Frequently Asked Questions about Zoo School


Q.  Where & when can I get the application for my fifth grader to attend Zoo School?

A.  Thank you for your interest in Zoo School. When applications are available they can be downloaded from our website or picked up at Blandford School, Zoo School, and the Grand Rapids Public Schools Administration Building.  The application posted on our website will be in Adobe Acrobat. You will need Adobe Reader, which can be downloaded for free from the Adobe website, to open and view the application documents.

Applications must be received in their entirety by by the deadline listed on the application to be considered for the first round of selections.  Applications that are postmarked by the deadline, but received after the deadline will be considered late and will not be part of the first round of selections.

There will be an Information Meeting coming up for prospective parents and prospective students to attend to meet the teachers and learn more about the school. You can check our home page for details or contact our School Secretary to obtain additional information about this meeting.

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Q.  I'm having trouble opening some of the attachments/links on the website.

A.  Many of our attachments are posted as Adobe Acrobat PDF files.
We do this so that any family with internet access can open the documents. This allows you to open & view the documents the way we created them, regardless of what operating system you use, version of Microsoft Office, or any other word processing program you have.

You will need Adobe Reader to open and view these attachments, including the Brochure about Zoo School and our Blandford/Zoo Application. If you do not have Adobe Reader, it can be downloaded for free from their website www.adobe.com.

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Q. We live in the city of Grand Rapids, but my child is not currently attending Grand Rapids Public Schools. Can they still attend Zoo for 6th grade?

A. Yes! Any fifth grade student who wants to attend Zoo School is welcome to apply. Fifth graders who live in the City of Grand Rapids will be considered for acceptance before non-residents will be considered.

Residents of the city of Grand Rapids will be considered equally without regard to the school they previously attended.

That means that fifth graders from Grand Rapids Public Schools, Parochial Schools, and Charter Schools will be considered equally, provided they complete all the application requirements and meet the application deadlines.

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Q. We live outside of the city of Grand Rapids. Can my child still attend?

A. Each year, Zoo School attracts students from all sections of the city of Grand Rapids, and students from outside of the city of Grand Rapids as well.

Non-residents wishing to attend Zoo School have two options.

The first and easier option is to apply through Schools of Choice. This must be done in person in the Student Services Office at the Grand Rapids Public Schools Administration Building, located at 1331 Franklin SE.

We recommend calling the Student Services Office (phone: 616-819-3276) to find out the deadlines for Schools of Choice. Students who are accepted through schools of choice are automatically released from their home district.

The second option is to fill out the Section 6 Release/Transfer Paperwork. This also has to be done in person at the Student Services Office at 1331 Franklin SE. The biggest difference is that non-residents who fill out Release Paperwork have to wait for their home district to grant permission for them to attend a school in another school district. Please note that the home district has the right to deny your request if they choose to do so!

We recommend the Schools of Choice option, however, if you miss the Schools of Choice deadline, you must go to the Student Services Office to complete the Release paperwork if you would like to attend Blandford or Zoo Schools.

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Q. My child would like to apply for Zoo as their first choice and Blandford or Center for Economicology as their second choice. Do we need to turn in one application for each school?

A. No, please indicate your child's first and second choice on Page One of the application. Only turn in one completed application. All applications are reviewed by the same Selection Committee. Submitting two applications (one for each school) does not increase your chances of being selected, and is discouraged because it creates more paperwork.

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Q. I have a child who already attended Zoo School. Does that make it easier for my Fifth Grader to get in?

A. In a word, no. Applications are scored objectively based on our set scoring criteria, and no preference is given to Fifth Graders who have had an older sibling or family friend attend Zoo School or Blandford School.

This is to be as fair as possible to the applicants, and so the students who are selected will have the best possible peer group.

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Q. Are applicants selected on a "first come, first served" basis?

A. No, applications are not scored on a "first come, first served" basis. Applications will be scored based on test scores and their report cards. If one child’s application is received on the day the applications become available, and another child’s application is received on the day the applications are due, they will be considered equally. This process allows the most qualified students to attend.

Applications received after the deadline will only be scored if Blandford, Zoo, and Center for Economicology do not receive sixty qualified applicants by the deadline.

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Q. What else can I send in with my application packet to sway the decision of the Selection Committee?

A. Please only send in the required documents.

Other documents have been submitted in the past, such as homework awards, attendance awards, assignments and essays, and proof of extra curricular activities. These kinds of documents are not considered in selection of applying students.

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Q. If my child applies for one theme school (Zoo, Blandford, and Center for Economicology) and doesn't like it, can they transfer to another theme school?

A. No. Theme schools do not accept transfers from one school to another after selections have been made. If a student wishes to go to a different Theme school program they must re-apply and wait for selection. Students always have the option of returning to their base attendance area (neighborhood) school.  We recommend that if a student is struggling to make the adjustment to Zoo School, with homework, or any other aspect of Zoo School, that the students talk to the teachers, and that if any concerns persist, that the parents and student meet with the teacher to work toward solutions or create a strategy to improve any problems before making the decision to leave Zoo School. We will make every effort to help each student make a smooth transition into Zoo School and succeed.

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Q.  Is bussing available?

Bussing is available for all Zoo School students who live in the city of Grand Rapids.

Zoo is Sixth Grade, so we are considered a middle school, which means they can be required to walk up to a mile and a half to or from school before they qualify for bussing.

Students who live within one and a half miles of a GRPS Middle School should catch a bus at the middle school, which will take them to Zoo School.

Students who live more than a mile and a half away from the nearest GRPS Middle School can catch a bus from a designated bus stop. That bus will take them to the nearest middle school, where they will catch a shuttle bus to Zoo School.

After school, students are transported to a designated bus stop not more than one and a half miles away from their home. (Drop off locations are usually closer than one and a half miles).

GRPS Transportation will let parents know the bus pick up & drop off information (time, location, bus route number) before school starts.

Students who live outside of the city of Grand Rapids are permitted to ride the bus to and from existing stops within the GR city limits if room is available. Special stops will not be set up for out of district students. After your child is accepted, if you live outside the district, please contact our school secretary to find out more about bussing availability for your child.

We are unable to answer specific pick up and drop off questions until Dean Transportation releases the information a week or two before the school year begins.

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Q. When can I meet the teachers & find out more?

A. Our Parent Information Meeting is a great opportunity for prospective parents and students to come see the school and surrounding property, meet the teachers, and receive information about the curriculum, events, and projects that make Zoo School an excellent educational option for students who are currently performing at or above grade level and enjoy being challenged.   Check out the calendar for the date & time of our Parent Information Meeting.

Immediately following our Information Meeting, Fifth Graders and their parents have the option to get a short tour of the school grounds, and park from a current Zoo School student. This gives Fifth Graders the opportunity to get a peer's perspective on the year at Zoo School.

We strongly encourage attendance at the Information Meeting, especially for people unfamiliar with Zoo School. Zoo’s educational program includes so much more than just the basic sixth grade curriculum, it would be very time consuming to give the same detailed information that is given at the meeting over and over again.

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Q: What are the classes and class sizes at Zoo School?

A: Our Maximum Enrollment at Zoo School is 60 students. There are two classrooms with thirty students in each class. We have two teachers: Dennis Kretschman and John Fordney.

Our students have the option to participate in instrumental music classes during the school day.

Instrumental music classes are free, and we have several instruments that students can sign out and use for the school year. Students may have to purchase their own instrumental music book. Our Band and Orchestra Teachers will have more information about our this program a few weeks after school has started.

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Q. What immunizations are required for sixth graders?

A. Beginning in 2002, schools in Michigan have been required to report the immunization status of all sixth graders. All 6th grade students must have documentation from a health professional of the following immunizations:

· Complete series of diphtheria/pertussis/tetanus vaccine (DTP, DtaP, DT or Td), final dose after the 4th birthday.
· Three doses of polio vaccine, final dose after the 4th birthday.
· Two doses of measles/mumps/rubella (MMR) vaccine, final dose after the 4th birthday.
· Three doses of Hepatitis B vaccine
· One dose of chicken pox (Varicella) vaccine (or approximate date of having disease)

It is your responsibility to make sure that your child has received the required immunizations and bring a copy of his/her most recent record to the school orientation so we may update his/her records. (You are also welcome to mail in a copy to the school office prior to the orientation). Your cooperation in supplying this information before the first day of school will be greatly appreciated and will assist our staff in meeting this state immunization requirement.

The new 6th grade immunization assessment will help ensure that all school-aged children are protected against vaccine-preventable diseases. If your child needs immunizations, you should contact your doctor or local health department.

If you object to your child receiving any or all of the required immunizations, you will be required to complete and sign an Immunization Waiver Form.

If you have any questions regarding school immunization requirements, please call us at school or call the Kent County Health Department immunizations nurse at 336-2233.

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Q.  Are Zoo School students outside a lot?

A. YES! Because we are an environmental program, students should be prepared to go outdoors every day in all weather conditions.

We recommend layers of clothing in the fall and spring to keep students warm and comfortable in the unpredictable weather.

Students who are selected to attend will receive a recommended clothing supply list in our Orientation Packet in August.

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Q. Is there a school lunch program?

A. Yes, Zoo School has a lunch program, however our school does not have a cook or cafeteria. We do offer cold lunch (sack lunches, salads, cheese-and-crackers, etc.) for our students on a daily basis. Cold lunches include milk, fruit or vegetable, and protein. Students who currently attend Grand Rapids Public Schools may know these lunches as "munchers."

Parents can complete an application at the beginning of the year to see if they qualify for free lunches. Full price lunches are $1.00 per day.

We also offer a rotating breakfast menu (cold cereal, muffins, breakfast bars, fresh fruit and milk).

In addition to the regular school lunch options, we have hot lunch, usually monthly. Parent volunteers help pick up and serve the hot lunches, which can be pizza or tacos, with treats and drinks. Details about the hot lunch will be sent home with students.

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Q. Does Zoo School have a PTSA?

A. Zoo School does have a PTSA ( it is a part of the City Middle/High PTSA) and we have many involved parents each year. At the beginning of the school year, we give parents a list of the main volunteer opportunities and ask parents to let us know which projects, programs, events, and activities they might be interested in doing.

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Q.  Do Zoo School students go on any camping trips?

A. We take a camping trip in October to Camp Roger in the Rockford/Belding area.
This is for three days and two nights. Students participate in different activities with the students in their group.

Because Zoo School is a one year program and attracts students from many schools all over the city, most students do not know their classmates when they start the school year. The Fall Camping experience is when we usually notice the biggest difference in our students getting to know each other. This is when they most often begin working as a group instead of sixty individual students working by themselves.

The different things they learn and do at Fall Camp are hands-on, and could not be learned by sending a book home, and would be difficult to do by just staying at school.

Our second camping trip is usually the last week of school. It is for seven days and six nights. We go to Camp Hayo-Went-Ha at Torch Lake near Traverse City. This camping trip is a great opportunity for our students to say goodbye to the new friends they made during the school year. Because Zoo is a one-year program, not all of the students will attend the same school for seventh grade.

Each year the costs of these trips has gone up, and our school budget remains the same. We ask parents to make a financial contribution of $175 to help offset the expenses of the two camping trips.

Our two camping trips are a mandatory and valuable part of our curriculum.

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