FRUITPORT TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — What does Calvary Christian Schools have in common with Mount Rushmore? Both have all 50 state flags on display — among the few such displays in the nation.
The private school now has the impressive collection of flags in its main entryway as the result of a gift from the father of a former teacher and grandfather of a current student.
The impressive display was a gift from Paul Brower of Jenison, who started collecting the flags in the mid-1990s.
"Now that I'm getting old, I wanted to donate them to a worthy cause," Brower told the Muskegon Chronicle.
All 50 state flags are on display at Fruitport Calvary Christian Schools after being donated by Paul Brower in honor of his daughter, Lynne Meyer who was a social studies teacher at the school. Meyer died from breast cancer last year.
He found that cause after he and his wife Mary were at the school for its commencement ceremony last spring. That's when the class of 2013 gave the school an American flag and a Christian flag in memory of the Browers' daughter, Lynne Meyer, a former teacher at the school who died of cancer just before the beginning of the 2012-13 school year.
The Browers had established a scholarship in their daughter's name and wanted to be at commencement to present it to the first recipient.
"What the graduates did not know was that Mrs. Meyer's father, Mr. Paul Brower, was in the audience and their gift of flags in memory of his daughter helped confirm an idea he had been considering for months," said Tom Kapanka, superintendent of Calvary Christian Schools.
Kapanka has spent a good part of this summer on a lift installing the flags in the school's massive lobby. He plans to open the display up to students from other schools to study the flags. He also plans to have Calvary Christian students write to the governor of each state, asking for a letter on that state's official letterhead recognizing the distinguished collection the school has on display.
Brower, a U.S. Coast Guard veteran of the Korean War, said he purchased the flags from the U.S. Veterans Administration. He said he bought about six per year until he accumulated all 50.
He displayed each flag for a week at a time on a pole outside his home next to one with the American flag.
"Neighbor children would call and say, 'What flag are you flying today Mr. Brower?'" Brower said.
He doesn't have a favorite among the flags, though he thinks Hawaii's is one of the most interesting because "it looks like it could be a part of the British Empire." The flag includes the Union jack in the top left quadrant and eight red, white and blue horizontal stripes representing the eight major Hawaiian islands.
Brower said Maryland's flag is interesting because he thinks it looks like a jockey's silks. The flag features the coat of arms of the Calvert family, the colonial proprietors of Maryland.
Brower said he's pleased that Calvary Christian Schools has a place for all the flags.
"I wanted them used wisely," he said. "I wouldn't give them to just anyone."