JHS Thespians present “The Miracle Worker”

The Miracle Worker tells the story of Annie Sullivan and her student, blind and mute Helen Keller. William Gibson’s The Miracle Worker dramatizes the volatile relationship between the lonely teacher and her charge. The JHS cast and crew have stepped up to the task with some big challenges portraying this classic story. Don’t miss your chance to catch the phenomenal student-run, annual Fall production this week!

The Miracle Worker has powerful messages for everyone. In Helen, Anne, and Kate Keller (Helen’s mother), audiences can identify with strong and independent female characters.  Others can empathize with parents of children with disabilities, and try to imagine the challenges as well as rewards these courageous and loving families experience.  It’s also easy for those in education to admire the tenacity and strength of teacher Anne Sullivan. 


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Performances will take place at the Jenison Center for the Arts, November 7 – 9 at 7:30pm and a matinee on November 10 at 2:30pm. Tickets are $12 for adults and $8 for Senior Citizens or Students under age 18. 

*Due to its dramatic nature, this play is not recommended for younger children who are unable to sit quietly for the duration of the performance.


When Anne Sullivan died, her ashes were placed inside the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.  After Helen died, her ashes were interred next to those of her beloved teacher. Teachers know how important and special a relationship with a student can be. Finally, everyone experiencing the show can relate to the importance of perseverance.

This year also marks the 25th Anniversary of Mr. Todd Avery bringing quality educational theatre to Jenison and our surrounding communities. 

Miracle_Worker_2019-1-2“Theatre can make a difference in the lives of everyone! No matter how our production touches you, we are delighted to share in our storytelling.  

Thank you to the many amazing volunteers overseeing essential teams such as set design, costumes, lighting, and sound. BRAVO Cast & Crew! Another job well done showcasing your talent and dedication! I am blessed to have the opportunity to direct this incredible play in my last year at JHS with this talented group of young actors and techs.” – Todd Avery, Director of Theatre Arts JPS

Click here for the full photo gallery.

Keep on beginning and failing. Each time you fail, start all over again, and you will grow stronger until you have accomplished a purpose – not the one you began with perhaps, but one you’ll be glad to remember.” Anne Sullivan

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Welcome Back! 2019-2020 School Year

Every year, as families are packing in just a little more summer fun, their hardworking teachers and staff have already turned the corner with back to school training and preparations. This year is no exception. It was exciting to see district training and kick off sessions already happening leading up to this week. Our opening session on Monday, August 19 was especially encouraging as the JPS administrators, teachers and professional support staff prepared to greet our 5,300+ students the following morning.

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The opening session was a great time to reflect on good personal news for our team members, welcome new staff, recognize the experience among us and dig deep thinking through the challenging work ahead of us. 

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The beginning dialogue for the day was based on a concept by comedian, Michael Jr.; he shares a profound but simple explanation for knowing your purpose – “Know Your Why”. What happens when the thought process changes from “What am I doing?” to “Why am I doing it?” As educators, if we understand why we are doing something – what we are doing has more impact. Our talents, resources and opportunities should always be used to move us to our ‘Why’?

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JPS Staff and Administrators take out their phones to record their WHY

These opening sessions are also when we align behind the theme for the year. As we kick off the 2019-2020 school year, I challenged each person in the room to “Be Relentless”. Let’s be all in – let’s do everything we can to believe in ourselves and our students, providing them love that is reminiscent of a family, interacting with them in a purposeful way. Let’s be a constant source of inspiration for this generation of students. I, for one, do not want to look back on this school year and wonder what if? 

I’m so encouraged with the participation from the day and the takeaways from some of our building leaders. I am confident we have the right people in place to get the job done. 

STAFFPOSTERCrystal Morse, principal of Bauerwood feels that the focus to “Be Relentless” means “Every student will feel they have value and a place to belong. That they are not defined by the things that get in their way, and there is an adult that believes this for them – even when they can’t believe it about themselves….yet.” 

Rachael Postle-Brown, principal of Pinewood Elementary, reflected on our kick off day and said: “Our teachers at Pinewood, treat every single child at our building like they are their own and do everything they can to help and support them. For me, this “Be Relentless” theme illustrates our efforts and dedication to meet the needs of every child and help them grow, feel valued, and feel connected to our community.”

Brent Huck, principal of Bursley Elementary, feels the overwhelming call to “do everything possible to ensure that all students are able to experience individual success.  I want our students to feel connected, valued, appreciated, and loved. We want to Be Relentless in our pursuit of excellence!”

I am all in this year and I bring this challenge to the community members as well. I am committed to being relentless in supporting and walking alongside of JPS staff as they meet the intellectual, emotional, and social needs of our students. It’s a great day to be a Wildcat!! #JPSBeRelentless

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Terry Dykstra, Guidance Counselor at the high school recently received some well deserved and timely attention this week. He is the picture of what ‘Relentless’ looks like at JPS. Tuesday was his 52nd year starting back to school and still going strong! Watch this video and hear Terry’s heart for impacting the lives of young people.

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During the opening session with staff and administrators, we discussed the importance of simple, conscientious efforts like meeting students at the door to give them an individual, heartfelt greeting. This is something Bauerwood teachers have been doing but this year they will be at the student’s level – such a simple shift. Here, Mrs. Finses welcomes her students at the door, on their level to their first day of their best year yet!

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A Bauerwood 1st grader showed up early on Tuesday to make sure her Kindergarten friend had the best first day ever!

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Getting crafty on the first day at Pinewood

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A successful kick off to the new year at JHS.

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JHS teachers participating in a professional development session

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Jenison Junior High administrators & teachers experiencing a ‘Trauma Informed Educators’ workshop. We are all in for all kids! Being a Trauma Informed Educator prepares us to understand & meet the needs of students who need us the most!

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JPS K-2 teachers spend time getting ready to welcome our youngest Wildcats!

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Professional staff members new to JPS this year: we’re so thankful to have such talented, caring and dedicated educators who have “big hearts” joining the Jenison family!

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JPS employees invested 2 days of their summer in a life changing training called Capturing Kids’ Hearts.

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How will you show your relentless Wildcat spirit this year?

 

 

JHS Fall Play: Robin Hood and The Heroes of Sherwood Forest

Months of hard work, late nights and intense creativity was unveiled this week on the great stage of the Jenison Center for the Arts. Director, Todd Avery and the Jenison High School Thespians kicked off their fall play season with preview performances of Robin Hood and the Heroes of Sherwood Forest. (Psst… you do not want to miss your chance to catch one of the remaining performances – visit www.jpsarts.com for tickets!)

Tuesday afternoon, our 4th, 5th and 6th grade students filled the JCA and were treated with a matinee of the show. It was encouraging to see our young students (and future thespians) soak in the show as a well behaved and responsive audience. The reviews are in and they gave it a whole lot of thumbs up! I wouldn’t be surprised if they talk their families into coming back this weekend. Wednesday was the first evening preview show open to the public.

132187678d09a945c320ce883c741291bfdba8b3Written by local playwright, Randy Wyatt, this fresh adaptation of the well-known English tale combines characters and elements from several medieval texts and gives it all a modern twist, emphasizing a community of heroes (men and women) rather than a one-man approach to heroism. Robin Hood and his friends—the hulking barbarian Little John, the kindhearted Friar Tuck, the sharpshooting woman-in-man’s clothing Scarlet, the jovial minstrel Alan-a-Dale and the retired soldier David of Duncaster—band together to save the poor people of Nottingham from unjust taxation and poverty at the hands of Prince John and his long-suffering yet cruel Sheriff. Two gypsy orphans, Maid Marion’s handmaiden and a mysterious stranger share a secret that could win the day—or see Robin hanged by morning!

The performance technique is a children’s theatre performance style, something Mr. Avery became very fond of during his time in college. Some of his best memories include working hard to make the story feel as if it was jumping off the page of a storybook. This is quite a departure from the Thespian projects of last year – he knew his students would need to be very intentional about the process. And they were, they proudly rose to the challenge. They portray a heartwarming story with plenty of action and humor! Another favorite he is excited for the students to share, is greeting the children from the audience, who for the last 90 minutes have been transported to another time and place. The storytelling power of theatre and its effect on people of all ages is remarkable; people come away very inspired by the magic being created before them on the stage.

132187889385c4fc2430ef45d42e6feb6c1bd66eAs with all Jenison High School Thespian productions, Robin Hood is entirely student-run with assistance from some staff members and many amazing volunteers overseeing other essential teams such as set design, costumes, lighting, and sound. BRAVO Cast & Crew! Another job well done showcasing your talent and dedication!

There are 5 more opportunities for you to catch this family friendly production this weekend. You will not want to miss it! Visit www.jpsarts.com for tickets

Written by Randy Wyatt |Directed by Todd Avery |Produced by special arrangement with Youth PLAYS

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