Training for the Future, Now

We are so fortunate to live in a community with quality, diverse resources to help our students prepare for the future. The Careerline Tech Center is a service of Ottawa Area Intermediate School District and is one of those rich opportunities offered to our students.

The Tech Center mirrors the commitment of Jenison High School, promoting personal success and lifelong learning while preparing students for tomorrow’s workforce. Providing career and technical education in 28 different programs opens doors for employment and post-secondary opportunities.

Recognizing that all students learn differently and have goals that are as unique as they are, we are proud to partner with the Tech Center; this year over 100 Jenison High School students are participating. Jenison High School Juniors and Seniors take advantage of work-based learning opportunities and earn college credit in program pathways such as Arts & Communication, Business, Management, Marketing & Technology, Construction, Engineering/Manufacturing, Health Sciences, Human Services and Transportation.

Meet three seniors who have discovered – and furthered a passion that has them excited about the future. I couldn’t be more proud to have these Wildcats representing Jenison as they expand their education beyond our halls.


Jaden Beaver

At first, Jaden wasn’t sure which program to choose for his first year at the Tech Center; however, he was sure that he wanted to minimize his time in a traditional classroom. Welding turned out to be a perfect fit. Along with learning the basic methods of welding, the class studies design, layout, cutting and fabricating of metals. He is pleasantly surprised with how much he is retaining as they study properties of metals and alloys. Jaden really appreciates the hands-on learning environment, and immediate feedback from his instructors as he works to hone his skills.

During the recent pause for in-person education, the Tech Center welding instructors took the opportunity to lead the class through online instruction to obtain OSHA certifications for the students. Following graduation, he is anticipating further education in the field of Welding. Jaden is feeling very positive about the future knowing that career prospects are plentiful.


Cierra Bolkema

The salon services industry is something that piqued Cierra’s interest long ago. When school dances and other events come around, she can be found helping multiple friends achieve their special look. She spent her early high school years anxiously awaiting this senior-only class. The cosmetology program is offered through Tulip City Beauty College in Holland and prepares the students to work toward their Cosmetology license. Cierra loves meeting new people through the program and is so excited to be getting practical application.

At the conclusion of the school year, she will have learned all the services that will be offered in a salon: hair shaping and styling, manicures, facials, waxing, and chemical services. She will also have gained 300 hours of instruction and knowledge to put toward the requirement for the State of Michigan license exam. Thanks to this program and the experience she received, Cierra has a very positive outlook for continuing her Cosmetology education after high school graduation.


Brandon Vlasblom

Participating in the Diesel/Heavy Equipment Mechanics program last year, Brandon is now studying Automotive Technology. This program focuses on Steering and Suspension, Electrical Systems, Engine Performance and Heating/AC. Students put their classroom knowledge to work by servicing customer cars, which are brought into the auto mechanics lab. He enjoys this hands-on type of work and likes getting the feel for the variety of problems and types of cars.

The program is accredited and instructors are certified. Through the duration of the program, Brandon will be given the opportunity to take a number of tests to gain State of Michigan certifications. He is grateful that he has found something he loves. Following completion of the Tech Center Automotive Tech program, Brandon likes the idea of pursuing the field further with more formal education following graduation.

Jenison High School Senior Builds Hope

When you walk around your house, you probably don’t give a lot of thought to the plumbing, let alone the plumber. It’s also safe to say that the students in our new elementary school building will give little thought to the plumbing that runs through their walls and under their floors.

But, Jenison High School and Careerline Tech Center senior, Mike Alkema sure will.

That’s because he helped lay the plumbing that will make serve the entire new school. Oh, and he also laid the brickwork as part of the masonry staff.

This past summer, Mike’s grandfather recommended him for a job with his employer who was doing the brickwork. So, while most of us were spending our summer days balancing work, kids schedules, and trips to the beach, Mike was laying the cinder blocks that would make the walls of Jenison’s newest school. He enjoyed the work but was also intrigued by the work of the plumbing team.

Mike sought out the supervisor of Alternative Mechanical to start developing a relationship with him and, potentially, make a long term connection. It worked, and when the school year began, Mike was offered the opportunity to work alongside the AltMech team in congruence with his training at Careerline.

“[Plumbing] is like a puzzle. You have to get from point A to point B and follow [building] code and I understand code and how it has to work.” Mike is on the site every weekday signing off on shipments, stocking all deliveries, and assisting the plumbers with whatever they need. “They’re really helpful. I went to the Tech Center this year and last year and I learned a lot, and came in pretty knowledgeable, but I’m still learning new things every single day I’m there.”

Mike + his grandfather

Mike plans to pursue a career in plumbing and is looking forward to working full time for AltMech because they offer health insurance, Christmas bonuses, and a 401(k) plan. He also likes that if the company completes a job under the bid, the employees get an equal share of the money that was saved. But these days, Mike is proud to be able to pay for his own phone bill and car insurance, and other personal bills. “This is really preparing me for what life is going to be like. Not many kids my age have that chance.”

“It’s really cool to be able to drive past the new school every day and think, “yeah, I work there and I helped build that. I started when there was nothing and now we’ve finished the first floor with brick.”

Mike is proud of the work he’s doing, how it’s helping him succeed and prepare him for life after graduation. “If I was just doing school, I wouldn’t be doing well.” His message to kids who are struggling: “You’ve just got to stick it out. You’ve got to do the best you can and even if it’s not what people want, you can try your hardest and you’ll find something you’re really good at, no matter what happens.”

We couldn’t agree more, Mike! We’re very proud of you finding your fit with plumbing and we’ll continue to be your cheerleaders as you work to build a safe and amazing new school for our youngest students. Your work will be appreciated for generations!