2021 High Honors Students
GATHERED ON THE SPACIOUS OPS stage, directly following the annual Blue and Gold ceremony celebrating the class of 2021 on Tuesday, May 18, were some of the people involved in planning, organizing and financing the expansive structure, bringing a new era to the community with numerous scholastic and artistic opportunities for generations of students to come.
Included on the stage were school board members, administrators and educators – all coming together in support of the new PAC and to recognize high honors students for their accomplishments. Bruce and Jackie Cook (shown 4th and 5th from far right) were in attendance to represent the Cook Family Foundation, contributing $1.2 million toward huge technological and theatrical enhancements of the theater.
(Independent Photo/Karen Mead-Elford)
Owosso Public Schools introduced the new OPS Performing Arts Center (PAC) during the annual Blue and Gold ceremony, honoring high honors students in the class of 2021, on Tuesday evening, May 18. The PAC does not disappoint. This exemplary arts educational opportunity, enhanced through a $1.2 million donation from the Cook Family Foundation, seats 1,000 and includes an enormous stage that rises nearly 50 feet to the girders with plenty of room in the wings for props, rigging, lighting and nearly anything that might be needed for large-scale presentations and performances connected to scholastic or artistic efforts.
The Cook Family Foundation support allowed the huge, multi-purpose space to become a fully equipped auditorium, with no additional cost to taxpayers.
In her introduction, Superintendent Dr. Andrea Tuttle shared, “The original goal was to have all of you in for the entirety of this year. We were suppose to finish last summer, but something happened and there was a little bump in the road, but you will always be able to say you were the first to sit in this auditorium.” The bump Tuttle referenced was the pandemic.
“I am proud and grateful to our community for supporting public education,” Tuttle offered, giving special recognition to Bruce and Jackie Cook, who were in the audience. The Cooks received enthusiastic applause.
“The contractors installing the audio and visual equipment in this auditorium,” Tuttle continued, “have repeatedly said it is the best in the state and arguably, better than some on Broadway. So we are incredibly fortunate.”
Tuttle also acknowledged OHS Principal Jeff Phillips’ upcoming retirement, thanking him for “37 years of impeccable service to public education.” Tuttle said he has always been a “consummate gentleman and a tremendous human being. We need more people like him in the world.”
The OHS Madrigals performed the national anthem and the alma mater prior to awards being distributed to roughly 66 high honor students who have maintained a 3.5 grade-point-average or higher throughout high school. Following, the top 14 students awarded 14 educators with Starfish Awards – an OHS tradition to recognize teachers who have gone above and beyond in their positions.
The school district is nearing completion of the $45.5 bond project, approved by voters in 2017. The project will see the middle school and high school grades combined, though separated within different portions of the structure, into a centralized campus on North Street in Owosso. The district will be rejoining other school districts in the normal school calendar year, starting school prior to Labor Day this fall.