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     Root, Branch, & Blossom:
    Growing Kids the Fennville Way

    More than 400 People Attend Star Wars Themed Family Reading Night in Fennville Elementary

    Star Wars Night More than four hundred students and parents joined Star Wars villains and Jedi knights at Fennville Elementary School recently for an evening event that both concluded National Reading Month at the school, and also celebrated the powerful force at work every time a student opens a book to read.  

         Characters like Darth Vader and Kylo Ren were on hand for the event, joined by Yoda and other Star Wars characters. Fennville Elementary School Principal Albert Lombard even got in on the act, dressing as a Jedi knight and posing for pictures with his students.

         “National Reading Month is an important part of our uncompromising focus on reading at Fennville Elementary School,” Lombard said. “Special events like this are a fun way to make a big deal out of reading for our students and parents, but we work to make a big deal out of reading every day of the school year. That so many students and parents came to celebrate with us shows that our community believes reading is important for our students both at school and at home and even in galaxies far, far away.”

         During the event students and parents visited classrooms to listen to favorite books being read by teachers or to engage in discussions on the importance of reading. Each student was also able to pick two new books to take home and keep, to allow them to continue to grow as readers long after National Reading Month is over. The books were available at all reading levels, and students have learned that picking a book at just the right level is important for continued growth, improvement, and enjoyment as a reader.

         The event was organized by Fennville Elementary School Reading Specialist Kelly Howes. The Star Wars characters were from the Midwest Garrison of the 501st Legion, a professional costuming organization who often support charity events by appearing in costume.


    Trumpeting the Standards: Yamaha Performing Artist Rex Richardson Brings Professional Experience to Fennville 


    FENNVILLE—As they listened to the sound of Rex Richardson’s trumpet play a jazz classic by Thelonious Monk, students in the Fennville High School band sat up a little straighter in their chairs and gripped their instruments a little bit tighter. Richardson was demonstrating what years of dedication to music could do, and he was inviting students to join him.

         Richardson is a Yamaha Performing Artist and a professor of trumpet at Virginia Commonwealth University. He also tutors in trumpet at the Royal Northern College of Music in England and has traveled across five continents to build a reputation as a world-class performer and soloist. His visit to Fennville was supported by the Yamaha Corporation and the Fennville Education Foundation.

    Visiting Artist        “Being a professional musician is a wonderful career and has given me incredible opportunities all over the world,” Richardson told the students. “But the public only sees and hears the final product on stage, not the behind the scenes stuff. Remember that a performance like that is only possible because of hours and hours spent practicing over many years to become truly great at your instrument. Playing an instrument is fun, and it gets more fun the better you can play it.”

         Richardson was in Fennville to provide a clinic for the high school concert band and jazz band as they prepare for upcoming festival performances. His clinic focused first and foremost on the importance of practice, especially for kids whose attention and time can be so divided. He also performed for students and shared the stories, experiences, and advice of a professional musician.

         Richardson also had praise for Fennville Band Director Paul Andrews, who plays trumpet. “Your band director has put in the time to be great on his instrument, just like I have,” Richardson said. “But he took his talents into education and has become a great conductor and band director. There are so many options open to you when you put in the time, even if it’s just playing for fun for the rest of your life, or in a community band or orchestra. But first you have to put in the time.”

    Fennville Fifth Grade Hosts Congressman Fred Upton


    FENNVILLE—Most days, Fennville seems a long way from the United States Capitol in Washington D.C.; but during a recent visit, Congressman Fred Upton made it feel a whole lot closer to home for fifth grade students at Fennville Elementary School.

    Upton visits FES      Upton visited the school to share stories and details of his work over the years to represent the citizens of Southwest Michigan, and to deliver a special message about the role of young people in politics. Upton encouraged the students to go ahead and get involved now in politics, which he said are really just efforts to improve their school, community, state, nation, and world.

         Of course it was an involved fifth-grade student who brought Upton to Fennville Elementary School in the first place. Joey Skerbeck had attended an Allegan County Republican Club meeting with his mother, and at the meeting had the chance to meet the congressman. During their conversation Upton encouraged Skerbeck to invite him to Fennville to speak to his class, so Joey did: working with teacher Chad VanderMeulen and Principal Albert Lombard, the fifth grader made it happen.

         During his visit Upton told students stories of his journey into politics to represent the people of Southwest Michigan, which started in the 1980’s, and then stories of working with other politicians to pass laws, including every United States President going back to Ronald Reagan.