In The News

CHA Student at LSSU Virtual Shooting Range

VIRTUALLY ON TARGET – Randee Gage hones accuracy and reflexes during a session on Lake Superior State University’s virtual shooting range on June 27 in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. Gage, a student from Charlton Heston Charter Academy of St. Helen, Mich., practices under the watchful eye of LSSU criminal justice professor Herb Henderson, foreground. Gage’s group joined other regional schools and LSSU-chartered academies for a weeklong summer camp that develops leadership skills. Go to LSSU Edventures for details about other camps. (LSSU/John Shibley)


Charlton Heston Northwoods Boyhood

Check out this great article written by John J. Miller about Charlton Heston and his ties to St. Helen.

The iconic film star forged a lifelong bond with Northern Michigan in young days of hunting, fishing and acting out the books he read in hours of solitude.

CHA Board Members Attend Swearing In Ceremony

As newly appointed board members of a Michigan Charter Public School the board members of Charlton Heston Academy were invited to participate in a swearing in ceremony in the State Capitol Building Rotunda in Lansing on September 13, 2012. The ceremony was sponsored by the Michigan Council of Charter School Authorizers. Senator Phil Pavlov, Chair of the Senate Education Committee, did the swearing in and certificate presentation.

Richard Wood, Jennifer Jarosz, and Robert Olschefski were able to attend.

Following the ceremony the group took a tour of the capitol with board members from other statewide charter schools. Jarosz noted “it was an amazing experience.”

(left to right) CHA Secretary and Vice-President Richard Wood, Senator Phil Pavlov, CHA President Jennifer Jarosz, and CHA Member Robert Olschefski

 Reprinted with permission – Roscommon County Weekly October 5, 2012

Scrap Metal Drive Underway for Charter School

Rural Education Matters is holding a scrap metal drive to raise money for the programs and needs at Charlton Heston Academy. If you have a full load of unwanted metal you can take it to St. Helen Iron and Metal in St. Helen and tell them it is for REM. If you have small items that do not justify a trip over the scales then you can drop the items off in a trailer located at the building used by the Roscommon County Weekly. It is located at 10020 Woodlawn Dr. across from the Marathon station.

Additionally Judy Scroggin is still selling tickets for the Dinner Theatre which will take place on October 5 and 6. The presentation is two short comedies called “Laundry and Bourbon” and “Lonestar”. You can contact Judy at the Richfield Township Treasurer’s

Reprinted with permission – Roscommon County Weekly September 21, 2012 issue

Charlton Heston Academy Approves COOR ISD Contract

By Kevin Howe

Tuesday, September 11th was not only Patriot Day but also the first time that the Charlton Heston Academy Board of Directors were able to meet inside of the charter school in Saint Helen. With an agenda set and ready to go at 7:00pm, the meeting brought out some new ideas and locked in much needed information for parents and students.

Currently, there are 220 students enrolled at the academy. Class sizes are an average of 15 students per class in the middle school and 22 in the K-5 grades. Keeping sizes manageable comes from teaching assistants being added to the classrooms. There are currently two vacant classrooms. One will be used as an instructor workroom, and the other will be the new Headstart classroom, slated to be open in Mid- October. Most of the playground equipment has been removed, with the exception of a swing set and the boat structure, both were deemed salvageable. The board will start looking for grant funding for a new playground that is to be designed by the students.

The board will post a new position to be filled in the coming weeks. This position will be for a network support technician. There are still a few bugs to be worked out of the wireless setup within the building, and should be taken care of by KB Technologies when they arrive

Superintendent Dave Patterson and Chief Academic Officer Jason Sarsfield both noted how great the community is for supporting this academy from day one. Patterson noted, “We have a great community here. No other community in this country could have opened a school like this in under two month’s time.” Patterson also stated they are still receiving donations from the community for uniforms and bus tokens.

Chief Academic Office Sarsfield added a big thank you to the staff, students and the entire team for making things run so smooth during the first days of operation. He noted, “It is great to hear school kids in this building again.” “We have gotten off to a great start this year.” Sarsfield also noted the addition of new staff members. Karen Laframboise is the new first grade teacher and Kate Lepper will teach health and physical education.

Student assessments are starting to take place and will continue for the next few weeks, well into October. These assessments are varied in levels, and will be completed at least three times during a school year to measure success and areas that may need work.

Building repairs are nearing completion and permits are being issued. Currently, the academy has a 30-day permit from the fire safety code enforcement due to some doors and alarms not properly functional. Patterson assured everyone that the building “is safe.

Talks will begin next month about renovations and possible expansions with the current building. The addition of a garage type building is also being looked at for storage and maintenance. This building would need workspace and a shop area for repairs to be done.

The one-year contract with the COOR ISD for special education needs was brought to the table. Patterson stated, “Our student population is sitting at 20% classified as special education. Of that 20%, a majority are St. Helen children, and that number is constantly growing.” Currently, the contract is proposed with a cost of an estimated $75,000 for services offered by COOR to the academy. The board voted all in favor to approve the new contract.

Patterson commended Rural Education Matters (REM) for their efforts in fundraising. REM covered the bills for the academy on their first month. Consumers Energy, DTE and insurance bills were paid by REM. Patterson noted, “REM is there for us. Whatever we need, they take care of it.”

Talks were done about the community using the building and grounds for activities. Patterson brought up flag football pick-up games and basketball on different days. In an all in favor vote, the board approved for Patterson to make the judgement call on what and when activities would be allowed on a case-by-case basis.

In public comment, Patterson commended and thanked Mike Jarosz for helping and not accepting payment. Pam Colby noted that t-shirts were bought with the academy logo on them and are for sale. There are 114 on order. They will be for sale next week at the school and the Hen House Restaurant. A new fundraiser has been started which is a joint effort between REM and St. Helen Metal & Iron. The public can take their scrap metal into the recycler and have the money donated to the academy. Judy Scroggin is selling tickets for the dinner theatre being held at Kirtland Community College on October 5th and 6th. The flag fundraiser that was held raised $5000 that will go to new uniforms. It was asked of the board if fundraiser letters could be sent home with kids for the parents to read. Patterson said he was not totally opposed to the idea, but that the academy needed to be careful and make sure that “meaningful correspondence” was sent home. Pam Scott commented that all three newspapers were present and maybe they could help the fundraising by adding it to the articles. Mike Jarosz mentioned to the board the possibility of the kids having a fundraiser for the new playground. This was taken on by the board to be discussed at a later meeting. Richard Wood publicly thanked Jan Waltz for the donation of the old school building model. Patterson held up a beautifully carved and painted wood sign with the academy logo on it. This was made and donated by J&K Custom Woodworking of Saint Helen.

Reprinted with permission – Roscommon County Weekly September 14, 2012 issue

Charlton Heston Academy – Historical First Day

Beginning on April 24, 1973 St. Helen Elementary hallways were filled with laughter of young children as they journeyed through their elementary education. On June 10, 2010 the last bit of cheer ended in tears as staff and students said goodbye to their long time school. A school that had given way to generations of students. This was also the day that a community fought back the tears and put their foot down…demanding that this school closing be undone.

Through the leadership of Jennifer Jarosz and Veronica Bridson a group formed, known as Rural Education Matters (REM), to determine what they could do to make sure that the children of St. Helen would have a school to call their own. Through meetings, research, and presentations the group realized that they must pursue a charter school. A public school option for parents that would provide free enrollment, academic options, and an overall solution to an empty school building.

Forming alliances as far away as Lansing the group ventured out to advocate for their community. Meetings with the community were held and representatives of charter schools and various advocacy groups shaped the knowledge of REM members and supporters.

In 2011 a group known as MAPSA (Michigan Association of Public School Academies) approached REM to testify before the Michigan Education Committee in Lansing. MAPSA was lobbying for the cap on charter schools to be lifted. Following multiple trips to Lansing REM Board members formed alliances and shared experiences with multiple State Representatives which led in part to the passing of SB618 which in effect removed the cap on charter schools thus allowing state universities to provide more charters to communities seeking an educational option.

In the summer of 2012 it was announced that Lake Superior State University (LSSU) would provide a charter to REM for the opening of Charlton Heston Academy. On September 4, 2012, 2 years and months after the last day of class, the school building in St. Helen is once again filled with laughter and the tears are of joy. The school is currently home to 222 students in grades K-8.


Reprinted with permission – Roscommon County Weekly September 7, 2012 issue

Charlton Heston Academy Open House Fills School With Families

There was barely an empty space in the cafeteria of the Charlton Heston Academy (CHA) as parents, students, and faculty gathered for the 1st open house and orientation for the Academy. Superintendent David Patterson opened the meeting with a brief discussion on the Student Handbook and added additional emphasis on the section about bullying. Patterson noted that students need to understand what bullying is before making accusations and if bullying truly exists then they should immediately report the situation to staff for appropriate action. Patterson further stated that “this is the student’s school. We need to empower the kids”. This was part of his description of the academic focus the staff at the academy will have and how the individual assessments of each student, along with the parent’s input, will help mold the school to meet the student’s needs. “We need to hear from parents on their child’s needs. Parents are the best advocates for their children” stated Patterson.

Patterson introduced the Chief Academic Officer, Jason Sarsfield. Sarsfield first congratulated the families noting “you’re making a very important and bold decision. You’re putting your trust in us and we won’t let you down”. Sarsfield explained that the staff at CHA will provide the students with three things…”Love, Values, and a World Class Education”.

Sarsfield went on to explain that the K-8 started out with one class per grade but due to climbing enrollment the Kindergarten and 1st grade will be a much larger multi-grade classroom in which resources will be shared and others split based on the level of academic need each student requires. Sarsfield concluded by explaining that the students, parents, faculty, and community members are “making history” with the opening of CHA.

Patterson went on to note that “we’ve been told we should not do extended days and year round but we did it anyways because students need to be prepared”. He went on to explain that the students will not face retention loss from a summer break and will have an opportunity to achieve more in their academics than with a shorter school year. Furthermore Patterson explained the role of the teachers and their commitment to the academic success of the teachers noting the administrations responsibility to make that possible. “Our teachers are our biggest asset. We have to support them”.

Patterson also noted that there has been a lot of feedback on extracurricular activities. He pointed out that the Academy “needs the first month to evaluate academics”. Once they are on track they will begin investigating and implementing activities that are practical and reasonable for the community’s desire and needs.

Patterson discussed the condition of the existing playground noting that he made an “executive decision to not use the playground. It is not safe and should have been closed 20 years ago”. The intention is to remove the old equipment, scrape back the sand, and add topsoil and seed. Once complete the academy will start looking for ways to add playground equipment. Due to the efforts of the CHA Board the school has raised nearly $80,000 in donations that can help with the construction of a new playground area.

A representative from the Roscommon County Transit Authority was on hand to take questions. It was noted that the RCTA purchased two additional busses in anticipation of a community need for transportation to and from the Academy. They requested that families notify the RCTA of their intentions to use the public transportation. Patterson noted that every student will ride for only 75 cents. If the student(s) live outside of the 75 cent fare range then the Academy will “pick up 50% of the cost” to keep it at 75 cents.

Jim Perialas and Steve Morris were also on hand to introduce themselves as representatives of the Boy Scout leaders for Troop 944. They were there to encourage boys to sign up for the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts.

When asked what she thought of the current status of the school CHA Board President Jennifer Jarosz stated through tear filled eyes “three years ago we stood right here and said we were going to open a charter school and we have done just that”.

Reprinted with permission – Roscommon County Weekly August 24, 2012 issue

Charlton Heston Academy To Open As Scheduled

By Kevin Howe

At the scheduled board meeting for the Charlton Heston Academy on Tuesday, August 14th, board members had many positive changes to discuss. During the report by Superintendent Dave Patterson, he stated that Professional Development started on Monday the 13th, and will continue for fourteen days for all 25 staff members. “This is a time for everyone to get to know each other and work together as a team with the same goal, educating and caring for our children,” Patterson said. The board needs to get with other school districts on the release of student records so they can be evaluated on grades, goals and progress. Patterson commented on the student forum that was held last week as well. “We had a great turnout for that. We got great feedback from students and parents both. We registered numerous kids before and after the meeting.”

Patterson mentioned that the Open House would be held on Monday, August 20th to give enrolled students a chance to meet teachers and faculty, and to answer any questions parents might still have. This will be a great opportunity for the students and parents to tour the building and get comfortable with the Academy.

Building renovations are coming along nicely according to Patterson. While some areas are costing a bit more than expected, other areas are coming in well under what was expected. All painting and carpeting has been completed, and wiring and fire alarms should be complete in a day or two. Patterson stated, “We may not have every single issue up to code before the start of the school year, but we can file for a temporary occupancy permit allowing us to start on time. Rest assured, the building will be safer than it has been in many years.” The food service contract brought in one bid from Preferred Meals. This falls into line with the National School Lunch Program. They will provide breakfast, lunch, after school snacks and dinner for students that are at school beyond the 4:30pm time.

Chief academic Office Jason Sarsfield reported on the attendance of the student forum as well. He noted that the Academy currently has three teaching assistants, and may need to hire another one. The Academy is at full staff and has started their rigorous Staff Development program. Many staff positions have been filled with local residents and others from surrounding communities. Sarsfield mentioned the student performance assessment program, and how it will assess each student to measure where they are academically, and pinpoint what their needs are.

Dick Wood discussed the facility committee and its progress. “There is still a lot to get done, but nothing that will prevent us from opening the doors on September 4th,” noted Wood. The boiler system and air movement systems still need work, but systems are being brought up to code quickly and accurately. The Academy has inspections next week and all safety issues will be corrected and passed before the start of the school year. The new sidewalks around the north wing are almost complete as well. Wood made special note with saying, “We started with ten full pages of violations and code failures, but we are almost done with that in its entirety.” The playground will not be open and accessible due to safety issues. Staff and students will design a new playground at a later date.

Dave Fultz reported on the fundraising for the Academy. Presentations and lectures have been going very well. Roscommon has not been very receptive while St. Helen, Houghton Lake and West Branch have. Currently, $75,000 has been raised.

In old business, full approval from the board will allow the Academy to hire Hollie Stange as the official accountant at a cost of $1400 a month. A decrease from seven to five members on the board was passed by an all in favor vote. The amended school calendar was reviewed and passed with an all in favor vote. The school year will consist of 201 instructional days and 1,608 instructional hours.

Contracts were approved with all in favor votes. These contracts include Preferred Foods, Temperature Control, Inc., Weiss Plumbing, Commercial Electric and approval to use local hourly workers to fill in the gaps due to time constraints. Full in favor votes to reimburse Dave Fultz for the new sign and Dick Wood for printing costs passed. The parent and student handbook was reviewed and passed to be put into mass print and available for the open house. Full approval from the board allowed the new contract with Charter Communications and with Northern Sealcoating for the blacktop refinishing.

In public comment, Superintendent Patterson noted he was interviewed twice Tuesday by the Detroit Free Press on the charter school system, and the Charlton Heston Academy. Lynn Taylor, new librarian for the Richfield Public Library introduced herself and expressed a wish to work closely with the academy, and will help in any way possible to make the academy a success.

Charlton Heston Academy Superintendent David Patterson hands out questionnaires for students to fill out during a student forum held on August 8th. State Representative Bruce Rendon stopped in before a road commissioners meeting and chipped in for pizza for the kids. The Academy secured 12 new enrollments with the forum.

Reprinted with permission – Roscommon County Weekly August 17, 2012 issue

Charlton Heston Academy Signage Updated

Changes continue to take place at the old St. Helen Elementary Building as Charlton Heston Academy moves in. The sign out front now bears the name and mascot logo of the  Academy. A larger sign is on order which will sit atop the brick knee wall located on the opposite side of the entrance.


Reprinted with permission – Roscommon County Weekly August 10, 2012 issue

Charlton Heston Academy Uniform Policy Released

The Superintendent of Charlton Heston Academy, David Patterson, released the school’s policy regarding uniforms. The policy is detailed below in its’ entirety. For any questions you can contact Patterson at 313-622-9173.

“While fashion constantly transforms the reason for being in proper uniform does not. Students are in school to learn. Any fashion (dress, accessory, or hairstyle) that disrupts the educational process or presents a safety risk will not be permitted. Personal expression is permitted within these general guidelines. If a student has selected a manner of appearance that is beyond mere freedom of expression and disrupts the educational process or presents risk to themselves or others, they may be removed from the educational setting. Students must appear in a clean uniform each day of school; no student will be permitted in school if they are out of uniform. Upon an infraction, the parents will be contacted and the student sent home unless a satisfactory solution is found. Students who willfully fail to adhere to the dress code are subject to further disciplinary action.
The Charlton Heston Academy Board of Directors has approved the uniform policy as outlined below:
Uniforms can be purchased at any store. However, the Academy has chosen Land’s End as the preferred vendor. Parents and staff can access the Land’s End website for account creation and ordering at: or call 1-800-469-2222 or visit any Sears Store.
• Grades K-2; Blue polo shirt (either short sleeve or long sleeve)-must be tucked in
• Grades 3-5; Red polo shirt (either short sleeve or long sleeve)–must be tucked in
• Grades 6-8; White polo shirt (either short sleeve or long sleeve)-must be tucked in
• All students will be required to wear solid khaki-colored pants or shorts. In addition to pants and shorts, girls have the option to wear solid colored khaki skirts (at least finger-tip length) or jumpers. Girls are encourages to wear shorts under their skirts.
• The logo “Charlton Heston Academy” is not required. If you would like to get the logo on your child’s shirt please have it embroidered on the left upper chest area. Embroidery can be completed at the seamstress of your choice, but should match the logo at the bottom of this memo. Stitching should be white in color on the red and blue shirts, and blue in color on the white shirts. Again, this is optional altogether.
• A belt is not required; however, all students must wear pants/bottoms in an appropriate manner. For example, students will be required to keep their shirts tucked in and will not be permitted to wear their pants below the belt line.
• Students can wear appropriate shoes of their choice. This includes dress shoes or gym shoes. No open heals or open toes will be permitted. The Academy prefers that students wear either black or brown dress shoes with a matching belt. Again, this is optional altogether.
• Students enrolled in physical education classes will need to bring gym shoes. Students in grades 6-8 will also need to change into appropriate athletic clothing when they are scheduled for physical education class.
• Only red, white or blue v-neck sweaters; red, white, or blue v-neck sweater vests; and red, white, or blue cardigan sweaters may be worn on top of the required polo shirt. The v-neck and cardigan sweaters will still allow staff to identify polo shirt colors for each student. Sweaters are optional altogether.
Students who are representing the Academy at an official function or public event may be required to follow specific dress requirements. Usually, this applies to athletic teams, student activities beyond the confines of the school facility, cheerleaders, bands, and other such groups.
Uniforms for “physical education” may be changed as determined by the physical education teacher and Superintendent at a nominal cost to each student. The current physical education uniform consists of:
• Standard uniforms as listed above with gym shoes for grades K-5. Girls must wear shorts or pants; or shorts under their skirts during gym class
• Appropriate shorts or sweatpants, an appropriate t-shirt or top, sweat socks and gym shoes for grades 6-8
• Small earrings are acceptable; large hoops and large studs are not acceptable
During designated spirit days students will be allowed to wear Charlton Heston Academy Patriot apparel such as sweatpants, t-shirts, and sweatshirts. In addition, during ceremonial events, and as an incentive/reward for students alternative dress will be offered. These days will be identified throughout the school year.”

Reprinted with permission – Roscommon County Weekly July 20 issue