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.”

BEE the Change!

One could say a seed was planted when Vanessa Tran chose a random topic for an 8th grade essay assignment a few years ago. She got to work researching the dwindling population of bees and how important they are to the ecosystem. The statistics astounded her as she learned about their contribution and common misconceptions. Thus the ‘pollination’ of a new passion.

Now a sophomore and member of Jenison High School’s student council, Vanessa decided to speak up and take the opportunity to lead a social awareness campaign. The student council committee has embraced her vision, spent months preparing their messages and tactics; and have recently launched their multiple platforms for spreading the word.


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Enjoy a great family night of fun and information to learn how you can BEE THE CHANGE!

Family movie night with concession sales (Showing Bee Movie and Spider Man Homecoming)

Local beekeeper Q&A conversations during the evening

Donation opportunities to help JHS build two hives to support a healthy, local bee population in partnership with Post Family Farm.


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Their primary goal is based on the fact that knowledge is power. Education and awareness is necessary for making change happen. The students have engaged social media tools to spread their message as far and wide, and as quickly as they can. With community involvement, they hope to spread awareness to over 10,000 students, parents, and leaders across West Michigan. Their message is simple: Bee a good neighbor and help save our pollinator friends! Check out their newsfeeds and join the conversation!

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The media community has taken notice as well. Check out local news coverage of the campaign: WWMT

This week, the students have also shared a goal of fundraising. The money raised will give them the opportunity to build two new bee hives to support a healthy, local bee population. These hives will be located at and maintained by the Post Family Farm.

Projects like these are so exciting as student council initiatives are almost completely student run, outside of school hours. I’m continuously impressed by our student body and their willingness to support other people’s passions. I hope you will support them in learning more and get involved in making our world a sweeter place!

It’s not surprising that they are well on their way to meeting their goal! They have been selling Post Family Farm donuts, tee shirts and buttons.

Students are using memes to spread quick bites of education.

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Lean on Me: Pink Out 2019

Last week, we were faced with yet another winter storm threatening to interrupt our annual Jenison Pink Out celebration. Regardless of what Michigan tried to throw at us, it gave me chills to see the the walls of our gymnasium stretched with a standing room only audience – just as it has been for eleven straight years.

Since the beginning, I have had the honor of being the emcee of Pink Out. I’ve heard the stories, witnessed firsthand the fight and seen the way families and friends in our community are moved to act. Just four months ago, that experience became very personal to me when my brother called to share that my sister-in-law had been diagnosed with breast cancer.

Each year, we recognize community members who are courageous fighters, representing many others battling the war on cancer. All of them are extra-special reminders to our community of the value of bravery and perseverance. We are thankful for their willingness to share their stories and are blessed to walk this journey with them.

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Jenison Pink Out Honorees

Nicole Edward – Linda Ten Brink – Deb Leaf

Karine Rodriguez – Earl Hall – Josh Van Putten

2019 Pink Out Honorees

Linda Ten Brink

I asked my brother Mike and his wife, Linda TenBrink, to join the Jenison community for our Pink Out celebration because every warrior deserves to experience this amazing level of encouragement and support during their journey. And because Linda has embodied a fighter’s personality and a fierce courageousness from her initial diagnosis. She has looked cancer in the eye, called it out for what it is, and is determined to do whatever it takes to rid her body of “Chester” (the name that she has given to her cancerous tumor). Linda has used a tremendous sense of humor,  a “can do” attitude, and her competitive spirit to defeat this cancer that in her words, “invaded her body without her permission.” We are so proud of her warrior spirit!

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Karine Rodriguez and Earl Hall

Karine Rodriguez and Earl Hall are both cancer victims, living in the same home. Karine was first diagnosed with colon cancer in 2017, she went into remission the following year for 4 months. Sadly, the cancer returned this past summer. The after effects of chemo often leave her exhausted with scarce energy for work or social outings, so much that she was contemplating forgoing the treatment. However, since Pink Out came into her life – she has a renewed vigor to push through the treatments and is feeling supported (emotionally as well as financially) like never before. Keep on fighting, Karine! We’re with you every step of the way!

Karine was joined by her mom, Terri, who also attended Jenison, and Terri’s boyfriend Earl Hall. Earl had bladder cancer and is looking forward to a check up soon to confirm that the recent removal surgery was successful. Karine’s diagnosis flipped their world upside down. He expressed immense gratitude for the ongoing support from Pink Out and the manner of genuine care and kindness they felt. Earl has taken this kindness to heart and wishes to remind everyone that you never know what your neighbor might be experiencing. Kindness and respect go a long way. Thank you Karine and Earl for your positive spirit. It’s an honor to walk beside you.

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Nicole Edwards

Nicole Edwards is a survivor! Her husband, Brad and son, Brody (Jenison, class of 2017), some friends and family members stood by her side as she shared her story. With no family history, Nicole wasn’t too concerned about missing a few routine mammograms, however at the suggestion of her doctor, she finally decided to go in. Just over a year ago, she was diagnosed with DCIS (ductal carcinoma, stage 0, but aggressive grade three). She described feeling alone and isolated in those first few months but came to quickly realize that the Jenison community was on her side. The Pink Out team and relationships her family had built with other Jenison families through her son’s sports teams really carried them through the physically and emotionally tough times. Nicole feels very fortunate to be so close to one of the best health care systems in the United States! And she wishes to acknowledge and thank Lemmen Holton Cancer Center with their amazing doctors and support staff. We couldn’t agree more! She also wants to use her journey to remind women to make time for routine checks and conversations with physicians!!

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Deb Leaf

Deb is a 1985 Jenison graduate and has been on a long, courageous cancer journey including multiple diagnoses and surgeries. She is the guardian of her grandchildren, Stevie and LJ Leaf, who both attend Bauerwood Elementary. Deb was unaware of what Pink Out was and now considers them to be an amazing asset within our community, for which she is very grateful. Among other things, support from the organization and Jenison Schools helped provide tires for her vehicle and create some delightful memories this past Christmas. Deb was escorted by her grandchildren, her parents, her sister & her husband and her sister-in-law. Thank you Deb, for your fearless and brave demeanor as you continue your journey.

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Josh VanPutten

“Van Putten Strong” is embroidered on the back of Kim Van Putten’s denim shirt. She wore it one year ago when the family gathered on the Jenison gym floor for their son, Shawn. Shawn was a 2014 graduate of Jenison, and last year he shared about his cancer journey. Harnessing that strength more than ever, they tackled the last year and she wore the shirt this past Friday night as the family stands on the Pink Out floor AGAIN this year. This time, celebrating the remission of son, Josh, Jenison class of 2010.

While the family was participating in the 2018 Pink Out ceremony, 11 months after Shawn’s diagnosis, older brother Josh had spent the day in the hospital about to receive his own life changing diagnosis.

Josh opened his remarks with the phrase, “An individual does not get cancer, a family does.” In the first moments of the diagnosis, his thoughts went to his infant daughter and his family – would they be ok? would they be strong enough to go through this all again? And here they stand in 2019, celebrating 4 months of remission for Josh, wanting to share the news that cancer did not win this battle, THEY did.

Their spirits were constantly lifted by the presence of the Pink Out team. The motto “No One Fights Alone” is a perfect description of their experience with Pink Out. Josh appreciates the assistance he received to keep his daughter and newly purchased home taken care of – and cherishes the support his extended family received as they cared for him.

“Pink is not a color I normally wear but I wear it tonight with pride and gratitude. Thank you for supporting Pink Out so they are able to support the Warriors.”

137500997d1b3a07dbb560673023caa4562c90131375010333b7e7bea1bb04a709824f6835b37009Without the community members, business partners and students of our community being deeply involved, we couldn’t do what we do for those who need help in their fight against cancer. Jenison has shown up for eleven straight years and given tremendous support. From the depths of my heart, I say, Thank you! Your presence, your generosity, and your willingness to walk alongside the courageous fighters in our community is a wonderful gift! There is no gesture too small – purchasing a shirt, donating funds, volunteering, and just showing up at Pink Out says we care and we have your back!  That is their gift; this is our legacy. In our community, nobody fights alone!

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The Jenison Men’s Basketball teams have been very busy this month as well. Varsity Coach, Dominic Allen detailed a new free throw shooting competition they hosted as a fundraiser opportunity. The players secured pledges and proudly presented $6,300 to Pink Out, over double their original goal! The players also braved the beginning of the polar vortex at the end of January to get the Pink Out flags up along Baldwin Street.13749889a4c39321ee7e5510451b129d1ee6e294

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This year, 3 sophomore girls launched a new Jenison tradition called “Senior Survivor”. Based on the television show, senior students attempt to raise money and compete in challenges to remain in the game. They had an amazing amount of fun and were proud to present a check for $5,419.14 to Jenison Pink Out. 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!137501524b250aec81c40c785df4903db57f30d2

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Words cannot express the level of gratitude I have for the leadership of our YEAR ROUND Pink Out committee: Moni Marlink, Katy Hevelhurst, Jean Krzewski, Donna Bergeon and Cindi Covell. 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!!137501152a8fc80a74ad4e09f24177e98b6dcf24

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Pink may be the color of the night, but we’re proud to support courageous fighters of all kinds of cancer! The Jenison Pink Out organization makes sure that NO ONE FIGHTS ALONE!!

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Seniors, Zac Avery and Conner Wood, close the ceremony by performing this year’s Pink Out theme song “Lean on Me”.

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Principal, Luke VerBeek accepts the Pink basketball in recognition of best Pink Out Spirit Day at Rosewood Elementary. Way to go kids – Rosewood Rocks!

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Read about past Pink Out Honorees on previous PINK OUT blogs:

2018 |2017 | 2016 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012

Jenison Robotics Recap

13879193_518502558354595_1452843078217319306_nThe Jenison High School gyms were bursting at the seams on Saturday, January 12. Although there were no basketballs bouncing or wrestling mats on the ground, the energy was undeniable as the Jenison Robotics team proudly played host to 80 teams from around the area for a Vex Robot Competition (VRC). The January Jenison Tournament wraps up the regular competition schedule for this year.

Since starting 5 years ago, the growth of the Jenison robotics program has been outstanding and we’re glad to see another successful season. The students are forging lasting friendships, and growing in confidence as they work as teammates and persevere through adversity. Together, the teams have taken home 25 awards, including an Innovate Award, multiple Design Awards, Excellence Awards, and four tournament champions.

The Jenison Robotics program is open to students in grades 4-12. And while they are busy with fun, hands-on experiments – they are really putting into practice complex concepts, like the trade off between speed and power, how friction coefficients can affect performance, or learning how to design and utilize systems with compound gearing. Students are clearly learning and practicing helpful skills they can take with them into their future. Adam Timmer, president of the Jenison Robotics Board of Directors, and the many parent volunteers, have a goal for the students and adult volunteers that join the program. They work together to allow the student to join where they are at. The robotics arena is a great place for them practice their talents and skills, and also learn new ones. Some of the robotics students have even been 3D modeling parts and then 3D printing those parts. Jenison Robotics is currently fundraising to provide the students access to a 3D printer.

This year, there are 18 elementary teams, participating in the VEX IQ program. Among these teams, they have won 16 awards so far this season and we’re proud to see 6 elementary teams qualify for the State Championship next month. The Jr. High and High School teams have had breakout success this season. Monroe Community College is hosting Michigan’s Middle School State VRC Championship in March and five of the nine Jenison Junior High teams have earned their way there. The seven Jenison High School robotics teams have worked hard throughout the year and have one team currently headed to the state championship competition at Michigan State University.

It will be a tough field of competing teams, but the Jension teams headed to the state championships have their sights set on earning an invitation to the VEX Robotics World Championship (held in Louisville, Kentucky this spring).

As an educator, it intrigues me and gives me a such pride to watch all the intricacies of this volunteer/mentor-run program. By its nature, the study of competitive robotics not only encompasses all four pillars of STEM education, but also encourages important life skills like teamwork, communication, and project-based organization.

I just know that the future of America is in great hands with these budding engineers. Stay tuned to the Jenison Robotics website or the Jenison Robotics Facebook page to follow their progress as they wrap up their season. Good Luck Wildcats!!

Meet Jenison Robotics Junior High team 457A:

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They have won two tournaments, the “Innovate Award” at a third event, and with a tournament win they were the first Jenison team to qualify for the State Championship this 2018-19 season. Team members, Devon, Cora, Ethan and Peyton have pretty diverse interests with band, orchestra, football, and playing guitar. When it comes to robotics, they come together to create a solid team that gets the job done. Devon strives to keep the team improving continually. Cora keeps the team’s engineering notebook on track. Ethan programs the robot to make sure the “hunk of metal” they built is a smart hunk of metal. Besides driving the robot, Peyton scouts the competition and helps develop strategy for the team.

More exciting JPS Robotics and STEM news:

The Mechanics of Jenison Robotics – 2016 Blog Post

Jenison Receives Portion of State Grant for Robotics

Jenison High Schoolers Start “GIRLS IN STEM” Club

 

 

Another Feather in Our Plume

For the last 4 months, Dave Zamborsky and the Jenison High School marching band have worked incredibly hard to fine tune the theatrics, art and music of their show, “Under The Surface”. From the beginning of their season in June, all the way to wowing the community time and again at recent invitational performances; they gave their all. And then it happened, I made a bold yet very confident prediction. That they would show up to Ford Field, ready to perform and come home back-to-back state champions.

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Photo by Damion Van Slyke Photography

Now, I don’t really like to say I told you so… but their dedication grew stronger and they kept improving – the show was getting better as time went on. It was very exciting to witness, and then Saturday, November 3, they swept all 3 categories with an impressive score of 93.05 and were named Michigan Competing Bands Association (MCBA) Flight 2 State Champions! This is the 8th time they have been given that title! A heartfelt congratulations to Dave (most know him as “Z”) and our musicians on an outstanding marching band season. Well deserved and way to make us all proud! The group was even given a memorable escort home last weekend complete with Ottawa County squad cars and a Georgetown Township firetruck leading the way.

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Photo by Damion Van Slyke Photography

There’s no doubt that our students work hard when it comes to Marching Band. They memorize music and drill steps, attend pre-camp, mini-camp, band camp, and post camp – in whatever sort of weather Michigan decides to throw our way. And then there are their parents. They form committees to produce props for the show, crews to load equipment, they orchestrate efforts to feed the band when necessary, plan the annual Jenison Marching Band Invitational and sign up for general chaperone duties.

“Band parents are special people”, says Renee Schab, who is volunteering on the equipment crew for her 5th year in the program. “They don’t hesitate to take each and every kid under their wing. The students know we are here to help them, we’re in the trenches with them and they are so appreciative and grateful. Our job is to support the directors, staff and kids to be a success. And we love being a part of the team!”

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“They didn’t choose the marching band life, the marching band life chose them!” Parents enjoy the community of volunteerism around the Marching Band so much so that we have a few empty nester parents still on the crew!

Vicki Thompson shared an excellent observation that is also something I admire about Z and his work with the students. She loves being involved because it’s so fun to watch how the confidence builds in every kid. “They start out pretty unsure of themselves and by the end they have worked so hard to be a part of a larger team, they have gained so much, and are so proud. And they’ve earned every bit of it.”

Kimberly Schwartzkoph and her husband Todd, have been a part of the marching band program for 7 years. They really love volunteering with the program and being a part of something that can help them connect with their kids, and get to know other students. They, along with many other marching band parents would tell you that they have gained their own community of friends through the program in addition to helping fuel their child’s passion.

Shortly after this gets posted, 181 dedicated students, along with all those special parent volunteers will depart for the Bands of America National Championship competition in Indianapolis. It makes me so grateful to be overwhelmed by intentional, strong parental support. We wish you the best, Wildcats!

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Summer Band Camp at Hope College

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Summer Band Camp at Hope College

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Ford Field – State Championship Competition

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Ford Field – State Championship Competition

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Via Facebook

 

More photos from the October 20, 2018 Jenison MCBA Invitational can be seen here DamionVanSlykePhotography_Jenison_Invite

For more information about the Jenison Schools band program, please visit http://jenisonbands.org.

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