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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‘Santa’ is Everywhere!

 

While the ‘man in the red suit’ certainly adds to the excitement of the Christmas season, our community knows that bringing joy and being Santa to others can’t be left to him at this, or any time of the year. The reason for this season gives me hope, direction and purpose! I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas with loved ones this week.

Jenison High School students participated in some pretty outstanding events this month.  Keep reading to learn more about how the students have been busy spreading good cheer!

Thespian Santa Breakfast, November 24

What began 8 years ago as a way to offer a more intimate and affordable Santa experience, has turned into tradition for many local families. For about the price of a mall photo (without the fun of the usual long, boring line); a whole family is able to enjoy being served a pancake breakfast and a variety of other fun activities sponsored by Mr. Todd Avery and the Jenison High School Thespian Troupe.

The Thespian students do a great job taking their roles very seriously and maximizing the authenticity of the experience for their guests. They don their North Pole best, help serve breakfast and do face painting and crafts with the kids. This year, they added a fun story time; and last but not least, kids got a magical experience as they lingered during a relaxing visit with Santa (where he knew their names before they even approached him!) Photos courtesy of Larry Treece Photography.

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Santa’s Woodshop, December 18 

When teacher, Dave Albert joined the Jenison Industrial Arts program this year, he brought with him a wonderful holiday tradition. As a class project, his woodshop students built wood rocking chair airplanes for selected families. It was a lovely evening with the talent of the Jenison National Art Honor Society students on display as well. They teamed up to with the woodshop students to paint details on the airplanes and helped transform Mr. Albert’s workshop into a winter wonderland! 

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Santa’s Secret Shoppers, December 20

Long before the snow begins to fly, the elves known as the Jenison National Honors Society, get to work organizing a toy drive and arranging sponsors for families in the community. Often, teachers involve their students to become sponsors to adopt-a-family and complete gift wishlists. The high school students do the bulk of organizing for the event which includes facilitating the collection, organizing toys and shopping should there be cash donations. They arrange a pick up night for the families which also includes gift wrapping materials so they can proudly wrap the gifts! No matter the task, these students are committed to making sure these families have a very merry Christmas! This is the 15th year for this event and we’re so proud that over 90 kids were served by the generosity of our JPS community this year.

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The Hunchback of Notre Dame Comes to JPS!

This weekend you can get a jump start on Spring Break by visiting Paris in the late middle ages! [Don’t worry, it’s only for 90 minutes. No need to invest in a chamber pot.]

The Hunchback of Notre Dame is a story originally written by Victor Hugo in 1831. The story was meant to raise awareness of the value of Gothic architecture [which was being destroyed for more “modern” designs] but it has, instead, become a well-known story of acceptance and morality.

The show is a combination of the 1996 Disney movie songs and the original story by Hugo. It will introduce audiences to Quasimodo, a misshapen man who was abandoned at the Cathedral as a baby, a Parisian judge named Claude Frollo who has reluctantly raised Quasimodo as his son but left him mostly alone in the old church. You will also meet Esmerelda, a kind gypsy woman who helps and befriends Quasimodo, setting off a complicated love triangle…or quadrangle… There is danger, adventure, as well as other difficult themes*.

Director Todd Avery saw an adaptation of the show when he was younger which inspired him to read the novel and “this heartbreaking story of the deformed bell ringer and his desire to be loved has been with me ever since.  The Disney cartoon is one of my favorites and as soon as I heard of the show’s availability, I jumped at the opportunity.  I’m proud to say that we are the West Michigan’s high school premier of “Hunchback.”  Not many theatre programs will be able to successfully mount this production.  It’s that difficult.”

Mr Avery knew this show would be a challenge for everyone involved – which is why he chose it! “I knew that it would be a challenge musically [both for the orchestra as well as the singers], and I knew that from a technical perspective it would be a challenge for all the crews involved.  We have to build a set that looks like the cathedral of Notre Dame, microphones for 35 actors, a full orchestra and a 30 person choir, projections, period props including a sword fight, as well as period costumes.  Lighting a full stage from back to front isn’t easy either.  I knew the production would test our limits [and it has], but I was confident that our students and their wonderful adult mentors would pull it off.”

The production is entirely student-run with assistance from some staff members and even more amazing volunteers leading the other essential teams such as set design, costumes, lighting, and sound.

Most of the students who serve on the set design team are seasoned crew members with JPS productions. They love getting to know new people, spending time with their friends, and yes, working hard! Brandon Sams has been part of the cast in former productions but wanted to try something new. He says that he likes getting to know both sides of the curtain but he especially enjoys their role of “running crew”. [These are the unsung heroes of the show, bustling to change the set between scenes and wearing black to blend in and go unseen.] “There’s an adrenaline rush to have to change the set.” But Brandon also wants other students to know that there is a place for them in any JPS production. “You make friends in theatre. Before the first show you might be anxious, but theatre is really welcoming, we’re a family.”

In typical Jenison Arts style, the dedication, talent, and grit required to pull this off will be very evident to audiences. “The show has a “community choir” made up of JHS students, Jenison residents, and JHS alumni.  Their dedication to learning this difficult score [rehearsals 1 – 2 evenings per week and some Saturdays since January] has impressed me tremendously.  Our talented cast has spent even more time learning their music [which is A LOT as there are very few moments without music in the show], and, under the musical direction of JHS thespian alum, Sarah Schrems, along with Jason Coffey, have been ready to perform for several weeks, exceeding their directors’ expectations.  Dan Scott has the orchestra, the largest we’ve ever had, in top shape!”

While this may not be the show to give you “warm fuzzies”, it will make you think. “This is a hard show to watch.  It has bad stuff happen to good people which is why we’ve recommended it for ages 12 and older.  However, the score is pure magic and the story has incredible themes relating to how we treat others, objectifying women, loss of innocence and the power of love.  It’s the Disney version’s songs but the Victor Hugo story, which does not have a happy ending.  It is an absolutely gorgeous show that will take your breath away.  Bring your tissues.”

Break a leg, cast + crew! Once again, we are amazed by the hard work and dedication of the Jenison Thespians and can’t wait to see your latest production!
You can get your tickets for this weekend here!

*Please note: The Hunchback of Notre Dame contains mature themes, simulated violence, and the deaths of some characters. Recommended for students 12 and older.

Kindness Rocks!

Bauerwood art teacher, Ashley Hankamp, first heard about Kindness Rocks on social media and thought it would be a great tool for Jenison kids. After presenting the idea to the ‘be nice‘ team, it was decided that there was no better way to kick off the 2017 school year than with a focus on kindness and “encouraging Bauerwood students to be a positive force in the world”!

Megan Murphy lives in Massachusetts and began the Kindness Rocks Project [watch her touching story here] and now, installations of encouragement can be found all over the country. Ms Hankamp applied for a grant from the JPEF in order to purchase the special paints needed to begin the project at the elementary schools in Jenison and during professional development in August, teachers kicked off the project.

“The staff completed their rock before school started so students could be surrounded and inspired by uplifting words to start their school year. The staff rocks are currently on display in the art room and the students enjoy reading the messages on the rocks when they come to art each week. ” Students have begun crafting their rocks of encouragement as well. “For my upper elementary students I am having the students focus on a positive message that inspires them and will inspire others. For lower elementary students, I am using the book Only One You by Linda Kranz for inspiration. This book unites art and literature in a beautiful way and explores the theme of making the world a better place!”

This simple way of touching those around us – especially our immediate school family – is catching on. “The students are engaged and invested in making their rock a special piece of the installation. The conversations about love and kindness that the students are having while they are creating their rocks is truly heart warming. When all of the rocks are completed they will be sprayed with a waterproof sealant and be put on display outside the front of the school in the landscaping.”

We hope you will take the time to look around, appreciate, and be uplifted by the Kindness Rocks Project at your school. “This installation will be a visual reminder for students, staff, and Bauerwood families to spread kindness and to make the world a better place. I am beyond excited to see how the students’s rocks and the actual installation turns out. It definitely will be a work of art with a beautiful message!”

Thank you, art teachers, for using your talent and passion to encourage our schools as well as remind our students of the power in supporting others! We look forward to seeing the finished installations and even more so, the benefits of a encouraging school family!

 

Bursley Students Harness the Power of Teamwork [& Rain]!

At the end of last school year, our Bursley students were working hard to learn the meaning of art activism, the science of watersheds, and the value of an education that works across subjects and grade levels!

It began when Amanda Contreras, 2nd grade Spanish Immersion teacher, applied for and received a grant from Groundswell, an organization that promotes outdoor classrooms and learning, and provides professional development for teachers. She wanted her students to have the opportunity to learn science and vocabulary curriculum outdoors in a hands-on and discovery based format. The big idea behind the project was for students to learn about watersheds: what they are, why they are important, where our local watersheds are, and how pollution and people impact them (specifically point and non-point source pollution).

While Ms Contreras was excited about the curriculum and the grant what the grant from Groundswell would mean for her class, she knew it would be even better if she joined forced with Emily Derusha, Bursley Art teacher. They have worked together on bringing lessons to life for Ms Contreras’s class, so they began brainstorming on what this new project could look like.

It was soon decided that Ms Derusha would preface the outdoor lesson with a lesson of her own on art activism, culminating in the designing of their ow rain barrel. “Students learned how artists bring attention to problems and solutions through artwork, and then designed a rain barrel to bring attention to the problem of water pollution, use, etc. to our Bursley community.”

And as if that collaboration wasn’t enough, Ms Contreras teamed with Kelli Darcia (4th grade Spanish Immersion) and they created “Stream Buddies” so the 4th grade students teamed with 2nd grade to complete their water testing. Ms Derusha also added a 4th grade lesson on Activist Art and they created their own rain barrel designs.

To make sure that the Bursley community knew about their amazing work, the students presented their water testing findings at Science Night last year and at a showcase of Groundswell grant winners, a short video was presented at Celebration Cinema in May! Finally, in an effort to bring awareness to water issues discovered in the project and engage the Bursley community in a solution, the rain barrel was displayed and raffled off at last year’s field day!

Not only do we applaud the hard-working students involved in this project but we salute the teachers for working together in such incredible ways to make learning come alive for kids. We’re so proud of you!

Summer Series: Student Art Sample [12th 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!

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By: Bridgette Davis
Jenison High School

This project was based on a prolonged study of Surrealism.

We selected this particular piece because Bridgette had a hard time coming up with an idea at first, but the effort she put into finding her idea and completing her work is a great representation of who Bridgette is as a student.

This piece is also a great example of how the process of creating artwork is often a series of challenges, but if you don’t back down and push yourself to meet those challenges both internally and externally, it can result in some really meaningful and powerful work.

Bridgette and her artwork were selected by her high school art teachers, Sara Buzzitta and Melissa Ellis.

Summer Series: Student Art Sample [11th 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!

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By: Marissa Swanson
Jenison High School

Students like Marissa Swanson often see art projects as a way to express their own thoughts and opinions about the world around them. She chose her mother’s favorite flower to draw: Bird of Paradise. Behind the flower she wrote in the Korean word ganan, poverty. She then explains about how poverty is all around us and brings up the illusions we have of paradise. It is amazing to see through art the artist’s personality and expression of emotions.

Marissa Swanson and her artwork were selected by her high school art teachers, Sara Buzzitta and Melissa Ellis.

Summer Series: Student Art Sample [10th 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!

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By: Emily Potter
Jenison High School 

This was a nature study project in drawing class where students chose one item from nature and did a close up drawing of it focusing on texture, color, and dynamic compositions. The choice of object and what materials to use opens up the opportunity to approach this project any way the student would like.

We are so proud of Emily and how well she did going outside her comfort zone and experimenting with a new art medium. She is usually extremely precise with beautiful graphite pencil drawing so it was new to her to draw with chalk pastels on black paper. She was careful with her placement of color and smooth application of the pastels to show the deep beauty of a rose.

Emily and her artwork were selected by her high school art teachers, Sara Buzzitta and Melissa Ellis.

Summer Series: Student Art Sample [9th 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!

“Vishvarupa”
By: Alli Kachel
Jenison High School

This was a tessellation project where students created repeating patterns through the creation of their own template.

We selected this piece because, well, look at it! It’s AMAZING!! The level of detail and effort put into this piece is incredible and definitely deserves to be shared!

Some things to notice when looking at this piece is not only the level of details, but the complexity of the tessellation itself and the accuracy that she had in repeating the basic shapes.

Then within each figure, she has a wonderful range of values and colors, using highlights and shadows to help give life and form to her work!

Alli’s and her artwork were selected by her high school art teachers Sara Buzzitta and Melissa Ellis.

Summer Series: Student Art Sample [8th 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!

“Skin Deep”
by: Gabby Bennetts
 8th Grade, Jenison Junior High

We looked at portrait drawings as inspiration for this piece, and the students learned how to draw faces in proportion.  I challenged Gabby with exploring her imagination for a background to include with her self-portrait.  They used colored pencils to finish the piece.  I have been impressed with the progression in Gabby’s artistic skills over the last two years, and she works very hard on her projects.

Gabby and her artwork were selected by her Junior High art teacher, Nate Greenwood.