One of the best parts of being in education is, without a doubt, the privilege of witnessing kids hit their stride and excel both as learners and as people. The Jenison Junior High Honor’s Night is one of those events where the spotlight gets to land on so many kids that you can’t help but feel proud. Whether it’s work ethic or personal best, perfect attendance or terrific academics, the students of Honor’s Night are to be applauded for their pursuit of excellence.
Today we’d like to not only offer our congratulations to all of those recognized, but to give special kudos to a few select kids who stood out in the best way possible.
Maddie Maurice was one recipient of this year’s Exemplary Achievement Award for all-over success in class, as a volunteer, and in extra curricular activities.
Having served in multiple capacities, Maddie has learned that “doing something to help others to make their lives better” is her passion. She has volunteered at the “Golf for a Cure” fundraiser and organized and served at other events benefitting the A-T Children’s Project. Maddie additionally volunteers in the three-year old classroom at her church, pouring into little lives each week.
At school Maddie enjoys several extra curricular activities: Theatre, Yearbook, and Scrapbook Clubs, as well as Student Congress and Teen Leadership. She has already been elected as the Freshmen Class Vice President for next year!
“I love being involved because I want to help others! But also, I enjoy meeting new people and expanding my own personal network.” Congratulations, Maddie on your achievements at JJHS!
Jordan Henning was nominated by at least three different teachers and was the standout recipient of this year’s Principal’s Outstanding Educational Improvement Award. This award recognizes students who demonstrate a marked turnaround in grades, behavior, and “overall attitude toward learning and achievement.”
Jordan acknowledges that his junior high career has been a little bumpy, but is really proud to have made the decision to turn things around.
“One day it just hit me that if I keep going the way I’m going, I won’t have the life I want.”
Jordan combined personal motivation and the support he garnered from teachers like Mrs. Thimm to start making better choices both in school and out of school. He says that he was actually “surprised that Mrs. Thimm took me back as a student because I had been so disrespectful to her and other teachers. But she did, and I could see that all along she was really trying to help me. I learned to respect her for that. It made me want to do better.”
We think Jordan exemplifies second chances and the power that each of us has to chart a new course for our lives. Congratulations, Jordan!
Savannah VanderJagt was this year’s recipient of the Above and Beyond Award. Her artistic prowess and positive attitude made her an easy choice for those who nominate students.
Savannah has been the winner of the assignment notebook cover contest for two consecutive years, earning the right to have her art displayed on the covers of every student planner in the junior high! Additionally she is the winner of the Art Purchase Award where she was awarded $50 when the school bought her artwork.
Savannah dreams of one day building a life around her art, whether it be by going to design school or having her own store; the future is uncertain, but the dream to keep creating is sure. Best wishes, Savannah!
Rachel DeBoer is another deserving recipient of the Exemplary Achievement Award. She is honored to have been nominated because “the teachers say that an overall award like this is a big deal.” She’s right!
Rachel has served her community by working with second grade students at Townline Elementary, and has made hats, scarves, and played bingo with the elderly in her church. She also enjoys baking, and has made and delivered apple pies to the members of her church.
Rachel has additionally participated in three sports during her junior high career: volleyball, basketball, and track, all while keeping her grades at the top of the class.
She credits the influence of several teachers with her success at school, and wishes to thank Mr. Smith for making school fun, and Mrs. Raab for being “easy to understand” and always “happy and in a good mood.”
She goes on to mention the impact that Mr. VanTimmeren had on her as her basketball coach, explaining, “He seems intimidating when you first meet him, but he’s actually just a big teddy bear. He uses quotes to encourage the team and makes each of us want to try harder.”
Rachel plans to choose a career path that would allow her to help others, such as being a doctor or a surgeon, but admits that being an investor or trader sounds fascinating, too.
From our vantage point, the future is hers for the taking! Congrats, Rachel!
We are so proud of these students and wish them best as they continue their journey into high school next fall!