8th Graders Go East!

For the past ten years, each June, 8th grade history teacher, Kevin Fales, boards a charter bus with Jenison 8th graders to venture to the east coast to bring history to life, but to teach students so much more!

During his second year of teaching, Mr Fales was invited to join East Kentwood Middle School on their own East Coast Trip to get a feel for the experience and consider running a similar trip for Jenison. Now the trip averages 125 students each year and, along with twelve to fifteen school employees serving as chaperones, the trip is a mainstay for the 8th grade class.

This year, the 130 students will board the bus on Thursday, June 15 and head for their first stop: Niagara Falls. For most of the students, this will be their first experience outside of Michigan, let alone, outside of the country! The stop in Niagara Falls not only breaks up a long day of driving, but it allows students to begin to have their eyes opened to the wide world outside of West Michigan.

Day two finds the group in Boston visiting Fenway Park, Quincy Market, Faneuil Hall, and take a ride on the infamous Duck Tour where they will ride the “duck truck” into the Charles River. Of course, the group will also visit historic sites throughout the city, along the Freedom Trail.

From Boston, the students will travel to New York City and play the role of tourists and visit Central Park, Times Square, and Rockefeller Plaza. The next day they will visit the 9/11 Memorial, ride a double-decker bus around the city to learn history and fun facts and wrap up their time in the city with a boat ride on “The Beast” which will take them past the Statue of Liberty.

After their two-day whirlwind of NYC, the group will journey to Philadelphia to visit Constitution CenterIndependence Hall where the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were both signed. “We’re standing in the room where George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson were all in.” They will also visit Thomas Jefferson’s apartment where he wrote the Declaration of Independence. To end their time in Philly, they will channel their inner-Rocky by running the steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

On the way home, the group will stop at Gettysburg and receive a guided tour of the field and experience the Cyclorama, a painting created in the late 1880s which measures 377 feet in circumstance and 42 feet high** and immerses the viewer in the battle itself.

The final stop on the way home is Hershey Park to enjoy the amusement park and celebrate the end of their trip.

Mr Fales says that there are multiple goals for the students: it’s an opportunity to leave home, to build relationships with fellow students, and to connect what they’ve learned in class to real-life history. “As they are getting ready to go to the high school, it’s time to learn for themselves, the trip provides a chance for self-discovery, learning to advocate for themselves and grow up a little bit.”

Thank you, Mr Fales and chaperones, for planning this trip each year and giving your time and energy for ensure our students have the best possible learning experience! Students, soak up every aspect of this experience and feel the wind beneath your newly spread wings!

*Photo courtesy of RMA Worldwide Chauffeured Transportation
**Courtesy of the Gettysburg Foundation

Star Student Spotlight: Izzy Krzewski!

When asked who Junior High Vice Principal, Heather Breen, would recommend as a Star Student, she did not hesitate! “8th grader, Isabelle (Izzy) Krzewski is a sweetheart of a student who is very involved in theater, dance, orchestra and choir.  She works incredibly hard and has great grades.”

Izzy comes from a musical family where her four older siblings are happy to indulge her habit of singing around the house. She has participated in Jenison theatre the last two years and performed as Princess Winifred in Once Upon a Mattress and this year, she wowed the crowd with her especially mean portrayal of Aunt Spiker in James and Giant Peach. Izzy insists that her role has Aunt Spiker caused her to have to “dig deep” because she usually plays the fun, silly roles and Aunt Spiker was the exact opposite. Izzy herself is sweet, kind and humble so finding her “inner Aunt Spiker” was a fun challenge.

As other theatre students have affirmed, the program at Jenison is a place all kinds of kids call “home” and Izzy is no different. She loves theatre because “the kids, the environment, and all the people — theatre people are the best people to be around because you can just laugh and joke with them. If you’re stressed from homework, theatre and dance just help you forget about it and be part of the art.”

Izzy also participates in the Junior High Dance Team which performs at the boys basketball games as well as various local competitions. If her dedication to theatre wasn’t enough to exhaust you, Izzy’s dance schedule directly corresponds  to the preparation for the musical each year and she insists it’s not a “stressful kind of hard work”.

In class she describes herself as “quiet and shy” but these are not the qualities she possesses on stage. “I just like becoming a different person on stage and making the audience smile and laugh”. Izzy says that her math teacher, Mr. Ohman is the teacher that inspires her to learn and the class she enjoys the most. “Mr Ohman teaches us math, but also teaches us about life. His stories are really inspirational. Usually in first hour I’m tired but he keeps me engaged with all of his stories.”

Because two kinds of art performances aren’t enough for Izzy, she also participates in the junior high choir and orchestra where she has played the viola for three years. “In orchestra I’m playing the notes and in choir, I’m singing the notes which is really cool and it helps me learn more.”

Her favorite music to sing is show tunes and she loves Newsies and Hamilton. She has seen movies of Broadway shows but has yet to see one in person but very much looks forward to it.

Izzy is looking forward to auditioning for theatre and being part of the High School choir and orchestra and says, “It is difficult balancing it all during the theatre and dance season. You’re up late, but it’s totally worth it.”

She encourages everyone to find what they love and lean in to it. “You have to find a passion in yourself, something that makes your heart beat faster and then that’s really where you make your mark.”

Thank you, Izzy! Your hard work, bravery on stage, dedication to your passion is an inspiration to all of us! We’re proud to call you a Wildcat!

#JPSReads Comes Alive on Stage!

miii2248As a partnership to #JPSReads, the Junior High theatre department presents, James and the Giant Peach starting today and running through Sunday afternoon. We hope that families all over the district participated in the Read Aloud, JPSReads, earlier this school year and read the classic Roald Dahl story but if it’s new to you, don’t worry, it’s a heartwarming tale of an underdog you’ll love.

James is orphaned early in life and goes to live with his aunt who treats him as a servant, rather than a young boy. He soon meets a mysterious old man who offers him a magic bag of crocodile tongues that will make his life better. When James accidentally spills the tongues all over the ground, he is surprised to see an enormous peach grow on the sidewalk! The giant peach becomes a magical place of fantasy and friendship for James and, of course, you’ll need to read the book or buy a ticket this weekend to hear the rest!

miii2237When Director, Holly Florian, was anticipating this years musical, she considered the amazing batch of talent her students bring to the table. While the audience is aware that the actors on stage are junior high students, what they may not realize is that by the end of the weekend, the entire show is student-run. They are in charge of the lights, sound, stage management, direction, and set changes. They are assisted by a couple of high school students in their tasks but they act mainly in the role of mentor to these ambitious junior highers!

The cast auditioned back in mid-October and at the end of that month they began their rehearsals. Near showtime, they are rehearsing from 5-9pm every weeknight! Prior to the holiday break they have memorized all of their lines but Ms Florian encourages them from this point on to really let the characters become their own; to have fun with the lines and the story. She sees their potential and wants them to have the opportunitiy to shine as a result of their hard work and dedication.

miii2102Just like our high school students say year after year, Ms Florian believes that her students love being in the theatre program because it provides a sense of belonging and community. Students are able to meet new people and make friends with other students they may have never met otherwise. Because of this, she is especially pleased with the journey that James makes in this story. As the director, she is able to see the journey of students, their progress and self-confidence throughout the rehearsal season. By the end “it’s amazing to see how far they’ve come and that’s what this story is all about: self-confidence.”

If you’d like to see these talented students live, in action, you can purchase your tickets here. It’s a great opportunity to bring the book to life and remind your kids of the importance of and meaning found in reading and stories!

Break a leg, Junior High students! We know you will be incredible, not only this weekend, but always!

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History Comes Alive for 8th Graders!

img_4675If you’ve ever tuned out your parents or an older adult when they started to say, “When I was your age…” you’re not alone and you’re probably in the good company of many of our eighth grade students.

This year, Jenison Junior High Language Arts teachers wanted to not only allow students the opportunity to embrace their curriculum unit on historical fiction but to do it by getting to know some older adults in our community who have their own history to tell.

img_4646English teacher, Jane Brown, wanted students to learn new ways to value history and personal experiences. “We are always looking for ways to make our curriculum real to our students. In eighth grade, we study historical fiction and – unfortunately – sometimes just that genre alone turns people off even though it can be fascinating. We wanted to help our students to see that the things that happened before their lifetimes matter.”

As part of the event held earlier this month, senior citizens were invited to participate by being interviewed in person by our junior high students. The students are also charged with writing historical fiction of their own and the real-life experiences they heard about will add depth to their writing.

img_4685“Students asked a variety of questions. The goal was for them was to find out what life was like in the past and also to hear the interesting stories that people had to share. The students were very excited to share what they had learned from the people they interviewed. They are looking forward to writing historical fiction short stories set in the time periods that they learned about.
Kids loved learning what people wore to the beach in the 1930s [suits and ties], how they talked on the telephone in the 1960s [party lines], and about the beginnings of Jenison Public Schools.”

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55 older adults between the ages of 50 – 90 participated in the event and were eager to share their experiences with the students. They also reported being impressed by their questions!

“We really liked that this event allowed students to learn about history in a non-traditional way from a first-hand perspective, while at the same time, practicing communication skills. The students came away from their hour disappointed that they didn’t have more time with the people they interviewed. Bridging the generations is such a wonderful experience for everyone involved!

Thank you to our community partners for being willing to participate in our students’ education! Your voices are invaluable to us!

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Say “Hi” to New Teachers!

This year we welcomed 23 new staff members to the Jenison family! Here you can meet some of them and feel free to say “hi” in person when you cross paths!

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Anna Flood  |  Burlsey, 6th Grade

“I grew up in the area and have always heard amazing things about Jenison. As a new teacher to the district, I have noticed the strong community and support that surrounds education. I am excited to grow with my group of 6th grade students, and watch them use their abilities to be successful.”

 

mcelweeAlexa McElwee  |  Bursley Interventionist
“I have grown up in this community.  Living in Hudsonville, attending GVSU and now working in Jenison, I have seen this community from so many sides.  From being a child, to a student, and now as a educator.  This community stands behind you and support you in every way.  When I graduated the one thing I knew I wanted in the school I worked for was a huge community involvement.  When I accepted my position in Jenison, I knew I was going more than a community, I was joining a family.  Jenison is such an amazing school district who wants the best for the students and their families.

On the first day of school I was feeling like most students do when they walk in the door, nervous, anxious and excited.  I definitely had first day jitters.  I was nervous for joining a new team and for meeting new students who have never seen me before.  By the end of they day I was getting high fives and lots of hugs from all the Kindergartners as they walked by my room to head to the bus.  To see their faces light up each morning when they see me in the hall or working with them makes me so excited to see the relationships that are being formed.  This is going to be a great year.”

vandebergJosh VandeBerg  |  Sandy Hill, 4th Grade

“My family and I are very excited to return to the area!  My wife Amanda and I are from the area, but moved to Florida 9 years ago. We have 4 children Ben (10), Abigail (9), Hannah (6), and Levi (3).  All of our extended family lives in the area and my children are thrilled to live by their cousins.

I am a big believer of living in the community that I teach in.  Jenison is an amazing place to live and raise a family.  The schools are top-notch and we can’t imagine a better place to be. I am so excited for this school year because everyone that I work with truly cares about each other.  The district leaders, the team at Sandy Hill, and everyone I meet throughout the district is amazing. Jenison has a lot to offer its students.  I am currently involved in the robotic’s program and we have a blast using what we’ve learned in the classroom to solve a problem.

willieMaura Willie  |  Elementary Music

“I was drawn to JPS because of their excellence in music. I love how the district and community supports the arts in their schools. So far, I’m most excited for the year because of all of the collaboration I’ve seen. Everyone I’ve come into contact with has been eager to help each other and work together. ”

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Jenny Huizenga  |  High School Math
“I was drawn to JPS because my children attend JPS and I love the schools and the community.  I am excited to be teaching in the community where I live.  The staff and students are amazing at Jenison and I am looking forward to getting to know everyone and get involved. “

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Bridget Ehlich  |  Bursley Elementary, 6th Grade Spanish Immersion

“I was drawn to JPS by the reputation it has in the Greater Grand Rapids area as forward educators. I am excited about the year because I have already felt welcomed by the community and can tell that this is a good place to be as an educator.”

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Dustin Morley  |  Junior High ELA
“I first heard about Jenison Public Schools while I attended Grand Valley State University ten years ago and heard nothing but good things about the district and community ever since. After moving from the Detroit area to West Michigan I was very excited when a long-term substitute position opened at Jenison Junior High. The building and district felt like home for me from the first interview for that position.  After being a long-term substitute for a year and a half, I couldn’t be happier to now be a full time teacher at Jenison Junior High School. I’m particularly looking forward to getting more involved with the school and community this year.”

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Rachel Nichols  |  ECC Special Education

“I was looking for a district that wanted to everything possible to benefit their students. I talked to some friends and they all were so pleased with Jenison and what they are doing.  So far it has been great everyone has been so friendly and welcoming it has been an amazing start to 2016/2017 school year and I am excited to continue!!!”
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Anna Siegel  |  Pinewood + Sandy Hill Special Education

“What drew me to JPS is the success of the district and the sense of community. I am in two different elementary buildings throughout the day this year, and so I am excited to interact with many different staff and students this year!”
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Kristen Dantonio  |  Pinewood, 5th Grade

“I was drawn to Jenison because I was told that it was a district that cared about people. It is a district that puts relationships first and I knew that I wanted to be part of that. I am most excited to get to know my students and coworkers at Pinewood. It has been a great year so far and I am excited to see how those relationships will grow.”

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Christina Salinas  |  Rosewood, 6th Grade Spanish Immersion

“The wonderful Jenison community and Spanish Immersion program drew me to JPS.  This year I am excited to see students continue to grow in their literacy skills in Spanish and English.  I am also excited to work with the supportive teachers and staff at Rosewood Elementary. I have learned so much from them already. Their dedication and passion for teaching is contagious!”

We’re so thankful for all of our teachers and all that they do for our students and families! Thank you to the new teachers for bringing your talents and passion to Jenison!

Summer Series: Student Writing Sample [8th grade]

LogoThis summer we will feature a writing sample from a student in each grade as we all enjoy a beautiful summer in West Michigan! Please join us each week to read these fantastic teacher-submitted examples of excellent writing!

Literary Essay on Ransom of Red Chief
By Jacob Frollo

In the short story “Ransom of Red Chief”, by O. Henry, Bill and Sam need money so they kidnap a kid. They took a little boy who calls himself Red Chief, but they got more than they bargained for. The boy beat up and harassed them. The boy was such a handful that they ended up paying his father to take him back. This story shows that before you act, you should think about the consequences.

For instance, Bill and Sam Were so desperate to get some money that they acted and didn’t think about the consequences. “ The kid was in the street, throwing rocks at a kitten on the opposite fence”(pg. 274). They took the boy because they thought he was the banker’s son but didn’t stop and wonder if it would be a bad idea to take him because he was throwing rocks at a kitten on the fence. Bill and Sam didn’t think of the consequences before they acted and took the boy. Also, the boy acted without thinking of the consequences. Red Chief was sitting on Bills chest with one hand grabing his hair and in the other hand he had a sharp knife which he was trying to cut Bill with(pg. 277). The boy was just pretending to be an Indian and was trying to have a good time, but he didn’t think about the consequences he would have for harassing Bill. For example, Bill and Sam could send him home and he didn’t want to go home because he was having fun. Later in the story they did threaten take him home. He beat up Bill without thinking of the consequences that he almost got sent home. In addition, the boy’s father acted, but he was aware of the consequences. “You bring Johnny home and pay me two hundred and fifty dollars in cash, and I agree to take him off your hands”(pg. 281). In this sentence from the text the boy’s father offers the kidnappers a deal so he could get his son back without paying the ransom. This shows that the boy’s father thought about the consequences and decided to write the letter like that anyway. He was almost positive the kidnappers would take the offer because his son was such a handful and they were getting sick of him. The boy’s father thought about the consequences and acted based on what he thought was the best choice. Another situation where someone acted was when Bill and Sam decided to give the kid back without getting the ransom. “We’ll take him home, pay the ransom and make our getaway”(pg. 282). Bill and Sam decided to pay the 250 dollars to get rid of the kid because he was getting on their nerves and they didn’t want to deal with him any more. Bill and Sam knew the consequences, but the decided to act and pay the ransom so they could get rid of him.

Furthermore, there were also many consequences for the characters actions. For example, Bill and Sam had consequences for kidnapping the boy. Red chief had put a red hot potato down Bill’s back and smashed with his foot. Then Bill hit him and he threatend to bash his head in with a rock(pg. 277). When they took the boy they didn’t think of the consequences, but there were many consequences including this one where the boy threatened to hit Bill with a rock. That was one of many consequences they had for taking the boy. Additionally, the boy had a consequence for being such a handful. “When the kid found out we were going to leave him at home he started up a howl like a calliope and fastened himself as tight as a leech to Bill’s leg”(pg. 282). The boy got angry because he was having fun and didn’t want to go home, but he had to because he was being such a handful for Bill and Sam and the wanted him gone. If he wouldn’t have been such a handful Bill and Sam might not have taken the deal that was offered to them and the boy would have got to stay longer if his father didn’t pay the ransom. Going home was the boy’s consequence for being a handful. Bill and Sam also had consequences for taking the offer that the boy’s father gave them. “We took him home that night”(pg. 282). Bill and Sam brought the boy back to his father and by doing so there were many consequences. One is that they wouldn’t get the ransom money that they needed. Another is that they had to pay the man to get rid of the boy. Bill and Sam gave the boy back and they knew the consequences, but they did it anyway because they were so sick of the boy.

In conclusion, some people acted without thinking and had consequences for their actions, while others thought of the consequences and then acted on what they thought they should do. You should just think about the consequences before you act.

Our 8th writer, Jake Frollo, has attended Jenison Public Schools since kindergarten. He is a percussionist in marching band and enjoys snow skiing in winter. His favorite book is The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. Jacob is a rising freshman at Jenison High School and his writing was selected by his 8th grade writing teacher, Ms Deb VanDuinen.

Summer Series: Student Writing Sample [7th grade]

LogoThis summer we will feature a writing sample from a student in each grade as we all enjoy a beautiful summer in West Michigan! Please join us each week to read these fantastic teacher-submitted examples of excellent writing!

Flint: Soon to Lose all Citizens
By: Melia Brewer

The city of Flint is a beautiful place that will start to lose all of the people there because of the water. In another word, Flint will be filled with lead all in their water, soon to kill many of the people if still drinkin. For a while, the water in Flint has been caught with a lot of lead in the pipes but, now it is more of a problem than ever. Altogether, the Flint river, not using corrosion and switching water systems have started a high level of lead in Flint’s water. Lead is definitely a dangerous thing in water for humans in Flint. It will carry death or seriously bad problems for Flint. Some professionals have found that the lead can cause many problems like learning disability, speech and behavioral problems. If not taken care of every citizen in Flint will be affected. With the increasing amount of people in Flint the more people’s lives will be taken by the lead. With a growing population the more water that will need to be used and more of the pipes will have to be taken care of. Unfortunately, plastic water bottles would be at the bottom because of how cheap and simple it is. Water bottles would be the more economic way to go, but it is the worst because of how fast they would go out. Lead in Flint’s water is a major problem that must be taken care of soon.

Before we can take any actions, we must find out how the lead was even in the water of Flint. The main cause of the problem is that the Flint river brought the lead into the water. “Flint had switched water systems to the Flint river to save money, but found out that there was eight times more chloride than Detroit’s water” (Sanburn). This problem has spread all throughout Flint and might get worse later on. Many of the water in the Flint river had been affected by lead so many of the people had to drink that water. Also, this means people in this situation need the fresh water to drink because they had been used to that and now the water has been affected by lead. The city did not try to do this, but the water became to have lead in it when it reached people’s houses. This is important because it could end up hurting other people if they drink it because there is nothing else for them to drink. We must get rid of the lead in Flint’s water. Another cause that brought lead into Flint’s water is “ The city did not use corrosion to control to prevent the lead from entering the water” (Sanburn). This quote means that when Flint switched their water system the lead was still in there from the Flint river and, the state did not fix the water pipes for clean water after they knew that there was lead in the water. Also, this means that the lead could stay in Flint’s water for a long time because it could start to get worse after awhile if not taken care of soon enough and the proper way. The quote also states, that even if you don’t do one thing to anything something really bad could end up happening.

Certainly, there are many consequences of lead in water, as well as the horrible effects. Lead is basically a chemical element in the carbon group. “ Lead can cause learning disability, speech and language problems and behavioral problems (Detroit Free Press). This states that if someone drinks the lead they could be different in the way they talk, behave and learn all because of drinking that lead water. Also, studies have shown that the lead can cause a different blood level usually a lower blood level. This lead in the water can lead to killing every organ in someone’s body killing them. Lead is obviously very bad for your body and is very likely to give you disability at the least, if not it will cause many unwanted things.

Flint’s citizen’s need the help for a better solution to help them drink healthy water. Other people in Michigan could just send plastic water bottles, but a better long term solution is the people could keep sending money to Flint to pay for more filters according to Bryan McGrath. This means that everyday more and more people could send money to Flint for the water pipes could be fixed. Also, this means that the more money people send the people in Flint the quicker the water can be fixed. Finally this means that the water would stay healthy like it always was and will not get affected again unless they switch water systems again. Another, solution is that the state can start to send filter supplies and water testing kits to Flint according to the Detroit Free Press. This states that the state of Michigan should start to help Flint by sending them their needs because right now they have to handle this all on their own. Also, that means that the state needs to fix this problem or else people from other states will not want to come here because of the bad water, and might think that we are a poor state because the state is not giving up the money to fix the pipes. Finally, that means that Michigan’s population will start to die down because Flint’s water can end up killing a majority of the people that live there, and as of 2013 there was 99,763 people that lived in Flint that could soon all die because of water. A final, solution is to just start to send money for the families to pay for their own pipes to be fixed for good water. This means that other people in michigan could start to help with a shorter term solution with just giving the families that have been affected with the lead money to start to pay for them to have brand new water. Also, this means that if people of Michigan start to send money the families might end up saving the money so that they can end up without having to to buy any plastic bottles. Unless we act now to help others in need all of the people in Flint could be changed in their lives with the lead in the water. And beautiful Flint, will soon lose all of the people if not taken care of now.

Melia Brewer, is a rising 8th grader at Jenison Junior High and is in her second year at Jenison, transferring from Hudsonville in sixth grade. She is involved in many activities at the Junior High, such as volleyball and softball, and plays viola in the orchestra. A favorite read for her is the Hunger Games series. This essay was selected by her 7th grade writing teacher, Ms Deb VanDuinen.

Works cited

“Flint’s Water Crisis Explained in 3 GIFs.” Time. Time, n.d. Web. 27 Feb. 2016.
“Health Problems That Followed Switch in Water Supply Anger Flint Residents.” Newsela. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Feb. 2016. Kristof, Nicholas.
“America Is Flint.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 06 Feb. 2016. Web. 27 Feb. 2016.
“Lead Poisoning­Topic Overview.” WebMD. WebMD, n.d. Web. 27 Feb. 2016.
“News.” A Water Crisis Deepens. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Feb. 2016.

Emma Scott is 2016 Future Leader in the Making!

IMG_5113Earlier this month Jenison 8th grader, Emma Scott, was honored at GlenEagle Golf Club as the winner of the 2016 Future Leader in the Making Award! This is the first year for the award which was offered and presented by the Grandville-Jenison Chamber of Commerce.

Junior High Principal, Brett Cataldo [pictured below], attended the event but was also Emma’s nominator. “Emma is a positive, smart, compassionate young lady.  Emma is a leader by example in all of her classes.  She is a positive peer for students in her classes.  Emma sets an example of being a team player, respectful and exhibits the Cat Character Traits from JJHS – Caring, Integrity, Citizenship, and Self Discipline.”

Emma has taken full advantage of the opportunities at Jenison Junior High by participating in Choir, Orchestra, and advanced classes such as Challenge American History, and Advanced Math.  “She works extremely hard academically and brings the thinking in her classes to a higher level.  In addition is a talented singer and had a lead role last winter in our Junior High musical Once Upon A Mattress.  Emma also participated in softball.”IMG_4435

The idea for the award was prompted a few years ago after the community experienced the flooding and the eight year old son of a Chamber member took a leadership role with a weekend of cleanup. When the Chamber decided to move forward with the idea the age range of 13 – 17 year olds was established and the criteria for nomination were “for activities or significant contributions that resulted in the improvement and quality of life for the residents and or businesses of the Grandville/Jenison/GTWP Communities.”

Sandy LeBlanc, Executive Director of the Grandville-Jenison Chamber of Commerce had the difficult task of deciding between the eight candidates but says that Emma stood out because she “is a very well rounded student who excels not only academically but also in the arts, sports, and shares her talents singing to the elderly.  She sets the bar high for fellow students and is definitely a “Future Leader in the Making”.”

Emma, ‘congratulations’ from the entire JPS family! We are so proud of your hard work, talents and spirit of giving back. You exemplify what it means to be a Jenison Wildcat!

Junior High Students Get Future Career Help

MIII0187Earlier this month, 100 of our Jenison eighth graders were randomly selected to attend the MI Career Quest event held at DeVos Place in downtown Grand Rapids. Organized and hosted by West Michigan Works! and the Construction Workforce Development Alliance it was developed in response to employers’ need for future talent. Students were the targeted audience before opening the doors to perspective employees for more of a job fair atmosphere.

MIII0044With the goal of experiencing many careers in one day and having the opportunity to ask questions students loved the event. Junior High Principal, Brett Cataldo, accompanied the students and said, “Students asked many great questions of the professionals working at the event.  Some questions were about the training/schooling, hours worked each day/week, if they like their job, and where the business was located. Students were very responsive and really did a nice job exploring the jobs and asking quality questions.”

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With almost 100 employers on site it was an excellent chance for students to consider a wider worldview to the ubiquitous question, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” The event was organized into four areas: construction, manufacturing, instructional technology and medical. “Interest was really high in the medical area with our students.”  Participants were able to take part inMIII0028 various activities with the businesses present including hands-on demonstrations, team competitions and engaging in one-on-one conversations with professionals, which incuded engineers, registered nurses, architects, electricians and HVAC technicians.

“Students are never too young to explore and gain exposure on the possible future careers.  An event like this is very motivating to students and makes all the work they are doing at school relevant.”

Whether it was seeing the inner-workings of a robotic arm or racing with a fire hose, this is a fantastic way for our students to begin exploring their interests, passions, talents and interests.

We can’t wait to see where your education and experiences take you in life!MIII0156

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Clubs at Jenison Schools: Junior High Chess Club

This April we will be spotlighting three unique clubs offered for students at Jenison! We hope you will join us each week this month to be surprised and inspired by the talents and interests of our kids.

MIII5597Last year, seventh grader Jonah Graham decided his school needed a Chess Club so he and his fellow chess fans approached math teacher, Nate Ohman, about the possibility. Mr Ohman admits that his passion for math has always included an interest in the strategy of the game and he has been playing since he was a child. It was a natural fit!

The club meets every week during the second and third quarters and there are approximately 30 students involved. “Most of the time is spent playing chess. We incorporate a “chess ladder” to rank the students by ability level and we try to make the matches fun and competitive for both players by matching up players who have similar skills.  We have also done a club tournament as well as a “chess board rotation” game.”

Jonah Graham says that the game of chess “has a challenge for every level of skill and it really helps to improve your game when you can play against people at or above your skill level.”

MIII5602Anyone who knows the game of Chess [or has been intimidated by it] can tell you that it’s not just fun and games “Chess club provides a safe place for students to build friendships and share a common experience around a game that builds thinking and strategy skills. I believe that it enhances problem solving skills and increases the ability to think beyond the here and now.  Chess requires planning ahead and anticipating various scenarios that could occur.  These are definitely life skills. Chess club can be a wholesome part of a student’s junior high experience.”

MIII5562“Even though chess is an old game there has been a lot of interest. It’s a good opportunity to make new friends with people you didn’t realize you had something in common with” says Jonah.

Mr Ohman agrees, “It is a great place for students to meet new friends and enjoy time with old ones.  It is a fun way to sharpen problem solving skills and enhance thinking.”

Way to go Chess Club! What a cool way to challenge yourselves and improve your strategic skills. It’s your move!

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