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Muskegon Lakeshore Focuses on the Future

High-quality educational opportunities abound for students of all ages.

By Patsy B. Weiler on May 18, 2021

Muskegon Lakeshore, MI
Muskegon Area Intermediate School District

From preschool crawlers to college-age scholars, the Muskegon Lakeshore region works to ensure students of all ages are met with high-quality education opportunities.

Not only does this West Michigan community help kids get a jump start on their learning, it also works to provide top programs and opens doors for them to secure a successful future.

Muskegon Lakeshore, MI
Frederic A Reinecke

Storyville Sites Spark Imagination

The youngest imaginations can run wild at the Storyville sites located at the Montague, Muskegon Heights and Norton Shores Muskegon Area District Library branches. The sites, which opened in January 2020, include a child-sized village – each with its own captivating theme – that is designed to enhance early literacy skills from birth to age 5.

The Montague location offers a beach atmosphere, while Muskegon Heights displays a yard and garden, and Norton Shores boasts a lakeshore camping setting.

“Creative play is the main way that children learn. Muskegon Storyville encourages this as well as parents’ and caregivers’ roles as a child’s first teacher,” says Karen Blackledge, early literacy coordinator for the Muskegon Area District Library. “The villages are well-loved by the community, and the feedback has been tremendous.”

The learning spaces range in size from 250 to 850 square feet. The villages served more than 2,800 patrons between January and March 2020.

Muskegon Lakeshore, MI
Maribeth Clarke

School District Developments in Muskegon

As students get older, they are met with quality content, advanced technology and caring, innovative teachers. And, since the community continually works to secure necessary improvements, students within the Muskegon Area Intermediate School District will soon reap the benefits of a number of developments in the works.

These projects include:

1. A two-part $104.7 million bond proposal slated for improvements to Muskegon Public Schools. The first part of the funding will be earmarked for the construction of the new $29 million Charles Hackley Middle School on the Mercy Health campus where the former Hackley Hospital stood. The proposed two-story, 120,000-square-foot structure is projected to open in fall 2023. Other plans include renovations at Marquette, Oakview, Glenside and Lakeside elementary schools as well as major infrastructure work at Muskegon High School.

2. The second part of the bond focuses on arts, athletics and security. This will allow for a new 84-foot single court gymnasium that will connect the high school and Redmond Potter Building, an artificial turf field at Hackley Stadium, home of the famous Big Reds football team, and modern athletic fields at the middle school.

3. Fruitport High School is in the final stage of a $48 million, five-year renovation plan, including adding a performing arts center that will open in August 2021. Other improvements include state-of-the-art security features such as curved academic hallways, protective concrete wing walls and impact-resistant windows.

4. Ravenna Public Schools recently earned a $100,000 federal Rural Tech grant for a honeybee project.

Program Delivers Promising Futures

Through the Muskegon Area PROMISE Program, qualifying graduates of 16 high schools who live within the Muskegon Area Intermediate School District can receive funding for a certificate program, a two-year associate degree or two years of tuition-free college at Muskegon Community College or Baker College of Muskegon.

In 2020, nearly 500 seniors were eligible for the program and 47% elected to attend a local college. The impact this program makes on pocketbooks is huge, with a projected savings of $1.8 million in tuition and fee costs.

Sam Hansen was the first student to become a PROMISE Scholar. He attended community college and earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing in December 2019 from Michigan State University. He said his scholarship was a game-changer.

“The PROMISE program allowed me to focus more time on my academics rather than working a job to pay for tuition. Everyone should take advantage of it,” says Hansen, now a mortgage banker with Quicken Loans. “The money I saved meant I have zero dollars in student loans! Woo-hoo!”

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