Alanson Public Schools Community Newsletter Spring 2023

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Spring 2023

School administration and leadership face many issues when it comes to educating our children while also keeping them safe. One area that has taken center stage in recent years is safety and security. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), 97.1% of schools across the nation control access to school buildings during school hours and just over 91% percent use security cameras to assist with monitoring buildings. All students and school staff have the right to attend schools that are safe and conducive to learning and achievement. School safety is a multi-faceted issue with no “one size fits all,” clear solution for each community. As a result, Michigan schools are required by law to implement and periodically review a school-specific Emergency Operations Plan and Vulnerability Assessment that is reviewed in conjunction with local law enforcement and approved by the school board. This is done in addition to the legally required fire drills, tornado drills, and school safety/security drills.

Alanson Public Schools take the safety and well-being of our children and school staff very seriously. Our mission of Alanson Public Schools (APS) is to: Provide quality education in a safe, nurturing environment.

APS was recently awarded funding from Section 97 of the State School Aid Act for 2022-2023. Funding was dispersed on a per-pupil basis to be used to supplement school safety efforts. With the $27,000 award, the school will upgrade the camera system and key system. Additionally, a panic button will be installed for emergencies. These enhancements will provide additional security options within the system as well as provide for adequate and efficient data storage. To provide additional measures of security, Nightlock security door stoppers will be purchased for all interior doors and Nightshades will be installed on small interior windows to promote privacy during a lockdown. APS continues to work hard to balance the safety of students and staff while keeping the building accessible to the community.


It is with great regret that we share the passing of our long time Technology Director, Dan Verbanac. Mr. Verbanac was employed with APS for more than 20 years. He was always willing to offer a kind word, a techy trick to help us with our computers, or a joke to make us smile.

The Family of Dan Verbanac have set up a scholarship fund at Citizens National Bank. To contribute, visit the bank to make a donation to The Dan Verbanac Memorial Fund. Additionally, APS students, staff, teachers, and administration will be planting a memorial tree in Mr. Verbanac’s honor later this spring.


Alanson Public Schools received state funding to collaborate with Great Start Readiness Preschool (GSRP). GSRP slots will be offered to eligible age four preschoolers within the Alanson Preschool Program. In addition to free preschool, GSRP funding provides preschool teachers continued learning opportunities, additional resources to the preschool program, and a high-quality curriculum requirement. To sign-up for the fall, please contact Whitney Rota, Preschool Director at

WHY ALANSON? By Molly Jones, Journalism Advisor, and the APS High School Journalism Class

As a newcomer teacher to Alanson Public Schools and a K-12 building that shares its space with Char-Em’s Special Programs, I am learning to appreciate this micro-community that offers a unique educational experience. When asked “Why Alanson?” There is a knowing nod, a smile, and quite often a personal, heartwarming story. We are indeed a small school with a big heart. In addition to being small, Alanson is known for its welcoming spirit and its family-like atmosphere. Most days you hear a lot of laughter and even some crying in the halls of a community school building such as ours. The teachers, staff, students, other professional Char-Em staff, board members, and parents alike are ever present. People of all ages and abilities interact with one another on the playground, at lunch or in the hallways, in our building level committees, book discussions, assemblies, and staff meetings. At a K-12 community school, we are also resourceful with one another, sharing materials, insight, and strategies that may work with a particular student to meet social-emotional needs or build academic success. I love it when I receive an email asking for this or gifting that… or hear tale of a cool field trip or experiential learning opportunity that is occurring somewhere at some grade level. In addition to embracing the PBIS Framework (Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports), Alanson Schools takes relationship building seriously.

Teaching Journalism at Alanson High School has opened the door to engaging interactions with community members, as well. It is evident that our students feel empowered and more connected to the community as a result of so many of these personal interactions. When Alanson’s School Board President Becky Babcock visited our journalism class to congratulate them on the Community Hall of Fame Publication, many students were inquisitive of the school board’s priorities. They spoke frankly about what they appreciate about Alanson Public Schools, and the improvements that they would like to see. This conversation was the inspiration for this article, as student’s heartfelt opinions should be heard.

Senior Niyanja Swadling shared that she moved from school to school over the years. After returning from studying abroad in Germany, she moved in with her grandmother who lives in the Alanson School District. She is happy to return to Alanson after initially leaving it in the second grade. “The reason why Alanson works for me is because Alanson Schools is welcoming. You’re friends with the teachers here and get to know them personally,” she said. Swadling believes that the staff and students really want to help you for the sake of your own personal success.

Senior Michael Hendrickson echoes similar sentiments. “I’ve stayed because of the meaningful connections I have here. Despite it being taxing on my parents, they prioritized my happiness and me being with friends over saving on gas and money,” he said.

Senior Christina Midyett shares that she, too, values the small class sizes and personal relationships she has established here. “Alanson is much more fitting for my learning style because teachers are more helpful and personal,” Midyett said.

Ella Pressler, a senior, came from a bigger school in the 5th grade. She also cites better relationships with people in this community as a top priority. “I’m glad I came here because it gave me more connections with people.” she said. Pressler thinks that when conflict has occurred at Alanson, it gets dealt with and is addressed. She also feels like Alanson is a better option for her with extra-curricular activities and education. She is involved in Safe, Agriscience—a CTE program that is based here, and plays multiple sports.

Junior McKenzie Clark feels at home here, too. She is also finding her voice and much success. “It is a healthy community here and the students get more one-on-one help,” shared Clark.

You may notice that the commonality in all of this is our smallness. The smallness may just be the secret sauce. The secret may be out… We’re finding out that big is not what our students want. With smallness comes individual instruction and independence. Senior Olivia Hofbauer transferred here and likes Alanson because there are less people and she can be more independent. She also has a great relationship with the staff. “I like how I have the flexibility of classes to best meet my needs. I also like that the teachers understand how I learn best, and allow me to learn alone so that I can understand the concepts at hand,” Hofbauer said.

Senior Sara Wochoski has attended Alanson Public Schools since kindergarten, and her parents chose the school because of the small class sizes. “Because of small classes I have been able to become friends with everyone in my class and get help when I need it,” Wochoski said. “The teachers have friendly relationships with their students and make them feel comfortable and welcomed.”

Junior Troy Johnson is appreciative of the educational experience and the friendships he has made here in Alanson, but like Sara, he believes that the school would be improved with more extra curricular opportunities and a few more students. It feels limiting, at times, for these students, and they look forward to broadening their horizons at college someday.

When I see a high schooler connect with a sibling or cousin on the playground, in the hallway or at an assembly, I cannot help but smile at the community connection of a K-12 building. And from what I am reading and the students are saying, the small school may be better able to have their finger on the pulse. We all want to sustain Alanson Public Schools and see it grow, yet so many of our students remind us of just how precious it is… small.


Anna VarnHagen, a high school student at Alanson Public Schools, completed her career in the aviation industry, with a focus on being a pilot. Offered to students in 11th & 12th grade, this program is instructed by Duane Enos.

Duane is a 20 year veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, retiring as a captain 10 years ago. His experience goes back 28 years in the and potentially 2 more by the end of the semester. “I love seeing that I am making a difference in their personal and professional growth. I expect to see some of these students in the cockpit of a commercial airliner in the near future,” Duane notes.

Alanson CTE Aviation Program is open to any student in grades 11th & 12th in the Charlevoix-Emmet School District. For more information, please contact


Slip into a fun inflatable and be a part of something big on May 27, 2023 at 9 am! Help support Alanson Public School’s 5th grade class by participating in what Mr. Varnhagen hopes to be the largest inflatable 1k foot race in the world. The cost to participate:

·Individual - $20·Family Pass - $40

· Alanson Student/Household Family Member - $10

· Alanson Student Family Pass - $20

If you would like to sign-up, sponsor a racer, or make a donation, please contact Mr. Varnhagen at


Alanson Public Schools has installed two new, high-tech scoreboards in its gymnasium, with funding from the Petoskey-Harbor Springs Area Community Foundation’s KroegerMainland Family Fund. The new scoreboards were needed as the old one was outdated and had operational issues after being damaged by a ball. The district had been using a used scoreboard purchased on eBay until the grant was received. “These new scoreboards have been a huge upgrade to our gym! We have received many compliments on them from our athletes as well as community members,” Superintendent Rachelle Cook notes.

Alanson athletic director, Glen Pemberton applied for the $10,730 on behalf of the school district. Kurtis Mainland, a representative of the Kroeger-Mainland Family Fund and a high school senior at Petoskey High School, noted, “Supporting schools has been great, because when we donate to a school, the benefit is large to a great number of beneficiaries like students and educators.” Corbin Mainland, also a member of the family fund, said they particularly enjoy supporting school initiatives. “Student-athletes, coaches, and school members - students and faculty and all sports fans alike - benefit from scoreboards. It just makes sense.”


The Alanson Applied Horticulture class attended the Great Lakes Floral Event and Expo in Grand Rapids on March 3rd through the 5th. Students Ella Pressler, Sara Wochowski, and Sydne Harshman competed in the High School Design Contest where this year's theme was Arabian Nights. Students had to design a cuff arrangement using artificial flowers and show the technique of wrapping. Alanson Horticulture para pro, Mya Weidenhamer, competed in the College/Novice division where she had to design a Landscape arrangement and show the design skill of Pave’.

Sara Wochowski placed first in the high school division with her design and Mya placed second in the college/novice division. Students also participated in the FFA Skills class where they were taught about Fun and Funky Prom designs on Friday night and a Wedding Wearables class on Sunday morning. Students were able to attend the Presidential dinner on Saturday night where they received their awards. Donna Magill, Horticulture Instructor, was also presented the Past Presidents Scholarship to attend the Floriology Institute in Jacksonville, Florida for a class of her choice.


It’s hard to believe that it’s already time for the spring sports season. This year we will have baseball/softball and the addition of golf with Pellston. Baseball and Softball practices will start around mid-March. We hope to have a great season and see you at the games.

For more information on our athletic program, please contact Athletic Director, Glen Pember ton, at

View our athletic schedule at


Kindergarten Round-Up High School Gymnasium

Wednesday, April 12, 5:30 pm

Bring your future kindergartner to meet the teacher, future classmates, and tour the classroom!


The Alanson Booster Club (ABC) is a parent and teacher run organization dedicated to support teachers and students, kindergarten through 12th grade. Yearly fund-raisers support school supplies, Teacher Appreciation Week, sports team needs, assemblies, and family events. Meetings are held monthly and any parent/ teacher is welcome to attend.

Please email if interested in joining meetings.

ABC strives to enhance and enrich the lives of the students and teachers at Alanson Public Schools.

Safe, Respectful, Achievers!


High School Gymnasium

Friday, June 2, 6 pm

Let’s celebrate the success of the class of 2023!

*This newsletter is an informational piece only and not intended for recruitment.

Each month, we hold a Viking of the Month Assembly.

Students are selected two waysa ticket from their class bucket or selected by their teacher. Students are rewarded with an extra recess, treat or open gym time.


North Street
MI 49706
Current Resident 7400 North Street
MI 49706
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