Community Food Update

Since March 13, Jenison Public Schools has had a small army of food service staff and volunteers working super hard to keep our local families fed! In the early days of the COVID-19 closure, they used our food inventory efficiently and solved problems quickly.

Now 16 weeks later, they are a well oiled machine with this new distribution method and I am so proud to share that we have served nearly 260,000 meals to students in our community.

Although the end of school year dates have officially come and gone, we’re not done yet! Jenison High School and Hudsonville High School will continue serving through the summer with distribution dates of July 6, 13, 20, 27, August 3 at 11:30am-12:30pm.

Again, I’m so grateful for Mary Darnton, Director of Food Service and her team in the Jenison Food Service department for their steadfast commitment and caring hearts as they support our community in this impactful way.

LINK TO PREVIOUS STORY: Jenison Food Service Continues to Serve During COVID-19 School Closure

Frontline Fuel Boost

Our local heroes are highly respected and always deserving of our gratitude. However, the recent days of the COVID-19 pandemic have required them to go even more above and beyond with their servant attitudes.

As we closed the year without the spring sports season, the Jenison Athletic Boosters found themselves with an inventory of concessions that would have expired. Wanting to say thank you, they made a sweet donation to the frontline workers at Metro Health and the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department.

Thank you again, to all our local frontline workers, for the sacrifices you make, every day and especially during this pandemic. Your dedication, commitment and courage deserve our deepest gratitude and admiration. Your service is saving lives and making differences daily. 

Cross Country Challenge

Most people don’t even run 4 miles a day much less 48 miles in a weekend – but the Jenison High School Boy’s Cross Country team isn’t “most people”. In preparation for the fall season, the team usually participates in spring and summer fundraisers which were canceled this year. This required Coach Jacci Storey and her Jenison running family to get creative, organizing a 4x4x48 challenge, where they would run 48 miles in 48 hours.

Throughout the canceled track season, the team of runners felt the pain of separation, yet remained connected by their commitment to the team and their love of the sport. Supporting each other while training individually.

Coach Storey, Connor Vachon, Jaden Henderson, Luca Pham, and Austin Winkle, along with other members of the cross country team participated in the 4x4x48 challenge. The feeling of family was evident as graduated Cross Country athletes from the past season also came out to run the last leg. It’s amazing to see this strong family culture thrive – even when they graduate, they are still part of our Jenison Cross Country family!

As a sophomore at Jenison High School, Hunter Bowen was a member of the Cross Country team this past fall when he passed away. It was a devastating loss for this close knit group. Three of Hunter’s siblings who also were part of Coach Storey’s running family at JHS joined the 4x4x48 challenge. It was a beautiful reunion of friends and family.

The challenge kicked off at 4am on a Saturday morning at Maplewood Park and they ran another 4 mile distance every four hours until they completed 48 miles. And it wouldn’t be our team if they weren’t pushing themselves within the challenge. They started the 10th leg of the race on Sunday at 4:00pm and met a record for the group with an impressive 37 minute time.

Legs were tired but hearts were full as they accomplished their goal (actually completed in less than 48 hours) and exceeded their fundraiser goal amount Sunday night around midnight! Well done, gentlemen! Way to seize this opportunity to challenge yourself and finish strong.

Coach Storey’s daughter made a special appearance for one 4 mile leg as well!

Recognition for our Athletic Leaders

Jenison Varsity Football Coach, Rob Zeitman and Jenison Athletic Director, Tim Ritsema have received some exciting recognitions. Both men are well respected in their fields and committed to the families they serve in the Jenison community. The dedicated efforts from both of these leaders make our Wildcats Roar!

Rob Zeitman is nearing 20 years in Secondary Education. He loves focusing on all of his students – in the Economics and World History classrooms as well as on the football field. He led his staff as they spent many hours during the COVID-19 closure lending their time and muscles to help the Jenison Food Service Department continue to feed the community.

A member of the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association, Coach Zeitman is a leader among his peers and has been elected Regional Director. Having him as a part of the Jenison family, teaching our students, and coaching our athletes is of great value to the Jenison community!

We’re blessed to have Tim Ritsema leading our 7-12 athletic program. His passion and commitment to our student athletes is exceptional. He was recently recognized with the Michigan Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association “Award of Merit”. Elected by peers, this award is given annually for the demonstrated long-term contributions, leadership and meritorious service to their profession. Jenison has definitely benefited from his experience and the expertise he has shown. Full MIAAA news story here.

Class of 2020 Celebration

On the original date scheduled for commencement this year, the Class of 2020 took their turn in the spotlight and was able to close the chapter on their high school career. However, it looked very different than any of us had imagined and they weren’t walking across a stage that night. As the closures of COVID-19 threatened to cancel every event, the Class of 2020 Senior Planning Committee sprang into action. Typically this parent-led volunteer committee spends about a year working on plans to celebrate the accomplishment of their students with a safe night of fun following graduation. With a true resilient spirit, they quickly shifted gears and pulled off an amazing community celebration in the form of a ‘Senior Parade’.

Seniors were driven through a parade route that was like taking them down memory lane. They first encountered the jubilant cheers from their elementary teachers, then the junior high and high school teachers and staff.

I’d like to extend a big thank you to Mike Schwartz and his son, Matthew (8th grader at JJHS) for putting together this awesome drone video! There was such a great turnout of seniors and supporters!

I had the best seat in the house as I waved each of them my best and sent them off to the last leg of the journey where their community and family members waited to celebrate their accomplishments. I’m beyond proud of the way this class of students finished strong during this recent interruption in their lives. I am so grateful our amazing seniors had the opportunity for this experience and for them to know that they have an entire community standing behind them during this time. Many more smiles in the full photo gallery.

Family support at its finest! Go Wildcats!


Another date that has come and gone is the evening of our annual High School Honors ceremony. I would like to take this opportunity to recognize the seniors who comprise the Jenison High School Class of 2020 Top Ten. These young people are outstanding students that have excelled in and outside of the classroom. They are great scholars, but even better people. Well done!

  • Drew Bobeldyk, Valedictorian
  • Ashley Winger, Salutatorian
  • Stuart Tolsma
  • Rebeca Zeitman
  • Tristen Kloppe
  • Leah DeRitter
  • Andrew Ferguson
  • Jacob Frollo
  • Anna Bartz
  • Quinn Snyder

Congratulations to this incredible group of young men and women! You are examples of what hard work can achieve and we are so proud of you. The future is yours for the taking!

Military Wildcats 2020

The freedoms we enjoy in our country come with extreme sacrifice by countless men, women and their families. We all continue to be protected by those who volunteer to serve and defend our country. Today, I recognize members of the Jenison High School Class of 2020 who have signed on to fill this honorable role. We celebrate them as they take on many new challenges and choose to stand up for our freedoms.

Evan Conlon

Evan Conlon chose the military path because he felt it was a great fit for him to develop skills and accomplish his life goals. A hard working, physical young man, Evan worked a plan to complete high school graduation requirements early and enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. He has already been working hard to push himself beyond perceived limits and completed boot camp training in April. I’m proud to see him employing his dedication as he received graduate honors for his platoon and was eventually named Honor Graduate for the entire company as well. Bravo Evan! Best wishes as you await the next phase of training at the school of infantry and continue your military career.

Morgan DeBoer

Morgan DeBoer enlisted and participated in the swearing in ceremony last November for the Army National Guard. Following basic training, Morgan is planning to attend Lake Superior State University where she will study wildlife, fisheries and conservation. Morgan is goal oriented and she feels that JHS has prepared her to work hard for the things she wants to accomplish. Congratulations Morgan! I know you will take your commitment and leadership from the soccer field to your education and military duties.

Parker DeJonge

A military career is a life long dream for Parker DeJonge. The only question he had was which branch to join. Last November, Parker enlisted with the United States Army, where he will become an armament/electronics/avionics systems repair specialist for Apache helicopters. Playing baseball and spending time in the spotlights of the theatre program, Parker has gained leadership skills during high school. He is also looking forward to meeting new people as he embarks on this new adventure. Congratulations Parker, on step one of fulfilling your dreams as you serve your country.

Samuel Jipping

Samuel Jipping enlisted in the United States Navy and is looking forward to many wonderful growth opportunities during his career. He cites discipline in and outside the JHS classroom that have helped prepare him to be his best.

Eva Johnson

Coming from a military family, Eva Johnson knew from a young age that she was interested in and passionate about a possible military career. At the start of her senior year, she followed in the footsteps of her father and older brother and enlisted with the Army National Guard.

Eva appreciated many of her JHS teachers for their leadership; especially AP teachers like Mrs. McCluggage and Mrs. Clement that she feels have prepared her to be a responsible adult and encouraged personal accountability.

Eva plans to attend Grand Valley State University where she will major in Biomedical Sciences with a minor in Applied Statistics while participating in the Army ROTC program. Many well wishes for you Eva, as you embark on your new role as local hero.

Parker Taft

Growing up in a military/law enforcement family, Parker Taft had an ingrained passion to serve his country and save lives. Parker appreciated his time at Jenison High School and valued not only the education but the leadership of his teachers. Nearly a year ago, Parker completed the comparison between Army and Marines and enlisted with the United States Army. Best wishes Parker as you employ your skills and pursue a fruitful career. Thank you Parker for choosing this noble profession, you will be an encouragement to others and your passion will take you far.

Light up the Night 2020

No one can deny the loss all students are experiencing during this time. It is especially real for the Class of 2020 who expected their high school career to culminate with a variety of memory making events. There’s nothing we can do to change it all but I want each of them to know they are loved and supported.

Joining other OK Red Conference schools, Jenison High School Principal Dr. Brandon Graham and Athletic Director, Tim Ritsema participated in a local effort called ‘Light up the Night’. On the official final day of classes for the Class of 2020 – students embraced the simplicity of the event with a drive through visit of the campus and some families strolled the grounds of the stadium. A simple gesture to show support for our seniors and it was a beautiful sight to see.

Teacher Appreciation Week

Much has changed about the world of education these past 8 weeks, but one thing has not changed. The incredible Jenison Public Schools staff has continued to show their gigantic hearts, tenacious spirits and attitudes of perseverance.

From day 1 of the COVID-19 closure, our amazing teachers and staff have been working hard to stay connected to their students. The interruption to our face-to-face instruction has served to reveal how much our students mean to our teachers and vice versa. JPS teachers are “all in, all of the time” meeting the needs of their students. I am grateful to know and work with extraordinary teachers and staff who care so deeply.

Even with Remote Learning Plans engaged, Teacher Appreciation Week was still something to celebrate! It was fun to see different schools, parent clubs and students showing their love and appreciation last week in different ways.

On Friday, El Puente teachers stopped by school to pick up gifts from the Parent Club. Little did they know, many EP families were just down the road staging a surprise parade of appreciation!

Bauerwood teachers were recognized with a pretty sweet, socially distanced visit. Handmade signs and donuts were delivered to every Bauerwood staff member last week.

It was an awesome opportunity for schools to partner with and support our local businesses as well. Cards with gift certificates to The WIN and Palermo’s Pizza were mailed. Books and Biggby gift cards were speaking a teacher’s love language. A lunch time pizza parade with Lombardo’s Pizza provided a gift to make teacher tastebuds happy too!

Throughout the week, many of the schools were recognizing their teachers with ‘shout outs’ via social media and inviting students to join the fun. Students were busy sending their love with video messages, drawings, poems, letters, silly dances and making music! Some families even sent some home baked goodies to show their appreciation. No matter what ‘THANK YOU’ sounded or looked like last week, it never seems enough for the superheroes that are our JPS teachers and staff!

THANK YOU Jenison Public Schools teachers for the amazing job you do, day in and day out! #JPSBeRelentless

Jenison International Academy

The entire Jenison Public Schools district is full of education professionals working day in and day out to make sure our district continues to provide the best educational programming possible. We are committed to working closely with the families who choose to partner with Jenison Public Schools in educating their children. For nearly a decade, we have proudly offered educational choice through the Jenison International Academy.

Jenison International Academy is a fully accredited blended and online school educating elementary, middle and high school students throughout West Michigan and around the world. As an integral piece of our educational offerings, JIA stands by their mission to provide an engaging, personalized learning experience; bringing the home, school, and world together through K-12 Full Time Online programming, K-6 Blended Program, and Part Time Homeschool Partnership. JIA also works to plan, develop, implement, and oversee international projects and programs.

The JIA teaching staff excels at numerous educational challenges including creating curriculum and building online courses with user experience in mind. Planning in a way that provides students a quality online learning environment with high caliber content and giving them the ability to schedule themselves a week or more at time. As another campus in the district, the JIA staff is also working hand in hand with other building administrators and counselors to make sure the programming complements the traditional schooling experience.

While a student’s education can be largely online, there is the availability of a physical Learning Center at the local JIA campus, providing a quiet space or teacher guidance to complete school work. As teachers in our traditional buildings are available to students for content clarification or relationship building, JIA teachers also have open office hours and participate in Virtual Learning Centers. They know the value of working diligently to develop relationships with each student as there is typically much less face-to-face than in the traditional environment. They are seeing the fruits of their labor as they continue to guide students through their online learning during the current COVID-19 school closure.

JPS Robotics Family: Ian, Adam, Rebekah and Alex Timmer

Alex and Ian Timmer joined JIA at the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year after coming from the traditional program. Alex is a junior and has really appreciated the smaller class sizes and his streamlined day. Getting his work done without distractions of other students in the morning and then participating in the Tech Center for Diesel/Heavy Equipment Mechanics program. A freshman, Ian, was really intrigued by the Engineering program at JIA and he is involved in the Jenison Robotics and J-Stem programs. He also likes focusing on his work to complete in his own time and has been pleasantly surprised by how much he is on the JIA Campus. Although the shift of owning their daily schedule required some getting used to, both brothers agree that the flexibility is something they have grown to love.

We are excited to be able to offer a world-class education that prepares ALL students to achieve their goals and chase their dreams. The JPS Fine Arts programming is recognized nationwide for its excellence in performance. Our athletic offerings provide numerous opportunities for students to be part of highly competitive teams. The Jenison community has generously provided our students, educators, directors, and coaches with incredible facilities to train and perform. I’m so grateful that we are able to offer these resources to ALL our students. No matter their experience (blended or traditional), or which environment is hosting the learning (home or on campus), we are all WILDCATS! We are Jenison!

Whether students are receiving instruction face-to-face or through online learning programs, JIA has created an atmosphere of community through traditional school experiences. Including talent shows, spirit days, classroom parties, or other outings. Check out their happenings on Twitter @JIAOnline or Facebook.

2020 District Awards

In the midst of a challenging spring, it is refreshing and uplifting to receive word that Jenison Public Schools has received recognition for multiple awards. I’m so grateful for everyone in the JPS family who has employed a relentless attitude and taken ownership to push our district to be the best it can be. Way to go Wildcats!

  • Jenison Public High School has been named as one of the best high schools in the state of Michigan by U.S. News & World Report.
  • Bauerwood Elementary has earned the title of Capturing Kids’ Hearts National Showcase School.
  • The Jenison Music department has earned our district the NAMM 2020 Best Communities for Music Education.

Our Tradition of Excellence continues because of outstanding building leadership, exemplary teaching, a terrific student body, supportive parents, and a generous community! The outstanding work being done by our K-12 students, teachers, and support from our Jenison community truly make Jenison High School an exceptional place to learn – it also placed us in top 95% of the country.

Capturing Kids’ Hearts is the foundation on which Jenison Public Schools is built. It is about building relational capacity with our students and with each other. It is a terrific tribute to Bauerwood Elementary School to be recognized as a Capturing Kids’ Hearts Showcase School for the 3rd year in a row. Being a showcase school means every adult makes student relationships a priority not only in their words but through their actions. Bauerwood is in very select company across the nation. I am very proud of Principal Crystal Morse and her staff.

The NAMM Foundation Music award program recognizes outstanding efforts by teachers, administrators, parents, students and community leaders who have made music education an important part of a well-rounded education. This definitely applies to high school directors Grant Carmichael, Dan Scott and Dave Zamborsky; they also represent a team of hardworking music educators we have at Jenison Public Schools. From parents to teachers, students to administration, all have worked together to make beautiful music and achieve this acknowledgment.  


Hudsonville: Grace Community Church – 3500 New Holland Street
Tuesday & Thursday, 4 – 7 pm

Grandville: Fellowship CRC – 4375 Ivanrest Avenue SW
Monday & Thursday, 9 am – 12 pm
Tuesday, 6 – 7:30 pm

Jenison: Sunrise Ministries, 7754 28th Avenue
Monday & Wednesday, 4 – 7 pm


Monday & Wednesday, 11:00am-12:30pm

As of Monday, May 4, all Jenison School lunch program distribution will be done at the Jenison High School – 2140 Bauer Road, Jenison. Stop by the West Parking Lot on Monday for Monday and Tuesday meals, or on Wednesday for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday meals.

Please continue to watch your email and the Jenison Public Schools facebook page for any updates regarding the school location distribution program.