June 2, 2022

GHAPS Fourth Graders Pitch Solutions to U.S. Coast Guard at Showcase Event

Peach Plains Elementary School students collaborated with the United States Coast Guard to answer an important question: How can we share the work of our local U.S. Coast Guard with our community? The project is part of the district’s Homegrown program, where area businesses and organizations partner with students to solve real-life problems.

Students presented their final solutions to the U.S. Coast Guard and local officials at the project’s Showcase Event held Wednesday, May 26 from 10:30-11:30 a.m. at Grand Haven’s Escanaba Park. “We had the best experience,” shares fourth grade teacher Annie Ratke, who planned the project for her students. “Master Chief Marc Moore and Petty Office Christopher Pike were wonderful hosts.”

The Showcase Event was the culmination of a two-week collaboration whereby Ms. Ratke guided her students through the “creative sequence” stages of observation, investigation, incubation, solution and validation.

As part of their research, Ms. Ratke and her students toured Grand Haven’s Coast Guard station, where “they learned so much about Coast Guard history and the work that our local station does here in Grand Haven,” shares Ratke. Students also interviewed key stakeholders Joy Gaash from Grand Haven Area Chamber of Commerce; Joni Bennett, a teacher and member of the Coast Guard Festival Committee; and Captain Zachary Ford, director of the National Command Center in Washington, D.C.

Following their investigation, the class worked through what they learned, developed solutions, and pitched their ideas to a feedback panel. On the day of the event students came ready with practiced presentations and creative skits to demonstrate their best ideas, which included: tours of the Coast Guard station and boats; QR codes around the station and pier linking to information about the Coast Guard’s history and mission; a Coast Guard Buddies mentorship program in schools; the Coastie Newspaper highlighting local Coast Guard efforts and service members; and a Coast Guard skit to dramatize the work the Coast Guard does in the community.

“These types of projects are fantastic examples of district’s commitment to providing educational opportunities that go beyond the traditional classroom,” shares GHAPS Superintendent Scott Grimes. “Equitable learning experiences that foster connections within the community are such critical components of student learning and success.”

Grand Haven Area Public Schools is a district of distinction for students in preschool through 12th grade. With a goal of providing exceptional educational experiences, GHAPS is committed to success for all students and strives to provide exemplary programs and opportunities to meet their diverse needs.