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Playhouses Replace Homecoming Floats to Last Long Past the Parade

Community Paying To Vote for Favorite to Support Families

A wooden playhouse, decorated with minion characters from the movie Despicable Me, is sure to bring smiles to the faces of the children whose yard it eventually sits in, said Byron Center High School senior Christian Tucker.

Student Josh Carter assembles a playhouse with Doug Gallup, Byron Center Public Schools Director of Transportation
Student Josh Carter assembles a playhouse with Doug Gallup, Byron Center Public Schools Director of Transportation

“I like the idea of giving a kid a playhouse who wouldn’t have one otherwise,” said Christian, who helped build one to donate to a family in need through the school’s NorthStar Academy alternative program. “I know the kid who gets it will really enjoy it.”

He and other Byron Center High School students are putting a different twist on homecoming this year, under the theme of “Building Community.” They assembled five tot-sized playhouses to donate to area preschools and a family in need. The playhouses will be on display in the homecoming parade on Friday, Sept. 25.

“We thought, ‘Why don’t we invest in something that will last?'” said teacher Melissa Gallup, who co-leads the school’s Student Life and Leadership Class and teaches in NorthStar Academy, both of which participated in the project. The NorthStar house will be donated to a family, two will go to the Byron Center Early Childhood Center, one to Kelloggsville Early Childhood Center and one to Godwin Heights Public Schools.

In parade-float fashion, classes decorated the houses according to their own individual themes, like the funny minions.

Kassidy Davio and paraprofessional Michelle Alber scan the directions
Kassidy Davio and paraprofessional Michelle Alber scan the directions

Creating a Lasting Fund for Families

The outreach goes even further than donating places to play. By having students and community members donate money to vote for the best playhouse, students are raising money for a the school’s crisis fund, Bulldog Boost. The fund was started last year as a place to set aside money for emergency community needs.

Christian’s family was the recipient of Bulldog Boost funds last year, when their house burned down. Christian said he’s happy to see the giving come full circle, now that he’s helping raise money to support it, and lending a hand to the playhouse construction.

“It’s giving back,” he said.

Students said the project makes homecoming more meaningful.

Things take shape for the novice house builders
Things take shape for the novice house builders

They previously made floats with decorations that were thrown away.

“We make these extravagant, awesome floats, and then where do they go afterward?” asked senior Samantha McClary.

“Now we can give what we make to somewhere that will use it,” added freshman Jordan Cooper.

They said it’s good to know younger students will be enjoying something they built.

“It’s nice we are giving them to other schools outside of the district,” senior Josh Carter said. “It’s a connecting piece to not only the Byron Center community, but the Grand Rapids community.”


SNN Story on Student Life and Leadership

Students Samantha McClary, Jordan Cooper and Drew Phelan look forward to seeing children use the playhouse they made
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Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese is managing editor and reporter, covering Kentwood, Lowell and Wyoming. She was one of the original SNN staff writers, helping launch the site in 2013, and enjoys fulfilling the mission of sharing the stories of public education. She has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers, On-the-Town Magazine and Group Tour Media. Read Erin's full bio


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