School News Network: Kentwood Public Schools' A Refugee Story

Mar 2, 2020

Kentwood Public Schools' Valleywood Middle School students embrace the stories of refugees.
Credit School News Network

Kentwood Public Schools students are sharing their knowledge about refugees in the community through a project that has involved research, reflection and a call to action.

Conflict. Leaving home. Starting over. Learning a new language. Going to school.

Valleywood Middle School students are embracing the stories of refugees and the people who own them.

In teacher Jane Van Hof’s seventh grade English class -- a portrait of diversity in itself-- students are studying the stories of people forced to flee their native lands. For the project, dubbed “A Refugee Story,” they are delving into research on refugees and learning about those in their community.

Each student chose a country to study and created brochures including facts about history, language, culture, ethnicities and the conflicts that led people to flee. They included a call to action to help refugees in the community. Brochures -- on display at the front entry of the school -- aim to educate guests about the refugee experience.

Students in that class alone come from at least 10 different countries and several students themselves are refugees. Kentwood Public Schools is the most diverse school district in Michigan. Van Hof said her students are shining examples of immigrants in the community learning and helping others, each with their own story.

This is Erin Albanese, for School News Network.