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Cornerstone University students are welcomed in Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM)- Hundreds of students are back in Grand Rapids ahead of a new school year.  Cornerstone University welcomed back more than 400 students Wednesday.  Organizers helped them move into their new home.  This year's class comes from 20 states and 14 nations.

Cornerstone University President Joe Stowell says, "Every class is different, but every class is valued.  Every one of these lives have been prepared to come and experience Cornerstone University so we value them individually and we're thrilled to have them as a class"

Classes at Cornerstone will begin next Wednesday.

Former addicts help church members build a Habitat for Humanity home

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM)- Some former drug addicts who are rebuilding their lives are also building a future for a family in Grand Rapids. 

Men from Guiding Light Mission's recovery program joined members of Westminster Presbyterian Church Wednesday to help build a home for Habitat for Humanity.  They spent several  hours hammering together a home on Merrill Southwest. 

Volunteers said they didn't mind Wednesday's rain or high temperatures.  Volunteer Patrick Weber says, "Giving back to the community, it helps a lot. I feel really good about it."

Church member Ron Hoekman says, "It's really a joy to have them working here to be able to work along side them."

The men from Guiding Light Mission have helped with a variety of events and organizations in the past including the Mental Health Foundation and Picnic Pops.

Big changes coming for students this year at Catholic Central and West Catholic

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM)- Wednesday is the first full day of classes at Catholic Central and West Catholic High Schools in Grand Rapids.

This year, both high schools will have to adjust to some major changes.

Former West Catholic principal Tom Maj is now the sole principal for both high schools. "People are excited, of course, they're waiting to see if I can lead both schools,"said Maj in anticipation of his new role.

It's a job some parents didn't support back when it was announced this last spring.

A prayer vigil was held in hopes the decision would be reversed, but it wasn't. Maj says the position offers better alignment, an opportunity to right size staffing for the schools, and greater communications.

"For me it's been exciting," said Maj. "It's an opportunity to build something special to reclaim and reclarify our role in the city of Grand Rapids in terms of a catholic school and a catholic education which has been here."

Administrators see advantages in year-round schools

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM)- For most kids, school starts next week. But, for hundreds of others, class has been in session for a few weeks now.

Grand Rapids Public Schools has five "year-round" schools. Students report in early August, and waste no time getting right to work.

Dickinson Elementary is one of those schools. Students don't get a three month summer break, but according to educators that is to their benefit.

"The kids can continue to get those basic skills that they may loose over that long period of time over the summer because it is such a big gap," says Carmen Smith, a Kindergarten ESL Teacher.

Teachers say the longer the gap, the more time they have to spend reviewing things learned the previous year. And, with fall MEAP testing just two months away, time is precious.

District leaders say in years past children at the year-round schools have performed slightly higher on MEAP testing.

September 01st, 2010 - Chihuly at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park: A New Eden

Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, one of the nation’s most significant sculpture and botanic experiences, will celebrate the masterwork of artist Dale Chihuly, one of the world’s foremost artists, with a large-scale outdoor sculpture exhibition. “Chihuly at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park: A New Eden” will feature fourteen monumental glass sculptures in diverse locations across Meijer Gardens. It will be open to the public April 30, 2010 through September 30, 2010. Each of the fifteen sculptures will correspond to the horticultural aspects and natural conditions of each respective location. Chosen sites span the grounds of Meijer Gardens including the English Perennial Garden, Woodland Shade Garden, Lena Meijer Children’s Garden, wetland areas and the 30-acre Sculpture Park. “I’m happy to be coming back to Frederik Meijer Gardens”, said Chihuly.

'Playback' filming in Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM)- More than 100 people from West Michigan are working on the set of a new movie in Grand Rapids.  The thriller "Playback" is about a group of high school students who unlock evil while digging into their town's past. 

Crews temporarily closed down Fulton Street and Diamond Avenue Tuesday to film scenes for the movie.  It features a cast of young actors including Johnny Pacar and Daryl "Chill" Mitchell.

Mitchell says, "Yeah, you know what, I like it here because it is nice, it is peaceful, we're down there on the water, and you couldn't ask for nothing better." 

Actor Johnny Pacar says, "I get back to Michigan you know once to twice a year.  Um I've never been out this way to Grand Rapids, but I like it.  Got to explore downtown this weekend it's cool ya know, it's a lot different."

Tickets for Princess Diana celebration on sale

GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) - On the 13th anniversary of Princess Diana's death, the Grand Rapids Art Museum is preparing for an exhibit in her honor. On Tuesday, the GRAM kicked-off ticket sales with a ceremony, fit for royalty.

On the steps of the museum, there was a re-creation of the "changing of the guards."  The exhibit is called "Diana - A Celebration".

"It's traveled all over the world, so we were lucky to get it here," says Interim GRAM Director Randy Van Antwerp.

The most recognizable piece is Diana's wedding dress, seen by over one billion television viewers in 1981. "The exhibit also has 28 dresses, her designer fashion throughout, stuff from her childhood, and her tiara that she wore."