Friday, November 22, 2019

Justin Purchase - Class of 2012

Welcome to Benzie County Central Schools featured Friday Alumni....today 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!


Friday, August 3, 2018

Ashley (Kriskywicz) Knox - Class of 2005


WELCOME TO BENZIE COUNTY CENTRAL SCHOOLS FEATURED FRIDAY ALMUNI.  Today, we would like to recognize Ashley (Kriskywicz) Knox, Class of 2005.  Ashley was kind enough to share this with us.
“When I think back to my time at Benzie, my best memories are singing in the choir.  I sang all four years, one in the choir and the final three in the Madrigals.  It was because of the amazing instruction and guidance I received by both Mr. Whaley and Mrs. Case, that I was able to obtain scholarships to college and sing in some of the best choirs in the state.  After I graduated from Benzie in 2005, I attended a semester at Grand Valley State before transferring to Adrian College where I obtained my Bachelors in Psychology.  While at Adrian, I sang all four years in the College and Chamber Choirs.  The summer before my Senior year, the College Choir was selected as the choir to represent Michigan in the North American Festival Chorus for the 2008 Summer Olympics Music Festival in Beijing, China.  We spent 12 days exploring and experiencing things I had only ever dreamed of; walking and climbing the Great Wall, visiting the Terra Cotta Soldiers, and the Forbidden City.  I believe if it had not been for the foundational skills that I learned under Mr. Whaley and Mrs. Case at Benzie Central, I would not have had such success in my choir career and experienced the things that I did.
In the summer of 2009, after graduating from Adrian College I married my high school sweetheart, Ray Knox (’05) and we moved across country to Phoenix, Arizona where I graduated with my Masters in Clinical Psychology and worked towards my Psy.D (Doctorate of Psychology) in Clinical Psychology.  I had the great opportunity of working and training at the Arizona Department of Juvenile Corrections where I conducted individual and group therapy to adjudicated teenage girls.  I also was able to work for a local non-profit, Southwest Human Development- Good Fit Counseling Center, where I worked as a Child Therapist conducting therapy with children birth-5 and their families.  
While in my 2rd year of the doctoral program, Ray and I found out we were expecting our first child.  On April 23, 2014 we welcomed our son, Easton, into the world.  That same year, we decided that after spending almost 5 years in Phoenix, it was time to return to Northern Michigan and raise Easton around our families.  We moved back to Michigan the beginning of January in 2015.  In July of 2015, we found out we were expecting our second child and welcomed our son Rhys (pronounced Reece) on February 5th 2016.  After learning I was pregnant with Rhys, I made the decision to stay home with Easton and spend that quality time with him before his brother was born.
 It wasn’t until August of 2017 that I finally decided to return to work.  Easton was starting school at the Cooperative Preschool at Crystal Lake, and Rhys was over a year old, so I felt it was a good time.  I started a part-time job at Big Jon Sports in Interlochen, doing odd and end jobs from running machines to packaging product.  I quickly moved to full-time to my current position as the Purchasing and Inventory Manager, working closely with vendors purchasing material and product used to manufacture our manual and electric downriggers and rod holders.  I am also currently in the process of studying for the EPPP, which is the licensing exam to obtain my Master’s Limited Psychologist’s license so I can practice and work in the state.
As you can imagine, I am a busy, working momma.  I am right in the thick of raising two beautiful boys and doing what I need to in order to provide for them.  But when I do find down time, I enjoy spending quality time with my family whether it’s at home watching a movie, or driving around finding a crazy adventure.  There is nothing like being back home and raising my children in Benzie County.  I could not be more proud to say that I am a Benzie Central graduate and more excited that my children will follow in their dad’s footsteps and mine and attend Benzie Central as well.”
Thank you Ashley, for sharing your journey with us.  We are in fact #OneBENZIE proud and wish you and your family continued success and happiness.  We are also very excited that your boys are going to be future HUSKIES.  You know how Mrs. Crossman feels…like, love and share!