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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Pink Out 2020

Last Friday was our 12th Annual Pink Out event. This is the one day of the year that our amazing community comes together to support and make the renewed commitment that we will do everything in our power to fight against the ugly disease we call cancer. We cherish the gift of life and we will continue to support our families. I am so thankful that our gym is packed to standing room only on a yearly basis on this special night!

While this is no doubt a community wide effort, I also wanted to recognize the momentum our Jenison High School student body creates each and every year. In addition to t-shirt sales and donations, these students have creatively invented opportunities for fundraising and donated nearly $15,000 through the ‘Senior Survivor’ as well as the Men’s Varsity Basketball free throw contest.

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We were also honored to share this evening with our neighbors, the Reeths Puffer community, who recently stood in battle with one of their middle school teachers. We empathize with their loss and are glad that they were able to experience being a part of something we know is near and dear to their hearts as well.

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2020

Jenison Pink Out Honorees

Melanie Davis, Kimberly Duch, Ofelia Munez, Jody Heyboer, and Zach Schab. Continued support to you, from our entire community!

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Melanie Davis

Melanie’s whirlwind cancer journey began during the pregnancy of her 3rd child. A headache revealed a tumor which was successfully removed during the pregnancy. Not long after that, additional tumors were discovered throughout her body and diagnosed.

She was overwhelmed by the support and encouragement that initially came from her son’s school – people who were perfect strangers. Melanie didn’t want to ask for help and wasn’t really sure what to expect through treatments or even what sort of support she would need. That expanded into an introduction to the Pink Out team. The leaders of Pink Out were the face to all the names that were already praying for and offering Melanie’s family support. They provided additional emotional support and a listening ear. Pink Out was there with gas and meal cards, flowers, cookies, encouragement cards and more! And in true Jenison fashion, the Pink Out team went above and beyond in support for the family when their infant daughter passed away after fighting a medical condition. Melanie, you are not in this fight alone!

Kimberly Duch

Cancer is relentless and knows no boundaries. Just a few years ago, the Duch family came to Pink Out to honor Kim’s Mother-in-law Dianne Duch. Dianne was a courageous fighter and a friend to so many in the community. She passed away about a month before Kim’s diagnosis. Today, Kim takes a spot on the Pink Out floor to share about her journey with breast cancer. After finally facing her overdue mammogram, she found herself building her life around consults, appointments and many other facets of this journey they were all too familiar with. Early detection was on her side and with an aggressive plan of action, she had a very good prognosis and now recovery. Kim is exceptionally grateful for the friendship and continued support from Pink Out throughout her battle. Kim, we’re so happy you and your family came to share your story.

Ofelia Munez

Ofelia, with her family by her side, has been fighting Lung cancer since last spring. Surgery, recovery and chemo left her very tired with much pain and sadness. A knock on her door from the Pink Out team ushered in a new season of joy and hope. She not only received financial assistance to ease some burdens of bills and Christmas shopping, but immense encouragement and a real sense of community as well.

It was a treat to hear Ofelia deliver her story in Spanish, then her daughter Kristen Vega, translated in English adding her own perspective. She was a 2017 graduate of Jenison High School who sat in these bleachers just a few years ago – never imagining she would be standing on this gym floor with her own family some day. She is so thankful to Pink Out for all the support her mom and family has received. Ofelia and Kristen, we are thankful for the opportunity to be of assistance during this time. May you keep the joy and hope you have found!

Jody Heyboer

Pink Out has been with Jody since the beginning of her cancer journey in 2017. She was an honoree of Jenison Pink Out in 2018 and she enjoyed participating in the event from the stands in 2019. This year, she’s back to share her ongoing story. Chemotherapy, radiation and surgeries describes the last two years for her and her family. And the journey is far from over. A new diagnosis has her starting chemotherapy again this week. The ongoing commitment from the Jenison Pink Out team helps her know that she’s not alone and definitely not forgotten. The theme for the Pink Out teeshirts this year includes an umbrella and she has definitely felt protection from the storm. Jody – we’re holding on tight with you during this rollercoaster ride! Keep choosing joy!

Zach Schab

Upon diagnosis of a brain cancer, Zach was no doubt aware that he would go through some major physical changes and challenges but he was shocked to feel the toll he would take emotionally and psychologically. Experiencing trauma creates a weight that is not easily carried alone. He makes a passionate case for helping your neighbor whether they are dealing with cancer or not. Thank you Zach for such a reminder that we all can give just a little bit of effort to offer a great amount of help.

“Thankfully as humans we are not a solitary species, we have the ability to lighten the load of everybody around us. As a community, we have the power to change lives and embolden others. And not just those who have struggled with cancer – everybody can use a little extra help.” Zach Schab, Brain cancer survivor

This evening is always so inspiring and I am proud to be a part of this community. Each year, this event serves as a celebration of those who fight tenaciously and takes time to pause for those that we remember.

Thank you so much to the community, students, businesses – everyone who has put forth a small effort to make a big change for those in our community who are suiting up for the fight of their lives. Hope is brought to these fighters by the community and we are going to walk every step alongside them until their storm runs out of rain!

Please visit the Jenison Pink Out Facebook page to watch the Live recording of the ceremony. The Pink Out game is jam packed with action – from games and ceremony to special performances. The full photo gallery can be found here.

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In its second year, “Senior Survivor” was able to bring in $8,600 to benefit Jenison Pink Out. Based on the television show, 9 senior students attempt to raise money and compete in challenges to remain in the game. Thank you to the school chaperones who spent the night at school with them, the local business who kept them fed and most of all their friends and family who cheered them on and supported their efforts!

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The YEAR ROUND dream team behind Jenison Pink Out! Words cannot express the level of gratitude I have for the leadership of our Pink Out committee: Moni Marlink, Cindi Covell, Katy Hevelhurst, Jean Krzewski, and Donna Bergeon. These are some caring, compassionate women on a mission to care for their neighbors whenever it is needed; they are making a huge impact! THANK YOU!!

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Principal, Jon Mroz accepts the Pink basketball in recognition of best Pink Out Spirit Day at Sandy Hill Elementary. Way to go kids little Wildcats!

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Global School Play Day

Five years ago, the first annual Global School Play Day was celebrated as the kick off of a grassroots initiative to raise awareness about the necessity of unstructured play. This week, Pinewood students were counted in the 563,283 students from 75 nations who participated in a Play Day at school.

4486d8_3e2294f6fb754a5b8c894c0ac0aef6d2~mv2_d_2441_1959_s_2If you walked into some of these classrooms yesterday, you might have thought “all play and no work” was happening. However, this unstructured, self guided play is allowing our children to develop socially, emotionally and hone problem solving skills. Play is an important part of learning and these are necessary skills that will be used for the rest of their lives.

Global School Play Day gives the students an exciting opportunity to let play take over the classroom for a day. Teachers encourage students to bring toys from home to share with their friends in class. They leave the devices and battery operated fun at home (which is easier for some). It also encourages some of the older kids to reacquaint themselves with toys and hobbies they haven’t enjoyed in a while.

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Teachers and staff arrange the day and invite the toys, but nothing is organized beyond that. Children receive no adult instruction on how to play the games or who to play with.

Shanna Richey, Pinewood Kindergarten teacher enjoyed supervising her students and observing a special kind of leadership emerge from some of them. “Their faces just lit up as they were able to lead in sharing their toy. Some students had to explain how to play a game from home. It was so much fun watching each child find ways to share and play with others. I have had some very shy kids blossom on this day because they are able to lead in a new way of sharing their toy.” 

While some students found a new game or toy they really enjoyed, and some even found a new depth of friendship through this experience – everyone agrees, they can’t wait for next year’s play day! Play is a way of communicating and connecting so let me encourage our students and families to keep this sort of play alive!!

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Cards were fun for the older kids, they had fun teaching each other different games.

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Cross age learning buddies! Pinewood 4th grader (Brower) and Kindergardeners (Machiela) took this opportunity to play with and learn from each other!

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Classic games are always a hit!

 

Dr. Peter Gray, Ph.D. is a research professor at Boston College. His current work focuses primarily on children’s natural ways of learning and the life-long value of play. In his TEDx lecture, Peter Gray clearly argues the case that today’s kids do not play enough and this has impacted them negatively. In the past 60 years, quality unstructured play has declined, while society sees a gradual increase in anxiety and depression in children and adolescents.

Kindergarten Screening Information

Now is the time to get your young student started on the path to success in our highly esteemed school district! Jenison Public Schools Kindergarten screening will take place next week, February 3-7, 2020. This year, the process is kicking off a little earlier than in the past, in order to help families make plans and have the peace of mind they desire.

If your child will be 5 years old by December 1, 2020 and you are considering Jenison Public Schools, please complete the online pre-registration form and schedule a screening appointment as soon as possible. All children entering Transitional Kindergarten and Kindergarten must complete this process.

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Jenison Public Schools offers full day Transitional Kindergarten and full day Kindergarten, as well as Spanish Immersion Kindergarten programs for children who will be five years old on or before December 1, 2020. 

We believe that all students can learn, through a variety of instructional strategies and supports that meet the needs of each and every student. A creative, nurturing staff delivers a developmentally appropriate, yet challenging, curriculum that makes the Kindergarten experience a powerful foundation for your child’s education.

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Each child is unique and their date of birth doesn’t tell the whole story. The purpose of a kindergarten screening is to ensure a child is developmentally ready to start kindergarten and to determine whether any additional classroom supports may be needed. In general, each potential student will be evaluated on a range of tasks including self-care skills, language development, cognitive skills, gross motor skills, and fine motor skills.

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The ability to personalize curriculum to be able to meet the needs of students, while addressing the required state standards is a guiding principle for all our staff. 

All Kindergarten programs are available to children who reside in Jenison as well as the surrounding area. Through the Schools of Choice program, Jenison Public Schools accepts students residing in Ottawa, Kent, Allegan, and Muskegon counties without the necessity of a release from the district of residence.

We’re looking forward to meeting the next generation of Wildcats!

 

If your child will be 5 years old by December 1, 2020 and you are considering Jenison Public Schools, please complete the online pre-registration form and schedule a screening appointment as soon as possible. All children entering Transitional Kindergarten and Kindergarten must complete this process.

For further questions, please contact Lorri Gierman.

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Jenison Public Schools is an award winning district!

 

 

JJHS Thespians Celebrate Diversity with Honk Jr. Musical

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The highly esteemed Jenison Public Schools Theatre program is back again with a story that will warm your heart on the coldest of winter days!

Honk! JR. is a celebration of being different that is sure to delight audiences of all ages with its wit, charm and deeply moving message. The Jenison Junior High School cast, crew, and production team have worked extensively creating an amazing production and are thrilled to share this timeless story with you.

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The story you will see presented on stage has endured and evolved since the original published in the 19th century, but has remained as endearing as when it was first read and enjoyed in Denmark.  It continues to be relevant, as its themes are those of growth, understanding, and acceptance.  

Most of us can relate and have probably felt like the Ugly duckling at one point or another. Comparing ourselves to those around us, wondering why we couldn’t be more talented or more admired. Perhaps, wishing we could change something about our unique selves in order to better “fit in” with the world around us. Some may even have experienced very ugly circumstances because of our differences. 

Performances will take place at the Jenison Center for the Arts

Evening | January 23 and 24 | 7:00pm

Matinees | January 25 and 26 | 3:00pm

Tickets | $12 adults | $8 Senior Citizens | $6 Students under age 18 

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I promise, you and your family will be filled with joy and pride as the main character finds the strength to hold his “head up high” and be himself. He reminds us that each and every individual has something very special to offer the world.

In the end, it is not Ugly’s surprise transformation that is the most remarkable. The more significant shift occurs within his community. When Ugly makes the decision to return to his family who rejected him and the poultry who picked on him, he opens the door for reconciliation and forgiveness. By enthusiastically accepting him in the end, they dedicate themselves to celebrating differences. With Ugly’s return, they find strength through individuality rather than division.

I’m always impressed with the teamwork and community mentality from the directors, students and thespian parents. Many junior high students are new to the stage but we see each and every single member of the cast and crew embrace their unique role – playing their part to the best of their ability. You will feel uplifted and inspired by their performance, and I hope you will celebrate and encourage the ways in which each of us is “different” and unique. (Click here for the full photo gallery.)

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Break a leg, cast + crew! Once again, we are amazed by the hard work and dedication of the Jenison Thespians and can’t wait to see your latest production! You can get your tickets for this weekend here!

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Introducing the Jenison Junior High Theatre Directors

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Carol Johnson (Choreographer), Julie Oosterink (Director) and Sarah Hazel (Music Director)

Carol Johnson is Director of Orchestras at Jenison Junior High, and loves being a part of the Jenison theatre program. Over the past seventeen years, she has served on the director team for over a dozen of Junior High and High School musicals as choreographer, vocal director, pit orchestra director, elementary director, pianist, and violinist. She also helps direct a youth musical each summer at her church. Starting in early childhood, she loved spending countless hours on stage as a dancer, instrumentalist, vocalist, and performer in many musical theater productions in her hometown.

Although, this is Julie Oosterink’s first year directing the JJHS Musical, she is no stranger to the stage or the Jenison Theatre program. As a Jenison student she studied theatre through electives, participated in the props crew and also sang and dance in the high school musicals. She found a love for directing during Festival of Plays. In 2018, she joined the JHS staff as an English Language Arts team member. She is thrilled to join the JJHS theatrical team this year and looks forward to celebrating the magic of theatre with Jenison students as they share their talents with our community.

Sarah Hazel is also a proud Jenison alumni, who graduated from JPS in 2011. Her love of theater began at a young age performing in musical productions at church. In high school, Sarah found her niche in the theater program both on and off stage. Sarah earned her Music Education degree at Western Michigan University and is now a full-time private voice instructor at JPS. She has been working with the Jenison Theatre program since 2016. To be a part of Jenison productions once again, this time as a music director, has been so enjoyable and very nostalgic. She feels very blessed to work with a team of teachers, students, parents, and volunteers that is so passionate about the arts.

Honk, Jr. Performance Photos

Check out the photos to get a peek at a show you don’t want to miss! Click here for the full photo gallery.

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Click here for the full photo gallery.

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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

New Quick Links MenuAward Highlights

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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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