ABC’s of Life

Rosewood 4th graders Ben, Adelynn, Jaxson and Jocelyn surely have mastered the alphabet over the years. This year, they are being challenged to look at the ABC’s through a different lens.

Drawing inspiration from a piece of art hanging in his office, Rosewood Principal, Luke Ver Beek began a weekly school wide challenge. Beginning with morning announcements, he introduces a theme and encourages students and staff to embrace the alphabet in a new way.

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Jocelyn Brown

Jocelyn Brown was a member of the elementary cast of the recent high school musical, Mary Poppins. When the class was working on the theme “eXpress your gratitude”, she knew she wanted to write a letter of appreciation to her high school theatre mentor. “It makes you feel good because you know they will be happy when they receive your letter. I feel like this makes us more bonded. Of course, my teacher made me do it but when I started writing, I couldn’t stop and I didn’t have enough room!”

Jocelyn also remembered having good conversations with her mom during the “Forgive” theme week and they enjoyed dinner out and rollerblading for an “Unplugged” evening.

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Jaxson McBride and Ben Osterink agree that “Build” was the best week!

Jaxson Mc Bride loves to make stuff and draw. He really liked that he had an ‘assignment’ to play with his legos. “Sometimes I get busy, it was fun to be reminded of how much I love my legos. I also liked the “Try Something New Challenge”. I want to make plans to be outside more.” Ben Osterink likes to build forts and play legos. He even let his sister help him build a big lego house.

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Adelynn Brown

Adelynn Brown took the “Unplugged” challenge seriously and decided to spend time outdoors instead of watching television after school. “Sometimes watching too much TV can give you a headache so I’m glad I’m outside playing basketball more now. I play basketball on recess too so I’m glad I feel like I’m getting better. Sometimes my mom parks in the way of the basketball hoop so I climb our tree instead which is also fun.”

Other staff and student favorite themes over the year include:

V=Vote… Rosewood has two fish who call the library home. The kids really enjoyed voting on the fish names. There was also a good life lesson in the fact, that just because they liked one name, didn’t mean the majority did.

T=Try something new… Mr. Ver Beek did the announcements via video for the week. Teachers noticed students talking to their friends throughout the week about new foods, new activities, new games, even new friendships.

S=Stretch… Teachers and students were challenged to try yoga and mindfulness.

As the year is winding down, the Rosewood Wildcats have completed their alphabet challenge and are revisiting two letters per week. The staff and students have really enjoyed the ABC’s of Life project. I love that some weeks they were trying something new and other weeks they revisited some very good old fashioned basics. Thank you Mr. Ver Beek and Rosewood teachers for offering our students a well rounded study of the alphabet!
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Mr. Ver Beek eXpresses gratitude for teachers and staff with sweets and treats!

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ABC’s of Life by Little Truths Studio

 

BEE the Change!

One could say a seed was planted when Vanessa Tran chose a random topic for an 8th grade essay assignment a few years ago. She got to work researching the dwindling population of bees and how important they are to the ecosystem. The statistics astounded her as she learned about their contribution and common misconceptions. Thus the ‘pollination’ of a new passion.

Now a sophomore and member of Jenison High School’s student council, Vanessa decided to speak up and take the opportunity to lead a social awareness campaign. The student council committee has embraced her vision, spent months preparing their messages and tactics; and have recently launched their multiple platforms for spreading the word.


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Enjoy a great family night of fun and information to learn how you can BEE THE CHANGE!

Family movie night with concession sales (Showing Bee Movie and Spider Man Homecoming)

Local beekeeper Q&A conversations during the evening

Donation opportunities to help JHS build two hives to support a healthy, local bee population in partnership with Post Family Farm.


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Their primary goal is based on the fact that knowledge is power. Education and awareness is necessary for making change happen. The students have engaged social media tools to spread their message as far and wide, and as quickly as they can. With community involvement, they hope to spread awareness to over 10,000 students, parents, and leaders across West Michigan. Their message is simple: Bee a good neighbor and help save our pollinator friends! Check out their newsfeeds and join the conversation!

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The media community has taken notice as well. Check out local news coverage of the campaign: WWMT

This week, the students have also shared a goal of fundraising. The money raised will give them the opportunity to build two new bee hives to support a healthy, local bee population. These hives will be located at and maintained by the Post Family Farm.

Projects like these are so exciting as student council initiatives are almost completely student run, outside of school hours. I’m continuously impressed by our student body and their willingness to support other people’s passions. I hope you will support them in learning more and get involved in making our world a sweeter place!

It’s not surprising that they are well on their way to meeting their goal! They have been selling Post Family Farm donuts, tee shirts and buttons.

Students are using memes to spread quick bites of education.

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Outdoor Science Adventures

One of the best things about Michigan is the experience we have with the change of each season. In addition to outdoor recess in just about any weather, our Transitional Kindergarten class studies science and sharpens other skills while engaging in outdoor project based learning.

Through a valuable partnership with Ottawa County, our Early Childhood teachers plan their classroom curriculum to link up with Ottawa County naturalists and trips to local parks.

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These off site nature learning experiences are ongoing throughout the school year. They provide fresh air and great physical activity, offer a shift in learning and teaches them how to explore individually as well as be part of a group. Students are learning to notice things, compare and think specifically about all their senses. Often the school year starts with timid students as they may be riding a bus for the first time and are given the freedom to explore and learn from the world around them.

136300071d3ce24f3b6df4ba1a5a0c28762e8b0aThe students’ curiosity and questioning skills shine through while they are discovering nature. Teachers are often able to better relate to students who struggle with traditional skills in the classroom. They may begin to count objects in the woods (ex: sticks or rocks), or use pre-reading skills while looking at maps of the different parks. They are enjoying themselves and grasping learning in an alternative environment. These trips also help deepen relationships between teachers and students providing helpful context for when they return to the classroom.  

Our hardworking Jenison teachers aren’t afraid to engage learning on different levels for all students. As a result of this unique science program, these little learners have swelled in confidence and independence. No matter the season or the weather, excitement about these trips continues to grow, always looking forward to their next outdoor learning adventure.

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Teachers, Blake Smolen and Megan Thomas enjoy an outdoor science exploration with their students and paraprofessionals, Kris Andres and Mary Dejonge.

Mary Poppins Musical is ‘Practically Perfect’!

Yesterday was the first day of Spring; excitement was high and sighs of relief could be heard across the stage. Despite losing 10 days of working sessions due to bad weather over the winter, they made it – spring is here and they are ready to sweep you off your feet! 

The Jenison Thespians are proud to present their spring musical, Mary Poppins. It’s the broadway version of a quirky story about a flying nanny with her trademark long coats, umbrella with a parrot head and rosy cheeks. An irresistible tale known by many; Mary Poppins teaches children with patience, kindness, and a little bit of magic. Through numerous recognizable and unforgettable singing adventures, Mary and her friend Bert help the Banks family set things right – maybe more right than they’d ever been before. 

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In true Mary Poppins fashion, high school cast members surprised their Jenison elementary friends this week by popping in at their schools for a flash mob. Appearing out of nowhere, the actors performed a singing preview of Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious! for a stunned but excited lunchtime audience.

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The hard work and attention to every last detail by the cast and crew, along with countless adult volunteers, will not go unnoticed! You will be delighted with outstanding acting, stunts and artistic talent. The songs, dance steps and full live orchestra performance will leave you flying higher than a kite!

There are 4 more opportunities for you to catch this family friendly production this weekend. You will not want to miss it! Visit www.jpsarts.com for tickets

A huge thank you as well to the JHS direction staff for the Mary Poppins show. Director: Todd Avery | Music Direction: Sarah Hazel | Choreography: Emily Ambs | Orchestra Director: Dan Scott

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Trading Textbooks for Broomball and Bunk Beds

Milestones abound with each school year and grade completed. Arguably, 6th grade seems to be one of the most exciting and transformative. For the last 20 years, leaving the classroom and going camping with classmates has been one of those much anticipated experiences for our Jenison 6th graders.

All students are given the opportunity to attend camp at some point during their 6th grade year. Each student comes with a unique life story; and we find time and again that the shared social and experiential education aspects of camp helps draw the students closer, allowing friendships to develop and compassion and understanding to grow.

1383307166f1e61842c61877dd33d4ec3d7faff9Although, this year’s Bauerwood trip was scheduled for the end of February and they started their camp week at 29 degrees upon arrival; the class experienced an amazing 4 days together with their classmates and teachers.

Bedtime came pretty easy at the end of some very busy days. Outdoor activities included broom ball, snow tubing, archery, team-building exercises and campfires. Indoor fun included ropes courses, group games like capture the flag and glow dodge ball and so much more!

In true Wildcat fashion, our amazing Jenison staff goes above and beyond to invest in their students. Enjoying the experience alongside them, encouraging them to have fun and be fully engaged while they unplug from technology and escape the average routine of their every day lives. Some camp activities are just plain fun, while others are challenging and require that the students stretch themselves and give their best effort. All while in a supporting environment – getting to know each other (and themselves) better with each task they accomplish.

Many students are stretched beyond their comfort zone, often making the experience a pivotal moment for students as they grow leaps and bounds in self-confidence. If you know a Jenison 6th grader, share in their excitement and ask about camp!

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The Bauerwood staff had a great time connecting with their students at camp.

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The junior counselors are former Bauerwood students. The current Jenison High School students were very excited to partner with the teachers and Grace Adventure staff to create an awesome camp experience like they had when they were 6th graders.

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Lansing Lessons for 4th Grade

Challenging concepts taught solely within the four walls of a classroom can often leave students uninspired and disengaged. Our community of 4th grade educators understand that, and one of the highlights of their year is taking advantage of real life learning through an exciting field trip to Lansing.

In preparation, the class studied a preview of what they would be experiencing during image1-3the trip. This included: a review of the three branches of government – how they work, how they differ, an overview of Michigan congress members – how bills are developed and passed, some focus on the current governor, and an overview of the time periods of Michigan history. Setting the stage for the visit increased the impact of the trip tenfold as students consistently made (excited) solid connections from the classroom to the tours of both the State Capitol building and the Michigan History Museum.

Many students have never been in such a historic building before and were in awe of the architecture and ornate decorations that all have symbolic meaning. When students discover that the floor in the rotunda is made of glass, they are often a little intimidated, but docents quickly put their mind at ease: the 976 squares of glass are held in place by a cast iron frame, making the floor strong enough to hold over 40 tons of weight! They also find that the best view all the way to the top of the dome can be found by laying flat on your back.

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The students soaked in the breathtaking view 180 feet above them. The stars on the top center are actually the size of a human hand.

Students were really excited to learn that our state politicians actually do work in Lansing and that it wasn’t just a fancy building for show. The group had the chance to go on the senate floor and spend a few minutes asking Senator Roger Victory some questions about his job.

Representative Luke Meerman was in the office that day as well, and he gave students some wonderful advice about never giving up on their dreams.

 

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Bursley 4th graders standing on the floor of the Senate with Senator Roger Victory, member of the Michigan Senate for the 30th Senate District

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Bursley 4th graders with State Representative Luke Meerman, member of the Michigan House of Representatives for the 88th District.

After the Capitol tour, the group went to the Michigan History Museum. Students were intrigued by the history of  “logging” in Michigan and spent time debating logistics of how it was transported before cars and trucks. Other favorite museum exhibits include feeling what a horse and buggy ride was like, feeling animal pelts from the fur trade, walking through a mine, and interacting with an early 1900’s classroom. Students take back valuable information and experiences from the trip and draw on those as they dive deeper into Michigan History and Government in the coming months.

I’m so thankful that experiential education through real world exploration is a reality for our students. These hands-on experiences help our students gain perspective and develop critical thinking skills along with academic learning. These are lessons that will stay with them for a lifetime and strengthen their understanding in the classroom. 

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There are nine acres of hand-painted decorative art throughout the building, sharing stories from Michigan’s past. It’s a lot to take in!

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At the Capitol, the students had the opportunity to see where legislature meets for session.

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The students enjoyed a successful Lansing trip!

 

Surfing with Sharks

img_1691In January, the fifth grade ACT students got busy diving into their exciting new learning exploration; and I’m quite pleased to report it goes much deeper than that popular earworm song that has swept the nation!

They were introduced to their ‘Surfing with Sharks’ unit and transformed themselves into Icthyologists (ik-thee-OL-o-jist). ACT Teacher, Dr. Julie Clark, aims to provide a rich environment of full immersion in their topic and these few weeks of being a “person who studies sharks” has been an exciting and engaging experience for all. Not to mention, this is an opportunity that most students wouldn’t have exposure to until high school or college!

One of the first activities included “adopting a shark” from the Ocearch website to track and watch throughout the unit. The class also read the book, Shark Lady, a true story that highlights the life and work of Eugenie Clark, a renowned ichthyologist known for both her research on shark behavior and her dedication to changing the common misconceptions people have about sharks. 

This was a great way to lay the groundwork of learning about these fascinating, and often misunderstood, creatures. After spending some time introducing their “adopted” sharks to the class through a short Google Slides presentation, the students enjoyed an opportunity to watch an Eyewitness movie about sharks in class.img_1689

Taking their research a little bit deeper, the students set off to learn about a specific species of shark and create a Weebly website on which to display what they learn. They also used Khan Academy to begin some computer coding lessons; skills they would use to include their own animation that they create using Java Script.

Current events informed the unit as well; students recently watched this news story about how research into the shark genome is helping scientists with cancer research. They have 50% more DNA than we do, and because of this, the shark’s DNA is constantly repairing itself to prevent gene mutations that can cause disease, like cancer. Helping students to see the relevance of their study and connecting those learnings to real life inspires students to become activists and learn more.

Screen Shot 2019-02-28 at 5.09.02 AMThe shining moment of wearing the Icthyologist ‘hat’, is the dissection at the end of the unit. In order to be prepared for this, the class spent time learning about the external and internal anatomy of the dogfish shark (Squalus acanthias). To start, the students learned about the anatomical directions that scientists and those in the medical field use when referring to different areas of an organism’s body. Then spent time exploring the shark’s internal, external anatomy and special sensing mechanisms (helping them detect movements in the water). Students were also challenged to put together a three-dimensional model showing the various internal organs. All of this laying the groundwork for a successful dissection.

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img_1690Dr. Clark loves to push the comfort level of her students in the name of learning new things,  and for some, dissection day itself was a challenging experience. As the classroom transformed into a laboratory, she takes the opportunity to remind the class of the ACT theme this year: Challenge Accepted!…being committed to finding learning in all experiences, and ultimately, if it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you. The challenge was accepted and curiosity took over.

All of the shark specimens that were dissected were females, thus, students learn about reproduction in these animals as well. Spiny Dogfish sharks are ovoviviparous — meaning that the embryo develops from an egg inside the mother and is nourished by the yolk sac, not the mother, but the mother still has a live birth.  With parent volunteer helpers, the students took their knowledge and identified the body parts they had studied and were so excited to find the surprise of little shark pups when they were dissecting! One group found 5 baby shark pups! As sharks do not chew their food – students also discovered a fully intact fish! After they completed the students could also do some extra exploration on the gills and eyeballs.

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Intact Fish – Baby Shark (Doo Doo) – Yolk Sac

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I am thankful for devoted educators like Dr. Clark, who strive to open the minds of students to an array of learning possibilities, while challenging them to grow academically, socially, and emotionally. Our academically talented students are constantly provided learning opportunities that present them with the chance to explore, create, problem solve, and above all, try new things. I am so pleased that we have continued to invest in providing unique and thought-provoking learning opportunities for these children. It is always very exciting to see what she has going on in her classroom. Learn more about ACT here.

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100 Days Smarter

It all started back in August, when the elementary classes began tallying each new day they were in school. Counting in singles, then bundling into 10’s and 20’s – a real life math lesson in progress.

The 100th day marks a special opportunity to reflect upon and celebrate major milestones in our students’ academic achievement. There is so much hard work and learning that happens in the first 100 days of school! We’re thankful that Michigan seems to be feeling back to normal, otherwise I think many were concerned we would never be able to celebrate this year!

Check out Pinewood, Sandy Hill and El Puente as each child was crowned “100 days smarter” and enjoyed a day of celebration!

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9780545776073_mresCreative student contributions of 100 items brought unique collections to the ‘100 Day Museum’.

Some students read a book called Hooray for the 100th Day, about a student who was trying to accomplish 100 good deeds before his 100th day of school was over. He finally reached his goal, but not before several messes were made!

Another activity was writing about how to spend $100! Students shared many fun ideas how to spend the money on themselves and others!

“Dress like a 100 year old” is a favorite, the kids always have so much fun seeing each other and imagining who they will be when they are 100 years old!

Thank you to our amazing teachers who go above and beyond to engage our students in fun, meaningful ways!

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Lean on Me: Pink Out 2019

Last week, we were faced with yet another winter storm threatening to interrupt our annual Jenison Pink Out celebration. Regardless of what Michigan tried to throw at us, it gave me chills to see the the walls of our gymnasium stretched with a standing room only audience – just as it has been for eleven straight years.

Since the beginning, I have had the honor of being the emcee of Pink Out. I’ve heard the stories, witnessed firsthand the fight and seen the way families and friends in our community are moved to act. Just four months ago, that experience became very personal to me when my brother called to share that my sister-in-law had been diagnosed with breast cancer.

Each year, we recognize community members who are courageous fighters, representing many others battling the war on cancer. All of them are extra-special reminders to our community of the value of bravery and perseverance. We are thankful for their willingness to share their stories and are blessed to walk this journey with them.

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Jenison Pink Out Honorees

Nicole Edward – Linda Ten Brink – Deb Leaf

Karine Rodriguez – Earl Hall – Josh Van Putten

2019 Pink Out Honorees

Linda Ten Brink

I asked my brother Mike and his wife, Linda TenBrink, to join the Jenison community for our Pink Out celebration because every warrior deserves to experience this amazing level of encouragement and support during their journey. And because Linda has embodied a fighter’s personality and a fierce courageousness from her initial diagnosis. She has looked cancer in the eye, called it out for what it is, and is determined to do whatever it takes to rid her body of “Chester” (the name that she has given to her cancerous tumor). Linda has used a tremendous sense of humor,  a “can do” attitude, and her competitive spirit to defeat this cancer that in her words, “invaded her body without her permission.” We are so proud of her warrior spirit!

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Karine Rodriguez and Earl Hall

Karine Rodriguez and Earl Hall are both cancer victims, living in the same home. Karine was first diagnosed with colon cancer in 2017, she went into remission the following year for 4 months. Sadly, the cancer returned this past summer. The after effects of chemo often leave her exhausted with scarce energy for work or social outings, so much that she was contemplating forgoing the treatment. However, since Pink Out came into her life – she has a renewed vigor to push through the treatments and is feeling supported (emotionally as well as financially) like never before. Keep on fighting, Karine! We’re with you every step of the way!

Karine was joined by her mom, Terri, who also attended Jenison, and Terri’s boyfriend Earl Hall. Earl had bladder cancer and is looking forward to a check up soon to confirm that the recent removal surgery was successful. Karine’s diagnosis flipped their world upside down. He expressed immense gratitude for the ongoing support from Pink Out and the manner of genuine care and kindness they felt. Earl has taken this kindness to heart and wishes to remind everyone that you never know what your neighbor might be experiencing. Kindness and respect go a long way. Thank you Karine and Earl for your positive spirit. It’s an honor to walk beside you.

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Nicole Edwards

Nicole Edwards is a survivor! Her husband, Brad and son, Brody (Jenison, class of 2017), some friends and family members stood by her side as she shared her story. With no family history, Nicole wasn’t too concerned about missing a few routine mammograms, however at the suggestion of her doctor, she finally decided to go in. Just over a year ago, she was diagnosed with DCIS (ductal carcinoma, stage 0, but aggressive grade three). She described feeling alone and isolated in those first few months but came to quickly realize that the Jenison community was on her side. The Pink Out team and relationships her family had built with other Jenison families through her son’s sports teams really carried them through the physically and emotionally tough times. Nicole feels very fortunate to be so close to one of the best health care systems in the United States! And she wishes to acknowledge and thank Lemmen Holton Cancer Center with their amazing doctors and support staff. We couldn’t agree more! She also wants to use her journey to remind women to make time for routine checks and conversations with physicians!!

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Deb Leaf

Deb is a 1985 Jenison graduate and has been on a long, courageous cancer journey including multiple diagnoses and surgeries. She is the guardian of her grandchildren, Stevie and LJ Leaf, who both attend Bauerwood Elementary. Deb was unaware of what Pink Out was and now considers them to be an amazing asset within our community, for which she is very grateful. Among other things, support from the organization and Jenison Schools helped provide tires for her vehicle and create some delightful memories this past Christmas. Deb was escorted by her grandchildren, her parents, her sister & her husband and her sister-in-law. Thank you Deb, for your fearless and brave demeanor as you continue your journey.

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Josh VanPutten

“Van Putten Strong” is embroidered on the back of Kim Van Putten’s denim shirt. She wore it one year ago when the family gathered on the Jenison gym floor for their son, Shawn. Shawn was a 2014 graduate of Jenison, and last year he shared about his cancer journey. Harnessing that strength more than ever, they tackled the last year and she wore the shirt this past Friday night as the family stands on the Pink Out floor AGAIN this year. This time, celebrating the remission of son, Josh, Jenison class of 2010.

While the family was participating in the 2018 Pink Out ceremony, 11 months after Shawn’s diagnosis, older brother Josh had spent the day in the hospital about to receive his own life changing diagnosis.

Josh opened his remarks with the phrase, “An individual does not get cancer, a family does.” In the first moments of the diagnosis, his thoughts went to his infant daughter and his family – would they be ok? would they be strong enough to go through this all again? And here they stand in 2019, celebrating 4 months of remission for Josh, wanting to share the news that cancer did not win this battle, THEY did.

Their spirits were constantly lifted by the presence of the Pink Out team. The motto “No One Fights Alone” is a perfect description of their experience with Pink Out. Josh appreciates the assistance he received to keep his daughter and newly purchased home taken care of – and cherishes the support his extended family received as they cared for him.

“Pink is not a color I normally wear but I wear it tonight with pride and gratitude. Thank you for supporting Pink Out so they are able to support the Warriors.”

137500997d1b3a07dbb560673023caa4562c90131375010333b7e7bea1bb04a709824f6835b37009Without the community members, business partners and students of our community being deeply involved, we couldn’t do what we do for those who need help in their fight against cancer. Jenison has shown up for eleven straight years and given tremendous support. From the depths of my heart, I say, Thank you! Your presence, your generosity, and your willingness to walk alongside the courageous fighters in our community is a wonderful gift! There is no gesture too small – purchasing a shirt, donating funds, volunteering, and just showing up at Pink Out says we care and we have your back!  That is their gift; this is our legacy. In our community, nobody fights alone!

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The Jenison Men’s Basketball teams have been very busy this month as well. Varsity Coach, Dominic Allen detailed a new free throw shooting competition they hosted as a fundraiser opportunity. The players secured pledges and proudly presented $6,300 to Pink Out, over double their original goal! The players also braved the beginning of the polar vortex at the end of January to get the Pink Out flags up along Baldwin Street.13749889a4c39321ee7e5510451b129d1ee6e294

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This year, 3 sophomore girls launched a new Jenison tradition called “Senior Survivor”. Based on the television show, senior students attempt to raise money and compete in challenges to remain in the game. They had an amazing amount of fun and were proud to present a check for $5,419.14 to Jenison Pink Out. Thank you to the school chaperones who spent the night at school with them, the local business who kept them fed and most of all their friends and family who cheered them on and supported their efforts!137501524b250aec81c40c785df4903db57f30d2

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Words cannot express the level of gratitude I have for the leadership of our YEAR ROUND Pink Out committee: Moni Marlink, Katy Hevelhurst, Jean Krzewski, Donna Bergeon and Cindi Covell. These are some caring, compassionate women on a mission to care for their neighbors whenever it is needed; they are making a huge impact! THANK YOU!!137501152a8fc80a74ad4e09f24177e98b6dcf24

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Pink may be the color of the night, but we’re proud to support courageous fighters of all kinds of cancer! The Jenison Pink Out organization makes sure that NO ONE FIGHTS ALONE!!

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Seniors, Zac Avery and Conner Wood, close the ceremony by performing this year’s Pink Out theme song “Lean on Me”.

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Principal, Luke VerBeek accepts the Pink basketball in recognition of best Pink Out Spirit Day at Rosewood Elementary. Way to go kids – Rosewood Rocks!

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Read about past Pink Out Honorees on previous PINK OUT blogs:

2018 |2017 | 2016 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012