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New school name reflects building’s history

Byron Center — After a community contest, Byron Center Public Schools has announced the new name of their fourth elementary school: Heritage Elementary School.

Two Byron Center parents both submitted the chosen name via survey and stood alongside Nathan Clophus, who will serve as Heritage Elementary’s principal, in a social media video announcement.

Melissa Zondervan, a parent of Byron Center High School graduate and a current junior, said, “This building has been a high school, intermediate and now an elementary school. I thought about the several generations that have come through these hallways and came up with the name, ‘Heritage.’”

The second parent, Sarah Krause, is a Byron Center alumnus, parent and bus driver.

“I was shocked when I got the email, but it’s awesome,” she said. “Especially to walk through these halls, the ones I used to walk through when it was a seventh- and eighth-grade building.”

From left, parent and bus driver Sarah Krause, Heritage Elementary principal Nathan Clophus and parent Melissa Zondervan announce the name of the district’s fourth elementary school (courtesy)

Clophus said the district decided on the name because of the strong roots and rich history of the building.

Set to open in fall 2024, Heritage Elementary will be housed in the former Nickels Intermediate School, 8638 Byron Center Avenue SW. 

“Now that this building has a name, we can’t wait to share the history of this building, now known as Heritage Elementary,” Clophus said. “Stay tuned!”

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Alexis Stark
Alexis Stark
Alexis Stark is a reporter covering Byron Center, Caledonia, Godfrey-Lee, Kenowa Hills and Thornapple Kellogg. She grew up in metro Detroit and her journalism journey brought her west to Grand Rapids via Michigan State University where she covered features and campus news for The State News. She also co-authored three 100-question guides to increase understanding and awareness of various human identities, through the MSU School of Journalism. Following graduation, she worked as a beat reporter for The Ann Arbor News, covering stories on education, community, prison arts and poetry, before finding her calling in education reporting and landing at SNN. Alexis is also the author of a poetry chapbook, “Learning to Sleep in the Middle of the Bed.”


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