Former board member Blanke recognized for years of service

by Dave Cary Review Correspondent

Horizon third grade teacher Lori Hunt and principal Todd Hunt gave longtime Plymouth area resident Robert Blanke a verbal testimonial at Tuesday’s Plymouth School Board meeting. They cited Blanke for his many years of service, interest, encouragement and actions — on all levels — done to benefit area education.

On one hand, Brown said, Blanke served on the School Board in the 1970s, helping hire two superintendents and helping create the position of assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction — recently held by present Superintendent Carrie Dassow and currently held by former PHS principal Dan Mella. He also urged creation of the all-day kindergarten program, as well as building additions to Riverview, Parkview and Fairview schools, and worked to initiate competency testing and strengthen the music program.

On the other hand, Brown said, Blanke was also the only School Board member at the time who went to classes with the students — a practice he has maintained to the present. Known to the students as “Grandpa Bob,” Blanke still drops in every week to listen to third- and fourth-graders read, reading along with them and engaging them in book discussions. Brown said kids will wait in line for the chance to read with him.

In addition, Brown said, Blanke participates in a Pen Pal program which connects senior citizens at the Generations intergenerational center with Horizon third graders.

Blanke, who was present, said that although his service as a school board member was a “long time ago,” he liked every bit of what he has done involving kids and the schools except for one thing — having to, as a board member, sit in on expulsion or suspension hearings.

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Board President Tim St. Clair said the board was looking for a person to fill the board seat occupied by John Klemme until he resigned last month because he was moving outside the district. St. Clair said interested persons should write to him at the district office and attend the Dec. 7 Committee of the Whole meeting.

The board also filled Klemme’s position as board vice-president by unanimously appointing board member Pam Holzhaeuser to the post.

Since Holzhaeuser is also the board’s appointed treasurer, board member Richard York asked if it was legal for one member to hold two two offices. York said he was not against Holzhaeuser but only wanted things according to Hoyle. Other board members agreed. No one knew the answer for sure, so the matter will be placed on next month’s agenda.

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The board approved a travel request submitted by PHS World Language Teacher Rommy Herrera to travel with students to Costa Rica next July for the World Language Trip. Juniors and Seniors currently enrolled in the Spanish language program will travel there for language immersion experience. Travel dates will be from July 14 to 23, except for ten Senior students who will stay an additional two weeks for a course that will let them earn one half of a Spanish language credit..

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Board member Bob Travis — the board’s liaison to the Plymouth Education Foundation — reported that that organization’s annual meeting will be held Jan. 13. New officers will be chosen, he said, and a replacement chosen for a foundation board member who is leaving. He added that the foundation will be awarding grants total- ing over $10,000 in May.

York, liaison to the Community Education program, said recreation offerings starting in December will include “pickle ball” and badminton. “Pickle ball” he said, seems to be a hit with those who try it.

Holzhaeuser, liaison to the Family Resource Center, said the FRC will be partnering with the United Way in a pilot program whose aim is to ensure that every child is school-ready before they enter school.

• • •

In personnel matters, the board was informed that:

• Laurie Steeno, special education aide at PHS, has submitted her retirement effective next January 1. Dassow thanked Steeno — who was not present — for her 26 years’ service.

• Donna Olig has been hired to serve as Horizon Elementary School secretary.

• Cheryl Rivas has been hired as a custodian at Riverview Middle School.

• Bradley Feldman has been hired as a custodian at Fairview Elementary School.

• • •

The board accepted and made appropriate budget entries for the following gifts:

• $297.89 from the Horizon PATH for student transportation.

• $1928.00 from the Parkview PTK for a smart board and student transportation.

• $240.00 from board member Pam Holzhaeuser to the Plymouth High School Art Department.

• $150.00 from Jan Drees for the Plymouth High School Learning

Service Program.

• Two cases of cheese from the Sartori Cheese Company to the high school Food Service Department.

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