Our Blog

  • Business suit icon"My daughter graduated in 2012, and I was more than confident that she had all the skills needed to succeed in whatever she chose to do after WMAES. I am proud to be a WMAES Eagle Mom."
    -- April Nelson - Parent and Staff

WMAES Selected Fox 17’s School of the Week

Each week during the school year, WXMI FOX 17 airs their pick for West Michigan’s School of the Week. Schools win based on the number of people who have nominated them. Due to a large amount of nominations, West Michigan Academy of Environmental Science has won the honor of being selected as FOX 17’s School of the Week.

Last Tuesday, September 14, Mike Avery, a FOX 17 news anchor, went to WMAES to interview students and staff. He was able to get a real feel of the WMAES culture, and experience first-hand what makes it different.

The airdate of the piece done at WMAES is not known yet, but it will be posted as soon as we have that information.

Congratulations WMAES Staff & Students for this great honor!

Congratulations 2010 Graduates!

West Michigan Academy of Environmental Science would like to congratulate the 14 seniors that graduated last year. Below is a list of the graduates, and some pictures taken of them at the professional photo shoot last spring.


Read more: Congratulations 2010 Graduates!

Spring Photo Shoot

Last spring, professional photographer Matthew Mitchell came to West Michigan Academy of Environmental Science to capture the day-to-day activities of the staff and students. The shoot took place over a two-day period, however, Mr. Mitchell quickly learned that he could spend an entire week at the school and still find more photos to snap... WMAES is certainly a happening place!

Mr. Mitchell went from class to class, taking pictures to capture the essence of what makes WMAES such a great school. In addition, he spent hours with the teachers and students studying the wide variety of ecosystems on the 62-acre campus of farmland, nature trails, forests, wetlands, prairies, and working gardens. He caught students in action as they took water samples from the pond, planted sunflower seeds in the garden, and picked strawberries from the greenhouse.

The photos from the shoot tell quite the story… one that directly reflects WMAES’ love for the environment and passion for sharing it with their students hands-on.

Read more: Spring Photo Shoot

Two Students Acknowledged in Essay Contest

This year, ‘Advance Newspapers’ held their 18th annual essay contest, which was entered by 224 students from throughout Western Michigan. Shakaria Turner, a seventh-grader at West Michigan Academy of Environmental Science (WMAES) was recognized as second runner-up in her age group. Alexis Rainwater, another WMAES student, was recognized with an honorable mention.

The theme for this years contest was “What Needs to be Done to Make the World a Better Place to Live?” As second runner-up, Shakaria received a $20 gift card to Celebration Cinemas. To read her essay, click here.


Read more: Two Students Acknowledged in Essay Contest

Summer Garden Club

We are growing lots of different fruits and vegetables here at West Michigan Academy of Environmental Science this summer with the help of our Garden Apprentices Hope and Kianna.  Here are a few items to look forward to on the salad bar this fall: 8 varieties of tomatoes, wax peppers, jalefuego peppers (fire hot!), jalepeno peppers, sweet corn, Indian corn (for grinding and making corn bread in the mud oven), 5 varieties of potatoes, watermelons, muskmelons, lots of beans for using as a dried bean and fresh green beans, tomatillos to add to our salsa, garlic, onions, carrots, radishes, spinach and lettuce, pumpkins and gourds!  On Monday nights we have a Garden Club that is open to all WMAES families -- we will work in the gardens, and then create something yummy to eat after all of our hard work. We will even play some games! 

So, why do we put all this work into growing our own vegetables? The average meal travels 2500 miles to get to your plate!  That requires a lot of natural resources to grow and transport the food to us.  By growing just a small portion of what you eat, or what we serve to the students at lunch we are making an effort to use less natural resources like water, soil, and OIL! So, come on out to WMAES some Monday night and let's garden, eat, and help the earth while having fun!

Your Summer Discovery Starts Here!

This summer, West Michigan Academy of Environmental Science has several opportunities for children to attend exciting and educational summer camps. There are four different camps taking place throughout the summer; Overnight Survival Camp, Macro Invertebrate Mania, Where the Wild Things Are, and Great Garden Adventures.

Overnight Survival Camp will teach campers about edible and medicinal plants, making rope out of tree bark, and building a fire out of natural materials. Then campers get to spend the night in a hand-made shelter in the woods.

At Macro Invertebrate Mania, campers will use several techniques to catch and identify bugs, and determine the health of many different ecosystems.

Where the Wild Things Are is about all things WILD! Campers will enjoy games and songs while they discover the wild things in nature.

For the campers interested in gardening, Great Garden Adventures is the right choice. Campers start each day doing garden work and having some fun with the chickens. They will also help harvest and prepare fruits and vegetables for eating.

We also have a variety of free Preschool summer camps taking place between July 13-July 30.

To find out the dates and more information about attending, you can download the brochure at http://www.wma-es.com/parents-a-students/summer-camps.

Matt Wilhelm Puts on School Assembly Program at WMAES

Matt Wilhelm, three time X-Games medalist is visiting West Michigan Academy of Environmental Science today, May 12, to put on an outside show for the elementary school students.

Wilhelm travels across the country speaking to over 300 schools each year about topics such as perseverance, bicycle safety, bullying, goal setting, drug awareness, and character counts. His programs are 40 minutes, and cover perseverance and two other topics chosen by the school.

While at WMAES, Wilhelm will be addressing the topics of perseverance, bicycle safety and goal setting. His discussion on perseverance explains to children that hard work and never giving up pays off. He shares his own life story of being told he would never be good enough, and not letting that slow him down. Through his bicycle safety topic, Wilhelm uses volunteers to demonstrate the three common places where bike accidents occur: the street, driveway and intersections. For the subject of goal setting, he encourages the students to find something they like to do, practice, and set goals. Each goal should be written down, specific, and measurable. He also encourages each student to go to college.

FoodPlay Performed at WMAES

FOODPLAY, a national touring Emmy Award-winning nutrition theater show, came to West Michigan Academy of Environmental Science on May 11, 2010. With its cast of colorful characters, fantastic feats of juggling, motivating messages, music, magic, and audience participation, FOODPLAY captivated children as they learned how to treat their bodies right with healthy eating and active lifestyles.

During the fun-filled performance, children followed the antics of Johnny Junkfood, whose dream is to become a juggling star, but keeps dropping the balls. The problem – his diet stinks! With the help of the “Coach” of the National Junior Juggling Team and the kids in the audience, Johnny learns how to juggle the foods he eats to wind up with a balanced diet.

As the FOODPLAY story unfolded, children learned how to see through TV commercials, decipher food labels, and make sense of today’s confusing fast food world. Kids witnessed the ten teaspoons of sugar found in a can of cola, and the effects of soda on a dinosaur’s tooth in the old “soak in the Coke routine.” For some cool beverage alternatives, and some even cooler juggling tricks, Coach and Johnny traded passes with an array of milk, water, and fruit juice juggling clubs.

Kids cheered Johnny on as the more he learned, the better juggler he became, successfully demonstrating how easy it is to take five — eat at least five fruits and vegetables a day, that is. Together with the audience, Johnny learned how to eat healthfully at home, school, and on the run, and discovered that you can choose foods that are good for your health and good for the planet too.

Students also learned the importance of fueling up with breakfast and being active every day. And, in the game show segment, “Pyramid Power,” contestants were invited on stage to show their nutrition smarts by building a balanced diet. Body image is also covered, as kids learned that every body is different, and different is a great thing.

Keepin’ the Messages Alive

To keep the learning alive all year long, WMAES received FOODPLAY’s comprehensive resource kit, which provides follow-up materials to everyone involved — teachers, parents, school food service, health staff, and students.

Proven Results – It Works!

FOODPLAY receives rave reviews, top awards, and outstanding evaluations showing dramatic improvements in children’s eating and exercise habits. According to the USDA, after FOODPLAY, over 75% of children reported increasing their fruit and vegetable intake, cutting down on soda and other sweets, reading food labels more often, eating breakfast regularly, and enjoying more physical activity! And, schools report that FOODPLAY triggers community-wide excitement for healthy habits, helping get everyone from teachers to parents on board working together to create healthy schools.

Character Education: Heroes of the Month of April

The following PK-8 students displayed outstanding courage during the month of April:

Jessie Ortiz, Allystir Brinkmyer, Adriana Ortiz-Torres, Abigail Herrera, Asia James, Bianca Lamas, Anthony Cardosa, Emma Johns, Brianna Valenzuela, Kyle Monterusso, Alyssa Groen, Rowan Bixler, Azaria Lightfoot, James Morgan, Alexis McClain, Wyatt Kwekel, and Leo Carrillo.

Congratulations to these students!

WMAES Begins Community Garden Program

In an effort to involve West Michigan Academy of Environmental Science families in the gardening experience, the school is starting a community garden program. This will take place every Monday starting June 7 to Aug. 23 from 6:30-8 p.m. Through this program, WMAES hopes to educate families on the importance of local and organic foods. There will be a variety of programs ranging from weeding to harvesting to cooking with garden foods.

If you are interested in participating in WMAES’ Community Garden Programs, please contact Miss Holly at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by phone at 791-7454. For more information on the community garden program, please click here to view our flier.

WMAES Senior Featured in “The Local Beet”

AJ Tipton, a senior at West Michigan Academy of Environmental Science was recently featured in The Rapidian as part of a series of food-related articles called “The Local Beet”.

After watching a PBS documentary in class last year entitled “Harvest of Fear: Exploring the Growing Fight Over Genetically Modified Food”, Tipton’s perspective of food changed, and he began researching genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

Through the research Tipton did for his senior project, he learned that GMOs are in everything from food to clothing. Taking GMOs out of your life means changing your life.

Tipton is now incorporating changes in his life to cut out GMOs. He shops at smaller, local stores, as opposed to large chains. He reduced his trips to restaurants, and advocates growing your own food from organic seed.

To read more about Tipton’s senior project, the original article “The Local Beet: Student Food Activist, AJ Tipton” can be found here.

Earth Day Celebration at WMAES

altTo honor the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day in the United States, West Michigan Academy has planned a weeklong celebration of events! In addition to these events, West Michigan Academy is proud to announce that on Monday, April 19, the Kent ISD will formally recognize the Academy as a Green School at its award ceremony! We are extremely proud of all of our students, parents and teachers for this great honor!

Below you will find the list of activities and events planned for WMAES students:

Monday, April 19, 2010
-Assembly for grade school highlighting the week's events.
-The high school math class will be weighing the trash from the lunches to determine our daily waste and will be reporting the results on the daily announcements.
-Campus wide clean up will take place during the last hour of the day.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010
-Grade school classes will be working on an environmental project that will benefit the campus and the ecosystems.
-High school Visual Arts class will be making tree identification plaques and will put them up later in the week in our forests.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010 * NO PLASTIC DAY

-Both high school and grade school students will be watching the video of how plastic bottles are made and their impact on the Earth.
-Students will enjoy an outdoor grilled lunch.

Earth Day - Thursday, April 22, 2010 * NO PAPER DAY
-All grades will work on the our wonderful gardens including weeding, creating trellises, fence repair, fixing the chicken tractors, making new garden beds, planting seeds, planting flowers and much more!
-No uniform day sponsored by the Student Council. Each student pays $1 and the proceeds will go to an environmental organization.

Friday, April 23, 2010 * LIGHTS OUT DAY

-Tree planting all day at WMAES.
-Voting on the high school projects to take place in the AM.

WMAES Teacher Selected to Attend 2010 Mickelson ExxonMobil Teachers Academy

Kate Gordan was selected from more than 1,200 teachers nationwide!

altKate Gordan, a fifth grade teacher at West Michigan Academy of Environmental Science has been selected to attend the 2010 Mickelson ExxonMobil Teachers Academy at the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City, N.J. Ms. Gordan is one of 200 highly-qualified third- through fifth-grade teachers from around the country selected to attend the intensive one-week, all-expense paid professional development program this summer.

A panel of educators from the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) and the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) selected Ms. Gordan to attend the Academy. The panel based their decision on her qualifications, dedication to inspiring students at an early age and her overall commitment to enhancing the teaching profession.

During the Academy, scheduled for July 18 – 23, teachers will discover new ways to excite students using experiments that demonstrate various math and science concepts including force, gravity and probability. The Academy curriculum works to deepen teachers’ understanding of these principles by conducting hands-on experiments that teachers can share with their students in the classroom.

“It’s crucial for our students to do well in math and science. That’s an obligation we take very seriously at WMAES, so we’re thrilled that Ms. Gordan has this opportunity to learn from the brightest minds in the country and then share that with our students,” said elementary principal Josh Hahn.

Through www.sendmyteacher.com,teachers from all 50 states had the opportunity to apply for this development opportunity with more than 1,200 teachers applying for the 2010 Academy.Parents and teachers also nominated their teacher to apply for the opportunity by sending an e-card or printing a teacher appreciation certificate from the site.

ExxonMobil partnered with Phil and Amy Mickelson, and developed in conjunction with the National Science Teachers Association and Math Solutions to found the Mickelson ExxonMobil Teachers Academy in 2005. The Academy is designed to engage students in math and science at an early age engage to retain their interest in these subjects through college and into their careers.

“Amy and I are proud to work with our partners, ExxonMobil, the NSTA and Math Solutions to create a hands-on curriculum for teachers looking to deepen their understanding of math and science,” said PGA golfer Phil Mickelson. “Based on the overwhelming response to Send My Teacher, the Academy will offer the program again later this spring, and we encourage all teachers to apply for this incredible opportunity.”

This year, more than 600 teachers will attend one of the three Academies scheduled in New Jersey, Louisiana and Texas. To date, more than 2,000 teachers have attended the Academy, impacting more than 30,000 students from across the country with the lessons and skills they learned.

Character Education: Heroes of the Month of February

The following PK-8 students displayed outstanding Integrity during the month of February:

Julia Sandford, Brianna Mulder, Dominic Schout, AJ Morgan, Christina Guajardo, Anthony Cardosa, Tessa Stephens, Alli Lafleur, Caleb Kipp, Arianna Perez, Janay Baker, Cassedy Levett, Haley Card , Kaylee Fry, Austin Galovich, Kiana Mansfield, and Octavio Cervantes.

Congratulations to these students! March’s character education theme is Perseverance.

WMAES Students Share Artwork with the World!


Move Over Famous Artists! West Michigan Academy Of Environmental Science artists are taking over the spotlight! Brooke Sutherland, the school's Art Teacher, has teamed up with Artsonia, www.artsonia.com -- the world's largest online kid's art museum – to display the students' artwork.

Anyone can view the school gallery online at: www.artsonia.com/schools/WestMichigan1. Visitors can browse the artwork in the school gallery by grade level, or by specific exhibits. West Michigan Academy Of Environmental Science students join thousands of students from over 100 countries whose artwork is showcased on Artsonia. "This program is a wonderful way to get parents and family members more involved in Art Education," said Brooke Sutherland.

WMAES is a PreK – 12th grade public charter academy that focuses on science and the environment. Teachers weave environmental themes throughout the curriculum, including art classes. “Art is the perfect vehicle for demonstrating environmental issues and lessons,” explains Ms. Sutherland. “The students love the hands-on projects and the chance to explore their creativity in ways that bolster their other classroom lessons.”

All of Artsonia's artwork (nearly 5 million and counting!) are viewable online, and any teacher or parent can create an online art gallery for their child or school. Artsonia provides several online features such as fan clubs and personal guestbooks, as a way for families to encourage the creativity and imaginations of their young artists. In addition, family members can purchase keepsakes imprinted with the child's artwork, with Artsonia donating 15 percent of their annual product revenue back to school art programs.

Headquartered in Gurnee, Ill., Artsonia was established in 2000 as an online kid's art museum providing free, educational resources for kids, families and schools to create art projects. Since its inception, Artsonia continues to integrate technology in the classroom, develop multi-cultural understanding through art and increase family involvement in children's education. To find out more, visit www.artsonia.com.


Thank You Letter from Red Cross

Below is an excerpt from a letter sent from the American Red Cross regarding WMAES' recent donation of funds for Haiti.

Dear Mr. Hahn:
With your support, the American Red Cross reaches across the globe to help vulnerable people and communities cope with extensive natural disasters, complex humanitarian emergencies and life-threatening health conditions. On behalf of the American Red Cross and those we serve, thank you for West Michigan Academy of Environmental Science' recent collection of $2,497.27 (and $50.00 in personal checks) on 3/2/2010 in support of our International Response Fund.

In coordination with the global Red Cross and Red Crescent network, the American Red Cross is currently helping survivors of major earthquakes in Haiti and Chile. Through the strength of the International Response Fund, we were able to mobilize immediately for each of these disasters, sending staff members to Haiti less than 24 hours after the earthquake and making initial commitments of financial support for both responses in Haiti and Chile. Your support ensures that survivors of these disasters and other emergencies receive critical relief supplies such as kitchen sets, hygiene kits, shelter kits and tools that restore hope for a quick recovery.

Click here to read full letter.

Great job to all the students, teachers and families who helped us raise nearly $2,500 for Haiti!

The Story of Bottled Water

On March 22nd – World Water Day – The Story of Stuff Project released The Story of Bottled Water, a 7-minute animated film, at www.storyofbottledwater.org. Hosted by Annie Leonard, the creator of the internet hit The Story of Stuff, the film was co-produced with five leading sustainability advocacy organizations: Corporate Accountability International, Environmental Working Group, Food & Water Watch, Polaris Institute and Pacific Institute. The Story of Bottled Water tells the story of manufactured demand, specifically how you get Americans to buy more than half a billion bottles of water every week when they can get it almost free from a tap.

Over seven minutes, the film explores the bottled water industry’s attacks on tap water safety and its use of seductive, environmental-themed marketing to cover up the mountains of plastic waste it produces. The film concludes with a call for viewers to make a personal commitment to avoid bottled water and support public investment in clean, available tap water for all.

The Story of Bottled Water was released on World Water Day, an annual UN-sponsored day of action to support access to clean, safe water for the world’s people. Globally, more than 1 billion have little choice but to use potentially harmful sources of water, leading to what the World Health Organization calls “a silent humanitarian crisis.” Meanwhile, many Americans, who generally have access to safe and abundant water from the kitchen tap, drink bottled water despite the enormous waste of money, energy and resources it represents.

Check out the video at: http://bit.ly/cIWjLo

Okay, so you tap water enthusiasts might already know most of this stuff but it's worth it to gather your bottled water-loving friends around the computer for 7 minutes to teach them just why their bottle water is so unnecessary.

The WMAES Experiment - Chicken TV

Mrs. Heintskill and Mrs. Lameris second grade students are hatching eggs at WMAES. The students Science Fair project is titled; "Does the temperature affect the hatch rate on chicken eggs". They collected eggs over three days and recorded the temperature each day and then put the eggs in the incubator and waited. Each student made a hypothesis, did some research and waited for the results. Their findings? Only 6 out of 13 eggs hatched. Now it is time for them to figure out why by looking at their data.

Check out the video -- you won't be disappointed!

Students Go All Out to Raise Money for Haiti

All week, students and staff participated in a variety of activities that brought in nearly $2500 dollars. These funds will be donated to the American Red Cross. Eighth grader Emily Sutter commented, “After seeing all of the destruction, we had to do something and it was really cool to raise money doing things that were fun.”

On Tuesday and Friday, students could pay a dollar to opt out of wearing the school uniform. All proceeds from the basketball game also went into the fund.

What started as a week-long penny war evolved into a general donation competition as students contributed more money than just pennies. Five classes collected more than $100 each, with the winning class, Mrs. Stehouwer’s first graders, bringing in more than $135. The week ended with a bake sale that brought in even more money.

“I’m really proud of the work the students and staff did to raise so much money in such a short time,” said Mr. Josh Hahn, the elementary principal. “I think this really brought home how important it is to help other people and the kids feel as if they’ve really accomplished something. They learned that even a small amount can make a big impact.”

The students will continue to look for ways to help in the future, including serving as a collection site when relief agencies feel they can accommodate the donation of materials.

Every day you’ll find the students at West Michigan Academy of Environmental Science working hard in the classroom or at one of the outdoor labs that dots the school’s 62-acre campus. But last week, the students had an additional purpose: to raise as much money as possible for Haitian relief efforts.

Paper Trailer is Back

The students and staff at West Michigan Academy are pleased to announce that the paper trailer is back! For over five years, the school and the community have been using the trailer on a daily basis, recycling literally tons of paper products each year.

Years ago, Mark Zimmer, a WMAES graduate came up with the idea as a way to help pay for college. Every month or so (depending on how fast the trailer is filled) Mark donates half of the income generated from the paper being recycled.

Even though the initial idea for the trailer was as a fundraiser, it has turned into one great visual on how much paper our community and school uses. When students take their recycling out to the trailer, they are in disbelief as to how much paper is consumed. Many of the students at WMAES realize that there are many ways to protect and preserve our environment. Reducing our paper use and recycling everything we can directly reduces our carbon footprint, which is what we are really all about.

Please feel free to drop off a load of paper. Maybe one of our friendly students will even help you unload it!


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