Holiday parade cheer, assembled by Unity High

When teacher Sue Sweet asked for a volunteer to attend the first Chamber of Commerce meeting, senior Deven Dykman raised his hand right away
Student Dakota Berkompas was part of the holiday bag-filling workshop at Unity High

The hallway inside Unity High School was filled recently with electric guitar riffs on holiday music as a dozen or so students shuffled at an increasing pace along both sides of 56 feet of folding tables.

Students and a handful of community volunteers spent a couple hours stuffing 2,400 bags with candy and promotional items from area businesses. The bags, courtesy of the Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce, will be passed out by middle and high school Interact Club students to those who line the streets for the Dec. 1 Christmas parade.

The gesture of holiday workshop-ery marks the first year Unity High has been sending a student representative to monthly meetings of the Chamber of Commerce.

Liz Baker, director of the Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce, said she jumped at the offer to have Unity students fill parade bags

Teacher Sue Sweet said the plan is to send a different student every month so those who want to can represent the school. The first month, she said, senior Deven Dykman raised his hand right away.

“I’ve always liked to know what’s going on in the community,” said Deven, who has lived in Lowell since he was 2. The part-time cook at Big Boiler Brewing downtown said he also doesn’t mind getting to know area business owners.

“For Unity as a program, this is a great opportunity for us to spread the positive about what our students have to offer, and for the Chamber to get student input,” Sweet said. “It also gives students the chance to network, and to practice speaking to adults in the community outside school.”

Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema is a Grand Rapids native and a product of Grand Rapids Public Schools, including Brookside and West Leonard elementaries, City Middle/High School and Ottawa Hills. She found her tribe in journalism in 1997 and has never wanted to do anything but write. For 15 years she was a freelance journalist for The Grand Rapids Press, covering local schools and government, religion, business, home & garden and lifestyles. She and her husband, John, think even those without kiddos should be invested in their local schools and made to feel a part of them. Read Morgan's full bio

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