Teacher receives early holiday gift from fellow union members

When a teacher needed the help of the community as they faced an unexpected situation where personal sick days were not enough to cover an increasing need for absences, fellow members of the teachers’ union came to his rescue.

“Teachers in Dexter Schools are lucky to have a strong union, the Dexter Education Association,” the teacher, who asked that we not use his name, said. “They support teachers in a variety of ways such as advocating for our positions, securing reasonable salaries and benefits, and ensuring a safe working environment. When I unexpectedly needed to take a leave of absence, the DEA stepped forward and offered to help me by donating sick days. I did not request the days; they were an unsolicited gift. I am tremendously grateful for the compassionate generosity of my colleagues.”

However, this process of teachers donating their extra sick days to fellow teachers in need is not covered by the union contract, meaning it is not a process that is guaranteed or regulated by the school.

“The contracts are silent regarding loans of days from one employee to another,” Superintendent Chris Timmis said. “Occasionally, a situation arises where we need to look outside of contracts and do the right thing.”

DEA President Joe Romeo said he appreciates Timmis’ willingness to work with the union on this issue while he and other members of the union facilitate the process of aiding teachers in such situations.

Romeo said that once a need is brought to the table, DEA officials discuss the situation with the administration to determine how to help the individual. After this, they let the members of the DEA know—always anonymously to protect privacy— that there is someone in need.

When the help offered is in the form of a donation of days, Romeo said that he records the members volunteering to donate their extra sick days. After this, Romeo said that he checks with the superintendent’s office to make sure that the donors have enough sick days of their own.

Once this is done, Romeo arranges the list of donors by order of most sick days. He then takes one sick day from the teacher with the most days to give and then goes down the list in that order. This goes on until either he runs out of donors or enough days have been donated.

This process, however, is not a new one. There have been two such cases this year already along with numerous cases in years past.

“We have done this several times over the last dozen or so years,” Romeo said. “Although we have also experienced times lasting as long as five or six years when nobody has needed such help.”

All things considered, facilitating uncontracted aid is not an easy task, according to Romeo, and he is thankful for the extra administrative support as is the leadership of the DEA.

In a prepared statement, they wrote, “We appreciate the efforts of our superintendent to facilitate our members’ attempts to help other members who are experiencing unusual and unforeseen health difficulties. Also, the efforts of the district human resources department has been necessary for us to be able to provide the kind of help most needed in times that can feel overwhelming to someone experiencing a major unexpected health problem.”

And the DEA isn’t the only one giving thanks this time of year. The teacher who was aided is thankful as well.

He said, “Thanksgiving has extra meaning for me this year thanks to the wonderful staff of Dexter Schools, our DEA officers and Superintendent Timmis.”

 

Freshmen learn from upperclassmen as part of varsity sports

Freshman Andy Dolen was sitting on the soccer field after the third day of soccer tryouts, sweating.  But the 90 degree weather wasn’t the only reason why he was sweating; the mens varsity soccer coach was reading off the players who had made varsity.

“I was the last one called, so I was pretty nervous throughout the whole time he was reading the names,” Dolen said.

Almost immediately, though, he said he was welcomed by the upperclassmen when the captains invited him to go to lunch with them after he was named a varsity player. And throughout the season, the veteran players supported Dolen by helping him out when he was struggling at practice and giving him rides home.

“It was a good experience,” Dolen said. “People on varsity were really nice and welcoming, and it was good to have interactions with upperclassmen.”

While some might argue that experiences are lost when a student-athlete skips over freshman and junior varsity teams, Dolen found the season to be a positive one.

“The only thing different between JV and varsity is maybe the level of maturity.  It seems like they act more organized and better disciplined on varsity,” Dolen said.  “But team bonding is the same no matter what team you’re on.”

Team bonding examples included going to pre-game dinners at a player’s house and camping out in one of the captain’s yards.

From a coach’s standpoint, having a freshman on varsity can affect the team’s dynamic in a number of ways, both positive and negative.

“Negatively, their inexperience may open opportunities for opponents to take advantage of,” men and women’s varsity soccer coach Scott Forrester said.  “However, if a player makes the varsity team in our program, he must be a very good player.”

There are also advantages to having a novice on the field, according to Forrester.  He said they sometimes play better because they don’t realize the high stakes.

“The pressure isn’t the same as someone who knows the significance of high pressure games,” Forrester said.

According to Forrester, the experience of playing for one’s high school team is different from that of a club team.

He said the experience is sometimes better because “you go back to your school the next day and the topic is how the game went last night.”

Dolen also said having played with the upperclassmen on varsity will aid him with potential leadership positions in the future.

He said, “Now I’ll know how to treat the underclassmen in future years.  I’ll remember how I felt when the upperclassmen were nice to me, and I’ll know how it feels to be an underclassmen and how they’ll want to be treated.”

Senior Savannah Krull knows from experience that Dolen’s hypothesis is true.

Krull has played on the varsity womens softball team since her freshman year, and she will be a captain this spring.

“From watching the senior captains when I was a freshman, I know how I want the team to run,” Krull said.  “I know how to help the underclassmen on varsity and how to give them good advice that senior mentors gave me when I was a freshman.”

Krull found other benefits to playing varsity all four years, including having the same coach and being able to go to districts every year.

Above all, Krull found she was able to learn about the social aspects of playing on a team from her upperclassmen teammates four years ago.

“I already had the softball skills coming in, but I learned skills about cooperation and trusting my teammates,” she said.  “These are things I wouldn’t have necessarily learned if I had played with other people my age.”

PS4 is the obvious choice in next-generation consoles

Fuel has been thrown on the fire that is the competition between Microsoft and Sony with the long-awaited release of two new gaming consoles, The Xbox One and the Playstation 4.  The Playstation 4 was released on Nov. 15, and the Xbox One will be released on Nov. 22.

Both systems offer new features and better graphics.  While the Xbox One has built in motion capture technology, it falls short to the new Playstation in terms of resolution.  The PS4 has stepped up its display, making it remarkably clearer and the new vivid colors add to it. When it comes to aesthetic and design, the PS4 really takes the cake.  It’s build is sleek and elegant compared to its much larger and boxy competitor.

With Christmas nearing, people will have to decide what console is going to be under their tree.  Microsoft’s “Xbox 360” created a bit of a cult following that will have a lot of buyers leaning their way.  Another thing they have going for them is that there is almost twice as many games to be released with the console than the PS4.

The new Xbox One retails for roughly $400, whereas the PS4 is $100 less.  Both systems require a monthly fee in order to play multiplayer games online.

For my money the PS4 is obvious choice.  I generally go for quality over quantity, and while the Xbox One boasts a lot of great features, the PS4 seems to be a better console for a cheaper price tag.

Winter sports preview

Boys basketball

Coaches: Tim Fortescue and Mike Kedroske

Record last year: 11-10, Lost in district semi-final

Key returning players: Seniors Derek Seidl, Brandon Bednarz, London Truman and Kyle Van Dusen, juniors Brian Condron, Adam Sikorski and Ben Kill

Key additions: Juniors Zac Sharp and Noah Mellifont

The team will be looking to build off its winning season from a year ago as they have an experienced group returning this season.“I expect a winning season and hopefully to go far in districts,” junior Ben Kill said. The most significant difference for the team this year will be their new coach Tim Fortescue who took over for long-time coach Randy Swoverland just two weeks prior to the season. “I like him, I think he will do a great job,” junior Brian Condron said of Fortescue. The team opens the season on the road against Brighton on Dec.10, with the home opener being Saturday, Dec. 14 against Brooklyn Columbia Central.

Girls basketball

Coaches: Mike Bavineau and Lauren Thompson

Record last year: 23-4, Lost in final four

Key returning players: Seniors Morgan Van Hoof and sophomore Taylor Olson

Additions: Sophomores Hannah Wing, Shelbea James, Cayla Schlaff, Katie Tewksbury, Anna Love and Amanda Felicia

The team enters this season coming off its best season in program history. Last year’s senior-heavy squad made a run all the way to the final four before falling to Grosse Pointe South. With only three of the 10 players from the team returning, the expectations have to be tampered. “We expect to win most of our games but we probably won’t go as far as last year,” sophomore Taylor Olson said. In regard to the young team senior Morgan Van Hoof said, “It’s a fresh start with a lot of new girls and there is a lot of learning to be done. We still have a target on our back and an expectation to carry on from last year.” The team opens its season at home against Plymouth on Dec. 3.

Hockey

Coach: Brian Sippits

Record last year: 10-12-1, Lost in districts

Key returners: Ben Grover, Tristin Rojeck, Bryan Tuzinowski, Freddy Burke

Key additions: Sophomores Wes Gilbert and EJ Gilbert

The team is coming into this season off an up-and-down season a year ago and hope to have a more consistent season led by their experienced senior captains Ben Grover, Tristin Rojeck and Bryan Tuzinowski. Grover said, “My expectations are pretty high because we have a lot of talent and most of the guys want to win as much as we need to want to win. The hockey team opened its season on Nov. 20 with a home victory against Pinckney, 6-3. The play again on Nov. 22 and 23 in the Dreadnaught Classic at Vetts.

Boys swim and dive

Coach: Mike Mchugh

Finish last year: Won SEC, fourth in state

Key returners: Seniors Jack Donovan, Jake Killian, Andrew Watson, Junior Andrew Pek and sophomores Jimmy Morgan, Robby Zofchak and David Merz

The team is coming off a fourth place finish in the state a year ago.  Despite the loss of a successful senior class, the expectations are not being lowered at all according to senior Jack Donovan: “I expect to win SECs and go top four in states again.” Outside of the team success over the past few years (including a state title in 2012), there have been some top personal performances and that is expected to continue into this season as well. Junior Andrew Pek, for instance, said, “I’m hoping to be top eight in the state in butterfly and backstroke. This team works really hard, and if we do, we can do great things.” The team opens the season with the Midland Dow Invite on Dec. 10.

Wrestling

Coaches: Kurt Phelps and Jeff Oesch

Finish last year: Lost in districts

Key returners: Senior Zeke Breuninger, junior Larry Gotcher

Key additions: Sophomore Daniel Colon

The team comes into this season hoping to build off its season last year. The team is lead by senior Zeke Breuninger who said, “We’re hoping to win districts as a team this year because we definitely had a chance to last year.” One of the key performers for this season is expected to be junior Larry Gotcher who said, “We have a good base to build off and we are looking to work hard and get better as the season goes on.” Breuninger said he hopes to build off a good season last year in which he finished eighth in the state in his weight class. He said, “I’m hoping to finish in the top three in the state meet this season.” The wrestling team begins the season on Dec. 7 at Howell.

Expensive gifts may be the way to go

Gift giving between significant others during the holidays is more complex than you would imagine.

Being a guy, I realize that the gift most men would love more than anything is the gift of not having to buy a gift.  But that just won’t happen.

So, guys, maybe think of these things when buying a gift for your special significant other.

Don’t do the following: buy a gift that you want more. In other words, don’t get your significant other Grand Theft Auto. Don’t get them something from the dollar store.  You might enjoy buying something cheap, but I guarantee they won’t like it.

Do the following: What you really want to do is listen and hear what they actually want and then buy the knockoffs because the real deal is probably too expensive.

For example if they wants Uggs, buy Fugs which will still tell her that you care as well as save you a ton of money.

Candy might be a great gift for an anniversary or Valentine’s Day, but on a holiday like Christmas it’s not that great of a gift.

As much as I hate to say it, an expensive gift is the way to go for the holidays.  It shows that you care. And if your gift is better/ more expensive than your significant others, it makes them feel bad.

Also if you don’t know exactly what your significant other wants or you just weren’t listening when they said it, you can never fail with good old fashion jewelry.

At the end of the day, something that comes from deep in the heart and even deeper in the wallet shall set you free from gift giving worries.