Summer Series: Student Art Sample [3rd Grade]

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This summer we will feature a writing sample from a student in each grade as we all enjoy a beautiful summer in West Michigan! Please join us each week to read these fantastic teacher-submitted examples of excellent writing!

“Friends and Rainbows”
by Evelyn Fortney 
Bursley Elementary

Art with a Big Idea! Community Collage

In art class students are not only learning how to use materials and techniques, but also how to communicate “Big Ideas”— those that are personal, important, and a part of every person’s life. For this project students discussed and brainstormed all the various communities they belong to, and focused on one that is particularly important in their life. This community became the catalyst for a collage.

Evelyn was inspired by a memory of playing with her friends. Describing this memory, she said, “I still remember it! In first grade we went outside and there was a rainbow. No one else was by the tire swing. We each got a lot of pushes because no one else was waiting.” Evelyn began by making the various pieces needed for her collage “Friends and Rainbows”. Evelyn put a lot of thought into the details of the various parts. From ruffles on dresses, to a tire swing and textured grass, I was impressed with her attention to detail and seeing the way she made her ideas come to life through paper.

It was the next step of the project that highlighted Evelyn’s creative thinking and excellent problem solving skills. When it was time to assemble the the pieces into a collage, Evelyn had a vision of developing her collage into a 3-Dimensional version. I believe that for Evelyn, these kinds of challenges and problems to solve launch her into her best-artist self; the problems to solve invigorate and excite her creative brain! It is a delight to watch her work. Soon, Evelyn had constructed a wonderful scene of her and her friends playing on the playground. You can feel the movement of the girl in the tire swing as her arms sway to the side. There is a sense of whimsy with the clothing, rainbow, and metallic grass— simultaneously sophisticated and yet perfect for an elementary artist. And if you take the time to really look, you’ll notice so many unexpected and delightful details. Flowers and “Mint Gum” in the purse, a wallet in one of the girl’s hands. The more you look at this artwork, the more you will appreciate the scene that Evelyn has created. Evelyn has infused this artwork with the joy of childhood!

Evelyn and her artwork was selected by her elementary art teacher, Emily Derusha.

Summer Series: Student Art Sample [2nd Grade]

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Over the course of our summer we will feature various artists and art pieces from each Jenison elementary school as well as the Junior High and High School. Each piece was carefully chosen by our art teachers and we hope you will enjoy the talents and hard work of our students while you also enjoy a beautiful and relaxing summer!

“My Community”
By Dylan Nichols
Pinewood Elementary

For this project the students learned about the the three different types of communities.  The students examined the similarities and differences between the different types of communities.  Then they went on to design their own mixed media community!

First Dylan drew his imaginative community in pencil then he outlined his drawing with sharpie.  Then went on to complete his community by painting it with watercolor.

The students also learned about Vincent Van Gogh and color theory while creating this project.  The students demonstrated their understanding of color theory by creating a background with a color scheme of their choice.  Dylan used warm colors and white to create in Starry Night inspired background.  His community painting was then collaged on top of his Starry Night background to create a beautiful masterpiece!

Dylan is a very creative and talented young artist whose artwork always stands out.  I love his imagination and his ability to think outside the box.  Dylan said his favorite part of this project was designing his city and using the metallic paint on the stars.  Dylan is a very hard worker and I cannot wait to see his future creations!

Dylan and his artwork were chosen by his Pinewood Elementary art teacher, Ashley Hankamp.

Summer Series: Student Art Sample [Kindergarten]

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Over the course of our summer we will feature various artists and art pieces from each Jenison elementary school as well as the Junior High and High School. Each piece was carefully chosen by our art teachers and we hope you will enjoy the talents and hard work of our students while you also enjoy a beautiful and relaxing summer!

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By Molly Dobbs
Sandy Hill Elementary

Molly Dobbs is an amazing kindergarten artist! She is constantly creating art that goes above and beyond in class. Her imagination is one that is a “gem” in the world of artists. The two works of art that I have chosen both have examples of Molly’s great craftsmanship and wonderful imagination. She has added her own snowman to the Landscape painting we created [below]. In the bug jar, she has added a flashlight that is shining on her Moth.

It is a joy to have Molly in my Art class. She is always amazing me with her own style!

Molly’s and her artwork were selected by her elementary art teacher, Mrs. Streelman- Dismukes.

Congratulations Class of 2017!

Future plans had been made. For some, college acceptance letters are taped to the fridge and deposits mailed. For others, job were planned for. Finals were taken. Summer jobs were secured and vacations planned. Their gowns were freshly pressed and their caps were bobby-pinned in place. The Jenison High School Class of 2017 had done everything they needed to do to arrive at this amazing day and they were ready!

To begin the graduation festivities, seniors donned their caps and gowns and walked the halls of their elementary alma maters one last time as Jenison students. It’s a tradition meant to inspire the younger students but also, a chance for graduates to acknowledge how far they’ve come and what they have accomplished in their years as a student.

Then, under a gorgeous blue sky, the Class of 2017 received their hard-earned diplomas and looked ahead to their bright futures with Jenison High School in the rear view mirror for the first time.

Congratulations to the Class of 2017! Wherever your journey takes you, know that the entire JPS community celebrates with you and for you! Remember these invaluable words from Facebook CFO, Sheryl Sandberg:

“Don’t let your fears overwhelm your desire. Let the barriers you face – and there will be barriers – be external, not internal. Fortune does favor the bold, and I promise that you’ll never know what you’re capable of unless you try.”

“And now go, and make interesting mistakes, make amazing mistakes, make glorious and fantastic mistakes. Break rules. Leave the world more interesting for your being here.” – Neil Gaiman, Author

8th Graders Go East!

For the past ten years, each June, 8th grade history teacher, Kevin Fales, boards a charter bus with Jenison 8th graders to venture to the east coast to bring history to life, but to teach students so much more!

During his second year of teaching, Mr Fales was invited to join East Kentwood Middle School on their own East Coast Trip to get a feel for the experience and consider running a similar trip for Jenison. Now the trip averages 125 students each year and, along with twelve to fifteen school employees serving as chaperones, the trip is a mainstay for the 8th grade class.

This year, the 130 students will board the bus on Thursday, June 15 and head for their first stop: Niagara Falls. For most of the students, this will be their first experience outside of Michigan, let alone, outside of the country! The stop in Niagara Falls not only breaks up a long day of driving, but it allows students to begin to have their eyes opened to the wide world outside of West Michigan.

Day two finds the group in Boston visiting Fenway Park, Quincy Market, Faneuil Hall, and take a ride on the infamous Duck Tour where they will ride the “duck truck” into the Charles River. Of course, the group will also visit historic sites throughout the city, along the Freedom Trail.

From Boston, the students will travel to New York City and play the role of tourists and visit Central Park, Times Square, and Rockefeller Plaza. The next day they will visit the 9/11 Memorial, ride a double-decker bus around the city to learn history and fun facts and wrap up their time in the city with a boat ride on “The Beast” which will take them past the Statue of Liberty.

After their two-day whirlwind of NYC, the group will journey to Philadelphia to visit Constitution CenterIndependence Hall where the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were both signed. “We’re standing in the room where George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson were all in.” They will also visit Thomas Jefferson’s apartment where he wrote the Declaration of Independence. To end their time in Philly, they will channel their inner-Rocky by running the steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

On the way home, the group will stop at Gettysburg and receive a guided tour of the field and experience the Cyclorama, a painting created in the late 1880s which measures 377 feet in circumstance and 42 feet high** and immerses the viewer in the battle itself.

The final stop on the way home is Hershey Park to enjoy the amusement park and celebrate the end of their trip.

Mr Fales says that there are multiple goals for the students: it’s an opportunity to leave home, to build relationships with fellow students, and to connect what they’ve learned in class to real-life history. “As they are getting ready to go to the high school, it’s time to learn for themselves, the trip provides a chance for self-discovery, learning to advocate for themselves and grow up a little bit.”

Thank you, Mr Fales and chaperones, for planning this trip each year and giving your time and energy for ensure our students have the best possible learning experience! Students, soak up every aspect of this experience and feel the wind beneath your newly spread wings!

*Photo courtesy of RMA Worldwide Chauffeured Transportation
**Courtesy of the Gettysburg Foundation

Mele Kalikimaka is the Thing to Say!

When Rosewood music teacher, Karen Ambs, told fellow teachers she was thinking of starting an elementary Ukulele Club, she was met with a fair amount of skepticism.  But she knew something they didn’t: the ukulele is hot right now and she was right. She was at capacity with 33 students that first week in March. And now, eight weeks later, while they have lost a handful of students to Little League, the Ukulele Club is going strong with 26 students!

Last fall Karen attended a music education conference at Hope College and learned about the benefits of using the ukulele to teach instrumentation to young students. She learned that it is an easy instrument to teach and learn and students see a relative amount of success early on. But rather than introduce the instrument for classes right away, Mrs Ambs wanted to familiarize herself more thoroughly with the instrument and test it out in a club setting first. She saw that ukulele’s were catching on with students so she started asking students what they thought of meeting as a club. She only received positive replies, so they kicked things off in March!

Students were able to learn quickly. “If you know four chords, you can play 100 songs” and Mrs Ambs adds that one of the great things about the club is that everyone is able to play at their own level when practicing songs together. Sixth grade ukulele club member, Molly Jones says that the club is “so much fun” and because “we’re all learning together, if you make a mistake, it’s no big deal.” Fifth grade ukulelist, Conner Van Dam, joined because he wanted to add another instrument to his repertoire which currently includes the viola and next year, the baritone. He, along with Gavin Louckes [also 5th grade] say that, even though they didn’t know how to play the ukulele, they weren’t worried about trying something new. “If you never try it, you never know!” they said.

The club is open to 3rd – 6th graders at Rosewood and Mrs Ambs says that when students were learning chords in the beginning, it worked out well to have the younger students sit near the older students to watch and learn. This mentorship happened organically and Mrs Ambs was very pleased to have this be a byproduct of the club experience.

While some students were able to purchase ukulele’s in order to be part of the club, that isn’t an option for everyone. In order to give everyone an opportunity to learn the instrument, Ms Ambs is seeking grant funds to help out. A few years ago we told you about the great work of the Jenison Public Education Foundation and Mrs Ambs is hoping for a grant from them in the form of a complete classroom set. The potential for this grant, along with other possible resources will ensure that Rosewood student has the opportunity to learn ukulele in music class!

If these curious and talented students have inspired you to learn to entertain family and friends with this Hawaiian classic, Mrs Ambs has some words of encouragement for you! “It’s a very, simple, easy way to pick up an instrument and be successful with it. Yet, if you want to make it more challenging, you can go beyond four chords and learn picking patterns and melodies”. Still feeling unsure? Molly reminds everyone to “do something you enjoy!” and that just might mean picking up a ukulele!

Thank you, Mrs Ambs, for finding fun, creative ways to engage our students in learning about the wonderful world of music! Congratulations to these awesome Rosewood students for trying something new! We hope to see you at the Talent Show!

There’s Nothing Quite Like 6th Grade Camp!

If you grew up as a JPS student, chances are good that you attended 6th grade camp! For at least the past eighteen years, each school in the district has set aside 4 days each year for the 6th grade class to spend at a camp in the area.

The students take part in various activities such as ropes courses, horseback riding, biking, archery, team-building exercises, campfires, and group games like capture the flag and glow dodge ball. They also spend time with the students in their cabins to continue to build and develop peer relationships.

6th grade teacher, Heather Chatfield, is the Camp Director for Bauerwood and says the Tuesday to Friday camp experience at Grace Adventures is an important experience for the students to learn new skills, unplug, and enjoy being together. Of course, the students can’t go alone so each school depends on volunteers. Bauerwood typically takes 9 – 10 teachers from the building plus 6 – 12 junior counselors who are willing and enthusiastic high school students eager to make camp amazing for every student, just like it was for them.

In order to make camp a meaningful experience for these rising junior high students they are encouraged to expand their comfort zones and be brave. “We focus on this time being a team building experience. We also look at it as a way to get students to challenge themselves to do something new.” When students are encouraged by their peers and feel safe to try new things, they feel changed and teachers see an improvement in their demeanor and self-image. “We have so many kids that come back from camp feeling more confident and successful.”

Other wonderful benefits of camp is the opportunity for students to put down their devices, engage with their friends, and be challenged in new ways. “6th grade camp is a time for kids to “unplug” from today’s technology that is readily available. They are able to be physically active for four days. They have to communicate and push themselves more than ever before. The teachers love the experience because we get to know our students even better during this week at camp!”

Thank you to all of the teachers and high school students who attend camp and make it amazing for our 6th graders! We know that these experiences are helping to shape them into strong, confident, junior high students!

JPS Teachers Rock!

Across the country, teachers are being celebrated with Teacher Appreciation Week and National Teacher Day! At JPS we know that our greatest assets are our amazing teachers and the passion, creativity, and knowledge they bring to their classrooms each day. Sandy Hill Principal, Jon Mroz, appreciates the time set aside for this important acknowledgement. “Teacher Appreciation week provides the opportunity to say the extra “thank you’s” that are sometimes difficult to get to during the busy times of the school year.  I can think of many examples at Sandy Hill where teachers step right in to help because they see the importance of supporting all students, staff, and families around the building.”

We all know that our teachers work hard to teach the curriculum and do everything they can to help students achieve their academic goals, but teachers at JPS [and around the world!] are doing so much more as well. “The staff at Sandy Hill are extremely hard working and I can think of many examples where they may help a student in the hallway, on the playground, or anywhere in the building, even when that student is not in their “homeroom.” We have a focus that all students at Sandy Hill are our students, and every adult is responsible for helping every student grow. A couple of very specific stories [from a very long list]  when teachers are going above and beyond are: providing their own gloves or coats to a student when their hands were cold, bringing in or buying clothing for a student in need, buying snacks for students in need, reaching out to and partnered with community members to figure out ways to reward/recognize students, and donating or finding ways to get items donated for families’ daily needs.”

Because we all learn better in a positive, supportive, holistic environment, our students excel when our teachers are aware of and devoted to their students overall well-being. Mr Mroz adds, “There are many examples at Sandy Hill when students experienced an immense amount of positive change because of their amazing teacher[s]. Many students have not only shown tremendous growth academically, but socially and emotionally as well. It is always rewarding to see the gains a child can make with their confidence both in and out of the classroom resulting from the connection they have made with their teacher.”

If you are appreciative of the work your child’s teacher is doing, you know a teacher in your neighborhood, or you are living proof of the devotion of a teacher, it is always a great time to say, “THANK YOU”! As a former teacher and current administrator, Mr. Mroz knows the impact of these not-so-simple words. “The “Thank You’s” go along way to teachers as well, so they can have the reminders of the positive impact they are leaving, and it also models the gratitude we try to instill on our students as well.”

[This writer would like to kick things off by saying “thank you” to my high school English teacher, David R. Harchick, who taught me to love literature, not be afraid to critique writing even when it’s a classic, be the best I can be, and to never fix my hair or makeup in public.]

Additionally, Mr. Mroz recommends to parents that they keep the lines of communication with teachers open. “Students and parents can also show their appreciation by having open lines of communication with teachers. This allows teachers to have as much knowledge possible about their students to meet each students’ individual needs.”

To our incredible JPS teachers we want to remind you that the work you do is valuable beyond measure, even if you can’t see it right away. “Many times, the impact you make is not going to be seen until a students’ time in your classroom is done. It is compared to watering a seed a little bit at a time, until one day, the student begins to make personal connections that creates relevancy, and they begin to grow and flourish.”

Thank you, teachers, for all you sacrifice for our students and the ways they flourish because of your dedication. May you always remember,
“One book, one pen, one child, and one teacher can change the world.” — Malala Yousafzai

Star Student Spotlight: Peyton Benac!

If you’re a regular reader of the Jenison Blog, you have already met our high school star student, Peyton Benac. Last winter, she impressed us with her story of starting the Girls in STEM Club for elementary students, and now she is principal, Dr. Brandon Graham’s choice to round out our special series of awesome Jenison students!

Peyton’s list of accomplishments in a long one but her humility, gentle spirit, and desire to enrich and encourage younger girls is nothing short of inspiring!

Last year, Peyton shared with us that she felt motivated to begin the Girls in STEM Club because of her own experiences on the junior high Science Olympiad team. During her time on the team she heard inappropriate comments from fellow 7th, 8th and 9th grade students about the presence of girls on the team. Peyton was keenly aware of the lack of female leadership in the group and was seeing its impact. “If we had another woman in the room –  a high school girl or a female teacher – this would be such a different environment. I noticed that a lot of junior high girls were quitting Science Olympiad, and I was getting pretty frustrated by it even as a junior high student”.

Two years ago, as a sophomore, Peyton began serving as a Science Olympiad coach. “I started coaching sophomore year and I tried to “fill the space” and be that person that wasn’t there when I was a junior high student.” It was at this same time that she approached Mrs. Putti about starting the Girls in STEM Club for elementary students.

This winter Peyton won a National Merit Scholar award which is based on the PSAT which she took during the fall of her junior year. Based on scores, they choose 16,000 students nationwide. These 16,000 students are asked to write an essay, submit their transcript, and a letter of recommendation and the organization chooses 14,000 finalists. With this prestigious award comes varying amounts of scholarships from schools around the country. Financial awards range from a one-time $2500 gift to full ride scholarships depending on the school.

Peyton applied to fourteen schools to “see what happens”. Her schools of choice include Michigan State University, University of Michigan, Harvard, Princeton, Wellesley, Mount Holyoke, Boston University, and Harvey Mudd College [a small, prestigous STEM college in Southern CA]. She adds, “I kind of want to go out of state if I can. There’s so much to see.”

Peyton plans to pursue degrees in astronomy and physics. When she is done, she’d like to explore the passion she discovered while working with the elementary students in the STEM program. “I think I want to work more on the outreach side. Teaching college kids is obviously rewarding with high-level material and research – that’s all fun, but there’s nothing that really rivals a seven-year old who’s excited about building the fastest sled or the strongest boat. That’s so unique and important and I think there’s really a need for that encouragement for boys and girls, but especially for girls at those young ages.”

Payton’s aspirations go beyond encouragement. “I would like to teach at the university level and do research but hopefully, from whatever university I’m teaching at, be able to be in charge of whatever they do with younger kids: summer camps, after school programs, inviting kids to campus.”

Peyton sees her role with younger students as one of influence, which she values and appreciates in her own life. “Years ago I liked education, but I didn’t see it on a personal level.” She listened to science podcasts and saw herself in that role or on TV, but once she began working one-on-one and in groups she saw the impact she could have with students in person. “It’s fun to be on TV but way more fun to physically be in the room and there’s a bigger impact to be there.”

Mrs. Putti, Alice’s high school physics teacher, as well as Mr Kunzi and Mrs Sager have been “very instrumental in fostering my love of the STEM subjects. When you think about what it means for girls to not be afraid of that interest, I think it’s so much the personal relationships, having someone TV who is a woman and in STEM is one thing, but having someone who is going to remember your name, and work with you and remember your project, and show you how to do a problem is a totally different thing. The number of people you reach in a career like this is much less but the impact you have on each person is much more.”

So where did Peyton decide to take her talents? She’s headed to Cambridge and the mighty Crimson of Harvard University!

Congratulations on all of your accomplishments, Peyton! We are so proud of you and know you will continue to make us proud as you head East and continue to conquer the STEM world! We love being able to call you a Wildcat!

 

Star Student Spotlight: Izzy Krzewski!

When asked who Junior High Vice Principal, Heather Breen, would recommend as a Star Student, she did not hesitate! “8th grader, Isabelle (Izzy) Krzewski is a sweetheart of a student who is very involved in theater, dance, orchestra and choir.  She works incredibly hard and has great grades.”

Izzy comes from a musical family where her four older siblings are happy to indulge her habit of singing around the house. She has participated in Jenison theatre the last two years and performed as Princess Winifred in Once Upon a Mattress and this year, she wowed the crowd with her especially mean portrayal of Aunt Spiker in James and Giant Peach. Izzy insists that her role has Aunt Spiker caused her to have to “dig deep” because she usually plays the fun, silly roles and Aunt Spiker was the exact opposite. Izzy herself is sweet, kind and humble so finding her “inner Aunt Spiker” was a fun challenge.

As other theatre students have affirmed, the program at Jenison is a place all kinds of kids call “home” and Izzy is no different. She loves theatre because “the kids, the environment, and all the people — theatre people are the best people to be around because you can just laugh and joke with them. If you’re stressed from homework, theatre and dance just help you forget about it and be part of the art.”

Izzy also participates in the Junior High Dance Team which performs at the boys basketball games as well as various local competitions. If her dedication to theatre wasn’t enough to exhaust you, Izzy’s dance schedule directly corresponds  to the preparation for the musical each year and she insists it’s not a “stressful kind of hard work”.

In class she describes herself as “quiet and shy” but these are not the qualities she possesses on stage. “I just like becoming a different person on stage and making the audience smile and laugh”. Izzy says that her math teacher, Mr. Ohman is the teacher that inspires her to learn and the class she enjoys the most. “Mr Ohman teaches us math, but also teaches us about life. His stories are really inspirational. Usually in first hour I’m tired but he keeps me engaged with all of his stories.”

Because two kinds of art performances aren’t enough for Izzy, she also participates in the junior high choir and orchestra where she has played the viola for three years. “In orchestra I’m playing the notes and in choir, I’m singing the notes which is really cool and it helps me learn more.”

Her favorite music to sing is show tunes and she loves Newsies and Hamilton. She has seen movies of Broadway shows but has yet to see one in person but very much looks forward to it.

Izzy is looking forward to auditioning for theatre and being part of the High School choir and orchestra and says, “It is difficult balancing it all during the theatre and dance season. You’re up late, but it’s totally worth it.”

She encourages everyone to find what they love and lean in to it. “You have to find a passion in yourself, something that makes your heart beat faster and then that’s really where you make your mark.”

Thank you, Izzy! Your hard work, bravery on stage, dedication to your passion is an inspiration to all of us! We’re proud to call you a Wildcat!