— To Tom Mills’ film and new media course at the Career-Tech Center, which is in its sixth year, is run through the Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District, and is now being recognized as one of the best in Michigan.

The Michigan Department of Education announced Tuesday that the CTC’s film and new media program had won the Excellence in Practice award, which is given to just one career and technical education program in the state. This marks the fifth time a program at the CTC has been honored with the award.

“For the future of the program, this is a great recognition that this is an industry that is really up and coming,” Mills said. “For our students, the fact that they can see the state has recognized this as a real industry is very important. It’s not putting wheels on a car; it’s not welding something together — but it really is making something.”

— To volunteers and visitors at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. During the first three weeks of the partial federal government shutdown, volunteers from the Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes helped to keep the national park clean. Unlike conditions at some other national parks, visitors to the dunes have treated the park with respect, said Kerry Kelly, chairman of the nonprofit organization’s board.

“The visitors to our park up here are very conscientious,” Kelly said. “We haven’t found any vandalism. We’ve found full trash cans, but never trash outside the trash cans.

“I’ve been very grateful for our visitors who have taken care of the park during the shutdown and haven’t trashed it,” he said.

— To the Grand Traverse Bay Gymnastics team, which won the All-Around Championship at the Winter Cup Classic in Birch Run last week.

— To a group of four students at Traverse City West Senior High School. Freshmen Hattie Holmes, Langley Nelson, Kale Cerny and Lainey Wickman were one of 241 groups at West that participated in a competition to have their proposed experiment conducted by astronauts on the International Space Station later this year.

That group was whittled down to 35, out of which three were chosen by a local board of review to be sent to Washington, D.C., for consideration in the Student Spaceflight Experiment Program. Now, three is down to one, and that one will be part of 40 experiments chosen from across the country that are strapped to a rocket and launched into the cosmos.

“I was confused at first when they told us we won,” Wickman said. “I was like, ‘Wait, are we just moving on to the next round or what? What’s happening?' And then they told us that we actually won. I didn’t really believe it at first.”