It’s official. After several years of planning and organizing, along with hundreds of hours of volunteer time, the transfer of ownership of Old Mission Peninsula School (OMPS) from Traverse City Area Public Schools (TCAPS) to the nonprofit Old Mission Peninsula Education Foundation (OMPEF) is now complete.
The transfer of ownership was celebrated with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the school on July 1, 2018, followed by a picnic at Bowers Harbor Park. Foods were provided by Tom’s Food Markets and Ham Bonz of Traverse City, and cold foods were kept cold with a cooler truck from OMP’s Wunsch Farms.
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Representatives from the OMPEF, OMPS Board of Directors, and Grand Valley State University (GVSU), which awarded OMPS its charter on July 14, 2017, spoke about the magnitude of the event, with GVSU President Thomas Haas calling the collaboration with OMPS groundbreaking and innovative, one that he hopes other charter and potential charter schools will look to for leadership.
OMPEF President Allison O’Keefe praised GVSU for their support, adding that the new OMPS is the result of many volunteers, donors and hard work.
“The ceremony was a perfect culmination of all the hard work that people have done in order to help bring our school back home,” said OMPEF President Allison O’Keefe. “We were overwhelmed by the support given by Grand Valley State University, and having their president and associate vice president for charters at the event just acknowledges all of the hard work and value of education on Old Mission Peninsula.”
Other representatives from GVSU included Rob Kimball, Associate Vice President for Charter Schools; Don Cooper, Deputy Director for Charter Schools; Erin Abel, Programs Coordinator; and Michael Cousins, Communications and Technology Specialist.
Old Mission Peninsula Brownies and Boy Scouts led the attendees in the Pledge of Allegiance at the ceremony, which also included a few words from Peninsula Township Supervisor Rob Manigold, who noted that he was in the first class at OMPS when it originally opened in the 1950s.
The ceremony also marks the start of operations for the new OMPS, which will open as a tuition-free public school on Sept. 4, 2018. With small class sizes and a curriculum which utilizes the school’s one-of-a-kind campus, OMPEF and OMPS officials promise that the school will continue the tradition of high academic achievement and will also see the return of favorite traditions like science class at the pond, bottling maple syrup, and hosting the annual school carnival.
A community-based grassroots effort to save the school has been underway since 2015. To date, more than $1.75 million has been donated, with donations ranging from $15 to several hundred thousand dollars. This includes $1.1 million raised to buy the school back from TCAPS. This effort has been led by a volunteer group who founded the non-profit 501(c)(3) OMPEF.
However, additional funds are still needed to cover start-up costs prior to when the State of Michigan sends the new school its per pupil funding, which will not happen until late October 2018.
Specifically, funds will go towards upgrading the building’s technology, security systems and connectivity; hiring teachers, school leaders and support staff; purchasing curriculum and gym equipment; providing professional development for the teachers and staff; developing language, art, music, fitness and media programming; and providing food service.
“The Old Mission community and school needs our help to cross the finish line in September,” says Jen Coleman, an alum of OMPS (sixth grade class of 1977) who is now the director, vice-president and treasurer of the new OMPS Board of Trustees. She notes that every donation big or small makes a difference. Donations may be sent to the Old Mission Peninsula Education Foundation, 4007 Swaney Road, P.O. Box 171, Old Mission, MI 49673, or online here.
Also, watch for information about walking with the OMPS float in the Cherry Festival. We’ll report it here on Old Mission Gazette as soon as we have details.
Check out a few photos from the ribbon-cutting ceremony at OMPS and picnic at Bowers Harbor Park.