Light up the Night 2020

No one can deny the loss all students are experiencing during this time. It is especially real for the Class of 2020 who expected their high school career to culminate with a variety of memory making events. There’s nothing we can do to change it all but I want each of them to know they are loved and supported.

Joining other OK Red Conference schools, Jenison High School Principal Dr. Brandon Graham and Athletic Director, Tim Ritsema participated in a local effort called ‘Light up the Night’. On the official final day of classes for the Class of 2020 – students embraced the simplicity of the event with a drive through visit of the campus and some families strolled the grounds of the stadium. A simple gesture to show support for our seniors and it was a beautiful sight to see.

Teacher Appreciation Week

Much has changed about the world of education these past 8 weeks, but one thing has not changed. The incredible Jenison Public Schools staff has continued to show their gigantic hearts, tenacious spirits and attitudes of perseverance.

From day 1 of the COVID-19 closure, our amazing teachers and staff have been working hard to stay connected to their students. The interruption to our face-to-face instruction has served to reveal how much our students mean to our teachers and vice versa. JPS teachers are “all in, all of the time” meeting the needs of their students. I am grateful to know and work with extraordinary teachers and staff who care so deeply.

Even with Remote Learning Plans engaged, Teacher Appreciation Week was still something to celebrate! It was fun to see different schools, parent clubs and students showing their love and appreciation last week in different ways.

On Friday, El Puente teachers stopped by school to pick up gifts from the Parent Club. Little did they know, many EP families were just down the road staging a surprise parade of appreciation!

Bauerwood teachers were recognized with a pretty sweet, socially distanced visit. Handmade signs and donuts were delivered to every Bauerwood staff member last week.

It was an awesome opportunity for schools to partner with and support our local businesses as well. Cards with gift certificates to The WIN and Palermo’s Pizza were mailed. Books and Biggby gift cards were speaking a teacher’s love language. A lunch time pizza parade with Lombardo’s Pizza provided a gift to make teacher tastebuds happy too!

Throughout the week, many of the schools were recognizing their teachers with ‘shout outs’ via social media and inviting students to join the fun. Students were busy sending their love with video messages, drawings, poems, letters, silly dances and making music! Some families even sent some home baked goodies to show their appreciation. No matter what ‘THANK YOU’ sounded or looked like last week, it never seems enough for the superheroes that are our JPS teachers and staff!

THANK YOU Jenison Public Schools teachers for the amazing job you do, day in and day out! #JPSBeRelentless

Jenison International Academy

The entire Jenison Public Schools district is full of education professionals working day in and day out to make sure our district continues to provide the best educational programming possible. We are committed to working closely with the families who choose to partner with Jenison Public Schools in educating their children. For nearly a decade, we have proudly offered educational choice through the Jenison International Academy.

Jenison International Academy is a fully accredited blended and online school educating elementary, middle and high school students throughout West Michigan and around the world. As an integral piece of our educational offerings, JIA stands by their mission to provide an engaging, personalized learning experience; bringing the home, school, and world together through K-12 Full Time Online programming, K-6 Blended Program, and Part Time Homeschool Partnership. JIA also works to plan, develop, implement, and oversee international projects and programs.

The JIA teaching staff excels at numerous educational challenges including creating curriculum and building online courses with user experience in mind. Planning in a way that provides students a quality online learning environment with high caliber content and giving them the ability to schedule themselves a week or more at time. As another campus in the district, the JIA staff is also working hand in hand with other building administrators and counselors to make sure the programming complements the traditional schooling experience.

While a student’s education can be largely online, there is the availability of a physical Learning Center at the local JIA campus, providing a quiet space or teacher guidance to complete school work. As teachers in our traditional buildings are available to students for content clarification or relationship building, JIA teachers also have open office hours and participate in Virtual Learning Centers. They know the value of working diligently to develop relationships with each student as there is typically much less face-to-face than in the traditional environment. They are seeing the fruits of their labor as they continue to guide students through their online learning during the current COVID-19 school closure.

JPS Robotics Family: Ian, Adam, Rebekah and Alex Timmer

Alex and Ian Timmer joined JIA at the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year after coming from the traditional program. Alex is a junior and has really appreciated the smaller class sizes and his streamlined day. Getting his work done without distractions of other students in the morning and then participating in the Tech Center for Diesel/Heavy Equipment Mechanics program. A freshman, Ian, was really intrigued by the Engineering program at JIA and he is involved in the Jenison Robotics and J-Stem programs. He also likes focusing on his work to complete in his own time and has been pleasantly surprised by how much he is on the JIA Campus. Although the shift of owning their daily schedule required some getting used to, both brothers agree that the flexibility is something they have grown to love.

We are excited to be able to offer a world-class education that prepares ALL students to achieve their goals and chase their dreams. The JPS Fine Arts programming is recognized nationwide for its excellence in performance. Our athletic offerings provide numerous opportunities for students to be part of highly competitive teams. The Jenison community has generously provided our students, educators, directors, and coaches with incredible facilities to train and perform. I’m so grateful that we are able to offer these resources to ALL our students. No matter their experience (blended or traditional), or which environment is hosting the learning (home or on campus), we are all WILDCATS! We are Jenison!

Whether students are receiving instruction face-to-face or through online learning programs, JIA has created an atmosphere of community through traditional school experiences. Including talent shows, spirit days, classroom parties, or other outings. Check out their happenings on Twitter @JIAOnline or Facebook.

2020 District Awards

In the midst of a challenging spring, it is refreshing and uplifting to receive word that Jenison Public Schools has received recognition for multiple awards. I’m so grateful for everyone in the JPS family who has employed a relentless attitude and taken ownership to push our district to be the best it can be. Way to go Wildcats!

  • Jenison Public High School has been named as one of the best high schools in the state of Michigan by U.S. News & World Report.
  • Bauerwood Elementary has earned the title of Capturing Kids’ Hearts National Showcase School.
  • The Jenison Music department has earned our district the NAMM 2020 Best Communities for Music Education.

Our Tradition of Excellence continues because of outstanding building leadership, exemplary teaching, a terrific student body, supportive parents, and a generous community! The outstanding work being done by our K-12 students, teachers, and support from our Jenison community truly make Jenison High School an exceptional place to learn – it also placed us in top 95% of the country.


Capturing Kids’ Hearts is the foundation on which Jenison Public Schools is built. It is about building relational capacity with our students and with each other. It is a terrific tribute to Bauerwood Elementary School to be recognized as a Capturing Kids’ Hearts Showcase School for the 3rd year in a row. Being a showcase school means every adult makes student relationships a priority not only in their words but through their actions. Bauerwood is in very select company across the nation. I am very proud of Principal Crystal Morse and her staff.


The NAMM Foundation Music award program recognizes outstanding efforts by teachers, administrators, parents, students and community leaders who have made music education an important part of a well-rounded education. This definitely applies to high school directors Grant Carmichael, Dan Scott and Dave Zamborsky; they also represent a team of hardworking music educators we have at Jenison Public Schools. From parents to teachers, students to administration, all have worked together to make beautiful music and achieve this acknowledgment.  


*COMMUNITY FOOD DISTRIBUTION INFORMATION*

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

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

JENISON PUBLIC SCHOOLS LUNCH PROGRAM UPDATE:

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

As of Monday, May 4, all Jenison School lunch program distribution will be done at the Jenison High School – 2140 Bauer Road, Jenison. Stop by the West Parking Lot on Monday for Monday and Tuesday meals, or on Wednesday for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday meals.

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

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.

Class Meet #1

 


 

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. 

ETeEbuXWsAMElW6

 


*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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