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!

Pinewood is a 2017 National Blue Ribbon School!

Last fall, students all across the state of Michigan – including Jenison, of course, took part in state exams. Our kids did their best and little did the Pinewood students know that their amazing scores would automatically nominate them for the US Department of Education’s National Blue Ribbon School award!

Once the nomination was announced, members of the Pinewood School Improvement Team went to work on the lengthy application! Jane Miles [2nd grade], Sara Brower [4th grade], Michelle U’Ren [5th grade], Marie Doerr [School Psychologist] and Principal, Rachael Postle-Brown completed the application that included information on school demographics, attendance, the school mission and how it’s accomplished. The application was 25 pages by the time this phenomenal team was done!

The application was sent off to Washington DC where it was conditionally accepted, depending on the next set of test scores. And those scores meant Pinewood met the qualifications for being named a 2017 National Blue Ribbon School!

Only 340 schools across the country were awarded this prestigious title and only thirteen in Michigan. Pinewood was chosen based on their exceptional level of social, emotional, and behavioral supports offered to children including Social Thinking Curriculum, Whole Brain Teaching, Mindfulness, Teach Like a Pirate, and Trauma-Informed Schools.

Because of these amazing supports and the teachers and students using them every day, the Department of Education has selected Pinewood to be featured alongside 4 – 7 other nationwide schools at the award ceremony in Washington DC next month. A camera crew will be coming to Pinewood to film “A Day in the Life of Pinewood” and all school representatives attending the ceremony from across the country will see the great things happening at Pinewood and Jenison!

Mrs Brown believes Pinewood is a special place because of the way teachers feel about each student there. “Pinewood stands out because teachers embrace every student as their own. Regardless of academic need, social or emotional needs – they are taken care of.” She also wants to thank the Pinewood community saying, “I want to thank the families, who are also part of this award. Thank you for sending your kids here, participating when needed, and being part of the community.”

We are so incredibly proud of the work being done at Pinewood to support ALL students! Our teachers and staff work so hard to make sure students have everything they need to be successful in school and we’re thrilled that the whole country will get to see why! Way to go, Pinewood!

Introducing our new Sandy Hill Principal!

If you are a member of the Sandy Hill family, you have seen Sara Melton greeting students, teachers, and parents as she acclimates to a new school.

Mrs Melton has spent her entire career in education and comes by it honestly. Her grandmother was the first person in her family to receive a degree and she put it to use as a teacher. Her grandfather was a Superintendent in North Carolina in the 1960’s working to desegregate schools. She spent the last fourteen years serving the Grand Rapids Public School system [most recently as the Principal at Shawmut Hills Elementary School]. Being passionate about families in the cycle of poverty and those who speak English as a second language, she worked with policy makers, the Grand Rapids Hispanic Center and others to make sure those that who are underrepresented in schools have a voice.

As she continued to imagine what her career might look like beyond GRPS, Mrs Melton began to research area schools and looking for those districts that were embracing creativity in education and celebrating the gifts and strengths that each child brings to school, and she was impressed by JPS. Specifically, she was intrigued by the JIA, Spanish Immersion, and when she saw a project featuring the ACT program at her local hardware store, she knew it would be a good choice for her. “I was gaining a new understanding of Jenison and saw a passion for growing and encouraging creativity.”

When she began her tenure at Sandy Hill she was immediately impressed by the consistency and investment of families in their school and community. Mrs Melton was especially thankful to see STEM and Spanish as regularly scheduled specials, the sensory tools that students have access to, and the wide base of support available to all students.

Mrs Melton wants to engage with students in ways that encourage their whole minds and value how and what they are learning. Don’t be surprised if she asks your child what he or she is currently reading or your child asks questions at meals in Spanish [which older students are encouraged to do during lunch]!

When Mrs Melton isn’t working at Sandy Hill, she loves to travel and experience local cultures. She plays the piano and has participated in adult soccer leagues. [Do I smell a challenge, Mr Beachum and Mr Bosch?] She also enjoys experiencing local ethnic restaurants with her husband and children where everyone is challenged to try something new. The family also loves biking and running the Kent Trails together.

Welcome to Jenison and Sandy Hill, Mrs Melton! We’re glad you’re here and look forward to continuing to get to know 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]

Logo

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.

Summer Series: Student Art Sample [7th 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!

“Fantasy Vs. Reality”
By: Jolie DenBesten
7th Grade, Jenison Junior High 

We studied Ugly Jugs for this project.  This a tradition of ceramic vessels found in Southern United States dating back to the early 1800’s.  Students had to create two completely different faces–one for each side of the vase.  Jolie has done an outstanding job in our ceramic class this year.  She really focuses on the quality of her building and the details.

Jolie and her artwork were nominated by her Junior High art teacher, Nate Greenwood.

Summer Series: Student Art Sample [6th 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!

“Complementary Color Wheel Graffiti Name”
By Mady Popma
Bursley Elementary

We began this unit with the background and history of the art form of graffiti. During the first step in this process Mady had to choose a graffiti font, and sketch her name in the middle of the paper. Next, we studied color mixing. Using tempera paint in primary colors [red, yellow and blue], students were able to create secondary colors [green, orange and violet], and tertiary colors [red-orange, yellow-orange, yellow-green, blue-green, blue-violet and red-violet]. The next challenge for Mady was to divide her Graffiti Name into 12 sections. She mixed paint and filled in each of the background sections of the color wheel with paint she mixed. After completing the background, Mady created a second color wheel within her name, this time using complementary colors, or those across from one another on the color wheel. Finally, Mady had to outline everything very carefully with black paint.

Mady did an outstanding job on this project. It was very challenging, and Mady showed not only excellent craftsmanship, but perseverance as well.

Mady and her artwork were selected by her Bursley Elementary art teacher, Ginger Brown.