- Sponsorship -

Urban & suburban students find common interests in 15-year partnership

Students from Grand Rapids and Forest Hills mingle, share Spanish knowledge


They had only just met, but conversations among students from two different school districts were so animated they might have been mistaken for lifelong friends.

Inside the gymnasium at Sibley Elementary, second-graders there recently shared books written in Spanish and English, blankets and cookies with fourth-graders from Ada Vista Elementary. The meet-and-greet was the 15th annual gathering of students from the two schools.

One group of boys and girls went around in a circle, taking turns sharing their favorite things. Gymnastics, said one girl. Soccer, said another. “I do too!” said a boy.

In another group, Ada Vista fourth-grader Zoe Wells learned what she had in common with Sibley second-grader Germin Shukuru: their affinity for Marvel comics, the fact they both speak a second language (Spanish for her, Swahili for him), and that both are the youngest children in their families.

Over at a row of tables, Sibley pupil Tarun Williams sat beside Ada Vista student Tynan Goebel and munched on cookies. Tynan’s was covered with chocolate chips and colored candy; Tarun preferred his with frosting only. Already, Tynan had learned, “We both like football, and we both like Skittles.”

Roots in Shared Language

Started by retired Straight Elementary Principal MaryAnn Prischenko and retired Ada Vista Principal Millie Mellgren, the partnership brings together students from the urban school, where the majority of students speak Spanish at home, with students from the suburban Spanish immersion school.

“It was a way to expose our students to new people, to help them learn to open up and speak to others,” said Bernice Wisnieski, a second-grade teacher at Sibley. “And for our Spanish speakers, it’s showing them how others honor their language — which has been very fun to see.”

Lisa Zuñiga, fourth-grade teacher at Ada Vista, said they hope their students “see that they can make connections with kids anywhere.”

“Children are children, whether they live in downtown Grand Rapids, in the suburbs or out in the country,” she said. “Being sister schools should be more than just trading material goods; the communities should come together to get to know each other.”

During the visit, Ada Vista students gave homemade scarves to their new Sibley friends. And students from both schools worked to tie fringe on blankets, which Sibley students will give to families in need or sell and donate the proceeds to the annual Walk for Warmth.

CONNECT

SNN article: Our schools rally to help Flint residents

- Sponsorship -
Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema is a reporter and copy editor, covering East Grand Rapids, Forest Hills and Northview. She 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 or email Morgan.

LATEST ARTICLES

Fourth-grade hockey fan gets a magical hour on ice: ‘I made the shot!’

Raised as a Red Wings and Grand Rapids Griffins hockey fan, Jackson Solow lights up while skating on an ice rink wearing his favorite hockey jersey...

‘This time it is continued learning’

One school’s switch from in-person to virtual education last week was nearly seamless, especially when compared with the forced school closure in March...

Foundation grants $28,285 in fall funding requests

Virtual phys ed and art experiences, materials to improve classroom focus and books on social issues aimed at middle-schoolers are among the grants approved this fall...

Latest school closings expand on state-ordered high school mandate

More Kent County districts continue to announce temporary school building closures, as schools contend with a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases in Kent County and Michigan...

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Related Articles

Foundation grants $28,285 in fall funding requests

Virtual phys ed and art experiences, materials to improve classroom focus and books on social issues aimed at middle-schoolers are among the grants approved this fall...

GRCC participates in study around product that could slow COVID spread

The inhaled mist device, developed by a FHPS and GRCC grad, could prove useful in schools...

Save more money, buy more shoes, do more good

STEM Academy students used Consumers Energy’s new 3D mapping software to take virtual tours of a facility, then crunched the numbers to come up with energy- and money-saving solutions...
- Sponsorship -

HOW'S SCHOOL TODAY?

Engagement: The Most Important Measure of Student Success

Polls find that students’ engagement in their school work declines as they ascend the grades. Tests that don’t relate to their real-life experiences exacerbate the problem...

RADEMACHER & FRIENDS

Food ‘angels’ support hungry kids through pandemic

They work all across Kent County, guardian angels with peanut butter on their hands and crumbs on their shirtsleeves...
- Sponsorship -

MEDIA PARTNERS

Maranda Where You LiveWGVU

SUSTAINING SPONSORS