From the Community News - Supplement to the Grand Rapids Press

Thursday March 14, 2002


Eagle Scout is cataloguing the stuffed critters, most of which have been relegated to a storage room.


By Erin Albanese - The Grand Rapids Press

Vacant-eyed critters have long stared at Godwin Heights High School students from their perches atop library and science room shelves. A stuffed wolf even stands guard at the entrance to the middle school storage room Of the 450 donated taxidermy displays now in the district’s possession, a few remain on exhibit in various spots around the school. Most, however, are collecting dust in a storage room.

Intrigued by the animals and searching for an Eagle Scout community service project, high school freshman Matt Hoezee is organizing and cataloguing the various mammals, fowl and insects, listing their exact species and other pertinent information. His work will allow the animals to be reintroduced in the classrooms for science and art lessons.

Hoezee began his project last year and now is working on the final details. He hopes students and teachers begin using the animals again, and he would like to see more of the animals find permanent homes in the schools rather than in the storage room.

"I thought it would be nice to get them out and have people see them,” he said.

The birds, mammals, insects and sea life were donated to the district by the late FRANK RACKETT, a professional taxidermist who served on the school board for 40 years until 1948. Rackett’s long term goal was to provide Godwin with a flora and fauna museum.

The “coolest” animal is a Michigan bobcat on display at the high school, Hoezee said. The large wolf, although devoid of ears and an eyeball, was used by Hoezee’s younger brother, Pete, for a school report on wolves. Hoezee said other students could use the animals for school presentations. It will be a very good visual aid, he said

Seventh-grade science teacher Ginny Kenyon said Hoezee’s cataloguing will allow her to use the animals in lessons. Students will be able to see real examples of types of animals and will learn about their classification. She said she expects the kids will be excited to learn about the animals. “Usually now, they just walk by and wonder what (the animal) is. I think they’ll notice them a lot more.” Kenyon said.

Although several of the animals are in disrepair, Hoezee said he sees them as worth saving. He said they hold a certain historic value for the district. Some of the animals date back to the 1920’s. The animals have been used sporadically over the years. They've been moved around for years, he said.