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Recycling and Education Center dedicated in Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM)- Kent County leaders hope a new, advanced plant will encourage more people to recycle.  City and county leaders dedicated the new Recycling and Education Center in Grand Rapids Friday.  The Wealthy Street facility is located on the same site that was once home to the Applied Arts stamping plant.

The center can handle more than double the materials than the former recycling site. Residents who use the site do not need to sort their recyclables.

Aquinas College students volunteer for Project Unite

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM)- College freshmen opened their hears before their school books by performing community service projects Friday.  500 new students at Aquinas College are taking part in the volunteer program as part of their orientation.  The service program is called Project Unite.

Eric Bridge with Aquinas College said the students served at 13 sites around the community doing "everything from landscaping projects to working for Kids Food Basket."

This is the 17th year for Project Unite.  The new students also performed service projects on the Aquinas campus and work for ArtPrize.

New immunization requirements for Michigan children

KENT COUNTY, Mich. (WZZM)- This year children heading back to Michigan schools will have new immunization requirements. 11-year-olds need a meningitis and a whooping cough vaccine. You also need those shots if you're 11 or older, and changing school districts.

Lisa Newton knows back to school shopping all too well, she has ten children about to start the year. But this summer, Newton's to do list is growing as her kids will need extra vaccines to meet state guidelines.

Newton says, "We do have some more going into high school this year so we'll make sure they get the meningitis."

Many like Newton are making appointments at local health departments, but Kent County immunization supervisor Mary Wisinski says some residents are confused about the 6th grade requirements.

"The confusing thing for moms I believe is some 10-year olds starting 6th grade, but those kids are okay until they turn 11 years of age"

Hope Academy of West Michigan to open in 2011

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM)- A former Catholic school in Grand Rapids is getting new life.  Wedgewood Christian Services announced Friday that will transform the former St. Francis Catholic School into a specialized school for at-risk youth.  The new charter school will be called Hope Academy of West Michigan and will serve all grades.

Wedgewood says there will be no charge to attend the school, which is authorized by Ferris State University.

The new facility will create 22 full-time and part-time jobs.

Hope Academy of West Michigan will open in the fall of next year.

Children take a stand against violence in Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM)-  A group of Grand Rapids area youth are taking a stand against violence.

They performed at Lamb of God Church Saturday afternoon. They say their message is not only for those making poor choices, but to also highlight those on the right path.

"Taking a Stand Against Violence" was an idea that started taking shape in February. But in light of the recent summer violence, those involved say the message is just as important now as ever.

Dressed as soldiers, the Holy Steps and the Anointed Step dance groups say they are in a war.

Performer Natasha Garcia explains, "I hope the message gets across that there's more out there than gang violence and other things for young kids to do instead of out running the streets all the time."

Grand Rapids Public Schools hosting park parties

GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM)-For the first time ever, Grand Rapids Public Schools will host a series of back to school park parties.

"The idea here is we're going to have live entertainment, music, kids games, free hot dogs, snacks and water," explained district spokesman John Helmholdt. "There's also going to be a series of information booths for G.R.P.S. [and] also community partners."

The first park party will take place Monday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Clemente Park. Another will happen at the same time Tuesday at Martin Luther King Junior Park. Then next Monday and Tuesday, two more park parties are planned for Aberdeen Park and Lincoln Park.

Park Parties begin for Grand Rapids students

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM)- The first of four back to school parties for the Grand Rapids Public School District was held Monday night at Roberto Clemente Park.

The free parties are open to the public.  They include free hot dogs, chips and refreshments.  Participants can also enter free raffles for backpacks, school supplies and gift cards.  Parents can visit the information booths to learn more about the schools.

Superintendent Dr. Bernard Taylor says, "It's about parents, the community, the school district coming together to build the support out kids need to thrive academically."

The Southeast Park party is Tuesday from 4 - 7p.m. at Martin Luther King Park.  Parties for the northeast and northwest sides will be held next week.