Look for the Helpers

It was something offered to calm children during times of catastrophe and most of us have probably heard the famous quote from Mr. Rogers.

When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of “disaster”, I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.” – Fred Rogers

It’s a great piece of advice and definitely not surprising that it has stood the test of time. Finding the helpers and even joining them, offers each of us hope in times of chaos and uncertainty.

When I look around our community, I’m beyond proud to see Jenison Public School teachers, staff, coaches and even students showing up to support others in a variety of ways.

I’m thankful for all the efforts we are already witnessing. This is uniting us in ways that we don’t always see and bringing hope and joy in a new way. There are many ways to be neighbors and helpers, here are some local examples I’d like to share with you.

I’d also like to extend an invitation, how might you join the helpers? Possibly make donations, support small businesses, finding a way to pay-it-forward, or even just extending an encouraging word or smile of support to a fellow shopper or hard working essential employee. We’re all in this together and together we’ll make it through this.

COMMUNITY FOOD DISTRIBUTION SERVERS:

Sunrise Ministries is a local church in the heart of the Jenison Public School district. In response to the school closure and the expected effects COVID-19 would eventually have on families, they opened their doors as a drive-thru food/personal care distribution site.

They started with their first distribution on March 16 serving 41 families and have seen an exorbitant increase in demand on a weekly basis. They are preparing to serve 750 families in the coming week. A large amount of the volunteers are JPS employees. Sunrise Ministries Pastor, Dan Fisher has really appreciated their help and he is witnessing first hand the passionate, hardworking individuals our students get to see in their classrooms. It’s so exciting to have each one of our buildings represented by the caring hands that are packing and distributing these necessities to our neighbors in and outside of our immediate community.

Volunteers spend hours sorting donations and packing bags in preparation for the Monday and Wednesday distribution nights. Even though many of the teacher volunteers are back to the books with their students while operating their online learning schedules, they have remained committed to their helper role. Bursley First grade teacher, Rhonda Johnson; Rosewood First grade teacher, Kelly Osterink and El Puente Second grade teacher, Jenna Kragt were part of the crew that were busy serving this week. Spanish speaking volunteers have been incredibly helpful in the last few weeks.

The line for the drive-thru distribution at Sunrise Ministries is sometimes full a few hours before they even open. This week they even needed to discontinue services early due to running out of items to distribute.

As the need continues to increase, Sunrise Ministries relies on donations from companies and individuals to keep their food bank running. Donations dropped off to Sunrise Ministries directly are most appreciated!  If you are able to do so, please consider donating to help. Below is the list of items that are needed and the location where they can be dropped.  


STUDENT HAND2HAND MINISTRY SERVICES:


There is another crew of volunteers assisting the families that are part of Hand2Hand Ministries. Hand2hand partners churches with schools to provide food for students facing weekend hunger. This is an amazing program that has worked with Jenison Public Schools for years, and has proven an unwavering commitment to their families – through debilitating snow storms and now a global pandemic. However, the distribution model of their service is through the school buildings. This left a number of families in the position of not being able to get their meals. Starting day 1 of the COVID-19 school closure, Jenison teachers filled that gap and loaded up their own vehicles to make deliveries. Now a few weeks later, the supporting churches as well as the JPS teachers are delivering weekday meals and weekend meal kits to over 50 families. This is an exciting example of resources being pooled and collaboration at its finest. We are so thankful for these organizations remaining committed to the students they are supporting right here in our own community.


FRONTLINE HEALTHCARE PROVIDERS AND 3D PRINTERS:

Laurie is a busy mom with 3 children attending Jenison International Academy. She is also a very essential frontline medical worker at a local hospital. Feeling the exhaustion of these uncertain times alongside tiring, long shifts, Laurie liked the idea of making things at work as comfortable as possible. There was also the real possibility of increased exposure to germs through irritated skin from wearing a face mask all day. She had heard about 3D printed plastic straps that were created to hook the mask straps as opposed to wearing them around the ears all day long. Laurie reached out to Mrs. Krista Osterberg, Principal of Jenison International Academy for help. Unfortunately, during the stay-at-home order, the school building was off limits – which meant the 3D printers that are part of the JIA STEM and Engineering programs were unavailable as well. Mrs. Osterberg connected Laurie with another JIA family who owns a 3D printer. The family was happy to use their supplies to print a few dozen mask straps for Laurie, her colleagues and some of her family members who are also hospital workers. Simple acts of kindness make us big helpers!


8 YEAR OLD BAKERS:

Everleigh Schuster is a hard worker with a big heart! As schools closed due to the Corona virus, some grocery staples also started to dwindle. This Pinewood 3rd grader noticed a problem and wanted to help. Before the official stay-at-home directive had been given, she was baking bread with her grandma, Mary Mapes almost daily. They were willing to bake bread for anyone who needed it. Click here to watch the story.

Following her bread efforts, Evy turned her attention back to the veggie seedlings she had been preparing for her spring/summer veggie stand.

She hopes to sell veggies and gift excess food and seedlings to help others start growing their own food. Growing and giving back is something Evy has been working for since she was 4 years old! Thank you Everleigh for stepping up and being a great example to our community!


DEDICATED SCIENTISTS:

On a grander scale, very exciting possibilities are being worked on in response to the COVID-19 virus, one of which is being worked on by a Jenison Alumna. You make us proud, Deborah Heydenburg Fuller (Class of 1982) – and we are pulling for you and your team! Click here to watch the interview.

Reading Radio Drama

A mission of Jenison Public Schools is to encourage and enable our students to gain a lifelong love of reading. The month of March has been designated National Reading Month and it’s something all of our Wildcats love to celebrate. This national movement is also meant to motivate family and community members of all ages to read every day as reading regularly has been linked to development of positive mental health throughout our lives. No matter your age, we believe that readers are leaders!

March is particularly fun for reading as students spend time finding new and interesting things to read, through goal setting and special projects. Sadly, with the current school year changing due to the COVID-19 closure, students didn’t get to complete many of their reading programs with their classes.

As National Reading Month kicked off this year, Jenison International Academy students had just put the finishing touches on a really neat project. JIA English and Language Arts instructor, Cameron Kuiper, tasked the 9th grade students with a new project to create Reading Radio Dramas. Radio drama is a dramatized, acoustic performance with dialogue, music and sound effects to relay a story. The objective of their work was to connect with younger classmates and share exciting literary moments to get them potentially hooked on a new book. Working individually or in a group, students chose tell a story using one of several classic Roald Dahl books.

Many of the 9th grade students are familiar with technology and this is a great opportunity for them to apply it further while learning additional life skills such as working in a virtual group. Another unique component of this English assignment is working with awareness of digital creative copyright claims and finding available resources in the public domain. The Radio Drama production process required work on the script, sound effects, recording and editing. Some students even ‘managed a cast’ while they recruited family members and friends to add more diverse character voices. 

While originally intended for the younger JIA students, I’m excited to share this unique project more broadly for you all to enjoy! Each Radio Drama provides a glimpse into an enchanting Roald Dahl book for a few minutes. Maybe it will be enough to get you interested in picking up a copy and reading more!


Gather your family around the ‘radio’ (or other device) and enjoy the performances of the JIA Students in JIA RADIO DRAMAS. Maybe you’ll get hooked on a new book too!


The platform used for the Reading Radio Dramas is called Anchor.fm. Check it out, maybe you and your family would like to learn about producing a story or podcast!

Spring Break 2020

We certainly have received the gift of some amazing Michigan spring weather this week. I’m glad for the sun and the warmth, but sad for the plans and traditions that were turned upside down for so many of our Jenison friends and families this year. I hope seeing the sun has lifted your spirits in spite of everything happening at this historic point in time and you’ve made some unique spring break memories!

We started this abrupt and long interruption to school 4 weeks ago, and I know I echo the sentiments of each and every staff member when I say we have missed our students immensely. We cherish the opportunity to continue teaching and connecting with our students. We are hoping you all had a safe, fun and relaxing week! We cannot wait to resume interactions through remote education at the start of next week.

Enjoy a few videos that were produced to express how our teachers are feeling!

Feel free to subscribe to my YouTube channel for video updates as well


Food distribution is available at the following locations and times:

*COMMUNITY FOOD DISTRIBUTION INFORMATION*

Hudsonville: 

Grace Community Church – 3500 New Holland Street
Tuesday & Thursday, 4 – 7 pm

Fair Haven Church – 2900 Baldwin Street, DOOR E 

Friday, 10am – 12pm and 6 – 8pm

Grandville: Fellowship CRC – 4375 Ivanrest Avenue SW
Monday & Thursday, 9 am – 12 pm
Tuesday, 6 – 7:30 pm

Jenison: Sunrise Ministries, 7754 28th Avenue
Monday & Wednesday, 4 – 7 pm

JPS School Locations: Monday & Wednesday, 11:00am-12:30pm:

  • Bursley Elementary – 1195 Port Sheldon Street, Jenison
  • Sandy Hill Elementary – 1990 Baldwin Street, Jenison
  • Bauerwood Elementary – 1443 Bauer Road, Jenison
  • Jenison High School – 2140 Bauer Road, Jenison

Please continue to watch your email and the Jenison Public Schools facebook page for any updates regarding the school location distribution program.

Onward Wildcats

After the first week of COVID-19 school closures, minds everywhere quickly began seeking creativity and stimulation. Our rock-star Jenison High School music directors even went to work on a fun, challenging project to engage their student musicians from afar. Dave Zamborsky, JHS Band Director and Dan Scott, JHS Orchestra director decided now was the time to perform the Jenison High School fight song – virtual edition. 

The first challenge of this project was that the music had never been created with vocal parts – or violin, viola and cello parts for that matter. Mr. Zamborsky wasted no time in creating the parts needed and had them ready for the kids within 24 hours. 

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The next challenge would be to create virtual ensembles; getting the band, choir or string musicians to perform music “together” when they are indeed not together. With no director standing in front of them to provide instructional cues, a tool called a ‘click track’ was needed. A click track is a series of digital audio cues used to synchronize sound recordings. Senior percussionist, Jarod VanderVeen agreed to record the track for the fight song to accompany the students’ digital performance. He recorded his part while listening to a metronome to stay perfectly in tempo. If you have a metronome in your house you can set it to 150 beats per minute and you’ll notice that Jarod is right on. 

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The instrumentalists were now set, but the vocalists needed a harmonic reference for their performance. Mr. Scott tapped into the talents of his wife, Diane for the recorded piano part. The students now had what they needed to perfect their individual parts. You’ll notice in the video that they all have some sort of headphone in their ear. This is the click track of either the drummer or the piano player.  Each student recorded their performance as they listened to the track. This gave them a rhythmic or harmonic reference for their performance.  

The performance itself came as another challenge. None of the orchestra and choir students had even performed the fight song before and some band students were performing on instruments that they don’t use during marching season. After practicing their part, each student recorded their portion and emailed the file to Mr. Scott. There were about 75 video submissions and all of them are included in the video. 

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Mr. Scott expanded his resume to include “video editor” as he used GarageBand and Final Cut Pro X software programs to compile each performance submission to give us this amazing final product. 

Life has been dealing us all a rhythm of unpredictable change these last three weeks. But I want to remind you that TOGETHER – WE ARE JENISON! And together, we march to the beat of a strong community that prides itself in supporting one another.

Click on the video below to check it out…May the performance of these fine musicians brighten your day as we move onward and upward!

 

“ONWARD WILDCATS”

(To the tune of “On Wisconsin”)

Onward Wildcats, ever onward, fight to victory!

Green & White, forever fighting, here’s our cheer for thee! Rah! Rah! Rah!

Fighting Wildcats, loyal boosters, here’s to do or die.

All for the fame of our school, Jenison High.

 

Food distribution is available at the following locations and times:

*COMMUNITY FOOD DISTRIBUTION INFORMATION*

Hudsonville: 

Grace Community Church – 3500 New Holland Street
Tuesday & Thursday, 4 – 7 pm

Fair Haven Church – 2900 Baldwin Street, DOOR E

Friday, 10am – 12pm and 6 – 8pm

Grandville: Fellowship CRC – 4375 Ivanrest Avenue SW
Monday & Thursday, 9 am – 12 pm
Tuesday, 6 – 7:30 pm

Jenison: Sunrise Ministries, 7754 28th Avenue
Monday & Wednesday, 4 – 7 pm

JPS School Locations: Monday & Wednesday, 11:00am-12:30pm:

  • Bursley Elementary – 1195 Port Sheldon Street, Jenison
  • Sandy Hill Elementary – 1990 Baldwin Street, Jenison
  • Bauerwood Elementary – 1443 Bauer Road, Jenison
  • Jenison High School – 2140 Bauer Road, Jenison

Please continue to watch your email and the Jenison Public Schools facebook page for any updates regarding the school location distribution program.

Connection through COVID-19 Closure

Last August, while we were preparing to head back to the classroom, the Jenison Public Schools administration, teachers and staff rallied around a simple statement.

First, we committed to shift our thought process from understanding “What am I doing?” to “Why am I doing it?” Knowing our purpose and pursuing it relentlessly would magnify the impact on our students. STAFFPOSTER

To ‘Be Relentless’ means that we are doing everything we can to support our students, providing them love that is reminiscent of a family, interacting with them in a purposeful way and providing a constant source of inspiration. Who knew that we would tap into this well of Relentlessness in a whole new way, just months down the road.

While education and connection is looking very different these days, that hasn’t stopped our teachers and staff from establishing new patterns, routines and embracing technology to keep the connection with their students as strong as possible.

The COVID-19 closure has dealt us all a pretty major life interruption, but for all of us at Jenison Public Schools, our WHY has not changed.  And if these weeks have reminded of us of anything – it’s that our teachers will go above and beyond for their students. Together, we are Jenison. Together, we will get through this!

There are countless examples of JPS teachers going above and beyond – here are some!

 


El Puente Art teacher, Rachael Ball Kunnen took to the school’s Facebook page to connect with and challenge her students to put down the devices and bring some color into their days! Many students enjoyed responding to her “Things Found” color wheel challenge.

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Rosewood Elementary First Grade teacher, Kelly Osterink began reading Charlotte’s Web to her class not long before the extended school closure went into effect. Ms. Osterink was sad to not be able to share the rest of the book with her students for awhile, so she began recording herself reading to them via YouTube. By sharing a chapter or two a day, she will help them experience the book and give them something to look forward to during their days at home! 

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Rosewood Elementary Principal, Luke Verbeek loves to get to know all the kids in his school and gives a personal birthday card to each student on their birthday. He is not about to let this school closure change that! This week, Mr. Verbeek sent a video message to (newly) 7 year old, Ethan Pastars. Ethan was ecstatic to receive his video birthday wish; he sent Mr. Verbeek a thank you message and introduced his 2 silver dollar fish and African Clawed Frog named, Kiki.

Rosewood teachers also plan to make use of some good old fashioned connection methods and will be sending letters and birthday cards to students while they are away from school. Who doesn’t love fun mail!?

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Many teachers are tapping into additional technology tools to keep the connection strong. Fourth grade teachers at Bauerwood have been hosting online gatherings through Zoom. Mrs. Martin and Ms. Buus’ classes have met up through Zoom to join together for a time of fun with learning quiz-game, Kahoot.  (Below) Craig Westra started his 4th grade class hang out last Saturday by playing ‘Simon Says’. 

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ECC preschool teacher, Missy Brandt, and her assistant teacher Ronnie Madden began hosting Zoom class meetings with their preschool class this week. They had a great turnout and hope to continue with more meetings in the coming weeks. Ms. Brandt also connects with her students through their Class Dojo and private Facebook pages.

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Before school dismissed for the extended break, Marie Huistra encouraged her class of preschoolers to think of others. The Early Childhood Center students made cards of well-wishes for homebound residents in our community. 

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*COMMUNITY FOOD DISTRIBUTION INFORMATION*

Food distribution is available at the following locations and times:

Hudsonville: Grace Community Church – 3500 New Holland Street
Tuesday & Thursday, 4 – 7 pm
Fair Haven Church – 2900 Baldwin Street, DOOR E
Friday, 10am – 12pm and 6 – 8pm
Grandville: Fellowship CRC – 4375 Ivanrest Avenue SW
Monday & Thursday, 9 am – 12 pm
Tuesday, 6 – 7:30 pm
Jenison: Sunrise Ministries, 7754 28th Avenue
Monday & Wednesday, 4 – 7 pm

JPS School Locations: Monday & Wednesday, 11:00am-12:30pm:

  • Bursley Elementary – 1195 Port Sheldon Street, Jenison
  • Sandy Hill Elementary – 1990 Baldwin Street, Jenison
  • Bauerwood Elementary – 1443 Bauer Road, Jenison
  • Jenison High School – 2140 Bauer Road, Jenison

Please continue to watch your email and the Jenison Public Schools facebook page for any updates regarding the school location distribution program.

 

Jenison Food Service Continues to Serve

As the mandated school closure was announced one week ago, we were all thrust into unprecedented times. Immediately, the Jenison Public Schools administration team, teachers and staff brainstormed plans to make sure our local families would be cared for during this time. A major concern was making sure that daily meals would not become an obstacle.

On a typical school day, Mary Darnton, Director of Food Service and her team in the Jenison Food Service department will serve around 130 breakfasts and nearly 2,000 lunches. At the onset of the schools being closed in response to COVID-19, Mary and the team were faced with a few challenges that needed to be solved quickly.

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Jenison Public Schools food service meals are proudly prepared on site in each school building with about 90% of the meal items served hot and fresh. As they planned to host socially-distanced distribution sites; it was imperative that the meals served during the closure were 100% cold items.

The meals served still adhere to the USDA outlined meal pattern that includes a prescribed combination of whole grains, proteins (for lunches), fruit or vegetable (both for lunches) and milk. The month’s scheduled menu changed overnight and creative problem solving kicked in. The food safety and sanitation approved staff is now lovingly preparing the meals ahead of time at the Central Kitchen and using perishable items as soon as possible. They are working with other partners in the community to donate what might not be able to be used in time, and food orders continue to trickle in from approved commercial suppliers.

foodhandout-1foodhandout-9As the distributions began this week, the sites have remained calm with much appreciation expressed from the families. We’re off to a great start and anticipate the demand to increase in the coming days. I’m so grateful for Mary and the entire Jenison Food Service Department for their quick thinking and eager attitudes as they put this program into place so quickly . 


Jenison Public Schools will offer free breakfast and lunch for children in need during the statewide school closure. Packaged breakfast and lunch is being made available through our food service program to any child ages 0-18 (or up to age 26 with special needs). The details are as follows:

FREE BREAKFAST & LUNCH

Friday, March 20 and Beginning Monday, March 23, families may pick up on Mondays and Wednesdays. This encourages less travel, minimizes social contact and allows a pick up of free meals to cover multiple days.

Time:  11:00am-12:30pm

Locations:

  • Bursley Elementary – 1195 Port Sheldon St, Jenison

  • Sandy Hill Elementary – 1990 Baldwin, Jenison

  • Bauerwood Elementary – 1443 Bauer Rd, Jenison

  • Jenison High School – 2140 Bauer Rd, Jenison

As many JPS students employ school of choice; the Jenison buildings may not be the closest to their home location. This is a statewide program, with no proof of enrollment required. Families may visit any distribution site in any school district. Anyone is welcome to drive up or walk to any site and may pick up meals for the number of children who are at home.


For families who are in need of food and can’t get to any of these four locations, please email me at ttenbrin@jpsonline.org and we will get food delivered directly to your homes. Please continue to watch your email and the Jenison Public Schools facebook page for any updates regarding this distribution program.

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Senior Athletes Sign

We are excited to be able to offer a world-class education that prepares students to achieve their goals and chase their dreams. And now, is the time of year when many seniors are plotting their course. For these Jenison High School seniors, that includes being able to continue their studies while playing the sport they love.

 

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The great thing about many of our student athletes is their tenacious work ethic and commitment to multiple interests including music, arts or other clubs. We are honored to be able to offer many quality experiences that function as an extension of our fantastic educational programs.

It’s thrilling to see a number of students signing national letters of intent for their colleges in the fall. Some of them have signed on even before their senior season has officially begun.

Our students receive outstanding support from the exceptional staff which helps them take advantage of opportunities and perform their best in all areas. Many staff continue building relationships after the bell has rung through coaching positions. A team mindset between athletic staff and teachers is genuine and provides a well rounded experience for our students.

I am proud to say that these Jenison High School students have been well prepared for this exciting next step – in the classroom and through their team experiences. No matter which mascot they adopt next year, I’m confident their Wildcat spirit will remain and propel them to achieve great things!

As the spring season draws to a close, more students will most likely be added to this list. 

Please join me in congratulating these hardworking seniors and their families! G O   W I L D C A T S!

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TORI VANDERVEEN | Cornerstone University, Track and Field

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CAROLINE HUISTRA | Jackson College, Soccer

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ANNA BARTZ | Drury University, Bowling

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EMILY SILER | Saint Joseph University, Softball

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CHASE POST | Davenport University, Lacrosse

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LAUREN SLAGTER | Cornerstone, Bowling

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MALACHI SMITH | Grace Christian University, Soccer

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KRISTEN SZOST | Hope College, Lacrosse

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MYCAH KASPER | Davenport University, Swimming

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KAYLYNNE NICHOLSON | Albion College, Volleyball

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GABRIEL SMITH-VERWYS | Ferris State University, Football

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OLIVIA DAVIS | Davenport University, Track and Field

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MORGAN LACOMBE | Lansing Community College, Softball

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For frequent updates on all the athletic action, follow the Wildcats on social media.

images@JenisonWildcats                  Unknown@Jenison_Wildcats

 

Jenison ‘In The News’

 

The Jenison community is full of many amazing people creating newsworthy moments year round! If you happen to have missed some of these incredible stories in the local news, I encourage you to check out the links and get inspired. These stories represent the #JPSBeRelentless attitude through commitment, ingenuity, compassion and perseverance. 


Sandy Tetro 

Sandy Tetro has been impacting friends, family members, students, co-workers and community members for as long as anyone can remember. Her enormous heart and boundless energy propelled a 20+ year career in special education at Jenison Public Schools and 15+ years coaching for Special Olympics. She is also currently recovering from a massive right ischemic stroke. She has been recognized as a top finalist for West Michigan’s Woman of the Year through local news WOTV4. While her recovery is amazing – it just makes her even more remarkable in our eyes!

Read the story and watch the video here

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Audrey (Tetro) Mitchell nominated her mother, Sandy Tetro as a ‘Remarkable Woman of West Michigan’, for the impact she has had on countless lives.


Andrew Medley, Senior Kidney Recipient

Andrew Medley is a Jenison High School football and basketball player who has lived with a kidney failure diagnosis for 8 years. He recently underwent surgery to receive a kidney from mother. Andrew’s energy may have waned over time but commitment to his teams never has; he has been a leader on and off the field. 

 We’re so happy to receive a great report on Andrew’s improving health since the surgery two weeks ago. Andrew is anxious to be back to school but will have to wait a few more weeks until the doctor gives the approval. His mother Susan is also healing well and has expressed amazement at the amount of support they have received from the community. 

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Susan Medley is so thankful that she was a match and was able to give her son Andrew a kidney.


2020 Senior Survivor

In ‘Season 2’ of the Jenison High School Senior Survivor game, the seniors exceeded last year’s amount by almost $3,000 – making their 2020 contribution to the Pink Out team over $8,000.

Read the story and watch the video here

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Tej Kothari, Congressional Bronze Medal recipient 

Jenison High School senior, Tej Kothari received the highest honor Congress can bestow on a young person. The Congressional Bronze Medal was presented to him by Congressman Bill Huizenga.

Read the story here

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Tej Kothari is the first Jenison High School Student to receive the Congressional Bronze Medal.


Jack Carrier, Student Law Changer 

Jenison High School senior, Jack Carrier was born with a vision impairment that would ultimately make getting his drivers’s license a little tricky. Jack knew he had run into some pretty restrictive obstacles. Jack and his father reached out to Senator Roger Victory for assistance. Sen. Victory helped Jack raise awareness for and get the law changed for others with similar visual challenges.

Read the story here

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Jack Carrier with State Senator Roger Victory (Photo source: Mlive)


Terry Dykstra, Jenison High School Counselor

As a Jenison High School counselor, Terry Dykstra has been cheering students on for 52 years!

Read the story and watch the video here

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1st Grade American Citizens

January party decorations aren’t typically red, white and blue but this was no regular class party. Selene and Elisea Vella, born in Sicily, Italy had become American citizens and first grade Bursley Elementary teacher, Amy Hage didn’t let the opportunity pass for this unique celebration.

The girls moved to the United States as infants with their parents. They joined other family in the midwest, have settled here nicely and since, become big sisters as well. 

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As the girls are underage, they had already assumed American citizenship. However, after 6 long years of waiting, the girls were very excited and a little nervous to travel to their appointment in Detroit to receive their card of proof. The day after their appointment, Selene and Elisea celebrated with their classmates with plenty of red, white and blue goodies. Students had fun learning a little about their country and acknowledging this exciting milestone. 

Selene and Elisea’s parents feel they have found a gem of a community in the Grandville/Jenison area to raise their family and they love Bursley Elementary School. I am thankful that Amy Hage and the Bursley team has been a shining example of the helpful, kind and committed professionals we have at Jenison Public Schools. 

Although Selene and Elisea do not remember their home country, they are very excited to go visit family members and explore their city this coming summer. I’m sure they will have amazing stories to report when they get back to school in the fall. I look forward to having them be a part of our community for the coming years!

 Congratulations Vella Family!

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Imagine. Explore. Create. Repeat.

No matter the age, students have a courageous and contagious level of creativity and they love to put that passion into practice with hands-on experimentation. While this is encouraged in the traditional classroom where possible, specialized environments give them a chance to take it to the next level.

These environments are called Makerspace. These spaces allow students to take what they have learned in the classroom and extend their learning in a very unique, explorative way. The Makerspace environment is tapping into their imagination in a different way, according to their own interests and creativity.

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Upon attending a conference in Grand Rapids in 2018, inspiration sparked a team of Pinewood Elementary School teachers. The Michigan Association for Computer Users in Learning conference (MACUL) exposed them to other districts who had these types of spaces. They too wanted to encourage this type of learning and make it available to their students so they decided to write a grant that was offered through MACUL.

The grant from MACUL allowed Pinewood Elementary School to implement a Makerspace as part of their extended library time for all grades. It is housed in the library which makes perfect sense as this sort of learning is a natural extension of books! Since the beginning of time, we’ve experienced librarians creating interactive content to engage children and augment their learning.

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While in the Makerspace, students are able to explore various learning tools and resources structured to inspire creativity and hands-on learning. The ultimate goal is to have a variety of consumable items that students can use to tinker and create their own masterpieces. Different activities can be added to the rotation to spur fresh exploration. Some incorporate technology while others are purely ‘old-fashioned’ analog exercises.

Pinewood teacher Andrea Pattison oversees the Makerspace and loves watching the students be creative, build, and collaborate with classmates with the age appropriate activities and tools that are in the space. The students’ only negative review is that they never have enough time! The kids do a fabulous job respecting the space and the special tools. She also has a team of Makerspace Champions comprised of 5th and 6th grade students who help organize and run the space.

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Pinewood Makerspace: (foreground) 3-D Printer and student using the Osmo tool with an iPad while classmates build and create in the background.

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Students are able to learn how to maximize the Makerspace through the Pinewood Makerspace Website, created by district ACT teacher, Julie Clark. How-to videos and website resources help them make the most of their time in the space and give them options to use outside of school as well. Julie has also gone on to complete an additional grant request for new tools for the Makerspace through the Jenison Public Education Fund.

JPEF has been funding best teaching methods and innovative ideas from JPS educators for over 20 years. Since 1995, JPEF has funded more than 162 programs valued at over $200,000, for the students of Jenison. It is so great to have them partnering with our RELENTLESS, world-class educators to bring these ideas to life.

It is exciting to see the students engage their thoughts and ideas with courage, while facing risk of a mistake. I see huge benefits as these experiences are preparing their brains to see opportunity in a challenge, and is giving the world builders and tinkerers who are not afraid to try and ask, what if?

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Zome Tool was added to the Makerpace through a generous grant from the Jenison Public Education Foundation. Zome Tool is a building set with connectors and straight struts. This allows the students to create a multitude of shapes.

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Osmo is a tool that uses augmented reality in conjunction with an iPad. Students can explore with tangrams, numbers, words or interactive drawings. 

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