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A publication of Otsego Public Schools

January 2017

Giving Back


Expect Excellence

District News

From the Superintendent... School Board Appreciation and Safety Projects in the New Year Jeffery S. Haase Superintendent

Greetings! I hope you were able to spend time over the holiday break with friends and family. I am always amazed at how fast time flies and it’s hard to believe we are already entering the second half of the school year! I wanted to take this opportunity to recognize our school board, as January is School Board Recognition Month in Michigan. These seven dedicated individuals are committed to leadership, accountability, and volunteer countless hours in meetings and professional development. They are responsible for 2,360 students, 300 employees, an annual budget of $20 Million, multiple buildings, and their decisions impact our children and surrounding community.

It is an exciting, but challenging time in public education, and it is extremely important for us to show our appreciation for the work of our school board. Too often, we neglect to recognize these individuals for the hard work and dedication. Please join us this month in thanking a school board member for their volunteer service to Otsego Public Schools. Our school board members currently include Wendy Stafford, Bryon Campbell, Scot Reitenour, Jay Petty, Lisa Imus, Jerry Robinson and Steven Podewell. We also want to thank outgoing members Jim Herm and Scott Sleeman. Last March we were extremely thankful that a five-year Building and Site Sinking Fund Millage was approved, which will focus on constructing safe and secure entrance vestibules at all of our buildings.

Instructional Insight...

Heather Kortlandt Director of Instruction

Ringing in the New Year with Goals in Mind

It’s hard to believe the school year is half over and “2017” is what shows up in the date now. This change is cause for reflection on accomplishments and what is yet to come. In the area of curriculum/instruction, we have three main goals from our Board of Education’s Strategic Plan.

Looking to the future, we are developing Phase II of this plan to strengthen our systems. School Leadership teams will review it for feedback and collaborative planning.

Goal 1 - Response to Intervention (RtI) – which means helping all students learn at high levels by intervening on any gaps in their learning; we had to put district systems in place to work towards a goal like this. Our superintendent rolled out Phase I of a plan three years ago which highlighted steps for all buildings. All of these steps have been accomplished or are in progress. These include: • Selecting Essential Learning Targets for all grades/subjects (which also helps us with our alignment goals.) • Putting assessment systems in place so we can see weekly which students need help on skills allowing intervention with exactly what they need, just in time. • Creating intervention time in all buildings. • Implementing delayed start time for constant review of data, collaboration and for professional development for staff. OPS CONNECTION

These vestibules will require all visitors to enter through the main office, the projects are currently out for bid and we hope to have construction started around the time of spring break. The tennis courts will be resurfaced this summer and Washington Street Elementary will have outdated pneumatic controls replaced with Direct Digital Controls, which will provide increased energy efficiencies. Our facilities committee has developed a five-year plan and as we move through each year, we’ll continue updating progress on our website, through social media, and in district and building newsletters. The five-year plan is available under the District tab of our website. I hope you have a wonderful New Year!


Goal 2 – Alignment - We see our RtI systems helping with this; as alignment is what enables us to collaborate to gauge student achievement weekly. We began work on assessment maps in Math outlining exactly when and on what students will be tested so teachers know when the data is ready for discussion. This is precise and technical work that teachers do and it is this work that makes all the difference in student achievement. Assessment drives the teaching and learning cycle. Looking to the future, we will continue to work on assessment maps in other content areas. Goal 3 - STEAM - Our high school recently implemented a beginning computer programming class which incorporates 20% time allowing students to design projects of their choice. One of our middle school robotics teams won their regional meet this fall and competed at the state competition, a great accomplishment! Looking to the future , the Otsego STEAM Partnership continues to meet. The team’s goal is to derive the skills an OPS graduate needs to be ready for the work of STEAM careers.

District News Project H2O

Literacy Bus Rolling In

OMS 7th grade science students embarked on a new adventure this year in project-based learning. For five weeks, they studied human impact on the environment that’s very close to home the Kalamazoo River Watershed. With a specific topic, students held an evening gallery walk presentation night, called Project H2O, where they shared their findings. Above, Brayden Zanardi and Tyler Smith conduct their demonstration.

In June 2017, Otsego will roll out a Literacy Bus, a mobile library to bring books to our students during the summer months. This will help combat the reading loss that often occurs over a long break. Soon, we’ll be looking for sponsors and book donations for the bus. Above, OMS students paint the donation boxes that will be around town. Look for more info in the coming weeks!

Election 2016

MS Robotics Goes to State

Students across the district took part in Election 2016 by learning about the election process, the candidates, the electoral college and more! It led to great discussions and participation in the process. It was a close race, but Donald Trump emerged the winner overall. Above, Alamo students cast their ballots.

The Advanced Skilltronics robotics team competed at State on December 17 after a win at their local competition. Schools work with two other schools in an alliance during the contests and try to get their robot to complete several tasks in a game against another alliance. This is the second trip to state for OMS.

Otsego Retirements

Board of education members Scott Sleeman, left, and Jim Herm were honored at the December meeting. Sleeman served 14 years on the board; Herm served 11.

Julie Vilas, an elementary tutor, retired this December after 20+ years at Otsego. Students presented her with books for a special area of the library dedicated to her.


OHS Special Education and Physical Education teacher Chelle Kastran retired in November after spending 19 of her 30 years in Otsego. Expect Excellence

Community Connection

Otsego, Alamo Team Up for Fire Safety Month

Read to Someone

The City of Otsego and Alamo Township Fire Departments spent a lot of time at Otsego schools during the month of October for fire safety awareness month. Students learned what to do in case of a fire, fire safety and how to safely get out if there’s a fire. Top left: An Otsego firefighter gives a Washington Street kindergartner a high five; they put on all their gear so students won’t be afraid in case of a real fire. Top right: An Alamo student goes out the window of a smoke house training unit. Left: A Dix Street preschooler is all smiles in the driver’s seat of the fire truck.

Four mornings a week, the 4th grade hallways and classrooms at Washington Street Elementary are packed with community volunteers. Many parents, grandparents and community members come in to listen to students read. As a part of the Daily 5 Cafe literacy program, reading to someone is one of the daily 5 activities. It helps students with pronunciation and recognition of words as well as their definition. The volunteers ask them questions about the words and storylines in the books as they read to help them better comprehend what they are reading.

Thank you, donors!

The Otsego Public Schools Foundation handed out $18,257 in teacher mini grants this fall. Teachers request various tools for their classrooms from technology like the chromebooks above, to books, enrichment funds and specialized instructional materials.


Several entities came together this fall to donate a total of $42,000 to fund a new course track for high school students. Pfizer, Tengam, America Grows Rural Education from the Monsanto Fund and the Otsego Public Schools Foundation all helped OPS purchase materials for a Project Lead The Way Computer Sciences course. Students create apps, learn programming and 3D design and printing.


The Alamo Foundation granted teachers at Alamo Elementary thousands of dollars to start the new year. Each teacher received $100 for school supplies and the grant also funded a Lego wall to use for makerspace and technology projects.

Community Connection Veterans Day

Pfizer Education

Essay Winner Participates in Local Ceremony

Students Get Hands On in Skilled Trades

Otsego Middle School 7th grader, Kendalyn Haskins, was asked to participate in the Otsego Veterans Day ceremony at Memorial Park. Haskins placed 1st in the local VFW essay contest called Patriot’s Pen. The essay theme was “The America I Believe In.”

Pfizer took over the Washington Street Elementary Media Center for a morning of great education in the skilled trades and engineering industry as it pertains to one of the world’s largest drug companies. Workers set up several stations and allowed the fifth grade students to see the tools, techniques and innovations used in their daily work. Students took part in demonstrations with pressure, temperature regulations, safety gear and more.

Purple Community Week Raises $23,949!

This fall’s Purple Community Week resulted in a record fundraising total of almost $24,000! Thank you, Otsego students, staff, families, businesses and community for your support of this effort that will go toward cancer research at Van Andel Institute in Grand Rapids. This December, our purple community committee traveled to VAI to meet a researcher and CEO and Chairman David Van Andel for an official check presentation. The next Purple Week will be in the fall of 2018.


Expect Excellence

Otsego Gives Back

Community Service Otsego Gives Back Otsego students have big hearts and a love for their community. That is evident in every school building, at every grade level, all the time. It is a part of the culture at Otsego Public Schools to reach out to the community and give back. Our students find ways to give back in many ways and especially at the holidays. Here are a few of the ways our students have been giving back so far this year.

Cookie Capers is one of the first events to kick off the holiday giving. Elementary students and staff bring in homemade cookies; students assemble plates of cookies and donate them to Wings of Hope Hospice. The organization delivers them to families they are serving which brings some much needed joy to them during difficult times at the holidays. Students assembled a total of 262 plates of cookies this year! Each fall, students, staff and parents at Washington Street Elementary gather on a Sunday afternoon and rake leaves for residents in the city who could use help with yard work. This was the 15th year for Make a Difference Day. It’s become a holiday tradition for the JV girls basketball team to visit and play bingo with residents at the Plainwell Nursing Home. They bring snacks and homemade prizes. The annual toy drive at OHS was a huge success! The National Honor Society collected almost $2500 to be able to purchase gifts for 124 children. The gifts go to the Otsego Christmas Basket Project. Ms. Tuckey’s OMS students baked and decorated cookies and took them to residents at Stanford Lodge in Plainwell just before the winter break.



Otsego Gives Back

On the Cover

On the cover: The OMS annual food drive collected 6673 items for Christian Neighbors. Above, Makenna Mars sorts donations. On the cover, student council members help unload boxes of food at the pantry.

In honor of Veterans Day, Dix Street teachers participated in Jeans for Troops; they got to wear jeans for a $5 donation to the GI Go Fund for veterans.

The annual OHS food drive collected 3500 food items this year; the donations go to the Otsego Christmas Basket Project to help local families at the holidays.

Alamo Elementary adopted 11 families this Christmas and provided gifts to 27 children. They each received a gift in the want, need, wear, read and game categories. An anonymous donor also gave each family $75 in gift cards. Washington Street Elementary students collect personal hygiene items each holiday season for Christian Neighbors. It’s an item they run out of often. Students donated eight large boxes to the organization.

Dix Street Elementary collected toys for the Marines Toys for Tots campaign. They donated more than 30 toys to the local effort this year.


Expect Excellence

Oh, the Places We’ll Go...

Field Trips...

Fall Field Trips Field trips are a big part of the educational experience at Otsego Public Schools. Our teachers and staff love getting our students outside of the school to make meaningful connections and get hands-on with the lessons taking place in their classroom. They’re able to enhance their learning experience by taking advantage of the amazing opportunities around us. Here are some of the trips the kids took this fall. For the second year, our freshman class has taken a 3-day trip to Grace Adventures. They engage in team-building activities and go outside their comfort zone in trying new things like ropes courses (right), archery and horseback riding. This trip helps students find success in new adventures and creates great relationships and connections with other students and staff members. Many students also get experiences on this trip they may not get otherwise. Above, students explore the sand dunes. OMS Design & Modeling students visit several local engineering companies to connect real life engineering fields with what they study in class. Here, they took a trip to Tengam. Students have also visited RoMan and Denso. Second graders learn a lot about parts plants and what they need to grow and thrive. Their annual field trip to the Kalamazoo Nature Center has them learning about the process and exploring these lessons for themselves right in the outdoors. Ms. Tuckey’s students learn a lot about life skills. They take trips throughout the year to learn various “everyday” activities like mailing a letter, cooking or going out to a restaurant. Here, they vistied Wahmhoff Farms to pick out a Christmas tree. OPS CONNECTION


Oh, the Places We’ll Go...

All of Otsego’s 5th graders along with middle and high school art students travel to Art Prize. They have scavenger hunts, talk about the different types of art they see and later analyze the winners. Art teachers love having this internationally recognized competition so close to home; it’s an incredible opportunity to teach art appreciation.

The hands-on lessons are all around at the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum. This field trip is one that all of Otsego’s kindergarten students take. The museum has dozens of exhibits that enhance these young students’ motor skills and world of exploration and play! In the picture, two students create a giant bubble around them with a pull of the rope. In 4th grade, Otsego students travel to Lansing for a tour of the Capitol building and a visit to the Michigan History Museum. Students learn Michigan history in 3rd grade, so this 4th grade field trip ties all of their lessons together as they explore the history and government in person.

The Otsego Middle School Teen Leadership class focused on servant leadership this year. As a part of living their lessons, they took a trip to Mel Trotter Ministries in Grand Rapids. Mel Trotter is a shelter and resource center for the homeless. Students cleaned the shelter, helped kids there create Halloween crafts and learned about the organization. Students say it was an amazing experience.


Expect Excellence

Highlights College-Bound Athletes

State Champs, Again!

This fall, six student athletes signed letters of intent to play college sports. From left: • Madison Haluch, Volleyball, Aquinas. • Rebecca Robinson, Golf, Bowling, Cornerstone University • Megan Aalberts, Cross Country, Bowling Green • Sammy Moran, Cross Country, IPFW • Sadie Bronkema, Volleyball, Lawrence Tech • Sophie Hirzel, Cross Country, IPFW

Swim for Safe Harbor The Otsego girls’ Cross Country team repeated as State Champions in Division 2. Their 1st place score was a state record 48 points. Their top five runners were all in the top 15 and were named all-state. Their scores would have put them in 1st place regardless of division. The boys finished in an impressive 5th place overall with Alex Comerford receiving all-state honors with his 8th place finish overall. Otsego fire trucks escorted the teams back to OHS where they, and a cheering crowd, celebrated the victories.

Otsego and Plainwell teamed up at their fall meet to raise money for Safe Harbor of Allegan. The teams donated more than $1200 to the organization that helps abused children.

Middle School Champs!

Otsego Middle School athletes captured the Wolverine Conference titles in volleyball and boys basketball so far this year. The 8th grade girls volleyball team won the title for both the A & B teams. For boys basketball, the 7th & 8th grade A teams won the title.



& High Notes Literacy Bus to Rolling In World! Marching Disney They’ve waited a long four years, and now it’s finally time for the Otsego High School band to head to Florida for Spring Break. Every four years, the band and chaperones take a musical trip to Disney World. The kids have a lot of fun while they are there and are able to take part in incredible music experiences. The kids will be in marching mode as they take part in one of the big parades at Magic Kingdom. The students then put their concert/symphonic band hats on for a day with a clinician for an intrumental workshop. Disney musicians show them how a film is scored and do some sightreading. They’ll be there April 1-6. They’ve been fundraising for the last four years to help cover the cost of the trip. One of the fundraising highlights was the band-a-thon this fall. For 24-hours straight, band members from all levels played music at the OMS gym. Yes, even overnight in their PJ’s!

OHS Presents... Fiddler on the Roof Musical returns to the stage after 23 years

It was a special musical for OHS 23 years ago - one of the largest and most popular stage productions in school history. Fiddler on the Roof returns to OHS stage this year with a lot of excitement for the students and its team of directors. Fred Jacobs is directing this year’s play; he played the lead role of Tevye when it last hit the OHS stage his senior year. Patti Herm is choreographing the show just as she did last time and the costume designer is also back. Vocal music director Taylor Gudbrandson was very excited to cast this musical; she chose it because it has a lot of parts and provides a lot of opportunities to showcase the students. Fiddler on the Roof is a musical about a family, with many traditions, and their journey as they grow and adjust when their traditions and customs are questioned and changed by themselves and their community. This performance will run for two weeks. Tickets go on sale starting January 17th at

High School Musical Fiddler on the Roof Show Dates Friday, March 17, 7:00pm Saturday, March 18, 7:00pm Sunday, March 19, 3:00pm Friday, March 24, 7:00pm Saturday, March 25, 7:00pm Ticket Prices Students/Seniors $12 Adults $14 Buy Tickets Online at or Box Office Hours Coming Soon!

Stars Shine in “Legend of Polar Mountain” The Otsego Stars, a 4th & 5th grade choir group, put on a fantastic show on December 16th, “Legend of Polar Mountain” which followed a brother and sister on a snowy adventure. There are 67 students from the three elementary schools in Stars. They put on two performances a year. You can catch their second concert on February 21st, 7:00pm, in the OHS Auditorium. Admission is by donation.


Expect Excellence

Contact Us

Administration/Business Office 269-692-6066 Superintendent Jeffery Haase 269-692-6076 Alamo Elementary 269-692-6150 Dix Street Elementary 269-692-6099 Washington Street Elementary 269-692-6069 Otsego Middle School 269-692-6199 Otsego High School 269-692-6166 Special Education 269-692-6233 Community Education / B.A.S.E. 269-692-6225 Learn ‘n Grow Preschool Alamo 269-692-6152 Dix Street 269-692-6099 Washington Street 269-692-6092 Athletics High School 269-692-6163 Middle School 269-692-6225 Transportation Department 269-692-6245 OPS Foundation

Otsego Public Schools 400 Sherwood Street Otsego, MI 49078-1281

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Calendar Information January 16-21 18 20 25 26 30 31

March cont.

Snocoming Week Boys Volleyball Game, 8pm, OHS gym Snocoming Varsity Basketball, 6pm OHS Parent-Teacher Conferences, 5:00-8:00pm OMS Parent-Teacher Conferences, 5:00-8:00pm Alamo Elem. 3rd grade performance, 7:00pm, OHS Auditorium Washington Street 3rd grade performance, 7:00pm, OHS Auditorium

17-19 High School Musical (see article for details) 24 & 25 High School Musical

April 3-7 19 20 26 27



2 Dix Street 3rd grade performance, 7:00pm, OHS Auditorium 8 OHS Pre-festival band concert, 7pm, OHS Auditorium 9 OMS band concert, 7:00pm, OHS Auditorium 11 Father/Daughter Dance, 7:00-9:00pm, Washington Street Elementary 21 Otsego Stars concert, 7:00pm, OHS Auditorium 23 & 24 District Band Festival, all day

4 10 11 18 24


1 2 8 & 9 9

March 8 & 9 10

1/2 day students No School

Spring Break, No School HS Honors Night, 7:00pm, OHS Auditorium MS Honors Night, 7:00pm, OHS Auditorium OMS Parent-Teacher Conferences, 5:00-8:00pm OHS Parent-Teacher Conferences, 5:00-8:00pm Collage Band Concert, 7:00pm, OHS Auditorium 8th grade band finale concert, 7:00pm, OHS Auditorium 6th & 7th grade band concert, 7:00pm, OHS Auditorium OHS Pops concert, 7:00pm, OHS Auditorium Swingout, 7:00pm, OHS gym OMS Pops concert, 7:00pm, OHS Auditorium OHS graduation, 7:00pm, Bulldog Stadium 1/2 day students Last day of school

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OPS Connection is published 3 times per year with printing by Premiere Printing Corporation, 720 N. Main St., Plainwell. It is distributed to all residents of the Otsego Public School district. Residents in the district who live north of “F” Avenue receive their newsletter via the Community Shopper’s Guide. Residents who live south of “F” Avenue and residents with Allegan and Gobles addresses receive their newsletter via the U.S. Post Office. Changes of address, suggestions, questions and contributed articles should be signed and sent to Holly McCaw, OPS Connection editor, Otsego Public Schools, 400 Sherwood Street, Otsego, MI 49078-1281. For more information, call Holly at (269) 692-6073. The Board of Education does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, including sexual orientation or transgender identity, disability, age, religion, height, weight, marital or family status, military status, ancestry, genetic information, or any other legally protected category, (collectively, “Protected Classes”), in its programs and activities, including employment opportunities. OPS CONNECTION


OPS Connection January 2017  

The official newsletter of Otsego Public Schools. This January edition shares highlights from students, staff, our community partners and th...

OPS Connection January 2017  

The official newsletter of Otsego Public Schools. This January edition shares highlights from students, staff, our community partners and th...