Near the end of last semester, Albion students likely saw an abundance of “Vote Yes” or “Vote No” signs stuck in the lawns of Albion residences and homes. This past May, Albion had a big decision to make on whether or not their school system should be annexed to the Marshall Community Schools. This vote decided whether or not the Albion school district should combine with the Marshall school district.
When the community voted “yes” on May 4, 2016, it was time to prepare Harrington Elementary School for the upcoming school year. Previously, many Albion students were attending schools in Marshall through school of choice. The reopening of Harrington gives students from kindergarten to fifth grade the option to attend school in Albion.
But because Harrington had been closed down for almost three years, lot of work needed to be done to get it ready for the kids to return. But the superintendent of MCS, Randy Davis, saw the elementary school as more than just a vacant building.
“When I did my first walk-though, I fell in love with the building,” said Davis. “I was able to look past the dirt and trash and saw a gem of an elementary building that had lots of character.”
Davis, with the help of Albion community members, has put in the time, money and effort into making Harrington an excellent place to attend Kindergarten through the fifth grade.
Davis also worked with Associate Professor Nels Christensen, a member of the former Albion School Board, to design and create a building survey that aimed to inform the parents and community on where to place the school programs.
Students from the college have been eager to support as well.
“They needed help so we just tried to rally a group and try to get as many people as we could to come,” said South Lyon, Michigan, junior Jenna Urso, co-director of the Albion Community Mentoring Program. “It’s been fun.”
Albion College students, including members of the men’s and women’s soccer teams, Greek life, the mentoring program and other organizations worked together to transport books, pick weeds, trim bushes, wash surfaces and lend a hand.
According to Canton, Michigan, sophomore Emily Budlong, co-director of the mentoring program, the opening of the elementary school will only strengthen the bond between the college and the community.
“Because of the school opening, I know the college really wants to interact a lot with the school,” said Budlong. “I think the school being so so close to the college is going to allow a lot of us to volunteer here.”
And Davis agrees.
“We are looking forward to opportunities where the Albion College students can engage with our schools,” said Davis. “Your student-athletes have already volunteered time helping Harrington get ready for the coming of the school year, and we hope to bring back another volunteer opportunity in mentoring our elementary students.”
According to Davis and the Albion Community Mentoring Program, most people are embracing this change. In fact, voters passed the annexation by a margin of 900 votes. The new school district has also been benefited by its dedication to proving a safe, nurturing environment for the students in transition.
“There’s a noticeable change in the atmosphere,” Budlong said. “I think that everyone is just really hopeful for a great year and an amazing school that they’ve really put a lot of time and effort into.”
Photo by Sarah Finn