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To see their legacy, look up

A painted ceiling tile tradition begun last year aims to give departing second-graders a way to leave their mark

Godwin Heights — Those who walk by the office of West Godwin Elementary Assistant Principal Casey Kroll can’t help but notice the brightly colored ceiling tiles with such messages as “You Are Awesome” and “Godwin Pride.” 

They were created by last year’s second-graders, a project Kroll created to help them celebrate their history at West Godwin and leave their mark at the K-2 school.

“I attended Kelloggsville High School, which is down the street,” Kroll said. “One of my memories from school is as the senior class we got to paint a themed wall.

“I thought how cool it was to be able to leave a legacy at the school you once attended.”

While her class wall has since been covered at her alma mater due to a remodeling project in that district, Kroll carried the memory and its excitement.

So the painted tile project was born, and at the end of the year departing second-graders can paint a ceiling tile that represents their thoughts, dreams and wishes. 

“The project is about the kids, and our families, and allowing the students to have a voice and express themselves,” Kroll said. 

L to R, Godwin third-graders Marisol Ramirez-Zapin, Delilah Cruz and Kendra Cardenas were part of the painted tile project

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Kendra Cardenas admitted that when Kroll came to her class last spring to announce the title project, she was excited.

“I was excited because drawing is my hobby and painting is my hobby,” said the North Godwin third-grader.

Classmates Marisol Ramirez-Zapin and Delilah Cruz agreed. 

“I like art,” Marisol said with a big smile.

Students from each of last year’s West Godwin second-grade classes were chosen to participate. Kendra represented Susan King’s class and Marisol and Delilah represented Mary Acajabon’s class.

Kendra made several drawings and her class voted on which piece would become the tile. The winning drawing was of two people standing near a rainbow and the words “West is Best.”

Marisol and Delilah partnered to create a unicorn tile.

“I did it because I like unicorns,” Delilah said, with Marisol creating the outer-space background.

Marisol said it was challenging to work on the tiles, as they had to be careful not to press down too hard. 

“I used up my favorite pencil sketching the piece out,” she said, adding that she didn’t mind. 

It took about two days for the students to create their designs and paint the tiles.

“I wish we could see it here at North,” Kendra said of the tiles. “But I will be happy to see it on my own, maybe a few years from now when I go to visit West.”

Added Delilah, “There is a little piece of us there, even though we are in another school.”

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Joanne Bailey-Boorsma
Joanne Bailey-Boorsma covers Kent ISD and Godwin Heights. She was born in the Detroit area but grew up in Brighton where she attended Hartland Public Schools. The salutatorian for the Class of 1985, she changed her colors from blue and maize to green and white by attending Michigan State University, where she majored in journalism and minored in photography and German. She expanded her color palette to include orange and black as both her daughters graduated from Byron Center Public Schools; maroon and white for Aquinas College where her daughter studies nursing and also brought back blue and maize for Grand Rapids Community College where her youngest daughter currently is studying music. Read Joanne's full bio

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