April 28, 2014
Lizzie Williams, OST’s Marketing Specialist, shares her experience traveling with Sibley Elementary School out to Lake Michigan on April 24, 2014.
I am reporting to you that the representatives from Hoffmaster State Park related that students at Sibley were the best behaved and most respectful group that they have seen at the state park in the past year and how these kids were so “taken” by the state park and the experience. I can also report that almost 80% of our students had NEVER been to Lake Michigan. I spoke with many kids and they said it was the BEST trip they have ever had. Please share our immense thanks! This was one of the best trips ever!
Andrew J. Alvesteffer, Sibley Elementary Principal
This heartfelt note was in response to a field trip that OST helped sponsor and coordinate for the fifth grade class at Sibley Elementary on Thursday, April 24. I was fortunate enough to attend this unique excursion with the students and would echo the remarks of Hoffmaster State Park in regard to the thoughtfulness of the students I was exploring the dunes with: they were excited, attentive and curious, and it was beautiful to witness.
The seed for this trip was planted back when the ground was still frozen as a few of us from OST shared coffee and conversation with John Helmholt, Executive Director of Communications & External Affairs for Grand Rapids Public Schools, and Jon O’Connor, a GRPS Board Member. The conversation drifted to talks of summer and trips to Lake Michigan, when a quiet comment about how unfortunate it is that so many of the kids who live right here in Grand Rapids haven’t even seen the lake sparked an idea. Dan Behm’s face lit up, and immediately the wheels were set in motion to make sure that every kid on the West Side would have a chance to see Lake Michigan by the end of the school year. As a kid from Grand Haven, it’s no surprise that the lake holds a special place in Dan’s heart.
Thursday was the first of four trips that will be made “out to the drink” and it was everything we could have hoped for. Watching 70 kids run down the dunes, panting as they climb back up, just to do it all over again, was a remarkable sight. Thank you’s, hugs and high-fives were plentiful as we popped off that big yellow bus. If there is one thing that unites us all in Michigan it is the Great Lakes, and we are so excited that GRPS was, and always is, open to our funky ideas on what it means to be a community partner because watching the kids in stare out in amazement at the horizon was a moment that won’t soon be forgotten.
We are looking forward to joining Harrison Park and Stocking Elementary on their Great Lake expeditions this week!