School Bells: Campers find garden yields bounty of fun

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Ann Arbor’s 2010 Green Adventures Camp has seen a lot of action throughout the summer.

The hands-on summer program features morning lessons in the classroom at Lakewood Elementary School with teachers Jane Levy and Will Wright and afternoons in the field with naturalists Dave Szczygiel and John Stahly where students work in a community garden, learn about the environment and do outdoor activities.

In the accompanying slide show, students see a set of fish dissections as part of the academic morning curriculum and then work in the gardens near Frains Lake as part of their afternoon outdoor activities.

The Green Adventures Camp is in its third year. Its programs are among 200 summer camp options offered to youths aged 3-17 through the summer months. Last year, 115 pounds of fresh produce from Green Adventures gardens was donated to Food Gatherers.

Photos courtesy: Green Adventures Camp staff

Gardening workshop, workdays at Tappan Agrarian Garden

The Tappan Agrarian Adventure hosts a 2-hour workshop on Tuesday, Aug. 17 to share their experiences with the school garden and encourage the community to share ideas as well. The event takes place from 6-8 p.m. at the Tappan Middle School greenhouse, 2251 E. Stadium Blvd.

Get tips on planning, crop selection, how to start and maintain a school garden and classroom and after-school lesson ideas. The first hour will be a presentation and garden-fresh snack and the second hour facilitated discussion and sharing. RSVP to the group’s Facebook page.

The group also is seeking help from individuals and groups to participate in the group’s Garden Work Days which will be on Wednesdays from 5:30-7p p.m.. No reservation is is necessary – just show up, said Monica Patel, TAA Board President in a recent e-mail update.

Help is needed with planting, weeding, harvesting, and watering, Patel said. No experience is required to participate; instructions and tools are provided.  Also, children of all ages are welcome.  For inquries, e-mail

The Agrarian Adventure is a publicly-supported 501(c)3 nonprofit that exists due to the participation and support of teachers, students, parents and community members. It is a grassroots organization growing up from within Tappan Middle School.

5 incumbents file for school board, no challengers on ballot

Five current members of the Ann Arbor Board of Education have filed to run for the board in the Nov. 2 General Election. Theirs will be the only names on the ballot. Open seats include:

  • Two to be elected to serve 4-year terms that expire Dec. 31, 2014.
  • One to be elected to serve a 2-year term that expires Dec. 31, 2012..
  • Two to be elected to serve 1-year terms that expire Dec. 31, 2011.

Susan Baskett and Christine Stead are running for 4-year terms; Deb Mexicotte, the current board president, is running for a 2-year term; and, Simone Lightfoot and Andy Thomas are running for 1-year terms.

All school board terms will begin Jan. 1, 2011. The deadline for filing for the open seats was 4 p.m. on Aug. 10.

Lightfoot, Stead, and Thomas were appointed to fill open seats in 2010 after three other school board members resigned mid-term; Baskett’s and Mexicotte’s regular terms are ending this year.

This year, the school board race joins myriad other state and local races on the General Election ballot. The district moved regular school elections from May to November in a cost-saving move this year.

Oct. 4 is the last date to register to vote in the November General Election. To check to see if you are registered to register to vote or to see a sample ballot for your precinct, online, visit You may also register at the Washtenaw County Clerk, your city or township clerk’s office or by visiting any Michigan Secretary of State branch office.

AAPS Educational Foundation appoints 3 to board, officers elected

Three new members to the Ann Arbor Public Schools Educational Foundation board of directors. Laurie Barnett, Samuel Beck and Andrew Paterson assumed their duties this month. Barnett and Paterson will serve three-year terms; Beck, as a student member of the board, will serve for one year.

Beck is an incoming senior at Pioneer High School and is vice president of the Key Club service organization and taking business classes to qualify for a High School MBA Award when he completes his studies. “ I want to be on this board because it’s a great opportunity to help our public schools,” he said. “Education is very important to me because I’m in school, but the schools need money, and the Ann Arbor Public Schools Educational Foundation – it brings in the money.” Beck attended Bach Elementary School and Slauson Middle School. He is employed at Washtenaw Dairy and assists in the education programs at Temple Beth Emeth.

Laurie Barnett is a freelance writer, editor and marketing communications consultant with 25 years experience in public relations and communications. She has two grown sons and two daughters who attend Clague Middle School and Huron High School. She served as co-chairwoman of King Elementary School’s School Improvement Team and was president of the King PTO. She has served on the Jewish Federation of Greater Ann Arbor board and worked with the “It Takes A Millage” Steering Committee. “I truly believe that the heart of a community is its public education system,” she said. “Strong Ann Arbor schools mean a strong Ann Arbor. As a parent of four children, I want to help make our schools as effective and outstanding as possible – not just for my kids, but for all the kids of this community now and into the future.”

Andrew Paterson is president of Michigan Energy Generation and is employed by Hitachi Metals America. A Michigan native, he has worked for more than a decade in the automotive supply industry in program management, sales and marketing, and quality control. He and his wife Laura have two young children, ages 3 and 1. “I want to give back to the community, and be involved with the school system to help shape children’s lives,” he said about why he chooses to serve on the board.

Officers elected to the AAPSEF board who serve as members of the executive committee include: Chairwoman Helen Starman, director of development for the Interfaith Hospitality Network at Alpha House; Immediate Past Chairwoman Christy Perros, co-owner of Absolute Title, Inc.; Vice Chairman Omari Rush, Education Manager for University Musical Society; Secretary Sheila Carpenter, an instructional designer; and Treasurer Rob Marschall, Vice President for Business Banking at KeyBank.

The Ann Arbor Public Schools Educational Foundation is an independent, community-based, nonprofit committed to supporting the Ann Arbor Public Schools and its programs. Visit for information or to make a donation.

WISD elects officers to board

At its July organizational meeting, the Washtenaw Intermediate School District Board of Education re-elected Mark VanBogelen, president; Gregory A. Peoples, vice president; Dayle K. Wright, secretary; and Diane B. Hockett, treasurer for 2010-2011.   Mary Jane Tramontin remains a trustee.

WISD board meetings are at 5:30 p.m. on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month in the Board Room at WISD’s Teaching and Learning Center, unless otherwise specified.  Meetings are open to the public.  Details: (734) 994-8100, ext.1321 or visit

3 Pioneer grads find success in rowing

Three Ann Arbor graduates who rowed for Pioneer, Grace Luczak (class of 2007), Julia Darnton (class of 2008), and Jacob Merrell (class of 2010), all made news in the local rowing community this summer in national and international regattas.  Full story here.

Busing service now coordinated by WISD

Officials at the Washtenaw Intermediate School District are busy interviewing and hiring staff for the new transportation department that will serve Ann Arbor,Ypsilanti and Willow Run students beginning this fall.

According to WISD officials, the hiring process was well underway in July and August so that drivers, aides and other staff could be in place as routing was planned and the school year begins. The WISD hosted bus driver job fairs in July and August to fill the open slots.

With the exception of some special education routes, the shift to a centralized busing system should be seamless for Ann Arbor families. Buses picking up students will be marked as “Ann Arbor Public Schools” and routes should be based on what was in place at the end of the last school year.

The transportation consolidation plan was considered by districts countywide with Ann Arbor Public Schools, Willow Run Community Schools and Ypsilanti Public Schools signing on for the 2010-11 school year. The contracts with local districts were approved July 13 by the WISD Board of Education.

Work on the consolidated plan began last school year at the request of WISD’s 10 member school districts. The system is expected to save money by standardizing buses, fuel and supplies; centralizing facilities, administration and overhead; optimizing routing; and controlling compensation and benefits. Districts were given the option to participate in all, part or none of the consolidated transportation model; all 10 districts will opt to participate in countywide cooperative purchasing of fuel, bus parts and supplies, according to information from WISD.

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