Theme School Application

We are proud to offer a variety of school options for families, including both neighborhood and theme schools. Each theme school offers a customized curriculum focused on a unique "theme," such as environmental science, dual immersion, arts and music, skills training, Montessori, International Baccalaureate, and more!

All theme schools require an application. Select schools have admissions requirements. Seats are limited. Learn more about our schools and find a school that is right for you!

 The Theme School Application for the 2024-2025 school year is currently open.

 The Theme School Application for the 2023-2024 school year is currently closed. If you are interested in enrolling your child in a Theme School for the current school year, please contact the school directly to inquire about available seats or to be added to the waitlist. Please note, waitlist assignments do not carry over from year to year. 

The following GRPS Theme Schools (and grade levels) are available by application: 


*All theme school preschool options for 3- and 4-year-olds are limited to Montessori. We do offer preschool options for 4-year-olds at all of our elementary schools (through the GSRP program), but only Montessori is placed through the theme school application. If you are interested in applying for preschool at a school other than Montessori, please contact the Early Childhood Department at 819-2111. All Children’s House programs are tuition-based programs for Pre-K3 and Pre-K4. Age requirements for these programs are as follows:

  • Pre-K3: 3 years old by September 1; no age waiver available

  • Pre-K4: 4 years old by September 1; age waiver available for GSRP, not for Montessori

  • Kindergarten: 5 years old by September 1; age waiver available


**Applicants for test-in schools (Blandford School, Center for Economicology, Zoo School, or City High/Middle [grades 7-9 only]) must submit nationally normed NWEA (MAP) test scores demonstrating that the applicant is at the 50th National Percentile or higher in either reading OR mathematics on their most recent test.

  • Submitted applications for test-in schools will be considered incomplete until test scores are received.  

  • Students who do not meet eligibility requirements are notified of ineligibility and provided the opportunity to appeal with new scores.

  • Applicants who are NOT current GRPS students are required to submit test scores with their application. We provide opportunities for non-GRPS students to take the NWEA (MAP) test if it is not offered at their current school. Students must apply first, then schedule testing with Student Services at 819-2150 or 

  • For additional information regarding NWEA (MAP) visit


*** Transcripts are required to be submitted with your application for grades 10-12 (non-GRPS students only). Placement of students in grades 11 & 12 is handled on a case-by-case basis. 


 Important Theme School Dates 

The Theme School Application for the 2023-2024 school year is currently closed. 

2024-2025 Application Windows:

Round 1 Selection

Application Submission:
January 8, 2024 through February 9, 2024

MAP Testing (if needed): 
February 6 and February 8, 2024 (4-7PM)

Deadline to Request Round 1 Changes:
April 5, 2024 (emailed to


Round 3 Selection

Application Submission:
April 22, 2024 through May 24, 2024

MAP Testing:
May 14 and May 16, 2024 (4-7PM)

*No requests for changes accepted during Round 3. 

Round 2 Selection

Application Submission:
February 26, 2024 through April 5, 2024

MAP Testing (if needed): 
March 12 and March 14, 2024 (4-7PM)

Deadline to Request Round 2 Changes:
May 24, 2024 (emailed to


 Theme School Application Process

The application process is only required for scholars interested in attending a theme school, and it allows the applicant to be considered for placement at one of those programs. Please note that applying to a school and enrolling in a school are not the same process. The enrollment process is completed by all scholars, at all schools, every year; it confirms the child's attendance at the school for the year. If a child applies to and is placed at a theme school, they MUST follow Step 4 and enroll in that school as well. 

Apply to a theme school by submitting an electronic application. If you have a question about the information requested on the application, please call Community & Student Services at 616-819-2150. If additional information is required, such as NWEA MAP test scores or a high school transcript, please include that with your application or provide a digital copy to the selection committee via

Confirmation emails are sent once the application has been submitted successfully. If you believe you have submitted an application but did not receive a confirmation email, please contact our office. 

In this step, the applicant will wait as Student Services processes the application and determines the final theme school selection. The selection process begins the week after the application window closes and typically takes 2-3 weeks to complete. Notification of placement will be sent after all selections for that round are complete. If a scholar has an IEP and/or a Section 504 plan and there is a question about whether the scholar’s needs can be met at the applied-for school(s), the IEP and/or 504 team will meet to make a determination.

If your student is not selected for their 1st, 2nd, or 3rd choice, they will automatically be placed on a waitlist for their 1st available choice (as long as they meet entrance requirements for that program).

If you would like to decline your student’s placement, you may call Community & Student Services at 616-819-2150 or send an email to As part of the decline process, a student may request to be waitlisted at a preferred program instead (as long as they meet entrance requirements for that program). These waitlist requests must be made before the next round of selections occurs. 

The application window will reopen following each round of selections. Applications received between application windows will be included in the pool of applications for the subsequent round. 

Priority Placements

As the Grand Rapid Public Schools, our obligation, first and foremost, is to those who live within our boundaries. The following factors are considered first in placing students:

  • K-5 students living within the neighborhood boundary of the theme school to which they are applying
  • Grand Rapids residents with a sibling currently attending the applied-for school (does not include test-in schools)
  • Non-Grand Rapids residents with a sibling currently attending the applied-for school (does not include test-in schools)
  • Full time staff who work at the applied-for school (does not include test-in schools)
  • Grand Rapids residents, regardless of the school they are currently attending (does not include test-in schools)
  • Non-residents with a sibling currently attending any GRPS school (does not include test-in schools)

Lottery Process

Students to whom the factors in the "Priority Placement" section do not apply will be randomized, sorted for each program, and placed in the school to which they applied, pending seat availability. Whenever possible, applicants will be placed at one of their preferred schools before being assigned to a waitlist. 


Applicants who did not receive a placement in their 1st, 2nd, or 3rd choices will automatically be placed on the waitlist for their 1st choice. Applicants will be assigned a "waitlist number," and that will be the order in which they are contacted if a seat at the selected school becomes available.

If an applicant declines their placement, they may elect to be added to the waiting list of a different theme school (assuming requirements are met). Applicants may not accept a placement and simultaneously remain on a waitlist for another theme school.

Submitting New Documents

If you receive a letter stating that your student is "ineligible due to test scores," there is no appeals process. You may, however, submit new, qualifying scores when they become available. You may submit these documents by hand-delivering them to the Office of Community and Student Services at 1331 Martin Luther King Jr St SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49506; faxing them to 616-819-2017 (attn: Community and Student Services); or sending them via email to

Each applicant will receive a placement letter notifying them of the results of the application and selection process. Placement letters are sent via US Mail a few weeks after each application window closes. 

If an applicant is accepted into a theme school, the applicant must also enroll in that theme school. (Open enrollment typically begins January 1st). 

  • Current GRPS scholars will be able to enroll in the theme school directly. Sign into ParentVue and complete online registration.
  • Non-GRPS scholars will need to register for the neighborhood school nearest their address before being assigned to the selected theme school. (This allows us to capture the child's registration information in the GRPS data system.)  After completing enrollment for the neighborhood school, call the neighborhood school directly to ask that the child's registration be assigned to the selected theme school instead. 
  • For more detailed information on the enrollment process, please visit the online Enrollment page.



Who may apply to a theme school?

All students, including students with disabilities, who are eligible to attend a Grand Rapid Public School at the time of the application may apply. Please be aware that some of our theme schools have specific entry requirements. See the School Choices section above. If a scholar has an IEP and/or a Section 504 plan and there is a question about whether the scholar’s needs can be met at the applied-for school(s), the IEP and/or 504 team will meet to make a determination.

If I live in the attendance area boundary of a theme school, do I have to apply?

Yes. We require all students, except those already attending, to apply to theme schools. This allows us to keep track of the number of seats available while accommodating families who reside in the theme school neighborhood.

What documents must be submitted with the theme school application?

For high school applicants, grades 10-12, a copy of your most recent transcript must be submitted. For test-in schools (grades 6-9), the applicant's most recent nationally-normed NWEA (MAP) score report must be submitted demonstrating that the student is at the 50th percentile or higher in either reading or mathematics. If the applicant does not have NWEA (MAP) test results, the applicant may request testing through Community & Student Services after they have submitted an application. 

May I change my selection(s) after submitting my application?

Yes. At any time before the application closes for the round in which you are applying, changes can be made to the application by returning directly to the application. 

If I submit more than one application, will that increase my student's chance of being selected? 

No. Once the application window closes, we will use only the most recently submitted application. 

If my student's placement has been revoked at a theme school, may I re-apply to the same theme school?

No. You may not re-apply to a theme school from which you have been revoked. However, you may apply to any other theme school.

Do current theme school students need to apply each year?

No. Current theme school students do not need to apply each year. However, all pre-school students (except those in the Montessori Children's House) whose class is located at a theme school must complete an application to be considered for kindergarten in said theme school.

If I move into the neighborhood of a theme school after the deadline, may I apply?

Yes. We will reserve 1% of theme school seats for K-5 families who move into the attendance area boundary of a theme school after the application deadline.

If I accept a seat at one theme school, will my child be removed from the waitlist of another program?

Yes. Your child can occupy only one space at a time. That is, if you have accepted a seat at one school, you cannot hold a space at another.

If I am not satisfied with my initial placement offer, can I request a change, including a waitlist assignment at a preferred school?

A request to change the initial placement can be made before the next round closes by emailing the request to Deadlines for change requests are listed above. Please note, because applicants can only occupy one list at a time, initial placement offers will be forfeited when the applicant is added to a new school's list. 

How can I check the status of the waitlist?

To check the status of the waitlist, you may contact the school directly.

If I have two or more children on the waitlist for the same theme school and one is offered a seat, will the sibling(s) be offered placement at the same time?

No. Sibling applicants receive no Priority Placement from the waitlist. Sibling Priority Placement applies only if there is a sibling currently attending the applied-to school.

What should I do if my child is not offered placement from the waitlist by the start of the school year?

You will need to enroll your child in his/her/their neighborhood school or any other school where your child has been offered placement.

Could my child be offered placement after the school year starts?

Yes. Placement offers may be made up to the last day of the first quarter of the school year.

Is it possible for my child to transfer from one theme school to another?

No. Students may not transfer from one theme school to another. Families wishing to change theme schools must apply and go through the theme school application process.

Can my child stay in the theme school if we move?

Yes. Students admitted to the theme school may remain in the program; however, transportation may be impacted based on the new address.

Under what circumstances can my child be withdrawn from a theme school?

Parents may remove their student(s) from a theme school at any time. The student's seat will not be saved in the instance the student wishes to return to the theme school. The theme school principal may revoke a student based on attendance and/or behavior issues. The principals submit revocations to their Executive Director, who will review each case to ensure that interventions were implemented, the student was supported, and that parents were included in the decision to remove the student from the theme school.

If my student currently attends a theme school but applies to a different theme school, will my student lose their seat at their current theme school?

Your student will forfeit their seat at their current theme school upon acceptance of placement at a new theme school. If you have not actively declined your new theme school placement prior to the start of the subsequent round of selections, we assume you are accepting placement at the new theme school; as a result, your child's current theme school seat will be forfeited. Please see the above selection schedule to determine dates for denials each round. 

If my student receives a letter stating they are ineligible due to test scores, am I automatically placed on a waitlist?

No. If you received a letter stating that your student did not have test scores that met the requirements, either (1) all 3 choices were test-in schools or (2) your first choice was a test-in school but your second and third choices were full. In this instance, you may call the Office of Community and Student Services at 616-819-2150 or email to elect to be placed on the waitlist of your second or third choice.

How does my student participate in athletics programs at a theme school?

Any scholar who attends a theme school can participate in athletics. 

  • Elementary theme school scholars can participate in any sport offered at their building.
  • Middle school theme school scholars participate in sports that are offered at their building or at a nearby neighborhood school. Some middle school theme schools have their own teams but some combine with other theme schools to form one team, based on numbers. 
  • High school theme school students will play for teams at either Ottawa Hills High School or Union High School, depending on their attendance area or 9th grade school declaration. 

For more specific information on sports at every level, please visit our Athletics webpage. You may also contact the Athletic Director assigned to the theme school to which you are applying.

Is transportation provided for scholars attending theme schools? 

Theme school transportation is not guaranteed.

Transportation for kindergarten-8th grade theme school scholars will be offered in limited capacity, pending changes resulting from the Facilities Master Plan. More information regarding theme school bus routes and transportation hubs will be shared at a future time. (Please note: no transportation is provided to middle school scholars attending Grand Rapids University Preparatory Academy.) Wave Cards will be issued to 9th-12th grade theme school scholars who meet eligibility requirements. For additional questions regarding transportation, please visit the Transportation webpage or email our Transportation Department

Transportation Eligibility Guidelines

Contact Us

Community & Student Services
Call 616-819-2150

Megan Persons
Enrollment Equity Coordinator