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‘Zooies’ invited to celebrate Zoo School’s 50th

Anniversary event to be held Oct. 14

Grand Rapids — “Zooies” from the past half century are invited to attend a 50th anniversary celebration of the Zoo School from 2 to 7 p.m. on Oct. 14 at John Ball Zoo, 1300 W. Fulton St. 

Admission is free and includes a taco dinner, fry bread, music, games, activities and more. Attendees can also pay $12 to receive a 50th anniversary T-shirt, which they’ll be able to tie-dye during the event, plus admission to the zoo.

Register for the 50th anniversary celebration here.  

The sixth-grade-only theme school was founded in 1973, and has about 60 students per year. In a statement from Grand Rapids Public Schools, Principal Brad Lundvick said it’s one of the most unique theme schools in the district.

“Our Zooies are immersed in a learning atmosphere that includes not just our classrooms, but the entire John Ball Zoo and Park,” Lundvick wrote in the statement. “Being at Zoo School prepares scholars for middle and high school with fun, challenging and intense learning. We believe that our small sixth-grade program creates memories that last a lifetime, making all who attend Zoo School part of our big Zoo School family.”

Stacia Barczak and Stacey Smith, two Zoo School alumni, are organizing the Oct. 14 event. They hope the reunion affords Zooies a chance to reconnect with their classmates, as well as past and present school staff and faculty members. 

Zoo School curriculum explores core content areas as well as astronomy, zoology, forestry, chemistry and physics, often using the zoo as a learning space. Scholars get first-hand experience with animal feeding, raising salmon, recycling, water sampling and more, according to the district’s statement.

In the past decade, it was named one of the most innovative schools in America by Tech Insider, a digital publication focused on tech, science, innovation and culture.

Read more from Grand Rapids: 
Nudging educators into the great outdoors
GRPS launches online tools to keep community informed

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Riley Kelley
Riley Kelley
Riley Kelley is a reporter covering Cedar Springs, Grand Rapids, East Grand Rapids and Sparta school districts. An award-winning journalist, Riley spent eight years with the Ludington Daily News, reporting, copy editing, paginating and acting as editor for its weekly entertainment section. He also contributed to LDN’s sister publications, Oceana’s Herald-Journal and the White Lake Beacon. His reporting on issues in education and government has earned accolades from the Michigan Press Association and Michigan Associated Press Media Editors. Riley’s early work in journalism included a stint as an on-air news reporter for WMOM Radio, and work on the editorial staff of various student publications. Riley is a graduate of Grand Valley State University. He originally hails from western Washington.


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