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Kids Read, Principal Flies


Students flock around their principal
Students flock around their principal

Page Elementary Principal Michael Gelmi was literally sky-high over his students reading more than 850 books in their Battle of the Books this year. For reaching the goal, he told his students he would reward them by skydiving over the school, and that’s what he did May 22.

Students, teachers and parents wearing TK orange lined up near the school the day of the dive to watch Gelmi. A circle with “Mr. Gelmi Land Here” was painted on the grass. He didn’t land very near the circle, but that’s not what mattered to him. Getting the students reading was the most important thing, he said.

Principal Michael Gelmi flies down after jumping out of the plane
Principal Michael Gelmi flies down after jumping out of the plane

Wearing a Thornapple Kellogg T-shirt over his jumpsuit, he admitted he teared up a bit when making the jump. He also wondered “Why am I jumping out of a plane?” he said. Skydive Hastings assisted with the dive.

While his wife Deb Weiss-Gelmi was calm as a cucumber watching him dive, she did have to call his worried mom. “Is he down? Is it over? Is he OK?” she asked, all to the answer of “yes.”

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Linda Odette
Linda Odette
Linda Odette is a freelance writer and editor with more than 30 years of experience in journalism. She’s worked primarily as an editor in feature departments at newspapers in West Michigan, including the Grand Rapids Press, the Muskegon Chronicle and the Holland Sentinel. She lives in East Grand Rapids near the Eastown edge, has a teenage son and a daughter in college. Read Linda's full bio or email Linda.

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