Grand Rapids students release hand-raised salmon into Grand River

ADA, Mich. -- Salmon raised in the classroom are now off to their new lives in the Grand River.

It’s a Stepping Stones Montessori School project that had students getting outdoors on Friday.

Students at the school are releasing their hand-raised salmon into the river, the culmination of a six month long classroom project.

"I was like 'Oh my gosh, I would love to do this,'" says Liam Bertsch, Stepping Stones Montessori School 2nd Gr. Student.

Liam is one of 60 Stepping Stones Montessori students excited about this special project.

"The excitement has been there from day one," says Elizabeth Topliffe, Stepping Stones Montessori School Head.

For the last six months the students participated in the Department of Natural Resources' Salmon in the Classroom program.  They have learned about the whole life cycle of the fish, from watching the salmon eggs hatch to feeding and raising them everyday.

Friday it came to a close with the release of those nearly 100 salmon right here in the Grand River.

"To get to the point where we had about a hundred fish left half of them that made it and stayed alive for the last 3 months and to be able to get them out here in a bucket is super exciting," says Jan Reed, Stepping Stone Montessori Teacher.

For some the goodbye was simple, while others said it was hard to let go.

"I really like like, ya know, just like looking at them and like studying them and now we need to let them go so it's kind of ya know sad," says Bertsch.

The students took away some valuable lessons.

"To have a pet takes a lot of time. You have to clean the tank, you have to feed them, you have to test the water and you have to change the water," says Kathren Shiar, Stepping Stone Montessori 3rd grade Student.

Though the program has popped up in schools throughout Michigan it's a first for Stepping Stones. It combines the school's core curriculum passions in a rather unique way.

"To see a project happen that's about Michigan, for the kids to connect all parts of their curriculum together has been perfect," says Reed.

Though the project was done in first through third grade classes, all students came out today to release the salmon.

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