Payoff: Simply Beautiful

Staff, Students, Community Come Together for School Project

Friends work together for a common goal: school improvement

School was out for the day, but students didn’t need to go far to get to their next project. On the West side of Godwin Heights High School, a variety of decorative plants and flowers were laid out in wait of the young green thumbs to put them in the ground.

“I just like to help the community, I love to plant stuff,” said student volunteer Vanessa Flores, who said she has a garden at home.

The beautification project was initiated by Marcia DeVos, a teacher in the Regional Emotionally Impaired program and a coordinator for Godwin’s Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports program (PBIS).

From left, Students Enida Jahaj, Juana De La Cruz, and Vanessa Flores

DeVos said the idea stemmed from the district’s recent improvements to security and building upgrades, made possible by a community-approved bond. “There hasn’t been money for anything but the essentials,” she said. “Beautifying an area of the school that has long needed it is part of our message of Godwin pride.”

Students delivered evidence of Godwin pride by getting their hands dirty on what was one of the last hot days of the season.

“I’m proud of how supportive Godwin Heights is with students and how positive and supportive everyone is with each other,” said student Felicia McCallum, while digging with her friends.

“It was so great to see our students take ownership of that project and put their time into it with no expectation of a reward other than helping our school look welcoming to the parents and community,” said DeVos after the event.

Once again, the Godwin Heights community stepped up with anonymous donations for plant purchases. Kyle Groenink, an intern at the Fredrick Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, volunteered to develop a landscaping plan and Mill Creek Farm Perennial LLC in Comstock Park sold plants to the school at cost.

Science teacher Katie Hoffman said the project was “all about building school culture,” and ties into an initiative by Principal Chad Conklin and other staff members to improve the school climate and involve students within the school community. “(DeVos) is a very hard worker, and probably doesn’t get enough credit for what she does,” added Hoffman about the project’s leader.

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Adrian Hirsch has been with SNN since its launch, starting as an intern from Grand Valley State University where he received a degree in broadcasting and business. After the internship, Adrian was brought on as staff to continue reporting, editing and publishing stories for SNN and Kent ISD. Adrian has been active with community radio station WYCE for years, served as Non-Profit Coordinator for GRTV, and currently works as the Web Producer for SNN.

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