- Sponsorship -

Service day prompts students to ‘choose your legacy’

Thornapple Kellogg — While pulling weeds at Spirit Park just outside McFall Elementary, freshman Reece Ritsema explained the story behind her T-shirt that read, “Choose Your Legacy.”

“Mr. Robinson talked a lot about legacy and always told us to ‘choose our legacy,’” she said. “To me, legacy is what you leave behind and how people see you in your future.” 

Designed by Thornapple Kellogg High School senior Laine Hinton and worn by all staff and students on this year’s service day, these shirts were a tribute to government and digital media teacher of 29 years, Jerry Robinson, who recently died after a three-year battle with cancer. 

Every year on service day, TKHS students learn different ways to give back to their schools and surrounding community, while also musing on how to leave a legacy.

Assistant Principal Amy Forman said almost 600 high schoolers volunteered at offsite locations this year. Groups of students ventured out into Middleville to place American flags on veterans’ graves at different cemeteries, pull weeds and clean up trash at Stagecoach Park, prepare the Crane Road ballfields for summer games and play bingo with residents at Carveth Village.

“Our goal is to give more students the opportunity to go off site for projects out in the community,” Forman said. 

Others chose to stick around the high school or work on projects at the middle school, McFall Elementary and the early childhood center. 

In high school classrooms, students made dog toys out of old t-shirts for a local animal shelter, sewed sleeping bags for unhoused individuals, decorated lunch bags for Kids Food Basket and IV bags tags for children at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. 

Senior Ainsley Parsons said she volunteered to paint kindness rocks, with colorful patterns or uplifting words, because “it’s a lot of fun to paint and spread kindness.” 

The painted rocks will be placed along the Paul Henry Trail to spread positivity to all those who walk past them. 

While pulling weeds in the garden behind the middle school, sophomores Avery Hagemann and Reese Lehman discussed why the work was important to them.

“Service day is about helping people who sometimes cannot help themselves and giving back to the community for everything they do for us,” Reese said.

Avery added: “The community gives so much to the schools and I think it’s important to give back so we can continue the cycle of giving to each other.”

Read more from Thornapple Kellogg: 
Students make their service personal
They sure do clean up nice

- Sponsorship -
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.”


Related Articles

- Sponsorship -

Issues in Education

Making Headlines

- Sponsorship -


Maranda Where You Live WGVU