Spectator buses encouraged

Becky Vargo • Jul 21, 2015 at 12:20 PM

School officials are encouraging students to take one of the school buses to the game, Grand Haven Area Public Schools Superintendent Keith Konarska said.

“There’s no doubt people will reflect back on last year’s accident,” Konarska said, referring to a crash involving five students who were traveling in a car to the 2012 semifinal game, also in East Lansing.

All five girls were injured when the car rolled off I-96 near Lowell on March 16, 2012. Dani Michaels, Hannah DeVecht, Emily Bogner, Madison Case and Brittney Olds were all back in school for their senior year, high school Principal Tracy Wilson said in a previous story.

The driver, Michaels, lost her driver’s license for a year after she pleaded no contest to a charge of moving violation causing serious impairment of body function. She was also put on probation for six months when she was sentenced Nov. 15 in Ottawa County Juvenile Court.

Michaels, who was 16 at the time, had admitted to talking on her cellphone just prior to losing control of her car. Witnesses reported she was also driving at a high rate of speed.

Just like last year, a parental permission form has been made available to Grand Haven students who want to attend the semifinal basketball game, which tips off at 1 p.m. Friday at the Breslin Center on the campus of Michigan State University. Any student who wants to ride a spectator bus to the game, or who is traveling by private vehicle, has to have a form signed by a parent, Konarska said.

“School is in session,” he said. “It is a regular school day.”

There are no changes in the process from the previous year, said Assistant Principal Pam VanderKamp.

“We are encouraging as many students as possible to take the spectator buses,” she said.

Students who want to go to Friday's game must have their signed permission slips turned in by 3 p.m. today.

For a copy of the consent letter, download the RELATED FILE at the bottom of this story.

VanderKamp did not know how many spectator buses were lined up for this year's game. She said there were five buses used last year.

Senior player Abby Cole said the team played last year's championship game, which Grand Haven won for the Class A title, for the girls hurt in the March 16 crash.

“We’re hoping and praying that nothing like that happens this year,” she said.

Konarska said he knows everyone is really excited for the team again this year. The superintendent is hoping that he can clear his own schedule to go to the game.

“We know that everyone’s excited and enthused, as they should be,” he said. “We just ask that everyone save that enthusiasm for when they get to the game.”

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