Friday, April 8, 2022

Luc Blazejewski - Class of 2005


Luc Blazejewski entered the Benzie Central School System in 7th grade. His father, Mark Blazejewski (aka Mr. B or “B”), had been teaching in the high school and middle school for many years. It was a weird experience technically being the “new kid” yet growing up playing in the halls of Benzie Central and knowing most of the staff.  Luc was involved in many things, most notably, playing trumpet in the band and the varsity sports of baseball, football, and soccer. Academically, he was very focused on math and science courses. He enjoyed courses taught by Cheryl Smith (Spanish), Gary Waterson (Chemistry and Physics), John Gehring (Biology), Kathryn Wolterink (World Lit), and Michael Eagan (Symphonic Band). Reflecting after a lifetime (17 years post-graduation), the quality of the teaching staff at Benzie Central and the desire of the teachers to provide interesting courses and lessons with the resources available was quite remarkable. Luc feels very fortunate for the education and experiences he received during his time at Benzie.

                Luc graduated in 2005 and departed for the University of Toledo- Go Rockets! His love for science set him on a path to pursue medicinal chemistry. As typical with many grandiose plans, Luc learned bench science was not for him. Fortuitously, he met a group of professors in the College of Pharmacy studying pharmacy administration, pharmacoeconomics, and social sciences. He found researching these topics more engaging and went on to complete his summer practicum, honor thesis, and a Master of Science degree in Health Outcome and Socioeconomic Sciences. Through his graduate degree he became aware of global health challenges regarding infectious diseases and steered his career pursuits in that direction. He was able to receive a scholarship to attend the University of Pittsburgh to pursue a Master of Public Health in Infectious Diseases and Microbiology in a program with a 2-year Peace Corps component.

                Global health prospects after completing graduate school were hard to come by. In 2015, Luc moved back to Toledo to assist a fraternity brother grow his community retail pharmacy, overseeing business and clinical operations. They experienced rapid growth opening two additional pharmacies, expanding the company from 7 to 30 employees from 2015-2017. Luc realized there were more career opportunities in general healthcare administration. He returned to Pittsburgh as the Quality Management Coordinator of a Ryan White-funded HIV clinic from 2017-2019. At the end of 2019, Luc transitioned into consulting as a Clinical Transformation Consultant- Primary Care at Highmark Health, a regional Blue Cross Blue Shield health insurance company. He recently accepted a position as a Senior Consultant for ProspHire, LLC, a boutique healthcare management consulting company in Pittsburgh in August of 2021.

                Luc currently resides in Pittsburgh, PA with his wife Kirsten. They were married in 2019.  Kirsten is Canadian and they met while Luc was living in Toledo. Completing a visa process ranks among one of their top accomplishments as a couple along with a 3.5-year home renovation project, which started with gutting the entire house. Kirsten and Luc are eagerly awaiting the birth of their first child in August of 2022.

                If Luc can offer any useful advice, it is to spend more time asking “why not” and “how” to the random opportunities which present themselves over a lifetime. Life is weird and unpredictable; I encourage you to embrace the chaos and see where it takes you. Good luck and Go Huskies! Please do not hesitate to reach out.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Ryan Sass - Class of 2018

Congratulations to Benzie Central alumni, Ryan Sass.
“Congratulations to Special Deputy Ryan Sass! He received his Marine Patrol Training Certificate in May! Ryan completed 40 hours of marine law enforcement training, instruction and skills testing.
If you see him on the water this summer, say HI!
We are proud of you, Ryan!

Lauren Nordbeck - Class of 2018

Benzie Central alumni, Lauren Nordbeck.
Class of 2018.
What is she up to?
Lauren is currently working on, and near finished, with her CCAF (Community College of the Air Force) Associates Degree. She is certified on all weapons systems and routinely carries on the job. Lauren just completed a Heavy Weapons proficiency course. This week alone, she has provided 60 hours of security for the Air Forces nuclear assets.
Given COVID-19, she is anxiously awaiting to tackle something new. Mrs. Crossman is thinking we need to send a little liking, a whole lot of loving, and a ridiculously crazy amount of sharing to send bucket fulls of love and support to Lauren Nordbeck. Lauren follows our page, and I am sure she would relish in the community support.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Justin Purchase - Class of 2012

Welcome to Benzie County Central Schools featured Friday we would like to recognize Benzie Central 2012 alumni, Justin Purchase.
In June of 2015, Justin enlisted in the Army. On November 2nd, 2019, Justin was promoted to sergeant where he is stationed at JBLM (Joint Base Lewis-McChord) near Lakewood, WA.
We at Benzie Central both congratulate and celebrate you, Justin. Thank you for your service. Oh the places you will go......
You know how Mrs. Crossman is feeling....this is another Benzie Central like, love, and share!

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Ashley Parrotte - Class of 2008

Welcome to Benzie County Central Schools featured alumni....Ashley Parrotte. Ashley graduated from Benzie Central in 2008. She is currently a Patrol Division Police Officer for the Fourth Precinct of the Virginia Beach Police Department. She has been with the Department since March of 2017.
"On Sunday, December 23, 2018, Officer Ashley M. Parrotte responded to an assist rescue case at Indian River Road/Military Highway. A citizen driving by witnessed an older female collapse as she was crossing the street and her male companion attempting to revive her on the median. When Officer Parrotte arrived, she observed the male attempting to perform chest compressions the best he could on the victim, who has a know history of heart problems. Office Parrotte assessed the victim's condition, and, recognizing she was unresponsive and did not have a pulse, she immediately began CPR. Officer Parrotte continued giving chest compressions until Fire and Rescue arrived and took over. The victim was transported to the hospital where she was taken into surgery to clear an obstruction in an artery. EMS Zone 14, Brian Rowland credited the quick actions of Officer Parrotte as being instrumental in the victim's survival and recovery. For her quick and decisive lifesaving actions, Officer Parrotte was awarded the Lifesaving Award at the 2019 Virginia Beach Police Department Annual Awards Ceremony"
We at Benzie Central both congratulate and celebrate you, Ashley. You know how Mrs. Crossman feels, this is a Benzie Central like, love, and share!

Friday, August 17, 2018

Matt Block - Class of 1992

WELCOME TO BENZIE COUNTY CENTRAL SCHOOLS FEATURTED FRIDAY ALUMNI.  Today, we would like to recognize Matt Block, class of 1992.  Matt was kind enough to share the following with us.

“While in high school, I was an active member of FFA, and played football. Through both of these organizations, I learned how leadership, communication, and hard work are the foundation to build any career or activity. After graduating from Benzie Central High School in 1992, I attended classes at Northwestern Michigan College and later transferred to Michigan State University, earning my BS in Civil Engineering in 2000. I am currently an engineer for the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), where I have been since 1997.   I began in the coop program while still a college student.  In 2004, I earned my Professional Engineer’s license. This has been a rewarding career from the standpoint of being able to work one on one with various villages, cities, counties, and individuals throughout the lakeshore counties between Holland and Manistee. 

In 2000 my wife, Melanie and I were married, and our jobs led us to buy a house just outside of Ravenna, which is a small town between Grand Rapids and Muskegon, and reminds me very much of the area in which I grew up.  Melanie is an Ag Teacher, as was my dad, Jerry Block, at Benzie Central. We have two sons, Peyton (13) and Trevor (15), that attend Ravenna Schools, where they are both active in sports and other community events. 

Just as when my wife and I were young, our kids are very involved in 4H, and we are both very active leaders/volunteers for Muskegon County 4H.  We believe in serving the community, and feel that passing these skills on to local youth is very important.  

In addition to 4H, most summer weekends you can find us cheering while our kids race motocross throughout most of Michigan. Although some regard this a dangerous sport, there is a lot to learn about focus, perseverance, and learning/refining a new skill. 

Although I do not make it back up to Benzie as often as I would like, my memories of being a Husky live on! “

Thank you Matt for sharing your story with us.  We are in fact #OneBENZIE proud.  Continued success and happiness for you and your family always.  You know how Mrs. Crossman feels….like, love and share! 

Friday, August 10, 2018

Jason Sheffer - Class of 2002

WELCOME TO BENZIE COUNTY CENTRAL SCHOOLS FEATURED FRIDAY ALUMNI.  Today, we would like to recognize Jason Sheffer M.B.A., Class of 2002.  Jason was so very kind to share his journey with us.  He speaks highly of his time at Benzie Central, and we could not be more proud of this alumnus.  Jason, shared this, “Throughout life, events and interactions help form your values, attitudes and beliefs (VABs). VABs are shaped in your early childhood by your family, friends, classmates and close role models. I attended Benzie County Central Schools my entire life. From my first day of stepping on the bus for young 5’s to my last day as a senior, I always felt that I formed relationships with individuals that wanted me to be successful. Some of my best memories at Benzie were when things were challenging. The challenges I was presented with could have been trying to learn a second language, preparing for a test or trying to make it to the state finals in a sport. The reason why I feel these were my best memories, of all the events above, is because I never felt alone. There was always someone I could lean on, whether that be a friend, advisor, teacher or even a community member. My parents always told me to invest relationships that matter and always assume positive intent, this was also true about the individuals above.

I attended Platte River Elementary School, which I thought was one of the best schools I have ever been to. To this day, I still think this as my kids are in elementary school. Platte River Elementary is my benchmark. The teachers, Principal (Mr. Brougham) and even the Janitor (Randy Knapp) made everyone believe they mattered. When I look back, I was being prepared to be my best self by each of these relationships. A few of my fondest memories are working for red hot candies (a.k.a. 3rd Grade Mr. Misner’s class), sledding down the hill on my roll up red sled, or getting on the bus to go skiing at Crystal Mountain after school. When I think back, I reflect on Ms. Wilcox as one of my favorite teachers because she was able to watch my class grow since she was our kindergarten teacher and later our 6th grade teacher. Later she would check up on me during high school, which made me feel valued.

All of this happened before I was old enough to attend Benzie Central High School. I could not wait to get to Junior High where the “Big Gym” was at! While I was in high school, I ran cross country and track and field. Cross country was my life. I was not the best but I was competitive. My coach, Elden “Pete” Moss, once stated in a newspaper that I ran like Charlie Chaplin…. I really did not know who that was, so I used AOL dial-up to look that up. While I never won the Golden Mile at the Cherry Festival I did lead most of the way. I came in second twice and would have won this year (2018) by 20 seconds if I ran as I could back in the day. I tried to play basketball, and honestly…. I was horrible at it. Although it was a challenge for me, it kept me in shape. I was also involved in Key Club, the 4H extension, and numerous volunteer activities. One program board that I really enjoyed was Saturday Night Jive that I co-chaired with Morgan Feger. Saturday Night Jive was a bi-weekly program sponsored by the MSU extension office for high schoolers.

As high school was coming to an end, I always knew I wanted to be like some of my favorite teachers. I have named a few, but some of my other role models were Mr. (Kevin) Kennedy (gave most of my close friends and I nicknames - mine was “ShefDogg”), Mr. Pallin, Mr. Waterson, Mr. Gehring and Mr. Blazejewski, Mr. (Blair) Moss, Mr. Kubit, Mr. Carter and  Mrs. (Cheryl) Smith.

After I graduated from Benzie in 2002, I attended Central Michigan University. In my first biology class at CMU, I could not believe we were covering the same material covered in Mrs. Huddleston’s / Mr. Blooms class in 7/8th Grade. That was one of the best feelings I could have experienced as a freshman; I was prepared for a college course, even though my school district was small. I started pursuing a degree in education since I wanted to be like my role-models. I wanted to become a high school teacher. Through the 5 years I was at CMU, I explored several different majors and ended up falling into a career that I could combine all my school experiences together and be very successful in the healthcare field.  In 2007, I earned my Bachelor of Science in Health Administration with a minor in Community Health from CMU. To this day, I am able to represent CMU by sitting on the Health Administration Division Advisory Council that advises the Health Administration program.

During my time at CMU, I was a full-time student with a full-time job; I worked at a restaurant so I could graduate with no student debt. In the summers, I worked for Elmer’s Crane and Dozer to save up money to pay that lovely tuition bill. Even though I worked full time, I was still able to meet some of my best friends and my wife at CMU.  

On my very first day at CMU, during Welcome Weekend, I met my amazing wife, Amanda. It took two years to win her heart, but it was well worth it.  After we were married, we traveled throughout the United States before starting our family. We have two sets of twins – Emily and Ethan, who are 7 years old, and Troy and Trent, who are 4 years old. We also have a baby due in October, but just ONE baby this time. As a family, we enjoy going to festivals all over Michigan. My kids really like animals, so we also spend a lot of time at zoos. We have made several trips to Disney World as a family.

After I graduated from CMU, I started working at MidMichigan Health (Headquartered in Midland, MI) as a Benefit Coordinator for the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Through this opportunity, I was able to network with many people within the organization, which led me to be the second corporate employee in the company as a Business Technical Coordinator in the Human Resources department. After spending a few years traveling to all of the subsidiaries, my goal was to standardize technology for all employees and train leaders on these technologies. My next role was to do the training and change management design of MidMichigan Health’s first electronic medical record system, Cerner. I worked for a leader similar to the teachers I had a Benzie. Lynn Bruchhof guided me to use my strengths and made me a true change agent in this role. I am forever grateful to her. I was also able to find time to achieve my Masters of Business Administration from the DeVos Graduate School at Northwood University in 2012.

With a lot of effort, I was able to create a Corporate Organizational Development and Training Department with my director, after the Cerner project ended. Subsequently, I worked as an Education Specialist and led the learning technology strategy for the entire organization. Quickly, I was promoted to Supervisor. I was able to practice management with a group of eight direct reports.  During this time, I was able to secure a Herbert H. Dow and Grace H. Dow grant for $1.5 million to start a program for clinical excellence in nursing and provider education. This ended up turning in to a $3 million simulation center in one of our brand new buildings. The amazing thing about the company I work for is that the culture is very similar to the one I experienced at Benzie. My co-workers and leaders are teachers. When my director left for career advancement, I was appointed to my current role due to the prior experiences that prepared me to hit the ground running.

As the Corporate Director of Organizational Development and Training, I am responsible for and oversee cultural integration of new subsidiaries, employee engagement, leadership development, clinical education, simulation centers, clinical certifications, a nurse residency program and several Magnet hospital initiatives. This job spans 23 counties and 8000 employees, providers and volunteers. There are over 35 nurses, therapists, professionals, technology specialists and trainers I collaborate with daily. I am also the Director of our American Heart Association Training center which has 99 instructors that report through this function.  In the Organizational Development Director role, MidMichigan Health has received national recognition in multiple different categories, with our latest one being a top three nomination for Cornerstone OnDemand’s RAVE award (Learning Strategy Innovation). Out of 3200 companies in 22 different industry sectors, the strategies that I spearheaded were among the best of the best in 2018. These nominations and recognitions have allowed me to travel to national events to speak about my experiences and knowledge.

I am a Fellow Candidate with the American College of Healthcare Executives, STEM advisory council member at several high schools in Midland County, Chamber of Commerce Young Professional Board Member, elected board member of the Board of the American Health Council, technology reviewer for KLAS, SHRM Member, CMU Site Preceptor for Health Administration, Talent and Development member and am involved in many other national and regional programs. On top of all that, I am also the owner of a small lawn care business that I started to help pay off debt from my master’s degree.

In summary, I feel that way I lead, parent my children and actively participate in the community were developed and practiced at “MY Benzie.” My Benzie shaped my values, attitudes and beliefs to make me my best self.  I really could not have had a better experience than what I had at Benzie County Central Schools.”

Jason, we are in fact #OneBENZIE proud.  Continued success to you and your family always.  You know how Mrs. Crossman feels…like, love, and share!