JHS Recognized with Michigan Exemplary Athletic Program award

The honor and privilege of serving as the Superintendent of Jenison Public Schools is a humbling, yet greatly rewarding experience. As a destination school for many families, it’s no secret just how amazing this place is.

It is well deserved when our staff and programs are recognized for their excellence. JHS has been honored by Newsweek Magazine multiple times as the Best High Schools in America, the Washington Post’s most challenging high school as well as a GRAMMY Foundation Signature School. Also, receiving recognition as one of the best 100 communities in the nation for music education nine times.

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Cody Inglis – MHSAA Director, Tim Ritsema – JHS Athletic Director, Brandon Graham – JHS Principal, Emily Siler – Student Athlete and Tom TenBrink – JPS Superintendent. Banner held by Athletic Booster representatives, Erich Stoezner and Jason Kyle.

Not only do we have an outstanding music and fine arts program, but a successful athletic program as well. Established in 1971, Jenison has a short but rich history of athletics and hard working supporters. At Jenison, we believe in the value and benefits of dedication, motivation, and perseverance. We see our athletic program as a vital part of our total educational program and take pride in its achievements. 

At our Homecoming football game on September 20, Jenison was officially recognized as an Exemplary Athletic Program by the Michigan Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association’s (MIAAA). We are one of 25 schools that have received this award – and only a handful of them are in the West Michigan area. This is the result of many years of hard work to create a quality infrastructure and a reputable athletic experience; one that functions as an extension to our fantastic educational and fine arts programs.

Former Athletic Director, Kevin Van Duyn (also 1983 Jenison student athlete/graduate and coach), was instrumental in laying the groundwork to bring our program to this point. After his nearly 20 year career at JPS concluded, it was an honor to see him inducted into the Jenison Athletic Hall of Fame in March of 2019. He embodies a core belief that good sportsmanship and personal integrity are the foundation of what defines success in both winning and losing situations.

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Tim Ritsema, Jenison High School Athletic director is happy to carry the torch and keep our athletic program operating at Exemplary status:

“We’re not perfect but it’s exciting to receive recognition for the hard work that’s taken place. We have some state of the art facilities and the Jenison athletic department strives to share the District’s vision, mission, and core values by stressing Community, Achievement, Tradition, and Service – CATS. When everybody rows together in this endeavor, everyone wins – regardless of the trophies and banners that are on display.” 

Recipient schools experience rigorous screening including an application process, written documentation of the program’s strengths and a two-day visit by an MIAAA evaluation team. Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) states that this award honors programs that model excellence and equity. Schools that are providing for what is best in educationally sound high school athletics.  

Our teachers are relentless in the classroom and many of them continue that effort on the fields after school – 56 of our staff are in assistant or head coach positions at JHS. Our district-wide commitment to the advancement of the emotional, social, moral and physical growth of all of our participants remains strong and is a key component to this recognition. 

I’m beyond grateful for the work of all members of our athletic department to support our “blue ribbon” level program. Our students benefit immensely from relationships built with coaches, the challenge of competition and lessons of teamwork. Go Wildcats!

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Cody Inglis – MHSAA Director presenting the award to Tim Ritsema – JHS Athletic Director

Check out this video footage of the beautiful outdoor Jenison Athletic Campus:

 

“Meet the Teams Night” a Great Introduction to our Student Athletes

With temperatures comfortably hinting at fall, Dr. Brandon Graham and JPS Athletic Director Todd Kolster opened Jenison Stadium last week to introduce the student athletes that make up the fall sports teams. In their second annual “Meet the Teams Night,” the community filled the bleachers to hear Mr. Kolster describe his vision for a new era of athletics in Jenison.

“I’m excited to be here. I’m honored to be here. We have a lot of work to do in a short period of time, but we’re going to get it done. We have what it takes to be successful.”

He continued by outlining the importance of expectations when it comes to achieving great things.

“Expectations are critical. Without expectations there are a lot of people wondering, what are we doing?…where are we going? We’re going to work hard for you to understand where we’re going from a communication perspective.”

“The kids I got to work with this summer are gifted. Competition is so critical in today’s world. For example, when you’re job searching, it’s generally you and one other person lined up for a job, a military position, entrance into a trade school. In those positions you can draw from your years of competition in athletics. What we want to convey to these kids is that there are no short cuts when it comes to working hard!”

Coach Schalk & 2012 Girls Cross Country Team

The night continued with comments from JPS Athletics Boosters’ President Matt McKinnon, who extended an invitation for any interested parents to join the boosters for their monthly meetings:

Every 2nd Monday Evening;

7 pm in the High School’s Triple Conference Room 

The work of the boosters is critical when you consider that 90% of the general athletic budget goes to pay coaches’ salaries. That means there is very little budget money left for uniforms and equipment. Any money generated by the boosters enables teams to purchase and pay for the necessary “extras” throughout the season.

Coach Scripsema & 2012 Girls Swimming + Diving

Mr. Kolster reminded parents that an accurate schedule for all athletics can be found at schedulestar.com. His last words for the stadium redefine success for JPS teams:

“I want to be clear: our work is not just about state titles, conference titles, or winning championships. It’s about being the best that we can possibly be — it’s using the outstanding facilities we’ve built and tapping into the talent we already have. We have a tremendous school district that’s only getting better and better.”

2012 Jenison Football Team

6 Reasons We Appreciate The Jenison Athletic Boosters

I’ll be honest: narrowing down my appreciation list to only six was more difficult than I had first imagined. The reality is, our athletic boosters are the scaffolding to our athletic programs, adding a bit more support and helping us all reach a lot higher.

Merely expressing our appreciation doesn’t quite capture the level of our gratitude, however we owe them thanks and are eager to honor their work. So this past weekend we invited them to the high school for a pizza dinner to celebrate them. It was a small gesture, but a heartfelt one.

6 Reasons We Appreciate our Boosters:

1.  Our boosters coordinate and staff all of our concession stands. Working together to seek out volunteers, our boosters schedule helpers at all events, stock items for sale, organize the displays, and greet our guests with a smile. If you love popcorn at the game, you have these folks to thank!

2. The boosters also encourage our teams by hanging up signs to root them on to victory. We appreciate their positivity and their willingness to support our athletes!

3. Each team has a “team mom” (one of our boosters) who also plans the team dinners at the ends of each season. This mom helps the team wrap up the season with a celebration that showcases the wonderful memories made together.

4. Our athletic boosters also put out a monthly report to our coaches and join them in recognizing an “Athlete of the Month” for each sport. Each student recognized receives a T-shirt from the boosters along with a certificate of their accomplishment. These small nods to our students are so meaningful and would not be possible without the caring help of our parents on this committee.

Booster President, Matt McKinnon

5. The boosters are an integral part of fundraising dollars to supplement our athletic budget. Last year alone the group raised $60,000 for our school athletics. What a gift!

6. But of course the thing we love most about our boosters is that they serve because they love Jenison kids and want them to have a fantastic athletic experience. John Koziatek shared, “It’s not so much about what we do — we do it for the kids. The reason we do what we do is because we want them to have the best opportunities possible.”

This group of friends has in many ways become more like family. Steve Meyer says that they’ve all “grown up together,” adding, “Some of these kids we’ve known since they were little and we’ve known the parents just as long. It’s really neat.”

That bond was evident Friday night as our group was honored at halftime of the boys varsity basketball game. They demonstrate a servant leadership that puts joy on display and keeps the kids at the center of everything.

We thank them for their tireless efforts on behalf of Jenison athletes!