The Mechanics of Jenison Robotics

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].


“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!



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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Jenison Athletic Hall of Fame Inducts First Class!

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Last Saturday evening almost 200 people filled the Grandville Banquet Center to celebrate and honor the inaugural class of the Jenison Athletic Hall of Fame!  According to Booster President, Dave Krombeen, they have been talking about the Hall of Fame for fifteen years and two years ago the volunteer committees finally started coming together to make a memorable evening for all involved. “[The inductees] are all keystones to the success of Jenison athletics.  Everybody was part of building that sport for us and I can’t wait to hear them speak and share their thoughts on what Jenison meant to them.”

The event had a two-fold purpose:  recognize outstanding athletes but also to raise funds on behalf of the Boosters.  Guests were treated to a large silent auction during cocktail hour that included a variety of locally donated items and gift baskets.  The auction included an autographed Red Wings jersey, Tigers tickets and much more! By the end of the evening the auction alone had raised $8000!

Six former Jenison athletes and two former members of the Jenison coaching and administration staff were inducted as the first class and nearly all of them were present and humbled by the honor.

Jennifer Crisman-Coffey [center] with friends

Jennifer Crisman-Coffey [center] with friends

Jennifer Crisman-Coffey (1997)
Swimming/Water Polo
“It’s a really great honor to be recognized with some of the greatest athletes at Jenison; it’s exciting!”  Jenny starred at Jenison in swimming and water polo before continuing her career in both sports at the University of Michigan. She later competed in two United States Swim Trials and was a member of the USA National Swim and Water Polo teams.  As the current Jenison Aquatics Director, swimming and water polo coach, “I really try to instill a love of the sport and it’s really fun to give back to a sport and the community that I love so much.”

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Curt Pals and Sara Dyksterhouse-VanZyll

Sara Dyksterhouse-VanZyll (1986)
“Athletics make you who you are.” Sara was Jenison’s first All-State and Division I softball player for the Wildcats. She starred at the University of Michigan for four years and was a member of the 1992 USA national softball team before returning to assist her high school coach, Jerry Hoag, and help guide the Wildcats to three state titles.  Sara is especially passionate about opportunities and encouragement for female athletes.

Curt Pals
Athletic Director
Curt served as Jenison’s athletic director from 1976-1999, and during those years, the school added volleyball, softball, girls cross country, boys and girls soccer, water polo and hockey. Those teams have combined to win nine state titles.  When Curt was serving as Athletic Director he thought about starting a Hall of Fame so he is especially thankful for all the hard work that went into launching it this year.  He enjoys hearing the sportsmanship announcement at the beginning of games noting that he wrote it during his tenure.  He was proud to be recognized and added, “It’s a nice honor and I hope we set a good example” for current students.

Dave VanSurksum & his wife Jennifer [& a grandchild!]

Dave VanSurksum & his wife Jennifer [& a grandchild!]

Dave VanSurksum (1976)
Dave, who is still Jenison’s all-time scoring leader, led the Wildcats to their first district championships in 1974 and 1976. He later played for Grand Rapids Community College and Ferris State University.  “This is the culmination of something that is close and dear to me.”  His wife, Jennifer, adds that being inducted means “everything” to Dave.  He believes that Jenison prepared him for his success by giving him a “ton of confidence, direction in terms of knowing that athletics will always be part of my life; I’m competitive because of it and I try to use that in my every day tasks.”

Jerry Hoag, busy with his fans

Jerry Hoag
Jerry coached Jenison’s softball team for 19 years, guiding the Wildcats to six state championships and 14 OK Red Conference titles. He completed his career with an overall record of 529-95.  “You can’t put this kind of thing into words.”  “I hope [current students] can take a look at the history of athletics at Jenison High School and say, “I want to be part of that” and then they’ll start working for it.  It doesn’t come easy.”


Jennifer Whitehead-Robinson with friends

Jennifer Whitehead-Robinson [far right] with friends

Jennifer Whitehead-Robinson (1995)
Jenny is Jenison’s only athlete to earn all-state honors in three different sports. She went on to play volleyball at Michigan State University and later competed for the USA National Volleyball Team and professionally in the United States and Greece.  Jenny says that her preparation at Jenison is “beyond words” and her coaches [especially basketball and volleyball] were mentors to her. She adds that her volleyball coach really prepared her “to be a great Division I volleyball player” and now that has Jenny has become a coach, she continues to be mentored in that role as well.

Mark Dewey

Mark Dewey

Mark Dewey (1982)
“As far as accolades and honors, I’ve received as an athlete, this is the most special.”  Mark played a key role on Jenison’s first OK Red championship team in 1982 before going on to pitch at Grand Valley State University and in the Majors. He played 12 years professionally, including seven with the San Francisco Giants, New York Mets and Pittsburgh Pirates.  Mark knows that his preparation for becoming a successful athlete rests, first and foremost with his coaches and then with this teammates and opponents.  “They were good coaches and that was a tremendous benefit…and they were good athletes, good baseball players, in particular, and when you have good coaches and good competition that makes for becoming a good athlete.”

Paul Grasmanis (1992)
Mr. Grasmanis, an All-State and All-American lineman his senior year at Jenison, played four years at Notre Dame and 10 seasons in the NFL after being selected in the fourth round of the 1996 draft. He played defensive end for the Chicago Bears and Philadelphia Eagles.  Paul was, unfortunately, unable to attend the event.

“This event is a way for us to celebrate the student athletes that have come through Jenison and the great contributions that they’ve made to our athletic program and our school.  I’m proud that our Athletic Boosters put this together and it’s a great way to honor the people that have built up our athletic program and competed at the highest levels.”  — High School Principal, Brandon Graham

Dave Krombeen welcomes guests

Dave Krombeen welcomes guests

Silent auction items were entirely donated by local businesses and community members!

Silent auction items were entirely donated by local businesses and community members!

A sampling of the commemorative plaques honoring the inductees

A sampling of the commemorative plaques honoring the inductees

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A great time was had by all!

Congratulations to all of the inductees and we can’t wait to see who, among our current students, will join your ranks in the future!

Jenison Girls Are on the Run!

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For the past ten years Girls on the Run has been part of Jenison elementary schools, inspiring and encouraging young girls to challenge themselves and realize their potential.  According to Nettie Kikkert, GotR Coach and Liason for Rosewood Elementary as well as the Sandy Hill Clerical Assistant, “Girls on the Run is a lot more than a running program! It is our goal to help all girls grow into physically, emotionally, mentally and socially healthy women, to dream and achieve goals, and to become contributing members of the community.  ​It is our hope that it plays out in the community in a strong and positive way.”

MIII7489 copyEvery Jenison elementary school invites all girls from 3rd — 5th grades to participate in the twelve week program that meets twice each week to prepare for a celebratory and non-competitive 5K in the spring that is designed to “give the girls a tangible understanding of the confidence that comes through accomplishment as well as a framework for setting and achieving life goals.  Crossing the finish line is a defining moment when the girls realize that even the seemingly impossible IS possible.”*

Because Girls on the Run is more than a running program, there is a curriculum that spans the 24 team meetings which are focused on a theme for that day’s lesson and keeps to the same five step pattern of Introduction, Warm Up, Processing, Workout and Wrap-Up.

MIII7434 copyDuring the Introduction the coach checks in with girl to see how they are feeling and she introduces the topic of the lesson.  The Warm Up is meant to energize the girls and, of course, warm up their muscles.  The activity incorporates the lesson topic for that day.  For instance, the coach marks off a short running course. The girls stand at one spot and the coach calls out a “like statement” – “I like chocolate chip cookies,” or “I like to be a Girl on the Run.” All those girls who agree with the statement run the course marked out by the coach. These statements continue, with contributions by the girls, until everyone has run a few times.*  With the girls’ energy flowing the coach leads the girls in a brief stretching lesson during which they process the topic at hand.  With the above example, they may discuss different likes and dislikes and still find ways to be friends.  The Workout entails more running but is based on each girl’s ability and pace which is increased gently to give the girls confidence in their ability to complete the 5K event.  During the Workout the coach continues to integrate the lesson by engaging the girls as they run.  For example, in the session on positive attitude, each girl may be asked to make a positive statement about herself to the coach each time she completes a lap.* Finally, in the Wrap-Up, the girls enjoy a time of cool-down and stretching mixed with processing and discussion which culminates in positive encouragement from their coach and a group cheer.

As a coach, Nettie has the benefit of seeing this curriculum play out first hand: “the atmosphere is full of excitement, chatter and fun craziness. Some nervousness about running [but] as times goes on, you can see the girls confidence building as she starts to work towards her goals and seeing/feeling that she can RUN…she can do it!”

Because coaches have the opportunity to get to know the girls on their teams they are able to set personal goals for each girl to help battle fatigue or a defeated spirit.  “Some girls are in band, orchestra, soccer, or many other after school activities and this is the point where you can see the girls are just tired and want to “skip” Girls on the Run.  As coaches we learn to read those signs and help her set realistic goals for herself during our running time verses giving up and sitting out.”

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“Over the years of coaching I have witnessed some amazing transformations in girls self esteem. Those who thought they couldn’t run the 5k and did!  The tears streaming down their faces, the parents faces. The obstacles [physical or mental] they have overcome, it is humbling and inspiring.”
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 You can cheer on Jenison’s Girls on the Run at their 5K event on Friday, May 29 at
Grand Valley State University.

Don’t miss this opportunity to see the hard work of our students and volunteers come to fruition!
Congratulations to all of our Girls!  Your willingness to try something new and be challenged is an inspiration to all of us!


*From Girls on the Run website.

Pink Out 2015

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February in Jenison is so much more than snow, freezing temperatures and Valentine’s Day.  Here, for us, it’s PINK OUT season!

The girls and boys basketball teams and the hockey team were all decked in pink [there was even pink ice at the Georgetown Ice Arena!], the pep band’s tunes filled the room and everywhere there was pink.  Last Friday a standing-room only, full-to-capacity crowd helped honor those fighting and overcoming battles with Breast Cancer.  There were 10 honorees from the Jenison community, all in different stages of their Breast Cancer journeys but all humbled by the opportunity to be recognized for their bravery and courage.  With a presentation hosted by Tom TenBrink in between the basketball games we learned about the history of PINK OUT and took some time to look around the crowd and realize the widespread impact of Breast Cancer on all of our lives.

Jan, Patti, Laura + Kim

Jan, Patti, Laura + Kim

Four of those honored are from the Bauerwood family and jokingly call themselves “Breast Friends.”  Jan Stayley and Laura Wisneski are Bauerwood teachers [Jan also teaches at Rosewood and Pinewood] and Patti Menichini and Kim Francis are parents of Bauerwood students.  All four of them were diagnosed within two years of each other and have made it a goal to come alongside each other throughout every stage of diagnosis and treatment.

View More:“This isn’t a group you want to join but if you have to, this is a good one to be in.” says Laura.  They encourage each other in small ways that have never felt small.  They spend time together over dinner, send supportive emails, cook meals for each other’s families, send flowers or texts or notes of encouragement during the day and a trademark of this group you can’t miss: humor.  Jan participated in the Avon Breast Cancer Walk in San Francisco where she came bearing a check for $10,000 raised by the community. “Everybody helped out [with fundraising]…our school family, the JPS family, everybody.” And Jan didn’t walk alone — she was joined by fellow teachers from Bauerwood!  They also took time during the walk to spread the love and encouragement to Laura as she was in the middle of her treatment, helping her to be part of the group three time zones away.

Patti notes that they are the “friends you would’ve never been friends with if you didn’t have this common connection and we’ll always have that.  You don’t realize you live in a small town until you need to be encouraged by a small town and then you never want to leave.  No one was ever pushy.  You were alone when you wanted to be alone and you were scooped up when you needed to be.” — Patti

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Jan shares that she “personally doesn’t like to be known as a “survivor”. “I am a woman who has had Breast Cancer and now I can lend my efforts to somebody else. But we all want to say “thank you” and this event is the perfect way to do that.”  All of the Breast Friends want to encourage anyone who is walking alongside a friend or family member with a Breast Cancer diagnosis to join the fight by cleaning their house, making a meal, sending a funny card and although, at times, it does seem excruciating, there’s another side to it and they “want to be examples of the positive.”

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All of the honorees were visably touched by the applause and support from the crowd.  The other amazing women being honored last Friday were:  Michelle Telemaque, Nancy Van Duinen, Sue Kirvan, Cathie Corstange, Colleen Cusick and Doris Bowen.  Many of these women took the opportunity of their introduction to encourage women to perform self exams and get their yearly mammograms.  They were all escorted across the bridge to embrace the theme of “I’ll Be Your Bridge” by family members.

During Tom’s welcome we were reminded why we were there and taking time to honor those who fought Breast Cancer and are still fighting:  “Who comes and why? Some people come to be honored, some people come to be supported, some come to show their support, some come to perform, some come to watch, some come to remember a loved one but one thing’s for sure:  Everyone who enters leaves with a heart filled with love on a cold winter night in February in Jenison.  This is our PINK OUT.  This is the time when our community  comes together to remember those taken, to honor the survivors and support the fighters.  This is neighbors helping neighbors…”

Thank you to everyone involved in PINK OUT, especially our honorees.  Your courage is inspiring and we stand with you.  We are Jenison!

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Tom can dance! [And wear a boa!?]

Tom can dance! [And wear a boa!?]

Cam McKinnon, JHS student who is fighting bone cancer and postponed his last chemo treatment on Friday to play in the PINK OUT Pep Band. An inspiring young man.

Cam McKinnon, JHS student who is fighting bone cancer and postponed his last chemo treatment on Friday to play in the PINK OUT Pep Band. An inspiring young man.

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We are Jenison!

We are Jenison!


JPS Puts Students on Display at the GRAM

Just before Thanksgiving, Bursley Elementary School 5th graders, Pinewood Elementary 5th graders and Jenison High School Introduction to Art Students in grades 9 – 12 had the unique opportunity to show their artwork at the Grand Rapids Art Museum (GRAM). On a frigid Saturday afternoon, students, their families and Jenison community members enjoyed the creativity that comes when students are inspired by educators who are inspired by art.
Today we talk to Mrs. Moynihan about this special afternoon:
How long have you been preparing for this gallery event?
Emily Derusha and I (Lindsay Moynihan) attended a professional development day at the Grand Rapids Art Museum in Spring 2012. We were so inspired by the work of artist Robert Rauschenberg and the cost effective lessons the GRAM provided that tied into his work, that we decided we would try and collaborate on a project with our students. We worked on the lesson plan over the summer and finalized everything in December of last year. The lesson itself took our students close to one month to complete. We examined the work of Robert Rauschenberg and then learned several different art techniques that students were required to incorporate into a final mixed media piece of art.
Why is showing at a gallery important for young artists? 
We have incredibly talented visual artists in our district, but art is a quiet subject, and as a result sometimes our program gains and individual student talents and accomplishments are not visible to the public. Showing at a gallery gives our students the opportunity to “perform” in a visible and recognized way, just as marching band is seen at half time shows, our athletes at games, and theater students in musicals. This experience validates them as the accomplished artists they are now and gives them a vision of possibility for the future.
Additionally, showing at the gallery in downtown Grand Rapids builds a connection between our Jenison and Grand Rapids communities. Art is one of the incredible commonalities of all people through all times, and this is one small example of communities coming together through art. To that end, we would like to thank the Bursley Parent Club for providing funding for the embroidery hoops that were used in the printmaking process as well as the Grand Rapids Art Museum for providing this amazing opportunity for our students.
Student Kate Koning stands next to her artwork at the GRAM.

Student Kate Koning stands next to her artwork at the GRAM.

What do you hope your students (orJPS art kids) will take away from this event?
It is our hope that all of our art students who participated in this collaborative project are walking away with an appreciation for what goes into creating a piece of art. We also hope that they were inspired by Rauschenberg and his message of conservation as well as the creativity of their collaborators. For those who participated in the show at the art museum, we hope they were as proud of their accomplishments as we were, and that they have learned a little bit about the professional aspect of being an artist and putting together a show.
Our thanks to Emily Derusha and Lindsay Moynihan for their dedication to the visual arts and for taking the time to share their thoughts about this exhibit!

Pinewood Sponsors “Donuts with Dads”

Jenison Public Schools, Pinewood Elementary

Donuts from Jenison Donuts

Last Friday morning, the Pinewood gym buzzed with the kind of excitement that only comes when dads give two thumbs up to sugar in the morning.

Because at 8 a.m., dads and sons and dads and daughters filed into school, ready for a little extra time together before classes began. With twenty-two dozen donuts ordered and over 275 RSVP’s, Amy Perrien, coordinator of the event, prepared herself for another year of smiles and laughter.

“Donuts with Dads is a great time to hang out with your child and enjoy the fall — and it’s the right time of year for donuts. We love providing the opportunity to do something fun with your child at school!” Amy said.

Aside from offering breakfast and setting the stage for extra time together, Amy created table tents containing conversation starters — not only for dads and children, but as an opportunity for dads to meet other dads. The air was filled with voices asking and answering these questions:

  • What do you worry about the most?
  • Donuts or bagels?
  • If you were invisible where would you go and what would you do?
  • Michigan or MSU?
  • How ‘bout those Lions?

With full bellies, packed tables and lots to discuss, it was obvious that the event was a hit. As dads settled in with coffee donated by Bigby of Jenison, we heard comments like:

  • “It’s great to have more time to hang out with your kids.”
  • “What I like is seeing your kids’ friends. It’s good to get to know them, too.”
  • “It seems like it’s the moms who usually get to do everything. This is a good opportunity for dads. We appreciate it.”
  • “I love having the one on one time with my daughter.”
  • “It’s a good opportunity to see the morning routine and see how stuff is done at school outside of conferences. It keeps me involved.”

Jenison Public School, Pinewood ElementaryAs for the kids, they were all smiles. In between slurps of apple juice and gobbles of donuts, they said things like:

  • “I’m so excited for free donuts!”
  • “I like to eat donuts with my dad because we usually don’t eat a lot of donuts. This is special.”
  • “The best part of today is that I get to spend time with my dad!”

With family members snuggled close, we knew that the donuts weren’t the only sweet thing in the gym that day. Sweeter yet were the relationships being strengthened by the simple act of sharing breakfast.

Jenison Public School, Pinewood Elementary

Jenison Public School, Pinewood Elementary

Jenison Public School, Pinewood Elementary

Jenison Public School, Pinewood Elementary

Sandy Hill Gets Thumbs Up for “Pure Michigan” Night

Chances are, when it comes to “mittens,” you’ve been seeing more than just your child’s this month. There has been an explosion in state pride products, ranging from Love Michigan’s bumper stickers, to Michigan Awesome’s “Smitten with the Mitten” sweatshirts, to the soothing voice-over of Tim Allen’s Pure Michigan Commercials.

Pure Michigan, Wax Museum, Sandy Hill Elementary School, Jenison Public Schools

Last week Thursday, Sandy Hill tipped its hat to our great state in their own “Pure Michigan Family Night.” The night kicked off with Keynote book illustrator Tom Woodruff offering drawing tips in the gymnasium. With several books to his credit, Tom set the stage for the evening by spending the entire day at Sandy Hill, customizing illustration lessons for each grade level.

Pure Michigan, Wax Museum, Sandy Hill Elementary School, Jenison Public Schools

Children’s Book Illustrator Tom Woodruff

“I’ve been drawing all day long! Today we’ve done everything from shipwrecks to ocean adventures to fairy tales!” he shared excitedly.

“Going to schools is so fun. I get infused with their energy and am fueled by the kids. I love to draw and I know they do, too. My goal is to raise awareness across the disciplines and show how art can link to science and history and provide a springboard for other learning.”

Fifth grade students also used the evening to put their wax museum on exhibit. They waited expectantly for the drawing session to wrap up so they could bring history alive.

Lauren Slagter, posing as Ben Franklin, was thrilled with a social studies project that allowed so much creativity and drama. “I love performing in the costumes — it’s really cool to educate people about the dates of Ben’s life, his marriage and family, and other important information about him. The hardest part was writing the paper!” she said.

Pure Michigan, Wax Museum, Sandy Hill Elementary School, Jenison Public Schools

Drysen Geoghegan brought James Madison to life, saying, “I didn’t have to worry about being nervous about with this project. I just did my best!”

Embodying Anne Hutchinson, a fighter for religious freedom, was Grace Weeldreyer. “The coolest part of the wax museum was practicing our parts and working on it in class. The hardest part was memorizing my entire presentation!”

Pure Michigan, Wax Museum, Sandy Hill Elementary School, Jenison Public SchoolsOver in the “Pioneer Days” break-out session, students watched a short video and then had the opportunity to shake their own whipping cream into fresh butter! Quinn Palmer (pictured left) was impressed with the results:

“Just the fact that you do it all yourself — you don’t just go to the store to buy it– is cool. You make your own and really savor it,” he said.

The pioneer days room also gave families the opportunity to use a butter churn and create simple toys once enjoyed by children long ago.

Pure Michigan, Wax Museum, Sandy Hill Elementary School, Jenison Public SchoolsOther breakout sessions included Great Lakes Activity, Economics Activity, Family Destinations in Michigan, and Orienteering Scavenger Hunt in addition to the Wax Museum and Pioneer Days.

Teacher coordinator Julie Allerding was thrilled with the results and was quick to credit the generosity of the Jenison Education Foundation for awarding her a grant to not only make the night a possibility, but a success. The grant provided funds for snacks and refreshments, as well as supplied for all of the wonderful activities that were planned for the two-hour event.

As Keynote presenter Tom Woodruff said last Thursday night, “Michigan is a place I hate to leave and I’m always glad to get back to.” We applaud Sandy Hill and their team of teachers who made us feel the same way!

Sandy Hill 6th Graders Prepare for Camp Pendalouan

With fall solidly underway, Sandy Hill’s sixth graders are looking forward to strengthening friendships, learning survival skills, and enjoying the crisp morning air outside their cabins at Muskegon’s Camp Pendalouan.

For some, this experience will be their first “roughing it” in rustic cabins and spending most of the day outside. For others, the time away will be a fun respite from books and homework. But for others, going to camp will be more than that. For some, going to camp provides a unique opportunity to fit in and become part of the Jenison family.

Calista Busscher, Jenison Public Schools, Jenison Junior High, Sandy Hill, Camp PendalouanCalista Busscher was a sixth grade student last year who had just transitioned to Jenison Public Schools from another district. Having already moved once as a young girl from Tennessee, Calista knew how difficult changing schools could be.

Yet the prospect of going to camp was a bright spot in Calista’s semester. She knew that that her days would be filled with new adventures and that camp would provide the opportunity to get to know teachers better and discover more about herself.

Now a seventh grader, Calista looks back on her sixth grade Camp Pendalouan experience as a turning point in her year. She recalls the team building games that helped her form new friendships and gushes over the welcoming, positive environment which envelopes the camp.

Calista counts the encouragement she received as one of the highlights that will stay with her forever, and says that the conversations she had away from school added depth and meaning to her relationships.

“It was a blast!” She exclaimed.

If your Sandy Hill student is preparing for his or her trip, information can be found HERE.

Remember to check the packing list and read through all details carefully. Additionally, all camp fees are due next Friday, October 26.

Sandy Hill sixth graders, led by camp directors Jon Mroz and Angela Cullin, will depart for their adventure on TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 6  and will return FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 9. Parents, you’re able to pick your camper up from school that Friday at approximately 12:30 pm.

We send them out with our wishes for a wonderful experience!