Hinks students dedicate rock to ‘being kind’ | News, Sports, Jobs

Courtesy Photo Students form sun rays around a rock in front of Hinks Elementary School in Alpena on Wednesday in this photo provided by Steven Genschaw.

ALPENA — A large rock in front of their school will remind children to be nice, an Alpena principal said on Wednesday.

Students at Hinks Elementary School dedicated a recent addition to the school’s landscape with a laying on of hands — and paint.

Their palms smeared in bright colors, the students left handprints on a large piece of limestone donated by Carmeuse Lime and Stone in Rogers City.

The large rock, emblazoned with “Hinks Hawks” and, now, covered in handprints, will remind anyone who sees it that schools are places where students learn more than just curriculum, said Hinks principal Joan Kowalski.

“We’re dedicating it to being kind,” Kowalski said. “That’s how we roll here.”

News Photo by Julie Riddle Students cover their heads with colored papers to form the rays of a sun during a dedication ceremony for a rock in front of Hinks Elementary School in Alpena on Wednesday.

To recordings of songs “We Will Rock You” and “Crocodile Rock,” students circled the rock in lines extending outward.

From above, the classes looked like rays of the sun, said Kowalski, who asked former APS colleague, Steven Genschaw, to capture photos of the event from a drone.

The rock takes center stage in a newly paved parking lot in front of the school, one of the projects completed at Alpena schools this summer.

Such projects make schools safer and more welcoming, said Alpena Public Schools communications director Lee Fitzpatrick.

Projects at Hinks included a vestibule designed to increase safety, a new roof that’s almost complete, and the new lot, taking the place of a dirt lot and allowing for safer traffic flow patterns.

News Photo by Julie Riddle A staff member helps a student place a handprint on a rock in front of Hinks Elementary School in Alpena on Wednesday.

Parking lot upgrades aren’t glamorous, but they keep kids safer, Fitzpatrick said.

The district also made significant improvements at Sanborn Elementary School in Ossineke and Thunder Bay Junior High School in Alpena. Projects will mostly halt during the school year, when students are present in school buildings, he said.

Kids at Hinks oohed at the drone overhead and watched in wonder as their teachers lathered paint onto their hands, then stepped up one at a time to make their mark on the rock.

A fresh coat of paint will cover the handprints as soon as next month, when the school will paint the rock orange in honor of anti-bullying month.

The students who left the prints will move forward, too — hopefully leaving their own, positive imprint on the world.

“I just want people to say that my Hinks Hawks are kind,” Kowalski said. “I know I’m successful if that happens.”

Julie Riddle can be reached at 989-358-5693, [email protected] or on Twitter @jriddleX.

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