking and driving, high speed or carelessness, all of which are preventable actions.”

The DNR is partnering with the Michigan Snowmobile Association and others on a “Ride Right” safety campaign this winter.

In contacts with officers, public service announcements and press materials, riders are being reminded to ride on the right side of the trail, at a safe speed and sober. Snowmobilers are also being asked to anticipate, and yield to, trail groomers.

The thrust of the campaign urges riders to ride right so they can make it home safely to their families.

“There are a lot of factors that could play into the high number of fatal snowmobile crashes we’ve had during this early part of the winter,” said John Pepin, DNR deputy public information officer. “But whether it’s because of good snow concentrating riders in certain parts of the state, unfamiliarity with local trails or speed, recklessness or alcohol, all of these things underscore the importance of riding safely and riding right.”

DNR conservation officers were on patrol on both ends of the U.P., writing tickets and providing safety tips to riders. They had conducted similar patrols the weekend prior in Ontonagon and Houghton counties, which resulted in numerous tickets being issued and three riders jailed for driving under the influence of alcohol.

On Friday, five officers conducted a group patrol in South Range in Houghton County.

“Conservation officers talked with snowmobilers, checked registrations and trail permits, looked for equipment violations and tested snowmobiles for noise level emissions,” Aho said.

From about 100 contacts, officers issued 20 warnings to riders for improper trail permit and registration display. Eight tickets were issued, half of which were for registration violations, with the remainder for noise emissions exceeding the 88-decibel limit. One officer assisted a rider whose snowmobile caught fire a few miles north of the group patrol.

The following evening, five conservation officers patrolled as a group in Keweenaw County, on Gratiot Lake Road Trail No. 3.

In this effort, about 250 contacts were made, with 30 warnings and three tickets issued for improper trail permit or registration display. A total of 15 tickets were written, including eight for noise emission violations, two for careless operation of a snowmobile and one each for driving with a suspended license and no sled registration.

On Sunday, the patrol in the western U.P. continued in Ontonagon County, including along Lake Gogebic where two riders died Friday in a head-on crash near Lake Gogebic State Park.

Conservation officers contacted three separate groups of snowmobilers who had been ice fishing coming off Lake Gogebic. All the groups’ members had legal possession limits.

In all, officers made about 100 contacts in the patrolling effort, resulting in 10 warnings for fail to display/attach trail permits or improper registration display. Five tickets were written for registration violations, another five for failure to display or attach trail permits, two for noise violations and one for careless operation.

“Over the course of the weekend, we had 450 contacts with riders,”Aho said. “We issued 60 warnings and wrote three dozen tickets.”

On the eastern end of the U.P., cold weather and lake effect snow had limited visibility for snowmobilers, including conservation officers. Group patrols continued, though cold weather shortened some of the riding time for officers.

“Snow dust from sleds coming and going, along with blowing snow, diminished visibility on a very busy weekend for snowmobiles,” said Lt. Skip Hagy, a DNR district law supervisor in Newberry. “People drive way too fast for conditions. It showed in the personal injury and fatal accidents we had this past weekend.”

A sound meter patrol was conducted Saturday in Grand Marais in Alger County. However, no sound violation tickets were issued. Conservation officers had contact with 578 riders, with 41 verbal warnings issued, along with 16 tickets for registration and trail permit violations.

Conservation officers assisted with the fatality Friday in Luce County where a 71-year-old rider struck a tree. Two officers patrolling in the eastern U.P. Thursday had 55 contacts with riders. They issued four warnings and two tickets.

DNR safety and enforcement patrols will continue throughout the winter.

To find out more about snowmobiling in Michigan, visit Michigan.gov/Snowmobiling.

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Wolf poaching incidents resolved


gray wolf
A gray wolf shot in Ontonagon County Saturday is shown. A Greenland Michigan man has admitted to shooting the animal with a rifle. Photo courtesy of Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

Michigan conservation officers obtained confessions Tuesday from two Upper Peninsula men suspected in separate, unrelated wolf poaching incidents in Ontonagon and Menominee counties.

Prosecuting attorneys are reviewing details of the two cases, with decisions on specific charges to be brought expected soon. Gray wolves are a protected species under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 and as such, can only legally be killed in defense of human safety.

The names of the men—a 58-year-old from Greenland and a 67-year-old from Menominee Township—are being withheld pending their arraignments in the respective county district courts.

“Wolves are examples of important wildlife species that play a critical predator role in the ecosystems of the Upper Peninsula,” said Lt. Ryan Aho, a district law supervisor in Marquette. “Our conservation officers did some great work in obtaining confessions from these two individuals who killed wolves collared for study purposes by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.”

On Monday, DNR Wildlife Division personnel said they had received a mortality signal from the collar of an adult female wolf in Ontonagon County. Sgt. Marc Pomroy and DNR Conservation Officer Zach Painter went to the site, which was located off Gardner Road in Greenland Township.

“We gathered some information at the scene, and we conducted suspect interviews the following day,” Painter said. “During those discussions, the suspect admitted he shot the animal with a rifle, which we seized as part of the investigation.”

In Menominee County, a mortality signal was received from a 1-year-old male wolf on Nov. 19 (during the firearm deer hunting season).

“I retrieved the collar later that day from a place along River Road in Lake Township,” said DNR Conservation Officer Jeremy Sergey. “The collar was intact, covered in blood, but was not attached to a wolf.”

After searching a vast area, and conducting numerous interviews, the officers developed several suspects by the following day.

In an interview with conservation officers this week, the same day the confession was obtained in the Ontonagon County case, the man from Menominee Township confessed to killing the wolf. He was one of the original suspects developed in November.

The DNR investigates and pursues vigorous prosecution of any wolf poaching cases. Illegally killing a wolf is punishable by up to 90 days in jail, a $1,000 fine, or both, and the cost of prosecution.

Suspected poaching violations may be reported 24 hours a day, seven days a week to the DNR’s Report All Poaching hotline at 800-292-7800.

Wolves killed in poaching incidents are typically sent to the DNR’s Wildlife Disease Laboratory in Lansing, where necropsies are performed.

For more information on wolves, visit Michigan.gov/Wolves.

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Competitive Cheer takes first at West Catholic invite


Cedar Springs Varsity Competitive Cheer took the top spot at last weekend’s invitational. Courtesy photo.

Cedar Springs JV Competitive Cheer ran away with the win in their bracket at last weekend’s invitational. Courtesy photo.

The Cedar Springs High School Competitive Cheer teams captured first-place wins at the West Catholic Cheer Invitational on January 18. 

The Varsity team squared off against seven teams in their bracket and earned strong scores in round one (228.6) and round two (218.68). Spectators erupted in excitement during round three when the stunt group of Paige Pierson, Harlow Hovarter, and Sophia Dault mustered all their strength to push their falling flyer, Gabby Endres, up into her heel stretch and saved the team from major deductions. The team not only finished first in their bracket but also secured the top spot of the entire invitational, with a combined round three score of 736.38. 

“I am super excited with the team this week,” remarked Coach Anne Olszewski. “We worked very hard on our Round 1 and 2 material and you could really see it in the scores. Now we are focusing on a clean Round 3 and will be ready for a successful second half of the season. This strong group of athletic young women consists of three freshmen, two sophomores, eight juniors, and five seniors and each week they step up to the task.”

The JV team trampled the four teams in their bracket by scoring 90.82 points higher than the second-place team and earning a combined round three score of 570.32. “I am super proud of both teams this week,” said JV Coach Katy Hradsky. “We had limited practice time due to the school closings and the girls were also feeling the pressure of exams. While they didn’t achieve their highest round scores or even have their best performances at West Catholic, I think both levels proved they belong at the top and will keep putting in work to get there.” 

The Lady Red Hawks will travel to Caledonia to compete in the LMCCOA Scholarship Invitational. A few of the team’s seniors are hoping to hear their names announced as winners of this scholarship. Good luck seniors and good luck to the Lady Red Hawks as the Road to State continues. #EARNIT!

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IRS confirms tax filing season to begin January 28


IR-2019-01, January 7, 2019

WASHINGTON — Despite the government shutdown, the Internal Revenue Service has confirmed that it will process tax returns beginning January 28, 2019 and provide refunds to taxpayers as scheduled.

“We are committed to ensuring that taxpayers receive their refunds notwithstanding the government shutdown. I appreciate the hard work of the employees and their commitment to the taxpayers during this period,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig.

Congress directed the payment of all tax refunds through a permanent, indefinite appropriation (31 U.S.C. 1324), and the IRS has consistently been of the view that it has authority to pay refunds despite a lapse in annual appropriations. Although in 2011 the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) directed the IRS not to pay refunds during a lapse, OMB has reviewed the relevant law at Treasury’s request and concluded that IRS may pay tax refunds during a lapse.

The IRS will be recalling a significant portion of its workforce, currently furloughed as part of the government shutdown, to work. Additional details for the IRS filing season will be included in an updated FY2019 Lapsed Appropriations Contingency Plan to be released publicly in the coming days.

“IRS employees have been hard at work over the past year to implement the biggest tax law changes the nation has seen in more than 30 years,” said Rettig.

As in past years, the IRS will begin accepting and processing individual tax returns once the filing season begins. For taxpayers who usually file early in the year and have all of the needed documentation, there is no need to wait to file. They should file when they are ready to submit a complete and accurate tax return.

The filing deadline to submit 2018 tax returns is Monday, April 15, 2019 for most taxpayers. Because of the Patriots’ Day holiday on April 15 in Maine and Massachusetts and the Emancipation Day holiday on April 16 in the District of Columbia, taxpayers who live in Maine or Massachusetts have until April 17, 2019 to file their returns.

Software companies and tax professionals will be accepting and preparing tax returns before Jan. 28 and then will submit the returns when the IRS systems open later this month. The IRS strongly encourages people to file their tax returns electronically to minimize errors and for faster refunds.

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HONOR ROLL

Congratulations to the following 4th and 5th grade students for making the 1st Semester 2018/2019 HONOR ROLL!

“A” Honor Roll

Colren Bailey 

Tripp Freyling 

Isaac Gitchel 

Kendal Proctor 

Penelope Rose 

Zander Spielmaker 

Natalie Haan

“A/B” Honor Roll

Melody Atwood 

Addison Brinks 

Jayden Danks 

Jama Dillon

Max McCall 

Bryce Petersen 

Madelyn Reichelt 

Olivia Starr

Jax Stebelton 

Ryan Dykstra 

Gideon Fleeger

Léda Gitchel

Kaiya Imhoff 

Keaton Kindy 

Sarah VandenBerg 

Seth VanKampen

Creative Technologies Academy

1st Semester Honor roll 2018-2019

Middle School Honor Roll

Grade Name & GPA

06 Byl, Hailey 4.0 

06 Christie, Katherine 3.9 

06 de la Rosa, Jacob 3.9 

06 Fisk, Ethan 3.5 

06 Fisk, Karly 4.0 

06 Freyling, Owen 4.0 

06 Gibbs, Zachary 3.6 

06 Haan, Cameron 3.8 

06 Hazen, Shawn 3.1 

06 Klunder, Kaila 3.4 

06 Lopez, Adalynn 3.4 

06 Mason, Shawney 3.3 

06 McKinney, Meghan 3.5

06 Rainwater, Matthew 3.7 

06 Shafer, Estella 3.4 

06 Sidlauskas, Sage 4.0

06 VandenBoss, Logan 4.0

07 Atwood, Shadrach 3.8

07 Besmer, Trinity 3.9 

07 Brinley, Nadelynn 4.0

07 Christie, Gabrielle 4.0

07 Creveling, Jaxson 3.9 

07 Dillon, Jacob 4.0

07 Fulkerson, Jack 3.8 

07 Harvey, Tylor 3.8 

07 Hoops, Thomas 4.0 

07 Jaggers, Jacob 3.9 

07 McSorley, Caden 3.2 

07 Montambo, Saige 4.0 

07 Perry, Jacob 4.0 

07 Petersen, Tru 4.0 

07 Piskun, Danielle 3.6 

07 Rypma, Ryan 4.0 

07 Schreiber, Jayda 4.0 

07 Sullivan, Mason 4.0 

07 VanHarten, Analiese 4.0 

07 Vogler, Morgan 3.0 

07 Warner, Conner 3.4 

07 Willis, Kirsten 3.9 

07 Willis, Sierra 3.7

07 Winters, Kaden 4.0

08 Beiter, Landon 3.8

08 Covell, Remington 3.7 

08 Davenport, Haydn 4.0

08 Fessenden, Joshua 4 

08 Hanes, Joel 3.4

08 Harvey, Laila 3.3 

08 Jibson, Brenna 3.9 

08 Slock, Ethan 3.8 

08 Tate, Logan 3.3 

08 Tompkins, Parker 3.5 

08 Walker, Malikia 3.7 

08 Winn, Emily 3.8 

08 Winters, Landon 3.2

High School Honor Roll 

Grade Name & GPA

10 Alverson, McKenzie 4.2 

12 August, Danielle 4.3 

09 Benson, Jesse 3.3 

12 Bowers, Ayden 3.0

11 Bucholtz, Kaela 3.3

12 alkins, Brianne 3.9

10 Campbell, Ethan 3.2 

12 Davison, Matthew 4.4 

12 Dillon, Joshua 4.0 

12 Dillon, Justin 3.9 

12 Dotson, Arianna 3.3 

12 Evink, Jillian 4.0 

11 Fahling, Gabriela 3.7 

09 Fisk, Alison 3.8

11 Hackbardt, Kiana 3.7

12 Hawley, Hailey 3.6

11 Hirsch, Travis 3.7 

11 Hofstra, Hannah 3.9 

10 Hoogerhyde, Grayce 3.8 

10 Hutchins, Nathan 3.6 

10 Hutchins, Steven 3.7 

12 Jahns, Elizabeth 4.1 

09 Knowlton, Elizabeth 3.4 

12 Lovett, Nathan 3.2 

10 Marek, Jeff 3.6 

10 McSorley, Carson 3.6 

12 Nguyen, Binh 4.0 

11 Nguyen, Truc 3.7

10 Parker, Dezeree 3.4

11 Patin, Nolan 3.7

09 Petersen, Sydney 3.2 

12 Roebuck, Isaac 3.3 

09 Romancky, Lydia 3.9 

12 Sanchez, Amber 3.3 

09 Shelagowski, Alyssa 3.5 

11 Shelagowski, Ashley 3.7 

10 Sidlauskas, Willow 4.3 

12 Slock, Keegan 4.1 

12 Starr, Marjorie 4.1 

11 Stevens, Hunter 3.5 

10 Tompkins, Ruby 3.0

10 VanDyke, Audrey 3.1

11 Watson, Faith 3.9

10 Wierda, Tori 3.5 

09 Winters, Ivan 3.4 

12 Winters, Logan 3.8

12 Wortz, Charles 3.6 

09 Wortz, Molly 3.9 

11 Wright, Aaron 3.5

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Chris Stapleton coming to Grand Rapids


Grammy-nominated country star to play Van Andel Arena on Aug. 16; Tickets on Sale Feb. 1

Grand Rapids—Chris Stapleton will continue his extensive, sold-out “All-American Road Show” through 2019 with newly confirmed performances this summer and fall. The shows will kick-off July 9 at Allentown’s PPL Center and will makes its way to SMG-managed Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids on Friday, August 16, 2019 at 7:00 p.m. Guest openers include Brent Cobb and The Marcus King Band.

Stapleton Fan Club pre-sales will begin Tuesday, January 29 at 10:00 a.m. local time. For more information visit www.stapletonfanclub.com.

Tickets go on sale to the general public beginning Friday, February 1 at 10:00 a.m. Tickets will be available at the Van Andel Arena and DeVos Place® box offices, online at Ticketmaster.com, and charge by phone at 1-800-745-3000. A purchase limit of four (4) tickets will apply to every order. See Ticketmaster.com for all pricing and availability.

Fans on Van Andel Arena’s email list will have access to a presale on Thursday, January 31 at 10:00 a.m. In order to receive access, sign up to the list by January 30. Sign up for the email list at https://vanandelarena.com/join-our-e-mail-list.

Citi is the official presale credit card of Chris Stapleton’s “All-American Road Show” tour. As such, Citi cardmembers will have access to purchase presale tickets for U.S. dates beginning Tuesday, January 29 at 10:00 a.m. local time until Thursday, January 31 at 10:00 p.m. local time through Citi’s Private Pass Program. For complete presale details visit www.citiprivatepass.com.

The newly confirmed shows follow yet another monumental year for Stapleton, who is nominated in three categories at the 61st Grammy Awards: Best Country Album (From A Room: Volume 2) and Best Country Solo Performance (“Millionaire”) as well as Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for his performance on Justin Timberlake’s “Say Something.” Additionally, last year, Stapleton won Male Vocalist of the Year (for the fourth-straight year), Single of the Year (“Broken Halos”) and Song of the Year (“Broken Halos”) at The 52 Annual CMA Awards, Male Vocalist of the Year and Album of the Year (From A Room: Volume 1 as both artist and producer) at the 53rd Academy of Country Music Awards, Top Country Artist, Top Country Male Artist and Top Country Album (From A Room: Volume 1) at the 2018 Billboard Music Awards and Best Country Album (From A Room: Volume 1), Best Country Song (“Broken Halos”) and Best Country Solo Performance (“Either Way”) at the 60th Grammy Awards.

Released in December 2017 on Mercury Records Nashville, From A Room: Volume 2 takes its name from Nashville’s historic RCA Studio A (the capital “A” in “From A Room”) where it was recorded with Grammy Award-winning producer Dave Cobb. Along with Stapleton on vocals and guitar and Cobb on acoustic guitar, the album features Morgane Stapleton on harmony vocals as well as longtime band-members J.T. Cure on bass and Derek Mixon on drums.

In addition to his work as a solo artist, Stapleton is also featured on Justin Timberlake’s “Say Something.” The music video—which was filmed in a single shot at L.A.’s historic Bradbury Building—has been viewed over 287 million times. 

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Cedar Springs Village life a century ago


The old Union High School, which sat up on the highest hill in town. It was razed in 1923. A mosaic of the school is in the entryway of our current high school.
This photo was from a vintage postcard posted at genealogyhound.com.

Contributed by Sharon Jett, Cedar Springs Historical Society

Picture our small town in 1890. Many of its dirt streets were lined with maple trees. We had wooden sidewalks and gas street lamps. From George and W.J. Hake’s blacksmith shop the sharp ringing sounds of hot iron being pounded into shape could be heard. They made cant hooks for the lumbermen’s use. Hardware stores, hotels, and a tavern or two lined each side of the street.

The three-story school sat high on a hill at the south end of town [where Hilltop is now]. An apple orchard behind the school was a great place to swipe a snack after school.

Mac Sellers, editor and publisher of the Cedar Springs Clipper, could be seen through the front window of the Clipper building. Mac’s large bowl of popcorn was kept warm on the pot-bellied stove. You were always expected to have some when you stopped in, as he was greatly insulted if you didn’t.

We had four churches at that time, their steeples standing tall. On Sunday morning you could hear their bells toll. When there was a death in the village, the bell would ring once for each year the person had lived. 

The sound made by the horse and wagon as it clattered and jingled down the street was common, and your watch could be set by the whistle of the trains passing through the village. Hitching posts and water troughs were found in front of most establishments.

The old-timers would gather around the pot-bellied stove in Black’s Busy Store and talk about the great fire of 1884. Black Friday, they called it. Forty acres in the heart of town turned to ash. Eight blocks of the finest businesses and homes were lost. They would all shake their heads and agree they would never forget Black Friday.

Hearing the train whistle in the distance, announcing the train’s approach, the old-timers easily recalled the early days when Cedar Springs was the end of the line. The sounding whistle was a call to all able men to come to the turntable at the end of the tracks. The engine would be disconnected from her cars, moved onto the turntable and all these men would push the turntable around to face the engine south again.

Business was good in the village of Cedar Springs. In 1883, we had nine doctors and five hotels, some with 20-30 rooms. One of these was the Union Hotel, whose register shows that Senator Horace Greeley and former President Ulysses S. Grant stayed there in 1878.

We had a music shop, sewing machine shop, barber shops, furniture stores, jewelry and clock shops, and shoe and boot shops. Everything you could ever need could be found in the Village of Cedar Springs. 

Social life revolved around school, church, family, and friends. Horse races were held often just south of town and many area people raised racing horses. A large fair was usually held after harvest. You could plan on games, livestock competition, a pie-baking contest, and photographers waiting to take your family photo.

Life was good in Cedar Springs.

You can get learn more about the history of Cedar Springs by purchasing a copy of The Making of a Town, A Historical Journey Through Cedar Springs, Michigan. The book is a collection of stories about the pioneering families and businesses they build along Main Street. The book was put together and published by the Cedar Springs Historical Society. You can pick one up at the museum at Morley Park on Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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Kent County Libraries join forces to increase student reading scores


All of the libraries in Kent County have teamed up with the Kent Intermediate School District and the Literacy Center of West Michigan to form Partners in Reading Success. The group is pleased to launch Mission Read, a reading program designed to help young and beginning readers pass new Michigan reading proficiency requirements. The mission is to read for 1,000 days before 6th grade.

Reading assessments conducted in 2016 show that only 46 percent of third-graders passed the English language arts exam. Of the 54 percent who did not pass, 25 percent were deemed “partially proficient” and 29 percent were “not proficient.” The strategy behind Mission Read is to help beginning readers develop a daily reading habit and improve reading proficiency.

“There’s an urgent need to help these kids,” explains Mark Raffler, English Language Arts Consultant at Kent Intermediate School District. “When kids love to read, everything else in school comes more easily and with greater effectiveness. The results of good reading habits carry throughout their schooling and into adult life.”   

The first objective of Mission Read is to help instill strong reading habits and improve overall reading assessment scores. Families with beginning readers (kindergarten through grade three) can sign up for Mission Read at Cedar Springs Public Library, Sparta Township Library, any Grand Rapids Public library location or any Kent District Library location. For every 100 days of reading, each participant will get a planet sticker. The 500-day prize is a book and the 1,000-day prize is a digital tablet reader.

The second objective of Mission Read is to help students with low reading assessment scores. When an in-school assessment identifies one or more of five specific reading skills that need improvement, the student and family are referred to their local public library. Public libraries throughout Kent County have curated books and activities aimed at strengthening these specific skills.

Mike Nassar, Director of the Community Literacy Initiative at the Literacy Center of West Michigan, said “Mission Read adds a new dimension to public libraries as a powerful resource for schools and, most importantly, for beginning and developing readers. This is precisely the type of collaboration that can help us move the needle for early literacy.”

Starting in the 2019-20 school year, students who are at least one grade level behind in reading by the end of third-grade will be held back, although superintendents have the option to grant exemptions in some instances. This new law is aimed at improving childhood literacy and is based on research showing that high literacy scores among third graders is a key predictor of student academic success.

Beginning in Kindergarten, all students are assessed three times per year to measure their reading progress. Students reading below grade level will have an Individual Reading Improvement Plan (IRIP) that must be provided by the teacher and shared with parents. The IRIP identifies up to five specific reading skills that may need improvement. These skills include phonics, phonemic awareness, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension. It also includes a “Read at Home Plan” to encourage reading support outside of school.

Third-grade students will be tested near the end of the school year with the M-STEP reading assessment. If their score is below the threshold, they may not advance to fourth grade.

To learn more about Mission Read, visit missionread.org. 

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