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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8th Graders Go East!

For the past ten years, each June, 8th grade history teacher, Kevin Fales, boards a charter bus with Jenison 8th graders to venture to the east coast to bring history to life, but to teach students so much more!

During his second year of teaching, Mr Fales was invited to join East Kentwood Middle School on their own East Coast Trip to get a feel for the experience and consider running a similar trip for Jenison. Now the trip averages 125 students each year and, along with twelve to fifteen school employees serving as chaperones, the trip is a mainstay for the 8th grade class.

This year, the 130 students will board the bus on Thursday, June 15 and head for their first stop: Niagara Falls. For most of the students, this will be their first experience outside of Michigan, let alone, outside of the country! The stop in Niagara Falls not only breaks up a long day of driving, but it allows students to begin to have their eyes opened to the wide world outside of West Michigan.

Day two finds the group in Boston visiting Fenway Park, Quincy Market, Faneuil Hall, and take a ride on the infamous Duck Tour where they will ride the “duck truck” into the Charles River. Of course, the group will also visit historic sites throughout the city, along the Freedom Trail.

From Boston, the students will travel to New York City and play the role of tourists and visit Central Park, Times Square, and Rockefeller Plaza. The next day they will visit the 9/11 Memorial, ride a double-decker bus around the city to learn history and fun facts and wrap up their time in the city with a boat ride on “The Beast” which will take them past the Statue of Liberty.

After their two-day whirlwind of NYC, the group will journey to Philadelphia to visit Constitution CenterIndependence Hall where the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were both signed. “We’re standing in the room where George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson were all in.” They will also visit Thomas Jefferson’s apartment where he wrote the Declaration of Independence. To end their time in Philly, they will channel their inner-Rocky by running the steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

On the way home, the group will stop at Gettysburg and receive a guided tour of the field and experience the Cyclorama, a painting created in the late 1880s which measures 377 feet in circumstance and 42 feet high** and immerses the viewer in the battle itself.

The final stop on the way home is Hershey Park to enjoy the amusement park and celebrate the end of their trip.

Mr Fales says that there are multiple goals for the students: it’s an opportunity to leave home, to build relationships with fellow students, and to connect what they’ve learned in class to real-life history. “As they are getting ready to go to the high school, it’s time to learn for themselves, the trip provides a chance for self-discovery, learning to advocate for themselves and grow up a little bit.”

Thank you, Mr Fales and chaperones, for planning this trip each year and giving your time and energy for ensure our students have the best possible learning experience! Students, soak up every aspect of this experience and feel the wind beneath your newly spread wings!

*Photo courtesy of RMA Worldwide Chauffeured Transportation
**Courtesy of the Gettysburg Foundation

Groundbreaking Celebration for New School!

Last Monday evening, not even the gray skies couldn’t keep spirits down as the Board of Education and Superintendent, Tom TenBrink, broke ground on the new school, scheduled to open in the fall of 2018.

The Early Childhood Center [ECC] and Spanish Immersion program currently housed at Rosewood and Bursley Elementary Schools, will both be housed in the new building located near the corner of Baldwin and 28th Ave.

The new school – Jenison’s first new school since 1970! – will be a two-story, LEED certified building with 36 classrooms. It will also include modern security features as well as, assisted listening systems in each classroom, two playgrounds and two full-size ball fields.

Becky Steele, Rosewood and Bursley STEM teacher was on hand to capture student Samantha Eriks tell those in attendance what the new school means to hear and future Spanish Immersion students. Becky says, “Samantha has been a Bursley Spanish Immersion student since kindergarten, and is headed off to the Junior High in the fall.  Her fluency [as well as her poise, confidence, positivity, kind and helpful heart…the list goes on and on] certainly speaks volumes about the quality of the language immersion education that students get in JPS.”

This is a very exciting season for JPS and we can’t wait to monitor the progress and celebrate when our students and staff are filling the halls!

Rosewood Principal, Lloyd Gingerich, along with SI teachers!

ECC Principal, Lee Westerveldt, joined by two ECC students

High School Students Join County Collaboration on Suicide Prevention!

c23ixoyxcaaovueOn January 23, Jenison High School Social Worker, Kris Faber, Superintendent, Tom TenBrink, Assistant Principal Rhonda Raab, Counselor Jenny Riha and seven Jenison High students joined other students from Ottawa County to talk about the realities of suicide and how to help prevent it.

The event (called the Ottawa County Suicide Prevention Summit) was on at Zeeland East High Sshool and it was a coordinated effort with OAISD with twelve districts in attendance.  The group spent the day collaborating with local districts to learn what efforts are being utilized to address mental health needs and suicide prevention.

c23rcdlvqaen73uThe Mental Health foundation of West Michigan was a co-sponsor for the day promoting the positive benefits of the Be Nice! program throughout West Michigan.  Ms. Faber adds, “We were also able to hear speaker Rick Chyme share his personal story and challenge everyone to “plant seeds” of kindness and love toward others as you never know how one might positively impact others.”  The team also had time as a JHS group to plan how we might impact our school specifically and work to diminish the stigma of mental health and seeking support.

In a 2013 Youth Assessment Survey of students in Ottawa County in grades 8, 10 and 12, that had seriously contemplated suicide, there was an alarmingly high rate of 16.7%.  “Many adolescents are experiencing increased incidents and greater severity of mental health needs [especially anxiety and depression].  The stigma attached to seeking treatment can, at times, exacerbate the issues. ” Thankfully, JHS is working towards providing help any way they can.

Students are hopeful to continue the conversation in district and develop some tangible ways to provide support for existing mental health needs, as well as prevention of suicide.  We are hopeful to create a culture of kindness toward others as well as a place where seeking support is seen as a strength.  Sharing existing resources with students was one way we are hoping to be helpful to our students immediately.

Students! If you, or someone you know, has thought about or talked about committing suicide, there are people who care about you and are willing to help! You can visit Ms Faber or talk to any of your teachers, administrators, staff, or counselors. You can also call the Ottawa County Crisis Helpline: 866-512-4357.

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[Photos courtesy of Kris Faber and @benicemi]

Readers are Leaders!

MIII0041Don’t be surprised if you start to see stickers all over the Jenison community soon declaring, “JPS Reads” and you’ll probably want to join in on the fun!

Curriculum Director, Kristy Rogalla, Media Specialist, Jan Staley, Bauerwood Principal, Crystal Morse and Literacy Coach, Janet Schultz are partnering to capitalize on the excitement and popularity of the James and Giant Peach initiative. With this next phase, all Jenison citizens will be challenged to set their own specific reading goal and when it is reached, they receive their own cling-on letting everyone know they did it!

MIII9995According to Ms Schultz, “It will be great to drive through our district and notice all the paws displayed in the front of homes.  Our community will shine with the importance of READING!” Of course, you can also brag about your reading skills by putting your sticker on your car and give a little wave to others who’ve done the same!

But if you think this is just for our students, think again! “This is not just a school based reading program, but a way to get everyone in the community excited and involved in reading. We have talked to business leaders and also our senior citizen community members to join in the fun of showcasing our love of reading here in Jenison. Our students and community members will even have the opportunity to share favorite authors, favorite books, or even share reading photos on Twitter at #JPSReads.”

Parents – you play a critical role in your child’s interest in reading! “Together…We are Jenison!! We believe that the love of reading often starts inside of the family and as a school district we are here to grow, build upon, support, and encourage that love of reading!  Together with our families and community we are committed to continuing to foster a love of reading and learning in ALL our children.”
“Not all readers are leaders, but…All Leaders are Readers.”  – Harry Truman

This phase of JPSReads runs from January 16 – February 27 and will kick off all this week.

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#JPSReads!

1448499790-4841895-james_giant_peach_ticketsWhen Junior High theatre director, Holly Florian, chose James and the Giant Peach for this year’s winter performance fifth grade teachers, Michelle U’Ren knew that she wanted to read the classic story aloud to her class. She knew it would help them appreciate the show even more to be familiar with the story.

But it didn’t stay specific to Ms U’Ren’s class! It didn’t take long before a district-wide project was born! Other teachers were interested in reading the story to their classes as well and and soon, Holly, Michelle, and Jan Staley, media specialist, were organizing the first ever district-wide read aloud, which came to be known as JPS Reads!

All of the teachers are encouraged by the response so far. “The feedback from teachers, students, and parents has been really positive.  Perhaps the most exciting part is hearing the connections being made at home!  There are many stories of families discussing James and the Giant Peach during dinner and younger kids begging older siblings to tell them what happens next in the story.

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Story brainstorming in Mary Veldink’s 3rd grade Pinewood classroom

When Ms Florian was considering scripts for the junior high performance she was excited about the visual and production challenges posed by James and the Giant Peach. “[It] stood out to me right away as being a fantastic option – the story is so wonderful, and the stage version has many featured roles, which gives lots of students a chance to show off their performing skills. It will also be a technical challenge! Figuring out how to create a giant peach that rolls off the cliffs of Dover and into the Atlantic ocean is going to be a creative challenge for the entire production team.”

Not all teachers had a copy of the book but thanks to a grant from the Jenison Public Education Foundation, those teachers were provided a copy. Even our Spanish Immersion classrooms are reading the story in Spanish! In order to empower teachers, weekly emails are sent to participants offering suggestions for activities and ways to connect with other teachers in the project.  Each individual teacher can choose which activities they would like to implement within their own classroom. Lori Barr, Pinewood 6th grade teacher, is engaging students’ writing skills by having them write blog posts with their thoughts and questions. Check out their Letters to Ms Florian here

If you have ever wondered if reading at home matters, it does! “Statistics have shown that a powerful predictor of reading success is having a parent who personally reads aloud to their child 5–7 days a week. Our community read aloud, JPS Reads, will hopefully ignite the joy of reading and the community bond it builds within the classroom family…the hope is that this will then be talked about and become part of our individual family habits also.”

Congratulations to all the teachers, students and families who participated in the first JPS Read Aloud! We can’t wait for the play this January!

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*Photo courtesy of goldstar.com

The Mechanics of Jenison Robotics

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If the world of Robotics is as mysterious to you as the inner workings of a space launch, fear not, we’re here to help get you caught up!
To start you off, a quick vocabulary lesson:
VRC = Vex Robotic Competition
VEX IQ = Jenison’s Robotics program for 4 – 6 graders
Alliance:  When two teams are randomly matched and must work together in competition.
Jenison Robotics = “Jenison Robotics was formed to help support robotics and other STEM activities that aim to inspire and motivate students. We stage team based robotics contests where students learn to participate in a fun, enriching, and worthwhile experience.” [courtesy of Jenison Robotics website]
124Now that you’re in the loop, it’s important to know that for Jenison Robotics to be part of the VRC means that we are in good company with more than 12,000 teams from 33 countries playing in over 1,000 tournaments worldwide. It is the largest and fastest growing middle school and high school robotics program globally and VEX IQ programs are designed around the sports competition model.

According to Adam Timmer, Jr High Robotics Coach and Mentor, “This brings the fun and excitement of competition and transfers it into a program that gets students excited about science, mathematics, and innovation. Each new yearly season brings a new and exciting game with a new challenge for the students to solve with new game pieces for the robots to manipulate.”

In preparation for their competitions, Jenison Robotics forms teams of about 4 students each. “The students on these teams work together to design and build their robot, as well as drive it in competitions. The teams meet once or twice a week for two hours and volunteer mentors/coaches are assigned to each team to keep an eye on the teams and help point them in the right direction to find the answers when the students are looking for solutions to challenges, but the students do all the work. Most Jenison Robotics teams will compete in a five event league that competes every other week, and then in two Saturday tournaments. Teams start a few weeks after school begins in the fall, and for most teams their last competition will be the second week in January.”

134This month, Jenison High School played host to 46 teams from around the state! Throughout the competition the students must work within their alliances and compete against another alliance on a 12′ by 12′ field play in a two minute match, trying to attain a higher score than the opposing alliance. Their goal is to move balls from the playing field surface into a low goal [for 1 point each ball] or a high goal net [for 5 points each].

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“The most important attributes for a student needs to excel in this robotics program is a willingness to learn and to be part of a team. This program is exciting because we see all types of students enjoying and excelling in these robotics programs… from the “mathlete”, to the athlete. We’ve even had parent of students that have ADHD, excited to tell us their student loves the hands-on learning found in our robotics program.” 


In addition to learning valuable engineering skills, students gain life skills such as teamwork, perseverance, communication, collaboration, project management, and critical thinking. The VEX Robotics Competition prepares students to become future innovators with 95% of participants reporting an increased interest in STEM subject areas and pursuing STEM-related careers.

Congratulations to the Jenison Robotics teams as well as all of the competing teams at this month’s tournament! It is thrilling to see our STEM subjects show real life application with passionate students!

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Jenison Homecoming 2015

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The chilly wind didn’t stop Jenison fans from coming out in droves to celebrate Homecoming this year! With the theme of Board Games as their guide, each class created a special float and waved to the adoring crowd on the parade route.  Many High School clubs, teams and organizations were represented including the soccer team, cheerleaders, dance team, swim and water polo teams, volleyball team and even the equestrian team! Junior High Vice Principal and Float Judge, Heather Breen says “The kids did a great job [on the floats].  They demonstrate outstanding school spirit and creativity.”  Fellow judge and Junior High teacher, Kevin Fales agrees, adding that the students should be proud of their hard work.

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Although the football team was coming off a stellar victory against the previously undefeated East Kentwood, they weren’t able to pull of a win on Homecoming against Forest Hills Central, falling 22 – 14. However, it was hard to be discouraged when Kate Veldink and Jacob Helm were announced as Homecoming King and Queen.  Fellow senior MIII5610 copy[and close friend of the Queen] says that her senior Homecoming is “really special” and she wants to be sure to cherish every moment.

Kalyn Brockman, a Jenison freshman is taking in Homecoming for the first time not being on the sidelines. She says she loves seeing the whole community come together and it’s a great chance to show our Jenison pride!

Thank you to all students and staff for your hard work leading up to Homecoming and throughout the weekend.  Your passion and commitment make the entire event memorable and special for our school! Thank you to the community members who come out to the parade and football game to support our students and families; we couldn’t do it without you!

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Jacob Helm + Kate Veldink receive their royal regalia!

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The seniors show off their float, “Operation”.

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The Junior Class float, “Candy Land”.

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Sophomore float, “Battleship”

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The freshman class float, “Monopoly”

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Jenison Officer, Matt Chatfield, takes the field!

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Congratulations on another amazing Homecoming celebration! Go Wildcats!

Rosewood Rocks the Read-a-Thon!

MIII8519 copyLast week, Thursday, Rosewood students and teachers took on the all day Read-a-thon challenge!  Organized by the Parents Club, the Read-a-thon was a fundraiser intended to raise money for the school media center “in a purposeful way”, according to first grade teacher and parent club board member, Kelly Osterink.  “We had a financial goal of $12,000 but more importantly, is that we do this type of event to get the kids invested in their own school.  They take ownership of things for which they do the work.”  Principal, Lloyd Gingrich adds, “Rosewood’s media center is literally at the very center of our school.  The doors are never locked, classes walk through it to get to other parts of the building throughout the day and kids have access to our books all day, every day.  Our Read-a-thon raised $11,781 to purchase new furniture and books to make our media center an even better spot to find a great book and curl up to read it.”

“The Read-a-thon was completely planned by the Parent Club.  We wanted a great fundraiser for our school and our purpose this year was to make improvements to our media center.  [In past years we had walk-a-thons and made improvements to our playground.]  A read-a-thon seemed perfect.  The Parent Club found sponsors for prizes and additional funding.  They purchased a new book for each student in the building [chosen by teachers] and created a bookmark to advertise the sponsors.”

MIII8584 copyThey had a very full day beginning with a kick-off assembly and a special visual of the furniture that will be purchased with the money raised.  The students also had the joy of being entertained by the Jenison High School Thespians performing book-themed skits for the assembly audience.  Throughout the day reading was the center of each activity with visits from various groups including the Institute for Cultural Communications which featured home schooled students acting out stories for grade K – 2.  High School students from West Ottawa came to participate in reading activities with the Spanish Immersion classes and Rosewood 5th graders had some quality time with their Kindergarten buddies for special buddy reading time.  The 5th and 6th graders were allowed to relax and spend the day in their pj’s while other classes enjoyed reading outside in the sun!  Special guest, Geronimo Stilton, surprised students at lunch and by 1:30 that afternoon all of his books were checked out of the library!

MIII8608 copyThe Read-a-thon culminated in a special assembly at the end of the day to celebrate not only a fantastic day of reading, but to announce the fundraising winners.  “All students who participated in the fundraising received special “coupons” for free treats from local vendors.  Their names were also put into a random drawing for prizes.  Then, prizes were awarded to the top student in each class, top three students in the building, and classroom with the most participation.”

Mr Gingrich was encouraged by the passions for reading he saw throughout the day:  “I loved seeing how students really got into their books and that they didn’t want to stop reading.”  As for Ms Osterink’s class, they were hooked immediately and asked if they could have another Read-a-thon the next day!  “I want to thank the parents and community for their support of our read-a-thon.  We couldn’t raise the money without them.  We appreciate how much the Jenison community (and beyond) support our school.  At Rosewood, we see ourselves as a family – teachers, students, parents, community – and through an event like this, getting the whole family involved, we are all working together to encourage reading and emphasize the importance of reading; we are working together to grow the next generation. ”  — Kelly Osterink

We love that Rosewood, and all of our schools, are instilling a passion and interest in reading!  Thank you, parents for planning this incredible event and thank you, teachers, for making reading fun!

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