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My Town Kalamazoo: Celebrating a promise kept for a decade

My Town Kalamazoo: Celebrating a promise kept for a decade

KALAMAZOO, Mich.— A decade ago, Kalamazoo made a promise, which has now sent thousands of teenagers to college.

The Kalamazoo Promise is marking its ten-year milestone this year. Officials with the program say it is responsible for 4,000 scholarships totaling more than $60 million. 

The Kalamazoo Promise, which sparked a national movement, pays the full tuition of Kalamazoo Public School graduates who attend any college or university in Michigan.  Nearly 50 communities across the country have since adopted the free tuition model.

“In our city, that has meant changing our culture, knocking down barriers and raising expectations. We’ve really just begun, but we’ve accomplished so much already that the 10-year anniversary is a milestone we need to mark and leverage as we set the stage for the next 10 years,” said Von Washington Jr., The Kalamazoo Promise executive director for community relations.

My Town Kalamazoo: Chefs transform pantry goods into feasts in culinary competition

My Town Kalamazoo: Chefs transform pantry goods into feasts in culinary competition

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Local chefs will transform pantry foods into three-course feasts when a favorite competition returns to Kalamazoo next week.

Chefs Against Hunger will take place at Cityscape Events Center Tuesday, March 24.  Chefs must use ingredients from Ministry with Community’s pantry.  They’ll be assisted by a local celebrity sous-chef.

Chefs Against Hunger runs from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tickets are $40 each and can be purchased online or at the door.  The event will also feature a silent auction, raffle and a big announcement from Ministry with Community.

My Town Kalamazoo: $2 million gift means upgrades, scholarships for art school

My Town Kalamazoo: $2 million gift means upgrades, scholarships for art school

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Studio upgrades and a new series of scholarships are coming to the Kirk Newman Art School, thanks to a $2 million gift from a Kalamazoo couple.

Rosemary and John Brown announced their donation to the school during a reception at Kalamazoo Institute of Arts earlier this month.  Kirk Newman, who was a longtime director of the art school, was in attendance.

"Our decision to give to the Kirk Newman Art School at the KIA is based on our admiration of Kirk as a person and on our desire to validate his legacy," said Rosemary Brown. "Our hope is that the school will continue to thrive and to have an ongoing positive influence on the cultural life of the Kalamazoo area."

My Town: Girl Scout cookie munchers will have to wait

My Town: Girl Scout cookie munchers will have to wait

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.— The start of spring usually signals the return of the Girl Scouts’ traditional boxed treats, but cookie connoisseurs will have to wait even longer this year.

The Girls Scouts of Michigan Shore to Shore says local cookie deliveries will be delayed by four weeks.  Little Brownie Bakers, which churns out the treats, blames unexpectedly high demand for cookies.

"[Our forecast] has resulted in a tightness in cookie inventory and an inability to meet cookie orders at the dates originally requested," explains sales director Brenda Smith. "The situation was made worse by winter weather that resulted in a plant shutdown for two days in February and an ingredient delivery delay in late February."

Little Brownie Bakers is working around the clock to fill all orders.  All requested boxes should arrive in West Michigan the week of April 13. 

My Town: Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra announces 2015-2016 season

My Town: Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra announces 2015-2016 season

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The Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra is excited to announce its 2015-2016 season. From the programming to the artistry, each performance, composition, and note promises to be better than the last, so stay tuned!

In the new season, the KSO’s Symphonic Series invites a stellar lineup of virtuosic guest artists, including internationally-acclaimed French pianist Pascal Rogé, Kalamazoo Symphony’s own Principal Flautist Yukie Ota, Principal Cellist of the renowned Philadelphia Orchestra, Hai-Ye Ni, the May 2015 Stulberg International String Competition winner, among others. Music Director Raymond Harvey leads the orchestra in one moving work after another – beginning with Tchaikovsky’s 4th Symphony, followed by Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony and Fauré’s Requiem, and concluding with a rousing performance of Stravinsky’s Petrouchka preceded by Elgar’s Cello Concerto.

My Town Kalamazoo: Experience downtown with Girlfriends Getaway Feb. 28

My Town Kalamazoo: Experience downtown with Girlfriends Getaway Feb. 28

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More than 15 businesses in downtown Kalamazoo are coming together to offer a day out on the town for the ladies.

The second year event will take place on Saturday, February 28 with a variety of activities going on all day starting at 10 a.m. There’s something for everyone from mixology and wine pairing classes, to health and beauty options including yoga, an into to pilates and barre, and essential oil making. For those interested in crafting, there’s even an opportunity to "make your own tote bag."

"We wanted to create an experience downtown, for women to explore Kalamazoo and have a whole day of fun with their girlfriends," said Dana Schmitt from the Downtown Kalamazoo Retail & Restaurant Association.

My Town Kalamazoo: Marti Hearron's final gift to WMU establishes a fine arts professorship

My Town Kalamazoo: Marti Hearron's final gift to WMU establishes a fine arts professorship

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After decades of joyfully supporting the fine arts and students at Western Michigan University, the late Martha "Marti" Hearron of Kalamazoo made one final major gift to be revealed only after her death.

Hearron, a renowned biostatistician for the Upjohn Co., died Nov. 29. Her estate included a $2 million gift to WMU that will establish the Arthur E. and Martha S. Hearron College of Fine Arts Distinguished Professorship. It also will provide funding for some of her favorite arts programs as well as endow a new Medallion Scholarship for students in the fine arts.

The gift, and the fact that the endowed professorship is the first in College of Fine Arts history, were announced Feb. 5 by Dean Daniel Guyette at the college's annual Dance Advocacy Award ceremony that was part of the Winter Gala Dance Concert.