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Volunteer grandparent Ernie Sandona, affectionately called “Papa Belly Floppa,” shows his football prowess at Central Elementary School recess

Poppa Belly Floppa Gives ‘That Special Love’

At Central Elementary School, the spontaneity on the playground pings around grandparent Ernie Sandona, who’s at the center of the dance. His grandson, third-grader Evan Mann, and his friends clamor for the football, running and throwing, catching and celebrating. Right...
Alana Bracey, a fourth-grader at Southwest Community Campus School, brought the audience to its feet with her powerful voice

‘We’re Living His Dream’

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” -- the Rev. Dr....

Quoth the Rooster, ‘Some More’

Four student collaborators in Sandra Bajema's language arts class performed an outlandish Edgar Allan Poe parody by vilifying a rooster: Students Chris Veldhuis and Aiden Marsiglia recited their parody with dash of slapstick and drama: Every morning at the hour six,...

Typical Teen Stuff or Serious Mental Health Issue?

For a while now, high school English teacher Sheri Gilreath-Watts has been teaching from Judith Guest's novel "Ordinary People," about a suicidal boy home from a mental institution. "I'm hoping to connect my students to the emotional distress that can...

First We Relax, Then We Dance

Certified hypnotist Michael Brody asked a dozen students to visualize themselves in several scenarios: a gorgeous beach day with a surfer catching waves; bouncy with anticipation for their third birthday with an invitation to suck their thumbs; and a...

In Honor of Those Who Served

Editor's note: Schools across Kent County observed Veterans Day with a variety of events. Here is a sampling. Byron Center Boys Scouts brought up the flag; "My Country, 'Tis of Thee" was sung; red, white and blue were worn; and...

Girl Scout, Journalist, Spartan

School: Grand View Elementary Other positions you have held in education: ⅚ teacher andassistant principal at Century Park, adjunct instructor at Ferris State University with a focus on field supervision, and classroom teacher in a variety of grades in Chicago. How...

Art Walk Homage to Award-winning Artists

At Century Park Learning Center, a riot of color swirling like a Chihuly tangle of glass sprouted all over the school. The inspiration for students: picture book illustrations found in Caldecott winners. Rainbow-beaked birds like toucans dangled overhead, like Richard...

AP Classes Score Big with Students

The Advanced Placement U.S. History classroom was adorned with presidential posters that students have earned working on campaigns over the years. Teacher Kyle VanderWall challenged his students to consider why Lord Dunmore's Proclamation (to free slaves who would fight...

Laser Focus on Reading Produces Good Results

At Grandville's East Elementary School, their double-digits gains in the M-STEP third- and fourth-grade reading scores was driven home by Principal Ana Aleman-Putman's determination to push for excellence. That's despite 71 percent of East's students qualifying for free and...

From Geckos to Guava, Students Steep Selves in Spanish

When 34 high school students landed in June at Juan Santamaría International Airport in the Costa Rican capital of San Jose, the West Michigan teenagers entered a world of Spanish, from the airport signage and customs agents to dates...

Moving on Up, Combo Locks and All

The middle school's recent two-day welcome-back event felt more like a celebratory party than school function. The new crop of 475 seventh-graders beamed as they triangulated their new digs, the middle school. Definitely happy and excited, a bit nervous, but...

Solar Eclipse Mania: ‘It’s Officially Happening!’

On Eclipse Day 2017 -- also the first day of school -- South Elementary School families whooped-it-up as the moon made its move. The swim-suited revelers soaked up the sun and careened down an enormous slip-and-slide hosed down by...

When the Babe Met George Washington

It looked a little like several dozen time machines had collided inside the East Elementary gymnasium. Benjamin Franklin flew his -- or in this case, her -- kite back and forth as Cleopatra, the Egyptian queen, posed for photographs. Airplane...

A Gift Built to Last

Jared Duncan returned recently to the school he went to for kindergarten and left something for them to remember him by. A big something, in fact. The Grandville High senior constructed a 60-by-60-inch island worktable for the workroom in the...

Colonel Mustard in the Billiard Room with the Candlestick

Students in Elizabeth "Libbi" Ungrey's forensic science class spent the school year developing the skills to solve crimes of her making. For the end-of-year project, the tables were turned and students aimed to stump their teacher. "This pulls together their...
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