MARQUETTE - The 24th annual Excellence in Education Day was held Friday to honor students from four school districts in the western end of Marquette County who received 4.0 grade point averages during the first semester of the school year.
A total of 187 students participated from Ishpeming, Negaunee, NICE and Republic-Michigamme public schools.
The all-day event started at Lakeview Elementary School in Negaunee where the students had a brief introduction of the day's events and enjoyed a complimentary breakfast.
Students experience what it’s like to use a wheelchair as part of an activity designed to practice empathy during Excellence in Education Day at the Marquette Regional History Center. (Journal photo by Matt Keiser)
The students were then divided into four groups, each participating in a different tour related to the iron mining industry. Tours included: Cliffs' Tilden Facility, Lake Superior and Ishpeming Transportation Division, Marquette Regional History Center, Marquette Ore Dock and the Maritime Museum.
The students experienced everything from riding the train to the Ore Dock in Marquette to learning the rich history of shipping on Lake Superior.
The Marquette Regional History Center's museum - one of the four tours - was where students learned about "80 Years at Bay Cliff Health Camp" through a special exhibit on display in the museum. The exhibit features old photos, videos and therapeutic devices donated from the camp.
Fran Darling, MRHC volunteer, played the role of Elba Morse - Morse being one of the founders of Bay Cliff - and the students learned first hand how Bay Cliff was founded and the early years of the camp.
Three other presenters spoke about their personal experiences as campers and staff members at Bay Cliff, giving testimonials of the struggles of being disabled and the rewards of overcoming or learning to cope with their disabilities.
Betsey Rutz, MRHC Museum Educator, said the highlight of Friday's events was hearing the stories of the speakers. She said it's rare that individuals get the opportunity to hear first hand experiences of being at the camp.
Rutz orchestrated the events at the museum with many other museum volunteers.
Following the presentation, students did a hands-on activity in empathy called "Walk in the Shoes of Others." In the activities, students experienced what it would be like to have a disability.
The annual event is sponsored by the West Marquette County Partners for Education - a partnership between Cliffs Natural Resources and the four western Marquette County school districts.
"Education has always been something that has been really important to Cliffs as a company," said Jennifer Huetter, district manager-Public Affairs, Michigan for Cliffs Natural Resources. "It's really great for the students to be recognized for that kind of achievement - receiving all A's is not easy - we are glad to be a part of it."
Matt Keiser can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 243. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.