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Spam Email Threatens Bomb at EMS December 13, 2018
An Important Message from Grand Blanc Community Schools and Grand Blanc East Middle School:

A staff member at East Middle School received what was believed to be a SPAM email threatening the activation of an explosive device. Another school in Genesee County received the same email. It was non-specific and we believe sent with the intention of scaring random people into sending money overseas. As a matter of safety, we activated the procedures for a bomb threat and local police investigated. We did not believe this threat was something to be concerned about, but obviously we must be on the safe side. Police searched the grounds while classrooms were in secure mode. Authorities have cleared the building and grounds and secure mode has now been lifted. Please know the safety of our students is our #1 priority. Thank you to our staff and the Grand Blanc Township Police for their quick response and diligence this afternoon.

Old Gym at West Campus Sees New Life

11 days ago

Work has begun on the renovation of the gym at Grand Blanc High School’s West Campus. Once the main gymnasium for Grand Blanc High School, the gym has been identified as underutilized. The Strategic Plan that guides Grand Blanc through 2023 has outlined athletic facility revitalization and the examination of repurposing space that is not being used to its full potential. This project checks both those boxes.

The Grand Blanc Athletic Foundation (GBAF) is assisting with funding for the project, which will include replacing the entire gym floor with artificial turf. Fundraising began with the collection of parking fees for the Ally Challenge Golf Tournament in September. The Athletic Foundation now seeks private and corporate donors to fund this and other athletic facility projects. Donations are tax-deductible through their 501(c)3 non-profit organization.



Future areas of focus include; the installation of artificial turf on Frank Thomas field, updates to high school aquatic facilities, the resurfacing of tennis courts at GBHS, and enhancements to Don Batchelor soccer field facilities. 

Grand Blanc Community Schools will also be requesting a Sinking Fund Renewal in 2019 and a Zero-Increase Bond approval from voters in 2020. Both would be necessary for larger-scale athletic facility improvements that are identified in the Strategic Plan.

Superintendent Clarence Garner said, “I think everyone that uses them know some of our athletic facilities need some attention. Our facilities and maintenance departments do an amazing job of keeping things clean and well-kept, but there are definitely some areas that need more major construction going forward.”

In the old gym tucked in the lower level of West campus, giant sections of bleachers have been removed, as have basketball hoops. Construction crews will strip away all the existing “gymnasium” equipment to make way for a wide-open turfed practice space for use in inclement weather. The school anticipates many groups and teams will be able to take advantage of the new indoor “field”, including soccer, baseball, marching band, color guard, lacrosse, and physical education classes. There will be no designated lineage on the turf, making it versatile for many different activities. Crews anticipate the job will be completed by February 2019.

  • Join the Dining Services team at GBCS!
    Are you looking for rewarding work that fits within getting children on and off the bus? We have multiple openings for dining services at Grand Blanc Community Schools! Make some money while the kids are in class. Click to apply!

Echo Yearbook Staffers Receive #8 “Best in Show” at Nationwide Scholastic Journalism Conference

10 days ago

Grand Blanc High School’s Echo Yearbook is built on a long and rich history at Grand Blanc Community Schools. In early November, four yearbook staffers attended a national journalism convention in Chicago, Illinois. They joined with over 6300 scholastic journalists from around the country at the JEA/NSPA Fall National High School Journalism Convention.




Lucas Hartwell, a sophomore and current Photo Editor, earned a top award for his photo story and captions from the Westboro Baptist Church protest/counter-protest that took place at Grand Blanc High School on Homecoming day in October. There were only 3 Superior Awards given in this category, so this was an impressive achievement.

The 2017-18 Echo yearbook staff earned was #8 in the “Best in Show” Yearbook category. This, too, is a triumph, as our yearbook staff has only earned a “Best in Show” award once before, in 2016.

Attendees were able to meet Pete Souza, who was the keynote speaker at the conference. Souza is a freelance photographer in the Washington, D.C., area and professor emeritus of visual communication at Ohio University. Souza was the chief official White House photographer for President Barack Obama and the director of the White House photo office. As a freelancer, his photographs have been published in magazines and newspapers around the world including on the covers of Life, Fortune, Newsweek and U.S. News & World Report. Souza autographed a classroom copy of his book, Obama: An Intimate Portrait, for the yearbook staff.

The staff would like to thank the Grand Blanc Educational Foundation for helping students afford the trip to Chicago.

GBHS Construction Trades Partners with City Hall to Create Business Park

3 months ago

Grand Blanc Community Schools is excited to announce that our Construction Trades students will be collaborating with the City of Grand Blanc, U of M-Flint and the Harding Foundation for the 2018-19 school year. Construction Trades is part of the CTE (Career & Technical Education) program at Grand Blanc High School. The Geometry In Construction, Construction Trades 2 and Advanced Construction students will be participating in the build.

The students, supervised by Grand Blanc High School teachers Wes Wiltse and Jason Youngs, will be building “tiny house” style structures that will be used on Grand Blanc Road as start-up business rental properties. Wiltse said, “One f the things that are most exciting to me is that our students will be able to go out in the community 20 years from now and tell their kids that ‘I built that!’ They take great pride in their work. Also, I’m so thankful for the opportunity given to us by Mayor Soderstrom and the City of Grand Blanc.” Youngs agreed, stating, “This is an amazing opportunity for the students in our Construction Trades program. The ability to give our students an opportunity to serve others in our community is what Grand Blanc is about.”

“This is an amazing opportunity for the students in our Construction Trades program. The ability to give our students an opportunity to serve others in our community is what Grand Blanc is about.” 
- Teacher, Jason Youngs

The small buildings will be available for rent to entrepreneurs that want to have a location but haven’t yet achieved the necessity or resources to have a bigger space. “With the generous grant funding from The Harding Foundation, the City of Grand Blanc is excited to be working with so many partners bringing entrepreneurs to our downtown and creating a sense of place in 2019,” said City Manager, Wendy Jean-Buhrer.

Grand Blanc Schools Superintendent, Clarence Garner, is enthusiastic about the collaboration, adding, “We are so fortunate in Grand Blanc to have a unique partnership with our City and Township. Having teachers like Mr. Youngs and Mr. Wiltse who seek out opportunities for our students to expand their experiences outside of the classroom to impact our community is really what public education is all about.”

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the village green
port austin, michigan

The innovative pop-up tiny business has become very popular, an example of which can be seen in Port Austin, Michigan, called The Village Green (pictures above). Grand Blanc city officials hope to attract new business ventures to the area with the tiny buildings and provide a unique shopping experience to residents on Grand Blanc Road by City Hall.

Superintendent Garner, Wiltse, and Youngs recently joined organizers at Grand Blanc City Hall in accepting a check from The Harding Foundation that will fund an intense workshop for new businesses. The [IN] (Innovation Incubator) 3-part series is designed to help take ideas to the market and is led by U of M-Flint’s Office of Outreach. The sessions will be held October 4th, 11th and 25th from 5pm-8pm at Grand Blanc McFarlen Library. The boot camp will help participants prepare for a Business Pitch Competition that will take place on November 8th at Grand Blanc City Hall. The grand prize of this will be a FREE season of rent at the city’s new pop-up business park.

[IN] on the Road Business Boot Camp will be open at no cost to all adults and teens courtesy of The Harding Foundation. The Harding Foundation’s David Merot said, “The Harding Foundation is pleased to reveal our new grant project with the City, the University of Michigan-Flint and Grand Blanc High School. The future seems to be brighter when community members and organizations partner and work together.”

Youngs and Wiltse aim to have Construction Trades students complete 5 structures simultaneously by April 2019. The students will complete the exterior with siding, shingles, soffit and fascia, doors and windows to specifications from the City. The inside will be studs and OSB, to be finished by the future renter.

For more information, please go online to https://www.umflint.edu/outreach/road. The application form can be found here.

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Caution!

25 days ago

DO YOUR RESEARCH


Grand Blanc Schools Urges Caution with Private Companies

Offering Financial Aid Research Services


Paying for College is daunting for many of our Grand Blanc students and parents, but please do your research before paying anyone else to help you find aid. Grand Blanc Schools has received word that some of our families are receiving letters offering services to help you find ways to pay for college. The administration asks you to beware of any unsolicited contact from private companies. Companies may be contacting our students and parents by phone, email or through the mail. Similar companies have been charging people excessive amounts of money to provide information that can likely be found for free.

Most genuine sources of assistance are going to come from government agencies, Grand Blanc High School staff, or the colleges themselves, and don’t cost a penny. The federal government says to be wary if what the seller is offering seems to be good to be true. These companies often use high-pressure tactics and create urgency to sign on the dotted line. They may offer services for free and then ask for money after contact has been made. The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) website says companies tap into the anxiety parents feel about paying for college and make urgent statements like, "Buy now or miss this opportunity." They may invite you to a “free” seminar where they claim if you leave without buying the service, you will have to pay more or not be able to receive services. 
 
The US Department of Education website states, “Remember, the ‘opportunity’ is a chance to pay for information you could find yourself for free.” There is a vast amount of free information out there, and it takes just a little effort in this online age to access a host of organizations and scholarship applications on your own. One of the most crucial things you can do is to fill out the FAFSA by the deadline given by your State and Federal agencies. FAFSA applications usually begin acceptance in October of the year prior to graduation. The State of Michigan deadline for fall was March 1 and the Federal deadline is June 30 this year. Changes can be made until September. If you’ve missed the state deadline, it is still a good idea to fill out the application. Even if you aren’t sure what your plans are, it is a good idea to fill out the application. The process is free and is often a prerequisite for other state and local scholarships.
 
The State of Michigan Department of Education has a State Higher Education Agency with a website that lists scholarship opportunities and other valuable information. The site states the following: “High school seniors should be ready to start their scholarship applications in the fall. High school underclassmen should research scholarship opportunities and begin assembling application components so that they can prepare their scholarship applications in the fall of their senior year.”

The US Department of Education lists the following recommended free resources for advice: 

·       the financial aid office at a college or career school
·       a high school or TRIO counselor (Department of Education)
·       the U.S. Department of Labor’s free scholarship search tool
·       your state grant agency
·       your library’s reference section
·       foundations, religious or community organizations, local businesses, or civic groups
·       organizations (including professional associations) related to your field of interest
·       ethnicity-based organizations
·       your employer or your parents’ employers


Some scholarship deadlines are as early as a year before college starts, so if you’re in high school now, you should be researching and applying for scholarships during the summer between your junior and senior years.

If you aren’t at the stage of getting ready for college just yet, talk to your high school counselor during the school year about what career paths you are considering and what options there are to save some money now. There are many opportunities to earn college credit while still in high school that will save some money later on, as well as trades programs that will give you a sound foundation for a great career after high school.

These are a couple of great places to get started:

FAFSA Website

Michigan Student Aid


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Restorative Justice

about 1 month ago

Restorative Justice is not a new philosophy, but it has been newly mandated in 2016 by the State of Michigan (House Bill 5619) as a required process when students are being punished for behavior in school. This law stipulates that before choosing suspension for students, school administrators must first assess and address discipline situations using other strategies, thus eliminating “zero tolerance” policies across the state.

Grand Blanc is not only implementing the required process but is embracing the philosophy that Restorative Practice teaches educators, administration, and students. Instead of concentrating solely on the punishment of the student that has offended, it shifts focus to the responsibility of that individual to make right whatever situation they have created and encourages empathy for the party they offended against.

Last summer, several Grand Blanc Schools employees from elementary, middle and high school levels participated in a special training program given by Roy Burton of Michigan Restorative Practices Trainers & Consultants (MIRPTC). The program teaches 4 key features: Respect, Responsibility, Repair, and Re-Integration. More information on MIRPTC can be found here.



Miranda Heemsoth, Student Advisor, and Brian VanBuren, Responsibility Room Supervisor at East Middle School, both say Restorative Practices have made a huge difference in behavior in their halls. VanBuren says it’s changed the whole feel of the Responsibility Room, from being solely a place with consequences to a place where discussions take place. Students are expected to find some way to deal with whatever conflict has arisen, whether it has been with another student or a member of the faculty.

Students still may serve a suspension. The successful process can reduce the amount of time they serve, as the goal is always to have students in school… but it’s also about what happens after the punishment, and having the student understand the feelings they’ve created for someone else and come up with ways to make the situation better. In one case, a student who was suspended for being disrespectful to staff chose to write a letter to the teacher – an apology and what they intended to do differently - upon their return after a suspension. The teacher expressed their gratitude to have that connection because it made the student’s return less awkward for both parties. 

Another goal is to reduce the amount of re-offense by healing the issue instead of just delaying another conflict. That healing may include an apology, and it might include separating the parties involved for a while. East Middle School principal, Jodi Kruse, and Asst. Principal Scott Turnbow agree that they’ve seen a notable drop in offenses, as well as the seriousness of offenses, since instituting Restorative Practices.

Restorative Justice takes on different forms at different age levels, too. The elementary schools might have “Peace Circles” where students can safely have a discussion about their feelings that’s mediated by staff. Middle or high school students might have a meeting with administration and parents that similarly allows the student to understand their impact and come up with a tangible way to make up for their offense.

Heemsoth says that even just the language in the classroom makes a difference. For example: “Stop talking.” becomes, “It makes me feel disrespected when you speak while I’m speaking.”- connecting students to the consequences their actions have on another human being. The attendees say having that language be consistent in the student’s education is key, which is why Grand Blanc Schools intends to expand the Restorative Justice training district-wide through the Strategic Plan over the coming years.