Bear Lake School board establishes a robotics team

Members of the Bear Lake Schools board of education discuss the merits of a robotics team. The board agreed on a 6-0 vote to proceed with a robotics team after receiving a $13,000 grant from Robotics First to start a program.

Members of the Bear Lake Schools board of education discuss the merits of a robotics team. The board agreed on a 6-0 vote to proceed with a robotics team after receiving a $13,000 grant from Robotics First to start a program.

BEAR LAKE — A robotics program will be coming to the Bear Lake Schools thanks a $13,000 grant from Robotics First.

Superintendent Marlen Cordes informed the board of education at Wednesday’s meeting the district has been approved for the grant. He said the Bear Lake team will be coached by science teacher John Prokes.

“Until the funding came through, we didn’t want to say much about it,” said Cordes. “It sounds like a lot of money, but from what I understand there are additional costs, but not that much. The funding is for two years.”

Cordes explained that the program isn’t where two robots are trying to destroy each other, but it is competition to do tasks like through a ball through a hole and things of that nature.

“It should be really good for our kids and there is $20 million is first time scholarships for seniors that are available to only students that are part of a first year robotics team,” he said. “There is a place on college common application there that kids can check, so it goes a long way.”

The program shouldn’t cost the district much according to Cordes. However, most of the competitions are held a great deal away.

“The first competition is in St. Joseph, but there is a meeting in Grand Rapids this weekend that should tell us more,” he said. “I knew this program was going to be a good one for kids who don’t do a lot of other extra curricular activities.”

Cordes said they are looking for area professionals in engineering, electronics and things of that nature that might help out with the program.

Board members voted 6-0 to establish the program.

The board also gave its approval to become part of the Great Lake Online Education group that is starting an online school. The Crawford-AuSable School District is starting up this program and Bear Lake Schools essentially don’t have to do anything for the program, but will receive a small stipend for every county student enrolled.

“There is no reason we have to enter into this agreement, but it is a nice thing to have in our back pocket if we need it,” he said. “There is probably a few thousand dollars to be made by joining it, but I am not totally comfortable with the special education piece on who is responsible for those students. (Manistee Intermediate School District superintendent) Jeff Jennette assures me there is nothing to worry about with it.”

Their are about 20 students from Manistee County that take part in the program and Cordes said they would get $500 per student for any students enrolled that live in the the Bear Lake district. They also would get a percentage of every other student from the county enrolled.

“These are kids that aren’t presently going to our school anyway, but it gives us the chance to get a couple thousand dollars,” said Cordes.

It was for a one-year agreement and Bear Lake has the option to leave the agreement at any time. The board agreed on a 6-0 vote to move ahead and join the group.

Another item to come before the board was a request from  members of the 2016 senior class who asked permission to take a senior trip in the spring. Eleven of the 28 seniors will be going on the trip over the Memorial Day Weekend to Washington, D.C. and New York.

Principal Sarah Harless explained why more of the seniors didn’t go this year.

“It was really two things as one was the cost and the other was some just weren’t interested in going,” she said. “What also happened is some kids worked harder than others at fundraising as they begin doing fundraisers that give the kids money when they are freshmen. We have had kids in the past who not only were able to pay for their whole trip that way, but they had spending money on top of it.”

Board members also had the opportunity to meet the new food service director Tim Klenow at Wednesday’s meeting who will be replacing Jenice Momber who is retiring from the position.


Posted by Ken Grabowski

Ken is News Advocate’s education reporter. He coordinates coverage for all Manistee County schools and West Shore Community College. He can be reached by phone at (231) 398-3125 or by email at

Leave a Reply