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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.

UPDATE: Thousands line up to try water slide in Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM)-A portion of downtown Grand Rapids looks more like a water park this weekend, as the community welcomes the world's largest water slide.

An estimated 2,000 people began lining up Saturday afternoon for a free trip down the 500 foot slide on Lyon Street. The $50,000 slide was paid for by donations from area sponsors. Organizer Rob Bliss admitted there were some glitches Saturday-crews had to take the bumps out of the slide because riders weren't getting enough speed, and the start time was delayed until 2 p.m. because of weather.
But that didn't stop eager riders from waiting hours to try out the water slide.

"Well, we've been here for four hours," Mark Vandenberg said from his place in the front of the line. "There were people here at six that have since left because they weren't able to get on the slide, but now we're right here. We're almost ready to take the plunge, so we're looking forward to it."

What you need to know before riding the weekend waterslide

GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) - If you are planning on slip-sliding down Lyon Street this weekend on the large inflatable waterslide, there are a few things you should know.

First, the slide will be open from 8:00am until 10:00pm on Saturday and Sunday on Lyon Street between Lafayette and Division.  This is near the Grand Rapids Community College campus.  GRCC's Bostwick Ramp has all-day passes for just $3. If that is full, the downtown city ramps provide the best parking.

You must wear a swimsuit!  People wearing materials that could rip and damage the slide during a ride will be turned away. Anyone can ride, though for safety reasons a 48-inch height restriction applies to EVERYONE. Also a weight restriction of 300 lbs applies as well.

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.

Thunder Country Jam takes over downtown Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM)-Country music fans got a treat in downtown Grand Rapids.

Thousands of people packed Rosa Parks Circle Sunday evening for a free concert, as part of the 94.5 Thunder Country Jam. The radio station lined up a variety of acts, including Chuck Wicks. Visitors also stopped by food and clothing booths and took part in a variety of family activities.

After putting on the HOT FM New Year's Eve Party, organizers say they wanted to do something for local country fans.

"We just really wanted to thank everyone who came on down," said radio personality Scrubs. "If you weren't able to make it down this year, we want you to come next year. This is going to be something that we want to do for everybody in our city; it's going to continue to make our area the best part of Michigan."

In between acts, guests tried to break the world record for largest line dance.