What does a Disney movie star from “High School Musical” and the Grand Rapids Community Foundation have in common?
Both helped three local elementary schools celebrate educational achievements made this year by hosting an event June 2 that included a tour of the winning schools, a cook-out, an autograph signing, and a presentation of the movie “High School Musical.” Activities were free to the Meijer Good Schools award-winning students and their families.
Earlier that day, Chris Warren Jr. (“Zeke Baylor”), star of Disney’s hit “High School Musical” and “High School Musical 2,” visited each of the 2007 Meijer Good Schools to discuss the importance of education. Martin Luther King, Jr. Leadership Academy won a $50,000 grant, while CA Frost Environmental Science Academy and Sherwood Park Global Studies Academy each won $25,000.
These grants were made possible by the Meijer Good Schools for Grand Rapids Program, an initiative of the Grand Rapids Community Foundation introduced in 2007. The grants are funded by the Meijer Foundation with support from the Bank of America Charitable Foundation. The Meijer Good Schools for Grand Rapids Program seeks to promote systemic education reform and support local schools by showcasing and awarding grants to those that have excelled.
For the 2008-2009 school year, three new elementary schools were selected to be Meijer Good Schools. Alexander Elementary School was awarded $24,750 because students generated improving test scores. Aberdeen Elementary School owes its $38,500 grant to the accepting atmosphere students feel when they enter the building. In addition to pairing students with autistic students, the school instituted a successful anti-bullying program. The final grant, totaling $15,750, was awarded to Millbrook Christian Elementary School. This particular school was still able to provide a cutting-edge curriculum and promote an environment of tolerance in spite of recent mergers with two local schools.
In order to win one of the annual grants, local elementary schools had to demonstrate excellent student achievement and attendance; leadership and educational vitality; school culture; and a rigorous curriculum and instruction.
When he visited the children at each school, Chris Warren Jr. told the students he admired their designation as a Meijer Good School and that he was proud of their academic success.
As the children beamed with excitement over meeting the star, Warren promoted an important lesson. “If you stay in school and get an education, you can do anything in the world you want to do. Education is the key.”