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:
Allison Poosawtsee is a reporter covering Rockford Public Schools and Kent City Community Schools. She has spent 15+ years working and writing in the education context, first for her alma mater, Calvin University, and then for various businesses and nonprofit organizations in the Grand Rapids area. As a student journalist, she served as editor-in-chief of Calvin’s student newspaper where she garnered several Michigan Collegiate Press Association awards for her work. Allison is a proud parent of two Grand Rapids Public Schools scholars and a passionate advocate for the value of public education.
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