Pinewood Pride in the News

Many things have made this year especially challenging. In response to public health concerns, the Jenison Public School educators and our students and families, have been rockstars in navigating the twists and turns of this academic year. The constant has been the widespread positive attitudes and commitment to flexibility. Now here we are, we made it to 100 days of school!

Local Reporter, Maranda from WOTV4 recently made the most of technology for a socially distanced interview with Pinewood Elementary School Principal Dr. Rachael Postle-Brown and 5th grade teacher Michelle U’ren.

Fifth graders from Pinewood Elementary, Eliza and Collin joined the conversation as well to discuss their experiences with the different learning modes and their appreciation for being back to in-person learning and with their friends.

It’s always great to see our staff and students representing the Jenison community. I’m so proud of how the district has been navigating this really tricky year, thank you Dr. Brown and Mrs. U’ren for leading your students well!

Click on the link below to see the interview:

Jenison students discuss the past year of virtual learning and modified class schedules.

Jenison Pink Out 2021

On a snowy Friday evening in February 2009, our entire community came together to support one woman battling breast cancer. We linked arms with one family and never could have imagined where this journey would take us. None of us ever dreamed the spark that was lit that year would still be growing stronger 12 years later. It has since been an honor to broaden the support and walk alongside those in our community fighting any form of cancer.

Throughout the years, the people and businesses of Jenison have surrounded these families in a very special way and have made Pink Out an annual highlight since the beginning. The event coincided with Friday night Varsity basketball games and were often competing with a Michigan winter storm. But the snow never kept us away. We sold out of t-shirts, we ran out of parking spots and we all experienced just how hot a standing-room-only gymnasium could be. And it became the norm, year after year. It was the best, and the atmosphere was never anything short of wholehearted support for those we came to honor. Pink Out has a rich and historic tradition in the Jenison community and I swell with pride each time we gather together to celebrate life.

Yes, this year will look different, but I can emphatically say, even now during a pandemic, the spirit of Jenison Pink Out can not and will not be stopped. We are still going to encourage those fighting the battle right now, continue fighting for a cure and honor the taken!

The 2021 Pink Out flags are proudly flying courtesy of the Varsity Women’s Basketball Team. As you drive down Baldwin these wintry days, may they be a beacon of pride in our community. Please notice them in support for our fighters and survivors and in remembrance of the taken. The Pink Out team has recently been busy with tee shirt sales and distribution.

The Pink Out volunteers work tirelessly year round to coordinate support and be the hands and feet of the community for families in the fight. They host a public Facebook page with all the information you’ll want for this year’s virtual events. Seven honorees have been chosen for 2021 and their stories will be shared in the coming week via the Jenison Pink Out Facebook Page. You will get to hear their journey and witness their courage and bravery while in their fight against cancer. We can’t wait to celebrate them! The facebook page will also be sharing how students will be participating in different activities in their classrooms/buildings. Join and follow the page to be part of a very encouraging movement this coming week!

The team is also excited to announce that there is a new Pink Out website that now receives online donations: Check it out at www.jenisonpinkout.org

We may be socially distant, but we can stand together in support of our neighbors.


2021 Honorees

  • Emily Barnes
  • Jill Johnson Barnes
  • Kevin Clark
  • Jody Heyboer
  • Dave Huyser
  • Jeanine Decker Jannereth
  • Jamey McLeod
We are so thankful for the sponsors that have come alongside us this year. Pink Out could not exist without the support of the community business in this way. While you’re out and about, please take a moment to thank them for their support! Below, you’ll also see web links for each sponsor.

Sponsor links:

If you need some warm encouragement during a cold winter week, join me for a walk down memory lane with past Pink Out Celebrations!

#WeAreJenison

http://www.JenisonPinkOut.org

Training for the Future, Now

We are so fortunate to live in a community with quality, diverse resources to help our students prepare for the future. The Careerline Tech Center is a service of Ottawa Area Intermediate School District and is one of those rich opportunities offered to our students.

The Tech Center mirrors the commitment of Jenison High School, promoting personal success and lifelong learning while preparing students for tomorrow’s workforce. Providing career and technical education in 28 different programs opens doors for employment and post-secondary opportunities.

Recognizing that all students learn differently and have goals that are as unique as they are, we are proud to partner with the Tech Center; this year over 100 Jenison High School students are participating. Jenison High School Juniors and Seniors take advantage of work-based learning opportunities and earn college credit in program pathways such as Arts & Communication, Business, Management, Marketing & Technology, Construction, Engineering/Manufacturing, Health Sciences, Human Services and Transportation.

Meet three seniors who have discovered – and furthered a passion that has them excited about the future. I couldn’t be more proud to have these Wildcats representing Jenison as they expand their education beyond our halls.


Jaden Beaver

At first, Jaden wasn’t sure which program to choose for his first year at the Tech Center; however, he was sure that he wanted to minimize his time in a traditional classroom. Welding turned out to be a perfect fit. Along with learning the basic methods of welding, the class studies design, layout, cutting and fabricating of metals. He is pleasantly surprised with how much he is retaining as they study properties of metals and alloys. Jaden really appreciates the hands-on learning environment, and immediate feedback from his instructors as he works to hone his skills.

During the recent pause for in-person education, the Tech Center welding instructors took the opportunity to lead the class through online instruction to obtain OSHA certifications for the students. Following graduation, he is anticipating further education in the field of Welding. Jaden is feeling very positive about the future knowing that career prospects are plentiful.


Cierra Bolkema

The salon services industry is something that piqued Cierra’s interest long ago. When school dances and other events come around, she can be found helping multiple friends achieve their special look. She spent her early high school years anxiously awaiting this senior-only class. The cosmetology program is offered through Tulip City Beauty College in Holland and prepares the students to work toward their Cosmetology license. Cierra loves meeting new people through the program and is so excited to be getting practical application.

At the conclusion of the school year, she will have learned all the services that will be offered in a salon: hair shaping and styling, manicures, facials, waxing, and chemical services. She will also have gained 300 hours of instruction and knowledge to put toward the requirement for the State of Michigan license exam. Thanks to this program and the experience she received, Cierra has a very positive outlook for continuing her Cosmetology education after high school graduation.


Brandon Vlasblom

Participating in the Diesel/Heavy Equipment Mechanics program last year, Brandon is now studying Automotive Technology. This program focuses on Steering and Suspension, Electrical Systems, Engine Performance and Heating/AC. Students put their classroom knowledge to work by servicing customer cars, which are brought into the auto mechanics lab. He enjoys this hands-on type of work and likes getting the feel for the variety of problems and types of cars.

The program is accredited and instructors are certified. Through the duration of the program, Brandon will be given the opportunity to take a number of tests to gain State of Michigan certifications. He is grateful that he has found something he loves. Following completion of the Tech Center Automotive Tech program, Brandon likes the idea of pursuing the field further with more formal education following graduation.

Happy New Year 2021

I hope these past several weeks have provided you many opportunities to experience quality family time and relaxation in spite of the ongoing challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. I am looking forward to coming back together with my team of Jenison administrators, teachers, and support staff as we face the coming year and continue our commitment to being Champions of Children in the days and months ahead.

Best wishes for this new year, may it be full of love, joy, friends and family!

Class of 2020 Celebration

On the original date scheduled for commencement this year, the Class of 2020 took their turn in the spotlight and was able to close the chapter on their high school career. However, it looked very different than any of us had imagined and they weren’t walking across a stage that night. As the closures of COVID-19 threatened to cancel every event, the Class of 2020 Senior Planning Committee sprang into action. Typically this parent-led volunteer committee spends about a year working on plans to celebrate the accomplishment of their students with a safe night of fun following graduation. With a true resilient spirit, they quickly shifted gears and pulled off an amazing community celebration in the form of a ‘Senior Parade’.

Seniors were driven through a parade route that was like taking them down memory lane. They first encountered the jubilant cheers from their elementary teachers, then the junior high and high school teachers and staff.

I’d like to extend a big thank you to Mike Schwartz and his son, Matthew (8th grader at JJHS) for putting together this awesome drone video! There was such a great turnout of seniors and supporters!

I had the best seat in the house as I waved each of them my best and sent them off to the last leg of the journey where their community and family members waited to celebrate their accomplishments. I’m beyond proud of the way this class of students finished strong during this recent interruption in their lives. I am so grateful our amazing seniors had the opportunity for this experience and for them to know that they have an entire community standing behind them during this time. Many more smiles in the full photo gallery.

Family support at its finest! Go Wildcats!

– JENISON HIGH SCHOOL – CLASS OF 2020 TOP TEN

Another date that has come and gone is the evening of our annual High School Honors ceremony. I would like to take this opportunity to recognize the seniors who comprise the Jenison High School Class of 2020 Top Ten. These young people are outstanding students that have excelled in and outside of the classroom. They are great scholars, but even better people. Well done!

  • Drew Bobeldyk, Valedictorian
  • Ashley Winger, Salutatorian
  • Stuart Tolsma
  • Rebeca Zeitman
  • Tristen Kloppe
  • Leah DeRitter
  • Andrew Ferguson
  • Jacob Frollo
  • Anna Bartz
  • Quinn Snyder

Congratulations to this incredible group of young men and women! You are examples of what hard work can achieve and we are so proud of you. The future is yours for the taking!

2020 District Awards

In the midst of a challenging spring, it is refreshing and uplifting to receive word that Jenison Public Schools has received recognition for multiple awards. I’m so grateful for everyone in the JPS family who has employed a relentless attitude and taken ownership to push our district to be the best it can be. Way to go Wildcats!

  • Jenison Public High School has been named as one of the best high schools in the state of Michigan by U.S. News & World Report.
  • Bauerwood Elementary has earned the title of Capturing Kids’ Hearts National Showcase School.
  • The Jenison Music department has earned our district the NAMM 2020 Best Communities for Music Education.

Our Tradition of Excellence continues because of outstanding building leadership, exemplary teaching, a terrific student body, supportive parents, and a generous community! The outstanding work being done by our K-12 students, teachers, and support from our Jenison community truly make Jenison High School an exceptional place to learn – it also placed us in top 95% of the country.


Capturing Kids’ Hearts is the foundation on which Jenison Public Schools is built. It is about building relational capacity with our students and with each other. It is a terrific tribute to Bauerwood Elementary School to be recognized as a Capturing Kids’ Hearts Showcase School for the 3rd year in a row. Being a showcase school means every adult makes student relationships a priority not only in their words but through their actions. Bauerwood is in very select company across the nation. I am very proud of Principal Crystal Morse and her staff.


The NAMM Foundation Music award program recognizes outstanding efforts by teachers, administrators, parents, students and community leaders who have made music education an important part of a well-rounded education. This definitely applies to high school directors Grant Carmichael, Dan Scott and Dave Zamborsky; they also represent a team of hardworking music educators we have at Jenison Public Schools. From parents to teachers, students to administration, all have worked together to make beautiful music and achieve this acknowledgment.  


*COMMUNITY FOOD DISTRIBUTION INFORMATION*

Hudsonville: Grace Community Church – 3500 New Holland Street
Tuesday & Thursday, 4 – 7 pm

Grandville: Fellowship CRC – 4375 Ivanrest Avenue SW
Monday & Thursday, 9 am – 12 pm
Tuesday, 6 – 7:30 pm

Jenison: Sunrise Ministries, 7754 28th Avenue
Monday & Wednesday, 4 – 7 pm

JENISON PUBLIC SCHOOLS LUNCH PROGRAM UPDATE:

Monday & Wednesday, 11:00am-12:30pm

As of Monday, May 4, all Jenison School lunch program distribution will be done at the Jenison High School – 2140 Bauer Road, Jenison. Stop by the West Parking Lot on Monday for Monday and Tuesday meals, or on Wednesday for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday meals.

Please continue to watch your email and the Jenison Public Schools facebook page for any updates regarding the school location distribution program.

Onward Wildcats

After the first week of COVID-19 school closures, minds everywhere quickly began seeking creativity and stimulation. Our rock-star Jenison High School music directors even went to work on a fun, challenging project to engage their student musicians from afar. Dave Zamborsky, JHS Band Director and Dan Scott, JHS Orchestra director decided now was the time to perform the Jenison High School fight song – virtual edition. 

The first challenge of this project was that the music had never been created with vocal parts – or violin, viola and cello parts for that matter. Mr. Zamborsky wasted no time in creating the parts needed and had them ready for the kids within 24 hours. 

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The next challenge would be to create virtual ensembles; getting the band, choir or string musicians to perform music “together” when they are indeed not together. With no director standing in front of them to provide instructional cues, a tool called a ‘click track’ was needed. A click track is a series of digital audio cues used to synchronize sound recordings. Senior percussionist, Jarod VanderVeen agreed to record the track for the fight song to accompany the students’ digital performance. He recorded his part while listening to a metronome to stay perfectly in tempo. If you have a metronome in your house you can set it to 150 beats per minute and you’ll notice that Jarod is right on. 

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The instrumentalists were now set, but the vocalists needed a harmonic reference for their performance. Mr. Scott tapped into the talents of his wife, Diane for the recorded piano part. The students now had what they needed to perfect their individual parts. You’ll notice in the video that they all have some sort of headphone in their ear. This is the click track of either the drummer or the piano player.  Each student recorded their performance as they listened to the track. This gave them a rhythmic or harmonic reference for their performance.  

The performance itself came as another challenge. None of the orchestra and choir students had even performed the fight song before and some band students were performing on instruments that they don’t use during marching season. After practicing their part, each student recorded their portion and emailed the file to Mr. Scott. There were about 75 video submissions and all of them are included in the video. 

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Mr. Scott expanded his resume to include “video editor” as he used GarageBand and Final Cut Pro X software programs to compile each performance submission to give us this amazing final product. 

Life has been dealing us all a rhythm of unpredictable change these last three weeks. But I want to remind you that TOGETHER – WE ARE JENISON! And together, we march to the beat of a strong community that prides itself in supporting one another.

Click on the video below to check it out…May the performance of these fine musicians brighten your day as we move onward and upward!

 

“ONWARD WILDCATS”

(To the tune of “On Wisconsin”)

Onward Wildcats, ever onward, fight to victory!

Green & White, forever fighting, here’s our cheer for thee! Rah! Rah! Rah!

Fighting Wildcats, loyal boosters, here’s to do or die.

All for the fame of our school, Jenison High.

 

Food distribution is available at the following locations and times:

*COMMUNITY FOOD DISTRIBUTION INFORMATION*

Hudsonville: 

Grace Community Church – 3500 New Holland Street
Tuesday & Thursday, 4 – 7 pm

Fair Haven Church – 2900 Baldwin Street, DOOR E

Friday, 10am – 12pm and 6 – 8pm

Grandville: Fellowship CRC – 4375 Ivanrest Avenue SW
Monday & Thursday, 9 am – 12 pm
Tuesday, 6 – 7:30 pm

Jenison: Sunrise Ministries, 7754 28th Avenue
Monday & Wednesday, 4 – 7 pm

JPS School Locations: Monday & Wednesday, 11:00am-12:30pm:

  • Bursley Elementary – 1195 Port Sheldon Street, Jenison
  • Sandy Hill Elementary – 1990 Baldwin Street, Jenison
  • Bauerwood Elementary – 1443 Bauer Road, Jenison
  • Jenison High School – 2140 Bauer Road, Jenison

Please continue to watch your email and the Jenison Public Schools facebook page for any updates regarding the school location distribution program.

Jenison ‘In The News’

 

The Jenison community is full of many amazing people creating newsworthy moments year round! If you happen to have missed some of these incredible stories in the local news, I encourage you to check out the links and get inspired. These stories represent the #JPSBeRelentless attitude through commitment, ingenuity, compassion and perseverance. 


Sandy Tetro 

Sandy Tetro has been impacting friends, family members, students, co-workers and community members for as long as anyone can remember. Her enormous heart and boundless energy propelled a 20+ year career in special education at Jenison Public Schools and 15+ years coaching for Special Olympics. She is also currently recovering from a massive right ischemic stroke. She has been recognized as a top finalist for West Michigan’s Woman of the Year through local news WOTV4. While her recovery is amazing – it just makes her even more remarkable in our eyes!

Read the story and watch the video here

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Audrey (Tetro) Mitchell nominated her mother, Sandy Tetro as a ‘Remarkable Woman of West Michigan’, for the impact she has had on countless lives.


Andrew Medley, Senior Kidney Recipient

Andrew Medley is a Jenison High School football and basketball player who has lived with a kidney failure diagnosis for 8 years. He recently underwent surgery to receive a kidney from mother. Andrew’s energy may have waned over time but commitment to his teams never has; he has been a leader on and off the field. 

 We’re so happy to receive a great report on Andrew’s improving health since the surgery two weeks ago. Andrew is anxious to be back to school but will have to wait a few more weeks until the doctor gives the approval. His mother Susan is also healing well and has expressed amazement at the amount of support they have received from the community. 

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Susan Medley is so thankful that she was a match and was able to give her son Andrew a kidney.


2020 Senior Survivor

In ‘Season 2’ of the Jenison High School Senior Survivor game, the seniors exceeded last year’s amount by almost $3,000 – making their 2020 contribution to the Pink Out team over $8,000.

Read the story and watch the video here

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Tej Kothari, Congressional Bronze Medal recipient 

Jenison High School senior, Tej Kothari received the highest honor Congress can bestow on a young person. The Congressional Bronze Medal was presented to him by Congressman Bill Huizenga.

Read the story here

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Tej Kothari is the first Jenison High School Student to receive the Congressional Bronze Medal.


Jack Carrier, Student Law Changer 

Jenison High School senior, Jack Carrier was born with a vision impairment that would ultimately make getting his drivers’s license a little tricky. Jack knew he had run into some pretty restrictive obstacles. Jack and his father reached out to Senator Roger Victory for assistance. Sen. Victory helped Jack raise awareness for and get the law changed for others with similar visual challenges.

Read the story here

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Jack Carrier with State Senator Roger Victory (Photo source: Mlive)


Terry Dykstra, Jenison High School Counselor

As a Jenison High School counselor, Terry Dykstra has been cheering students on for 52 years!

Read the story and watch the video here

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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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The Gift of Friendship

Developing today’s students to be tomorrow’s leaders is a core commitment at Jenison Public Schools and I see the LINKS program as an every day example of this.

Some of our students with different needs (including Autism Spectrum and others with a disability or cognitive challenge) may require a categorical program with a specific educational plan. While they receive extra one-on-one educational support either from a teacher or paraprofessional, studies have proven that students favor connection with and respond better to their own peers. Our peer-to-peer LINKS program allows for those students to receive the necessary extra supports in a more natural way, by placing a general education student by their side. 

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Depending on the needs, this awareness and connection between the students is cultivated already starting in elementary school. Informally teaching general education students about the uniqueness of their peers, to include others and how to interact with a student who may be having a difficult time.

As students reach high school, the general education LINKS student can further their education and choose the LINKS class as an elective. Mrs. Stacey Van Laan runs the program and meets with the class once a week for instruction that focuses on training the methodologies of working with people with different abilities. They also complete assignments and projects that promote the application of their learning. Each semester, the LINKS student is placed with a Peer student during one class hour (his or her elective hour). The role of the LINKS student is to act as a peer advocate, mentor, role model and friend for their Peer student. Together, they work toward the goal of independence and socialization. The Peer students learn to be a meaningful member of a pair or group and receive assistance with organization of assignments and supplies.

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Peer-2-Peer Bowling Outing

A few of our 11th grade LINKS students reflect on how much they learn from their Peers. Reveling in the uniqueness of their personalities and their interests. They are reminded to be patient with not only their Peers, but everyone they meet. It’s so encouraging to hear how they really love the role of being their friends and seeing them during passing, lunch time, and before and after school.

It’s beyond exciting when we hear parents of the LINKS students commenting on the passion they see in their child to help their Peers. It’s doubly exciting when parents of Peers reciprocate with how much their child is loving school and their LINKS friends. Expressing amazement at the connection and growth they have seen, after some difficult years.

“Jenison has the best kids for this program! We are super grateful for the LINKS students who take the time to help our son be awesome.”  

Parent of a Peer student

In addition to the life skill building that occurs during the school day, the LINKS program arranges social gatherings when possible. A few weeks ago, the group went bowling and during the fall they visited Post Family Farm. This week they finished their Christmas shopping together and celebrated with a cookie decorating and movie party earlier this afternoon. Peer students are also given the option to join a group for school sports, music and theatre events. These types of outings solidify their relationships outside of the classroom and gives all students the experience of a fun social outing.

The inclusive and connected culture within this program and Jenison High School is life changing. I’m so grateful for the gift of time and friendship that the LINKS so genuinely and generously give. Many of the students stay in touch beyond their semester class and continue their social connection. The LINKS program is changing lives through research, education and the relentless passion of our Jenison High School students.

A handful of recent Jenison graduates and former LINKS students are currently studying for their Special Education degree. Other recent LINKS students are planning to use their experience to fuel a career in Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Nursing, Child Life Specialist, etc… Today’s students WILL become tomorrow’s leaders.

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Peer-2-Peer Cookie Decorating and Movie Christmas Party

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Peer-2-Peer Club Post Family Farm Outing

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Peer-2-Peer Christmas Shopping Mall Trip

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