The COVID 19 pandemic continues to alter many aspects of our lives. As a result,the theme school application for the 2021-2022 school year will be available on January 4, 2021. The first round deadline will be February 26, 2021.
As a district, we want to ensure that every student has the opportunity to participate in our theme school application process. Many of the traditional theme school supports, such as school choice expos, will need to be adapted for the pandemic. We are taking our time and making sure these supports are done correctly.
Thank you for your continued patience and understanding. More detailed communications and information will follow as we approach January.
Thank you for your interest in our Theme Schools! We have a variety of options for families looking for a school with theme-related curricula and instructional programs that are not available at comprehensive schools.
School ChoicesGRPS has a variety of school choices to fit your needs. Below you'll find information on each one of our theme schools.
*All of our preschool options for 3-year-olds are limited to Montessori. Similarly, all of our preschool options for 4-year-olds through our theme school application are limited to Montessori. We do offer preschool options for 4-year-olds at all of our elementary schools, but only Montessori is placed through the theme school application. If you are interested in applying for preschool at a school other than Montessori, please contact the Early Childhood Department at 819-2111.
**All Montessori kindergarten classrooms are half-day.
Age of Entry
|School Year||Program||Cutoff Date||Date of Birth||Age waiver possible**
|2020-2021||PreK3||3 years old by Sept. 1||9/2/16-9/1/17||No|
|2020-2021||PreK4||4 years old by Sept. 1||9/2/15-9/1/16||
Yes for GSRP*
|2020-2021||Kindergarten||5 years old by Sept. 1||9/2/14-9/1/15||Yes|
|2021-2022||PreK3||3 years old by Sept. 1||9/2/17-9/1/18||No|
|2021-2022||PreK4||4 years old by Sept. 1||9/2/16-9/1/15||Yes for GSRP*
No for Montessori
|2021-2022||Kindergarten||5 years old by Sept. 1||9/2/15-9/1/16||Yes|
*Please check with the Early Childhood Office on specifics of GSRP age waiver. Age waivers are currently available but are subject to change.
The Montessori environment contains specially designed, hands-on materials that invite children to engage in learning activities of their own choosing. Under the guidance of a specially trained teacher, children in a Montessori classroom learn by making discoveries with the materials, cultivating concentration, motivation, self-discipline and a love of learning. Students learn in cohorts of three age levels. The multi-age classroom allows the students to become part of a learning community that fosters respect, understanding, and tolerance.
Grand Rapids Montessori (PK3 - 12)* ** is located near the heart of downtown in the Heritage Hill neighborhood, where students learn in the historic Fountain Building surrounded by green space and gardens.
North Park Montessori (PK3 - 8)* ** features 2 campuses tucked away in the neighborhood. “Big” North Park is home to children in grades 1 through 8, and “little” North Park is home to Children’s House, students age 3 through kindergarten.
Ridgemoor Park Montessori (PK3 - 6)* ** is a newly renovated school found in the heart of the Ridgemoor neighborhood on the southeast side of Grand Rapids, adjacent to Ridgemoor Park which provides spectacular green space.
*All of our preschool options for 4-year-olds through our theme school application are limited to Montessori. We do offer preschool options for 4-year-olds at all of our elementary schools, but only Montessori is placed through the theme school application. If you are interested in applying for preschool at a school other than Montessori, please contact the Early Childhood Department at 819-2111.
For information about Grand Rapids Montessori (PK3-12), North Park Montessori (PK3-8), and Ridgemoor Park Montessori (PK3-6) please refer to the Preschool section.
CA Frost Environmental Science Academy (K - 12)* is designed to offer an experiential, hands-on approach for students interested in environmental science. Examples include local flora and fauna studies, ice and fly-fishing/angling instruction, adventure learning, local habitat studies, rock and mineral studies, naturalist studies, organic gardening and vermicomposting, greenhouse management and supplying local restaurants with hydroponically-grown produce, academy-wide Reduce, Reuse, Recycle program, “leave no trace” primitive camping training, sugarbush maple syrup collection, birding experiences, other wildlife observation, and more!
Coit Creative Arts Academy (K - 5)* is where artistic students thrive! The arts are incorporated into all fields of learning, including math and science. Visual arts, music, dance, and performance are all used as tools to further students’ learning. Students at Coit enjoy exciting trips to the symphony, ballet, plays, musicals and more! Coit is also in the candidacy phase of becoming an International Baccalaureate (IB) Primary Years Programme school, the global standard of excellence in education.
Gerald R. Ford Academic Center (K - 8)* offers a college-focused culture where students embrace the idea that college is important and prepare for this goal by building habits of excellent scholarship and leadership. Students learn in small classes that foster civic and community leadership, develop character and integrity and participate in service-learning projects. At Ford, expectations are always high, including for parents and guardians, as outlined in the parent/guardian compact. Placement in the program is contingent on a parent/guardian interview, according to the selection criteria.
Sherwood Park Global Studies Academy (K - 6)* is where tradition meets technology. Students are prepared for the global economy through language and cultural studies. Sherwood Park Global Studies Academy is located in Grand Rapids’ southeast side, in a building filled with artwork that reflects the global studies theme and highlights the diversity of its students. Sherwood Park is in the candidacy phase of becoming an International Baccalaureate (IB) Primary Years Programme school, the global standard of excellence in education.
Southwest Community Campus (K-9)* offers a proven dual immersion experience in English and Spanish to help students become bilingual and bicultural. Research demonstrates that bilingual people are well-positioned for a successful future with more opportunities at college and in the workplace. Additionally, bilingual students perform better on standardized tests and are significantly more competitive in an increasingly global economy. In partnership with Plaza Roosevelt, Southwest will open a new $20 million middle/high school campus, which will grow a grade each year until grade 12. SWCC accepts students at all grades, but because of the dual immersion model, students applying to grades 2 and above need to submit a theme school application and then test for proficiency in English and Spanish.
6 Grade Only
Qualifying math and reading NWEA (MAP) test scores are required for selection to Blandford School, Center for Economicology, Zoo School, and City High/Middle. Students who are NOT current GRPS students are required to submit test scores with their application.
Students who are not eligible based on all of the requirements are notified of ineligibility and are provided the opportunity to appeal with new scores.
Blandford School (6 only) extends beyond four walls and into the great outdoors, where your child will learn to identify different types of plants, trees, frogs, and birds. This experience is enhanced by two yearly camping trips where students learn team-building and outdoor skills. Additionally, students learn hands-on business skills by collecting and selling the eggs produced by the chickens. A year at Blandford is one your child will never forget! Nestled into the farm campus at Blandford Nature Center, the LEED-certified building is surrounded by 143 acres of forests, fields, and creeks, creating an organic and hands-on learning experience about the natural world.
Center for Economicology (6 only) is a combination of the words “economy” and “ecology”. Coined by Peter Wege, the term advocates for reasoned, respectful, engaged stewardship of the Earth in service of both people and the planet. There are six guiding philosophies that provide the backbone for the Center for Economicology, known as the “Six E’s”. The Six E’s are ECOLOGY, ECONOMICS, EMPATHY, ENVIRONMENT, ETHICS, and EDUCATION.
Zoo School (6 only) believes in the importance of learning through collaboration. Students participate in a number of groups as well as individual projects throughout the year. Projects culminate in an independently-chosen final project that allows students to creatively demonstrate their research and presentation skills. Students have exclusive opportunities to participate in exciting activities at the Zoo, including animal feeding, raising salmon, recycling, navigating trials, and water sampling. Students also participate in two camping trips during the year.
Transcripts are required to be submitted with your application for grades 10 (non-GRPS students only). Placement of students in grades 11 & 12 is handled on a case-by-case basis.
For information about CA Frost Environmental Science Academy (K-12), Gerald R. Ford Academic Center (K-8), and Southwest Community Campus (K-9) please refer to the Elementary section.
For information about Grand Rapids Montessori (PK3-12) and North Park Montessori (PK3-8) please refer to the Preschool section.
Grand Rapids Public Museum School (6 - 11) is filled with unique objects and artifacts from the community as well as around the world! Students have exclusive opportunities to touch, see, and learn from these historical items every day. This hands-on approach to learning activates the mind and a child’s natural curiosity. Primary sources and their stories help students connect history, culture, art, science, and other subjects. Each day at the Museum School is different from the one before and activities often take students outside the classroom into the community. Students will be active every day and outdoors frequently.
Grand Rapids University Preparatory Academy (6-12) is for students who value individualized learning plans in a rigorous college and career prep program. Students benefit from a culture of inclusion, innovation, and diversity in small class sizes utilizing project-based learning. Students create an individualized learning plan with input from their advisor and parent or guardian. This plan guides their work and is based on the student’s personal interests, skill level, maturity, and learning style. Students participate in interest-based projects in addition to their traditional classwork. Teachers use narratives, which provide specific and concrete feedback, help to inform the student’s given grade. Please note that transportation is not provided for grades 6-8.
City High/Middle School (7-12) is proud to be an International Baccalaureate school. International Baccalaureate (IB), is an international program that expertly prepares students around the world for their post-secondary education. 7-10 grade students follow IB’s Middle Years Programme, or “MYP”, while 11 and 12 graders follow the Diploma Programme, or “DP”. Both programs are designed to encourage students to become lifelong learners who are naturally curious, seek knowledge to consider complex issues, and are able to communicate confidently and creatively. Qualifying math and reading NWEA (MAP) test scores are required for selection to City High/Middle (grades 7th - 9th). Students who are NOT current GRPS students are required to submit test scores with their application. Students who are not eligible based on all of the requirements are notified of ineligibility and are provided the opportunity to appeal with new scores.
For information about Grand Rapids Public Museum School (6-11), Grand Rapids University Preparatory Academy (6-12), and City High/Middle School (7-12) please refer to the Middle School section.
For information about CA Frost Environmental Science Academy (K-12) and Southwest Community Campus (K-9) please refer to the Elementary section.
For information about Grand Rapids Montessori (PK3-12) please refer to the Preschool section.
Transcripts are required to be submitted with your application for grades 10 (non-GRPS students only). Placement of students in grades 11 & 12 is handled on a case-by-case basis.
Innovation Central High School combines all the innovation, talent, resources, and partnerships of five academies on one campus.
- Academy of Business, Leadership & Entrepreneurship (9 & 10) teaches students about business, management, marketing, and finance through cutting edge classroom instruction, internships, and real-world experience.
- Academy of Design & Construction (9 & 10) engages students in architecture, engineering, design, and construction through real-world and hands-on experiences.
- Academy of Health Sciences & Technology (9 & 10) goes beyond the classroom to develop the skills, knowledge, and personal characteristics needed in the healthcare industry.
- Academy of Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math (9 & 10) offers pathways in engineering, biomedical science, and computer science using a hands-on national curriculum to prepare students for college and careers. Students experience many interactions with industry partners and universities in STEM fields.
- Academy of Teaching & Learning (9 only) is proud to partner with Ferris State University School of Education on curriculum design, dual enrollment opportunities, and hands-on student teaching opportunities. Students will have the opportunity to earn up to 7 credits from Ferris State University through dual enrollment.
Ottawa Hills High School is home to innovation focused on new college-career prep academies offering work-based learning experiences, internships, and apprenticeships.
- Academy of Hospitality & Tourism (9 only) helps students chart career paths in one of the world’s largest industries, including lodging, sports, entertainment, travel, food, and event management. Ottawa Hills High School has partnered with the National Academy Foundation to help the students meet the needs of this growing industry, emphasizing customer service and the mastery of tangible skills.
- Early Middle College (10 only) is where students, beginning in 10th grade, take college courses along with high school classes. Students in the program complete a 13th year made up primarily of college courses. Students graduate after year 13 with a high school diploma and an associate degree for free, with at least 60 transferable credits. Students must have a minimum of a 2.5 grade point average to qualify.
How to ApplyApplicants may apply by completing and submitting an electronic application or by completing a paper application and submitting it via email, mail, fax, or in-person to a local GRPS school or the Office of Community and Student Services.
If you have trouble submitting an application online, please the Office of Student Data Systems at call (616) 819-2468.
If you have a question about the information requested on the application, please call the Office of Community and Student Services at (616) 819-2150.
Submit a Paper Application
To submit a paper application, you may click here to print out an application (ENGLISH | SPANISH) or you may pick up an application from the office of any GRPS school. You may also pick up a copy of the application from the Office of Community and Student Services at 1331 Franklin SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49506.
The selection process for the 1st Round of placements will be held between December 2 and December 20, 2019. Notifications of placement in 1st, 2nd, or 3rd choice options will be sent before or during Winter Break.
If your student is not selected for their 1st, 2nd, or 3rd choice, they will automatically be placed on a waitlist for their 1st choice.
The application window will re-open on January 6, 2020, and close on February 28, 2020, to continue to fill available seats at theme schools that were not filled during 1st Round selections.
Theme schools with available seats after Spring Break (April 6, 2020) will continue to accept applications and students will be placed as applications are received.
As the Grand Rapid Public Schools, our obligation, first and foremost, is to those that live within our boundaries. The following factors are considered first in placing students:
- Students K-5 living within the neighborhood boundary of the theme school to which they are applying
- Grand Rapids residents with a sibling currently attending the applied for school (does not include test-in schools)
- Grand Rapids residents, regardless of the school they are currently attending
- Children of GRPS employees who reside within the GRPS boundaries
- Non-residents currently attending a GRPS school
- Non-residents with a sibling currently attending the applied-for school (does not include test-in schools)
- Children of GRPS employees who are non-residents
- Non-residents with a sibling currently attending any GRPS school
Students to whom the factors in the "Priority Placement" section do not apply will be randomized, sorted for each program, and placed in the school to which they applied to fill the remaining available seats.
Students who did not receive a placement in their 1st, 2nd, or 3rd choices will automatically be placed on the waitlist for their 1st choice.
If a student declines their placement, they may elect to be added to the waiting list of any theme school.
Students may not accept a placement and simultaneously remain on a waitlist for another theme school.
Students will be assigned a "waitlist number" and that will be the order in which they are contacted if a seat at the selected school becomes available.
Submitting New Documents
Transportation for theme schools differs from transportation for comprehensive schools and transportation regions vary for each theme school.
If your child lives within the attendance area of his/her theme school AND:
- For elementary and K-8 students: lives more that one mile from the school
- For secondary students: lives more than 1.5 miles from the school
...then he/she will be deemed eligible for transportation and picked up at a local pick-up spot.
If your child lives outside the attendance area of his/her theme school, he/she may be able to receive busing from an attendance area school ("hub") within a specified region. For hub information, click here. The determination for this type of busing is made up to 2 weeks after school begins because it is contingent on how much space is available on buses that are currently running. Transportation, in this instance, is not guaranteed and parents are responsible for transporting their student(s) to and from school.
For more information about theme school transportation, contact Dean Transportation at (616) 819-3000.
Elementary theme school students can participate in sports that are offered at their building.
Middle school theme school students can also participate in sports that are offered at their building. Some middle school theme schools have their own teams but some combine with other theme schools to form one team.
High school theme school students will play for teams at either Ottawa Hills High School or Union High School, depending on their attendance area.
For more information, click here and contact the Athletic Director assigned to the theme school to which you are applying.
Q: Who may apply to a theme school?
A: All students, including students with disabilities, who are eligible to attend a Grand Rapid Public School at the time of the application may apply. Please be aware that some of our theme schools have specific entry requirements. See the School Choices section above. Parents of students with Special Education plans are encouraged to work with their school's Special Education team in completing the theme school application.
Q: If I live in the attendance area boundary of a theme school, do I have to apply?
A: Yes. We require all students, except those already attending, to apply to theme schools. This allows us to keep track of the number of seats available while accommodating families who reside in the theme school neighborhood.
Q: What documents must be submitted with the theme school application?
A: For high school applicants, grades 10-12, a copy of your most recent transcript must be submitted. For test-in schools, a copy of a nationally-normed reference test (MAP/NWEA) must be submitted.
Q: May I change my selection(s) after submitting my application?
Q: If I submit more than one application, will that increase my student's chance of being selected?
A: No. Once the application window closes, we will use only the most recently submitted application.
Q: If I do not accept my student's placement before January 31, 2020, will my student lose their placement?
A: Yes. Your student will be added to the waitlist of the school in which they were placed.
Q: If my student's placement has been revoked at a theme school, may I re-apply to the same theme school?
A: No. You may not re-apply to a theme school from which you have been revoked. However, you may apply to any other theme school.
Q: Do current theme school students need to apply each year?
A: No. Current theme school students do not need to apply each year. However, all pre-school students (except those in the Montessori Children's House) whose class is located at a theme school must complete an application to be considered for kindergarten in said theme school.
Q: If I move into the neighborhood of a theme school after the deadline, may I apply?
A: Yes. We will reserve 1% of theme school seats for K-5 families who move into the attendance area boundary of a theme school after the application deadline.
Q: If I accept a seat at one theme school, will my child be removed from the waitlist of another program?
A: Yes. Your child can occupy only one space at a time. That is, if you have accepted a seat at one school, you cannot hold a space at another.
Q: How can I check the status of the waitlist?
Q: If I have two or more children on the waitlist for the same theme school and one is offered a seat, will the sibling(s) be offered placement at the same time?
A: No. Sibling applicants receive no Priority Placement from the waitlist. Sibling Priority Placement applies only if there is a sibling currently attending the applied-to school.
Q: What should I do if my child is not offered placement from the waitlist by the start of the school year?
A: You will need to enroll your child in his/her neighborhood school or any other school where your child has been offered placement.
Q: Could my child be offered placement after the school year starts?
A: Yes. Placement offers may be made up to the last day of the first quarter of the school year.
Q: Is it possible for my child to transfer from one theme school to another?
A: No. Students may not transfer from one theme school to another. Families wishing to change theme schools must apply and go through the theme school application process.
Q: Can my child stay in the theme school if we move?
A: Yes. Students admitted to the theme school may remain in the program; however, transportation may be impacted based on the new address.
Q: Under what circumstances can my child be withdrawn from a theme school?
A: Parents may remove their student(s) from a theme school at any time. The student's seat will not be saved in the instance the student wishes to return to the theme school. The theme school principal may revoke a student based on attendance and/or behavior issues. The principals submit revocations to their Executive Director, who will review each case to ensure that interventions were implemented, the student was supported, and that parents were included in the decision to remove the student from the theme school.
Q: If my student currently attends a theme school but applies to a different theme school, will my student lose their seat at their current theme school?
A: No. You may apply to as many theme schools as you would like without forfeiting your student's current seat. Once you accept placement at a different theme school, however, your student will lose their seat at their current theme school.
Q: If my student receives a letter stating they are ineligible due to test scores, am I automatically placed on a waitlist?