Thornapple Kellogg — In a classroom typically filled with freshmen learning the ins and outs of world history, students from all grades are instead packed in — some standing, others gathered around desks — ripping apart old T-shirts and braiding fabric into chew toys for dogs.
Next door, a crowd of equal size paints palm-sized rocks in bursts of color with encouraging words meant to be found around the Middleville community as people walk the trails and visit shops.
At Thornapple Kellogg High School on the third Friday of April, students and teachers broke from routine and spent a morning learning how to serve their community. The service day is a tradition that administrators say has been going on for years.
Students get to choose from activities at school or as far south as the Yankee Springs Recreation Area, and some choose projects that are very personal.
Senior Kailee Ancel chose to work on the trails at the YMCA’s Camp Manitou Lin, a place she said she visited regularly in elementary school as a part of Thornapple Kellogg’s special education program. Junior Charlotte Nelson said she wanted to serve in the library as a way to thank librarian Barb Hubers, who is one of her “favorite people in the whole school,” she said.
Here are just a few of the more than 30 service projects:
Alli Poosawtsee is a writer who made her home in West Michigan after spending her childhood living in the former Soviet Union and Germany. She served as the editor-in-chief for Calvin University's student newspaper and then spent nine years as a writer and content strategist at her alma mater. Both of her children attend Grand Rapids Public Schools and she is an ardent supporter of public education.