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Grads leave legacy of butterfly awareness

Northview — As legacies go, the one left by recent Northview Next Career Center graduates Ian Mitchell and Jaxon Schoenborn is both colorful and crucial to many insects, plants, animals and even humans.

And to think, it all started with a baseball bat.

The pair was taking turns swinging at the pods atop some spent perennials on school grounds earlier this school year, and it got them to wondering what the seed-filled, silky white strands actually were.

It was milkweed. Monarch butterfly larvae feed solely on milkweed where fully grown butterflies breed, they learned. So they made sure there were plenty of milkweed plants in the area, via a senior capstone project aimed at butterfly habitat awareness. 

The result: a butterfly habitat throughout school grounds — thanks to existing plants scattered throughout the property — and interpretive signage near a handful of planted seeds at the southeast corner of the center, 3801 E. Beltline Ave. NE.

The pair’s senior capstone was a culmination of skills honed at the project-based high school, involving science, research, writing, graphic design, photography, teamwork and product design.

“Honestly, it’s a really interesting topic,” Jaxon said. “Seeing the different waves of butterflies who come throughout the year, and learning about where they go… Butterflies are sweet.”

Said teacher Brian Hendricks: “(Jaxon and Ian) did an awesome job. Their research was detailed, and they did numerous revisions. I think the biggest thing (for me) was to see their joy in what they produced.”

Seniors Jaxon Schoenborn and Ian Mitchell created this interpretive signage for their senior capstone project
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Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema is a reporter and copy editor, covering Northview. She is a Grand Rapids native and a product of Grand Rapids Public Schools, including Brookside and West Leonard elementaries, City Middle/High School and Ottawa Hills. She found her tribe in journalism in 1997 and has never wanted to do anything but write. For 15 years she was a freelance journalist for The Grand Rapids Press, covering local schools and government, religion, business, home & garden and lifestyles. She and her husband, John, think even those without kiddos should be invested in their local schools and made to feel a part of them. Read Morgan's full bio


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