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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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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Mary Poppins Musical is ‘Practically Perfect’!

Yesterday was the first day of Spring; excitement was high and sighs of relief could be heard across the stage. Despite losing 10 days of working sessions due to bad weather over the winter, they made it – spring is here and they are ready to sweep you off your feet! 

The Jenison Thespians are proud to present their spring musical, Mary Poppins. It’s the broadway version of a quirky story about a flying nanny with her trademark long coats, umbrella with a parrot head and rosy cheeks. An irresistible tale known by many; Mary Poppins teaches children with patience, kindness, and a little bit of magic. Through numerous recognizable and unforgettable singing adventures, Mary and her friend Bert help the Banks family set things right – maybe more right than they’d ever been before. 

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In true Mary Poppins fashion, high school cast members surprised their Jenison elementary friends this week by popping in at their schools for a flash mob. Appearing out of nowhere, the actors performed a singing preview of Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious! for a stunned but excited lunchtime audience.

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The hard work and attention to every last detail by the cast and crew, along with countless adult volunteers, will not go unnoticed! You will be delighted with outstanding acting, stunts and artistic talent. The songs, dance steps and full live orchestra performance will leave you flying higher than a kite!

There are 4 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

A huge thank you as well to the JHS direction staff for the Mary Poppins show. Director: Todd Avery | Music Direction: Sarah Hazel | Choreography: Emily Ambs | Orchestra Director: Dan Scott

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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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Jenison’s Center for the Arts Opens in Grand Style

After two years and over 50,000 man hours of dreaming, designing and digging, the Jenison Public Schools Center for the Arts opened this week to hundreds of expectant community members. Supported with over 390 tons of steel and boasting 1,251 seats, we are so privileged to provide a beautiful, well-appointed home for the arts for generations to come, and above all, wish to thank this community for making this vision a reality.

Fine Arts Center, Jenison Public Schools

The stage, whose floor is certified by the American Dance Association, spans 90 feet in diameter and touts a one-of-a-kind retractable dividing wall, enabling casts and crews to better customize their performance space. With over 3 miles of cables hidden beneath the stage and 60 locations for microphones, students will be heard–and seen– from any point in the hall. In fact, despite the soaring ceiling and custom wood chandelier, the furthest point from the stage in any direction is just 85 feet! Performances are also able to be broadcast live, with 8 different recording tracks available so that individual singers can be isolated out from the group.

Finally, for comfort within the hall, air is circulated in the most “green” way possible. Beneath the seats are vents covering two chambers that perfectly mix both cool and warm air. Once blended at a precise temperature, heat seeps up from the floor rather than blowing audience members in the face. This technique not only ensures proper temperatures throughout, but reduces the electrical use that fan systems require.

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Other impressive details show that every suggestion was heard and each thought considered in the planning of this facility:

  • The make-up room stretches wide and has sinks in each corner for easy preparation and clean up.
  • Costume rooms have sewing machines and a front-loading washer/dryer for a complete costume production experience.
  • Sets are designed in-house in a specially-designed shop with saws, plenty of electrical outlets, and towering ceilings.
  • Double doors protect each entrance to the hall, providing a sound-proof experience.
  • Walls are designed for acoustics, maximizing sound travel.

This holiday season, visitors will also enjoy the painted instrument sale whose proceeds benefit the Jenison Public Schools Art Department. Please consider taking home a masterpiece this December! Until then, take a tour with us and leave a comment with your first impressions!

What most amazed you about our new Center for the Arts?

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JPS Administration Offices

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