Crosstown Throwdown: GRPS celebrates 150 years

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Grand Rapids Public Schools is celebrating its 150th anniversary throughout the school year. 

The district kicked off the celebration with an alumni gathering at the Crosstown Throwdown football game between Union High School and Ottawa Hills High School. 

The event presented GRPS alumni with an opportunity to reminisce on high school memories. 

“Just talked to one of my former teachers for about 20 minutes,” said Sommar Boese, 1991 Union graduate. “My math teacher and he was the baseball coach and athletic director at Union. It was awesome.”

1972 Grand Rapids Central High School graduate and longtime GRPS teacher Teresa Lamar was working at the ticket table. She cherished the opportunity to see former colleagues and students.

“This is really awesome, just to be able to see people that have been with our district for years that went to our schools,” Lamar said. “Some of our students I see, it’s wonderful.”

Debra Perry, another former GRPS student turned district teacher says her teachers inspired her to share her passion for music with her students. 

“Had some inspiring teachers that made me want to be an educator,” says the 1986 Creston High School graduate. “I wanted to show kids you can be a productive citizen through loving music at the same time.”

The Crosstown Throwdown also attracted teachers who taught at GRPS. Otto Brannum was a teacher and coach at Ottawa Hills for more than 30 years. He was on the coaching staff of the boys basketball team that won a state championship in 1997. 

“Ottawa has always had a history of athletes and players coming through,” Brannum said. “It was enjoyable and fun. You are just riding the coattails of success. Great to see the joy on kids’ faces.”

In addition to the events throughout the year to celebrate the district’s 150th anniversary, a district-wide alumni association has been created to help alums connect. 

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