Cultivating a Love for Reading

There’s often talk about how teachers pour so much time and energy into decorating and designing their classroom experience. While some may think this is simply for fun, there is deep purpose and intention behind every detail. We know in order to stay true to our mission to build generations of lifelong learners, a love for learning and a culture of literacy must be developed as a foundational principle right from the start. So it should come as no surprise to hear that the recent addition of our Classroom Libraries is much more than a Type-A pleasing, color coordinated, neatly organized, book-nook tucked in the corner of the classroom.

Kristy Rogalla, our District Curriculum Director and a team of our teachers and literacy coaches, have been working behind the scenes on a multi-year journey to provide each and every classroom with a mini library of its own. Many hours were dedicated to the selection process, ordering, receiving, and cataloging long before they were delivered and teachers could start their organizing fun! Efforts started at the elementary level, and the focus continues to grow and expand into classroom libraries for all kids, in all classrooms.

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1st graders in Kelly Osterink’s class at Rosewood Elementary enjoy choosing their own books for independent, structured reading time.

Two years ago, the team began to build robust classroom libraries and has worked to add to them this year, with future plans to continue. Considering state education expectations; book selections have been targeted for high interest books, at a range of reading levels (meeting students where they are) and choices that include fiction, non-fiction, science and social studies. Diversity is a key focus so students can see themselves in books and find reading enjoyable and relatable. The team also plans to add more interactive read-aloud choices for teachers and student books to support the work in Units of Study for Reading. 

132669468cd79bec71be52823f973543ea171940.jpg“The development of the classroom libraries also helps for when new teachers are hired or teachers move grade levels. This allows for rich student experiences with a variety of texts in whichever classroom family they may belong.  Equity is important in this journey.” – Kristy Rogalla, JPS Director of Curriculum

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 John Scholma’s 4th graders from Bursley Elementary have been devouring new books from the classroom library.

We have heard great stories of success with all the books that have become available. Our teachers have responded gratefully for the resources and have seen a love for reading that is organically growing. Students of all ages are engaged and motivated to read, not necessarily for a reward, but for the love of reading. We find the Classroom Library project to be an uncomplicated way for us to invest in our students daily and further our mission of building generations of lifelong learners. I applaud the efforts of Kristy and her team over the last few years and look forward to seeing this foundational program grow and evolve; setting our students up for success at school and in life.

“Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.”

Harry S. Truman

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Some of Jane Brown’s High School English Students; we have seen students of all ages growing a love and passion for reading with all the books that have become available in the Classroom Library program.

 

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Junior High Spanish Immersion students in Clare Chamberlin’s class have really enjoyed their classroom library to sharpen their second language skills. 

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Lots of planning, ordering and sorting work is done before our amazing JPS teachers get their hands and creative brains busy on their custom classroom libraries! These pictures are from this past summer; High school shipment being organized and new Units of Study curriculum ready for delivery.

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Full of Thanks and Giving

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope this day finds you embracing the people and places that fill you up and enhance your life! I am thinking about my loving and supportive wife, terrific children and the blessing of a new grandson! I am also thankful for the supremely talented and committed group of educators I get to work with daily. Not only do they sharpen each other as they strive for academic excellence, they sincerely invest in the heart and character of our students.

This month marks the 21st year that our staff has been encouraging our students to think outside themselves, cultivate true gratitude and give with compassionate hearts through the “Your Change Can Change Hunger” fund drive (YCCCH). That means there have been several graduating classes that have participated every year of their time at JPS. It truly has become a holiday tradition that we all look forward to. Initiated by Susan Hodson, a mom with two elementary daughters that many years ago – it just goes to show, one person can make a big difference.

I’m so proud to share more about this year’s YCCCH fund drive and all the ways our amazing Jenison community is giving back this Thanksgiving!

Kids First Pet Supply Drive

We love to see the generosity of our students combined with a little entrepreneurial spirit! Two sixth grade El Puente students, Grace Roth (left) and Randi Pennington (right) brainstormed and organized a collection for the Harbor Humane Society during the month of October and delivered the donations earlier this month. So inspiring to see our students putting their compassionate hearts to work!

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Grace and Randi, and their KidsFirst classmates collected over 100 pounds of food, dog beds, blankets, a bag full of toys, multiple bags of treats, leashes, and food dishes.

Jenison Parent Liaisons

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Ms. Tracy and Ms. Veldink

The mission of the Jenison Parent Liaison program is: Building bridges between home, school, and community to promote student success for all families of Jenison Public Schools. One tangible way they do that is through organizing collections of things that can be used to support local families.

1) Ongoing collections of gently used, in-style, in-season clothing for community partner, Threads Clothing Ministry. Also, currently collecting snow pants (through the winter season) in partnership with Rosewood Reformed Church. This provides JPS families access to any type of clothing as needs arise. If you would like to donate clothes or snow pants, please drop items to the Family Resource Center (Room 1) at Pinewood Elementary.

2) They partner with Mars Hill Bible Church, Fair Haven Ministries, Baldwin Street Christian Reformed Church and Sunrise Ministries to provide Christmas and Thanksgiving Assistance for our families.

3) Now accepting donations for family activities in the area; such as bowling, Rebounderz, movie theatre, etc., to give to families to enjoy special together time over Christmas break. Donations can be brought to the Family Resource Center (Room 1) at Pinewood Elementary. 

1st Annual Turkey Trot 5k

An idea led by senior, Max Zuber; the Jenison Men’s Cross Country team hosted the first Jenison Turkey Trot 5k. It was a little more wintry when the race actually took place this past weekend but it was an overall success for their first year. The donation table ended up nearly overflowing and items were delivered to Love Inc.: the Turkey Trot is good for your heart in more ways than one!

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There were over 60 runners of all ages at the first ever Turkey Trot 5k!

Jenison Public Education Foundation

To keep our little ones warm and cozy in the coming months, the Jenison Public Education Foundation conducted a hat, mitten, sock drive at their Expo event on November 3. A donation competition between elementary schools revealed Pinewood as the winner. They won $250 for their school and a school assembly with a magician! Since 1995, JPEF has been enhancing learning environments and funded more than 162 programs valued at over $200,000, for the students of Jenison. 

National Honors Society Thanksgiving Baskets

The NHS members (high school juniors/seniors) organized a Thanksgiving basket program. They donated the items needed for a full thanksgiving meal for 10 Jenison families. They traveled together to deliver the food to each family on November 16.

Jenison High School Thespians – “Trick-r-Treat So Kids Can Eat”

Of course, the Thespians had fun dressing up and getting into character on Halloween but they also organized an event called “Trick-r-Treat So Kids Can Eat”. They had another great turnout this year with many donations brought in to keep members of our community fed this holiday season.

Your Change Can Change Hunger (YCCCH) benefiting Hand2Hand

This annual change fundraiser began in 1998 and is something the kids plan for each year. After a 15 year partnership with another food pantry in West Michigan, it shifted to a more local organization. Hand2Hand partners with local churches and schools to provide a backpack filled with supplemental food that bridges the gap of weekend hunger. When students became aware that their change was going to help kids in their own school district, possibly even their own building – giving sharply increased. The fervor with which students wanted to take care of their own is so inspiring! We keep breaking the previous year’s record for giving – and I think we’ll see that again this year.

Coming into the 2018 fund drive, JPS students have raised over $196,000 since 1998 – nearly half of that had been given in the last 5 years! While the final totals are still being counted, I think we can quite confidently say that we will pass the $200,000 mark this year! That’s amazing! Your Change really CAN Change Hunger!

Thank you so much Jenison students and families!

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ECC: Introducing our youngest Wildcats to this awesome and impactful tradition.

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El Puente students show off their own collection box. Excelente!

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Bauerwood Elementary students excited to hear the final count for the district!

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Pinewood Elementary Student Council with their cash donation.

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Rosewood 5th graders proudly show off their school’s contribution of over $1,700 this year!

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The Sandy Hill third graders surpassed their collection goal on the last day of the change drive. They raised over $150 on Friday alone so Mr. Mosher took some pies to the face!

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Bursley kids excited to give back to others.

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Junior High Students with a hefty donation to YCCCH! When the final count is confirmed, the JH hopes to break their current school record of over $10,000 dollars collected. It definitely seems within their grasp!  Many students have come up with creative collection ideas such as coffee/hot chocolate sales and candy & pop sales. Good old fashion  competitions against other classes in the building have really kept the excitement high!

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JH Students paid $1.00 towards YCCCH to play in the gym for 1 hour before school.

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The High Schoolers also had unique fundraising opportunities: here they are selling pizza at lunch time as a fundraiser for YCCCH.

If you would like to join Jenison Students by supporting the work of Hand2Hand, please visit their website for more information about how to get involved.

 

JHS Fall Play: Robin Hood and The Heroes of Sherwood Forest

Months of hard work, late nights and intense creativity was unveiled this week on the great stage of the Jenison Center for the Arts. Director, Todd Avery and the Jenison High School Thespians kicked off their fall play season with preview performances of Robin Hood and the Heroes of Sherwood Forest. (Psst… you do not want to miss your chance to catch one of the remaining performances – visit www.jpsarts.com for tickets!)

Tuesday afternoon, our 4th, 5th and 6th grade students filled the JCA and were treated with a matinee of the show. It was encouraging to see our young students (and future thespians) soak in the show as a well behaved and responsive audience. The reviews are in and they gave it a whole lot of thumbs up! I wouldn’t be surprised if they talk their families into coming back this weekend. Wednesday was the first evening preview show open to the public.

132187678d09a945c320ce883c741291bfdba8b3Written by local playwright, Randy Wyatt, this fresh adaptation of the well-known English tale combines characters and elements from several medieval texts and gives it all a modern twist, emphasizing a community of heroes (men and women) rather than a one-man approach to heroism. Robin Hood and his friends—the hulking barbarian Little John, the kindhearted Friar Tuck, the sharpshooting woman-in-man’s clothing Scarlet, the jovial minstrel Alan-a-Dale and the retired soldier David of Duncaster—band together to save the poor people of Nottingham from unjust taxation and poverty at the hands of Prince John and his long-suffering yet cruel Sheriff. Two gypsy orphans, Maid Marion’s handmaiden and a mysterious stranger share a secret that could win the day—or see Robin hanged by morning!

The performance technique is a children’s theatre performance style, something Mr. Avery became very fond of during his time in college. Some of his best memories include working hard to make the story feel as if it was jumping off the page of a storybook. This is quite a departure from the Thespian projects of last year – he knew his students would need to be very intentional about the process. And they were, they proudly rose to the challenge. They portray a heartwarming story with plenty of action and humor! Another favorite he is excited for the students to share, is greeting the children from the audience, who for the last 90 minutes have been transported to another time and place. The storytelling power of theatre and its effect on people of all ages is remarkable; people come away very inspired by the magic being created before them on the stage.

132187889385c4fc2430ef45d42e6feb6c1bd66eAs with all Jenison High School Thespian productions, Robin Hood is entirely student-run with assistance from some staff members and many amazing volunteers overseeing other essential teams such as set design, costumes, lighting, and sound. BRAVO Cast & Crew! Another job well done showcasing your talent and dedication!

There are 5 more opportunities for you to catch this family friendly production this weekend. You will not want to miss it! Visit www.jpsarts.com for tickets

Written by Randy Wyatt |Directed by Todd Avery |Produced by special arrangement with Youth PLAYS

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Another Feather in Our Plume

For the last 4 months, Dave Zamborsky and the Jenison High School marching band have worked incredibly hard to fine tune the theatrics, art and music of their show, “Under The Surface”. From the beginning of their season in June, all the way to wowing the community time and again at recent invitational performances; they gave their all. And then it happened, I made a bold yet very confident prediction. That they would show up to Ford Field, ready to perform and come home back-to-back state champions.

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Photo by Damion Van Slyke Photography

Now, I don’t really like to say I told you so… but their dedication grew stronger and they kept improving – the show was getting better as time went on. It was very exciting to witness, and then Saturday, November 3, they swept all 3 categories with an impressive score of 93.05 and were named Michigan Competing Bands Association (MCBA) Flight 2 State Champions! This is the 8th time they have been given that title! A heartfelt congratulations to Dave (most know him as “Z”) and our musicians on an outstanding marching band season. Well deserved and way to make us all proud! The group was even given a memorable escort home last weekend complete with Ottawa County squad cars and a Georgetown Township firetruck leading the way.

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Photo by Damion Van Slyke Photography

There’s no doubt that our students work hard when it comes to Marching Band. They memorize music and drill steps, attend pre-camp, mini-camp, band camp, and post camp – in whatever sort of weather Michigan decides to throw our way. And then there are their parents. They form committees to produce props for the show, crews to load equipment, they orchestrate efforts to feed the band when necessary, plan the annual Jenison Marching Band Invitational and sign up for general chaperone duties.

“Band parents are special people”, says Renee Schab, who is volunteering on the equipment crew for her 5th year in the program. “They don’t hesitate to take each and every kid under their wing. The students know we are here to help them, we’re in the trenches with them and they are so appreciative and grateful. Our job is to support the directors, staff and kids to be a success. And we love being a part of the team!”

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“They didn’t choose the marching band life, the marching band life chose them!” Parents enjoy the community of volunteerism around the Marching Band so much so that we have a few empty nester parents still on the crew!

Vicki Thompson shared an excellent observation that is also something I admire about Z and his work with the students. She loves being involved because it’s so fun to watch how the confidence builds in every kid. “They start out pretty unsure of themselves and by the end they have worked so hard to be a part of a larger team, they have gained so much, and are so proud. And they’ve earned every bit of it.”

Kimberly Schwartzkoph and her husband Todd, have been a part of the marching band program for 7 years. They really love volunteering with the program and being a part of something that can help them connect with their kids, and get to know other students. They, along with many other marching band parents would tell you that they have gained their own community of friends through the program in addition to helping fuel their child’s passion.

Shortly after this gets posted, 181 dedicated students, along with all those special parent volunteers will depart for the Bands of America National Championship competition in Indianapolis. It makes me so grateful to be overwhelmed by intentional, strong parental support. We wish you the best, Wildcats!

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Summer Band Camp at Hope College

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Summer Band Camp at Hope College

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Ford Field – State Championship Competition

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Ford Field – State Championship Competition

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Via Facebook

 

More photos from the October 20, 2018 Jenison MCBA Invitational can be seen here DamionVanSlykePhotography_Jenison_Invite

For more information about the Jenison Schools band program, please visit http://jenisonbands.org.

American Teenage experience – 6,563 miles from home

Just as the school year was getting underway for our community, we greeted a new group of friends for a brief exchange student program. While Jenison Public Schools has a rich and diverse history of welcoming international students over the past 30 years to Jenison High School, this short term experience is fairly new and slightly different.

In the 4th year of our partnership with the Rotman Education Technology Group, it was an absolute privilege to welcome 23 students from Beijing#12 school. These students are in their Junior year and already part of an international program, giving them some amazing global study abroad experiences. They arrived on September 27 and met the families with whom they would live. In true Jenison fashion, these amazing, hospitable folks embraced them with open arms. We cannot thank these families enough for opening their homes and caring for these students so deeply!

Between choosing and attending classes, field trip events and Homecoming celebrations, the Beijing students had a packed (but fun) schedule. Attending American high school gave them a taste of American teenage culture and they learned alot about the cultural differences between America and China. The Beijing students also felt that they gained confidence in speaking English with their new American friends, which they think will be beneficial in continuing their studies in China. A huge thank you to our Jenison students who took the time to get to know their global peers and help them along during their days.

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Beijing #12 students at the start of a very busy two weeks. Many use this short term trip to decide if they’d like to return to the states for a long term exchange program.

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Beijing students visiting downtown Grand Rapids for ArtPrize. Another favorite outing was shopping at the local mall for souvenirs to bring home.

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The enjoyed participating in Spirit Week leading up to Homecoming. Here they are, all dressed up and very excited to experience the 2018 Jenison Homecoming dance.

There’s no doubt that the students from Beijing benefit greatly from this program; but what about the students that call Jenison “home”?

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Emily Kaminski and a Beijing student at the closing ceremony.

Emily Kaminski, International Coordinator for this program through our Jenison International Academy shares, “Our exchange programs provide an opportunity for the Jenison community to experience and learn about a different culture, both in and out of the classroom. We believe it breaks down assumptions and preconceived notions we may have about a specific culture, and helps us see our similarities as well. At the core we are all people – and we see Jenison students being stretched and enlightened.”

“Concluding the visit, the students celebrate with their host families with a Closing Ceremony. I (Emily) saw families tearing up knowing their new family member was departing the next day. After just 2 weeks I heard the term ‘love’, and witnessed it many times between students and their host families! These interactions help me remember why we put all the work in for these exchanges…  Bringing people together, and creating meaningful, heartfelt relationships, that would not otherwise exist!”

There is much to gain and so many life lessons to be learned from each other through programs like these. We are eager to broaden horizons and build meaningful and lasting relationships with the students we are privileged to serve – domestic and abroad. As Emily said, when we take the time to see each other as fellow people, it simply puts us in a position to make the world a better place, that’s a win-win and worth every effort.

To see many more photos and videos of the Beijing #12 visit, check out the Rotman Education facebook page.

As the Jenison student exchange programs continue to grow, the need for Host Families (short and long term) grows as well.  If you’re interested in learning more or becoming a Host Family for one of these brave international students, please contact Jessie Clay at studentsupport@rottech.org or (616) 228-4495.

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KidCAT Players Inspire

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

Homecoming Dreams Big in 2018

Student Council representatives were very excited to line up for the 2018 Homecoming parade with a few special guests. And they knew the rest of the students would feel the same. This year, Jenison High School Student Council decided to partner with Make-A-Wish Michigan for their Homecoming theme.

Last Thursday, the student body was introduced to these 4 special guests and by the time the Friday parade rolled around – Brody, Sam, Kia and Izzy were practically hometown celebrities! These special people are local Wish Kid Ambassadors and they have had the opportunity to receive a granted wish from this amazing organization.

Jenison class representatives worked tirelessly on parade floats they designed based on each child’s wish. Some of the kids even participated with design and building input for their float over the last few weeks. Members of student council were in resounding agreement that it was the best feeling to be a part of something important, to see their classmates thinking outside of themselves and really embracing their Wish Kids.

Following a cool, dreary parade, families flooded the high school gym to keep the fun rolling at the Make-a-Wish fundraiser Carnival. The students had a goal of raising $15,000 and the carnival was an integral part of meeting that goal. If the rain kept you away from the Homecoming festivities, they are still receiving donations through this weekend at  Jenison Homecoming Make-a-Wish Campaign.

There was plenty of action on the field Friday night; by the players, the band and color guard – however, the folks that stole the show were the Wish Kid ambassadors as they escorted the Homecoming Court during the half time festivities!

Despite a loss in the last minute of the football game that evening (to an undefeated team), I could not be more proud of the team’s performance and the spirit of every fan in the stands. Our guys have the hearts of a champion and they never quit until the very end. Homecoming 2018 was a great time with friends and family and just another reminder of what our Jenison community is made of: talented, hardworking individuals with compassionate hearts, trying to make the world around them a little bit better than they found it.

We were also honored to receive a good amount of attention from the local press last week. Having them partner with us to help spread the word about this special campaign is so appreciated! Check it out!

Homecoming Assembly Coverage from WZZM

Sunrise Sidelines from WZZM

Enjoy reliving the experience of Homecoming 2018 with photos from Missy Brandt.

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Princess Izzy was the Wish Kid Ambassador for the Senior Class. The seniors also happened to win the float design competition at the end of the night!

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Kia was the Wish Kid Ambassador for the Junior Class.

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Sam was the Wish Kid Ambassador for the Sophomore Class.

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Brody was the Wish Kid Ambassador for the Freshmen Class.

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Make-A-Wish for Homecoming 2018

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There are so many things about our district that make me beam with pride! I love to celebrate our students who work hard and reach goals in their personal endeavors; but when I see our kids pouring themselves into a project that allows them to give back to their community – it’s beyond inspiring.

Homecoming week is nearing the grand finale, and students throughout the district have been enjoying theme days and fun contests within their schools to show their Wildcat pride. However, tomorrow (Friday, October 5) is when the real fun happens and we don’t want you to miss it!

This year, Jenison Homecoming will be much more than a parade, some football and a fancy night out. As they did 4 years ago, Student Council has decided to bring the community together and plan events to support Make-A-Wish Michigan. They have a goal to fundraise $15,000 to grant wishes to kids in our local area battling life threatening illnesses. There are multiple ways students are raising money this week; selling tee shirts,  ‘Miracle Minute’ cash drops at the assembly, raffles at the football game and the biggest event is the Homecoming Carnival that is happening right before the game tomorrow night. If you’re unable to attend, online donations can be accepted here, through the Jenison Homecoming Make-a-Wish Campaign.

Students have been paired up with a Make-A-Wish Kid ambassador to help spread awareness about this life-changing program. Floats for the Homecoming parade have been under construction according to the theme of the child’s wish. I can’t wait to see the creativity of the classes with modest budgets and float themes like: Disney princesses, Seven dwarfs / Mickey Mouse, Star Wars and Swimming with pigs and sharks in the ocean in the Bahamas! Those are some amazing wishes! It is also worth mentioning there is alot of buzz about the senior class and their float building skills. They have won the float design contest the last 3 years. Can they do it again? Will they graduate with their float building dynasty intact? Here is the class of 2020 feverishly working to dethrone the class of 2019!

We’re honored to have our Kid Ambassadors join us for some great activities throughout the weekend as well. First, they will visit the high school for the assembly and present to the student body about their personal life changing experience with Make-A-Wish. They will get to ride in convertibles alongside the class representatives through the parade as their float is presented. They will be present at the football game with their families and given some special, fun duties there as well.

We’ve yet to celebrate the full weekend but I’m already so proud of the work that has gone into planning something amazing for our community! I hope to see many of you at this weekend’s events!

2018 Community Homecoming Events

Parade | 4:30-5:30p

Carnival | 5:00-7:00p (RAIN OR SHINE!! Starts after the parade and will end when the game starts.) 

Football Game | 7:00p kickoff

Saturday: 2nd Annual 5k – Family Fun Run

Carnival Flyer

Safety, a Community Effort

Our building principals, teachers, and paraprofessionals come to work each day prepared to meet the intellectual, social, emotional, and physical needs of each individual Jenison student. We are a team committed to building meaningful relationships so that we will be able to instill the knowledge that students need to be successful in life. However, it’s a harsh reality that we must also address the safety in today’s learning environments. Students and staff must feel safe before they can focus their energy on learning and as such, security has become a top priority for our community.

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Officer Brad Bennett and Officer Scott Davis 

I am pleased to introduce our Community Police Officers, they are an integral part of the team of professionals listed above. These guys are two fine men with law enforcement in their blood. Officer Brad Bennett is a west Michigan native and has worked in Ottawa County for the last 6 years and at the high school for 3 years. He is one of 7 police officers in his family, including his dad and sister. Brad really loves the opportunity he gets to present himself as an approachable person who cares about the students – he calls it “humanizing the badge”. He likes that he can educate the students and be a resource for them. Brad is married with two young children and he says that integrity is everything. He knows that his kids at home and the students at school are always watching.

Officer Scott Davis represents the 4th generation of police in his family. Growing up surrounded by law enforcement and first responders, he knew at a young age that this was the profession for him; he also enjoys helping people and serving his community. With 9 years Police experience, he joined Jenison this year and will spend most of his time at the Junior High, while also sharing duties and coordinating efforts with Officer Bennett. Scott is married with a young daughter and is a sports fan, he also coaches some football. Growing up, Scott remembers the officer at his school as a positive person who worked to be involved with the kids. That reinforced the idea that it is important for him to be more than just a stern uniform in the hallways. He strives to be a part of their community and someone the students can count on.

They are both thankful to the community for the dollars that allowed us to invest in the safety of our students. I wholeheartedly echo that gratitude – accomplishing many facility security updates in the last few years and adding an additional community police officer is a huge positive investment for our district and I hope the students, staff and parents feel safe and secure each school day.  

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About two years ago, planning and work from the 2016 Bond had begun. This included beefing up the security for our buildings. I’m proud to say that the beginning of this school year brought the final step of those security measures:

  • Security cameras throughout all of our schools and on our buses
  • Secure vestibules with locked entrances into our school offices for all buildings
  • Revised Crisis Manual – Professional training focused on security for administrators and district teachers
  • Two Ottawa County Sheriff’s deputies + a retired Kent County Sheriff’s deputy at the high school and a security guard in our high school parking lot

 

 

 

Home Field Advantage for AD, Tim Ritsema

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

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

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

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

Tim Ritsema, Jenison High School Athletic Director.

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