Senior Spotlight: Clarissa Mata

Tonight, the Wildcat Class of 2019 will officially close the door on their school career at Jenison. For each of those students – and their families, this evening represents a lifetime of hard work and perseverance, with hopeful eyes looking into the future. 

One of those students is Clarissa Mata. Clarissa is a bright young woman with a compassionate heart and big plans – she also happens to be one of the first within her extended family to reach the achievement of high school graduation.

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“We won’t see real change until we speak up.” Clarissa Mata,  (Portrait by Eva Russa)

Clarissa’s parents came to America when they were young and have worked for years to create a family focused, hard working, entrepreneurial support system in which she  and her younger brother could thrive.

Working at her mother’s restaurant has helped shaped aspirations for her future. Watching her as a business owner has instilled a strong community mindset that encourages her to invest and make a difference wherever she goes

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The Mata Family at Clarissa’s Quinceanera celebration

In 2015, Clarissa exercised her own entrepreneurial spirit and started a cupcake business. She enjoyed the process and even participated in a few business competitions. She loved being able to donate proceeds to worthy causes she was passionate about, including suicide awareness programs. Through the Careerline Tech Center, she began to explore the Culinary Arts program to possibly build a career on her cupcake business. She appreciated the education and while she experienced the fun aspects of it she now knows that she sees her future going in a different direction.

Looking around the world today, Clarissa feels heavy with the brokenness in society, and an even stronger calling to be an agent for change. She is watching the climate of current politics with a keen eye and plans to pursue a political science degree.

“I’ve been heartbroken time and again by the devastation in this world. ‘Hopes and prayers’ are great, but that’s not enough. We won’t see real change until we speak up. What better way to make sure that happens than if I am given a platform – on the floor in Washington, to do that.”

Jenison has given Clarissa memories of life shaping experiences and she credits her teachers and the staff for their willingness to guide and mentor her. She will hold them dear and is sad that they will no longer be a part of her daily life.

The work of our teachers and staff that helps shape our students and gets them ready for their new world does not go unnoticed. Clarissa, your enthusiasm for making this world a better place is contagious. I am proud to call you a Wildcat and can’t wait to see what your future will bring!

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Q: How old do you think you will be when you feel like a grown up?

A: (without pause) “When I win the election I’m running for.”

Retiring Teachers – Class of 2019

Final music concerts. Conference competitions for spring athletics. The final day of regular classes for our seniors is tomorrow… just a few of the many indications that we are screaming down the homestretch of this school year. With all the excitement that comes with closing the books and looking forward to a well deserved summer break, there are bittersweet moments.

As we soon graduate over 300 students, we also say goodbye to 7 amazing teachers who have acted as champions for your children and led the way for their students, literally for generations. This June, I wish the best to a group of teachers who represent 236 years of wisdom and experience. If your students have had the privilege to study under these teachers, I encourage you to reach out, wish them well and thank them for their deeply dedicated careers.

  • Eileen Maday
  • Linda Reimink
  • Steven Waters
  • Karen Ambs
  • Paula Riordan
  • Brenda Meade
  • Sandra Johnson

Eileen Maday

High School Reading Specialist, English and Social Studies Teacher

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Eileen is the Reading Specialist at the High School and also teaches English and Social Studies. In a few weeks, she will conclude 30 years of teaching – 9 years with Holland Public Schools and 21 years as a Jenison Wildcat. Her favorite memories of teaching are the moments when students have a realization of their potential, master an important skill, achieve a goal, or feel supported through a difficult time. Her favorite book to teach in literature classes is To Kill a Mockingbird as she feels there are so many powerful messages that will always be relevant to young people.  

If Eileen were not a teacher, she believes she would most likely have had a career with a social service agency, working with children in the foster care system. Her family has grown through foster care and the adoption of two of their children.

This summer, Eileen and her husband Tim will celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary. Tim recently retired after 30 years as a firefighter and Eileen is looking forward to more time together. They enjoy traveling, hiking, cycling and spending time with their 5 children and 7 grandchildren. They have exciting plans to hike in all of the national parks and spending time in Europe soon.

“My parting thought is one of gratitude to all of my colleagues.  It has been a honor to work with so many gifted educators who have inspired me with their dedication and sustained me with their friendship.  I am truly thankful.”   ~ Eileen Maday

Eileen, we are truly thankful for your commitment to our students over the years and we wish you the absolute best as you travel to see all the places you have taught about through the years.  

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Eileen Maday with  our Multicultural Advancement Scholars group attending the Calling All Colors Conference at Grand Valley State University.  This is a group she has  sponsored with several colleagues over the past few years.

Linda Reimink

High School Physical Education and Health Teacher

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Mrs. Reimink with some 3rd hour freshmen following a fun and challenging work out.

Linda is a Physical Education and Health teacher at the high school. She has worked for 32 years to teach students the value of fitness and overall health. Helping them develop healthy habits and encouraging good decision making – hoping to set them up for a great future. She enjoys being active herself and loves that her additional role as the Varsity Women’s Golf team has incorporated that as well. In her spare time, she enjoys helping lead worship at her church and reading. Some of her favorite books include Educated, The Help, Water from My Heart, Chasing Fireflies, and A Million Miles in a Thousand Years.

She’s had the chance to build many great relationships over the years and working with colleague, Kari Kossen every day is icing on the cake. Another highlight of her career is when a student works hard and reaches a goal (running farther and longer than they ever thought possible). She feels that she and the students generally have a good time together and loves the daily laughs they share.

If she was not a teacher, Linda would probably be employed in the corporate wellness field. Actually, her retirement plans may include some part-time work in that arena. She loves the idea of being involved in a mentoring program for college students. Linda and her husband Ron have two grown children and 2 granddaughters. Retirement for her also means more time to travel, spend with family and friends, and will probably include baking for them.

Thank you Linda, for your dedication to send our students into the world with a bright and healthy future ahead of them.

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Mrs. Reimink and her Jenison Varsity golf athletes.

Steven Waters

Junior High Choir Director

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Mr. Waters has enjoyed teaching and seeing the JH students progress during their choir career.

Steven proudly completes his 23rd year in Jenison this year, rounding out his accomplished 35 year teaching career. Prior to his time as Jenison Junior High Choir Director, he taught Elementary Music, Band, and Choir K12 in other districts.

He is fueled by the hard work the students give him daily, and the feeling of chills when the group wrestles with a section and eventually gets it just right. He shares the immense excitement of the students when they sing a 4-part chord in tune. Experiencing all those firsts with the students and watching them grow and progress through their choir journey is something he will never forget.

As much as Steven has enjoyed the hard work of planning and preparing students for concerts, he and his wife, Jeanna look forward  to attending concerts together – especially at Christmas (a notably very busy time for music teachers).

They have three children, three grandchildren and one more grandchild due in June. They are thoroughly enjoying this phase of life and looking for more of life’s simple pleasures, including backyard cookouts, gardening and outdoor adventures. Steven will also continue making music as he participates in the worship team at Calvary Church in Grand Rapids.

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Mr. Waters directing his 23rd and final junior high concert, at the Jenison Center for the Arts.

“I’m so grateful for the opportunity to work in the Jenison Public Schools with all the wonderful Jenison Families over the past years! Each year has been filled with many blessings on a professional level because of my wonderful students and my exceptional colleagues. I’ll miss hearing the excitement in the voices of the kids as they come into the choir room each day or when they come to the concerts. I’ll miss all the great laughs and tears with the students AND with my music teaching team.

I count myself fortunate to have been here doing what I love so much with people that I love.” ~ Steven Waters

Steven, thank you for using your mastery of music and love for people to point our students toward a successful future. We wish you a beautiful, musical future!

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A student grabs a selfie with Mr. Waters at the conclusion of his final choir concert.

Karen Ambs

Music Teacher for Sandy Hill and Rosewood Elementary Schools

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Mrs. Karen Ambs

Karen Ambs is one of our energetic, big-idea music teachers in the district. Her primary role is lead music teacher at Sandy Hill and Rosewood. She came to Jenison with 4 years of teaching under her belt including kindergarten physical education, typing, library tech, theatre, and art. That diverse beginning set the stage for a passionate, creative career here.

She has also spent time leading the elementary honors choirs for her schools and working on the choreography for the Junior High musical productions. After 32 years of teaching, she is anticipating a more flexible schedule to spend time with her husband and two grown children. She also looks forward to teaching private voice and piano lessons and tapping into her full potential as a recently self proclaimed “gym addict”.

She also has a passion for performing and volunteering with local community theatres. If Karen was not a teacher, she thinks she would involved in a non-profit of some sort.

She experiences bright moments daily when her students discover their own love for music but the memory of listening to one of her young students (who is in our CI program and largely “non-verbal”) sing incredibly beautiful solos will be forever in her heart.

“Don’t forget to take care of each other, and yourselves too. It has been a true honor to serve and teach alongside the amazing educators at Jenison Public Schools.” ~ Karen Ambs

Thank you Karen, for your contagious enthusiasm and tireless service. You have encouraged generations of students to love music and the arts, and our community has been blessed by that.

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Mrs. Ambs is often the first to teach the students to play an instrument.

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Mrs. Ambs with Sandy Hill music students

Paula Riordan

Bursley 3rd grade teacher

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Paula Riordan has been teaching at Jenison for 30 years, in second and third grade classrooms. She earned both her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, MI. She and her husband have four grown children, all of whom are married. She is excited that her family continues to grow with beautiful grandchildren that she looks forward to spending more time with – including a planned family trip to Disney World. Paula and her husband are also devoted Notre Dame fans and are anticipating attending at least one game each season.

“The most rewarding aspect of teaching for me are the relationships I have developed with both staff and students over the years. It’s such fun to have former students stop by my classroom to visit. I sometimes don’t recognize high school or college students by face because they have changed so much, but their names are etched in my brain and it brings back a flood of memories.” ~ Paula Riordan

Thank you Paula, for your dedication to a very fun age group of students. Your guidance and persistence helped build strong educational foundations for many young Wildcats!

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Brenda Meade

Bauerwood 3rd grade teacher

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Brenda Meade counts herself very lucky to have completed her student teaching at Bursley Elementary before she even graduated. Twice as lucky that there was a position at JPS for her upon graduation! Now, 33 years later, after she and her husband, Joe put their own three children through JPS – she still loves spending time and making memories with her Bauerwood 3rd graders daily. 

When you spend nearly your entire adult life in a community, it’s hard to pinpoint a most favorite memory, but a few might stand out. Such as the time a student’s backpack was moving, and when she asked him to open the zipper, out popped the head of a kitty cat. Another time, a mother duck and her ducklings wandered in from the courtyard at Bauerwood Elementary and decided to visit her classroom. The memories are plenty but making relationships is the best part! It’s exciting that she still has contact with many past students – from recent years, all the way to her early years of teaching.

During her time away from school, she enjoys camping, reading, and spending time with family and friends. Photography is something Brenda has always been interested in and she looks forward to developing her skills with some classes with her free time in the future. Another fun hobby she enjoys is refinishing thrift shop furniture.

“Thank you to the students, parents, and my JPS family for allowing me to have my dream job for the past 33 years.” ~ Brenda Meade

Brenda, we are so thankful you have been a part of the Jenison community for this phase in your life. We wish you the best as you have more time to pursue your interests and keep building relationships.

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Sandra Strobel Johnson

High School Social Studies Teacher

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At the age of 21, Sandra unknowingly discovered that she wanted to share her love of learning. She took a student teaching position and she knew the direction of her life had changed forever.  

She will tell you, “I have never looked back. Forty-four years later, I still love my work with young people, trying to ignite passion and encourage truthful self-reflection. I truly get a “kick” out of high schoolers.  I will miss the daily interaction with my wonderful, sometimes challenging, young adults. Many have left an indelible imprint on my brain and soul. Others have pushed me beyond my planned presentations to think more deeply and question more fully.  My life has been enhanced by their presence in it.”

“Few have been blessed with a job that provided joy, laughter, even some tears, as well as intellectual inquiry, and a chance to share with amazing teenagers my passion for psychology, sociology, and CAL (education through cross-age learning).  Teachers are required to write yearly goals. Throughout my career, my first goal was always to simultaneously engage my students’ hearts and brains while allowing them to discover their unique contribution to the world. As I told them frequently, no two people have the same finger prints.  Even identical twins have different prints. I do not believe this is an accident. The world is awaiting their own unique touch.”

“To my many students, it was an honor and privilege to serve as your teacher.  I am overwhelmed with gratitude and sadness that this chapter of my life is coming to a close.” ~ Sandra Strobel Johnson

“I hope I have illuminated my small corner of the world with intellectual curiosity, passion, and a love of learning, enabling my students to shine their internal light on their corners of the world.  The future lies in their hands. I am proud to be an educator nurturing students and deepening their commitment to enhance their world.”

Sandra, thank you for pouring yourself into your students and your willingness to let them fill you as well. We wish you the best as you find time to travel, read, learn even more and spend time loving on your two daughters and two grandchildren.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wildcat DECA Champions

 

 

Wrapping up the school year is always an exciting time as we see the culmination of a year’s worth of work. This week, we celebrate with the Jenison DECA team as they traveled to the International Career Development Conference in Florida. Not only did they represent our community well with their hard work and ingenuity, one group finished in the top 3 – the first in a decade for Jenison.

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Emma Scott, Alyssa Sumption and Mackenzie Sanders, Jenison DECA Team, School Based Enterprise – Retail (Cat’s Corner), came home with 3rd place in the International competition!

The Jenison High School Business program has partnered with DECA  for 30 years to further classroom instruction and enhance students’ preparation for college and business careers.

Mrs. Jordan Whittecar and Mr. Joel Hunt are JHS business educators and DECA advisors. Together, they led 140 students participating in DECA challenges and projects this year. Over half of those students advanced to the State Competition, and this week, the World finalists traveled for the chance to finish out their year with a final competition. 

Alyssa Sumption topped off her senior year and 3rd DECA experience by finishing in 3rd place with her team at the International competition. What a finish! She competed in School Based Enterprise for Retail Operations. She’s so excited to share this honor with Emma Scott and Kenzie Sanders. The paper was submitted for certification in January for the Cats Corner (school store in the High School), and they presented the Market Planning section in competition.

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Alyssa and her team preparing for the world competition in Florida this week.

“The biggest skill I acquired from DECA was real world marketing skills. After DECA I can make any print ad, create any promotional campaign, come up with a marketing communications plan or even properly run an organization social media account. After being in DECA, it’s safe to say I’m ready for whatever gets thrown my way in my future career in marketing.” Alyssa is looking forward to the future with great memories of the whole process. She is grateful for the priceless experience that is DECA.  

However, it wasn’t all work and no play. The students look back fondly on the memories of bonding with their classmates on this trip with trips to Disney and hanging out at the hotel pool!

 

Jason Hoffman enjoyed his first year in DECA as a senior this year working on a Virtual Business Challenge with a focus in Accounting. Competing with a presentation outlining preloaded accounting data which is given in a computer simulation window. Jason’s challenge was to find fraud and errors. These could include mis-charging customers, not paying taxes, or not reporting bank withdrawals. “DECA has prepared me with a lot of financial knowledge and rhetoric that will significantly help me communicate with others and find jobs. I learned about personal finance, networking, and accounting skills.”

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Jason Hoffman (right) competing at ICDC

He is proud that he was the first Jenison student to qualify for Internationals with a virtual business presentation. Jason’s only regret is that he didn’t participate in DECA sooner as he feels he could have learned so much and it would have really enhanced his high school experience. After school, he hopes to go to Michigan Tech for computer science and math.

I’m so grateful for programs, and the investment of our teachers to develop our students on all levels. Giving them the opportunities to expand their minds, grow their talents and discover new passions. Congratulations to all the DECA participants and finalists. We are all very proud of you!

Jenison students receiving recognition at the international level include:

Girschle, Zachary Entrepreneurship Team Decision Making International Qualifier
Luce, Parker Entrepreneurship Team Decision Making International Qualifier
Sumption, Alyssa School Based Enterprise – Retail 3rd Place Overall
Sanders, Mackenzie School Based Enterprise – Retail 3rd Place Overall
Scott, Emma School Based Enterprise – Retail 3rd Place Overall
Cosby, Kathryn Business Operations Research Event – Merchandising International Qualifier
Likic, Vanessa Business Operations Research Event – Merchandising International Qualifier
Molenje, Clarence Finance Team Decision Making International Qualifier
Longstreet, Travis Finance Team Decision Making International Qualifier
Voss, Jeffrey School Based Enterprise – Food International Qualifier
Olszewski, Danielle School Based Enterprise – Food International Qualifier
Graham, Johan School Based Enterprise – Food International Qualifier
Fisher, Lyndsey Business Operations Research Event – Finance International Qualifier
Hansen, Lauren Business Operations Research Event – Finance International Qualifier
Hoffman, Jason Virtual Business Accounting 11th Place Overall
Strick, Megan Professional Selling – Hospitality International Qualifier
Maurice, Owen Integrated Marketing Campaign – Event International Qualifier
Tease, Mady Integrated Marketing Campaign – Event International Qualifier

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Teams putting the finishing touches on their presentations before the final judging.

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Mr. Joel Hunt and Mrs. Jordan Whittecar escorted the Jenison DECA Finalists to the World Competition in Florida, April 25 – May 1, 2019

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Zachary Girschle and Parker Luce, Jenison Entrpreneurship Team with Mrs. Jordan Whittecar

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Travis Longstreet and Clarence Molenje, Jenison Finance Team

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Owen Maurice and Mady Tease, Jenison Integrated Marketing Team

 

 

 

 

 

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Joel Hunt, Mackenzie Sanders, Alyssa Sumption, Emma Scott, Jordan Whittecar

 

Silly Staff Supporting Students

Friday nights are great for family fun around our community, and April 12 was no exception! We have seriously smart educators at JPS who aren’t afraid to let their hair down and get silly for a good cause. Staff members of Sandy Hill and Kids First engaged in a good old fashioned basketball game – along with a few crazy twists. Brandon Graham (principal of the Jenison High School) and I had a great time – not to mention some of the best seats in the house acting as referees for the event.

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The Sandy Hill Hot Shots were really dominating the court until the last minute when the Kids First Krew had a come back and won by 1 point in the end! Families in the stands brought their posters and were cheering alongside the kazoo band. The players persevered through silly antics like playing with oven mitts, dressing up in costumes, swapping the basketball for a football! It was one surprise after another and the energy was high! The students really loved joining the staff on the floor for a full court dance party! The reason behind the fun was to bring awareness to and raise money for the Jenison Parent Liaison program.

140109493dc194d009e64a2e454cedb1ba36ac66.jpg“Our mission is to promote student success by building bridges between home, school and the community. Events like these are so amazing as we see time and time again, the community show up and take care of their own in a big way.” says Mary Veldink, Jenison Parent Liaison. “Funding for our services comes from grant money and the generosity of the community. We are constantly overwhelmed by the support of the community to make a difference for the Jenison families we serve.”

With a donation of nearly $2,000, Sara Melton, Principal of Sandy Hill calls the night a success. “We’re proud to be able to support the Parent Liaison program with this fundraiser as they do so much for the community, including Sandy Hill and Kids First families. We had such a great turnout! It was a tough competition and a fun night!”

If you would like to connect with the Jenison Parent Liaison team, you can learn more here: Meet the Jenison Parent Liaisons and check out their website. They also offer a monthly newsletter that is packed with family resource ideas. Currently, their largest requests have come for food, gas cards and mental health services/counseling. Going strong in their second year, I am incredibly grateful for this connection to our student families and for the loving outreach the Parent Liaison team.


Elise Meeusen – 3rd grader at El Puente, dressed up in her El Puente tee shirt and attended the game with her grandparents. “It was so fun seeing our teachers be so silly! They were playing basketball but shooting tennis balls and footballs – and we still won!”
Maelynn Gamble – 4th grader at Sandy Hill had a great time sitting with her friends Carmen and Harleigh. “I thought it was hilarious when they were trying to play with the tiny tennis ball! It was very funny! I busted out so many moves on the dance floor too. We had a great time!”
Julie Betancourt – Kindergartner at El Puente attended the game with her family.
“I had so much fun cheering for Mr. Gingerich and my teachers! They were doing the silliest things! And I can’t believe Mrs. Giere had to crack an egg on her head!”

BEE the Change!

One could say a seed was planted when Vanessa Tran chose a random topic for an 8th grade essay assignment a few years ago. She got to work researching the dwindling population of bees and how important they are to the ecosystem. The statistics astounded her as she learned about their contribution and common misconceptions. Thus the ‘pollination’ of a new passion.

Now a sophomore and member of Jenison High School’s student council, Vanessa decided to speak up and take the opportunity to lead a social awareness campaign. The student council committee has embraced her vision, spent months preparing their messages and tactics; and have recently launched their multiple platforms for spreading the word.


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Enjoy a great family night of fun and information to learn how you can BEE THE CHANGE!

Family movie night with concession sales (Showing Bee Movie and Spider Man Homecoming)

Local beekeeper Q&A conversations during the evening

Donation opportunities to help JHS build two hives to support a healthy, local bee population in partnership with Post Family Farm.


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Their primary goal is based on the fact that knowledge is power. Education and awareness is necessary for making change happen. The students have engaged social media tools to spread their message as far and wide, and as quickly as they can. With community involvement, they hope to spread awareness to over 10,000 students, parents, and leaders across West Michigan. Their message is simple: Bee a good neighbor and help save our pollinator friends! Check out their newsfeeds and join the conversation!

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The media community has taken notice as well. Check out local news coverage of the campaign: WWMT

This week, the students have also shared a goal of fundraising. The money raised will give them the opportunity to build two new bee hives to support a healthy, local bee population. These hives will be located at and maintained by the Post Family Farm.

Projects like these are so exciting as student council initiatives are almost completely student run, outside of school hours. I’m continuously impressed by our student body and their willingness to support other people’s passions. I hope you will support them in learning more and get involved in making our world a sweeter place!

It’s not surprising that they are well on their way to meeting their goal! They have been selling Post Family Farm donuts, tee shirts and buttons.

Students are using memes to spread quick bites of education.

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Mary Poppins Musical is ‘Practically Perfect’!

Yesterday was the first day of Spring; excitement was high and sighs of relief could be heard across the stage. Despite losing 10 days of working sessions due to bad weather over the winter, they made it – spring is here and they are ready to sweep you off your feet! 

The Jenison Thespians are proud to present their spring musical, Mary Poppins. It’s the broadway version of a quirky story about a flying nanny with her trademark long coats, umbrella with a parrot head and rosy cheeks. An irresistible tale known by many; Mary Poppins teaches children with patience, kindness, and a little bit of magic. Through numerous recognizable and unforgettable singing adventures, Mary and her friend Bert help the Banks family set things right – maybe more right than they’d ever been before. 

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In true Mary Poppins fashion, high school cast members surprised their Jenison elementary friends this week by popping in at their schools for a flash mob. Appearing out of nowhere, the actors performed a singing preview of Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious! for a stunned but excited lunchtime audience.

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The hard work and attention to every last detail by the cast and crew, along with countless adult volunteers, will not go unnoticed! You will be delighted with outstanding acting, stunts and artistic talent. The songs, dance steps and full live orchestra performance will leave you flying higher than a kite!

There are 4 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

A huge thank you as well to the JHS direction staff for the Mary Poppins show. Director: Todd Avery | Music Direction: Sarah Hazel | Choreography: Emily Ambs | Orchestra Director: Dan Scott

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Trading Textbooks for Broomball and Bunk Beds

Milestones abound with each school year and grade completed. Arguably, 6th grade seems to be one of the most exciting and transformative. For the last 20 years, leaving the classroom and going camping with classmates has been one of those much anticipated experiences for our Jenison 6th graders.

All students are given the opportunity to attend camp at some point during their 6th grade year. Each student comes with a unique life story; and we find time and again that the shared social and experiential education aspects of camp helps draw the students closer, allowing friendships to develop and compassion and understanding to grow.

1383307166f1e61842c61877dd33d4ec3d7faff9Although, this year’s Bauerwood trip was scheduled for the end of February and they started their camp week at 29 degrees upon arrival; the class experienced an amazing 4 days together with their classmates and teachers.

Bedtime came pretty easy at the end of some very busy days. Outdoor activities included broom ball, snow tubing, archery, team-building exercises and campfires. Indoor fun included ropes courses, group games like capture the flag and glow dodge ball and so much more!

In true Wildcat fashion, our amazing Jenison staff goes above and beyond to invest in their students. Enjoying the experience alongside them, encouraging them to have fun and be fully engaged while they unplug from technology and escape the average routine of their every day lives. Some camp activities are just plain fun, while others are challenging and require that the students stretch themselves and give their best effort. All while in a supporting environment – getting to know each other (and themselves) better with each task they accomplish.

Many students are stretched beyond their comfort zone, often making the experience a pivotal moment for students as they grow leaps and bounds in self-confidence. If you know a Jenison 6th grader, share in their excitement and ask about camp!

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The Bauerwood staff had a great time connecting with their students at camp.

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The junior counselors are former Bauerwood students. The current Jenison High School students were very excited to partner with the teachers and Grace Adventure staff to create an awesome camp experience like they had when they were 6th graders.

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Lean on Me: Pink Out 2019

Last week, we were faced with yet another winter storm threatening to interrupt our annual Jenison Pink Out celebration. Regardless of what Michigan tried to throw at us, it gave me chills to see the the walls of our gymnasium stretched with a standing room only audience – just as it has been for eleven straight years.

Since the beginning, I have had the honor of being the emcee of Pink Out. I’ve heard the stories, witnessed firsthand the fight and seen the way families and friends in our community are moved to act. Just four months ago, that experience became very personal to me when my brother called to share that my sister-in-law had been diagnosed with breast cancer.

Each year, we recognize community members who are courageous fighters, representing many others battling the war on cancer. All of them are extra-special reminders to our community of the value of bravery and perseverance. We are thankful for their willingness to share their stories and are blessed to walk this journey with them.

2019

Jenison Pink Out Honorees

Nicole Edward – Linda Ten Brink – Deb Leaf

Karine Rodriguez – Earl Hall – Josh Van Putten

2019 Pink Out Honorees

Linda Ten Brink

I asked my brother Mike and his wife, Linda TenBrink, to join the Jenison community for our Pink Out celebration because every warrior deserves to experience this amazing level of encouragement and support during their journey. And because Linda has embodied a fighter’s personality and a fierce courageousness from her initial diagnosis. She has looked cancer in the eye, called it out for what it is, and is determined to do whatever it takes to rid her body of “Chester” (the name that she has given to her cancerous tumor). Linda has used a tremendous sense of humor,  a “can do” attitude, and her competitive spirit to defeat this cancer that in her words, “invaded her body without her permission.” We are so proud of her warrior spirit!

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Karine Rodriguez and Earl Hall

Karine Rodriguez and Earl Hall are both cancer victims, living in the same home. Karine was first diagnosed with colon cancer in 2017, she went into remission the following year for 4 months. Sadly, the cancer returned this past summer. The after effects of chemo often leave her exhausted with scarce energy for work or social outings, so much that she was contemplating forgoing the treatment. However, since Pink Out came into her life – she has a renewed vigor to push through the treatments and is feeling supported (emotionally as well as financially) like never before. Keep on fighting, Karine! We’re with you every step of the way!

Karine was joined by her mom, Terri, who also attended Jenison, and Terri’s boyfriend Earl Hall. Earl had bladder cancer and is looking forward to a check up soon to confirm that the recent removal surgery was successful. Karine’s diagnosis flipped their world upside down. He expressed immense gratitude for the ongoing support from Pink Out and the manner of genuine care and kindness they felt. Earl has taken this kindness to heart and wishes to remind everyone that you never know what your neighbor might be experiencing. Kindness and respect go a long way. Thank you Karine and Earl for your positive spirit. It’s an honor to walk beside you.

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Nicole Edwards

Nicole Edwards is a survivor! Her husband, Brad and son, Brody (Jenison, class of 2017), some friends and family members stood by her side as she shared her story. With no family history, Nicole wasn’t too concerned about missing a few routine mammograms, however at the suggestion of her doctor, she finally decided to go in. Just over a year ago, she was diagnosed with DCIS (ductal carcinoma, stage 0, but aggressive grade three). She described feeling alone and isolated in those first few months but came to quickly realize that the Jenison community was on her side. The Pink Out team and relationships her family had built with other Jenison families through her son’s sports teams really carried them through the physically and emotionally tough times. Nicole feels very fortunate to be so close to one of the best health care systems in the United States! And she wishes to acknowledge and thank Lemmen Holton Cancer Center with their amazing doctors and support staff. We couldn’t agree more! She also wants to use her journey to remind women to make time for routine checks and conversations with physicians!!

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Deb Leaf

Deb is a 1985 Jenison graduate and has been on a long, courageous cancer journey including multiple diagnoses and surgeries. She is the guardian of her grandchildren, Stevie and LJ Leaf, who both attend Bauerwood Elementary. Deb was unaware of what Pink Out was and now considers them to be an amazing asset within our community, for which she is very grateful. Among other things, support from the organization and Jenison Schools helped provide tires for her vehicle and create some delightful memories this past Christmas. Deb was escorted by her grandchildren, her parents, her sister & her husband and her sister-in-law. Thank you Deb, for your fearless and brave demeanor as you continue your journey.

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Josh VanPutten

“Van Putten Strong” is embroidered on the back of Kim Van Putten’s denim shirt. She wore it one year ago when the family gathered on the Jenison gym floor for their son, Shawn. Shawn was a 2014 graduate of Jenison, and last year he shared about his cancer journey. Harnessing that strength more than ever, they tackled the last year and she wore the shirt this past Friday night as the family stands on the Pink Out floor AGAIN this year. This time, celebrating the remission of son, Josh, Jenison class of 2010.

While the family was participating in the 2018 Pink Out ceremony, 11 months after Shawn’s diagnosis, older brother Josh had spent the day in the hospital about to receive his own life changing diagnosis.

Josh opened his remarks with the phrase, “An individual does not get cancer, a family does.” In the first moments of the diagnosis, his thoughts went to his infant daughter and his family – would they be ok? would they be strong enough to go through this all again? And here they stand in 2019, celebrating 4 months of remission for Josh, wanting to share the news that cancer did not win this battle, THEY did.

Their spirits were constantly lifted by the presence of the Pink Out team. The motto “No One Fights Alone” is a perfect description of their experience with Pink Out. Josh appreciates the assistance he received to keep his daughter and newly purchased home taken care of – and cherishes the support his extended family received as they cared for him.

“Pink is not a color I normally wear but I wear it tonight with pride and gratitude. Thank you for supporting Pink Out so they are able to support the Warriors.”

137500997d1b3a07dbb560673023caa4562c90131375010333b7e7bea1bb04a709824f6835b37009Without the community members, business partners and students of our community being deeply involved, we couldn’t do what we do for those who need help in their fight against cancer. Jenison has shown up for eleven straight years and given tremendous support. From the depths of my heart, I say, Thank you! Your presence, your generosity, and your willingness to walk alongside the courageous fighters in our community is a wonderful gift! There is no gesture too small – purchasing a shirt, donating funds, volunteering, and just showing up at Pink Out says we care and we have your back!  That is their gift; this is our legacy. In our community, nobody fights alone!

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The Jenison Men’s Basketball teams have been very busy this month as well. Varsity Coach, Dominic Allen detailed a new free throw shooting competition they hosted as a fundraiser opportunity. The players secured pledges and proudly presented $6,300 to Pink Out, over double their original goal! The players also braved the beginning of the polar vortex at the end of January to get the Pink Out flags up along Baldwin Street.13749889a4c39321ee7e5510451b129d1ee6e294

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This year, 3 sophomore girls launched a new Jenison tradition called “Senior Survivor”. Based on the television show, senior students attempt to raise money and compete in challenges to remain in the game. They had an amazing amount of fun and were proud to present a check for $5,419.14 to Jenison Pink Out. 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!137501524b250aec81c40c785df4903db57f30d2

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Words cannot express the level of gratitude I have for the leadership of our YEAR ROUND Pink Out committee: Moni Marlink, Katy Hevelhurst, Jean Krzewski, Donna Bergeon and Cindi Covell. 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!!137501152a8fc80a74ad4e09f24177e98b6dcf24

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Pink may be the color of the night, but we’re proud to support courageous fighters of all kinds of cancer! The Jenison Pink Out organization makes sure that NO ONE FIGHTS ALONE!!

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Seniors, Zac Avery and Conner Wood, close the ceremony by performing this year’s Pink Out theme song “Lean on Me”.

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Principal, Luke VerBeek accepts the Pink basketball in recognition of best Pink Out Spirit Day at Rosewood Elementary. Way to go kids – Rosewood Rocks!

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Read about past Pink Out Honorees on previous PINK OUT blogs:

2018 |2017 | 2016 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012

Traveling Music Education

High school exam week is a busy time and students often countdown the days until they complete their last big test. This winter, the Jenison High School Choir and Orchestra students had another reason to anticipate the end of an often stressful week.

At the end of the day on Thursday, January 17, they embarked 4 deluxe motor coach busses and set off for a long weekend of fun, music appreciation and education. Excitement was high and it was pleasantly sunny when 191 students, a handful of directors, and plenty of caring parent chaperones set off on their way to the Twin Cities, Minnesota area.

Mr. Dan Scott and Mr. Grant Carmichael (directors of Jenison Orchestra and Choir programs respectively) believe that giving our students opportunities to grow both as a musician and a person is very important; and traveling is something that suits that goal. Students and musical ensembles grow musically by living and sharing experiences together, and performing and working with teachers at a more advanced level. A trip like this occurs every four years, giving a Jenison student the opportunity to join at least once in their high school music career. The directors spend many hours working to create an itinerary for this trip to guarantee an unforgettable experience.

Kicking off this year’s memorable trip; was a stop in Chicago. Authentic Chicago deep dish pizza at Giordano’s for dinner, followed by a much anticipated performance of the hit Broadway musical, Hamilton.

After spending the night in Chicago, the hardworking loading crew got everybody and their stuff back on the bus. This crew consisted of volunteer students that were willing to work hard to make sure each and every piece of luggage, and all 104 instruments were accounted for each time the group stopped. This was another great teaching opportunity for students to follow a process and use team work efficiently – in very cold temperatures. Often, students that weren’t officially part of the crew jumped in to assist as well. They did their job brilliantly and showed character and strong work ethic at each stop. Next up, was shopping and Friday night dinner at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota. 

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The hardworking highlight of the trip was the visit to the University of Minnesota on Saturday morning. Each clinician brought wonderful diversity in perspective and background. Students were exposed to several new ideas pertaining to rehearsal and performance of their music, and had the opportunity to be treated like a collegiate/professional ensemble. The clinics inspired the students to see what is possible musically and how close they are to obtaining it, despite not being professional musicians. It helped reinforce the reality that they too, are artists and can make music at the highest of levels. Our Jenison music directors and students also remarked, even with the added diversity in culture and experience; both professionals reiterated and validated many concepts students had already been learning in our award winning programs at home.

Orchestra Clinic with Ernesto Estigarribia

The words Ernesto Estigarribia used to direct the students, described his style of conducting: energy, passion, powerful and articulate. He connected with the students personally and technically. They were on the edge of their seats, thoroughly engaged in high level music making for the entire clinic. In a very relevant analogy, he told the students to not play as if they are giving the right-of-way to someone else. Play boldly and aggressive, then playfully added – but don’t drive aggressive! He urged them to leave fear behind and not be tentative in their playing, from the moment they pick up their bow. His passion was made even more clear as he pleaded with students to not give up their love for music. Although not everyone will study music and be a full time musician; there are many opportunities to keep music alive. Fostering love for music, playing for fun, and attending performances are all important for good balance in the world. Our orchestras made a strong impression on him. He shared that they are playing at a very high level and should be very proud to be part of such a great program.

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Dan Scott, Ernesto Estigarribia, Josh Zallar, Becky Bush

Choir Clinic with Ahmed Anzaldúa

The choirs sang for Ahmed Anzaldúa who greatly transformed music making for the group. Mr. Anzaldúa challenged traditional notions and encouraged the students to think about their singing as a truly interactive and social event. Our Jenison singers participated wholeheartedly when he described music as a team building, story-telling adventure. He warned that choir can bring about an awful side that stifles creativity, however, with the right attitude from each member, they can achieve true balance. They worked to dissect the musical piece to understand each part; guiding them through exercises where they listen to and learn from each other, recognizing that all parts need to be heard. Choir in its best form is about people – self expression and fun experimentation as they find character in each sound.

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Jenison High School Choirs and Choral staff: Grant Carmichael, Justin Colwell (accompanist) and Kyle Cain with Ahmed Anzaldúa

After a very busy, hardworking morning, the students enjoyed lunch and game time at Dave & Buster’s before returning to the hotel.

Saturday night was another treat as the busses rolled up to Chanhassen Dinner Theatre, the nation’s largest professional dinner theatre. The students enjoyed dinner and a Broadway quality musical performance of Irving Berlin’s ‘Holiday Inn’. The show was an unexpected delight for many students. In the end, while the acting, singing and choreography was incredible – it was the larger-than-life sounding, behind-the-scenes, 10-man live band that received most of the student applause. Music appreciation at its finest!img_0723

Our Jenison Fine Arts programs are among the finest in Michigan and throughout the region. Thank you to our outstanding music staff who invest their time and efforts to make our excellent program a reality for our students. I am excited for the memories they made, the lessons they learned and am incredibly proud of the way they represented themselves, their music program and the Jenison Schools District/Community. This is a wonderful compliment to the students, their families, and the community of Jenison! 

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Our orchestra and choir staff had an amazing experience with the students on this trip and are so proud of the hard work and grateful for the memories from this trip! Back row: Dan Scott, Grant Carmichael, Kyle Cain. Front Row: Becky Bush, Josh Zallar. Missing: Justin Colwell.

 

 

 

 

 

Hockey KidCat nights at the George

It’s no secret – one of my greatest passions is being a part of a solid team that daily leads our amazing Jenison district. But the enjoyment doesn’t stop there… the final bell rings and our students move on to find their passion and pursue excellence in other areas. There is no shortage of opportunities to watch our students shine! It might be said that my favorite Jenison event to attend is, wherever I happen to be that day. And yesterday, as Michigan’s winter weather reappeared, it seemed appropriate, that I spent the evening at Griff’s Georgetown, attending the Hockey Kids Night game. It was a great time for students and their families, with a lot of fun activities planned. It also gave me a chance to get on the ice and compete in the frozen turkey toss game! 

This is the 22nd season for Wildcat Hockey; about 10 years ago, the team developed into a Co-Op combining players from Jenison, Zeeland West and Zeeland East, and they are putting together a highly successful season. Shortly before Christmas, they skated away as champions of the Holiday Classic Tournament. Last night, was particularly exciting as they fought hard for a big victory in the final seconds of the game.

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2018-2019 Team Photo by Larry Treece

Mirroring the Jenison Varsity Football Kid Cat program, our Hockey players were partnered with elementary classrooms and have spent time reading with our younger  students. The team has also hosted multiple “Kids Nights at the George” giving families a fantastic opportunity to enjoy an affordable night out and see some awesome Wildcat action on the ice.

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Jenison Varsity Hockey Players Noah Sheldon & Jack Williams visiting and reading with the students in Jenny Dudick’s ECC classroom.

They are about 2/3 of the way through their season and if you haven’t made it to a game yet this year, don’t worry! Hockey players will be back in classrooms on Friday, January 25 and will host their final Kids Night that evening. Elementary students are free, concessions are tasty and more great activities are planned!

It gives me great joy to see our community of families and teachers take pride in and rally around all of our student performers (sports, fine arts, clubs, et al). Mark your calendars and keep scrolling to check out photos, media coverage of the team and the remainder of their schedule. Don’t miss the chance to support this awesome group of guys!

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Never know who might be at a game! Spiderman was an excellent cheerleader and got the crowd pumped with a tee shirt toss!

13625806104404e45711efe4193bad4a7b04cac513625808113c626e18c3ab1497de171d4481f81c13625832e356b893c03b53c86fbca0dac73044e513625843442cae5e6f5c658f581f482edc5921a113625794ed0bb61ea5e27848f33d1e6358e4777f136257914b277656536e1c26b6eee658cd18f4ec13625819f35f70d4b3557ccccd62538ecb47fe8b1362578702d28f9ae1329dfb1b164d19a1d7fb34Check out some other local media coverage of the 2018/2019 Jenison/Zeeland Varsity Hockey team.

November 29, 2018Jenison excited about start of hockey season, possessing depth at all positions

October 2, 2018: Capitals, Make-A-Wish give teen once-in-a-lifetime experience

September 7, 2018Jenison’s Cade Elliott stops pucks, soccer, and lacrosse balls without letting diabetes stop him

Click HERE for the complete Jenison Varsity Hockey Schedule.