Let’s Talk Vaping

There is no sugar coating the truth: real danger is lurking behind the sleek design and sweet flavors of e-cigarettes. The use of these devices and the vaping trend has been named the most serious adolescent public-health crisis our country has faced in decades.

Vaping and the use of e-cigarettes is the fastest growing trend among teens. According to the 2017 Ottawa County Youth Assessment Survey, 1 out of every 4 teens has used a “vape” in the past month. While updated study results will be forthcoming, the rapid growth of this trend suggests that the new numbers will paint an even more harrowing picture for the families in our community.

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Nationwide data and graphic source: Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2019

 

At Jenison Public Schools, we are proud to offer a world-class education that prepares students to achieve their goals and chase their dreams. This means that we are focusing on developing the whole child – intellectually, socially, emotionally, and physically. Which is precisely why I feel this topic is well worth the attention. Providing information for our students to make the best choices for today and their future is the right thing to do.

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David Stults developed popcorn lung after exposure to dangerous food chemicals. He is now informing students about the dangers of similar vaping substances.

Partnering with the Jenison Parent Resource Center to inform and educate, Dr. Brandon Graham welcomed speaker and vaping awareness advocate, David Stults. Dave spent the bulk of his day with us for student assemblies that occurred earlier today. There is also a free townhall event for parents this evening who are interested in more information. If you are unable to attend tonight’s event, please reach out to Ottawa Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition for possible upcoming dates.

This is where we need to start – knowledge is power. When you know better, you can do better! This information will be vital in revealing the truth about the results of our students’ choices – and help parents know how to join the conversation.

Student Assembly Today:

Nearly 1,600 students (grades 7, 8, 9 and 10) went to the Jenison Center for the Arts today to participate in a presentation about the unknown truth and major health risks of vaping. Every moment of interruption to their traditional school day is worth the information gained.

David Stults, who is retired from GE became passionate about warning people of vaping dangers after being diagnosed in 2009 with bronchiolitis obliterans, more commonly known as “popcorn lung.’’ This is an incurable and possibly life threatening disease. Dave had been exposed to a chemical that was activated into a vapor during the microwave heating process. This same chemical is now commonly used in vaping products today. Life for Dave might be different today had someone warned against inhaling – or warned that the popcorn contained any hazardous chemicals. He has since become recognized as an expert in the field of vaping and has spoken at dozens of schools and to more than 25,000 students in 2019. His goal is to fight back while informing this generation of students and their parents.

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Stults aims to portray the real-life picture of what the chemicals do. He may look like a healthy person standing before them but he lets students know that their choices could be setting themselves up for an incurable disease with 40% lung capacity sooner than they might think. 

During the presentation, Dave asked 1/3 of the students present to stand. This represents a nationwide average of the students who have vaped. He acknowledges that the students may think this is a fun and social thing to do, but quickly educates that they are voluntarily inhaling and possibly becoming addicted to a deadly cocktail. The chemicals in e-cigarettes plus the nicotine present makes addiction and lifelong bodily harm a very real possibility; and it can happen quicker than you think.

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2017 Ottawa County Youth Assessment Survey. We must change this perception! 

This 1/3 of students standing also contains the students who may be vaping on a regular basis and could already be addicted. Vaping pods have as much nicotine in one pod as 200 regular cigarettes. Which is a staggering number and almost impossible to keep track of. With a regular cigarette, it is lit, smoked and discarded. With the vaping pod, there is no way to know how much is actually being ingested. Every push of the button brings another hit, and when it can be done with minimal disguising effort such as inside the school bathroom or even the classroom – the frequency is likely to be much higher. 

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The numbers of students vaping looks different among the age groups in the assemblies today. The influence of this information among the younger kids will hopefully be strong enough to encourage them to never even try it. The older students may be faced with a different take away – now that you know better, what will you do? If you have students or grandchildren in 7-10th grade, I urge you to ask them what they learned today and open the dialog.

Free Town Hall Tonight:

Tonight, there is a free local town hall that is meant for parents, educators, youth pastors, community members – anyone who works with our youth. A one time presentation from experts like Dave Stults may make an impact on our students, but lasting change comes from continuing the conversation through support and reinforcement at home. As adults, we cannot afford to lack understanding regarding this trend or be flippant about these dangerous choices.

While Dave addressed our students today, he had this to share with parents: if you discover your child is vaping or addicted to vaping, it’s not time for discipline and disappointment, it’s time for connection and support. Help them navigate a life change within a positive environment. While these devices are fairly new, their reach is far and wide and hitting our young people harder than the temptation of the traditional cigarette. Also, far less research has been done on the full affects on the body and the challenge of quitting may be greater. More advice on quitting can be found here.

It really is scary to think of the health issues our students might have to deal with and the path this sort of possible addiction could lead them. I sincerely hope the result of these sessions is less use and a more informed community. Young adults who are able to make healthier choices while encouraging friends with positive influence. As well as a more aware and better informed parent community about the unintended health and addiction consequences that can result from vaping.

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HELPFUL INFORMATION ABOUT VAPING:

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Graphic Source: The Real Cost, US Department of Health and Human Services

 

Fresh Look for JPSonline.org

The Jenison Public Schools website is one of the best ways for us to connect with students, staff and the community. Recently, our team has been hard at work to improve this essential communication tool. Striving to be user-friendly for frequently accessed content, while also appealing to new members of our Jenison community. With the release of our new logo, colors, and fonts earlier this year; it was the perfect time to revamp the website.
Home Page
The new website employs a customized design that carries out our new logo and branding. Users will enjoy professional photography representing the entire district. as well as interactive experiences including social media news feeds, interactive calendars and easier accessibility to staff and building contact information.
Focusing on improving the user experience, it was important for information to be found quickly and easily – with as few clicks as possible. Revamping and building a website is quite the undertaking and we’re excited to invite you to check out the finish product!
Screen Shot 2020-01-09 at 8.42.07 PMAs in everything we do; we learn, adapt and make changes as we need to and our website will be no different. Please join us in exploring the new site and interact with all of our social media sites including Twitter and Facebook. New Year, New Logo. New Website.
Below are some screenshots of the new website :
  • Athletics Interactive Social Media – live feeds of all things athletics via Twitter and Facebook, schedules and cancellations and facility video flyover
  • Athletics Home – updated pictures to spotlight explementary athletic programs
  •  New Quick Links Menu – quick links to important pages within the website. Employment, New Student Registration, Transportation, etc
  • Award Highlights – Graphics to display notable awards district-wide
  • Home page – new home page with new logo, navigation menu, and more

 

Athletics Home

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Happy New Year 2020

As educators, the Jenison Public Schools Staff and Faculty get the opportunity to celebrate two New Years. The start of a school year brings renewed commitments, purpose, and promise centered on our students. The holidays then provide a time for relaxation and refreshed determination.

Now, as we all embark on a new decade, I hope this calendar year brings the Jenison community much love, prosperity, & personal growth!

Looking forward to seeing everyone back in school on Monday, January 6!

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Santa’s Elves on Bus 12-17

While her job title is ‘bus driver’, Kristin Bredeweg takes her role as a teacher and ‘family leader’ just as serious as her safe driving record.

Kristin has been driving her route for 8 years and works hard to create a family atmosphere on her bus. She takes the time to get to know her students and seeks to take advantage of teachable moments. She also looks forward to bringing them together with a special project during the holidays. 

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This year, she organized a campaign to collect toys that would be delivered to the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital downtown Grand Rapids. Encouraging our students to think outside themselves; they were impacted by the thought that some children would be spending their holidays not at home around the tree, but in the hospital.

Friday, December 20, students were dismissed for the holiday break at half day and they headed to the bus garage to complete their secret santa mission. Students retrieved the collected toys that had been stored there and filled up bus 12-17 with everything from Lego sets, to books, crayons and stuffed animals. They collected hundreds of items and it was especially exciting that the Bauerwood students were able to take a trip on their bus and participate in the delivery.

Countless JPS teachers and staff members bring students together for special holiday projects like this. I’m so proud and am always amazed how our community takes advantage of the opportunity to spread joy and happiness.

Check out the local news story on WZZM.

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Holiday Spirit in Song

Once the snow begins to fly and we officially flip the calendar to December, the clock seems to run faster by the day. I thoroughly enjoy taking the time to slow down and take in this season of sounds. Teachers, students and musicians begin working on their holiday performances not long after school resumes in the fall and I hope families have created wonderful memories watching their children of all ages shine.

The elementary music program season actually kicked off in late November in order to accommodate all of the performances to be held at our state of the art, Jenison Center for the Arts. Last week, Jenison Conductors Grant Carmichael, Dan Scott, Josh Zallar, Dave Zamborsky along with accompanist Justin Colwell led nearly 250 student performers for a Christmas Collage concert that I would consider the highlight of the holiday season.

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Mr. Dan Scott welcomes the audience and invites them to join the choirs in singing  “Deck the Halls” arranged by Carmen Dragon. This piece was written for the Hollywood Bowl orchestra back in the 40’s and represents an era of classic symphonic Christmas sounds we don’t hear very often anymore, one of Mr. Scott’s favorites of the evening.

 

The high school performers of the Advanced Women’s Chorus, Chamber Singers, Chorale, Chamber Orchestra, Symphony Orchestra and Wind Symphony performed an absolutely spectacular performance that wowed 1,300 guests. Allowing the band, orchestra and choir to collaborate gives them and their families the opportunity to hear ensembles they’re not involved with. It was such a treat to hear the stage come alive with all aspects of our award winning music program.

Performing traditional holiday favorites as well as new pieces, the sheer talent present on stage – from students and staff was unbelievable. As many of our students participate in multiple groups, the stage was buzzing with set changes throughout the evening. Performers moving locations, picking up their instrument, or joining their choir group depending on the song.

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The song Hine Ma Tov performed by the Choirs, Wind Symphony and Symphony Orchestra was a song that was originally written as a choral piece. The directors knew they wanted to perform this piece with more than just the choir so Mr. Dave Zamborsky was tasked with tapping into another one of his amazing talents. He would arrange the orchestration piece for the students to learn.

In the few weeks following the Band of America Nationals competition, Mr. Zamborsky poured himself into the new arrangement; taking the song from his head, to the page, to the classroom. The students had a few weeks to learn their individual parts and just two full rehearsals together prior to the performance.

The theme of the song is, Yea, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers and sisters to dwell together in unity! It was an incredibly moving experience to watch these groups represent unity in music. 

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Mr. Dave Zamborsky conducting Hine Ma Tov

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The final number of the evening is always exciting and breathtaking. Family and community members of all ages are invited on stage to join the students in singing the Hallelujah chorus.

Every year, the talented musicians and our amazing directors give our community an incredible Christmas gift with these performances. We are very blessed by the passion and commitment of these teachers. Jenison is an incredible place to be home for the holidays!

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The Gift of Friendship

Developing today’s students to be tomorrow’s leaders is a core commitment at Jenison Public Schools and I see the LINKS program as an every day example of this.

Some of our students with different needs (including Autism Spectrum and others with a disability or cognitive challenge) may require a categorical program with a specific educational plan. While they receive extra one-on-one educational support either from a teacher or paraprofessional, studies have proven that students favor connection with and respond better to their own peers. Our peer-to-peer LINKS program allows for those students to receive the necessary extra supports in a more natural way, by placing a general education student by their side. 

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Depending on the needs, this awareness and connection between the students is cultivated already starting in elementary school. Informally teaching general education students about the uniqueness of their peers, to include others and how to interact with a student who may be having a difficult time.

As students reach high school, the general education LINKS student can further their education and choose the LINKS class as an elective. Mrs. Stacey Van Laan runs the program and meets with the class once a week for instruction that focuses on training the methodologies of working with people with different abilities. They also complete assignments and projects that promote the application of their learning. Each semester, the LINKS student is placed with a Peer student during one class hour (his or her elective hour). The role of the LINKS student is to act as a peer advocate, mentor, role model and friend for their Peer student. Together, they work toward the goal of independence and socialization. The Peer students learn to be a meaningful member of a pair or group and receive assistance with organization of assignments and supplies.

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Peer-2-Peer Bowling Outing

A few of our 11th grade LINKS students reflect on how much they learn from their Peers. Reveling in the uniqueness of their personalities and their interests. They are reminded to be patient with not only their Peers, but everyone they meet. It’s so encouraging to hear how they really love the role of being their friends and seeing them during passing, lunch time, and before and after school.

It’s beyond exciting when we hear parents of the LINKS students commenting on the passion they see in their child to help their Peers. It’s doubly exciting when parents of Peers reciprocate with how much their child is loving school and their LINKS friends. Expressing amazement at the connection and growth they have seen, after some difficult years.

“Jenison has the best kids for this program! We are super grateful for the LINKS students who take the time to help our son be awesome.”  

Parent of a Peer student

In addition to the life skill building that occurs during the school day, the LINKS program arranges social gatherings when possible. A few weeks ago, the group went bowling and during the fall they visited Post Family Farm. This week they finished their Christmas shopping together and celebrated with a cookie decorating and movie party earlier this afternoon. Peer students are also given the option to join a group for school sports, music and theatre events. These types of outings solidify their relationships outside of the classroom and gives all students the experience of a fun social outing.

The inclusive and connected culture within this program and Jenison High School is life changing. I’m so grateful for the gift of time and friendship that the LINKS so genuinely and generously give. Many of the students stay in touch beyond their semester class and continue their social connection. The LINKS program is changing lives through research, education and the relentless passion of our Jenison High School students.

A handful of recent Jenison graduates and former LINKS students are currently studying for their Special Education degree. Other recent LINKS students are planning to use their experience to fuel a career in Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Nursing, Child Life Specialist, etc… Today’s students WILL become tomorrow’s leaders.

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Peer-2-Peer Cookie Decorating and Movie Christmas Party

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Peer-2-Peer Club Post Family Farm Outing

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Peer-2-Peer Christmas Shopping Mall Trip

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Capturing Kids’ Hearts

In the summer of 2008, Jenison Public Schools made a commitment to partner with the Flippen Group to bring the Capturing Kids’ Hearts model to our entire school district. This organization teaches processes that help increase student connectedness with both peers and adults in our schools. As a part of the training, teachers are taught how to create and maintain safe, caring, and motivating classroom environments for learning. Every year since, JPS administrators and teachers continue to learn, practice, and implement these processes in their buildings and classrooms. 

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The impact of the Flippen Group’s leadership and Capturing Kids’ Hearts trainings on Jenison Public Schools has been amazing. It has fundamentally changed the culture of our entire school district. Parents report that one of the primary reasons for choosing our school district to partner with them in educating their children is because of the culture that exists in our schools. It has been so rewarding to watch our leaders, teachers and staff work relentlessly to keep their focus sharp while implementing these tools and processes. We have witnessed a transformational impact and are observing life changing experiences with our students in each building.

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Eleven years ago the administration, teachers, and support staff at Bauerwood Elementary started a journey to transform their school into a relationally connected and emotionally safe place for students, staff, and parents. This ongoing journey has culminated in national recognition.

 

15530758bf5f24bdc1fac733a7d241562211ba93I am especially proud that Bauerwood Elementary has received national recognition by earning a Capturing Kids’ Hearts National Showcase School award for the 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 school years. I’m excited to share some of the ways your children are seeing this passion and commitment play out during their school day at Bauerwood, as well as other campuses.

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Ashley Martin’s 4th Grade Bauerwood students worked together to create a Social Contract.

 

 

Crystal Morse and her staff at Bauerwood Elementary School proudly accepts the responsibility of educating ALL children to their fullest potential; academically, emotionally, socially, and physically. 

A veteran teacher that has been with Jenison most of her 20 years of teaching, Kim Finses, takes great care to welcome each of her Bauerwood kindergarten students at the start of the day. Her students choose which way they’d like to be greeted (hand shake, high five, hug, etc). By respecting their choice and greeting them at their level, she is giving them a sense of belonging, modeling respect and allowing them to be seen – it starts the day off on the right foot for both students and teachers.IMG_0683.jpg

“Morning Meeting” time in Tobi Hoeker’s Bauerwood 3rd grade class is another creative start to the day. Pulling them away from their desks and into a circle promotes social-emotional learning in a sort of team/family environment. They are greeting each other, listening to others share, and getting themselves ready to learn – while establishing safety and trust. This time also helps launch the students into the day with a collaborative challenge or mindset.1553061445913df08ab9196a3e53d258c9b9cf7915530642f1b118b7bbea993e462b3d97de25968bThey are also building connection in their class community by utilizing the classroom for lunch time as opposed to the larger (possibly overwhelming) cafeteria arrangement. Having their lunch together in class emulates family dinner and provides opportunities to connect in a less stimulating room. The students work together to keep their room clean, they have more time to play and might even get to enjoy story time while they calmly eat.

 

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Craig Westra has been teaching at Jenison since 1994. He loves to help his 4th grade Bauerwood students focus on positive thinking and gives them a way to visualize it. One year his room was overwhelmed with positive thinking in the form of “Good Thing Rings”. This year the theme is ‘Tree Good Things’, a student will share a good thing by writing it on a leaf and then attach it to the tree. the number of leaves quickly multiply and when a down day comes along, they are encouraged to visit the tree for a boost of encouragement.

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IMG_1992Keegan Goalen and his 1st grade Bauerwood students collaborated on a classroom social contract at the beginning of the year. The social contract process is open and welcomes all ideas and opinions. The final version contains classroom principles that all the students have agreed upon. The social contract follows the students whether they are in Mr. Goalen’s classroom or perhaps down the hall at their art or music special.  Posted prominently in the classroom, the students can refer to the agreement at any time, holding themselves and each other accountable.  15530750af9ee769bc9abee9e161d4aa824e2272

Bauerwood Elementary’s sensory path has been designed to give students a creative and playful way to combat brain drain, relieve stress or burn off energy. When a teacher is connected to a student and their needs, this can be used as a tool to improve focus and prevent potential disruptive behaviors from occurring within the classroom environment. 155307555ede51c1f39050f0c0b78ec70b251213

In addition to changing our culture, the training that we received assisted us in continuing to maintain a school district of excellence. 

I am extremely proud of the efforts that those who make up Bauerwood Elementary have invested in making their school a safe, caring, and loving community for all learners. In the words of Tanya Peterson from the Flippen Group, Bauerwood Elementary was identified as a remarkable school, with a great school leader, and outstanding teachers, “we celebrate them as some of the most skilled and effective educators in the country!” and I couldn’t agree more!

*The criteria for the National Showcase School Award was based on the following: 1) nomination gathered from observation, 2) level of implementation of Capturing Kids’ Hearts processes by all staff as measured by online surveys, and 3) data demonstrating that Capturing Kids’ Hearts has made a significant improvement in attendance, discipline, climate/culture, and academics. A team from the Flippen Group visited Bauerwood Elementary to gather additional quantitative and qualitative data and to interview students, teachers, administrators, and parents. An additional survey was conducted to collect feedback regarding the perceived climate and culture of the school campus and its conduciveness to learning. The collective findings resulted in Bauerwood Elementary being identified as one of the very best schools in the entire country in implementing the tools and processes of Capturing Kids’ Hearts. 

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Small change adds up BIG

As I look forward to spending time with my family this Thanksgiving weekend, it’s very easy to be thankful for all I have been blessed with. Today, I am also reflecting on a commitment to make one small choice daily; to live with an attitude of gratitude in all circumstances. I have been encouraged by the efforts of our students this month, joining together through many small initiatives to make a very big difference.
Our annual change fundraiser “Your Change Can Change Hunger” began in 1998 and is something the kids look forward to each year. After a 15 year partnership with another food pantry in West Michigan, the focus shifted to a more local organization. Hand2Hand partners with local churches and schools to provide a backpack filled with supplemental food that bridges the gap of weekend hunger. When students became aware that their change was going to help kids in their own school district, possibly even their own building – giving sharply increased. The fervor with which students wanted to take care of their own is so inspiring!

 

YCCCH Winning Class

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The high school students conducted a pop can drive, lunch time raffle ticket sales, hosted a movie showing with drinks and snacks for sale, promoted general collection competitions between classes, sold sodas and Post Family Farm donuts.

The Junior High had an another amazing year raising money through many avenues as well. Students sold coffee, hot chocolate, stickers and gelato. Classes thrived off of competing against one another, and setting personal classroom goals. Students and staff members worked hard at making each goal happen, and we believe they succeeded in many ways.

Competition polls with two containers were popular for students to express their preferences: Coke or Pepsi, Dog or Cat. Elementary class competitions brought an exciting pizza party or pajama day to the winning classroom.

They are always so creative and it’s such a positive environment during this fundraiser. Students are so generous with their time and money knowing how it is helping right here in their community. 

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Our annual contribution drive recently wrapped up with yet another record breaking year! I’m happy to say our students, staff and families have done it again … raising a record $27,567.79 during this year’s 22nd Annual “Your Change Can Change Hunger” fundraiser!!

It is both exciting and humbling to realize that since the inception of YCCCH here in Jenison, our students, staff and families have raised just over a quarter of a million dollars to fight hunger!! Donations have reached over $141,000 specifically for local students through Hand2Hand since 2013. What a wonderful community we live in! Small change can add up big and…Your Change really CAN Change Hunger!

Thank you so much to each and every one of our Jenison families for your part in keeping this wonderful tradition alive and growing to bless our kids.

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National Philanthropy Day Recognition

 The Jenison High School student body has been generously giving back and raising awareness for the Make-a-Wish Michigan mission for the past 20 years. I join Tracy Mossburger and Kelly Cole, JHS Student Council Teacher Advisors, in expressing an immense amount of pride in the integrity and efforts of our students! The Make-a-Wish organization itself nominated our students for “Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy” and said they “exemplify the spirit of the Kids for Wish Kids program“. Our student council representatives found out about the nomination and award during the homecoming pep assembly earlier this year along with the whole student body.

This program is a platform for youth to create fundraisers to help support the mission and grant wishes of children battling critical illnesses. In 2014 and 2018, our students raised a total of almost $30,000 during homecoming events. Students fundraised through many creative ways; selling bracelets, stars, pizza slices and they even hosted a community carnival and tailgate party prior to the 2018 Homecoming football game. The students led the way to make this a successful community effort. 

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Earlier this year at the homecoming pep assembly, the student body was surprised with the news that they had been nominated for and awarded the Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy award.

In addition, each class adopted a child who had experienced a wish granted by Make-a-Wish Michigan, and created a themed float for the homecoming parade based on that wish. Our students were so inspired, and felt empowered to make a difference, through the chance to meet the local wish kids and partner with them on the creation of the float. 

“I feel incredibly lucky that I get to work with such amazing kids, they give so much of themselves each day to better our community. Please don’t ever think that high school kids can’t do something… give them some guidance, direction, and freedom to develop and they will do more than you can think possible! I am also lucky that I have gotten to connect with some pretty amazing people at, and through, Make-A-Wish.”

Tracy Mossburger,

Jenison High School Teacher and Student Council

Make-a-Wish Michigan has shown immense gratitude for the way our student body has displayed selfless acts of kindness for many deserving children in West Michigan. The creativity and perseverance of our students through these efforts shows them leading by example. The character of our students to work so hard, focusing on others is such an inspiring thing to witness. Go Wildcats!

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Tracy Mossburger and Kelly Cole, JHS Teacher Advisors attended the award ceremony with the Student Council representatives . 

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On November 12, the Association of Fundraising Professionals West Michigan (AFPWM) honored Jenison High School with ‘Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy Award 2019’.

IMG_0297Make-a-Wish kid ambassadors in the 2018 Homecoming parade.

Homecoming Blog posts:

Homecoming Dreams Big 2018

Make a Wish for Homecoming 2018

Homecoming 2014

 

History with a Hero

Without America’s veterans, our beloved country would not exist as we know it today. I am grateful for their sacrifices to protect our freedoms. I believe that passing this gratitude and appreciation onto the next generation is invaluable.

Earlier this week, our elementary schools were preparing projects about respecting and honoring Veteran’s Day to share with their classmates, and learning about different components of military service. One Bauerwood 3rd grade classroom was creating lap quilts that will be taken down to the VA.

Right before the anniversary of D-Day this year (June 6), Sandy Hill 4th and 5th graders also had the distinct privilege of meeting a very decorated war veteran and local hero.

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Al Johnson

After his initial medical training, Al Johnson signed up for a very risky assignment. He worked during World War II as a spy for the secret division called Office of Strategic Services (OSS), aiding the French Resistance and cover operations in Germany and China. The OSS is the predecessor to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

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Al Johnson joined the military and was assigned medical training.

Christy Roloffs is a Sandy Hill teacher and through family connections was aware of his amazing story. Mrs. Roloffs invited Mr. Johnson as a guest speaker to make this history come alive. She knew that a living example is far superior to textbooks and films.  

The confidential nature of the work he did was made public in 1987 when the order of secrecy was lifted. At this time, the story of his work and the OSS is fairly new; sadly many who experienced it with Mr. Johnson are no longer alive.

Just last year, nearly 3/4 of a century after the war, the contributions of Al and his team were recognized with Congressional Gold Medals. This is the nation’s highest civilian honor. The members of the OSS were previously awarded the Legion of Honour, the highest civilian distinction in France. 

He brought photo albums, his medal cases, and even pulled out his OSS medal and let the kids touch it. The kids were enthralled, listened intently and asked great questions.

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What an amazing experience for our students to spend this time with Mr. Johnson and learn first hand what his military career was like.

Every day is a great day to tell all those who served our country in the military thank you for their service. We are thankful for all they have given to protect our freedoms and way of life in the United States of America. We are also so proud of all our Jenison Alumni and parents that served or are currently serving their country.

For the full story of Al Johnson’s service, check out the video below.

For more local news coverage on Mr. Johnson: WOOD TV and HOLLAND SENTINEL

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