Senior Athletes Sign

We are excited to be able to offer a world-class education that prepares students to achieve their goals and chase their dreams. And now, is the time of year when many seniors are plotting their course. For these Jenison High School seniors, that includes being able to continue their studies while playing the sport they love.

 

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The great thing about many of our student athletes is their tenacious work ethic and commitment to multiple interests including music, arts or other clubs. We are honored to be able to offer many quality experiences that function as an extension of our fantastic educational programs.

It’s thrilling to see a number of students signing national letters of intent for their colleges in the fall. Some of them have signed on even before their senior season has officially begun.

Our students receive outstanding support from the exceptional staff which helps them take advantage of opportunities and perform their best in all areas. Many staff continue building relationships after the bell has rung through coaching positions. A team mindset between athletic staff and teachers is genuine and provides a well rounded experience for our students.

I am proud to say that these Jenison High School students have been well prepared for this exciting next step – in the classroom and through their team experiences. No matter which mascot they adopt next year, I’m confident their Wildcat spirit will remain and propel them to achieve great things!

As the spring season draws to a close, more students will most likely be added to this list. 

Please join me in congratulating these hardworking seniors and their families! G O   W I L D C A T S!

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TORI VANDERVEEN | Cornerstone University, Track and Field

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CAROLINE HUISTRA | Jackson College, Soccer

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ANNA BARTZ | Drury University, Bowling

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EMILY SILER | Saint Joseph University, Softball

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CHASE POST | Davenport University, Lacrosse

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LAUREN SLAGTER | Cornerstone, Bowling

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MALACHI SMITH | Grace Christian University, Soccer

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KRISTEN SZOST | Hope College, Lacrosse

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MYCAH KASPER | Davenport University, Swimming

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KAYLYNNE NICHOLSON | Albion College, Volleyball

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GABRIEL SMITH-VERWYS | Ferris State University, Football

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OLIVIA DAVIS | Davenport University, Track and Field

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MORGAN LACOMBE | Lansing Community College, Softball

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For frequent updates on all the athletic action, follow the Wildcats on social media.

images@JenisonWildcats                  Unknown@Jenison_Wildcats

 

Jenison ‘In The News’

 

The Jenison community is full of many amazing people creating newsworthy moments year round! If you happen to have missed some of these incredible stories in the local news, I encourage you to check out the links and get inspired. These stories represent the #JPSBeRelentless attitude through commitment, ingenuity, compassion and perseverance. 


Sandy Tetro 

Sandy Tetro has been impacting friends, family members, students, co-workers and community members for as long as anyone can remember. Her enormous heart and boundless energy propelled a 20+ year career in special education at Jenison Public Schools and 15+ years coaching for Special Olympics. She is also currently recovering from a massive right ischemic stroke. She has been recognized as a top finalist for West Michigan’s Woman of the Year through local news WOTV4. While her recovery is amazing – it just makes her even more remarkable in our eyes!

Read the story and watch the video here

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Audrey (Tetro) Mitchell nominated her mother, Sandy Tetro as a ‘Remarkable Woman of West Michigan’, for the impact she has had on countless lives.


Andrew Medley, Senior Kidney Recipient

Andrew Medley is a Jenison High School football and basketball player who has lived with a kidney failure diagnosis for 8 years. He recently underwent surgery to receive a kidney from mother. Andrew’s energy may have waned over time but commitment to his teams never has; he has been a leader on and off the field. 

 We’re so happy to receive a great report on Andrew’s improving health since the surgery two weeks ago. Andrew is anxious to be back to school but will have to wait a few more weeks until the doctor gives the approval. His mother Susan is also healing well and has expressed amazement at the amount of support they have received from the community. 

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Susan Medley is so thankful that she was a match and was able to give her son Andrew a kidney.


2020 Senior Survivor

In ‘Season 2’ of the Jenison High School Senior Survivor game, the seniors exceeded last year’s amount by almost $3,000 – making their 2020 contribution to the Pink Out team over $8,000.

Read the story and watch the video here

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Tej Kothari, Congressional Bronze Medal recipient 

Jenison High School senior, Tej Kothari received the highest honor Congress can bestow on a young person. The Congressional Bronze Medal was presented to him by Congressman Bill Huizenga.

Read the story here

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Tej Kothari is the first Jenison High School Student to receive the Congressional Bronze Medal.


Jack Carrier, Student Law Changer 

Jenison High School senior, Jack Carrier was born with a vision impairment that would ultimately make getting his drivers’s license a little tricky. Jack knew he had run into some pretty restrictive obstacles. Jack and his father reached out to Senator Roger Victory for assistance. Sen. Victory helped Jack raise awareness for and get the law changed for others with similar visual challenges.

Read the story here

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Jack Carrier with State Senator Roger Victory (Photo source: Mlive)


Terry Dykstra, Jenison High School Counselor

As a Jenison High School counselor, Terry Dykstra has been cheering students on for 52 years!

Read the story and watch the video here

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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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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

 

National Philanthropy Day Recognition

 The Jenison High School student body has been generously giving back and raising awareness for the Make-a-Wish Michigan mission for the past 20 years. I join Tracy Mossburger and Kelly Cole, JHS Student Council Teacher Advisors, in expressing an immense amount of pride in the integrity and efforts of our students! The Make-a-Wish organization itself nominated our students for “Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy” and said they “exemplify the spirit of the Kids for Wish Kids program“. Our student council representatives found out about the nomination and award during the homecoming pep assembly earlier this year along with the whole student body.

This program is a platform for youth to create fundraisers to help support the mission and grant wishes of children battling critical illnesses. In 2014 and 2018, our students raised a total of almost $30,000 during homecoming events. Students fundraised through many creative ways; selling bracelets, stars, pizza slices and they even hosted a community carnival and tailgate party prior to the 2018 Homecoming football game. The students led the way to make this a successful community effort. 

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Earlier this year at the homecoming pep assembly, the student body was surprised with the news that they had been nominated for and awarded the Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy award.

In addition, each class adopted a child who had experienced a wish granted by Make-a-Wish Michigan, and created a themed float for the homecoming parade based on that wish. Our students were so inspired, and felt empowered to make a difference, through the chance to meet the local wish kids and partner with them on the creation of the float. 

“I feel incredibly lucky that I get to work with such amazing kids, they give so much of themselves each day to better our community. Please don’t ever think that high school kids can’t do something… give them some guidance, direction, and freedom to develop and they will do more than you can think possible! I am also lucky that I have gotten to connect with some pretty amazing people at, and through, Make-A-Wish.”

Tracy Mossburger,

Jenison High School Teacher and Student Council

Make-a-Wish Michigan has shown immense gratitude for the way our student body has displayed selfless acts of kindness for many deserving children in West Michigan. The creativity and perseverance of our students through these efforts shows them leading by example. The character of our students to work so hard, focusing on others is such an inspiring thing to witness. Go Wildcats!

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Tracy Mossburger and Kelly Cole, JHS Teacher Advisors attended the award ceremony with the Student Council representatives . 

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On November 12, the Association of Fundraising Professionals West Michigan (AFPWM) honored Jenison High School with ‘Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy Award 2019’.

IMG_0297Make-a-Wish kid ambassadors in the 2018 Homecoming parade.

Homecoming Blog posts:

Homecoming Dreams Big 2018

Make a Wish for Homecoming 2018

Homecoming 2014

 

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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The Gridiron Border Battle

You don’t usually need a passport for “AWAY” games, but last week the varsity players of St. Thomas More (STM) Catholic Secondary School of Hamilton, Ontario did, as they loaded up to drive 5.5 hours for a memorable international experience in Jenison.

The STM football program tries to come to the midwest for a game at least once per year. They are one of the most prominent and highly decorated football teams in Ontario and Canada. They are also repeat Provincial Bowl Champions from 2015-2018. JHS Athletic Director, Tim Ritsema knew they would be a good competitor for us to start the season with and it was exciting to get the chance to host them.

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The football players weren’t the only ones hard at work preparing to show our northern neighbors the spirit of west Michigan.

Leading up to the 7:00 kick off, the David McKenzie stadium took a moment to be silent in memory of Jenison student, Sydney Carfine who passed away following a car accident earlier this summer. She was a cheerful person and beloved friend who would have been a senior this year.

Jenison Boy Scout Troop 354 presented the flags as both countries were honored with their anthem. Karen Ambs, recently retired Jenison elementary choir and music teacher, pulled together a group of volunteer singers to welcome our guests with live vocals singing ‘O Canada’. This group, appropriately named the CatPack Chorale, was made up of Jenison Alums, parents, community members, current students and even included two of our own varsity football players!

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Game nights look a little different for them at home so we were honored to treat the STM players to a fabulous “Friday Night Lights” experience – great crowd, awesome atmosphere, and stellar performances by the marching band for our national anthem and their half time show. Jenison Varsity Coach Rob Zeitman and AD Tim Ritsema agreed – a win would have been nice but the exposure our students receive in welcoming this team is a valuable interaction. Following the game, the teams shared a pizza party and came together to share little bit about their high school and football experiences.

The stadium atmosphere wasn’t the only thing that was different about this game for our opponents. There are different game rules in the United States versus Canada. In Canada, it’s three downs to get a first down. They play with a longer and wider field; they also play with 12 players on the field at a time instead of 11. That obviously didn’t deter them, as they came away with the win that night!

The STM team was also given the opportunity to catch an exciting American collegiate contest on their way home – stopping by East Lansing to see Michigan State beat Western Michigan, 51-17.

STM Head coach Claudio Silvestri was super appreciative of the our community saying:
Thank you so much for everything you have done to make this experience happen. Our players and coaches raved about the “Jenison” experience.  Your program is “top notch” and your facilities were incredible. It was the warmest  hospitality we experienced in the 17 years of doing this trip! Our kids were also blown away by the Michigan State experience!

Despite a loss for us on the field Friday night, hosting our first international game was a heartwarming WIN and the Jenison community did not disappoint! It was a great experience all around. 

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STM Players at the MSU game Saturday, September 7.

2019 Senior Honors

Although the tassels have been turned from right to left, I wanted to highlight a special day of recognition for our seniors. One of our mottos at Jenison Public Schools is that we strive to finish strong in whatever we do. And every year, I’m so proud to see our seniors do just that.

On May 28, ten hardworking students were part of a luncheon celebration and officially named the Top Ten for 2019. These students have been diligent with the marathon that is high school, achieving nearly all A’s in each course of their high school career.

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Half of this year’s Top Ten were Bauerwood Elementary Students. (Photo by Jim English)

What makes this group so inspiring again this year is not only their commitment to their studies, but their involvement in other extra curriculars like Music, Student Government, Athletics, Theatre, and numerous volunteer opportunities in and outside of school. The experience they are gaining in the classroom combined with real life lessons of these additional activities is a testament to the JPS commitment to provide a comprehensive education.

While there are obviously only ten spots in the Top Ten, the class of 2019 as a whole was a talented, dedicated, and scholarly class. May 28 was also Senior Honors Night; a wonderful celebration of all of their hard work, and to recognize the 5 million dollars that was awarded to this senior class for their future plans.

The class of 2019 is a group of incredible individuals who have demonstrated servant leadership during their 4 years at JHS! They are definitely going to be missed but I’m excited to see them make their mark in this world!

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Megan TerHaar, Valedictorian and Danika Austin, Salutatorian

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Emma Byerwalter with Bill Waalkes, JPS School Board President

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Jenison Class of 2019 – Top Ten 

The Class of 2019 Top 10 are:
Megan TerHaar, Valedictorian
Danika Austin, Salutatorian
Erika Buhk
Emma Byerwalter
Andrew English
Hannah Lok
Samantha Miller
Emily Rose
Elizabeth Tower
Brandon Zink

 

Senior Honors Night

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It is a huge honor to recognize the students who are set to serve our county through the military.

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Photos by Damion Van Slyke Photography

Graduation 2019

The Class of 2019 overcame some crazy weather this year and graduation day was no exception. While dodging the downpours that morning, our seniors returned to their elementary halls one last time for a final send off by the younger wildcats. It’s a tradition meant to inspire the younger students but also, a chance for graduates to acknowledge how far they’ve come and what they have accomplished during their student career. Seniors always look forward to this and many have a great time seeing some of their favorite former teachers. Thunderstorms continued to threaten the outdoor ceremony tradition until just a few hours before the processional began. In the end, thankfully, our seniors and their loved ones were able to enjoy a beautiful evening.

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After four hardworking years of academics as well as life lessons, the class of 2019 confidently entered the stadium to recognize all they have achieved at Jenison Public Schools. This is a group of remarkable, talented, caring young men and women of great character who have already made an impact on their world! I am so proud of them and I am sure that we will be hearing great things about this class in the years ahead! GO WILDCATS!

Keep scrolling to enjoy some beautiful photos that were captured that night, along with a few amazing and inspiring student speech videos. 

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Anna Norton Senior Address – video courtesy of Rich Conflitti

JonJon Conflitti Student Address – video courtesy of Rich Conflitti

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Elementary School Visits

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Bursley Elementary – Class of 2019 (Photo by Rich Conflitti)

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Pinewood Elementary – Class of 2019 (Photo by Rachael Postel-Brown)

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Bauerwood Elementary – Class of 2019 (Photo by Crystal Morse)

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Rosewood Elementary – Class of 2019 (Photo by Amanda Moerdyke)

SH Senior Walk Through

Sandy Hill – Class of 2019 (Photo by Sara Melton)

Senior Spotlight: Clarissa Mata

Tonight, the Wildcat Class of 2019 will officially close the door on their school career at Jenison. For each of those students – and their families, this evening represents a lifetime of hard work and perseverance, with hopeful eyes looking into the future. 

One of those students is Clarissa Mata. Clarissa is a bright young woman with a compassionate heart and big plans – she also happens to be one of the first within her extended family to reach the achievement of high school graduation.

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“We won’t see real change until we speak up.” Clarissa Mata,  (Portrait by Eva Russa)

Clarissa’s parents came to America when they were young and have worked for years to create a family focused, hard working, entrepreneurial support system in which she  and her younger brother could thrive.

Working at her mother’s restaurant has helped shaped aspirations for her future. Watching her as a business owner has instilled a strong community mindset that encourages her to invest and make a difference wherever she goes

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The Mata Family at Clarissa’s Quinceanera celebration

In 2015, Clarissa exercised her own entrepreneurial spirit and started a cupcake business. She enjoyed the process and even participated in a few business competitions. She loved being able to donate proceeds to worthy causes she was passionate about, including suicide awareness programs. Through the Careerline Tech Center, she began to explore the Culinary Arts program to possibly build a career on her cupcake business. She appreciated the education and while she experienced the fun aspects of it she now knows that she sees her future going in a different direction.

Looking around the world today, Clarissa feels heavy with the brokenness in society, and an even stronger calling to be an agent for change. She is watching the climate of current politics with a keen eye and plans to pursue a political science degree.

“I’ve been heartbroken time and again by the devastation in this world. ‘Hopes and prayers’ are great, but that’s not enough. We won’t see real change until we speak up. What better way to make sure that happens than if I am given a platform – on the floor in Washington, to do that.”

Jenison has given Clarissa memories of life shaping experiences and she credits her teachers and the staff for their willingness to guide and mentor her. She will hold them dear and is sad that they will no longer be a part of her daily life.

The work of our teachers and staff that helps shape our students and gets them ready for their new world does not go unnoticed. Clarissa, your enthusiasm for making this world a better place is contagious. I am proud to call you a Wildcat and can’t wait to see what your future will bring!

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Q: How old do you think you will be when you feel like a grown up?

A: (without pause) “When I win the election I’m running for.”