Michener Elementary School boasts two Earth Day statewide poster contest winners


ADRIAN — There are several student success stories at Michener Elementary School in Adrian, so many that Principal Ann Lacasse couldn’t contain her excitement when recalling the number of positive events this school year while addressing the Adrian Public Schools Board of Education in April.

Lacasse gave an overview of those student highlights as the school board conducted one of its April meetings in Michener’s media center.

The elementary school can stake its claim as one of the few elementary schools in Michigan to have two statewide poster competition winners.

Michener Elementary School first grader Joel Nieto, left, and second grade student Nevaeh Casarez, middle, earned statewide best marks for their posters submitted during Earth Day observances in April as part of a competition through the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE). Nieto and Casarez were invited to a recent Adrian Public Schools Board of Education meeting by Michener Principal Ann Lacasse.Michener Elementary School first grader Joel Nieto, left, and second grade student Nevaeh Casarez, middle, earned statewide best marks for their posters submitted during Earth Day observances in April as part of a competition through the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE). Nieto and Casarez were invited to a recent Adrian Public Schools Board of Education meeting by Michener Principal Ann Lacasse.

Second grade student Nevaeh Casarez and first grader Joel Nieto earned statewide best marks for their posters submitted during Earth Day observances in April.

The posters were created for an annual competition held each year by the Michigan Department of Environmental, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE). Special education teacher Darcie Anderson coordinates the schoolwide poster initiative at Michener, which resulted in 30-40 student-made posters reflecting the importance of Earth Day.

Staff members review the posters and select the ones they would like to submit to the state level competition, Lacasse explained.

For Earth Day 2024, Michener Elementary student Nevaeh Casarez created this poster that says, "Clean water for plants and animals."For Earth Day 2024, Michener Elementary student Nevaeh Casarez created this poster that says, "Clean water for plants and animals."

For Earth Day 2024, Michener Elementary student Nevaeh Casarez created this poster that says, “Clean water for plants and animals.”

“I’m very proud of them,” Lacasse said of the students who took the poster project seriously and came up with creative designs. “… It makes me feel fantastic.”

Casarez’s poster says, “Clean water for plants and animals,” and Nieto’s has the wording, “Save our Earth. Keep water clean.”

For Earth Day 2024, Michener Elementary School student Joel Nieto created this poster that says, “Save our Earth. Keep water clean.”For Earth Day 2024, Michener Elementary School student Joel Nieto created this poster that says, “Save our Earth. Keep water clean.”

For Earth Day 2024, Michener Elementary School student Joel Nieto created this poster that says, “Save our Earth. Keep water clean.”

The posters, along with the several others created by Michener’s students, are on display in one of the main hallways of the school.

Michener is celebrating its achievements

The statewide winning posters are just one example of the student achievements happening at Michener Elementary School, Lacasse said. Students are putting their STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education to work.

Kindergarten students, for example, take an academic trip each year to nearby Carpenter Farms during the fall where they can engage in pumpkin carving activities, paint or decorate the pumpkins and count pumpkin seeds.

First graders, after spending a day at the zoo, use that experience as a writing prompt to help them form sentences and work on their grammar. In the same fashion, fourth grade students visited Imagination Station in Toledo.

A new Cooking Club, operated in conjunction with Michigan State University Extension and Meijer, is available at Michener via a grant written by fourth grade teacher Lora Wallich. Fourth and fifth grade students enrolled in the club attended eight cooking classes to help them prepare a meal that could feed a family of six. At the end of the class, students could take home a slow cooker or an air fryer.

Michener Elementary School is able to offer a Cooking Club for fourth and fifth grade students because of a grant from Michigan State University Extension and Meijer. Pictured during a recent Cooking Club session are, from left, Treyvion Newsom, Jax Nichols, Anna Monroe, Calvin Baker, Vickie Pfeifer with MSU Extension, Abigail Underwood and Caleb Sheldon.Michener Elementary School is able to offer a Cooking Club for fourth and fifth grade students because of a grant from Michigan State University Extension and Meijer. Pictured during a recent Cooking Club session are, from left, Treyvion Newsom, Jax Nichols, Anna Monroe, Calvin Baker, Vickie Pfeifer with MSU Extension, Abigail Underwood and Caleb Sheldon.

“They have recipe cards, and they know how to make the meals,” Lacasse said.

This year’s Astronomy Club made solar-powered robots and launched rockets. Fourth graders were able to take a field trip to Adrian telescope manufacturer PlaneWave Instruments and learn about telescopes, space exploration and careers.

There are 13-14 different after-school clubs being offered at the elementary school, Lacasse said.

“There’s so much negative about education and we need to celebrate the stuffing out of all the positive,” she said. “My team — the teachers, the para pros, the secretary in the office, even the custodian — all mentor our students during the day and take kids under their wings, and it’s because they are all so dedicated to education and to these students.”

Available opportunities provide enrichment

As part of Michener’s School Improvement Plan, the opportunities available to its students are for enrichment purposes.

“Many of these opportunities are available to us because of grants from the Adrian Schools Education Foundation,” Lacasse said.

Eighty-three students this year have been assisted by support interventionists. Thirty-eight students, meanwhile, have been involved with the elementary school’s Fluency Friends reading program.

Special education services are available at the elementary school. There are three academic interventionists throughout the building, a mental health specialist, success coach and a parent coordinator. Average referrals per day are on a downward trend, Lacasse said.

During March is Reading Month, students read more than 100,000 words.

“Our students have the opportunity to attend music, art, gym, Spanish and technology classes each week,” Michener Elementary’s webpage says. “Our highly qualified teachers and staff take pride in providing a safe, caring environment where our students can learn and grow.”

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The elementary school serves children from Young 5’s through fifth grade. A Head Start program is located onsite.

“We have so many students living in poverty; their parents are trying their best,” Lacasse said. “The majority of the parents in this building work two jobs. They are trying their very best to make ends meet and are still below the poverty line. It’s important for my staff to provide the enrichment for these students that perhaps families can’t afford to do despite working so hard.”

— Contact reporter Brad Heineman at bheineman@lenconnect.com or follow him on X, formerly Twitter: twitter.com/LenaweeHeineman.

This article originally appeared on The Daily Telegram: Michener Elementary Earth Day statewide poster contest winners





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