Category Archives: Youth Project

Cross-Country Invitational

What started out as very early morning stormy weather on August 25th turned out to be one of our club’s most successful Cross-Country Invitational sponsored event last weekend at the Harper Creek High School sports complex. On the menu served up by our club for participants, coaches, parents and fans were free hot dogs (over 500!), chips, candy bars, apples, juice, coffee and water. Smiling faces and countless expression of thanks was well received by club members who donated their Saturday morning so the event could promote Optimism and support youth. Dr. Gary Gymer, who again chaired the event, extends a special thanks to the club members who volunteered their time. For more pictures and a brief summary of the event click on Cross Country Invitational under the Youth Service Projects on the main menu.2018-08-OptimistX-CountryWorkers12018-08-OptimistX-CountryFoodLine32018-08-OptimistX-CountryBoysFrSophStart2018-08-OptimistX-CountryHCBerning12018-08-OptimistX-CountryAwards2

2018 Harper Creek Optimist Open Tennis Classic Update

The Annual Optimist Tennis Tournament play starts at 6:00PM on Friday at the newly surfaced Harper Creek tennis courts with the Mixed Doubles starting the first round of their round robin format. There are two 5 team divisions designated as Red and Blue.  The winners of the divisions will meet for the championship on Sunday. Starting Saturday Mens A and Mens B tournaments each have 8 teams and will play a regular bracket tournament with a consolation bracket for first round losers. Womens Doubles will play a 2 match round robin format and the Youth Singles will have one match of play. To view the draws and obtain match times, click on the Youth Service Projects on the menu page and go to Tennis Tournament. There will be a drawing Saturday afternoon for various donated prizes; all participants will be eligible to win! The weather looks favorable, but in case of rain the tournament will move to the Minges Creek Racquet Club.

2018 Harper Creek Optimist Open Tennis Classic

The date for this year’s Harper Creek Optimist Open Tennis Classic is August 3 through August 5. It will be held at the Harper Creek High School Tennis Complex and the general tennis format will be the same: youth are encouraged to play singles and there are regular and mixed doubles divisions for adults. Youth and adults may enter not more than two tournaments and youth may also play doubles. Please click on the following link for all relative tournament information and to obtain an entry form:


Pictured below in action from last year’s tournament is the mixed youth/adult team of Ray Yager and Alexis Behnke plus the winning youth participants holding their trophies: Elise Norman and Andrew Hooker. To view pictures and results from previous tournaments click on Tennis Tournament under Youth Service Projects on the Home Page of this site.2017-08-OptimistTennisRayAlexis2017-08-OptimistTennisEliseAndrew

Optimist Junior International World of Golf

Under the direction of club members John Peruzze and Rich Peternel our club hosted the Optimist Junior International World of Golf at Binder Park Golf Course on June 13th.  The event was held this year in conjunction with the Calhoun County Junior Golf Tour and was the initial summer event for that program.

The star golfer of the event was 15-year-old Scott Yoder of Athens. He is a home schooled student and spends a good part of the year in Florida playing golf with his family. Scott shot a super 1-over-par 37 on the course 9-hole Marsh layout and a par-36 on the 9-hole Preserve layout for a 1-over-par total of 73, winning the Boys’ 15-18 division. Second place finisher was Darien Costa, of Harper Creek High School, who shot a combined total of 4-over-par 76. The Boys’ 12-14 age division (9 holes) was won by Parker Denney with a 48. The Boys’ 9-11 division winner, also 9 holes, was Spencer Denney with a 58. Winning the Girls’ 15-18 age division (18 holes) was Marie Mathieu shooting a 106. The Girls’ 12-14 division (9 holes) winner was Alexa Thurman with a 57.  Amiyah Gibson won the youngest Girls’ division (age 9 to 11), shooting a 52 for 9 holes on the Marsh course.

Our club chose Yoder, Costa and Gibson to represent the area at the State Optimist Tournament later in the month. Our club paid greens fees, offered lunch, awarded metals and trophies to the top divisional finishers, plus will pay the entry fees for our selected representatives at the State Tournament. Winning State players can move on to National and International competition.

Optimist Student of the Month

Our club’s general meeting at Moonraker West on May 3rd honored Harper Creek High School Students of the Month. The meeting was brought to order by club Vice-President Duncan Bailey. After the Pledge of Allegiance and the invocation, the students and their accompanying family members were greeted. Harper Creek High School Principal Dennis Anthony introduced the honored students and each gave a brief talk about their high school involvements and future academic plans. Students of the Month are selected monthly from the senior class by Harper Creek High School teachers relative to their superior academics and extra-curricular activities throughout their High School years. One student is chosen for each of the 10 school calendar months, but due to the busy upcoming end of the school year, the May and June honored students have been designated in advance. A meal was provided by our club for the students and their families. The meeting adjourned with a group reciting of the Optimist International Pledge.

Pictured below (L-R) are Students of the Month: Sean Fleisher, May 2018; Jonathon Taylor, October 2017; Molli Denney, December 2017; Dawson Bartlett, November 2017; Jena Wager, June 2018; Dakota Walbeck, September 2017; Kennedy Lewis, February 2018; Sophia Weller, April 2018 and Harper Creek High School Principal Dennis Anthony. Students of the Month Andrew Irons, January 2018 and Joseph Tatar, March 2018 were unable to attend the ceremony.IMG_6561

The September Student of the Month, Dakota Walbeck, was accompanied to the meeting by his parents Dave and Tiffany Walbeck.IMG_6564

The October Student of the Month, Jonathon Taylor, was accompanied to the meeting by Gary and Hannah Berning.IMG_6566

The November Student of the Month, Dawson Bartlett, was accompanied to the meeting by his father, Leon Bartlett.IMG_6570

The December Student of the Month, Molli Denny, was accompanied to the meeting by her mother Traci VanMiddlesworth.IMG_6572

The February Student of the Month, Kennedy Lewis, was accompanied to the meeting by her mother Tina Lewis.IMG_6568

The April Student of the Month, Sophia Weller, was accompanied to the meeting by her parents Bruce and Amy Lynn Weller plus sister, Grace.IMG_6580

The May Student of the Month, Sean Fleisher, was accompanied to the meeting by his parents Michael and Tina Fleisher.IMG_6574

The June Student of the Month, Jena Wager, was accompanied to the meeting by her parents Chad and Jill Wager.IMG_6576

Youth Appreciation Program

Those in attendance for our club’s weekly meeting on April 19th at The Moonraker West were privileged to hear from nine Harper Creek High School students who participated in the club’s Youth Appreciation Program. This program involves Harper Creek Senior students that are selected by the High School Staff relative to their excellence in demonstrating academic success leadership skills “job shadowing” a Harper Creek school administer for a day. The meeting was brought to order by Club President Dustin King and after the Pledge of Allegiance and Invocation; Harper Creek High School Principal Dennis Anthony presented the students that participated in the program. Each student introduced their family members accompanying them to the event and gave a brief talk about their experience and what knowledge they obtained from participating in the program. Meals were provided to the students and their family members by the Optimist Club. The meeting was adjourned by all in attendance reciting the Optimist International Pledge.

Pictured (L-R) in the front row are the honored students and who they “job shadowed”:  Sarah Hubbard – Wattles Park Principal, Brent Swan; Alyssa Crandall – High School Athletic Director, Ed Greenman; Emma Berning – Middle School Assistant Principal, Jason O’Farrell; Grace VanHorn – High School Assistant Principal, Lisa Crawford; Hunter King – School Director of Technology, Jim Maynard; Tommy Shaw – Harper Creek School Superintendent (and HC Optimist Club member), Rob Ridgeway and HC Optimist Club President, Dustin King. In the back row is Superintendent Ridgeway; Ryan McCafferty, who shadowed High School Principal, Dennis Anthony; Jackson Malone – HC Curriculum Director, Laura Williams; Drew Van Wagner – Beadle Lake Principal, Nneka Daniels and Principal Anthony, who also chaired the event.


Oratorical Contest

The Harper Creek Optimist Club hosted the Optimist International Oratorical Contest at the Harper Creek High School library on March 28th. Stacey DeMoss was again the club chairperson for the event; Harper Creek High School teacher Tiffini Hurley volunteered her assistance in promoting the program. Judges for the contest were Ron DeMoss, Rita Wooten and Paula Giestler.

The topic for this year’s speech was: Where are My Roots of Optimism? Each speech based on the topic was to be at least 4 minutes in length, but not more than 5 minutes without being penalized. Winning the contest and receiving a check for $300 from the Harper Creek Optimist Club was Harper Creek High School Junior, Brooklynn Baker. Placing in second place and receiving $200 was Harper Creek High School Freshman, Cailey Smead. The third place finisher and receiving a check for $100 was Harper Creek High School Freshman, Alainey Dugan and Harper Creek High School Freshman, Arly Crespo-Sandoval finished 4th and received $25. Brooklynn will move on to the District level contest and have a chance to win a $2,500 Scholarship. The contest continues on to a regional winner ($5,000 scholarship) and even a World winner ($15,000 scholarship).

Pictured below (L-R) are Harper Creek High School Teacher Tiffini Hurley, 1st place winner Brooklynn Baker, 2nd place finisher Cailey Smead, 3rd place finisher Alainey Dugan, 4th place finisher Arly Crespo-Sandoval and Harper Creek Optimist Club Chairperson for the event, Stacey DeMoss.  IMG_6532

To the right of Chairperson Stacey DeMoss are Judges for the event (L-R) Rita Wooten, Paula Giestler and Ron DeMoss.IMG_6536


Attention: Young Essayists

Our club is again sponsoring the Optimist International Essay Contest. If you do not turn 19 years of age by October 1, 2017 and are interested in winning the local writing contest for $300 (2nd place $200 and 3rd place $100) plus potentially the District contest for $2,500, here’s your chance to step up. This year’s topic is “Can Society Function Without Respect”. You must adhere to the rules of the contest. For specific information and an official entry form, please download the entry form: Essay Application & Rules 2018  The contest is open to all local youth and the deadline to enter your essay for judging is Friday, February 16th. Please submit your essay and entry form via email to or in hard copy to 4275 Capital Avenue SW, Battle Creek 49015 (an Optometry office). Harper Creek students can turn their essays in to Harper Creek Counselor, Stacey DeMoss. The entry form is a .pdf file fill-in form. The Sponsoring Optimist Club Name is Harper Creek Optimist Club and The Sponsoring Optimist Club Number is 17200. Please direct questions to 269-979-1561 and ask for Dr. Miller. On the website Menu click on Essay Contest under Youth Service Projects to view information and read the winning essays from previous years.


All-City Girls Golf

On October 3rd the Harper Creek Optimist Club sponsored their 19th All-City Girls Golf Meet on the nine-hole Preserve Course at Battle Creek’s Binder Park Golf Course. Harper Creek and Lakeview are the only city schools that now have a girl’s golf team and the meet was won by Lakeview 191 to 228. Our club again provided pizza, beverages, medals, the title trophy and t-shirts to all the participants. Special thanks to club member and founder of the event, John Peruzze and club member Richard Peternel for organizing the event.

Pictured below are the winning Lakeview team and the runner-up Harper Creek squad. The pictures were provided by Will Kowalski, Sports Editor of the Battle Creek Shopper. 2017-10-OptimistGirlsGolf12017-10-OptimistGirlsGolf2

Lakeview’s McKenna Evans was the medalist of the event with a round of 46.2017-10-OptimistGirlsGolf3