Outstanding Service

ZCS Community, read below to learn about how eighth-grade student, Hayden Bruce, recently helped Zeeland Township Fire Department.


Zeeland, MI, On the morning of Monday, December 4, 2023, Zeeland Township Fire Department's emergency services were dispatched to a two-vehicle accident. Due to language barriers, first responders were unable to determine if injuries were present for one person involved. Thankfully, the quick thinking of Hayden Bruce, an eighth-grade student in Zeeland Christian School's (ZCS) Spanish Immersion program, utilized her acquired language skills to relay crucial information to fire and police units at the accident scene.

In a letter of recognition for outstanding assistance sent by Deputy Fire Chief Josh West to ZCS, West shared, “We believe it is essential to recognize and commend Hayden's exemplary behavior, as it not only reflects positively on her character but also highlights the effectiveness of the language education provided.”

At ZCS, language immersion students are taught to read, write, and converse in the program’s target language by being constantly immersed in that language. They learn their new language in much the same way that they learn their first language, through meaningful communication. Tim Paauw, ZCS’ Middle School Principal, shared, “I had chills hearing this story. This is language immersion education at work, tangibly and powerfully.”

“Our school is a special place. With many of our faculty from non-native English speaking countries, our students spend their school days with various languages all around. In the hallways, you may hear a range of Mandarin Chinese or Spanish dialects, sprinkled with accents and tones from around the world,” Paauw said. “And in the classrooms, specifically with our immersion programs, students are immersed in culture and tradition that reach across the globe. This environment, paired with our Christ-centered education, encourages students to step out of their comfort zone and prepares them to apply their language skills in everyday situations.”

West concluded the recognition letter by expressing, “It is great to see students like Hayden applying their acquired skills in real-life scenarios, making a tangible difference in emergency situations.”

“We couldn’t be more proud of Hayden for stepping in to provide meaningful service by using her skills to help all of those at the scene of the accident to communicate,” said Paauw.

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