Every single day of the school year, Ashley Imes and her five kids get in the car and make the trip from their home in Allendale all the way to Hamilton. After selling their home in Holland and moving there in September of 2022, Ashley’s first concern was whether or not she could keep our children in Hamilton Community Schools.

“I literally called the Hamilton administration office and said, ‘I can still keep my kids there right?’ I wanted to make sure there wasn’t some boundary or something where they couldn’t stay at Hamilton, because that might have changed things,” Imes said about the move.

Despite the drive to school nearly tripling in distance, Ashley made the commitment to make the drive for her five students (Iris - 1st, Navaeh - 3rd, Noah - 5th, Paige - 7th, and Arianna - 9th) both to and from school.

“I told myself, if I can drive 30 minutes to work every day, I can drive a little bit further to make sure my kids are getting a great education in a district we love,” Imes added.

Now with kids at Blue Star Elementary, Hamilton Middle School, and Hamilton High School, Ashley has seen a consistency in all buildings with individual support, communication, and a family-like atmosphere.

“Seeing the care and the time that the teachers take with each of the students, it’s very reassuring to a parent. You know when you drop them off that they’re safe, they’re taken care of, they’re going to get the attention they need. Hamilton is just great, it honestly is.”

Ashley’s daughter and Hamilton High School freshman Arianna chuckled when asked if her mom talks about Hamilton in public.

“Almost every family event she brings it up,” Arianna, who started at Hamilton this school year, said. “I do really like it here, it’s a very welcoming and friendly place, the people are really nice and I can’t see myself anywhere else.”

Driving a vehicle with two Hawkeye stickers around northern Ottawa, Ashley says she has gotten a lot of questions and odd looks in public when she tells people where they live and where her kids go to school.

“People really do think I am crazy for driving my kids 35 minutes to school each way every day,” she smiled, “But I do it because I love this school district, I love the small-town feel, and the reassurances that I need to know my kids are well taken care of.”

When the out-of-district enrollment window opens on May 7, Ashley offered unsolicited advice to those considering Hamilton Community Schools.

“Just make the drive, you won’t regret it. Your kids will love it here, and you’ll know your kids are loved. Your kids are going to get the education that you want and that they need and the support they need, I honestly just love Hamilton.”