- Sponsorship -

Students tell designers what they want to see in their park

Ground broken on redesigned park by Burton School


Students from Burton Elementary and Middle Schools watched proudly Monday afternoon as dignitaries from the City of Grand Rapids and Grand Rapids Public Schools broke ground on a $1.045 million improvement project at Plaster Creek Family Park.

The fifth- and sixth-graders played a key role in telling officials what they wanted to see and do in their neighborhood park. They took the designers on walks through the park on several occasions last year, noting what they would like to see changed.

Thanks to their input, the redesigned park will include The Nest, an outdoor classroom with seating, raised planter beds for a vegetable garden, a rain garden, native meadow plantings and a community picnic area.

The project also will include The Meadows, a stump forest and log jam playground feature made from local trees harvested by the city’s Forestry Division. Other features will include accessible footpaths, a picnic area with tables and grills, a running track, a softball diamond, soccer field, and tennis and basketball courts.

“This project is truly a community effort,” said Grand Rapids Public Schools Superintendent Teresa Weatherall Neal in a statement. “Burton students played an important role in this planning effort and we are looking forward to bringing their ideas to life.

“This project is an example of how connecting children with nature can help develop future environmental stewards and leaders,” said Neal. Burton School is one of four “park-deficient” sites in the city that will benefit from green schoolyard projects over the next three years, city officials said.

“This project reaffirms our commitment to make sure that children in our community have access to the outdoors and public parks that serve as natural classrooms where they can appreciate their environment through hands-on learning,” said Mayor Rosalynn Bliss in her remarks at the groundbreaking. “It also gets us closer to our goal of having a park within a 10-minute walk of every resident in our city.”

City and Schools Working Together

The 19-acre park is tucked into a hollow west of Buchanan Avenue SW and southwest of Burton Elementary and Middle Schools. The park’s namesake, Plaster Creek, flows through a wooded area on the park’s southern edge.  The improvements are scheduled to be complete by the end of October.

The outdoor classroom and natural playscape are designed to fit into the Thrive Outside Initiative, an effort that brings together local groups to make outdoor living part of people’s everyday lives. The project also aligns with the Connecting Children to Nature Initiative, a partnership between the city and schools that promotes environmental education, parks and schoolyard “activation” and sustainability.

The Plaster Creek Family Park project is being funded by a $317,500 grant from the Wege Foundation, a $601,250 outlay from the city’s parks millage, and $101,750 from the city’s Environmental Services Department. The project also benefited from a $25,000 planning grant given to the city by the National League of Cities.

“This project is the first of its kind featuring nature play and it highlights our strong relationship with Grand Rapids Public Schools,” said David Marquardt, the city’s Parks and Recreation director. “We are grateful for the many great partnerships making this project a reality. We deeply appreciate the input we have received from community members, including students, parents, teachers and neighbors.”

CONNECT

SNN story: Students dig greening up their city

- Sponsorship -
James Harger
James Harger
James Harger left School News Network in January of 2020. James previously reported on West Michigan's economy, courts and politics for The Grand Rapids Press and Mlive.com for more than 37 years. He also is employed as Servanthood Leader at Immanuel Lutheran Church in downtown Grand Rapids. A graduate of Central Michigan University, he also has worked for publications in Holland, Mount Pleasant and Lansing. He is married to Lisa and has one daughter, who lives in Ann Arbor.

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...

1 COMMENT

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Related Articles

Handyman helps guard employees against sneezes and other hazards

Protective barriers for many GRPS employees were created by a fellow GRPS employee this summer and fall, at a cost far less than purchasing them would have been...

Class of 2021 has ‘test-optional’ choice when applying for college

Most schools in the state of Michigan have become SAT/ACT-optional for the Class of 2021 for admission purposes. There are, however, pros and cons for students...

Teacher recruits from Puerto Rico find welcoming new home in Grand Rapids

A recruiting trip to Puerto Rico brought two new teachers to Grand Rapids as part of an innovative district effort to address a shortage of bilingual instructors...
- 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