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Kent County Parks Foundation partners with GRPS on sustainability project

Park project, a part of the district's Transformation Plan, will result in the removal of invasive plant species in Millennium Park by Sibley Elementary students
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Grand Rapids Public Schools Transformation Plan

Grand Rapids Public Schools Transformation Plan is a comprehensive plan introduced by Superintendent Teresa Weatherall Neal in October 2012 and unanimously approved by the Grand Rapids Board of Education in December 2012 with overwhelming community support. The plan seeking to rationalize resources to strategically build human capital, develop and expand a portfolio of high quality schools, retain/attract students and parents, and produce strong academic results. It is expected to generate about $22 million in savings, half of which will be reserved and the other half invested in the plan’s implementation. 

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The Kent County Parks Foundation (KCPF) continues its community education partnership with Sibley Elementary as part of Grand Rapids Public Schools' (GRPS) Transformation Plan.  On May 14 from 4:00 - 5:30 p.m. at Millennium ParkSibley Elementary students removed the invasive garlic mustard plant and replaced it with native plant seed balls, that the students hand-formed themselves.

“The Grand Rapids Public Schools Transformation plan has a strong focus on partnerships with businesses and institutions of higher learning to provide students with the best education possible,” said John Helmholdt, director of communications & external affairs at Grand Rapids Public Schools. “The ongoing partnership between KCPF and GRPS gives students hands-on experience and emphasizes the importance of preservation.”

Last year’s project provided students with a hands-on experience building nesting boxes to help increase the local and regional population of wood ducks. Students were able to learn outside of the classroom, letting them take part in a project they might not otherwise been able to experience as inner city youth.

“Prior to the making of the duck boxes and now the garlic mustard project, students hear that they can make a difference, but they don’t believe it" said Sergio Cira Reyes, Kent School Services Network community cchool coordinator at Sibley Elementary. "The partnership with KCPF has shown them that they can and that learning can happen outside the classroom.”

“The removal of the invasive species, garlic mustard, is important to the preservation of natural habitat areas at Millennium Park,” said Ginny Sines, Volunteer Coordinator for Kent County Parks. “The plant can spread and affect the native plant species that feed and nourish the wild life, birds, butterflies, and other foliage.”

Community park projects assist in raising awareness of the current and future effects of invasive plant species on park lands. Partnerships between KCPF and other organizations provide opportunities to promote the vitality and community benefit of county parks.

Interested in learning more about the Kent County Parks Foundation? Visit their or find them on Facebook at

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