Five years ago the Grand Rapids Public Schools and Peter M. Wege joined forces to create a sixth-grade program focused on environmental education at City High Middle. That was how the Center For Economicology – named for Peter Wege’s philosophy and books – came to be.
Wege coined the word advocating that humans must balance the needs of the economy with protecting the ecology. From 17 sixth-graders in one room in 2008, this year 57 students are enrolled in the Center For Economicology. And because City High Middle moved into the former Creston High School this fall, this growing economicology program has expanded from two classrooms to having its own building behind the former Creston High.
By moving from its campus on Fuller to the three-story school on Plainfield, City High Middle has its first pool and not just one but two gyms. The new expansive space has allowed the school to increase its number of 6-12 graders by 120 students up to 760, City High Middle’s highest enrollment ever. To serve more students, GRPS hired six new teachers up from 24 last fall.
Because the natural world is a significant part of the curriculum for CFE students, they head outdoors on almost weekly field trips. A wind farm. Farmers Market. Lake Michigan research vessel. Two over night camps spring and fall. They are also working at Riverside Park partnering with Grand Rapids’ park officials to clean it up. The park is becoming one of the Economicology students’ outdoor classrooms where they are studying invasive species.
The Center For Economicology’s success has not gone unnoticed at the state level. In the competitive Rewards program, the CFE ranked in the top 5% of schools for High Performing and Beating the Odds. What Principal Mike Pascoe and Assistant Principal Ryan Huppert are most proud of is that CFE achieved this top rating with 40% of their students qualifying for free and reduced lunches.
No wonder Parent Magazine recently called Economicology one of “the coolest schools in America.”