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Tag Archive | "Cedar Springs High School"

Student arrested for school violence threats


By Judy Reed

A threat of school violence on social media got a 17-year-old student arrested last week.

According to the Kent County Sheriff Department, last Friday morning, September 30, students at Cedar Springs High School reported to the administration that they saw a threat on a social media website referencing a school shooting. The Kent County Sheriff Department and the administration then began to investigate the threat.

According to Superintendent Dr. Laura VanDuyn, the administration officials immediately notified Kent County Sheriff Department’s School Resource Officer Tom McCutcheon. He and detectives investigated the matter, and determined there was no threat to students.

A 17-year-old Cedar Springs student was arrested in connection to the threat, but the teen’s name has not yet been released. The investigation is still open.

The Post received a phone call from a parent Friday morning, who stated that several students, including her daughter, were upset because they had heard about the threat through social media, but no one at the school was talking about it with the students. According to VanDuyn, an announcement was made to the students about it.

“The safety and security of our students and staff is most important to us,” said VanDuyn, in a letter sent to staff and parents. “We take all concerns about safety and security very seriously. We are working to assure our students, staff, parents and community that there is no cause for concern for safety.

“This is an isolated incident that was spread through social media. Both the CSPS District and the KCSD will act swiftly and properly to handle this matter with regard to Board Policy, State law and student discipline code.

“I want to thank our students for reporting this matter to the high school administration and the SRO. I want to thank our administrators, SRO and KCSD for handling this matter so well.

“I encourage parents to reassure your children that there is no reason for concern. I would also encourage you to talk with your children about internet and social media safety and proper use.

“Please call me at any time on my cell or office phone, should you have questions or concerns.”

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Show your Spirit


Fall 2016 Cedar Springs High School Athletics Spirit Themes all attending are encouraged to participate

September 1 – Beach Out Football vs Sparta

September 9 – Red White and Blue Football vs Greenville

September 16 – Black Out Football vs Northview

September 23 – Neon Out Football vs GR Christian

September 24 – Red Out Cross Country Red Hawk Invite

September 28 – White Out Tennis vs Cadillac

September 30 – White Out Football vs Lowell

October 4 – #Rickerstrong Soccer vs Greenville

October 7 – Pink Game Football vs FHN

October 14 – Red Out Football vs FHC

October 20 – Black Out Volleyball vs FHE

October 21 – 80s Night Football vs Ottawa Hills

November 4 – Gray Day Band During the School Day

Come out and support Red Hawk Athletics.  Follow on Twitter @Cedar_Athletics

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Community shows outpouring of support for teen with cancer


Fundraiser Aug. 23 to help with treatments

Brison Ricker, 15, was on the Varsity soccer team at Cedar Springs High School last year, before being diagnosed with a brain tumor.

Brison Ricker, 15, was on the Varsity soccer team at Cedar Springs High School last year, before being diagnosed with a brain tumor.

By Judy Reed

The greater Cedar Springs community and beyond has wrapped its arms around the family of a local teen with a rare brain tumor, and the alternative cancer treatment they are working so hard to help raise funds for is showing signs of working—something that conventional cancer treatment did not do. In fact, the latest MRI on 15-year-old Brison Ricker shows that the tumor has shrunk to 1/3 the size it was previously.

It’s definitely a miracle—especially when you find out that Brison’s parents—Brian and Kim Ricker, of Nelson Township, were told less than two months ago by their conventional oncologist to take Brison home and call in hospice because he didn’t have long to live.

Before symptoms began last fall, Brison was a happy, well-liked and athletic teen, who loved riding dirt bikes with his younger brother Preston, and playing soccer. According to Kim, Brison raced motocross and supercross, and came in second place in the state for the two classes he raced in. He also was on the Varsity soccer team as a freshman, and voted offensive player of the year.

His symptoms started around Thanksgiving time with dizziness. “He’s extremely active, so I told him to drink enough water, not to get dehydrated,” explained Kim. The symptoms continued and progressed to blurred vision and seeing double, so she made an appointment with their pediatrician after the first of the year. “They said it was an eye issue and sent us to an eye doctor, who prescribed him glasses. “We got those and they didn’t work,” said Kim. “I had a feeling they wouldn’t. I suspected it was something major.”

Kim asked the pediatrician to schedule an MRI to see what was going on, but he didn’t think it was anything major. “I had to fight with him about it. I finally said I’m taking him to the ER to get an MRI then, and he said o.k.” Brison had the MRI and they got the diagnosis on January 22: the MRI showed a rare and deadly childhood brain tumor called Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine glioma (DIPG), which is nearly always fatal and lacks an effective treatment, according to Stanford University.

According to a news article from Stanford’s medicine news, DIPG affects 200-400 school-aged children in the United States each year and has a five-year survival rate of less than 1 percent; half of patients die within nine months of diagnosis. Radiation gives only a temporary reprieve from the tumor’s growth. In addition, it is inoperable. It grows through the brain stem, where breathing and heartbeat are controlled, “with the healthy and diseased cells tangled like two colors of wool knitted together,” said Michelle Monje, MD, PhD, assistant professor of neurology at Stanford.

Brison Ricker (seated) with Dad (Brian), brother Preston, and Mom (Kim).

Brison Ricker (seated) with Dad (Brian), brother Preston, and Mom (Kim).

The news of Brison’s tumor was devastating for the family. “There’s not words to describe how it felt. We were horrified. Our whole world was crashing down,” shared Kim. She said she also questioned God about it. But Brison’s faith and the support of family and friends helped keep them steady. “He has handled it like a champ. We get strength from him. He has a very strong faith, as do we. And, as soon as we found out, our room was filled with friends from church who came to pray. It helped our focus to be on God’s word and not what the doctors are telling us; to focus on God’s promises and not the diagnosis,” explained Kim.

A Gofundme page was set up for donations, and Team Brison (you can find them on Facebook) began putting together numerous fundraising events to help the family. And people began to pray.

Brison first underwent radiation, and did several alternative treatments at home to help fight the cancer, including eating a strict, healthy, organic diet. Kim said they wanted to go to the Burzynski clinic in Texas in March, when Brison’s radiation was done, because they offered an alternative treatment that had had some success with patients. But she said that the oncologist recommended against it, because he said he had seen people do that and waste their money.

The cost for the first month of treatment down there would be $30,000, and it would be a minimum of $17,000 per month after that. None of it would be covered by insurance. Not to mention the loss of income they would suffer. Faced with that and the fact that the oncologist recommended against it, they didn’t go.

But Brison continued to deteriorate. He lost 25 pounds, and his liver was under stress. The steroids he was on for inflammation broke down his muscle and skin and contributed to fatigue. By the end of April, he needed help to stand, sit, and walk. And his tumor had grown 6mm bigger, and there was swelling in his brain. He continued on steroids and the alternative treatments he was receiving locally.

On June 18, Brison went to the ER because his symptoms were progressing, and had another MRI. The news was devastating—his tumor had doubled in size from just six weeks before and was spreading to other parts of his brain. “The doctors say there are no clinical trials available anywhere for him and there is nothing left that they can do for him, and sent us home to cherish the precious time we have together. They suggested that we call Hospice and said at the rate the tumor is growing they believe his time is very limited,” wrote Kim in a Gofundme update on June 19.
“We went home and called the Burzynski Clinic right away,” said Kim. She researched a few other clinics, but the Burzynksi Clinic was the only one that had any success with treating that type of tumor. And Kim was able to talk with the mother of a 14-year-old that had been treated there, which helped them make their decision. “We prayed about it and felt this is where God was leading us,” she wrote. Additional gene-targeting meds were going to add another $40,000 to the cost, and they didn’t know how they were going to be able to keep the treatments going, but they trusted God and went.

They originally thought they would be there a month, but came back a bit sooner. Some additional new meds the clinic wanted to start him on wouldn’t have been covered there, but the oncologist here agreed to work with them and offered to give them to Brison here, which meant they would be covered by insurance. They still, however, have thousands and thousands of dollars in expenses to be met for other meds.

On Thursday, August 8, they received some amazing news: not only was the tumor one-third the size it was, but it was dying from the inside out. His oncologist here was surprised. “He said he’d never seen any results like this, that basically we were in a gray area of medicine from a regular oncologist’s point of view, because they hadn’t seen this combination of treatments before,” said Kim.

She also spoke with Dr. Burzynski this week, and he wants to continue with the treatment and get an MRI in four weeks. “There is some controversy between the doctors on how treatment will go moving forward but we’ll work it out,” she said. “The main thing is Brison had great results. He is tired and worn, but holding steady. Steady is good. If he was not on this treatment, he would not be with us.”

Kim said that the family has been overwhelmed with the support that they have received, even from people they don’t know. Brison is in awe of it all, especially the little notes or gifts he gets from people. She hopes people will continue to show Brison how much they care about him. “He thinks those gifts and notes are pretty awesome,” she said.

One of the ways their faith in God has helped them through this, is to see how it has affected other people. “A ton of people have said how our faith has strengthened them. It’s amazing to see how through all this we are touching and encouraging people and making their faith stronger,” remarked Kim.

While Brison received good news about his tumor, he is not out of the woods and will need more treatment, which means continuing expenses for the family, and they can only continue the treatments with your help. Another fundraiser has been set for August 23 at Cedar Springs High School at 6:30 p.m. All proceeds will go to benefit Brison. Speakers are Tracey Casey-Arnold, founder/CEO of W.I.T. Wellness Consulting, founder of WIT Ministry and Whatever it Takes Radio Network; and Matt Lehr, former NFL football player, NPC Super Heavy Weight and GASP athlete, and NPC Texas Judge. Arnold will speak about using faith to help win in life; Lehr will speak about overcoming adversities. Tickets are $25 each, with the option to donate more. They ask that you please purchase tickets ahead of time at: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/brison-ricker-fundraiser-event-with-tracey-arnold-and-matt-lehr-tickets-26959235800. Or go to eventbrite.com and search for Brison Ricker.

For info on this and other fundraisers for Brison, search for the Team Brison page on Facebook.

To donate directly to Brison, visit https://www.gofundme.com/brisonricker or send a check to Brison Ricker, 5370 Dio Dr., Cedar Springs, MI 49319.

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Blood donors help save lives of baby girl’s parents


When they needed it most, blood transfusions were readily available

N-Blood-donors-Grace-Brunett-Family-OutdoorsGrace Brunett is not only a regular blood donor, but helps host a blood drive in her hometown. And as if that weren’t enough, this tireless cheerleader works for Michigan Blood as a phlebotomist.

Grace can trace her commitment to her days as a student at Cedar Springs High School, where she learned in anatomy class the power of O-negative blood—her type and a universal option for anyone in need.

Just nine percent of the Michigan population has O-negative blood, which puts Grace in a class by herself. But her story is even more compelling since the day nearly six years ago when, while pregnant with her firstborn, she developed chorioamnioitis.

She eventually underwent an emergency Caesarian section. During her ordeal, which lasted nearly five hours and included an emergency hysterectomy at the age of 21, she required a blood transfusion.

“I almost died,” she says, noting that she was conscious during the entire trying episode. What she took away from that traumatic experience, however, were two rewards: One, a daughter Charlotte, now going on six years old. And two, a personal story to share about the importance of stepping up to donate blood and blood products.

Grace actually began donating blood as a student at Cedar Springs, where, coincidentally, she met Cory Brown, the father of their child. “I was a sophomore and he was a senior,” she relates. Both were members at the time of Business Professionals of America, which was sponsoring a blood drive at the high school.

Little did they know then that not only would Grace lean on blood donors for her own vital needs, but that Cory, too, would come to require multiple transfusions. “He was in a car accident before we had Charlotte, back in 2007, and then in 2011, he was hit by a drunk driver,” says Grace. In both instances, her common-law husband needed donor blood.

Today, the happy trio makes its home in Cedar Springs, where Charlotte – described by mom as being “bubbly, fun and smart” — is a whiz at jigsaw puzzles and is set to start kindergarten this comi.ng fall. Grace is diligent about giving blood for obvious personal reasons, and also because it’s just the right thing to do. She enjoys tracking her progress, pint by pint, acknowledging that she just passed the 6-gallon mark this past March.

It’s fun for her to travel back in her mind to those days in anatomy class, when the instructor mapped out how “With O-negative blood, you can basically save anybody,” she says. “It’s kind of awesome, that the whole world is basically eligible for my blood, and so that has spurred me to action.”

“It’s one hour out of one day just every two months of your life,” says Grace. “You can be selfless in that single hour and make a huge difference.”

Michigan Blood is the sole provider of blood and blood products for more than 60 hospitals in Michigan, including Spectrum Health, Metro Health, and Mercy Health St. Mary’s. Donations given outside of Michigan Blood do not have direct local impact. Donating blood with Michigan Blood helps save the lives of patients in Michigan hospitals. Any healthy person 17 or older (or 16 with parental consent) who weighs at least 110 pounds may be eligible to donate. Blood donors should bring photo ID. We are currently in urgent need of O-Negative blood donations.

The next blood donor drive in Cedar Springs will be on August 23, at Cedar Springs United Methodist Church, Gym, 140 S Main St., Cedar Springs, 12:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. For more locations, visit www.miblood.org.

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Fundraiser for Brison Ricker


Would you like to be inspired and help out someone in need at the same time? Then mark your calendar and purchase tickets to hear some great speakers at Cedar Springs High School on Tuesday, August 23 at 6:30 p.m. All proceeds from tickets sold will go to help local teen Brison Ricker, who is suffering from an inoperable brain tumor.

Speakers are Tracey Casey-Arnold, founder/CEO of W.I.T. Wellness Consulting, founder of WIT Ministry and Whatever it Takes Radio Network; and Matt Lehr, former NFL football player, NPC Super Heavy Weight and GASP athlete, and NPC Texas Judge. Arnold will speak about using faith to help win in life; Lehr will speak about overcoming adversities.

Tickets are $25 each, with the option to donate more. They ask that you please purchase tickets ahead of time at:  http://www.eventbrite.com/e/brison-ricker-fundraiser-event-with-tracey-arnold-and-matt-lehr-tickets-26959235800. Or go to eventbrite.com and search for Brison Ricker.

For info on this and other fundraisers for Brison, search for the Team Brison page on Facebook.

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Alma Charlotte Hagenah Van Den Hout of Cedar Springs, Michigan, age 95, passed away on Monday, August 8, 2016. She was born on November 16, 1920 to James H. Hagenah and Alma Kibbe Hagenah on the family farm in Solon Township, Kent County, Michigan. Alma, the fourth of five children, attended Christian Hill School and later graduated from Cedar Springs High School in 1939. On May 2, 1940, Alma married C. Vernon Rider, who was killed in combat in Europe on November 16, 1944. On April 10, 1947, Alma was married to Clifford “Bunch” Van Den Hout; they were married for thirty-eight happy years. Bunch Van Den Hout passed away on December 18, 1984. Alma is survived by two nieces, Jan Weston and Sue Lindhout; and three nephews, James, Gene, and Larry Hagenah; three granddaughters, Nancy (Phil) Keller, Lou Ann Jacobson, and Fiona Van Den Hout; two grandsons, Thomas and Dennis (Amy) Traxler; two cousins; and numerous great-grandchildren and great nieces and great nephews. Alma was preceded in death by her husbands, C. Vernon Rider and “Bunch” Van Den Hout; daughter Doris (Bill) Traxler; son Roger Van Den Hout; one sister; and three brothers. A graveside service will be held at 1:00 p.m. on Friday, August 12, 2016 at Solon Township Cemetery. Those who wish to offer expressions of sympathy are encouraged to make a memorial contribution to Cedar Springs Museum and Historical Society, P.O. Box 296, Cedar Springs, MI 49319.

Arrangements by Pederson Funeral Home, Rockford www.pedersonfuneralhome.com

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The Post travels to Tucson


The Post recently traveled to Tucson, Arizona with Darlene (Towns) Wirtz, of Ionia, to visit her sister Jean (Towns) Peterson. Jean and Darlene are graduates of Cedar Springs High School, and both were Red Flannel Queens. Darlene, pictured on the left, was RF Queen in 1949, and Jean, on the right, was the 1948 RF Queen.

Thank you, Darlene and Jean, for including us in your visit!

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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24C--obit-RobinsonFCLarrie V. Robinson, 79, of Cedar Springs, died Sunday, June 12, 2016 at Mercy Health St. Mary’s. Larrie was born September 15, 1936 in Solon Township, Michigan, the son of Volyn and Jessie (Coan) Robinson. He graduated from Cedar Springs High School in 1955 and was quarterback his senior year as Cedar Springs went undefeated in football. He enjoyed all sports and the Detroit Tigers. He was very involved in Cub Scouts for 30 years serving as Scout Master and was on the district board of the West Michigan Shores Council. Surviving are his wife of 56 years, Carol; children, Sandy, Scott, Shelly and Tim; several nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by a sister, Doreen Bayne; and a brother, Rex Robinson. The family greeted friends Wednesday at the Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home, Cedar Springs, where the service was held Thursday 11:00 am. Interment Blythefield Memory Gardens.

Arrangements by Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home, Cedar Springs

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It’s time to celebrate!


Congratulations Class of 2016

Erwin Duane Empie, 90, celebrates as he receives his diploma at the Cedar Springs High School graduation. Cedar Springs Superintendent Dr. Laura VanDuyn is behind him. Photo by K. Alvesteffer.

Erwin Duane Empie, 90, celebrates as he receives his diploma at the Cedar Springs High School graduation. Cedar Springs Superintendent Dr. Laura VanDuyn is behind him. Photo by K. Alvesteffer.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. This one is a great example of that! It’s so full of emotion. A World War II Veteran finally got his high school diploma last week and this was his reaction!

Erwin Duane Empie, 90, had waited a long time to get his high school diploma. But the wait was over on Thursday, June 2, when he finally received an honorary diploma from Cedar Springs High School—the school he left in the 1940s so he could serve our country during World War II. He only attended through part of his sophomore year, and enlisted in the Navy in 1944, at age 18.

Mr. Empie received his diploma, along with the class of 2016. The ceremony moved many people in the audience, some of whom posted on our Facebook page, congratulating Mr. Empie on his accomplishment.

But it’s not only Mr. Empie celebrating. Hundreds of students stepped out into a brand new world over the last couple of weeks as they graduated high school and now celebrate what lies ahead. Here in our area, students graduated from Cedar Springs High School, New Beginnings High School, Creative Technologies Academy, Cedar Christian Academy, Algoma Christian School, and Tri County High School.

To see photos of all the top honors students in our area and class photos, click link below to download.


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Two Red Hawks compete at state track finals

Remington Sawade (left) and Dallas Mora (right) at the Division II State Finals on June 4.

Remington Sawade (left) and Dallas Mora (right) at the Division II State Finals on June 4.

Two members of the Cedar Springs High School boys track team competed at the Division II State Finals on June 4 in Zeeland, Michigan.

Sophomore Dallas Mora finished 34th in a packed field in the 3200m on Saturday.  Dallas cut 15 seconds off his previous personal best time at the regional track meet two weeks ago to qualify for the state meet with a time of 9:58. By qualifying for the state track meet, Dallas is a two-time State qualifier as a sophomore. He qualified for cross country last fall and track this spring.

Senior Remington Sawade was the regional champ in pole vaulting, which qualified him to compete at the state finals. He ended his high school vaulting career as an All-State vaulter, earning a 5th place finish with a vault of 13’10”.  Next fall he will be heading to Michigan State University to study engineering as part of the Air Force ROTC program.

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