It's hard to have a great community without a great school district. Luckily for the students at Kentwood Public Schools, their district has a lot to be proud of.

As the City of Kentwood celebrates its 50th anniversary, KPS educators are celebrating some outstanding achievements of their own:

  • East Kentwood High School was recently named an academic state champion for the first time.
  • The EKHS Class of 2016 earned $4.8 million in academic scholarships.
  • EKHS was recently ranked the most diverse school in the Michigan and 10th in the nation.
  • Explorer, Southwood and Meadowlawn Elementary Schools were all recently named reward schools.

"People look to our students, our graduates to be leaders, and that's sort of what we expect," said KPS Superintendent Mike Zoerhoff.

"Our students come from over 60 different countries and speak over 70 different languages. When you stop and think about that, it's really quite something."

Much of that diversity comes from Bethany Christian Services, which lies within the Kentwood Public School district and brings refugees to West Michigan.

"We love to watch our refugee students and immigrant students show the American dream." said Zoerhoff.

"And that's our city right here," said Kentwood City Treasurer Laurie Sheldon. "That's what we are representing is all of those different nationalities and those different cultures."

Sheldon went to East Kentwood High School herself, but she says a lot has changed since she roamed those halls.

"We did not have that amazing stadium that we have now," she said. "That's beautiful. That school, the way that it's grown and the opportunities for our youth, are amazing."

KPS is one of the largest school districts in West Michigan. Superintendent Zoerhoff knows that can be a turn-off for some parents. But he says there are some advantages to going to a large school.

"We have over 20 different advanced placement classes," he said. "We can offer that, because we're a large school. Some people call us a small university -- East Kentwood University."

"But yet we create that small feel. Our students are friendly, our staff is friendly, our parents are friendly. it's a community."

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Matt Gard is the Senior Producer of the 13 Morning News. If you have a story idea, you can contact him on Twitter, @mgard_wzzm13 or by e-mail, MattGard@wzzm13.com.