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. 

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We are excited to be able to offer a world-class education that prepares students to achieve their goals and chase their dreams. And now, is the time of year when many seniors are plotting their course. For these Jenison High School seniors, that includes being able to continue their studies while playing the sport they love.

 

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The great thing about many of our student athletes is their tenacious work ethic and commitment to multiple interests including music, arts or other clubs. We are honored to be able to offer many quality experiences that function as an extension of our fantastic educational programs.

It’s thrilling to see a number of students signing national letters of intent for their colleges in the fall. Some of them have signed on even before their senior season has officially begun.

Our students receive outstanding support from the exceptional staff which helps them take advantage of opportunities and perform their best in all areas. Many staff continue building relationships after the bell has rung through coaching positions. A team mindset between athletic staff and teachers is genuine and provides a well rounded experience for our students.

I am proud to say that these Jenison High School students have been well prepared for this exciting next step – in the classroom and through their team experiences. No matter which mascot they adopt next year, I’m confident their Wildcat spirit will remain and propel them to achieve great things!

As the spring season draws to a close, more students will most likely be added to this list. 

Please join me in congratulating these hardworking seniors and their families! G O   W I L D C A T S!

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TORI VANDERVEEN | Cornerstone University, Track and Field

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CAROLINE HUISTRA | Jackson College, Soccer

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ANNA BARTZ | Drury University, Bowling

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EMILY SILER | Saint Joseph University, Softball

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CHASE POST | Davenport University, Lacrosse

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LAUREN SLAGTER | Cornerstone, Bowling

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MALACHI SMITH | Grace Christian University, Soccer

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KRISTEN SZOST | Hope College, Lacrosse

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MYCAH KASPER | Davenport University, Swimming

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KAYLYNNE NICHOLSON | Albion College, Volleyball

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GABRIEL SMITH-VERWYS | Ferris State University, Football

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OLIVIA DAVIS | Davenport University, Track and Field

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MORGAN LACOMBE | Lansing Community College, Softball

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For frequent updates on all the athletic action, follow the Wildcats on social media.

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Pink Out 2020

Last Friday was our 12th Annual Pink Out event. This is the one day of the year that our amazing community comes together to support and make the renewed commitment that we will do everything in our power to fight against the ugly disease we call cancer. We cherish the gift of life and we will continue to support our families. I am so thankful that our gym is packed to standing room only on a yearly basis on this special night!

While this is no doubt a community wide effort, I also wanted to recognize the momentum our Jenison High School student body creates each and every year. In addition to t-shirt sales and donations, these students have creatively invented opportunities for fundraising and donated nearly $15,000 through the ‘Senior Survivor’ as well as the Men’s Varsity Basketball free throw contest.

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We were also honored to share this evening with our neighbors, the Reeths Puffer community, who recently stood in battle with one of their middle school teachers. We empathize with their loss and are glad that they were able to experience being a part of something we know is near and dear to their hearts as well.

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2020

Jenison Pink Out Honorees

Melanie Davis, Kimberly Duch, Ofelia Munez, Jody Heyboer, and Zach Schab. Continued support to you, from our entire community!

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Melanie Davis

Melanie’s whirlwind cancer journey began during the pregnancy of her 3rd child. A headache revealed a tumor which was successfully removed during the pregnancy. Not long after that, additional tumors were discovered throughout her body and diagnosed.

She was overwhelmed by the support and encouragement that initially came from her son’s school – people who were perfect strangers. Melanie didn’t want to ask for help and wasn’t really sure what to expect through treatments or even what sort of support she would need. That expanded into an introduction to the Pink Out team. The leaders of Pink Out were the face to all the names that were already praying for and offering Melanie’s family support. They provided additional emotional support and a listening ear. Pink Out was there with gas and meal cards, flowers, cookies, encouragement cards and more! And in true Jenison fashion, the Pink Out team went above and beyond in support for the family when their infant daughter passed away after fighting a medical condition. Melanie, you are not in this fight alone!

Kimberly Duch

Cancer is relentless and knows no boundaries. Just a few years ago, the Duch family came to Pink Out to honor Kim’s Mother-in-law Dianne Duch. Dianne was a courageous fighter and a friend to so many in the community. She passed away about a month before Kim’s diagnosis. Today, Kim takes a spot on the Pink Out floor to share about her journey with breast cancer. After finally facing her overdue mammogram, she found herself building her life around consults, appointments and many other facets of this journey they were all too familiar with. Early detection was on her side and with an aggressive plan of action, she had a very good prognosis and now recovery. Kim is exceptionally grateful for the friendship and continued support from Pink Out throughout her battle. Kim, we’re so happy you and your family came to share your story.

Ofelia Munez

Ofelia, with her family by her side, has been fighting Lung cancer since last spring. Surgery, recovery and chemo left her very tired with much pain and sadness. A knock on her door from the Pink Out team ushered in a new season of joy and hope. She not only received financial assistance to ease some burdens of bills and Christmas shopping, but immense encouragement and a real sense of community as well.

It was a treat to hear Ofelia deliver her story in Spanish, then her daughter Kristen Vega, translated in English adding her own perspective. She was a 2017 graduate of Jenison High School who sat in these bleachers just a few years ago – never imagining she would be standing on this gym floor with her own family some day. She is so thankful to Pink Out for all the support her mom and family has received. Ofelia and Kristen, we are thankful for the opportunity to be of assistance during this time. May you keep the joy and hope you have found!

Jody Heyboer

Pink Out has been with Jody since the beginning of her cancer journey in 2017. She was an honoree of Jenison Pink Out in 2018 and she enjoyed participating in the event from the stands in 2019. This year, she’s back to share her ongoing story. Chemotherapy, radiation and surgeries describes the last two years for her and her family. And the journey is far from over. A new diagnosis has her starting chemotherapy again this week. The ongoing commitment from the Jenison Pink Out team helps her know that she’s not alone and definitely not forgotten. The theme for the Pink Out teeshirts this year includes an umbrella and she has definitely felt protection from the storm. Jody – we’re holding on tight with you during this rollercoaster ride! Keep choosing joy!

Zach Schab

Upon diagnosis of a brain cancer, Zach was no doubt aware that he would go through some major physical changes and challenges but he was shocked to feel the toll he would take emotionally and psychologically. Experiencing trauma creates a weight that is not easily carried alone. He makes a passionate case for helping your neighbor whether they are dealing with cancer or not. Thank you Zach for such a reminder that we all can give just a little bit of effort to offer a great amount of help.

“Thankfully as humans we are not a solitary species, we have the ability to lighten the load of everybody around us. As a community, we have the power to change lives and embolden others. And not just those who have struggled with cancer – everybody can use a little extra help.” Zach Schab, Brain cancer survivor

This evening is always so inspiring and I am proud to be a part of this community. Each year, this event serves as a celebration of those who fight tenaciously and takes time to pause for those that we remember.

Thank you so much to the community, students, businesses – everyone who has put forth a small effort to make a big change for those in our community who are suiting up for the fight of their lives. Hope is brought to these fighters by the community and we are going to walk every step alongside them until their storm runs out of rain!

Please visit the Jenison Pink Out Facebook page to watch the Live recording of the ceremony. The Pink Out game is jam packed with action – from games and ceremony to special performances. The full photo gallery can be found here.

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In its second year, “Senior Survivor” was able to bring in $8,600 to benefit Jenison Pink Out. Based on the television show, 9 senior students attempt to raise money and compete in challenges to remain in the game. 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!

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The YEAR ROUND dream team behind Jenison Pink Out! Words cannot express the level of gratitude I have for the leadership of our Pink Out committee: Moni Marlink, Cindi Covell, Katy Hevelhurst, Jean Krzewski, and Donna Bergeon. 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!!

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Principal, Jon Mroz accepts the Pink basketball in recognition of best Pink Out Spirit Day at Sandy Hill Elementary. Way to go kids little Wildcats!

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JHS Recognized with Michigan Exemplary Athletic Program award

The honor and privilege of serving as the Superintendent of Jenison Public Schools is a humbling, yet greatly rewarding experience. As a destination school for many families, it’s no secret just how amazing this place is.

It is well deserved when our staff and programs are recognized for their excellence. JHS has been honored by Newsweek Magazine multiple times as the Best High Schools in America, the Washington Post’s most challenging high school as well as a GRAMMY Foundation Signature School. Also, receiving recognition as one of the best 100 communities in the nation for music education nine times.

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Cody Inglis – MHSAA Director, Tim Ritsema – JHS Athletic Director, Brandon Graham – JHS Principal, Emily Siler – Student Athlete and Tom TenBrink – JPS Superintendent. Banner held by Athletic Booster representatives, Erich Stoezner and Jason Kyle.

Not only do we have an outstanding music and fine arts program, but a successful athletic program as well. Established in 1971, Jenison has a short but rich history of athletics and hard working supporters. At Jenison, we believe in the value and benefits of dedication, motivation, and perseverance. We see our athletic program as a vital part of our total educational program and take pride in its achievements. 

At our Homecoming football game on September 20, Jenison was officially recognized as an Exemplary Athletic Program by the Michigan Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association’s (MIAAA). We are one of 25 schools that have received this award – and only a handful of them are in the West Michigan area. This is the result of many years of hard work to create a quality infrastructure and a reputable athletic experience; one that functions as an extension to our fantastic educational and fine arts programs.

Former Athletic Director, Kevin Van Duyn (also 1983 Jenison student athlete/graduate and coach), was instrumental in laying the groundwork to bring our program to this point. After his nearly 20 year career at JPS concluded, it was an honor to see him inducted into the Jenison Athletic Hall of Fame in March of 2019. He embodies a core belief that good sportsmanship and personal integrity are the foundation of what defines success in both winning and losing situations.

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Tim Ritsema, Jenison High School Athletic director is happy to carry the torch and keep our athletic program operating at Exemplary status:

“We’re not perfect but it’s exciting to receive recognition for the hard work that’s taken place. We have some state of the art facilities and the Jenison athletic department strives to share the District’s vision, mission, and core values by stressing Community, Achievement, Tradition, and Service – CATS. When everybody rows together in this endeavor, everyone wins – regardless of the trophies and banners that are on display.” 

Recipient schools experience rigorous screening including an application process, written documentation of the program’s strengths and a two-day visit by an MIAAA evaluation team. Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) states that this award honors programs that model excellence and equity. Schools that are providing for what is best in educationally sound high school athletics.  

Our teachers are relentless in the classroom and many of them continue that effort on the fields after school – 56 of our staff are in assistant or head coach positions at JHS. Our district-wide commitment to the advancement of the emotional, social, moral and physical growth of all of our participants remains strong and is a key component to this recognition. 

I’m beyond grateful for the work of all members of our athletic department to support our “blue ribbon” level program. Our students benefit immensely from relationships built with coaches, the challenge of competition and lessons of teamwork. Go Wildcats!

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Cody Inglis – MHSAA Director presenting the award to Tim Ritsema – JHS Athletic Director

Check out this video footage of the beautiful outdoor Jenison Athletic Campus:

 

The Gridiron Border Battle

You don’t usually need a passport for “AWAY” games, but last week the varsity players of St. Thomas More (STM) Catholic Secondary School of Hamilton, Ontario did, as they loaded up to drive 5.5 hours for a memorable international experience in Jenison.

The STM football program tries to come to the midwest for a game at least once per year. They are one of the most prominent and highly decorated football teams in Ontario and Canada. They are also repeat Provincial Bowl Champions from 2015-2018. JHS Athletic Director, Tim Ritsema knew they would be a good competitor for us to start the season with and it was exciting to get the chance to host them.

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The football players weren’t the only ones hard at work preparing to show our northern neighbors the spirit of west Michigan.

Leading up to the 7:00 kick off, the David McKenzie stadium took a moment to be silent in memory of Jenison student, Sydney Carfine who passed away following a car accident earlier this summer. She was a cheerful person and beloved friend who would have been a senior this year.

Jenison Boy Scout Troop 354 presented the flags as both countries were honored with their anthem. Karen Ambs, recently retired Jenison elementary choir and music teacher, pulled together a group of volunteer singers to welcome our guests with live vocals singing ‘O Canada’. This group, appropriately named the CatPack Chorale, was made up of Jenison Alums, parents, community members, current students and even included two of our own varsity football players!

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Game nights look a little different for them at home so we were honored to treat the STM players to a fabulous “Friday Night Lights” experience – great crowd, awesome atmosphere, and stellar performances by the marching band for our national anthem and their half time show. Jenison Varsity Coach Rob Zeitman and AD Tim Ritsema agreed – a win would have been nice but the exposure our students receive in welcoming this team is a valuable interaction. Following the game, the teams shared a pizza party and came together to share little bit about their high school and football experiences.

The stadium atmosphere wasn’t the only thing that was different about this game for our opponents. There are different game rules in the United States versus Canada. In Canada, it’s three downs to get a first down. They play with a longer and wider field; they also play with 12 players on the field at a time instead of 11. That obviously didn’t deter them, as they came away with the win that night!

The STM team was also given the opportunity to catch an exciting American collegiate contest on their way home – stopping by East Lansing to see Michigan State beat Western Michigan, 51-17.

STM Head coach Claudio Silvestri was super appreciative of the our community saying:
Thank you so much for everything you have done to make this experience happen. Our players and coaches raved about the “Jenison” experience.  Your program is “top notch” and your facilities were incredible. It was the warmest  hospitality we experienced in the 17 years of doing this trip! Our kids were also blown away by the Michigan State experience!

Despite a loss for us on the field Friday night, hosting our first international game was a heartwarming WIN and the Jenison community did not disappoint! It was a great experience all around. 

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STM Players at the MSU game Saturday, September 7.

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.

2019

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

Hockey KidCat nights at the George

It’s no secret – one of my greatest passions is being a part of a solid team that daily leads our amazing Jenison district. But the enjoyment doesn’t stop there… the final bell rings and our students move on to find their passion and pursue excellence in other areas. There is no shortage of opportunities to watch our students shine! It might be said that my favorite Jenison event to attend is, wherever I happen to be that day. And yesterday, as Michigan’s winter weather reappeared, it seemed appropriate, that I spent the evening at Griff’s Georgetown, attending the Hockey Kids Night game. It was a great time for students and their families, with a lot of fun activities planned. It also gave me a chance to get on the ice and compete in the frozen turkey toss game! 

This is the 22nd season for Wildcat Hockey; about 10 years ago, the team developed into a Co-Op combining players from Jenison, Zeeland West and Zeeland East, and they are putting together a highly successful season. Shortly before Christmas, they skated away as champions of the Holiday Classic Tournament. Last night, was particularly exciting as they fought hard for a big victory in the final seconds of the game.

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2018-2019 Team Photo by Larry Treece

Mirroring the Jenison Varsity Football Kid Cat program, our Hockey players were partnered with elementary classrooms and have spent time reading with our younger  students. The team has also hosted multiple “Kids Nights at the George” giving families a fantastic opportunity to enjoy an affordable night out and see some awesome Wildcat action on the ice.

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Jenison Varsity Hockey Players Noah Sheldon & Jack Williams visiting and reading with the students in Jenny Dudick’s ECC classroom.

They are about 2/3 of the way through their season and if you haven’t made it to a game yet this year, don’t worry! Hockey players will be back in classrooms on Friday, January 25 and will host their final Kids Night that evening. Elementary students are free, concessions are tasty and more great activities are planned!

It gives me great joy to see our community of families and teachers take pride in and rally around all of our student performers (sports, fine arts, clubs, et al). Mark your calendars and keep scrolling to check out photos, media coverage of the team and the remainder of their schedule. Don’t miss the chance to support this awesome group of guys!

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Never know who might be at a game! Spiderman was an excellent cheerleader and got the crowd pumped with a tee shirt toss!

13625806104404e45711efe4193bad4a7b04cac513625808113c626e18c3ab1497de171d4481f81c13625832e356b893c03b53c86fbca0dac73044e513625843442cae5e6f5c658f581f482edc5921a113625794ed0bb61ea5e27848f33d1e6358e4777f136257914b277656536e1c26b6eee658cd18f4ec13625819f35f70d4b3557ccccd62538ecb47fe8b1362578702d28f9ae1329dfb1b164d19a1d7fb34Check out some other local media coverage of the 2018/2019 Jenison/Zeeland Varsity Hockey team.

November 29, 2018Jenison excited about start of hockey season, possessing depth at all positions

October 2, 2018: Capitals, Make-A-Wish give teen once-in-a-lifetime experience

September 7, 2018Jenison’s Cade Elliott stops pucks, soccer, and lacrosse balls without letting diabetes stop him

Click HERE for the complete Jenison Varsity Hockey Schedule.

KidCAT Players Inspire

On the surface, it may seem like another celebration for the football team but look closer and you’ll see an initiative bringing a community together and modeling some pretty amazing attributes.

The KidCAT program started about 10 years ago when a teacher had the idea to foster a connection between the elementary students and the high school, with community events such as football games. It’s not always natural – especially for families who don’t know any players personally; however it has grown to be something that the varsity players and the elementary students look forward to each year.

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Sully Russ is one of 20 seniors on the team this year. He enjoyed sharing a visit with his Bauerwood friends. Go #24!

Early in the football season, classroom teachers adopt a player; sometimes a teacher is able to choose a player that once sat in their elementary rooms. The teachers and players alike, really appreciate having the opportunity to reconnect. This year, all 43 Varsity players were paired up with an excited classroom of little Wildcats ready to keep this tradition going. Teachers guide the young students in thoughtful exercises as they get to know their KidCAT player, then share notes, cards of encouragement, and small treats throughout the season.

And the Varsity guys get to give back as well. They are able to be a positive role model; sharing their character and work ethic in return. On the big day of the KidCAT football game, all the players go visit their elementary friends and spend some time with them. When the players arrive, the kids are star struck and in awe like a celebrity has entered their little world! It’s awesome to see the guys having a good time with some silly questions and leading the way for future generations as they promote literacy, community and kindness. As October is Anti-Bullying Month, we are proud to watch as the football team has also joined the Stomp Out Bullying, anti-bullying campaign this year. I’m proud of the leaders we have in this team.

The grand finale is when the students and their families rally to cheer on their KidCAT player at the Varsity football game. At game time, students are grouped in sections with their schools and it’s so fun to see our young fans totally engaged in the game while they cheer for their Wildcat. 

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Senior, Kyle Nott leads the pack through the student tunnel at the KidCAT game, October 12. Photo Courtesy of Damion Van Slyke Photography

 

 

 

 

 

Home Field Advantage for AD, Tim Ritsema

1270991261e92b45cadffeb0d92fe70aa2494837Tim Ritsema, our new Senior High Athletic Director, may be wrapping up his second full week on the Jenison High School campus but he is no stranger to these halls. A Hope College and Grand Valley State University grad, Tim actually started his career with us and is happy to be suiting up in Wildcat green again.

During that early decade, Tim was teaching PE, coaching Track and Cross Country; he also spent two years as the Jenison Junior High Athletic Director. Most recently, Zeeland East had the pleasure of Tim as their Athletic Director for 14 years. Those that worked closest with him during that time, describe him as one that will be remembered as the role model he is – as a father and a fan of athletics; while understanding and achieving a healthy balance.

Walking onto the track at Wildcat Stadium for the first time in 14 years was a surreal experience for Tim. He fondly reflects on former athletes and memorable contests, but it’s ultimately about the relationships. Not only with coaches and other staff, but the kids. Tim has such a heart for the student athlete and says he can’t imagine doing anything different. He will definitely acknowledge that “wins are fun, of course, but trophies fade.” His real inspiration comes from connecting with student athletes 5-10 years later. Finding out they are doing great things with their lives; “that just jazzes me up, and I am not ready to be done with that.” He recalls numerous valuable lessons in his upbringing when adults took an interest and invested in his life. He feels that being present and involved in students’ lives is what drives him daily

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Time has obviously passed and some things have changed (some of my former students are even coaching here now!) but I feel so at home and one thing remains, Jenison has strong programs and an outstanding reputation in so many areas; I intend to build on that momentum with new and fresh ideas. I am so excited to be back and I look forward to applying my years of experience gained at Zeeland.

Tim Ritsema, Jenison High School Athletic Director.

It is an honor to be able to offer a quality athletic experience that functions as an extension of our fantastic educational and fine arts programs – and that we have Tim back on our home turf! Let me officially say “Welcome (home) Tim!”, the Jenison families are blessed to have you lead our student athletes, teaching them character, commitment, a true sense of sportsmanship and an appreciation for that healthy balance.

We’ve Got Bowling Royalty at Jenison High!

Brother and sister team, Nick and Lauren Slagter come by their incredible bowling talent naturally. They also come from longtime bowling royalty. Their grandmother and dad are both in the Grand Rapids Bowling Hall of Fame!

Their dad [who has a 230 average and has bowled 25 perfect games!] and their maternal aunt coach the Jenison Bowling Team. Their family bowls together in a league on Thursday nights and while their mom grew up in a bowling strong family, their dad found his passion for bowling when he met their mom.

In bowling competition, similar to Olympic gymnastics, athletes compete at both team and individual levels. This past bowling season, both the girls and boys teams won the OK Black conference. Nick finished in 14th for individuals, losing to the eventual second place winner. Lauren may have lost to the eventual winner in the semifinals, but she made it farther than any other bowler in the history of JPS! The girls team qualified 1st in states and made it to the semifinals, which is also the farthest that any bowling team has ever made it in the history of Jenison!

Next year both Lauren and Nick are looking forward to keeping the teams intact, as there are no current seniors moving on. “It’ll be the same team, with more experience. We’ll be better equipped for next year and it’ll be a lot of fun.” They want to give special recognition to their teammates: Sarena Overbeek, Anna Bartz, Dustin Smith, and Tyler Miller.

Nick tries to take it in stride when he gets grief from his friends about bowling not being a real sport. He knows it’s a mental game more than anything else. “It takes precision accuracy and just two or three shots can put your team ahead.” Lauren likes to cite her fifth grade paper, “Bowling is a Sport” for evidence when this argument arises.

The siblings may be busy with their bowling schedules, but they make time for other sports as well. Nick also plays on the Jenison baseball team and while he knows they are “two very different sports, but the pressure is all the same; they build off one another and make me better as an athlete.” Lauren plays softball and adds, “You have to take your momentum from your bowling season and bring it into other sports and we have to bring that success and confidence into softball and baseball.”

As a junior, Nick is thinking about college and hoping for scholarships to allow him to bowl at the collegiate level. Lauren is a sophomore and acknowledges that she “has time” but it has crossed her mind to play softball as well as bowl when she gets to college. She wants to give a shout out to her family for always being a strong shoulder to cry on when it comes to school, sports, life, and school. “We’re stuck with each other, but we’re competitive and have fun.” Nick wants to make sure that his fifth grade teacher, Mr Diekman knows he made an impact on Nick’s life. “He’s taught me more than just school, he’s taught me about life – to stay positive – and I really appreciate that.”

Athletic Director Kevin VanDuyn knows JPS is lucky to have these two: “It is quite something to have the top bowler in the conference, by average, from both our boys and girls team.  What is more amazing is to have the top bowler from each be a brother and sister.  Congratulations to Nick for finishing the year with a conference leading 212 average and his sister Lauren with a 190 average.  The best news is they both come back next year!”

Lauren and Nick want everyone to know that bowling is really accessible for adults and kids alike. Lauren says, “You can bowl once or twice a week and get really good so it’s easy for kids to pick it up.” Nick adds, “Make sure you stay positive through the ups and downs because eventually you will come out on top.” [And that’s just good advice no matter what you’re doing!]

Congratulations, Nick and Lauren! Your talent and accomplishments not only make us proud but we can’t wait for next year’s season! Go Wildcats!