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Fishing trip nets strong bonds, lures new enthusiasts

‘I knew when I got selected I had done something good’

Godwin — “I caught five fish,” said fifth-grader Micahel Landon, and before he could describe them, third-grader Bobby Rogers jumped in.

“I caught two sunfish and they were beautiful,” he said.

Michael and Bobby were among the lucky North Godwin students who had the opportunity in May to attend the annual fishing trip led by third-grade teacher Matt Jen.

“It all started out as a behavioral plan for a couple of students,” said Jen, who admitted he has been fishing since about the age of 10. From there, the program grew. Now each teacher selects a student from class to attend.

“We currently only have 23 students because I only have 12 boats to take the students,” Jen said.

Going on an Adventure

Students meet up with staff on a Saturday and head to Green Lake in Caledonia, where several people who fish are there to take the students and staff out on boats. The students are out for about three hours, and get lunch after.

“I knew when I got selected I had done something good,” said third-grader Adaline Whittington. “I got a high score on my (M-)STEP test.” 

Jen said teachers have their own selection process to determine which student in their class gets to attend.

“There is no bigger smile than a kid catching a fish.”

– third-grade teacher Matt Jen

Adaline said she caught three fish – a rock bass, a bass and a bluegill – but her favorite part was spending time with her teacher, Jen, who said the event has turned into a wonderful bonding experience for staff and students.

“Many of the students have never fished before, much less been on a boat,” he said. “It was just an awesome day in that every student was able to catch a fish. There is no bigger smile than a kid catching a fish.”

North Godwin Principal Steve Minard, right, with third-grader Jaylen Jones and fifth-grader Christian Mollitor (courtesy)

Blue Fish, Bass Fish

Fourth-grader Jayden Spann stopped by Jen’s room to tell his tale of catching 16 fish.

“It was good, but I was scared I would fall off the boat,” said the first-time fisherman.

Bobby, who fishes with his dad, said being on the boat was his favorite part, along with the goodies he received. Through the help of the Outdoorsmen Pro Shop, each student got a fishing pole, tackle box and T-shirt.

“I am going to take the new fishing pole this summer to the campground that we always go fishing at,” said Bobby, who added that he had shown his dad some new tricks he learned from the North Godwin outing. “He was impressed.”

Michael, who had never fished before, said he hopes to go again this summer as well.

“I loved it,” said Michael, who caught two bluegill and three bass. “It taught me how to cast, how to catch fish, what to do with a hook and how to get it off a fish. I got to learn how to do it so that if I wanted to, I could do it again.”

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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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