Please Vote on Tuesday, August 4

From humble beginnings, Jenison Public Schools has risen to be a dynamic and nationally recognized school district. These recognitions and achievements have been made possible by the strong relationships we have with the families we serve and community we represent.

We are proud of our longstanding tradition of excellence and continued success. We attribute both to the hundreds of educators and community members working together to provide our students with a world-class educational experience. The opportunities our students have been given to develop their talents in terrific facilities is a tribute to our entire Jenison community.

On August 4, our taxpayers are being asked to consider a no tax increase bond proposal that is focused on protecting the investments our community has made in our district facilities.

Continue to learn more about the exciting plans for facility improvements. You are also invited to join me, virtually, for a Facebook live event in two weeks to discuss the importance of this bond issue to the future of Jenison Public Schools.

The date of the live Facebook discussion is Thursday, July 23 at 11:00am. You can join the conversation by visiting the Facebook page.
You are also invited to email any questions you have over the next couple of weeks to


Our district is service oriented, and we are committed to be champions for the children we are privileged to educate. When our students and staff are not preoccupied with the temperature and ventilation in the room, whether there’s a space to teach and learn, and there’s a belief that the environment is safe and secure; we can focus on what matters the most; pouring ourselves into the moldable lives that we are blessed to work with every single day. 

With our community’s investment in our facilities and educational programming, we will continue to provide a program of excellence for all students. Parents and community members partnering with Jenison Public Schools to impact our children has been a winning formula for the success of our schools. This is the essence of the saying, ” Together we are Jenison”.

Please vote on August 4.




Jenison High School Senior Builds Hope

When you walk around your house, you probably don’t give a lot of thought to the plumbing, let alone the plumber. It’s also safe to say that the students in our new elementary school building will give little thought to the plumbing that runs through their walls and under their floors.

But, Jenison High School and Careerline Tech Center senior, Mike Alkema sure will.

That’s because he helped lay the plumbing that will make serve the entire new school. Oh, and he also laid the brickwork as part of the masonry staff.

This past summer, Mike’s grandfather recommended him for a job with his employer who was doing the brickwork. So, while most of us were spending our summer days balancing work, kids schedules, and trips to the beach, Mike was laying the cinder blocks that would make the walls of Jenison’s newest school. He enjoyed the work but was also intrigued by the work of the plumbing team.

Mike sought out the supervisor of Alternative Mechanical to start developing a relationship with him and, potentially, make a long term connection. It worked, and when the school year began, Mike was offered the opportunity to work alongside the AltMech team in congruence with his training at Careerline.

“[Plumbing] is like a puzzle. You have to get from point A to point B and follow [building] code and I understand code and how it has to work.” Mike is on the site every weekday signing off on shipments, stocking all deliveries, and assisting the plumbers with whatever they need. “They’re really helpful. I went to the Tech Center this year and last year and I learned a lot, and came in pretty knowledgeable, but I’m still learning new things every single day I’m there.”

Mike + his grandfather

Mike plans to pursue a career in plumbing and is looking forward to working full time for AltMech because they offer health insurance, Christmas bonuses, and a 401(k) plan. He also likes that if the company completes a job under the bid, the employees get an equal share of the money that was saved. But these days, Mike is proud to be able to pay for his own phone bill and car insurance, and other personal bills. “This is really preparing me for what life is going to be like. Not many kids my age have that chance.”

“It’s really cool to be able to drive past the new school every day and think, “yeah, I work there and I helped build that. I started when there was nothing and now we’ve finished the first floor with brick.”

Mike is proud of the work he’s doing, how it’s helping him succeed and prepare him for life after graduation. “If I was just doing school, I wouldn’t be doing well.” His message to kids who are struggling: “You’ve just got to stick it out. You’ve got to do the best you can and even if it’s not what people want, you can try your hardest and you’ll find something you’re really good at, no matter what happens.”

We couldn’t agree more, Mike! We’re very proud of you finding your fit with plumbing and we’ll continue to be your cheerleaders as you work to build a safe and amazing new school for our youngest students. Your work will be appreciated for generations!

Groundbreaking Celebration for New School!

Last Monday evening, not even the gray skies couldn’t keep spirits down as the Board of Education and Superintendent, Tom TenBrink, broke ground on the new school, scheduled to open in the fall of 2018.

The Early Childhood Center [ECC] and Spanish Immersion program currently housed at Rosewood and Bursley Elementary Schools, will both be housed in the new building located near the corner of Baldwin and 28th Ave.

The new school – Jenison’s first new school since 1970! – will be a two-story, LEED certified building with 36 classrooms. It will also include modern security features as well as, assisted listening systems in each classroom, two playgrounds and two full-size ball fields.

Becky Steele, Rosewood and Bursley STEM teacher was on hand to capture student Samantha Eriks tell those in attendance what the new school means to hear and future Spanish Immersion students. Becky says, “Samantha has been a Bursley Spanish Immersion student since kindergarten, and is headed off to the Junior High in the fall.  Her fluency [as well as her poise, confidence, positivity, kind and helpful heart…the list goes on and on] certainly speaks volumes about the quality of the language immersion education that students get in JPS.”

This is a very exciting season for JPS and we can’t wait to monitor the progress and celebrate when our students and staff are filling the halls!

Rosewood Principal, Lloyd Gingerich, along with SI teachers!

ECC Principal, Lee Westerveldt, joined by two ECC students

Jenison’s Center for the Arts Opens in Grand Style

After two years and over 50,000 man hours of dreaming, designing and digging, the Jenison Public Schools Center for the Arts opened this week to hundreds of expectant community members. Supported with over 390 tons of steel and boasting 1,251 seats, we are so privileged to provide a beautiful, well-appointed home for the arts for generations to come, and above all, wish to thank this community for making this vision a reality.

Fine Arts Center, Jenison Public Schools

The stage, whose floor is certified by the American Dance Association, spans 90 feet in diameter and touts a one-of-a-kind retractable dividing wall, enabling casts and crews to better customize their performance space. With over 3 miles of cables hidden beneath the stage and 60 locations for microphones, students will be heard–and seen– from any point in the hall. In fact, despite the soaring ceiling and custom wood chandelier, the furthest point from the stage in any direction is just 85 feet! Performances are also able to be broadcast live, with 8 different recording tracks available so that individual singers can be isolated out from the group.

Finally, for comfort within the hall, air is circulated in the most “green” way possible. Beneath the seats are vents covering two chambers that perfectly mix both cool and warm air. Once blended at a precise temperature, heat seeps up from the floor rather than blowing audience members in the face. This technique not only ensures proper temperatures throughout, but reduces the electrical use that fan systems require.

Jenison Public Schools,


Jenison Public Schools

Other impressive details show that every suggestion was heard and each thought considered in the planning of this facility:

  • The make-up room stretches wide and has sinks in each corner for easy preparation and clean up.
  • Costume rooms have sewing machines and a front-loading washer/dryer for a complete costume production experience.
  • Sets are designed in-house in a specially-designed shop with saws, plenty of electrical outlets, and towering ceilings.
  • Double doors protect each entrance to the hall, providing a sound-proof experience.
  • Walls are designed for acoustics, maximizing sound travel.

This holiday season, visitors will also enjoy the painted instrument sale whose proceeds benefit the Jenison Public Schools Art Department. Please consider taking home a masterpiece this December! Until then, take a tour with us and leave a comment with your first impressions!

What most amazed you about our new Center for the Arts?


JPS Administration Offices






The Holiday Season is Time for the Arts!

With Thanksgiving just a week away and Christmas less than a month after that, our world is knee-deep in holiday plans. We create lists for groceries we need to buy, meals and cookies to make, cards to send and gifts to wrap. But in the midst of the flying reindeer and “silver bells,” wonderful celebrations are happening at Jenison Public Schools, too.

This week we’d like to highlight some of the very special events coming up across the district before the New Year, with arguably the most anticipated being the grand opening of Jenison Public Schools Center for the Arts!

Jenison Public Schools, Fine Arts Center

When this blog began over 100 weeks ago, we were just beginning to talk about this building — this dream — that we had for our students and our community. But when the time came to break ground, we got right to work. Now, looking back at photos from the summer of 2012, it’s amazing to think of how far we’ve come.

On behalf of the district, we’d like to invite you to one, or all, of the events that we have planned for the week after Thanksgiving. Whether it means attending the sneak peek, the ribbon cutting ceremony or the open house, we’d love to have you join us for this special moment in our collective history. Please see the image above for times.

Finally, please mark your calendars for these other exciting arts events. Because this list is not intended to be comprehensive, we encourage you to contact your child’s building leadership for concert times not included below.

JENISON HIGH SCHOOL HOLIDAY EVENTS: All located at Jension Center for the Arts (JCA)

12/10, 8 pm  Bands Christmas Concert

12/13-14, 7 pm  Festival of Plays

12/18, 7:30 pm  Choir/Orchestra Concert (Concert Orch, Sinfonia, Concert Choir)

12/19, 7:30 pm  Choir/Orchestra Concert (Symphony & Chamber Orchestra, Chorale, Advanced Women’s Choir, Chamber Choir)


12/4, 7:30 pm  Jr High Choir Christmas Concert and Male Chorus

12/9, 7 pm  Jr High Orchestras

12/10, 6:30 pm  Jr High Bands


**Elementary Honors Choir with Jr. High Choirs 12/4, 6:15 pm**

Bauerwood | 12/12, 7:30 pm  3rd, 4th, 5th grade

Bursley | 12/13, 7 pm 3rd, 4th, 5th grade (with Bursley Choir)

Pinewood | 12/11, 7:30 pm 3rd, 4th, 5th grade

Rosewood | 12/17, 7:30 pm 3rd, 4th, 5th grade (and choir students)

Sandy Hill | 12/16, 7:30 pm 3rd, 4th, 5th grade (and Spotlight Choir)

Jenison Fine Arts Center Construction Update in Pictures

Jenison Public Schools, Fine Arts Center

View from the Jenison Junior High parking lot.

With room for 1,200 seats, hundreds of students, and millions of dreams, the Jenison Fine Arts Center is taking shape despite the roller coaster weather we’ve experienced during the past month, in particular.

“The construction crew has been working diligently through the difficult winter months on the inside of the facility to maintain the schedule.  The team has kept the project on schedule for the grand opening performances in December 2013,” said Owner Rep for the project, Bill Culhane.

With a stage “uniquely designed with the flexibility to convert from a theater to a music hall,” the performance area remains the “heart” of the facility. However, there is much more to look forward to!

The venue will offer a “Black Box” small performance area, dressing rooms, scene shop, student art gallery, and conference room. It will additionally provide a home for Jenison’s district administrative offices.

“Jenison’s new Performing Arts Center will provide the students at Jenison Public Schools with a world class performance venue to display the hard work and dedication they put into their craft,” said Mr. Culhane.

We look forward to many years of stellar student performances within these new walls! And as always, we thank the community for continuing to value the arts in Jenison.

Jenison Public Schools, Fine Arts Center

Future administrative offices

Jenison Public Schools, Fine Arts Center

Entry area getting tooled under a welder’s torch.

Jenison Public Schools, Fine Arts Center

Future performance seating area.

Jenison Public Schools, Fine Arts Center

Future conference room

Jenison Public Schools, Fine Arts Center

Our choirs will raise the rafters!

Jenison Public Schools, Fine Arts Center

Securing stairwells.

Jenison Public Schools, Fine Arts Center

Where will you be sitting next Christmas?

Jenison Public Schools, Fine Arts Center

Working rain, shine…or snow storm!

Jenison High School Media Center Gets a Face-Lift!

For many students returning to school this week, the question that has been asked more than any other was, “How was your summer? What did you do?” If the walls of our high school media center could talk, they would smile and answer that question by merely saying, “Take a look around!”

Thanks to monies brought in by our bond proposal, the “library” that hadn’t been touched in decades was re-imagined and brought into the 21st century with the kind of forward-thinking that will help shape student learning for years to come.

Six large, flat-screen television sets are mounted on the walls for computer hook-up, creating alcoves for study and collaboration. Now, rather than four students gathering around one small computer to work on a group project, those same students can connect a single computer to the TV and have their document or presentation displayed for all to easily see. Access to information means that more voices can join the conversation and play an active role in scholarship.

Hailey Wardall and Aubri Roberds (pictured above) love that the handful of new, soft-seating areas have created an environment more similar to a college than a high school. Working in partnerships or in groups is more comfortable and more fun, they both noted, adding, “…we rarely came in here before the renovation — and now that it’s so nice we wish it could’ve happened sooner!”

Both girls echoed sentiments of feeling more respected after the school gave them the responsibility to steward this special area. “The school gave us more responsibility to take care of this place, and knowing they trust us makes me feel respected.  This new media center is a big step up for our high school and a better way to learn. For instance, right now we’re collaborating on the yearbook layout and it will be great to come in here and work on our slideshows and theme presentations together.”

Lexi Petersen, Courtney Talsma, Aubrey Brown, and Breanna Hansen (working above) said they were “Shocked!!” when first seeing the completed space saying, “We didn’t think we’d get all this!”

Breanna summed it up perfectly with her comments. “It will bring more group work into our learning and into our school. Whereas before we might have had to crowd around one computer, now we can all see what we’re working on and we can all add our input.”

Scores of tables and chairs on casters were also added, allowing students to reconfigure their workspace to fit their needs. Floor space can be easily opened up if physical space is demanded, and groups can come together by merely rolling tables and moving chairs. Additionally, desktop computers were situated in an open section of the media center to preserve a traditional “lab” housed within the media center.

“I think our media center more closely resembles many business environments now. More and more we’re seeing offices move away from cubicles to a more collaborative setting, and providing that for our high schoolers is just one more way that we’re preparing them to be team players and contributing group members after they graduate, “ explained Jenison High School principal Brandon Graham.

“I’m just so proud that we can bring a state-of-the-art learning setting to the students of Jenison High School. We hope it will invigorate them and spur discovery, creative thinking, and problem solving.”

New Fine Arts Center On Track for December 2013 Completion

Brick by brick and nail by nail, the dreams of this community are being raised in grand fashion, pushing against the sky with regal determination. Slated for completion in December 2013, the Performing Arts Center (also referred to as the Fine Arts Center) is on-schedule and looking fantastic.

Boasting a 1,200 seat auditorium, dressing rooms, scene shop, multi-purpose room for smaller performances, and a whopping 90 foot stage, the Performing Arts Center will truly be a community gathering space where our students can shine with room enough to fully spread their wings.

In addition to the performance-related venues, this building will also become the new home for Superintendent Tom TenBrink and Jenison’s team of central office administrators. Parking will be accommodated in a new lot that will be tucked between the junior and senior high schools, as well as additional room south of the junior high and adjacent to the tennis courts.


Jenison’s Performing Arts Center will truly be a venue that will invite celebration. We eagerly await the evening when teachers, parents, students, and community members will be able to sit in the glow of a dimly-lit auditorium and watch the magic of theater and music unfold.

Your Bond Dollars = New Carpet

Students at Rosewood Elementary enjoy learning on new carpet.


This fall was a busy time for everyone in Jenison. Not only were teachers prepping for new students and new possibilities, they were clearing out their rooms for the latest blessing of your bond dollars: new carpeting!

With constant traffic having taken its toll on the flooring in each of our schools, laying down fresh, heavy-duty rolls was a necessity.  High school rooms that had once been duct-taped to prevent further unraveling of old carpets now enjoy something industrial-strength that will last for years to come. Classrooms, hallways, and media centers at the Junior High and each of our elementary buildings are once again preened at the level of quality you’ve come to expect in Jenison.

Beside the obvious benefit of a nice aesthetic, the real victory is won when I visit classrooms like the one pictured above and see kids sprawled out with flashcards and games that reinforce the top-notch direct instruction they receive each day.

I’m so grateful that for a community who sent a message loud and clear last spring: We believe in the power of a great education! We believe in JPS!

New Year, New Offices!

What did you do on Christmas vacation?

Do you remember this writing prompt from elementary school? Perhaps you smoothed out a wrinkled piece of spiral notebook paper and reveled in your sledding adventures, or clutched your #2 pencil and listed off your favorite gifts. Writing that essay was always a moment of joy, because it meant that I could re-live all the best parts of my Christmas memories.

Though I am no longer a fourth-grader with sledding adventures fresh in my mind, this past winter break was no less full of excitement! Aside from welcoming a new fleet of buses, our administration offices moved from our old building to 7506 Church Ct. in Jenison.

This move signals the start of something incredibly special: the construction of our bond-funded Performing Arts Center! Jenison’s future state-of-the-art facility will be housed on the combined sites of our old administration building, green space, and former parking lots.

In just a few short weeks the first pile of dirt will be turned, and our vision for a world-class venue will start its journey to reality. It will be my privilege to share updates and photos here (at along the way!

If you know a community member eager to stay connected, I hope you’ll pass this along by using the gray “share this” button at the bottom of this post.

Also, I’m adding a new feature to invite your participation on my blog–a conversation prompt! For the fourth grader in all of us, I’d love your comments…

Question for the Community: What aspect of having our own Performing Arts Center is the most exciting to you?