Outdoor sculpture garden, amphitheater proposed at Tecumseh High School
A proposed sculpture garden and amphitheater plan at Tecumseh High School was met with reservation from some board members about where the funds would come from to complete the project at the Monday, June 23, Tecumseh School Board meeting. Two concepts were presented; one with terraced tiers with an estimated cost of $198,600, and another with sloping grass with an estimated cost of $134,000. “We did talk about the option with the idea of having paver areas that could be something where you could get into engraving for different donations and groups and things that are involved with this garden,” said Ann Arbor landscaper and developer Serge van der Voo who has been working on the project. Both concepts utilized the surrounding, bowl-shaped topography of the land to structure the garden and amphitheater. A 12-foot walkway out from the high school to the eastern drive was present in both designs, with the stage of the theater located at the center of the walkway.Both designs also met the standard for being wheelchair accessible, along with providing spaces for wheelchairs to occupy. Trees and other flowers would surround the garden, providing shade and color. Christine Obeid, a high school art teacher, and her students worked on their own concepts throughout the school year along with help from van der Voo. Van der Voo took the kids’ concepts and came up with the two that were presented to the board. “Another thing I would like to bring up is phasing, that phasing could be one way to do this,” said van der Voo. “You start out with the grading and concrete walks and do the planting at another phase. You build it over the course of many years.”The idea of an outdoor display area came from former Supt. Mike McAran who wanted a place for a dismantled sculpture taken from the Tecumseh Middle School. Board member Edward Tritt liked the idea of phasing the project, though he would like to see what each phase would entail, the cost and how it would be funded. He said he would like the idea for the board to approve each step of the project. “There’s a lot of people out there interested in donating, but again it really needed to come here so you could see what an end product could look like down the road prior to anybody approaching any money for that,” said Supt. Kelly Coffin. Board member Stanley Ames raised concerns about noise and the neighbors on the east side of the school’s property. “We occasionally already hear some complaints about the stadium, both the soccer and football events, and the horns being too loud,” Ames said. “That’s something we may want to take into account.”The approval of a concept will be an action item at the next regular school board meeting and will allow the project to move forward to start funding. The board also heard a two-year report from the Health Advisory Committee. The committee evaluates the program every two years and does so by administering pre- and post-tests for seventh and eighth grade and the Michigan Profile for Healthy Youth (MiPHY) Survey for seventh, ninth and eleventh graders.This was the first year that a health class was offered at the seventh and eighth grade level. “It ran, knock on wood, as smoothly as it could have,” said Kristopher Hoag, the health and physical education teacher at the middle school. “They were very mature and they were very receptive to the topic. I think there were a lot of students that really appreciated the focus and the honesty of the class. There really isn’t a whole lot of area around them that they can speak about these topics and use these terms without feeling embarrassed or getting in trouble. The openness of the class was amazing.”Board member Roger Hart asked how many parents opted their students out of the class. Kristalyn Musselman, a health teacher at the high school had none, while Hoag had one student. “For everyone year I have the number of kids that have opted out and I have never had more than two or three,” said Musselman. “This year there were none.”The board also discussed joining the Strive Network that board member Debbie Johnson-Berges presented to the board at the June 2 meeting. “From my perspective it is a very good, collaborative effort on the part of the groups and Lenawee County to deal with some significant issues,” said Johnson-Berges.Ames didn’t raise any objections to joining, but thought the organization’s goals were ambitious. “Quite frankly I read the thing. I think it’s so broad and so unachievable it’s ridiculous, but if doesn’t cost me anything, I am more than happy to let someone else drive.” said board member Stanley Ames. “If there is no opposition then we’ll just put it as an action item at the next meeting,” said Tritt. In other business, the school board:• Approved a one-year extension of the Mid-Michigan Schools Beverage Consortium.• Approved the award of the food service bid to Aramark. • Set next month’s lone school board meeting for Monday, July 14 at 7 p.m. • Moved the approval of the 2014-2015 building handbook to the next regular board meeting. • Accepted a $1,250 donation from The Tecumseh Herald following the annual The Tecumseh Herald Jr. edition, which is created by elementary students through advertising support of area businesses.