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By Crystal Hayduk

The Chelsea School District Board of Education unanimously approved the request to commemorate the varsity baseball field in honor of former athletic director Wayne R. Welton at its meeting on Nov. 27.

Welton’s name will be on the scoreboard, and a plaque listing his accomplishments will accompany it.

The vote came in front of a crowded room and after four community members voiced their support for Welton’s work and character during the opportunity for public input. Former Chelsea High School student Kerry Plank called Welton “one of the finest men that I know.” Plank said that apart from his family, Welton was a positive influence, who helped instill in him a moral backbone and work ethic that he still calls upon 25 years later.

Band director Rick Catherman sent a written statement that was read by Beth Morris in his absence. Catherman’s letter outlined reason that Welton deserved this honor. Welton understood that a “balance between academics, the arts, and athletics is critical to the development of the students,” said Catherman.

Matt Pedlow, teacher and varsity tennis coach, said, “Wayne clearly had the concept of ‘always do right’ – something that many people can’t grasp in today’s society.” Pedlow said that Welton had a “monumental impact” on him, even though he didn’t work with him for very long. “I couldn’t be prouder to say that I have coached under [him].”

Board President Anne Mann said that the board’s policy committee and the board at large had put extensive work into writing the commemoration policy to provide the guidelines for such situations. Superintendent Julie Helber commended the board for working together respectfully. “This commemoration sets the bar high,” she said.

Board member Shawn Quilter said that he hopes the board still considers a Hall of Fame as a good way to recognize others in the future.  

Amy Heydlauff, CEO of 5 Healthy Towns Foundation (5HF), provided an update to the board about the work the foundation is doing to increase personal and community wellness. The foundation, funded through the merger of Chelsea Community Hospital with the St. Joseph Mercy Health System in 2009, exists to improve the health of Chelsea, Dexter, Grass Lake, Manchester, and Stockbridge.

Heydlauff said that the work is community-driven, through coalitions made up of community volunteers. The foundation hopes to continue partnerships with the Chelsea School District to improve the overall future health of the community through impacting wellness behaviors in young people.

More information is available at the 5HF website (http://5healthytowns.org/?module=Home) or on their Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/5healthytowns/).

Chelsea High School history teacher, Laura Bauermeister, presented information to the board about an educational field trip to Europe. She said that she went on two similar trips when she was in high school, and has also chaperoned a trip at another school district. “These trips are life-changing,” she said.

The trip would be planned by Education First, a tour company with 50 years of experience. “Everything has an educational basis on this trip,” said Bauermeister. “It would allow students to dip their toes into the culture of London, Paris, Florence, Rome, and several small towns in Italy.”

Bauermeister said that student safety is the top priority, with the company’s “peace of mind” plan, which permits options to change or postpone the tour if current events warrant it.

The student cost of the trip would be approximately $3,800, which includes airfare, hotels, ground transportation, meals, and tours. Chelsea High School Principal Mike Kapolka said, “There are 32 firm yes kids right now.” Travel would take place June 18-28, 2018. Teachers would chaperone the trip, although parents would be permitted to travel at a higher cost.

In other board news:

Board member Kristin van Reesema and Superintendent Helber informed the board about Senate Bills 584 – 586 and 366. These bills would permit individuals with concealed pistol licenses to request an endorsement that allows them to carry concealed firearms into no-carry zones.

The Michigan Association of School Boards (MASB) opposes the bills; but supports decisions about concealed weapons to be made at the local district level. The bills have passed in the Senate and are currently under House consideration. Citizens are encouraged to contact their legislators to express their opinions. (Find your representative here: http://house.michigan.gov/MHRPublic/frmFindaRep.aspx.)

Upcoming dates:

The next school board meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 11 at Beach Middle School, 445 Mayer Drive.

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