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Tag Archive | "Creative Technologies Academy"

CTA celebrates 20th anniversary


L to R:  Dan George, CTA School Leader/Superintendent; Ron Rizzo, Director, Ferris State University Charter Schools Office; Lexie Coxon, former Superintendent; Dr. Richard Halik, Consultant for Board Policy, National Charter Schools Institute; and Dan Quisenberry, President of Michigan Association of Public School Academies. Courtesy photo.
This ceiling in the auditorium at CTA (which was formerly Jordan Chapel) is made up of planks from area barns. Post photo by J. Reed.

By Judy Reed

This ceiling in the auditorium at CTA (which was formerly Jordan Chapel) is made up of planks from area barns. Post photo by J. Reed.

When Lexie Coxon was told in May of 1998 that Ferris State University was going to issue a charter to Creative Technologies Academy to become a school for grades 7-12, she wasn’t sure how they were going to get the 120 students they needed to open. But they did it by the skin of their teeth—and opened with 122 that September.

“It was a tremendous challenge,” she said.

Coxon and others spoke about the school’s journey during CTA’s 20th anniversary celebration on Friday, May 11.

The property at 350 Pine Street, in Cedar Springs, was originally the home of Jordan College, founded by Lexie and her husband DeWayne. In 1966, they bought the property, and in 1967 they built their first building. Coxon explained how back then, they got building materials from area farmers who were tearing down their barns. A good example is in the planking in the chapel roof—it all came from area farmers.

In those early days of charter schools, Lexie and DeWayne’s son, Rob Coxon, told them to get a charter, they would need to have something unique. So they decided to go into being a computer based program. “We were one of the first schools to have computers for all students,” said Lexie.

She also noted that while most charter schools were for-profit, they wanted to remain a non-profit. And needing to have 120 students was tough—they had no money and no resources. But they made it work.

As time went on, they added in grades K-6. This year the school had 319 students K-12.

Lexie was also proud of the fact they have had 100 percent compliance with all of the paperwork that is needed. Ron Rizzo, with FSU, backed her up on that. “I don’t think there is any other academy that has had 100 percent compliance for 17 years,” he said. “It’s amazing. That means every document turned in on time.”

Rizzo said CTA was one of their original class of nine academies. “I’ve been here for 16 of those 20 years. It’s very welcoming. You truly are here for kids, doing what’s best for the trajectory of their lives. You should very proud of what you have accomplished here,” he said.

Dan Quisenberry, President of the Michigan Association of Public School Academies noted that CTA feels like family. “Charters were intended to be that—partnerships. Think of the kids’ lives you’ve impacted here. You are doing something important.” He also noted that charter schools are the “R&D” (research and development) of education. “Dan (George, current school superintendent) doesn’t view CTA as a competitor, but as a partner,” he said.

He noted that CTA teacher Kayla Campbell, who was recently named one of the top 5 charter school teachers in the state by MAPSA, represented CTA well. “We did a Facebook live announcement and I think you had every student in here. When we announced it, I thought this place was going to fall down,” he said.

Former teacher and coach Gary Bailey shared both some funny stories and some more serious thoughts. “Most coaches know that our success is measured by #s (winds and losses) after our name. But we know success is more than that.” He went on to share how a former student had sent him a video at 1:40 a.m. that morning, thanking him for being a mentor.

Kurt Mabie, a former educator who retired five  years ago from public education, said he’s been involved with CTA for 15 years. And he has been happy to work with Dan George and CTA via the Community Building Development Team. “Through collaboration, great things can happen,” he said. “Nothing happens on its own.”

One of those things is the recent donation of 10 acres to CTA by Fred and Carolee Gunnell. The property will be the future home of a new gymnasium for the school with a soccer field, and a couple of classrooms. And when it is not being used by the school, it will be open to the community, which fulfills one of the goals of the CBDT—to have a recreation center. 

George said that the planning, fundraising, and construction of that facility would be a major undertaking and their biggest project over the next five years.

The Post asked George what he is most proud of accomplishing at CTA. “I can answer that in two ways, institutionally and personally. First, we are proud to be able to give the families of the communities we serve a quality choice for the education of their children while partnering, not competing, with our neighboring traditional public schools. That produces a shared focus on doing what is best for kids. Personally, I’m proud of the staff that has become my team over the last 8+ years. Their dedication, love of kids, professionalism, and pursuit of learning is unsurpassed,” he said.

For more on CTA, visit www.ctachargers.org.

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Senior Awarded Congressional Honor


 

Autumn Watson and Secondary Principal Jennifer Colin after the program in Grand Rapids.

On Saturday, May 5, Creative Technologies Academy Senior Autumn Watson was a recipient of Justin Amash’s Congressional Medal of Merit at the Gerald R. Ford Museum. The Congressional Medal of Merit is awarded to students who demonstrate exemplary citizenship and academic excellence. CTA is proud of Autumn and her contributions to our school and the community. Autumn plans to attend Ferris State University this fall.

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Two Cedar Springs area students receive Congressional Medal of Merit 


Two CS area students receive Congressional Medal of Merit 

Autumn Watson, of Creative Technologies Academy, received the Congressional Medal of Merit on Saturday, May 5, from Rep. Justin Amash. Courtesy photo.

Jacob Ryan Outwin, of Cedar Springs High School, received the Congressional Medal of Merit on Saturday, May 5, from Rep. Justin Amash. Courtesy photo.

Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) recognized the 2018 service academy appointees and student Congressional Medal of Merit recipients from Michigan’s Third District at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum on Saturday, May 5. 

Applicants to the service academies require a nomination from an authorized nominating source, which includes members of Congress. To assist with the nominating process, Amash assembled a committee of military and civic leaders who reviewed applications, interviewed potential nominees, and made recommendations. 

In addition to the seven service academy appointees recognized, Amash honored 34 students with the Congressional Medal of Merit. Among them was Jacob Ryan Outwin, of Cedar Springs High School, and Autumn Watson, of Creative Technologies Academy.

The Congressional Medal of Merit recognizes high school seniors who have demonstrated exemplary citizenship and academic excellence. Recipients were nominated by their principals or guidance counselors. 

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Battle of the Books


Battle of the Books teams and their coaches were supported by classmates during the event.

The 3rd-6th grade students at Creative Technologies Academy were separated into mixed-grade level teams in an effort to face off against other teams in their third annual Battle of the Books event! Each team was given six books to read for this year’s competition. On Thursday, March 29, students battled it out against their peer teams by answering questions from each book. Although the scores were very close, here were the final results: 1st Place: Hard Covers (Green) 2nd Place: Fictionaries (Yellow) 3rd Place: Book Dominators (Red)

Congratulations to our third annual Book Battlers! We were so very impressed with your hard work and dedication in reading the books on your list this year.

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CTA signs papers on property donation


Fred Gunnell (left) and CTA Supt. Dan George (right) after the property closing on Thursday, March 1. Post photo by J. Reed.

By Judy Reed

Fred and Carolee Gunnell, of Solon Township, are leaving a legacy of love with their donation of 10 acres to Creative Technologies Academy.

The donation was made official Thursday, March 1, at an emotional signing ceremony in the school auditorium.

The Gunnells, retired educators and longtime neighbors of the charter school, decided to donate the property to the school when they found out they wanted to expand.  

“Over the years, Carolee and I have always been involved in education,” explained Fred. They taught in Sparta, and then moved north when he took a job as an administrator at Michigan Tech. “We were gone for 25 years. The property here—80 acres—belonged to Carolee’s family. When we came back, we wondered what to do with it. We tried to give some away at one time [to another entity], but it was refused,” he said.

Over the years, the Gunnells have loved having the school as a neighbor. Fred was emotional as he spoke about it. “You feel like family,” Fred told CTA officials during the signing. “I’m glad we could do this.”

A local couple signed over 10 acres to CTA Thursday. Pictured (from L to R) is: Carolee Gunnell, Fred Gunnel, CTA Board President Cindy Patin, and Superintendent Dan George. Post photo by J. Reed.

School Superintendent and School Leader Dan George was also emotional as he read a statement to the Gunnells about what their generosity means to the school. “I believe the impact of your gift of 10 acres to Creative Technologies Academy is immeasurable at this point in time,” he said. “I had many friends in teaching and administration in traditional public schools when I took this job eight years ago, and have sought to continue and multiply those relationships. We provide choices, legitimate, rigorous, accountable choices for families. One of my goals early on was to have our Academy viewed as partners, not competitors, with the surrounding communities and schools in doing what is best for kids.

“Your gift and generosity extends far beyond property and finances, and the potential site for our Student Activities Center. I believe your gift to CTA recognizes and legitimizes our role as partners in the community. It says to us, and others, that you believe in us. How do you put a value on that? We are so grateful for that gift of trust and we are honored that you recognize and share our love for kids and our partnership with community. On behalf of the students and staff of Creative Technologies Academy, please accept our sincere thanks from the bottom of our hearts.”

George said he has always had a dream for the school to have their own gymnasium. This property, just to the west of the school, will give them space to build it, and include some extra classrooms in the complex. They would also like to add a soccer field. George said that when they are not using the Student Activities Center, it would be available for the community to use as well.

Next steps will be to come up with the exact plans for the property, and raise money for the project. 

Other parties involved in the closing Thursday included realtor Leon Stout, and Jodi Ellis, of Sun Title.

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Local charter school plans to expand


Couple gifts 10 acres to school to make dream a reality

By Judy Reed

When Dan George was 14 years old, he made the JV basketball team as a freshman in high school. He was excited about the chance to play, and told his mom he needed a new pair of shoes—like the classic Chuck Taylors by Converse. His mom told him they couldn’t afford them, but she would pray with him that God would make it possible. So they prayed about it, and George went off to school, not thinking much more about it. He was surprised when his mom picked him up at school at noon, and drove straight to the shoe store. She told him that she had received a gift certificate from someone in the mail that morning that made it possible to buy the shoes. It was a lesson in faith that George never forgot.

“If you think about it, that means someone sent that gift certificate before I even made the team,” he said. God had prepared the way.

Now, as Superintendent and School Leader at Creative Technologies Academy, a local charter school on Pine Street, George still dreams big, and holds on to the faith lessons he learned as a teenager. “In all the years I have been here at CTA, I’ve always wanted to be able to expand,” he said. “I’ve had my eye on two pieces of property. To the south is 5 or 6 acres, and 10 to the west (which belongs to Fred and Carolee Gunnell). But I didn’t know how we could afford it. Then I got convicted remembering my lesson in faith.”

George said that originally he was working with the Community Building Development Team to possibly build a recreation center to the south that both CTA and the community could use. But it turned out that the water table was too high. So Sue Wolfe suggested he speak with Fred Gunnell about buying the property to the west of CTA. “We had a meeting, and I asked him what he thought a fair price would be for the 10 acres,” explained George. “He said he would have his realtor, Leon Stout, get back with me.”

George was surprised by what Stout told him when he called him. The Gunnells wanted to donate the 10 acres to the school. George was overjoyed. “It’s gratifying that Fred and Carolee want to do this for us,” he said.

Fred Gunnell told the Post that CTA had been good neighbors for 28 years, and that he and Carolee enjoyed seeing the kids there. “We are both educators, and think they do a good job. We heard they needed space, so we gave it to them,” he explained.

Fred and Carolee both taught at Sparta, he as a high school teacher and counselor, and she as an elementary teacher. Fred also was also an administrator at Michigan Tech.

CTA has 315 students enrolled in Kindergarten through 12th grade, and sits on 7 acres. The additional 10 acres will more than double their size and help them realize the dream to have their own student activity center. “It will be more than a gym; it will have extra offices. It will give us our own place to have graduation. It will meet our needs but also do some things for the community,” said George. 

“This is an awesome thing for us and the community,” said Autumn Mattson, the K-5 principal. “It wouldn’t be a big deal for a bigger school, but for us it’s a game changer.”

George noted that even though they are a public school, as a charter they only survive on donations. So what is it going to cost to build? He was given an estimate by Duane McIntyre of about $6 million. But that doesn’t faze George.

“It doesn’t matter whether it’s a $15 pair of basketball shoes or a $250,000 piece of property. God has all the money in the world,” he said.

The closing date on the property has been set for March 1 at 4 p.m. in the CTA auditorium.

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SCHOOL CALENDAR


 

 

February 

16 Early Release Day (Students and Staff)

19-20 Mid-Winter Break (No School)

23 Basketball Game vs. WM Aviation 5:30/7:00 p.m.

24 Enchanted Snow Ball (Daddy Daughter Dance)

March 

8 MS/HS Choir Concert – 7 p.m.

9 Early Release Day (Students and Staff)

19 Town Hall Meeting

19-22 Student-Led Conferences

23 Early Release Day

29 Early Release Day (Students and Staff)

30-April 6 Spring Break

* Early Release Dismissal Schedule

• K-5 Dismissal at 1:00 p.m.

• 6-12 Dismissal at 12:45 p.m.

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CTA closes due to illness


 

Creative Technologies Academy, on Pine Street, closed last Friday, January 26, due to illness, but it wasn’t specifically for influenza or a stomach bug.

“It was largely a precautionary measure to close school on Friday because we had seen a sharp increase in illness among staff and students last week,” said Sara Middlebrook, Student Information Data Coordinator at CTA. 

She said they diligently sanitized the entire campus over the weekend, and also sent home reminders about when to keep a child home per the recommendations of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, and Divisions of Communicable Disease Control and Vaccinations, in hopes of maintaining a more germ-free environment for students and staff.

More than 300 students attend the charter school.

 

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Open Enrollment Period


Creative Technologies Academy

350 Pine Street | Cedar Springs, MI 49319

Open Enrollment Period

For the 2018-19 School Year

January 15, 2018 – February 15, 2018

You may register students forgrades K-5 by

 calling Mrs. Mattson and grades 6-8 by calling 

Mrs. Colin at (616) 696-4905.

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CTA Junior Invited to join State Honors Choir 


Junior Tobius Potter beams with excitement at his selection to perform with the State honors choir.

Creative Technologies Academy Junior Tobius Potter recently participated in the Michigan School Vocal Music Association (MSVMA) Regional honors choir. 

During the day long event on Dec. 2, Potter also auditioned for State honors choir and was selected to participate with the state ensemble. He will perform with other singers from around the state at the Michigan Music Conference at the end of January and will then have the opportunity to audition for All-State choir. Potter was selected to perform as a Tenor 1. 

 “It is a huge honor and a difficult process to make it this far with MSVMA,” shared CTA Choir teacher Jeremy Holtrop. “I am very proud of Tobius, his efforts and commitment.” Potter is the first CTA student to make it to the state level honors choir. 

The High School Honors Choir program offers Regional Honors Choirs, State Honors Choirs and an All-State Honors Choir. In each region, a choir is selected with a maximum of 170 singers. 

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