• Essexville-Hampton Public Schools Making Investments for the Future of the School System

    Essexville, MI – Essexville-Hampton Public Schools made two historic investments for the future of the school system at the November 14 school board meeting. In two 6-0 votes, the board approved $200,000 to launch a community-wide fundraising initiative to build a regional Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (S.T.E.M.) Center on the property of Cramer and Garber. Additionally, the board unanimously approved approximately $4.5 million in energy upgrades to all four schools– Bush, Verellen, Cramer, and Garber with the use of $1 million dollars of ESSER 3 money (federal Covid recovery funds).

        The district will be implementing energy-saving infrastructure upgrades as part of a major restructuring of their student learning environment. Trane® – by Trane Technologies (NYSE: TT), a global climate innovator, has collaborated with the district to develop each of the energy savings measures. The remaining $3.5 million will be covered with a bond that will be of no additional cost to the school community taxpayers. The upgrades will ultimately pay for themselves and save the district in operational costs over time. The district is undertaking a major restructuring of its buildings and the completed upgrades will help to create a more comfortable academic environment, reduce rising energy and operational costs, replace outdated systems and address deferred maintenance. District-wide improvements will include new building automation controls, and an energy management system enabling district systems to perform at optimal levels. Dynamic air cleaners will help optimize indoor air quality and water conservation measures will reduce water use for the district.

         The monthly board meeting took place in the Tech Hall at Garber High School. Nearly every seat was taken by parents, community members, alumni, teachers, staff, and students that showed up to state their case for how the S.T.E.M. Center can be a turning point for the district, community, and region. School leaders visited a regional S.T.E.M. center in early October and heard countless testimonials from students, staff, and school leaders about the positive impact that this has had on the community. “After years of declining enrollment, this can be a turning point for our community– and this is a perfect example of how we are elevating the high academic expectations that we hold in Essexville-Hampton Public Schools,” said Justin Ralston, the new superintendent.

        Ralston joined the Essexville-Hampton Public Schools community on August 29, 2022 after leading schools in Washington, DC for the past 9 years. “We need to make a clear, bold statement to our students, our families, our staff, and our community–everything I have seen, heard, and experienced in my short tenure is the enormous pride and standards of excellence that exist within our community. In changing times, we must adjust our approach to meeting the needs of a 21st Century learner. The S.T.E.M. Center is a commitment from our district that we are here to meet those needs.”

        “EHPS wants our community to know we are serious about making this STEM center happen, and actions speak louder than words. Our seed money investment in this fundraising initiative shows how much we truly believe in this project,” said Amber Davis-Johnson, president of the school board. Matt Murawski, member of the board and building and grounds committee added, “We have an incredibly talented and driven robotics team right now that will be leading the charge. This project will help continue their culture of improving the community they serve.” A huge focus of the center will be to house the EHPS competitive robotics teams that range from grades 4- 12. Those teams have been recognized for excellence on regional, state, and international levels despite the current lack of facilities. Students in this program will now have a home that they can be proud of as they work towards future careers in engineering, business, machining, coding, computer science, CAD, 3D printing, CNC work, and many more.

        The S.T.E.M. Center is a facility that is of great need to the district. Ethan Shannon, the lead mentor for the EHPS robotics program addressed the current situation of the program saying, ”Our robotics program is currently spread out over 8 classrooms in the district occupying space in 6 of those rooms at Garber High School and 2 at Verellen Elementary. The current high school lab is a converted classroom that only has 6 power outlets for dozens of tools. Tripped breakers and blown fuses on tools are a daily occurrence. This might mean starting over 6 hours into a CNC machining process. The classrooms our team shares are an inconvenience for other teachers and students alike using those spaces. Every day for drive practice, students spend up to an hour breaking down the furniture in the library and setting it back up at the end of the night. It is difficult for coaches to safely monitor students working in so many different places at once. The new center would alleviate all of these issues and give students on our team a place to flourish.”

        Students also spoke at the meeting. Carter Davis, a Garber junior and member of the robotics program, spoke on behalf of the varsity team saying “I’d like to impress upon you that this group isn’t just about robots. A S.T.E.M. center would give students like us an environment dedicated to pursuing our goals. It would foster collaboration across the school district, making it easier for students in different school buildings to work with one another. And it would be nice, instead of being scattered across eight different rooms, to have a home”.

        Carissa Rondeau, a seventh grader also gave a speech where she told the board “Without robotics, I wouldn’t have anything to do after school and nowhere to go, and I’m really, really good at this. My coach says I can even draw better on CAD than most of the high schoolers. I’m excited that I might get a chance to work in a new S.T.E.M. center before I graduate”.

        With the initial investment of $200,000 to launch a S.T.E.M. Center, the school will work with local businesses and community organizations to secure the additional funding. With the start-up money, the school will begin seeking bids for an architect to take the ideas from students, teachers, community members, and other centers in the region to develop a blueprint. Local businesses have rallied behind similar initiatives across the state.

        If you have any questions about the launch of the S.T.E.M. Center, please contact Mr. Ethan Shannon at shannone@e-hps.net, Justin Ralston at ralstonj@e-hps.net, or contact the central administration office at 989-894-9700.