50 years and counting

Mecosta-Osceola Intermediate School District celebrates 50-year anniversary Thursday

BIG RAPIDS – With all the makings of a good birthday party – cake, games and more than 800 guests – the Mecosta-Osceola Intermediate School District celebrated 50 years of existence on Thursday. In 1963, Michigan established intermediate school districts, and the MOISD was among the originals. Initially, ISDs were intended to complete pupil accounting for local school districts; at that time there were about 7,000 small school districts in the state. Today, districts have consolidated and the role of ISDs has expanded to include a variety of services. The MOISD serves about 10,000 students in six local school districts: Big Rapids Public Schools, Crossroads Charter Academy, Chippewa Hills School District, Evart Public Schools, Morley Stanwood Community Schools and Reed City Area Public Schools. It offers special education services, a career center, adjudicated youth facilities, itinerant staff to support local districts, professional development for teachers, early childhood programs and other shared services. “We started out just counting kids and then we moved into other things. ... With Ferris (State University) being in our neighborhood, we do a lot of work with them as well,” said Curt Finch, MOISD superintendent. “Refocusing the organization to its mission of service to the local school districts is what I’m most proud of. We’ve developed more of a laser focus on providing quality to our local schools.” Finch is the MOISD’s seventh superintendent, taking on the position in 2005. Russell Duffey was the first superintendent, and he served from 1963 to 1967 when the district covered only Mecosta County. In 1964, the ISD merged to include schools in Osceola County as well. Earle Lickert took over as superintendent for four years after Duffey. He was followed by Richard Asiala (1971 to 1973), Paul Jorgensen (1973 to 1986), Roger Dixon (1987 to 1998) and Terrence Conklin (1998 to 2005). Thursday’s 50-year anniversary celebration was held in conjunction with the Mecosta-Osceola Career Center’s annual open house, where parents and community members are invited to see projects each of the center’s 14 programs complete. MOCC was founded in 1976. “The thing that makes me the most proud is connecting students with opportunities for post-secondary education or their careers,” said Steve Locke, principal of MOCC. “It’s about making students realize that ability and intelligence are not fixed variables; they’re something that can be expanded upon and developed. At the career center, we’ve been very intentional in teaching those skills to students.” Graphic communications students Zak Slocum and Lucas Chrusan, who both attend Morely Stanwood High School, noted the leadership skills they’ve gained at the career center in addition to graphic design knowledge. “They’re teaching us about leadership, making us leaders and helping us take responsibility,” Slocum said. “Circle of influence is what we’ve been learning about – the things we can control.” MOCC students served refreshments and facilitated games at the open house. Several regional politicians presented a state proclamation recognizing the MOISD’s contributions. Sen. Darwin Booher, R-Evart, attended the open house with his daughter and grandson, who is enrolled in MOCC’s welding program. Rep. Phil Potvin, R-Cadillac, also attended the celebration. “I’ve been involved with (the career center) for years,” Booher said. “This is an option the kids need. ... I am very familiar with (the MOISD) and all the good things they do for our students. ... It’s a huge advantage for our area.”