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. 

52516568_10155778728602016_341534807240474624_n

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.

13875433eec8a77c99943032436519df513b5b4d.jpg

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

1387582573b489e8dfe976308573c5cb989f597f13875712960daf98728ae8612975c7e11ea468a3                      138756048b9cfc4e19fcbe1d3313400855c5cbdc13875623bfcc745a0182c13e21e9625d1129ff3d13875625fd60fecc29db617ab8fca4dfe570390813875807342e24390ba42bfcbd1b4b0748391a801387581398774ce05844679a9ca6e95fb25acddd13875836bf23b66954f0edab6843572de2d6cfa313875848c7036bba608c8ed6525f4ce54ca4a3a9

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!

13833122637927b05dc604f003897a690c32858d

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

1383312093ccd07dbb5296a930b5cd72b75bd009

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.

1383310617103c2331982e4ddc82d699d6a86dba13833109ae3f6e82189f4bd6240f756472d4c48313832086370e7810b8954cd05f9529c193a0dbb21383207471d7ecba3a0c6fcb3d2faf73a17dcdcc13832077041e69bae7a74c6140b57cde53faee731383207351d0bf7b354c5c54075e0e1a97325f45

13832065faf33acf77120bf71ecd317fa368813b

 

Lansing Lessons for 4th Grade

Challenging concepts taught solely within the four walls of a classroom can often leave students uninspired and disengaged. Our community of 4th grade educators understand that, and one of the highlights of their year is taking advantage of real life learning through an exciting field trip to Lansing.

In preparation, the class studied a preview of what they would be experiencing during image1-3the trip. This included: a review of the three branches of government – how they work, how they differ, an overview of Michigan congress members – how bills are developed and passed, some focus on the current governor, and an overview of the time periods of Michigan history. Setting the stage for the visit increased the impact of the trip tenfold as students consistently made (excited) solid connections from the classroom to the tours of both the State Capitol building and the Michigan History Museum.

Many students have never been in such a historic building before and were in awe of the architecture and ornate decorations that all have symbolic meaning. When students discover that the floor in the rotunda is made of glass, they are often a little intimidated, but docents quickly put their mind at ease: the 976 squares of glass are held in place by a cast iron frame, making the floor strong enough to hold over 40 tons of weight! They also find that the best view all the way to the top of the dome can be found by laying flat on your back.

mi-lansing-capitol-I9905

The students soaked in the breathtaking view 180 feet above them. The stars on the top center are actually the size of a human hand.

Students were really excited to learn that our state politicians actually do work in Lansing and that it wasn’t just a fancy building for show. The group had the chance to go on the senate floor and spend a few minutes asking Senator Roger Victory some questions about his job.

Representative Luke Meerman was in the office that day as well, and he gave students some wonderful advice about never giving up on their dreams.

 

image1-2

Bursley 4th graders standing on the floor of the Senate with Senator Roger Victory, member of the Michigan Senate for the 30th Senate District

image2

Bursley 4th graders with State Representative Luke Meerman, member of the Michigan House of Representatives for the 88th District.

After the Capitol tour, the group went to the Michigan History Museum. Students were intrigued by the history of  “logging” in Michigan and spent time debating logistics of how it was transported before cars and trucks. Other favorite museum exhibits include feeling what a horse and buggy ride was like, feeling animal pelts from the fur trade, walking through a mine, and interacting with an early 1900’s classroom. Students take back valuable information and experiences from the trip and draw on those as they dive deeper into Michigan History and Government in the coming months.

I’m so thankful that experiential education through real world exploration is a reality for our students. These hands-on experiences help our students gain perspective and develop critical thinking skills along with academic learning. These are lessons that will stay with them for a lifetime and strengthen their understanding in the classroom. 

image4

There are nine acres of hand-painted decorative art throughout the building, sharing stories from Michigan’s past. It’s a lot to take in!

image3

At the Capitol, the students had the opportunity to see where legislature meets for session.

image2-2

The students enjoyed a successful Lansing trip!

 

Surfing with Sharks

img_1691In January, the fifth grade ACT students got busy diving into their exciting new learning exploration; and I’m quite pleased to report it goes much deeper than that popular earworm song that has swept the nation!

They were introduced to their ‘Surfing with Sharks’ unit and transformed themselves into Icthyologists (ik-thee-OL-o-jist). ACT Teacher, Dr. Julie Clark, aims to provide a rich environment of full immersion in their topic and these few weeks of being a “person who studies sharks” has been an exciting and engaging experience for all. Not to mention, this is an opportunity that most students wouldn’t have exposure to until high school or college!

One of the first activities included “adopting a shark” from the Ocearch website to track and watch throughout the unit. The class also read the book, Shark Lady, a true story that highlights the life and work of Eugenie Clark, a renowned ichthyologist known for both her research on shark behavior and her dedication to changing the common misconceptions people have about sharks. 

This was a great way to lay the groundwork of learning about these fascinating, and often misunderstood, creatures. After spending some time introducing their “adopted” sharks to the class through a short Google Slides presentation, the students enjoyed an opportunity to watch an Eyewitness movie about sharks in class.img_1689

Taking their research a little bit deeper, the students set off to learn about a specific species of shark and create a Weebly website on which to display what they learn. They also used Khan Academy to begin some computer coding lessons; skills they would use to include their own animation that they create using Java Script.

Current events informed the unit as well; students recently watched this news story about how research into the shark genome is helping scientists with cancer research. They have 50% more DNA than we do, and because of this, the shark’s DNA is constantly repairing itself to prevent gene mutations that can cause disease, like cancer. Helping students to see the relevance of their study and connecting those learnings to real life inspires students to become activists and learn more.

Screen Shot 2019-02-28 at 5.09.02 AMThe shining moment of wearing the Icthyologist ‘hat’, is the dissection at the end of the unit. In order to be prepared for this, the class spent time learning about the external and internal anatomy of the dogfish shark (Squalus acanthias). To start, the students learned about the anatomical directions that scientists and those in the medical field use when referring to different areas of an organism’s body. Then spent time exploring the shark’s internal, external anatomy and special sensing mechanisms (helping them detect movements in the water). Students were also challenged to put together a three-dimensional model showing the various internal organs. All of this laying the groundwork for a successful dissection.

13805012163581d15701676d8c74770c49564f6c

img_1690Dr. Clark loves to push the comfort level of her students in the name of learning new things,  and for some, dissection day itself was a challenging experience. As the classroom transformed into a laboratory, she takes the opportunity to remind the class of the ACT theme this year: Challenge Accepted!…being committed to finding learning in all experiences, and ultimately, if it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you. The challenge was accepted and curiosity took over.

All of the shark specimens that were dissected were females, thus, students learn about reproduction in these animals as well. Spiny Dogfish sharks are ovoviviparous — meaning that the embryo develops from an egg inside the mother and is nourished by the yolk sac, not the mother, but the mother still has a live birth.  With parent volunteer helpers, the students took their knowledge and identified the body parts they had studied and were so excited to find the surprise of little shark pups when they were dissecting! One group found 5 baby shark pups! As sharks do not chew their food – students also discovered a fully intact fish! After they completed the students could also do some extra exploration on the gills and eyeballs.

138050832c3afec9f3bb7a20c7b56fe65ce1d9d4

Intact Fish – Baby Shark (Doo Doo) – Yolk Sac

1380500102d277ac77ae7c8e8a701a1fbc23ff5d.jpg

I am thankful for devoted educators like Dr. Clark, who strive to open the minds of students to an array of learning possibilities, while challenging them to grow academically, socially, and emotionally. Our academically talented students are constantly provided learning opportunities that present them with the chance to explore, create, problem solve, and above all, try new things. I am so pleased that we have continued to invest in providing unique and thought-provoking learning opportunities for these children. It is always very exciting to see what she has going on in her classroom. Learn more about ACT here.

1380498023a724fd582a76b63118fa0987bc1f271380498612b97da00f9131258477d80504d07a4213804991a630ea922e0ee9a6224e6374dba64c95138049963486519119c5e5e0b46393e37c27bbe7138050077a13cb1d995209aaea9d94c1b0ec127c13805036fe34c8291fc05b07ae4898319a46cb4f13805023a958cc91eca50b2dd23e40fd6c86efae138050260b3bd7eee384cd09e63ef2f8e1dcc62213805024bfa1dd1808d380fc61fc79674c7601e8138050377cc5bcc891793fbea30e3e5e832aaf21

100 Days Smarter

It all started back in August, when the elementary classes began tallying each new day they were in school. Counting in singles, then bundling into 10’s and 20’s – a real life math lesson in progress.

The 100th day marks a special opportunity to reflect upon and celebrate major milestones in our students’ academic achievement. There is so much hard work and learning that happens in the first 100 days of school! We’re thankful that Michigan seems to be feeling back to normal, otherwise I think many were concerned we would never be able to celebrate this year!

Check out Pinewood, Sandy Hill and El Puente as each child was crowned “100 days smarter” and enjoyed a day of celebration!

image1-3

9780545776073_mresCreative student contributions of 100 items brought unique collections to the ‘100 Day Museum’.

Some students read a book called Hooray for the 100th Day, about a student who was trying to accomplish 100 good deeds before his 100th day of school was over. He finally reached his goal, but not before several messes were made!

Another activity was writing about how to spend $100! Students shared many fun ideas how to spend the money on themselves and others!

“Dress like a 100 year old” is a favorite, the kids always have so much fun seeing each other and imagining who they will be when they are 100 years old!

Thank you to our amazing teachers who go above and beyond to engage our students in fun, meaningful ways!

image6.jpegimg_2225IMG_1168IMG_1166image1image4 image2

 

 

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!

13750005287cf450abb9518fac43c510831af7a9

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.

1375001750b739c54572ad824ea38afe306e42ae1375004194362ad58070cacc4c428792c38131f713750112d41ac7e5ebec7dee581c7fa3e129a44b

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!!

137500491dd72491680f1ac776b92fe7beae533a1375006086cef241f853f4e42eb8e424565e12c0

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.

13750066faeceb4cfbca46515f8f15331e3416f751642192_10156937938098290_6695431338142466048_n

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!

2019 Pink Out-063

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

2019 Pink Out-064

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

2019 Pink Out-061

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

IMG_1945

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!!

137502173e56207500bfa222e51f1971e487dfc4

137502044d354ab85c419a8b6f3bbe206402db24

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

137502224cb82fdaa32881ea2771cd09a52861a72019 Pink Out-0232019 Pink Out-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

2019 Pink Out-021

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

13750124fc69f9769e6e605ae83c415356ad9189

 

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

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

Wild Winter Week

January 2019 was a stark contrast to the mild and snowless December we recently experienced – and it was probably the most in-depth meteorology lesson this generation of students has ever experienced. Words like polar vortex, lake effect, arctic blast, and snow squall paved the way for a Governor issued “State of Emergency” for the lower peninsula!

51169433_10156886858618286_7904173493313339392_n

While it looked like a beautiful Winter Wonderland outside our windows, those conditions always cause concern for the safety of our students and staff. Even after the snow somewhat calmed by midweek, the bitter cold was still a force to be reckoned with. Windchill temperatures were the coldest on record since 1994 rendering the use of ice-melt salt ineffective. This turned out to be the perfect storm of “inclement weather”, thus keeping us home for a whole week! 

Now, as I reflect on a difficult weather week, and even as we sit in the midst of more delays this week, I wanted to share that I’m so proud of the community that Jenison is, even when the busses aren’t running.

Snow Day Learning

Just because school wasn’t open, doesn’t mean the learning has to stop. Many of our dedicated teachers took to social media to interact with students and read books to them; encouraging them to sharpen their brains with learning while on snow break. Students had a lot of fun seeing their teachers at home with their own kids, still being teachers! With a few breaks in the weather, some even gathered for impromptu reading time! A ‘snowpocalypse’ can’t even stop our tremendous staff!

Jenison Students and Teachers keep the brainpower going during a long snowy break!

Jenison students and teachers stay cozy while keeping the brain power going!

 

Neighbors Helping Neighbors

Jenison Teacher and Coach, Kelly Krepps is an excellent role model and consistently sets the bar high for our students. Coach Krepps put a call out to his athletes on Twitter, challenging them to get outside and shovel a neighbor’s driveway and sidewalks. Insisting they do not accept payment; unless of course they were being paid in sincere gratitude and maybe hot chocolate. Way to think outside yourself, Jenison Wrestlers!

While many squeal with excitement at the prospect of an unexpected day off school, 30415482_1783281571691849_4282489301717136922_nthere are families in our community that rely on school meals for daily nutrition. On the first day of the break, Hand2Hand founder and Executive Director, Chari Honderd put out a call on social media and through a television interview for those who may need help to get through the week. 

Rachael Postle-Brown, the principal of our Pinewood Elementary School was one of the volunteers who hand delivered bags of food. 

“All of the families were very grateful and thanked me. It was an adventure. I got stuck in one family’s driveway and the Dad came out to help. He took the time to share how much he appreciated the support his family receives from Jenison Public Schools. One of our former elementary students (who is now in high school) saw me from across the street and came out in the cold to help. It was so nice to see him and his character shining through. At the next house, the parents said how much the food was going to help over the weekend. At the final delivery of the day, the student was so excited and thankful that he jumped up and down. I felt blessed to be able to be of service for our families. I want our community partners to know that we are so thankful for all they do for our students. It is so appreciated.” 

We’re so happy to partner with a forward thinking organization and that selfless volunteers were abundant. Over three days during that week, 82 families in the west Michigan area received deliveries of food, hope and love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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. 

img_0321

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.

img_0421

img_0537

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.

img_0534

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! 

50653481_10155750699656277_1175598214670188544_o.jpg

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.

 

 

 

 

 

JJHS presents Seussical the Musical, Jr.

A few weeks ago, the Jenison Junior High Thespians traveled to our elementary schools to give students a sneak peek of what was to come in their show, Seussical the Musical, Jr. While they used limited props and were unable to travel with their amazing set, this is always a fun experience for the actors and audience alike and sparked great excitement.

Since then, the finishing touches have been finalized and the JJHS production officially opens the curtain tonight! Led by Director – Holly Florian, Music Director – Sarah Hazel and Choreography Director – Carol Johnson; this group of dedicated and passionate students (on stage and many hidden behind stage) have demonstrated amazing team work and put their talents to work creating something very special.

The story on stage begins with a small boy, with a big imagination. With assistance from the Cat in the Hat, an inspiring and peculiar story will unfold; transporting viewers into an imaginative, colorful, and playful world. At first glance, Horton is just a jolly and friendly elephant, but soon he exhibits a dedication to his beliefs with inspiring determination. Director, Holly Florian embraces this theme and says: “In a year where young people have committed to making their voices and beliefs heard on a National and International level, Horton’s story has been a reminder of the power of listening carefully, and not being afraid to speak up in the face of injustice.”

136804905aecb19948c2b14793d449147828c32a13680527681ae838fca1bfffc5d630c0f4652fd8This show will be a hit for all ages, as many of us grew up reading Dr. Seuss and his stories remain a classic for students today. Ms. Florian captures the essence of the joy behind this show for her and the students saying, “His stories allow the reader to be transported to a magical world where anything is possible and even the “smallest of smalls” can have a role in making a positive change in the world.”

Treat yourself this weekend and make time to witness this spectacular show! I promise, you will leave your seat inspired to follow in Horton’s footsteps and make the world a better place! Show times are January 24 and 25 at 7:00pm and January 26 and 27 at 2:30pm. Tickets are available here!

1368048672f2bc9bd5598d1822b734695bf257ff13680567c1343b48331e69dd75569ee7d985893013680580b2b6f16624f82d8caa4348086ee02023136805471e7bff7ac4d5575c4a38d17b20a04d0d13680513a74c79e8cbc2e1e3a5060a2170a7e2561368053278eaa3e6d2fd061da655b87c4a1f6e8a13680542e87ad385ca47eced1d70c930baf562ee1368056594bdf0318dcc98945bc77b07c9a428d1

48396501_2177144849014680_5159173526942384128_n.jpg

Jenison Robotics Recap

13879193_518502558354595_1452843078217319306_nThe Jenison High School gyms were bursting at the seams on Saturday, January 12. Although there were no basketballs bouncing or wrestling mats on the ground, the energy was undeniable as the Jenison Robotics team proudly played host to 80 teams from around the area for a Vex Robot Competition (VRC). The January Jenison Tournament wraps up the regular competition schedule for this year.

Since starting 5 years ago, the growth of the Jenison robotics program has been outstanding and we’re glad to see another successful season. The students are forging lasting friendships, and growing in confidence as they work as teammates and persevere through adversity. Together, the teams have taken home 25 awards, including an Innovate Award, multiple Design Awards, Excellence Awards, and four tournament champions.

The Jenison Robotics program is open to students in grades 4-12. And while they are busy with fun, hands-on experiments – they are really putting into practice complex concepts, like the trade off between speed and power, how friction coefficients can affect performance, or learning how to design and utilize systems with compound gearing. Students are clearly learning and practicing helpful skills they can take with them into their future. Adam Timmer, president of the Jenison Robotics Board of Directors, and the many parent volunteers, have a goal for the students and adult volunteers that join the program. They work together to allow the student to join where they are at. The robotics arena is a great place for them practice their talents and skills, and also learn new ones. Some of the robotics students have even been 3D modeling parts and then 3D printing those parts. Jenison Robotics is currently fundraising to provide the students access to a 3D printer.

This year, there are 18 elementary teams, participating in the VEX IQ program. Among these teams, they have won 16 awards so far this season and we’re proud to see 6 elementary teams qualify for the State Championship next month. The Jr. High and High School teams have had breakout success this season. Monroe Community College is hosting Michigan’s Middle School State VRC Championship in March and five of the nine Jenison Junior High teams have earned their way there. The seven Jenison High School robotics teams have worked hard throughout the year and have one team currently headed to the state championship competition at Michigan State University.

It will be a tough field of competing teams, but the Jension teams headed to the state championships have their sights set on earning an invitation to the VEX Robotics World Championship (held in Louisville, Kentucky this spring).

As an educator, it intrigues me and gives me a such pride to watch all the intricacies of this volunteer/mentor-run program. By its nature, the study of competitive robotics not only encompasses all four pillars of STEM education, but also encourages important life skills like teamwork, communication, and project-based organization.

I just know that the future of America is in great hands with these budding engineers. Stay tuned to the Jenison Robotics website or the Jenison Robotics Facebook page to follow their progress as they wrap up their season. Good Luck Wildcats!!

Meet Jenison Robotics Junior High team 457A:

49819278_939655749572605_7641667329859780608_o

They have won two tournaments, the “Innovate Award” at a third event, and with a tournament win they were the first Jenison team to qualify for the State Championship this 2018-19 season. Team members, Devon, Cora, Ethan and Peyton have pretty diverse interests with band, orchestra, football, and playing guitar. When it comes to robotics, they come together to create a solid team that gets the job done. Devon strives to keep the team improving continually. Cora keeps the team’s engineering notebook on track. Ethan programs the robot to make sure the “hunk of metal” they built is a smart hunk of metal. Besides driving the robot, Peyton scouts the competition and helps develop strategy for the team.

More exciting JPS Robotics and STEM news:

The Mechanics of Jenison Robotics – 2016 Blog Post

Jenison Receives Portion of State Grant for Robotics

Jenison High Schoolers Start “GIRLS IN STEM” Club