Summer Series: Teachers Choose Jenison [JHS]

This summer, in an effort to celebrate the amazing teachers at JPS, we will feature one each week and their decision to make our schools their professional home. We are thankful for their boundless creativity, pursuit of their own education, and passion for not just their students, but the entire school they serve. We hope you will enjoy learning more about these incredible men and women as you enjoy your own season of rest and fun!

Science teacher, Alice Putti:

“I choose Jenison because it is a supportive and caring community that values values education.  There is a tremendous amount of parent support at home and in grades K-12. I think Jenison is a different school district because from the administrators to the parent volunteers, meeting student needs are the priority.  Student success is important to everyone in the district.

This attitude is exemplified in the ways that every teacher and administrators spends countless hours working with students in the classroom and in extra-curricular activities.  

This is summer I am looking forward to attending conferences and running summer workshops for AP chemistry teachers.  Teaching is my passion but I also love to learn too. During the summer I attend chemistry education conferences, so I can learn new content or teaching strategies. I am part of the Biennial Conference Committee and help plan a national chemistry education conference that runs every other year in various locations around the country. In addition to teaching at JHS,  I also am a consultant for College Board and I run workshops to help train AP chemistry teachers. Most summers I run 2-3 workshops and they are usually four days long.”  

This coming school year marks and important milestone for science at JPS. “Next year will be the first year that elementary school girls who participated in the Girls in STEM club will attend high school.  I am looking forward to seeing them in the building and learning if the program has made a lasting impact on their lives. The last three years have been a tremendous success for Girls in STEM and I hope this will continue in the future.  

Be a guide for a company that leads hikes/bike rides etc or a guide for a city tour or historical location.  When on vacation, I love to go on tours and learn about the area, history and culture. As a guide, I would be able to share my knowledge with other people. [Sounds kind of like being a teacher, huh?]”

Thank you, Mrs Putti, for your dedication to our schools and community! We’re thrilled you’re on our team!

Mrs Putti was chosen for this story by High School Principal, Dr. Brandon Graham

Summer Series: Teachers Choose Jenison [JHS]

This summer, in an effort to celebrate the amazing teachers at JPS, we will feature one each week and their decision to make our schools their professional home. We are thankful for their boundless creativity, pursuit of their own education, and passion for not just their students, but the entire school they serve. We hope you will enjoy learning more about these incredible men and women as you enjoy your own season of rest and fun!

Math teacher, Caroline Clement:

I was born and raised in Jenison – and I love Jenison.  My husband Dana was also raised here, and we are graduates of Jenison High School.  We are very proud of the education that we received at Jenison High School, and how the educators and the curriculum have shaped who we are as human beings.  We learned many lessons during our time here – both academically and life lessons from some of our legendary teachers during the 70s and 80s.  I want to continue that legacy during my time here at Jenison.  We have raised two children who have also graduated from JPS, and they are also very proud of their experiences here.  They received a great education, have created lifelong memories, and their time here has helped build a foundation for the rest of their lives.

I think Jenison is a different school district because of the community that the teachers build with the students.  I taught previously in another district, and it was a great experience that I enjoyed very much.  But Jenison High School has created a climate where the teachers are not friends with the students, but are friendly with the students.  The culture is one of respect, and the students and teachers are able to effectively work together in a friendly and comfortable climate.  Everyday I look forward to coming to teach my students.  I thoroughly enjoy their attitudes toward school, toward their teachers and toward their peers.  I attribute this to the climate and culture that has been created since Kindergarten.   I  also believe Jenison is unique because of the academic focus.  We are driven to be the best, so that when our students graduate, they can have many doors open to them.  The teachers invest a great amount of time in creating curriculum that is beneficial to all of the students.  Also, the teachers truly care about the performance of their students. There is constant sharing of ideas between teachers to help improve the academic successes of our students.  Teachers are willing to give up personal time to work with struggling students to help ensure their success. 

My building exemplifies this by being visible in the hallway, working with students during lunch and after school and showing a true interest in the students’ lives.  Teachers are always visible in the hallway, allowing us to chat with students in between classes.  It allows us to speak with current students and past students in a more casual manner.  We also care about our students lives outside of the classroom.  Teachers are very visible at sporting events and concerts and plays.  We like to know how our students our doing in sports, the arts, and at their jobs. Also, there are many student led clubs that are monitored by the teaching staff to ensure that all students can find a place at Jenison.

I look forward to summer because I love to read.  During the school year I am busy prepping for my job and I also coach swimming for seven months, so I do not have the opportunity to read as much as I would like.  During the summer, I read as much as I can.  I teach Summer School  and do some part-time coaching in the summer, but I love to read in my spare time.  I write down names of recommended books from my avid reader friends, and I try to read as many as I can during the summer months.

At the end of every summer I look forward to the start of the new year because of the opportunity to meet new people.  My job remains similar every year because I teach similar content areas, but I am fortunate that my job also changes every year because I get new students.  This is a job that allows me to form new relationships every year, and that is a lot of fun.  Unfortunately, I do get sad at the end of every year too, because those relationships, especially with seniors, are coming to an end.

If I wasn’t a teacher, I would probably be a lawyer.  In my mid-twenties I was a banker, and I decided to make a career change.  I was choosing between law school and education, and I chose education.  My husband always tells me I should have been a lawyer because he believes he has never won a fight in our 28 year marriage!

There are a lot of things that my students don’t know about me:  I am a first generation American.  I am varsity letter winner from the University of Michigan for swimming.  I took organ lessons for 11 years and have played in churches and in weddings.  Lots of little odd and interesting things in my life.

Thank you, Mrs Clement, for your dedication to our schools and community! We’re thrilled you’re on our team!

Mrs Clement was chosen for this story by High School Principal, Dr Brandon Graham

Summer Series: Teachers Choose Jenison [JHS]

This summer, in an effort to celebrate the amazing teachers at JPS, we will feature one each week and their decision to make our schools their professional home. We are thankful for their boundless creativity, pursuit of their own education, and passion for not just their students, but the entire school they serve. We hope you will enjoy learning more about these incredible men and women as you enjoy your own season of rest and fun!

Spanish teacher, Lindsey Remley:

“I choose Jenison because the schools are a main priority for the entire community. I once heard a life-long Jenison resident say that Jenison IS​ the schools. He was referring to the fact that families here faithfully support the schools. I see this in parent-teacher conference conversations, packed gyms for Pink-Out games, and sell-out shows for plays. My family and I are moving into the Jenison school district this summer because we want to be part of the community and take advantage of the Spanish-immersion program.

I think Jenison is a different school district because of how much every​ teacher cares so much about every​ student that enters the building.

One way my building exemplifies this by leading the charge to implement diversity training. This year, high school staff has been meeting with families, attending speeches, learning about implicit bias, and working towards being better educators for our increasingly diverse student population.”

When Mrs Remley is not encouraging students to persevere to learn a second language, she enjoys spending time with her family. “I look forward to this summer because I get to be home with my young children. I have a daughter who will be three in April and a son who will be one in May. I feel rushed during the school year but in the summer, I’m able to slow down and spend precious time walking to the park, eating homemade popsicles, and just hanging out with my kids.”

If Mrs Remley wasn’t teaching, she would have probably pursued a career in journalism “If I weren’t a teacher, I would probably be a journalist because I love to talk to people, hear their stories, and write concise, grammatically accurate pieces.”

Thank you, Mrs Remley, for your dedication to our schools and community! We’re thrilled you’re on our team!

Mrs Remley was chosen for this story by High School Principal, Dr Brandon Graham

Congratulations to the Class of 2018!

It was a beautiful day as the Jenison Class of 2018 walked across the stage to receive their diplomas last Thursday. We are so proud of all of our graduates! They have all displayed perseverance in difficult times, hard work to meet their academic, athletic or performance goals, courage to try new things, encouragement to others, joy in each high school milestone, and grit when things got tough. We look forward to hearing about all the ways you impact the world on your journey and we are proud to call you Wildcats for life!

Thank you to our teachers, support staff, and administrators for all the support and encouragement you have given these students to prepare them with an excellent education for wherever life takes them!

Go Wildcats! 

May the road rise up to meet you, may the wind always be at your back, may the sun shine warm upon your face until we meet again. – abridged Irish blessing

Top 10 Honors at Jenison High School!

Chances are, we all worked hard at something in high school. Whether it was giving a little extra time to that tricky physics project, reading all of The Iliad even though it didn’t make sense, or spending late hours on the field or the stage perfecting a craft that meant the world to you.

This year, ten students at Jenison High School prove to us that hard work pays off in big ways! According to longtime counselor, Terry Dykstra, “This year, a senior would need a cumulative GPA of, approximately, 4.14 in order to be in the Top 10.  To achieve that, a student would need to have taken several AP courses, and would need, virtually, all “A’s” in all of their courses from grades 9-12.”

In order to achieve this high level of success students must put in an incredible amount of effort and hard work. “These students are highly motivated, they are focused on success, they are incredibly organized, and they are willing to put in the work necessary to accomplish their goals.  Most, if not all, have come to the high school with these traits, in some form or another, but high school course work [and especially their numerous AP courses] has pushed them and challenged them, as the “bar” continues to be raised.
Of course, being in a classroom is only one part of the lives of these students. JPS works hard to support a comprehensive education for students and our Top 10 exemplifies the importance of this. “For nearly all of the Top 10, they are among our most involved.  They are living proof that the busiest individuals often get the most accomplished.  Their areas of involvement vary a bit from student to student, but in most cases, they have been involved in Music, Student Government, Athletics, Theatre, and numerous volunteer opportunities.  These various activities, ultimately, build and enhance who they are and who they become in their life’s journey.”

All of our Top 10 students will be attending a 4-year institution next year whether a a large public university and or a smaller, private college.  They intend to pursue majors in varying fields such as engineering, medical/health care, education, business, as well as some who haven’t quite figured out what path their futures hold. 

“These students have achieved this status because of their incredible hard work and their perseverance, sometimes even in the face of adversity.  They approached each day with a “never give up” attitude and a determination to see them through whatever was before them.  Their parents played a vital role as “encouragers” and “cheer leaders”, and sometimes “sounding boards”.  Because of this support and because of the traits that they each possess, these students will leave JHS, fully prepared and ready to meet the challenges of tomorrow.”

The Class of 2018 Top 10 are:

Tim Leonard, Valedictorian
Fiona Johnson, Salutatorian
Joshua Barbachyn
Isabelle Hoekstra
Ashley Hoek
Larissa Walker
Eva Russa
Cameron Kemperman
Caylin Schneider
Mitchell Hawkes

Congratulations to this incredible group of young men and women! You are examples of what hard work can achieve and we are so proud of you. The future is yours for the taking!

Star Student: Colton Ritsema

Senior Colton Ritsema isn’t one to brag. But he should – even just a little. As he walks down the hall, teachers and fellow students alike, call out to him and offer high-fives as he passes.

Colton was nominated as our High School Star Student by his principal, Dr Brandon Graham. Colton is involved in DECA, the LINKS program which pairs a general education student with a special education student throughout the day, he is on the basketball team and works in the school store as part of his advanced marketing class.

Colton recently chose to attend Concordia University in Ann Arbor where he will continue his basketball career. He is looking forward to being away from home, “but not too far.” and he believes the opportunities that college will bring are worth the adjustment of leaving home. He is still deciding a major or direction but is considering education or sports marketing.

He believes a leader is strong in their beliefs, is willing to listen to others, has good communication skills, and is teachable. [Another star student who is wise beyond their years!] He loves to read and spend time outdoors. While he doesn’t see himself as a successful fisherman just yet, he enjoys trying. He believes his friends would say he is kind, fun to be around, and easygoing. Colton lives with his parents and his sophomore brother Josh. He also has two goldfish names Viking and Billy who have defied the odds and lived well into goldfish old age. [Colton is not sure if they will join him in a pursuit of higher education.]

Colton feels prepared for college but will miss the “great teachers at Jenison and the relationships you develop.” He also notes that the “atmosphere at Jenison High School is one of balance between hard work and fun and this is something he will also miss. He would like Mr Abram Brosseit of the history department to know that he thinks he’s an “exceptional teacher” and if he becomes a teacher one day, he knows he will draw on his experiences with Jenison teachers as inspiration and a valuable resource.

It’s hard to imagine a better high school representative of a star student!

Congratulations Colton! Your hard work and humble spirit are an encouragement to everyone who knows you! May your time at Concordia continue to prepare you well for an amazing future! We’re proud you’ll always be a Jenison Wildcat!

We’ve Got Bowling Royalty at Jenison High!

Brother and sister team, Nick and Lauren Slagter come by their incredible bowling talent naturally. They also come from longtime bowling royalty. Their grandmother and dad are both in the Grand Rapids Bowling Hall of Fame!

Their dad [who has a 230 average and has bowled 25 perfect games!] and their maternal aunt coach the Jenison Bowling Team. Their family bowls together in a league on Thursday nights and while their mom grew up in a bowling strong family, their dad found his passion for bowling when he met their mom.

In bowling competition, similar to Olympic gymnastics, athletes compete at both team and individual levels. This past bowling season, both the girls and boys teams won the OK Black conference. Nick finished in 14th for individuals, losing to the eventual second place winner. Lauren may have lost to the eventual winner in the semifinals, but she made it farther than any other bowler in the history of JPS! The girls team qualified 1st in states and made it to the semifinals, which is also the farthest that any bowling team has ever made it in the history of Jenison!

Next year both Lauren and Nick are looking forward to keeping the teams intact, as there are no current seniors moving on. “It’ll be the same team, with more experience. We’ll be better equipped for next year and it’ll be a lot of fun.” They want to give special recognition to their teammates: Sarena Overbeek, Anna Bartz, Dustin Smith, and Tyler Miller.

Nick tries to take it in stride when he gets grief from his friends about bowling not being a real sport. He knows it’s a mental game more than anything else. “It takes precision accuracy and just two or three shots can put your team ahead.” Lauren likes to cite her fifth grade paper, “Bowling is a Sport” for evidence when this argument arises.

The siblings may be busy with their bowling schedules, but they make time for other sports as well. Nick also plays on the Jenison baseball team and while he knows they are “two very different sports, but the pressure is all the same; they build off one another and make me better as an athlete.” Lauren plays softball and adds, “You have to take your momentum from your bowling season and bring it into other sports and we have to bring that success and confidence into softball and baseball.”

As a junior, Nick is thinking about college and hoping for scholarships to allow him to bowl at the collegiate level. Lauren is a sophomore and acknowledges that she “has time” but it has crossed her mind to play softball as well as bowl when she gets to college. She wants to give a shout out to her family for always being a strong shoulder to cry on when it comes to school, sports, life, and school. “We’re stuck with each other, but we’re competitive and have fun.” Nick wants to make sure that his fifth grade teacher, Mr Diekman knows he made an impact on Nick’s life. “He’s taught me more than just school, he’s taught me about life – to stay positive – and I really appreciate that.”

Athletic Director Kevin VanDuyn knows JPS is lucky to have these two: “It is quite something to have the top bowler in the conference, by average, from both our boys and girls team.  What is more amazing is to have the top bowler from each be a brother and sister.  Congratulations to Nick for finishing the year with a conference leading 212 average and his sister Lauren with a 190 average.  The best news is they both come back next year!”

Lauren and Nick want everyone to know that bowling is really accessible for adults and kids alike. Lauren says, “You can bowl once or twice a week and get really good so it’s easy for kids to pick it up.” Nick adds, “Make sure you stay positive through the ups and downs because eventually you will come out on top.” [And that’s just good advice no matter what you’re doing!]

Congratulations, Nick and Lauren! Your talent and accomplishments not only make us proud but we can’t wait for next year’s season! Go Wildcats!

Home Ec Gets a Makeover!

You may recall sitting in Home Ec class years ago learning the difference between and tablespoon and a teaspoon but our Jenison High School students are learning so much more!

Lifeskills teacher and Career Technical Education [CTE] Director, Kelly Kirkland, offers a variety of electives for students looking to expand their knowledge of every day tasks, responsibilities, and skills. In order to decide what she teaches, Ms Kirkland has learned to listen to students and take note of what interests them.  “When I first started at Jenison, I followed a curriculum and as time goes on I see what the needs of the students and community are and switch things up. Also as I have a HS student myself, and I see things that I want my kid to know as he prepares to leave home. A few years back our Family and Consumer Science department recognized an increased interest in Interior Design so we incorporated some units in this to help kids with house designs, color trends and coordinating colors with accessories to give a seamless appearance within our Teen Living course.”

Ms Kirkland tries to focus on meaningful skills that students will use either at home or when they leave the nest. Sometimes there are bumps in the road learning new things but students always “seam” to see the benefits.  “When the students start sewing it is new to many of the students so it can be very frustrating for them but as soon as they get the hang of it they love it and it is a skill they can use the rest of their lives. When it comes to cooking, some students have no skill and some have been cooking since a young age. We start very basic and work our way to more advance skills. However, the cooking we do is focused on simple foods that students can make after leaving home. We also learn about importance of nutrition. Many former students say they think twice about the foods they choose to eat and impacts them to make healthier choices.”

Learning basic sewing skills!

If you think there is a small population wanting to learn to manage life on their own, think again! Ms Kirkland’s classes are typically full, hosting 30 – 33 students a class. Some of these students end up finding a talent or passion that’s new to them, but has meaning for their futures. “Years ago, a student made their own prom dress and many students have gone into the culinary and bakery programs at the OAISD and GRCC . Also, parents find it helpful that they can rely on their child to participate around the house by starting dinners and fixing their own clothing [buttons, hems, rips]”

Ms Kirkland is proud of the things students are learning in her classes and what it means for their futures. “These are skills that many working parents cannot teach at home and that students will need to use throughout their lifetime. I teach life skills that students help them ease their way into college and adulthood. These skills will be carried with them the rest of their lives.”

Learning to tie a tie with our athletic directors!

Thank you, Ms Kirkland, for teaching our students these important life skills! We can’t wait to see where these new chefs, bakers, checkbook balancers, and tailors show up down the road!

Student-made chicken pot pies!

Food safety flyer created in Foods & Nutrition Class

 

Pink Out 2018!

There may have been a snow day last Friday, but it didn’t stop the Jenison family from coming out to paint the High School gym pink!

Celebrating the tenth anniversary, the Pink Out committee chose to expand their focus to include honoring Jenison community members dealing with other types of cancer, while acknowledging that their roots remain in the fight against breast cancer. In the ten years since Pink Out began, they have raised over $100,000, recognized over 100 warriors and sold 15,000 Pink Out t-shirts.

Karen Koekkoek knows what it’s like to fight against breast cancer but she never expected it to happen again after finding her first lump at the age of nineteen. Now in her early 60’s, she was vigilant with her mammograms, self-checks, and doctor’s appointments. But despite her best efforts, she was diagnosed in August of 2016 and the type of cancer she had was called, “aggressive and invasive”. She received chemo for five months, radiation five days a week for six weeks and has experienced the first part of a double mastectomy. Karen’s daughter, Sherrie VanManen, says it’s a “huge honor” to be recognized by the Pink Out team and to be taken under their wing with support. Karen adds, “Faith over fear quickly became my motto. February of 2018, 125 appointments later, I am a survivor, cancer free!” We celebrate with you, Karen!

2010 Jenison graduate, Marcy VanderMeer was a senior when Pink Out first began. She was only 22 when she was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia in April 2015. “It feels overwhelming to be an honoree. I am thankful to the committee for all the ways they supported me and my family.” In the first six weeks after hearing the news, Marcy says she was in shock but there was already so much happening in the Jenison community. There was a spaghetti dinner and chili cook-off fundraiser and even a neighborhood elementary buddy raising money for Marcy’s treatment. “Although fear was present in my life and I lost many friends along my three year journey, being part of this community has made all the difference in my ability to keep moving forward.”

Unfortunately, children in our community are not immune to cancer’s reach. Sam Lewinski is a four year old at the ECC and Shawn VanPutten is a 2014 Jenison graduate, both of whom are in remission. Shawn says, “Jenison Pink Out has offered support to me and my family during our journey: cards to let me know they were thinking of me, texts to my mom to let her know she was not alone and to provide words of encouragement. They also provided financial assistance for my ever-mounting medical bills, so thank you for supporting the power of pink because the warriors need to know that no one fights alone.”

Sam’s mom spoke on his behalf while Sam stood proudly on the podium. Through tears, she described their journey with Wilms Tumor, a kidney cancer and thanked the community for surrounding them through this struggle. “Just nine months ago, Sam finished his final chemo and was told there is no evidence of disease. During his treatment, he had several surgeries, radiation, and chemo. During that time, this community proved itself time and time again. We moved from Ohio ten years ago and I can truly say that this battle could not have been fought three hours from family without this community and the Pink Out community that showed up even we didn’t know them. We can now call Jenison our home and our family.”

Finally, warrior Jody Heyboer shared her journey with stage three colorectal cancer. Less than a year ago, Jody learned the news of her diagnosis and she quickly heard from the Pink Out team and “for the past ten months ,their support has been nothing short of amazing. When you don’t have cancer or are not directly affected by it, it’s hard to understand. Pink Out understands. Please know, the money you donate to this organization goes to help people in the community affected by cancer and I cannot being to express my gratitude for all those connected to Pink Out.” Jody learned in January that her tests revealed no evidence of disease, however, her fight against cancer isn’t over just yet. As of two days prior to Pink Out she learned cancer had returned and the Pink Out committee presented her with a check towards her medical expenses and reminded her that she is not alone.

Each year, this event serves as a celebration of those who warrior on and takes time to pause for those that we remember. We are grateful to all of those who braved the snow, but especially to those who brave the fight against cancer!

2018 Distinguished Honorees:

Dave Huyser           Sam Lewinski          Jody Heyboer          Marcy VanderMeer          Karen Koekkoek         Shawn VanPutten

Warriors: Karen Koekkoek, Marcy VanderMeer, Jody Heyboer, Sam Lewinski, Shawn VanPutten, Dave Huyser

You are all warriors and Jenison is proud to fight alongside each and every one of you! You are not alone! Thank you, Jenison community for your ongoing support of Pink Out – your partnership is vital to sustaining our warriors!

 

 

Summer Series: Student Art Sample [12th Grade]

Logo

Over the course of our summer we will feature various artists and art pieces from each Jenison elementary school as well as the Junior High and High School. Each piece was carefully chosen by our art teachers and we hope you will enjoy the talents and hard work of our students while you also enjoy a beautiful and relaxing summer!

Untitled
By: Bridgette Davis
Jenison High School

This project was based on a prolonged study of Surrealism.

We selected this particular piece because Bridgette had a hard time coming up with an idea at first, but the effort she put into finding her idea and completing her work is a great representation of who Bridgette is as a student.

This piece is also a great example of how the process of creating artwork is often a series of challenges, but if you don’t back down and push yourself to meet those challenges both internally and externally, it can result in some really meaningful and powerful work.

Bridgette and her artwork were selected by her high school art teachers, Sara Buzzitta and Melissa Ellis.