Georgetown Township Gets Schooled by Pinewood 6th Graders!

img_3621Back in September, we told you about an amazing project being spearheaded by Lori Barr and her 6th grade Pinewood students to restore swimming to Maplewood Lake.  Well, we are happy to say that this year’s class has continued the tradition of trying to solve the real-world problems in their own neighborhood!

img_3598-1Last month, all of Pinewood’s 6th graders presented their research and solutions to the Georgetown Township board and not only were their township reps blown away by what they heard, they have asked for copies of their presentations for further review. Dan Carlton, Township Superintendent, told the students they have “raised the bar so high I can’t even reach my arm high enough to show you how high it is!” The township is setting goals this month and they wanted to read over the resources and recommendations in order to pursue them.

The township had been previously unaware of the mosquito issue at Woodcrest Park [where Maplewood Lake is located] but students’ surveys found that spectators couldn’t even tolerate a soccer game due to the quantity of mosquitoes.  Students presented ideas for fountains, aerators and bat boxes. Fountains would keep most of the mosquitoes off the water, aerators would reduce mosquito populations because they move and clean the water and of course, our native bat friends could sleep all day in their cozy bat boxes and feast on mosquitoes all night.

captureStudents also presented ideas for a “natural playground” with the help of Natural Playgrounds in Canada. Students said in their presentation, “We want a natural playground because, you would feel like you are in the woods. The experience just feels like you are literally experiencing nature. The wood feels nice and smooth on your hands. Unlike metal and plastic.” They also presented ideas for native flowers for aesthetics and native plants for preventing runoff. 

capture2Because of a snow day in December, students had to problem solve another real-world problem: being behind on a project. Mrs Barr asked them to think about what their parents might do if they are behind at work. One student reported that sometimes, her mom has to work through her lunch which seemed to be the best solution to this hardworking crew. They worked through their lunches, they gave up extra class time where they would typically have freedom to chose their own activity – they chose to work hard to make their presentations the best they could be because they knew the township really wanted to hear what they had to say.

img_3631Seeing these amazing accomplishments has been a joy for their teachers. Mrs Barr has been teaching for 33 years and says that the past five years have been the best. “Mrs Brown encourages us to try new things and I’ve never seen anything like it. It takes courage as teachers to try new things, but you can be creative, let the kids have the power chord and let it be a student led classroom.”

Check out the clip below of a handful of students on the Maranda show that aired this week! On the way back to school one student shared with Mrs Barr, “I really feel like we’re a family. This is a year of family.”

6th Graders at Pinewood: You ARE a family and you make us all so proud! We are cheering you on and cannot wait to swim at Maplewood Lake and play at Woodcrest Park because you made it safe and fun once again!

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Readers are Leaders!

MIII0041Don’t be surprised if you start to see stickers all over the Jenison community soon declaring, “JPS Reads” and you’ll probably want to join in on the fun!

Curriculum Director, Kristy Rogalla, Media Specialist, Jan Staley, Bauerwood Principal, Crystal Morse and Literacy Coach, Janet Schultz are partnering to capitalize on the excitement and popularity of the James and Giant Peach initiative. With this next phase, all Jenison citizens will be challenged to set their own specific reading goal and when it is reached, they receive their own cling-on letting everyone know they did it!

MIII9995According to Ms Schultz, “It will be great to drive through our district and notice all the paws displayed in the front of homes.  Our community will shine with the importance of READING!” Of course, you can also brag about your reading skills by putting your sticker on your car and give a little wave to others who’ve done the same!

But if you think this is just for our students, think again! “This is not just a school based reading program, but a way to get everyone in the community excited and involved in reading. We have talked to business leaders and also our senior citizen community members to join in the fun of showcasing our love of reading here in Jenison. Our students and community members will even have the opportunity to share favorite authors, favorite books, or even share reading photos on Twitter at #JPSReads.”

Parents – you play a critical role in your child’s interest in reading! “Together…We are Jenison!! We believe that the love of reading often starts inside of the family and as a school district we are here to grow, build upon, support, and encourage that love of reading!  Together with our families and community we are committed to continuing to foster a love of reading and learning in ALL our children.”
“Not all readers are leaders, but…All Leaders are Readers.”  – Harry Truman

This phase of JPSReads runs from January 16 – February 27 and will kick off all this week.

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A Semester of Celebration

As you dust off the glitter and confetti from your New Year’s reveling, it’s always a good idea to reflect on the past few months and remember where we’ve been. Please enjoy this “semester in review” and your chance to catch up on the excitement and happenings of Jenison Public Schools!

1448499790-4841895-james_giant_peach_ticketsIf you missed your chance to read “James and the Giant Peach” during #JPSReads this fall, don’t worry, there is another chance to celebrate and embrace reading coming up. [Psst! Check back next week for all of the exciting details!]

Our high school marching band wowed audiences all the way to Nationals at Ford Field and miii9593our choirs inspired a more local audience.

Once again, our high school thespians filled the auditorium for “Peter and the Star Catcher” in preparation for the spring musical, “Peter Pan”.

img_2278As always, our teachers brought immense creativity and passion to lessons in order to make learning engaging and exciting for students of all ages. Our Pinewood 6th graders are trying to make it possible for you and your families to swim at Maplewood Lake once again, our Spanish Immersion teachers are opening doors to culture and new opportunities, our 8th graders had history brought to life by community members who lived it and high school students were invited to take the Student Leadership Challenge.

Volunteers from Chemical Bank chipped in for a Day of Service at Rosewood and Pinewood moms served up healthy snacks!

Finally, not only did Bond dollars provide new buses but one of our bus drivers lived out her love for students by saving him from choking on Halloween. miii9753

It’s been an exciting semester and we look forward to continuing the celebration into 2017!

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Choir Concert Season Wows Audiences!

miii9963Earlier this month students involved in various choirs across the district performed at the JCA much to the delight of their families, friends and teachers.

On Monday, Dec. 5 the Jr. High Choirs were joined by the District Elementary Honors Choir which is made up of about 90 singers from all five elementary buildings. The Honors Choir has been rehearsing since the end of September with three additional rehearsals outside of class time. It is led by Jr High Choir Director, Mr Waters along with Elementary directors: Mrs. Ambs [Rosewood and Sandy Hill], Ms. Florian [Pinewood and Sandy Hill], Mrs. Schrems [Bauerwood] and Mrs. Willie [Bursley].
miii9895Mrs Schrems says, “The 7th and 8th Grade Girls Choirs were amazing with their performance as was the 7-8-9 Male Chorus directed by both Mr. Waters and Mr. Carmichael.”  The night was closed out by a magical, true “surround sound” performance by both the Elementary Honors Choir and the Jr High Choirs with the song, “Night of Silence/Silent Night”. The Jr High Girls sang from the balconies, the Male Chorus sang from the stage and the Elementary Choir sang from the aisles on the orchestra level.
miii9888The next night “our incredible lower el students had a lovely performance called M-E-R-R-Y C-H-R-I-S-T-M-A-S! They sang beautifully and their behavior on stage was excellent.  We had approximately 50 narrators speak into the microphone as well.   Great Job!”
But the choirs weren’t done yet! The Bauerwood Bobcat choir was about to take over the ECC and the Gerald R Ford airport! All 113 members of the non-auditioned choir first stopped off at the ECC to lead the Transitional Kindergartners in a sing-a-long and perform some of their best songs as well. Mr. Westervelt dressed up as Santa and Mr. Waters was on hand to lead two songs and the students had the opportunity to get their wiggles out by dancing to Pentatonix “Up on the Housetop”.
miii9989And if that wasn’t enough, they headed to the Holiday Festival in the lobby of the airport! “The choir kids were complimented many times for their great singing but also for their polite manners.  We ended with some refreshments provided by the wonderful staff at the airport.”
The week was rounded out by a fantastic High School Choir and Orchestra concert on Friday night. “This concert was the perfect ending to a glorious week of choral music.”

Congratulations to all of our choir, band and orchestra students and directors! Your dedication and hard work is appreciated by the entire Jenison community and we love being able to see the ways you grow in your talents!

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Spanish Immersion Opens Doors to New Cultures and Possibilities!

The Spanish Immersion teachers at Bursley Elementary are going above and beyond to help their students incorporate their growing knowledge of the Spanish language into many aspects of their lives. Check out these four classes and their amazing lessons!

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Cover Artist Anijah Huffman

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One of the authors, Owen Cole

1st Grade, Shelly Giron

This fall, Ms. Giron’s class decided to publish their own book about their favorite animals and they went one step farther by not writing or printing it bilingually but only in Spanish! The class brainstormed lots of different animals, the reasons they like them and then wrote rough drafts and polished off original illustrations. With the help of Mr. Tamayo, the class parapro, their final drafts were completed! 29 copies of the book were ordered and everyone had a great time writing their first book together.

20161123_1120593rd Grade, Kristin DeYoung

Students across third grade created welcome cards and posters to welcome in refugees from other countries [coordinated through Bethany Christian Services] – our Spanish Immersion students created a Spanish version which will be used for Spanish speaking refugees who come in to make them feel welcome in a new country. Ms. DeYoung explained to her students that when she moved to Mexico and the Dominican Republic, natives of those countries extended this welcome to her and it helped her feel less nervous in a new place. 20161123_111935

We also created Spanish friendship cards/holiday cards to share with an orphanage in Mexico [where Ms DeYoung used to live and volunteer] to bring holiday cheer and kindness to the children living in the orphanage.  “Our Spanish Immersion students were eager to use their bilingual skills to spread love and kindness to other Spanish speakers both locally and abroad.  I’m so proud of them for using their skills to make the world a better place.”

image-812524th Grade, Kelli Darciaimage-81333

In Ms Darica’s class students work hard to incorporate their Spanish skills into all aspects of their curriculum.  They each have Spanish speaking pen pals that require them to write letters [a lost art?!] as well as read and translate the letters they receive. They are also learning and applying economic skills in Spanish as well!

5th Grade, Rebecca Chicklon

Students responded to the following quote: “¿Cuales puertas te abre el programa de inmersión?” / “What doors does the Spanish Immersion program open for you?” Students searched for their favorite doors from Spain and created GoogleDocs showcasing these doors and a paragraph answering the prompt. Check out a few of them below! [What a great way to practice your Spanish!]

capturePuertas de inmersión by Dane DeVries

Cuando hace inmersión hay muchas oportunidades para la vida real, Como: empleo,ayudando al mundo.

Si usa bien es un super poder y solo toma la tiempo de escuela. Yo hice porque quería y porque,y si no yo voy a ser en sandy hill. A mi me encanta a la inmersión porque es un reto para mi cerebro para saber más que un idioma.

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En la programa de inmersión   abra muchicimas puertas.  una puerta que abre es que tenemos un buen chanse de ir a un universidad más bueno .      

Podemos viajar a lugares hisbanoblantes y ayudar y mejorar el mundo. Tambien tenemos mas opciones de donde podemos trabaja y que trabajos queremos . Y si más tade queremos aprender otra lenguage sea mucho más facil . más tarde en la vida esta programa. Es cuando tenemos trabajo y tenemos familia vamos a estar muy felizes porque hicimos una  y  mejor vida que muchas personas no tienen. Entonces niños y niñas y digan a sus amigos, mamás y papás digan a sus amigo y abuelos y abuelas sigue diciendo a todos  sobre la programa de inmersión de español.

Thank you to our amazing Spanish Immersion teachers in Jenison for helping our students be successful in so many interesting ways! We’re proud of our students who challenge themselves every day by learning in a second language!

High School Students Accept the Student Leadership Challenge

miii0113This fall, 40 Jenison High School students were invited to join a group of their peers known as the Student Leadership Challenge. Based on the book by Barry Posner and James M. Kouzes, students are encouraged to examine their own leadership actions and aspirations. They were nominated by the students who make up the Principal Advisory Board and the group meets once a month before the school day even begins – at 7am!

captureHigh School Principal, Dr Brandon Graham, sees the group as a way to develop leaders at the school and give a voice to those demonstrating leadership skills.  “We’re reading through the book, identifying ways they can improve their own personal leadership skills and the ultimate goal is to develop kids as leaders and bring that leadership into the school.”  As students are examining themselves, Dr Graham wants them to ask themselves about their every day choices and decisions. “Everything matters. How do you hold yourself to a higher standard?”

Throughout the year, the group would like to have members of the community who are successful in their positions visit the group and share what it takes to get there. By hearing from outside voices, Dr Graham hopes to inspire students to develop goals and find ways to work towards them, even now. “We look forward to continuing to elevate the leadership skills found in the kids at Jenison.”

Principal Advisory Board member and 12th grader, Ayesha Kothari, believes there is value in meeting and encouraging students to consider their role as a leader. From her personal experience of feeling anxious speaking in front of groups and now, finding it easier to manage, she wanted to be able to help others find ways to grow. “I think it’s important to foster leadership talents in kids that may not find a way to access it otherwise.” When the students were selected by the Advisory Board, Ayesha says “we saw ourselves  in those students and we wanted to reach out to them and access those leadership qualities.” They are studying the book by focusing on each of the five segments of the book and doing short, visual presentations on each portion and leading activities based on the reading.

miii0062Although 40 students were invited in October, Dr Graham says there is room for more. If you’re a high school student with interest in joining the Student Leadership Challenge, please talk to Dr Graham or any member of the Principal Advisory Board [Jafet Cruz, Alex Bennink, Ayesha Kothari, Tristan Milarch, Tabitha Hill].

Congratulations to the students rising to the Student Leadership Challenge! We believe and in all of your leadership skills and think it’s incredibly valuable that you continue to find ways to share them with us and your fellow students!

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Pinewood Moms Serve Up Healthy Snacks!

img_8641Pinewood moms, Tanya Hawley and Emily Larsen, have set out to expand the snack horizons of our young students! After working with their child’s classroom teacher last year they sought and received a grant, along with enthusiastic permission from Pinewood principal, Rachael Postle-Brown, and are now serving healthy snacks once a month to the entire school!

Each month there is a featured vegetable that may not be very familiar to students but Tanya and Emily see serving these snacks as a way to help kids see that vegetables can taste good and be fun to try! In October they introduced pink and purple radishes and November’s snack was spaghetti squash served with marinara sauce.

img_8634Taking on a project of these size has not been easy but both Tanya and Emily bring valuable experience and passion to the program. Emily is a registered dietitian and Tanya say, “Emily has been able to add a ton of nutritional facts and information to our program. My focus is on connecting MI farms to families, and connecting kids to real food and farms, and where the food comes from. Emily’s focus on nutritional impact.  Together we make a good team, and we are passionate about helping our community make healthier snack and food decisions in their everyday lives.”

Tanya says that she notices that when some students are willing to try something new, their friends will try it too. Their goal is for kids to be exposed to new foods, broadening their horizons and helping them learn about healthy options. This is also an opportunity for kids to learn about local farms and where our food comes from. Parents are encouraged to participate at home and a handout is provided each month for the “healthy snack” lesson to continue. Kids are also asked to participate in a brief quiz that allows Tanya and Emily to track students interest in the food prior to trying it as well as afterwards. Tanya says that she is pleasantly surprised by the number of kids who are willing to try a new food (parent: take note!).

Teachers have been welcoming of the addition to their school day once a month and these moms hope that parents are taking advantage of the interest as well. Kids who insisted they didn’t want to try “something green” ended up liking kale chips and even last month’s radishes!

Thank you to these moms and the local farms helping supply the new foods! We hope the Pinewood students will continue to try new things and teach us all about what they’re learning!

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Bus Driver is Humble Hero: A Story to be Thankful For

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Joey, Miss Kristin + Ethan

Halloween is never a typical day on a bus to begin with but for one bus driver and her students, it’s a day they’ll never forget.

It was early on in Kristin Bredeweg’s usual Friday afternoon bus drop off routine when she was approached by fifth grader, Joey Bonacci, who calmly reported that his friend, Ethan Dahl, was choking and he couldn’t breathe.

Leaving her red lights on, Kristin ran to the back and saw that Ethan was indeed, unable to breathe. She grabbed him into the aisle, wrapped her arms around him and performed the Heimlich maneuver.  Nothing happened. Ethan still wasn’t breathing. Kristin lost her mom earlier this year and in a brief moment of desperation she asked her mom for help and gave Ethan one more push. Air rushed into his lungs and he fell back in her arms. He was going to be ok.

miii9093Ethan says that he had been enjoying a hard candy before getting on the bus and he thinks a shard of it was what got caught in his throat. Joey knew he was choking, rather than goofing around, because Ethan had been laughing and all of a sudden, he wasn’t making any noise. Ethan and Joey have been friends since third grade and, along with their friend, Isaac England, they are always together on the bus and acknowledge they are good friends.

Kristin radioed into the Transportation office letting them know that Ethan was ok but there had been a medical emergency and asked them to please contact his mom. She told Ethan she wouldn’t leave until he waved at her from the front window before she shakily pulled away.

Kristin had never performed the Heimlich Maneuver and wasn’t sure she was even doing it correctly but she did what she says, any of the JPS bus driver would’ve done. “You love them like they’re your own kids. They’re not just your bus kids. When they’re in my care, they’re my kids. I just did what his mom would’ve done.” 

“I’m driving that bus, not because it’s a job, but because I love my job. I stay on my route because I know my families, because it’s relationships built in the community. There’s communication and relationships built between [yourself] and the families you drive for that make it worth sitting in the seat. They know I love their kids like my own.”

Kristin and Joey, there aren’t enough “thank you’s” and hugs to express how grateful we are for you and your quick and selfless reactions. Ethan, we are so very thankful that you are ok and we trust that you’ll avoid hard candy from now on!

History Comes Alive for 8th Graders!

img_4675If you’ve ever tuned out your parents or an older adult when they started to say, “When I was your age…” you’re not alone and you’re probably in the good company of many of our eighth grade students.

This year, Jenison Junior High Language Arts teachers wanted to not only allow students the opportunity to embrace their curriculum unit on historical fiction but to do it by getting to know some older adults in our community who have their own history to tell.

img_4646English teacher, Jane Brown, wanted students to learn new ways to value history and personal experiences. “We are always looking for ways to make our curriculum real to our students. In eighth grade, we study historical fiction and – unfortunately – sometimes just that genre alone turns people off even though it can be fascinating. We wanted to help our students to see that the things that happened before their lifetimes matter.”

As part of the event held earlier this month, senior citizens were invited to participate by being interviewed in person by our junior high students. The students are also charged with writing historical fiction of their own and the real-life experiences they heard about will add depth to their writing.

img_4685“Students asked a variety of questions. The goal was for them was to find out what life was like in the past and also to hear the interesting stories that people had to share. The students were very excited to share what they had learned from the people they interviewed. They are looking forward to writing historical fiction short stories set in the time periods that they learned about.
Kids loved learning what people wore to the beach in the 1930s [suits and ties], how they talked on the telephone in the 1960s [party lines], and about the beginnings of Jenison Public Schools.”

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55 older adults between the ages of 50 – 90 participated in the event and were eager to share their experiences with the students. They also reported being impressed by their questions!

“We really liked that this event allowed students to learn about history in a non-traditional way from a first-hand perspective, while at the same time, practicing communication skills. The students came away from their hour disappointed that they didn’t have more time with the people they interviewed. Bridging the generations is such a wonderful experience for everyone involved!

Thank you to our community partners for being willing to participate in our students’ education! Your voices are invaluable to us!

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