2017-04-13 / Columns

Omena News: Smarts find local tie, tasty pie during trip to California

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The Northport Arts Building was packed last Friday evening for the exhibit of the Northport Public School (NPS) stained glass show.

Fifty-two individual pieces of stained glass were produced by 36 middle school and 11 high school students. The stained glass became the centerpiece of a project to express gratitude.

Each student designed their own piece and identified a person to whom they wanted to give it to express their gratitude. Recipients included parents, grandparents, cousins, and others who were important to the artist. All students wrote an artist statement to accompany their art pieces.

These statements addressed who their recipient was and why this person was special to them. They discussed how they came to their design and how this image is special to their recipient.

Luis Roman, Grace Hester, and Lindsay Somero all received special Certificates of Excellence for their pieces.

Four teachers and one local artist worked with the students on the various aspects of the project. Art teacher Jen Evans was at the center of the effort. English teacher Donna Wilson worked with Middle School Students on written artist statements of gratitude, music teacher Allison Wodek helped with foiling aspects of the glass pieces, and science and set design teacher Steve Wetherbee worked with them on framing their pieces. Local stained glass artist Tom Woodruff was the expert instructor and tireless contributor to the project.

The idea of creating works of Stained Glass and creating a stained glass studio at Northport Public School began percolating as an idea when Tom’s daughter Lydia created a Stained Glass piece for her Senior Project. Her creation inspired another student, Jakob Hester, who asked Tom to teach him as his independent art project at the end of the school year. Even though school was out of session, Jakob worked tirelessly on his piece down at Tom’s shop. He created a beautiful stained glass lily for his mother as a gift.

Planning began full force at the beginning of the 2016 school year, and made possible by a grant received from the Leelanau Township Community Foundation’s Youth Advisory Council. Tom and Jen met countless times planning before the event was in full swing.

The students encompassed the essence of the theme of “Gratitude” as they took to working on their pieces. The entire middle school learned the art of Stained Glass. Once their pieces were completed they moved on to teaching the High School Community Art class. The whole concept of Community Art is to bring the students into the community and the community into the classroom.

An evening of “light and color” was a wonderful start to a beautiful spring-like weekend, even though things quickly returned to damp and chilly on Monday. Lots of snowbirds got back in time for that touch of warmth. Bruce and Judy Balas are back from Omena – South in Sanibel, Fla.


Bob and Mary Smart are back from their two-week road trip around the west, starting in Tucson with a loop around Phoenix, Palm Desert, Santa Barbara, La Jolla and back to Tucson. It was a tough job, Mary said, but somebody had to do it. They had a great visit with Susie and Phil Goldman in Scottsdale. Mary was quite taken with the canal they lived on with the electric motor pontoon boats drifting by. They visited Phil’s flagship sports bar “Goldie’s” where artichokes were on the menu with Phil’s secret sauce. From there, the Smarts headed to California where they visited Jim Reynolds and Pat Murphy’s new house in Rancho Mirage. They all went on a great hike on the San Andreas Fault and saw gorgeous blooms in the desert.

After visiting their son Andrew and a slew of cousins and in-laws in California, the Smarts headed back to Tucson on Route 78. Mary had read about a place in Julian, Calif. known for its pie, The Julian Pie Co., and was determined to make it one of their stops. Amazingly, in the pie shop they spotted an article from the Grand Rapids paper framed and hanging on the wall. It was about the opening of the Grand Traverse Pie Company franchise stores in Grand Rapids and it told the history of the company. It turns out that the founders of the GT Pie Company, Mike and Denise Bulsey, learned to make pies from Liz Smothers, the owner of Julian Pie Co. The Bulseys, transitioning from careers in California to relocate to Traverse City to raise their children, spent two weeks working in the Julian store. Liz Smothers then also flew to TC to help them with the opening of their first store. If that wasn’t small world enough, when Mary shared this story with a group of Omena friends, Jim and Kathy Miller already knew about it because they had gone to the Julian Pie Co. a number of times when they lived in Coronado.


This coming week is Earth Week, with Earth Day on April 22. Check out the Leelanau Conservancy website for special activities almost every day of Earth Week.


Happy Birthday to Becky Warner, Cheryl Huffman, Jim Miller, Caleb Kickbush, Elena Sica Mosher, Charlotte Lichtel, and Roger Edgley. I hope that everyone has a wonderful Easter.

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