- Sponsorship -

New gymnasium highlights renovations

Principal Ross Willick touts ‘wow’ factor

Ross Willick most certainly got his wish regarding the new front entrance of Zinser Elementary.

“My No. 1 focus was wanting people to pull up to the corner of Kinney and Leonard and say, ‘Wow; I want my kids to go there,’” said Willick, entering his eighth year as principal.

Several days before the new year began on Aug. 27, Willick highlighted the new gymnasium and other unique renovations at his school, two years in the works.

These renovations at Zinser Elementary and throughout Kenowa Hills Public Schools were made possible by voters’ approval of a $55 million bond issue in 2016.

Willick said his students watched the new gymnasium addition being built last year, but would be very excited to see it finished.

The varsity basketball coach at Kenowa Hills, Willick noted the increased square footage, space and height of the gym, and “stunning” wooden floor.

“The big windows were a nice addition as well … beautiful,” Willick said. “And physical education has a nice, big storage room now.”

The renovated cafeteria, previously also used as a multi-purpose room, gym and stage, is now used primarily for meals. Willick said that helps streamline scheduling, “Plus we kept the stage for things like spelling bees and talent shows.”

Dedicated Rooms, Lockers and Space for Turtles

The renovation involved 20 classrooms in phases, including eight brand new ones, and a refurbished library and bathrooms, plus brand new cabinetry, storage space, projectors, furniture, carpeting and paint throughout.

Part of the new wing at Zinser houses a space for expanded/breakout learning that features comfortable, flexible furniture with natural light through large windows.

And instead of sharing, art, STEM, music and Spanish all have dedicated rooms.

“We were a two-section building for many years, and are moving into a three section building: three sections of kindergarten, first grade and second,” he explained.

Another bonus: where there previously were enough lockers for roughly half the school’s 390 students, “we now have a locker for every kid,” Willick said.

Superintendent Gerald Hopkins said he was excited to get the school year started, and thanked the community for their tremendous support in passing the bond request, and Willick thanked the Comstock Park Alpine Rotary Club members, who cleared out trees, weeds and a pond in the school’s courtyard, still in progress.

“My family has nine box turtles that we’re fostering, hoping to bring them back soon,” Willick said. “We’re hoping to have a plan soon for the courtyard, and want to bring it back to life a little.”


SNN article: A new school world awaits students next year…

- Sponsorship -
Cris Greer
Cris Greer
For more than three decades, Cris Greer has been a wordsmith, working in the fields of journalism, advertising and marketing. Much of the past decade, he helped grow the MLive Statewide High School Sports desk as a supervisor, editor and reporter, which included eight newspapers in Michigan and mlive.com. Cris also was a freelancer for The Grand Rapids Press, The Advance and On the Town magazine for many years. A good portion of his early career was spent building and managing the copywriting team in the advertising department at Meijer, Inc., where he oversaw copywriting for print ads, mailers, brochures, signage, several dozen in-house magazines per year and much more.


Longtime volunteer does whatever’s needed for school: ‘I love being here’

A 24-year parent and grandparent volunteer tends to student and family needs at Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership Academy...

Lessons from a pandemic: ‘agile learners’ need ‘agile adults’

Reflecting on the end of fall semester and 2020, Superintendent Dedrick Martin sat down with School News Network to discuss how Caledonia adapted to school closures, virtual learning and social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic...

It’s all about getting students back to classrooms, Supt. Shibler says of the vaccine

Superintendent Michael Shibler hopes the more people get vaccinated, the closer we are to the end of the pandemic...

Young constitutional scholars view current events, politics through historical lens

East Grand Rapids and East Kentwood high school We the People team members have qualified for the national competition, becoming well versed in civics and critical thinking along the way...


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Related Articles

Schools, organizations step up to feed students, families

Area schools continue to provide free grab and go meals at regular distribution events and community partners are helping to fill in the gaps to make sure everyone is fed during a very challenging time...

Making merry music, from a safe distance

The holidays may look different this year, but Kenowa Hills students are still finding ways to lift spirits by sharing their musical talents...

Video series aims to fill teachers’ cups with appreciation

Kenowa Hills schools are sharing video messages of gratitude for teachers, just in time for a hope-filled holiday season...
- Sponsorship -


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...


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 -


Maranda Where You LiveWGVU