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We wanted to make two corrections in last week’s story about Associate Superintendent David Cairy obtaining a new job.

The first correction is that although it is a state-wide job, and he will be based in Lansing, it is not a job specifically with the state of Michigan. Grant money from the State of Michigan funds the project, and is funneled through an Intermediate School District.

It should have read, and was corrected on our website to read: “David Cairy, the associate superintendent at Cedar Springs Public Schools, is leaving his position at Cedar Springs this week to take on a new position as Technology Readiness Infrastructure Grant (TRIG) Project Director. He will oversee the TRIG operations located at, and in partnership with the Michigan Association of Intermediate School District Superintendents, in Lansing. He will also have a home base at the Kent Intermediate School District.”

The Post did not receive a call back by press time from the ISD that the project was originally funded through.

The second correction is that Cairy did not apply for the Superintendent’s job when Andy Booth retired, only when Ron McDermed retired.

We apologize for the error.

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Red Hawks OK Bronze Champs, head to playoffs

The Red Hawks celebrate their win over Northview, and entry into the playoffs for the second year in a row.

The Red Hawks celebrate their win over Northview, and entry into the playoffs for the second year in a row.

By Judy Reed

The Cedar Springs Red Hawks marched on to the field last Friday, October 23, at Northview, with the goal of not just winning the game, but clinching a share of the OK Bronze championship, and getting a spot in the 2015 playoffs. They scored on all counts, taking down Northview 52-29.

The Cedar Springs Red Hawks are OK Bronze champions for the second year in a row. Last year they had sole title, and this year they share the title with Forest Hills Eastern, who lost last week to Forest Hills Northern. Both CS and FHE finished the season 4-1 in conference. Cedar’s only conference loss was to FHE.

The win over Northview was also the Red Hawks’ 6th win, assuring them a berth in the playoffs, which begin this weekend. They take on Zeeland West at Zeeland, on Saturday, October 31, at 1 p.m. For more on last Friday’s game, turn to page 7.

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Trick or treat in Cedar Springs

Are you ready to trick or treat in Cedar Springs?

Are you ready to trick or treat in Cedar Springs?

It’s only two days until Halloween—are you ready for a night full of fun? Does the thought of greeting scores of trick or treaters make you break out in a cold sweat? Forget staying home! Pack up the kids and come out Halloween night for the Annual Cedar Springs Area Halloween Spooktacular in Cedar Springs! Sponsored by the Cedar Springs Area Chamber of Commerce, area businesses and churches, the fun begins at 4:30 p.m. with trick or treating at area businesses up and down Main Street, some side streets, and 17 Mile until 7 p.m. Special events include a haunted library at the Cedar Springs Library at the corner of Cherry and Second from 5-7 p.m.; a haunted school house at the Cedar Springs Historical Museum on Cedar Street in Morley Park from 5-7; Calvary Assembly of God will have lots of games and candy and prizes at the corner of Main and Ash from 5-7 p.m.; the Kent County Sheriff Traffic Squad will hand out hot chocolate and donuts at the Cedar Springs firebarn at W. Maple and Second St. again this year, and The Springs Church will host Trunk-or-Treat from 6-8 p.m., in their parking lot at the corner of Maple and First Street, along with a giant slide, and refreshments.

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People upset with school decisions


By Judy Reed

The third-floor meeting room at the Hilltop Administration building could hardly hold the number of people who turned out for Monday’s Board of Education meeting. Tension was high as people gathered to voice their concerns about problems they feel are happening in the district, and especially to voice their frustration over a letter read at the previous meeting by board president Patricia Eary.

The letter was a statement to a small group of staff members that the board feels are being negative and trying to undermine the work of Superintendent VanDuyn.

Last week the Post ran a letter to the editor from Board treasurer Michelle Bayink, who said she had not seen the letter prior to its being read, nor did she support it. Many community members FOIA’d the letter, as did the Post. The letter they received, was not, however, the whole letter read at the previous meeting.  One part missing that many were upset with was a statement that said, “If you do not think you can work for the current administration, you are free to seek employment elsewhere.”

Board President Eary apologized at the meeting for the problem with the FOIA. She said she had copied her notes and statement, but for some reason, her computer only copied the notes. She made her entire statement available at the meeting.

Both Eary and VanDuyn said that the recommendation for the statement was made at a workshop that was held in September with a representative from the Michigan Association of School Boards. Eary wrote and read the statement.

“I had been hearing from people that other staff was trying to make me look bad—that they were trying to make me look like the devil,” explained VanDuyn. “And the representative said, ‘You need to make a statement, this has to stop.’ That’s why the statement was made.”

She said that teachers said they had heard that they would lose their sick days if they didn’t use them. VanDuyn said she didn’t know where that came from.  “The teachers have a contract that spells out how much they can carry over.” Another problem arose with instructional rounds that they take three times a year at the schools. Teachers were left off the list through a miscommunication, she said, so she canceled the rounds. “There is never a time Laura VanDuyn would not have teachers on an instructional round,” she said. “It goes against what I believe in.”

Some have complained about cognitive coaches being moved back into the classroom. VanDuyn explained that they needed teachers to fill some classrooms to bring down class sizes, and since a consultant is coming in to analyze their finances, they didn’t want to hire anyone yet. So they moved a couple of coaches back into the classroom. Board President Eary said the board supports that.

One of the things that many people are wondering about is why three top administrators have left this year—Steve Seward, Jennifer Harper, and now associate principal David Cairy. Some have accused VanDuyn of pushing out these administrators.

“Change is hard. It’s not uncommon that administrators leave when a new Superintendent comes,” explained VanDuyn. “Dynamics change.” She said she could not comment on why Harper left, it was a personnel issue. But she said she offered to help Seward with keeping his insurance going, and that she’s enjoyed working with Cairy. “I’m absolutely not pushing people out,” she said. “David and I worked well together.”

VanDuyn said it’s a small minority of people causing the negativity. “I know what I walked into. And there are people I haven’t held accountable, because of that environment. I know who some of them are. I just thought over time the people would understand who I am. I will continue to be who I am—honest, with integrity and a passion for education for both students and staff.”

At Monday’s meeting, several people questioned the board about what’s happening in the district, and spoke of not feeling respected by the board. Teacher Brett Burns said that in the past, the district has been about honesty, integrity and respect, and he felt that some of those things are currently missing. “We’ve lost three pillars in the district and we don’t know why. Why are they leaving?” He challenged the board to start thinking about the staff and students and set some of their personal things aside. “We are at a crossroads—a district divided. I don’t know if the board sees that,” he said. He noted that when they try to communicate a problem, they feel they are shut down. “You have to hear us, even if it’s not what you want to hear. I’m willing to make it happen. We need to learn from our mistakes and move on.”

Several of those commenting mourned the fact that Cairy is leaving. The room gave him a standing ovation, to show how much they respected the work he had done here in Cedar Springs.

Board trustee Brooke Nichols was tearful during a statement she read to the audience. “I know this has been a difficult time for many of us lately and I’m sorry for any added stress the board has added,” she said. She went on to say that she supports anyone that wants to try to move the district forward in a positive manner, and noted that everyone on the board does care about the district.

“It’s up to us to support each other,” she continued. It’s so emotionally draining to carry grudges and hard feelings. I am hopeful that there can be a fresh start…We can’t change all that has happened, but we do have a choice in letting that define us or trying to move forward in a positive light.”

Click here to read a letter from one concerned community resident. To see the letter read at the October 12 board meeting, click link below. If you have questions, please email or call Superintendent Laura VanDuyn at 696-1204, or one of your school board members. You can find them at www.csredhawks.org. You may also write a letter to the editor and we will publish them as space allows.



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A Thousand Letters home

Author Teresa Irish with Cedar Springs resident Claudia Mabie.

Author Teresa Irish with Cedar Springs resident Claudia Mabie.

By Tom Noreen

Over 130 people enjoyed the presentation last Thursday evening, October 22, at Cedar Springs Middle School, of A Thousand Letters Home: Journey of the Letters, by author Teresa Irish.

Irish is a gifted storyteller with a mission to remind us of the war that changed the world and the over 16 million men and women who served in uniform during that time. Her father, Bud Irish, wrote 1,000 letters home to his fiancé and parents during World War II and sent 250 photographs. These letters were stored in a trunk until after his death in 2006. Reading these letters changed her life, her outlook and ultimately her calling. She gained a complete new understanding of her dad and how it transformed him and of the war itself, both on the battlefield and at home.

While reading a letter on an airplane, she saw the many soldiers in uniform that were on their way to or returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. She wondered how many times she had seen these uniforms in the 45 weeks she traveled each year and not seen the people in them or realized what they were doing. She made a vow never to pass up someone in uniform or a vet and not thank them for their service. She struck up a conversation with the soldier across the aisle who was on his way to Afghanistan, and a few years later ended up marrying now Colonel Brad Foster (who is on another deployment). She spoke of the many vets she has talked with that no one has ever thanked for their service, especially those from Vietnam.

It is not just Vietnam. My dad, Roger, served in the Navy in WWII, landing soldiers in North Africa, Sicily, Italy and finally Normandy. While we were stationed in Belgium, we traveled to Normandy on 1999 with him to show him the beaches from the grassy side. As we walked the large cemetery overlooking Omaha Beach, he and Virginia rested at the memorial. During that time, a group of Italian college students came up and asked if he had served in WWII. He said he did and they thanked him for his service. He later said that was the first time anyone ever thanked him.

Just as important as recognizing vets, is recognizing the needs of those around us. Seeing people as we would like to be seen and giving them a warm greeting may make the difference between life and death.

Teresa said of the pictures that were in the collection that she couldn’t understand why her dad had taken and saved some of the more graphic ones. In particular, ones of a group of concentration camp prisoners that had been burned alive in a barn until she looked at the back and saw where he had written, “Pictures don’t lie.”

It might not have been a bucket list item but getting author Teresa Irish as a speaker to present was high on librarian Donna Clark’s wish list. After learning about Irish’s program, Donna contacted her and found out that it would cost more than the library could afford at the time. In the summer, Teresa contacted Donna and said she was going to be in the area for another program and could do one in Cedar Springs for about half of the original quote. Donna said yes. She then asked the American Legion Auxiliary to sponsor part of the program and they agreed to do half. Later, she brought the lecture up at a City Council meeting and Dave Ringler of the Cedar Springs Brewing Company said he would do the other half.

The Brewing Company also hosted a private party for the Women’s Club before the presentation. A buffet of chicken, roasted potatoes and other root vegetables provided an opportunity for the kitchen and wait staff to practice before they open. They were treated to the brewery’s “Cedar Creek” soft drinks.

People stood in line for an hour to buy Irish’s book and have her autograph it. If you would like to read the book, A Thousand Letters Home, the Cedar Springs Public Library has them to sign out.

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The Post travels to Maine


Gary and Barb Woodhull recently took the Post on a trip out east when they visited the many lighthouses on the coast of Maine. They traveled with their daughter, Ann Stock; son-in-law, Darryl Stock; and grandsons, Bryant and Brenden, from Carmel, Indiana. While there, they also toured Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt’s summer home in Roosevelt Campobello International Park, in New Brunswick, Canada.

Thanks, Gary and Barb, for taking us with you!

Are you going on vacation? Take the Post with you and snap some photos. Then send them to us with some info to news@cedarspringspost.com or mail them to Post travels, PO Box 370, Cedar Springs, MI 49319. We will be looking for yours!

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More fall colors


Aren’t these colors dazzling? Mary Lou Fuller, of Solon Township, sent us this photo of the beautiful trees in her yard. If only they could hold on a little longer!

Thanks so much, Mary Lou!

If you have photos of the fall colors, please email them to news@cedarspringspost.com.

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HATS Off to local middle school student


Madison Skelonc

Madison Skelonc

Madison Skelonc, a 7th grader at Cedar Springs Middle School, was one of 300 high achieving middle school students recently honored at the annual HATS OFF (High Achieving Talented Students) Recognition Ceremony, a statewide award ceremony that recognizes the top-scoring students who participate in Northwestern University’s Midwest Academic Talent Search. The students who were recognized have received extremely high scores on a college entrance exam—either the SAT or ACT—while in 6th, 7th, or 8th grade.

Madison, the daughter of Brent and Jenny Skelonc, of Nelson Township, took the ACT in 6th grade.

The students and their parents were guests at a reception on October 17 that was hosted by the Gifted and Talented Education office at Michigan State University.

The SAT and ACT tests are administered annually to approximately 2,250 Michigan middle school students who demonstrate high academic ability. These tests are utilized by high school juniors and seniors as part of the college admissions process. Data from Northwestern Midwest Academic Talent Search indicates that participating middle school students score, on average, very close to the average score of college-bound high school seniors nationally. Those students recognized at the HATS OFF awards ceremony achieved scores comparable to the top 1-20 percent range of college-bound senior’s scores.

The process seeks to identify students who reason well in math and verbal areas and to recommend educational options available both in and out of school.

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Rotary hosts District Governor


By Tom Noreen

On October 21, Rotary District 6290 District Governor Tom Schmidt and his wife, Denise, visited the Cedar Springs Rotary Club as part of their duties. Tom looks after 60 Rotary Clubs—from Grand Haven in the southwest of the district to Blind River, Canada, in the northeast.

They met with the Rotary board prior to the general club meeting. The board reviewed the club’s activities to date, its plans for the rest of the year, and goals. Tom passed on some tips that he had learned from other clubs.

After lunch, he talked about the importance of getting out of the meeting room and being seen in the community. We need to let people know who we are and what we do for the community.

As part of the meeting, Schmidt presented new member packets to Randy VanDuyn from the Red Flannel Festival and David Sefton of Northern Physical Therapy. He also presented a Paul Harris +3 pin to Club President Tom Noreen for his support of the Rotary Foundation.

The club presented Schmidt a red flannel underwear top with his name embroidered on it.

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Associate Superintendent David Cairy lands state-wide job


David Cairy, the associate superintendent at Cedar Springs Public Schools

David Cairy, the associate superintendent at Cedar Springs Public Schools

David Cairy, the associate superintendent at Cedar Springs Public Schools, is leaving his position at Cedar Springs this week to take on a new position as Technology Readiness Infrastructure Grant (TRIG) Project Director. He will oversee the TRIG operations located at, and in partnership with the Michigan Association of Intermediate School District Superintendents, in Lansing. He will also have a home base at the Kent Intermediate School District.

It’s been an absolutely amazing 14 years here,” remarked Cairy. “When I came here, I was looking for a good job. What I found was a home, a place to raise a family, a community of top-notch educators, and a community that strongly cares about the education of their kids.”

Cairy first came to Cedar Springs as principal of Cedar Trails. He was promoted to associate superintendent in 2007, and has led a variety of educational initiatives as well as serving as the district’s chief financial officer. “The first group of kids I started with just graduated,” noted Cairy. “It’s fun to see a group through from start to finish.”

Cairy is well-loved and respected by parents, community and school staff members. At Monday’s board of education meeting, community member Sue Wolfe finished her comments by saying, “In my 62 years of life, I’ve never known a finer man than Dave Cairy.” The jam-packed room of staff and community members erupted in applause, and gave Cairy a standing ovation.

I was humbled,” said Cairy. “For those folks to think I did a good job means a lot. When that group shows up and says thank you—well, that’s something I will never forget.”

Cairy applied for the Superintendent job at Cedar Springs when Ron McDermed retired in 2014, and stayed on to work with the new superintendent, after the board chose Dr. Laura VanDuyn. “I’ve really enjoyed working with him,” said VanDuyn. “He’s such a good guy. He’s been a great colleague to a whole bunch of folks, and we’re going to miss him.”

While Cairy’s new office will be in Lansing, he won’t be moving from the area.

While I won’t be working here anymore, know my thoughts will never be far from the district,” he wrote in a letter to the staff. “The more talented educator in the family will still be here (his wife teaches at Cedar Springs), and our boys will continue to benefit from our wonderful system. Erin and I chose to live here for a lot of great reasons, and my job was only one of them. Thank you doesn’t even begin to cover how appreciative I am of the opportunity I have had and the support I have felt from this district.”

A consultant is helping the school district find an interim business director until they can hire a permanent replacement for Cairy.

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