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Students celebrate new identity with journals, videos and pictures

‘Never wavering, full support,’ said a student of his ‘Legend’ mom

Sixth grader Alexa Hernandez Aguilar said her grandma is a Legend to her because she’s such a strong woman and very independent.

“She is a major inspiration to me,” Alexa said in a Godfrey-Lee Facebook post that included artwork and a photo of her grandma as part of virtual Spirit Week.

During the final week of school, the district held Spirit Week for students to celebrate their new mascot identity — Legends — virtually through writing, art, song or other media, as well as their experiences of living through this unusual time. 

“We tried to give the kids a powerful experience that made them feel like they’re going home for the summer, and tying that together with the rebranding we’ve done from switching over from Rebels to Legends I think is really cool,” said District Media Specialist Harry Coffill, who helped develop the concept of Spirit Week.

Last summer, the Godfrey-Lee school board unanimously approved the new name of Legends to replace Rebels. On March 30, the board unanimously approved a fire-breathing dragon for the district’s new mascot.

Sarah Wood, technology and media integration specialist for the district, said the idea, which originated with Assistant Superintendent Carol Lautenbach, was for students, families and the community to provide creative interpretation of what it means to be a Legend.  

“It encouraged students to look at the three main aspects our students had defined as being a Legend; protector, legacy and spirit,” Wood said.

A Legendary Champion: (A poem about mom)
By Devin Horn, sixth grade, Lee Middle School

In the night she sits and cries for fear of failing in her children’s eyes.
She silently struggles when we go off to school to say her goodbyes.

Never wavering. We have her full support.
Unwavering love even with a bad teacher report.

Through tears and frustration she helps with the work.
Never getting the credit even though she pushes.

When the sun rises mama is always there.
She never wavers and punishments are fair.

You see mama is Legendary in my eyes.
She never gives up and always tries.

With so much Spirit, Faith and Courage.
She keeps pushing. Always moving.
Always smiling.

We are Legends Proud and True.
We are Legends Brave and Bold.
We are Legends Tall and Strong.

Thanks for being my Champion and always full of love and support mama.

Sixth grader Isabela Deleon-Magana, Lee Middle School, honored Martin Luther King Jr. with a drawing during Spirit Week, saying, ‘He is a legend to me because he sought to raise the public consciousness of racism, to end racial discrimination. Also, segregation in the United States. While his goal was racial equality, King plotted out a series of smaller objectives that involved local grassroots campaigns for equal rights for African Americans.’ (courtesy photo)
Sixth grader Estefani Martinez-Pineda, Lee Middle School, drew artwork of his parents because they are ‘loyal, excellent and special’ to him (courtesy photo)

Remembering this Moment

Second grade teacher Kara Jones said her classroom and the other second grade classes took part in Spirit Week on two different fronts.

First, they created a time capsule through Big Life Journal.

“The students were encouraged to make this activity a whole family project hoping that it would make a bigger impact,” said Jones, in her 18th year at Godfrey-Lee, noting it had never been done before but proved popular. 

Her class also made a year-end video with questions about how the coronavirus quarantine is affecting them and how they’re adjusting to a different learning environment.

All of this information was gathered and sent to the Grand Rapids Public Library for its community time capsule, which will not be opened until 2092. It will be a part of a permanent archival collection.

Sixth grader Serenity S., Lee Middle School, wrote this Dr. Seuss-like poem to honor teachers and parents during Spirit Week (courtesy photo)

Quarantine Thoughts

One of her students, Samuel Rivera, said he was sad because he missed his friends during the quarantine. Another, Ethan Eichelberger, said, “School is better in person.”

Katherine Merriott, Lee Middle and High Spanish teacher, said Spirit Week was a joyful way for students and staff to come together to celebrate the end of the school year.

“Participation went well,” Merriott said. “I had a group of students work together virtually and the rest of the class chose to demonstrate their idea of a legend individually.”

Sophomore Jasmine Paredes joined forces with classmates John Fernandez and Fabiola Castaneda-Cardoza to highlight many people they chose as Legends. Those included Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Abraham Lincoln, the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., Cesar Chavez, Henry Ford and others.

“I chose my topic for Spirit Week by brainstorming a list of people who have made an immense impact on the world in any way,” Jasmine said. “My peers and I collaborated our lists and made a Google Doc and a brief description about why we believed those people were Legends.” 

Jasmine said she was very anxious to get back to her friends, family and school life.

“I wish things could go back to normal, so not just I, but everyone can have our normal lives back to the way they were before the quarantine.”

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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.


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