The annual Crosstown Throwdown football game on Friday, August 27 at Houseman Field between Ottawa Hills and Union high schools will kick off a year’s worth of celebrations as Grand Rapids Public Schools marks its 150th Anniversary.

In addition to a football game between the GRPS crosstown rivals, the August 27 event will feature a citywide reunion with graduates of current and former GRPS schools invited from near and far.

The event will be a celebration of the district’s long history, featuring GRPS Hall of Fame recipients, past and present. Doors will open at 4:00 p.m. The Ottawa Hills vs Union game kicks off at 6:00 p.m.

Tickets to the Crosstown Throwdown are FREE, but registration is required. The stadium holds 6,000 and organizers expect a sell-out crowd. To sign up for this event, visit

The district is also providing sponsorship opportunities for local businesses and individuals who would like to support the Crosstown Throwdown. More information on sponsorships is available at

GRPS Superintendent Dr. Leadriane Roby said the district is eager to see alumni attend the August 27 reunion.

“We really want this to be the largest class reunion in GRPS history,” Roby said. “And we want people to be aware of the various sponsorship opportunities we will have for the different events. We want to encourage a healthy competition between the schools and classes, and, of course, since all proceeds raised will go to the GRPS Foundation, sponsorships will directly benefit our students. It’s definitely a win-win.”

GRPS spokesperson John Helmholdt added that the district is being highly intentional as it honors its history, highlighting high schools both current and past by inviting alumni to the August 27 reunion.

GRPS traces its beginnings to a March 15, 1871 act of the Legislature of Michigan “that the city of Grand Rapids and all contiguous territory which shall hereafter be added thereto, shall constitute one school district.”

One month later, on April 11, 1871, the first Board of Education of the city of Grand Rapids was organized from the trustees of what previously had been three different districts, and the 1871-72 school year became the first under the new structure.

“We have alumni of all ages who live not just in Grand Rapids and West Michigan, but across the country and the world,” said Helmholdt. “We have graduates from recent years who went to high schools that still exist. We have graduates from decades ago who are proud alumni of high schools that are no longer around. Our invitation is to all alumni from all our schools to come out in August and connect with former classmates and teachers and have a great time. We can’t wait to see you.”

Helmholdt also noted that the district has a new alumni website where former students can register to read alumni stories, news and more at