1st Grade American Citizens

January party decorations aren’t typically red, white and blue but this was no regular class party. Selene and Elisea Vella, born in Sicily, Italy had become American citizens and first grade Bursley Elementary teacher, Amy Hage didn’t let the opportunity pass for this unique celebration.

The girls moved to the United States as infants with their parents. They joined other family in the midwest, have settled here nicely and since, become big sisters as well. 

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As the girls are underage, they had already assumed American citizenship. However, after 6 long years of waiting, the girls were very excited and a little nervous to travel to their appointment in Detroit to receive their card of proof. The day after their appointment, Selene and Elisea celebrated with their classmates with plenty of red, white and blue goodies. Students had fun learning a little about their country and acknowledging this exciting milestone. 

Selene and Elisea’s parents feel they have found a gem of a community in the Grandville/Jenison area to raise their family and they love Bursley Elementary School. I am thankful that Amy Hage and the Bursley team has been a shining example of the helpful, kind and committed professionals we have at Jenison Public Schools. 

Although Selene and Elisea do not remember their home country, they are very excited to go visit family members and explore their city this coming summer. I’m sure they will have amazing stories to report when they get back to school in the fall. I look forward to having them be a part of our community for the coming years!

 Congratulations Vella Family!

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Imagine. Explore. Create. Repeat.

No matter the age, students have a courageous and contagious level of creativity and they love to put that passion into practice with hands-on experimentation. While this is encouraged in the traditional classroom where possible, specialized environments give them a chance to take it to the next level.

These environments are called Makerspace. These spaces allow students to take what they have learned in the classroom and extend their learning in a very unique, explorative way. The Makerspace environment is tapping into their imagination in a different way, according to their own interests and creativity.

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Upon attending a conference in Grand Rapids in 2018, inspiration sparked a team of Pinewood Elementary School teachers. The Michigan Association for Computer Users in Learning conference (MACUL) exposed them to other districts who had these types of spaces. They too wanted to encourage this type of learning and make it available to their students so they decided to write a grant that was offered through MACUL.

The grant from MACUL allowed Pinewood Elementary School to implement a Makerspace as part of their extended library time for all grades. It is housed in the library which makes perfect sense as this sort of learning is a natural extension of books! Since the beginning of time, we’ve experienced librarians creating interactive content to engage children and augment their learning.

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While in the Makerspace, students are able to explore various learning tools and resources structured to inspire creativity and hands-on learning. The ultimate goal is to have a variety of consumable items that students can use to tinker and create their own masterpieces. Different activities can be added to the rotation to spur fresh exploration. Some incorporate technology while others are purely ‘old-fashioned’ analog exercises.

Pinewood teacher Andrea Pattison oversees the Makerspace and loves watching the students be creative, build, and collaborate with classmates with the age appropriate activities and tools that are in the space. The students’ only negative review is that they never have enough time! The kids do a fabulous job respecting the space and the special tools. She also has a team of Makerspace Champions comprised of 5th and 6th grade students who help organize and run the space.

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Pinewood Makerspace: (foreground) 3-D Printer and student using the Osmo tool with an iPad while classmates build and create in the background.

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Students are able to learn how to maximize the Makerspace through the Pinewood Makerspace Website, created by district ACT teacher, Julie Clark. How-to videos and website resources help them make the most of their time in the space and give them options to use outside of school as well. Julie has also gone on to complete an additional grant request for new tools for the Makerspace through the Jenison Public Education Fund.

JPEF has been funding best teaching methods and innovative ideas from JPS educators for over 20 years. Since 1995, JPEF has funded more than 162 programs valued at over $200,000, for the students of Jenison. It is so great to have them partnering with our RELENTLESS, world-class educators to bring these ideas to life.

It is exciting to see the students engage their thoughts and ideas with courage, while facing risk of a mistake. I see huge benefits as these experiences are preparing their brains to see opportunity in a challenge, and is giving the world builders and tinkerers who are not afraid to try and ask, what if?

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Zome Tool was added to the Makerpace through a generous grant from the Jenison Public Education Foundation. Zome Tool is a building set with connectors and straight struts. This allows the students to create a multitude of shapes.

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Osmo is a tool that uses augmented reality in conjunction with an iPad. Students can explore with tangrams, numbers, words or interactive drawings. 

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Global School Play Day

Five years ago, the first annual Global School Play Day was celebrated as the kick off of a grassroots initiative to raise awareness about the necessity of unstructured play. This week, Pinewood students were counted in the 563,283 students from 75 nations who participated in a Play Day at school.

4486d8_3e2294f6fb754a5b8c894c0ac0aef6d2~mv2_d_2441_1959_s_2If you walked into some of these classrooms yesterday, you might have thought “all play and no work” was happening. However, this unstructured, self guided play is allowing our children to develop socially, emotionally and hone problem solving skills. Play is an important part of learning and these are necessary skills that will be used for the rest of their lives.

Global School Play Day gives the students an exciting opportunity to let play take over the classroom for a day. Teachers encourage students to bring toys from home to share with their friends in class. They leave the devices and battery operated fun at home (which is easier for some). It also encourages some of the older kids to reacquaint themselves with toys and hobbies they haven’t enjoyed in a while.

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Teachers and staff arrange the day and invite the toys, but nothing is organized beyond that. Children receive no adult instruction on how to play the games or who to play with.

Shanna Richey, Pinewood Kindergarten teacher enjoyed supervising her students and observing a special kind of leadership emerge from some of them. “Their faces just lit up as they were able to lead in sharing their toy. Some students had to explain how to play a game from home. It was so much fun watching each child find ways to share and play with others. I have had some very shy kids blossom on this day because they are able to lead in a new way of sharing their toy.” 

While some students found a new game or toy they really enjoyed, and some even found a new depth of friendship through this experience – everyone agrees, they can’t wait for next year’s play day! Play is a way of communicating and connecting so let me encourage our students and families to keep this sort of play alive!!

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Cards were fun for the older kids, they had fun teaching each other different games.

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Cross age learning buddies! Pinewood 4th grader (Brower) and Kindergardeners (Machiela) took this opportunity to play with and learn from each other!

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Classic games are always a hit!

 

Dr. Peter Gray, Ph.D. is a research professor at Boston College. His current work focuses primarily on children’s natural ways of learning and the life-long value of play. In his TEDx lecture, Peter Gray clearly argues the case that today’s kids do not play enough and this has impacted them negatively. In the past 60 years, quality unstructured play has declined, while society sees a gradual increase in anxiety and depression in children and adolescents.

Santa’s Elves on Bus 12-17

While her job title is ‘bus driver’, Kristin Bredeweg takes her role as a teacher and ‘family leader’ just as serious as her safe driving record.

Kristin has been driving her route for 8 years and works hard to create a family atmosphere on her bus. She takes the time to get to know her students and seeks to take advantage of teachable moments. She also looks forward to bringing them together with a special project during the holidays. 

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This year, she organized a campaign to collect toys that would be delivered to the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital downtown Grand Rapids. Encouraging our students to think outside themselves; they were impacted by the thought that some children would be spending their holidays not at home around the tree, but in the hospital.

Friday, December 20, students were dismissed for the holiday break at half day and they headed to the bus garage to complete their secret santa mission. Students retrieved the collected toys that had been stored there and filled up bus 12-17 with everything from Lego sets, to books, crayons and stuffed animals. They collected hundreds of items and it was especially exciting that the Bauerwood students were able to take a trip on their bus and participate in the delivery.

Countless JPS teachers and staff members bring students together for special holiday projects like this. I’m so proud and am always amazed how our community takes advantage of the opportunity to spread joy and happiness.

Check out the local news story on WZZM.

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History with a Hero

Without America’s veterans, our beloved country would not exist as we know it today. I am grateful for their sacrifices to protect our freedoms. I believe that passing this gratitude and appreciation onto the next generation is invaluable.

Earlier this week, our elementary schools were preparing projects about respecting and honoring Veteran’s Day to share with their classmates, and learning about different components of military service. One Bauerwood 3rd grade classroom was creating lap quilts that will be taken down to the VA.

Right before the anniversary of D-Day this year (June 6), Sandy Hill 4th and 5th graders also had the distinct privilege of meeting a very decorated war veteran and local hero.

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Al Johnson

After his initial medical training, Al Johnson signed up for a very risky assignment. He worked during World War II as a spy for the secret division called Office of Strategic Services (OSS), aiding the French Resistance and cover operations in Germany and China. The OSS is the predecessor to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

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Al Johnson joined the military and was assigned medical training.

Christy Roloffs is a Sandy Hill teacher and through family connections was aware of his amazing story. Mrs. Roloffs invited Mr. Johnson as a guest speaker to make this history come alive. She knew that a living example is far superior to textbooks and films.  

The confidential nature of the work he did was made public in 1987 when the order of secrecy was lifted. At this time, the story of his work and the OSS is fairly new; sadly many who experienced it with Mr. Johnson are no longer alive.

Just last year, nearly 3/4 of a century after the war, the contributions of Al and his team were recognized with Congressional Gold Medals. This is the nation’s highest civilian honor. The members of the OSS were previously awarded the Legion of Honour, the highest civilian distinction in France. 

He brought photo albums, his medal cases, and even pulled out his OSS medal and let the kids touch it. The kids were enthralled, listened intently and asked great questions.

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What an amazing experience for our students to spend this time with Mr. Johnson and learn first hand what his military career was like.

Every day is a great day to tell all those who served our country in the military thank you for their service. We are thankful for all they have given to protect our freedoms and way of life in the United States of America. We are also so proud of all our Jenison Alumni and parents that served or are currently serving their country.

For the full story of Al Johnson’s service, check out the video below.

For more local news coverage on Mr. Johnson: WOOD TV and HOLLAND SENTINEL

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Make Your Mark!

“Make your mark and see where it takes you.” That’s the sentiment behind International Dot Day, a worldwide celebration of creativity, courage and collaboration. This holiday started just 10 years ago and has grown from a single classroom to thousands of schools across the globe. All because of a book with an inspiring message.

Dot Day is inspired by the Peter H. Reynolds book, “The Dot.” The book depicts the story of a little girl who is shy about expressing her artistic abilities. Following some encouragement from an art teacher, she begins with a tiny dot she put on a piece of paper and from that dot creates multiple works of art.

IMG_8926The concept of this book and the participation in International Dot Day both encourage a ‘growth mindset’ and helps students believe in themselves – something we feel strongly about at Jenison Public Schools. Throughout the day, the students created projects that emphasized the importance of embracing individuality. I love that the Pinewood students joined the celebration again this year and are reminded – that as unique individuals, they can grow and learn and be successful.

I’m grateful for teachers that believe in our students and want them to believe in themselves. These may seem like easy art lessons to some but if our students can learn like the character in the story, Vashti, to be brave and help others, they will eventually believe they can really “make a mark” on the world.

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The Pinewood students crafted unique dot-inspired drawings on a paper plate, cutting them in half and then combining them with a partner’s to form a whole circle.

“I think the message behind Dot Day is so important for students of all ages, it reminds them that they are unique and have something special to share with the world. Dot Day is a celebration of this but we try to help our students see this every day. We feel passionately about giving students opportunities for leadership, and to recognize their gifts and share them. At Pinewood Elementary, all of our staff believes that each child is special and unique and has something they can contribute to our community.”
Rachel Postle-Brown, principal of Pinewood Elementary School.

 

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ArtMoves Summer Series: Levi Beadenkopf

IMG_5896This summer, we will highlight the Jenison ArtMoves program. Each week, we will feature one of the talented student artists and local businesses that have supported the Jenison Visual Arts Department.

Please join us in celebrating our students and thanking these local partners by visiting their businesses. 


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ArtMoves Featured Artist:

Levi Beadenkopf

  • Grade: just completed 1st grade
  • Favorite Color: Green
  • Favorite Food: Pizza
  • Favorite Book: Green Eggs and Ham
  • Favorite Movie: The Greatest Showman
  • Favorite class (besides art): Gym
  • A smell he really doesn’t like: Farts
  • Plans for the Summer: Camping, trip to the Poconos, swimming, playing with friends. 
  • Something he wants to get better at: Wrestling 
  • Something he is really good at: Baseball
  • Musical instrument? No
  • Pets? No
  • Age when he will feel grown up? 14
  • ‘Happy Place’? Family Chuck E. Cheese

“Sunset”

Artist Statement: Levi’s favorite part of this project was adding paint because it was “really fun and it turned out really nice”.  When Levi is not at school he makes stuff at home out of paper and paint, he does art every day! When Levi grows up he wants to be a wrestler, an artist, and basketball player.

Levi Beadenkopf


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Levi’s artwork has been leased for 1 year and is on display at Remax of Grand Rapids. Thank you Wyoming Remax team for investing in our students and blessing your clients with this fun piece of art!


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ArtMoves is an annual art leasing program created by the Jenison Visual Arts Department. The goal is to connect our talented students with local businesses, and to promote the outstanding work of our student artists.

Business owners in and around the community attend the annual gala and have the opportunity to lease their favorite artwork for a year. The artwork remains on display and at the end of the lease, the student receives their artwork back to proudly display at home.

Many hands go into making this program a reality! A heartfelt thank you goes out to…

  • Our amazing staff of Jenison art teachers fostering creativity in all students
  • Our high school art teachers and students who help mat the artwork
  • Mr. Albert’s high school wood shop class for making the custom frames
  • Norbert’s Glass for the donation of the glass for the frames
  • The many business partners who invest in our students and value the community we live in!

 

ArtMoves Gala photography by Damion Van Slyke Photography.

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ArtMoves Summer Series: Julia Carney

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This summer, we will highlight the Jenison ArtMoves program. Each week, we will feature one of the talented student artists and local businesses that have supported the Jenison Visual Arts Department.

Please join us in celebrating our students and thanking these local partners by visiting their businesses. 


ArtMoves Featured Artist:

Julia Carney

  • Grade: just completed 4th grade
  • Favorite Color: Teal
  • Favorite Food: Pizza
  • Favorite Book: The One and Only Ivan
  • Favorite Movie: End Game
  • Favorite class (besides art): Writing
  • A smell she really doesn’t like: Her Brother
  • Plans for the Summer: Camping
  • Something she wants to get better at: Gymnastics
  • Something she is really good at: Gymnastics
  • Musical instrument? Not yet
  • Pets? Dog named Zella
  • Age when she will feel grown up? She’s not planning to grow up!
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“Zella”

Artist Statement: I like this artwork because it has a lot of patterns. I do a lot of patterns when I create my art. My Dad does a lot of art.  I think that is why I make art at home. I do it a lot when I am bored.

Julia Carney

 


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Julia’s artwork has been leased for 1 year and is on display at First United Credit Union in Grandville. Thank you Mark Richter and team for investing in our students and blessing your clients with this fun piece of art!


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ArtMoves is an annual art leasing program created by the Jenison Visual Arts Department. The goal is to connect our talented students with local businesses, and to promote the outstanding work of our student artists.

Business owners in and around the community attend the annual gala and have the opportunity to lease their favorite artwork for a year. The artwork remains on display and at the end of the lease, the student receives their artwork back to proudly display at home.

Many hands go into making this program a reality! A heartfelt thank you goes out to…

  • Our amazing staff of Jenison art teachers fostering creativity in all students
  • Our high school art teachers and students who help mat the artwork
  • Mr. Albert’s high school wood shop class for making the custom frames
  • Norbert’s Glass for the donation of the glass for the frames
  • The many business partners who invest in our students and value the community we live in!

 

ArtMoves Gala photography by Damion Van Slyke Photography.

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ArtMoves Summer Series: Kamy Sytsma

20190110_175919This summer, we will highlight the Jenison ArtMoves program. Each week, we will feature one of the talented student artists and local businesses that have supported the Jenison Visual Arts Department.

Please join us in celebrating our students and thanking these local partners by visiting their businesses. 

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ArtMoves Featured Artist:

Kamy Sytsma

  • Grade: Just completed 3rd grade at Pinewood Elementary
  • Favorite Color: Gold
  • Favorite Food: Watermelon
  • Favorite Book: The Stolen Girl
  • Favorite Movie: The Parent Trap
  • Favorite class – besides art: Gym
  • A smell she really doesn’t like: Rotten Milk
  • Plans for the Summer: Boating
  • Something she wants to get better at: Math
  • Something she is really good at: Gymnastics
  • Musical instrument? Recorder
  • Pets? Diesel – 5 yo German Shorthaired Pointer and Delta – 4 month old German Shorthaired Pointer
  • Age when she will feel grown up? 16
  • ‘Happy Place’?  Boating near River Ridge (On the Muskegon River)

“Abstract Chalk Portrait”

Artist Statement: I enjoyed blending the chalk pastels for my portrait. I also enjoyed tracing the pencil lines with black glue. At the end we had to spray hairspray on are artwork to keep the chalk pastels from rubbing off.

Kamy Sytsma


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Kamy’s artwork has been leased for 1 year and is on display at Chemical Bank on Baldwin in Jenison. Thank you Chemical Bank for investing in our students and blessing your clients with this fun piece of art!

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ArtMoves is an annual art leasing program created by the Jenison Visual Arts Department. The goal is to connect our talented students with local businesses, and to promote the outstanding work of our student artists.

Business owners in and around the community attend the annual gala and have the opportunity to lease their favorite artwork for a year. The artwork remains on display and at the end of the lease, the student receives their artwork back to proudly display at home.

Many hands go into making this program a reality! A heartfelt thank you goes out to…

  • Our amazing staff of Jenison art teachers fostering creativity in all students
  • Our high school art teachers and students who help mat the artwork
  • Mr. Albert’s high school wood shop class for making the custom frames
  • Norbert’s Glass for the donation of the glass for the frames
  • The many business partners who invest in our students and value the community we live in!

 

ArtMoves Gala photography by Damion Van Slyke Photography.

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ArtMoves Summer Series: Allison Kachel

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This summer, we will highlight the Jenison ArtMoves program. Each week, we will feature one of the talented student artists and local businesses that have supported the Jenison Visual Arts Department.

Please join us in celebrating our students and thanking these local partners by visiting their businesses. 


ArtMoves Featured Artist:

Allison Kachel

  • Grade: just completed 11th grade
  • Favorite Color: Forest Green
  • Favorite Food: Pad Thai
  • Favorite Book: Banana Fish (manga)
  • Favorite Movie: Kill Bill
  • Favorite class (besides art): World Religions or Sociology
  • A smell she really doesn’t like: Gasoline
  • Plans for the Summer: I am attending an Interfaith camp over the summer.
  • Something she wants to get better at: Drawing…
  • Something she is really good at: Procrastinating 
  • Musical instrument? – No
  • Pets? If so, what are they and the pet’s name – I have a cat named Whiskers
  • Age when she will feel grown up? – 27
  • ‘Happy Place’? – In my dreams
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JHS Art Teacher Sara Buzzitta and Allison

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“Double Gourds”

Artist Statement: What I learned while making this project is that you shouldn’t blend oil pastels with a blending stump! I also learned that I need to use oil pastels lightly and gently. Another thing I learned is how fun drawing gourds is! I also think I could have contrasted the gourds a bit more with different colors. I think it would be fun to come back to this piece some time in the future and redraw it.

Allison Kachel


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Alison’s artwork has been leased for 1 year and is on display at Hughes Management. Thank you Hughes Management for investing in our students and blessing your clients with this fun piece of art!


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ArtMoves is an annual art leasing program created by the Jenison Visual Arts Department. The goal is to connect our talented students with local businesses, and to promote the outstanding work of our student artists.

Business owners in and around the community attend the annual gala and have the opportunity to lease their favorite artwork for a year. The artwork remains on display and at the end of the lease, the student receives their artwork back to proudly display at home.

Many hands go into making this program a reality! A heartfelt thank you goes out to…

  • Our amazing staff of Jenison art teachers fostering creativity in all students
  • Our high school art teachers and students who help mat the artwork
  • Mr. Albert’s high school wood shop class for making the custom frames
  • Norbert’s Glass for the donation of the glass for the frames
  • The many business partners who invest in our students and value the community we live in!

 

ArtMoves Gala photography by Damion Van Slyke Photography.

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