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      One student's quest to save the school budget

      Fourth grader Makenna Bryant knows first-hand what hands-on learning feels like. She's taken to heart her First Amendment right and started a petition, one that could save part of the Tahquamenon Area Schools.

      "I just felt like someone needed to step up and be the person to help our community," said Makenna.

      Armed with more than 360 signatures, she's hoping legislators in Lansing will listen. Starting next year, one of the fourth grade classrooms will be filled with sixth graders. It's just one of the changes being made due to budget cuts that's forcing the middle school to be shut down. Merging the middle school to the high school and elementary school will save $65,000, but officials say it's not enough to meet the $400,000 budget deficit.

      Superintendent Alice Walker says Makenna is one of many students feeling the pain of funding cuts.

      "She is frustrated; she sees sports opportunities that were once there that she no longer will have the opportunity for," said Walker.

      In the past, they've cut paraprofessionals and even looked into privatizing transportation. This year, there's nothing left to cut.

      "I choose to relocate students instead of cutting a teacher," Walker said. "I feel you need to have as many teachers in front of students as you possibly can."

      Behind Makenna's movement is her teacher, Ms. Wallace, who taught the students how effective a petition can be.

      "She wanted to do what she can do, and I want them to understand that just because you're not an adult, there are still things you can do to impact your local community," said Ms. Wallace.

      With a July 1 budget deadline, Makenna has little time to convince lawmakers. She hasn't taken her education lightly, and she hopes they won't either.