Let’s Talk Vaping

There is no sugar coating the truth: real danger is lurking behind the sleek design and sweet flavors of e-cigarettes. The use of these devices and the vaping trend has been named the most serious adolescent public-health crisis our country has faced in decades.

Vaping and the use of e-cigarettes is the fastest growing trend among teens. According to the 2017 Ottawa County Youth Assessment Survey, 1 out of every 4 teens has used a “vape” in the past month. While updated study results will be forthcoming, the rapid growth of this trend suggests that the new numbers will paint an even more harrowing picture for the families in our community.

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Nationwide data and graphic source: Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2019

 

At Jenison Public Schools, we are proud to offer a world-class education that prepares students to achieve their goals and chase their dreams. This means that we are focusing on developing the whole child – intellectually, socially, emotionally, and physically. Which is precisely why I feel this topic is well worth the attention. Providing information for our students to make the best choices for today and their future is the right thing to do.

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David Stults developed popcorn lung after exposure to dangerous food chemicals. He is now informing students about the dangers of similar vaping substances.

Partnering with the Jenison Parent Resource Center to inform and educate, Dr. Brandon Graham welcomed speaker and vaping awareness advocate, David Stults. Dave spent the bulk of his day with us for student assemblies that occurred earlier today. There is also a free townhall event for parents this evening who are interested in more information. If you are unable to attend tonight’s event, please reach out to Ottawa Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition for possible upcoming dates.

This is where we need to start – knowledge is power. When you know better, you can do better! This information will be vital in revealing the truth about the results of our students’ choices – and help parents know how to join the conversation.

Student Assembly Today:

Nearly 1,600 students (grades 7, 8, 9 and 10) went to the Jenison Center for the Arts today to participate in a presentation about the unknown truth and major health risks of vaping. Every moment of interruption to their traditional school day is worth the information gained.

David Stults, who is retired from GE became passionate about warning people of vaping dangers after being diagnosed in 2009 with bronchiolitis obliterans, more commonly known as “popcorn lung.’’ This is an incurable and possibly life threatening disease. Dave had been exposed to a chemical that was activated into a vapor during the microwave heating process. This same chemical is now commonly used in vaping products today. Life for Dave might be different today had someone warned against inhaling – or warned that the popcorn contained any hazardous chemicals. He has since become recognized as an expert in the field of vaping and has spoken at dozens of schools and to more than 25,000 students in 2019. His goal is to fight back while informing this generation of students and their parents.

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Stults aims to portray the real-life picture of what the chemicals do. He may look like a healthy person standing before them but he lets students know that their choices could be setting themselves up for an incurable disease with 40% lung capacity sooner than they might think. 

During the presentation, Dave asked 1/3 of the students present to stand. This represents a nationwide average of the students who have vaped. He acknowledges that the students may think this is a fun and social thing to do, but quickly educates that they are voluntarily inhaling and possibly becoming addicted to a deadly cocktail. The chemicals in e-cigarettes plus the nicotine present makes addiction and lifelong bodily harm a very real possibility; and it can happen quicker than you think.

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2017 Ottawa County Youth Assessment Survey. We must change this perception! 

This 1/3 of students standing also contains the students who may be vaping on a regular basis and could already be addicted. Vaping pods have as much nicotine in one pod as 200 regular cigarettes. Which is a staggering number and almost impossible to keep track of. With a regular cigarette, it is lit, smoked and discarded. With the vaping pod, there is no way to know how much is actually being ingested. Every push of the button brings another hit, and when it can be done with minimal disguising effort such as inside the school bathroom or even the classroom – the frequency is likely to be much higher. 

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The numbers of students vaping looks different among the age groups in the assemblies today. The influence of this information among the younger kids will hopefully be strong enough to encourage them to never even try it. The older students may be faced with a different take away – now that you know better, what will you do? If you have students or grandchildren in 7-10th grade, I urge you to ask them what they learned today and open the dialog.

Free Town Hall Tonight:

Tonight, there is a free local town hall that is meant for parents, educators, youth pastors, community members – anyone who works with our youth. A one time presentation from experts like Dave Stults may make an impact on our students, but lasting change comes from continuing the conversation through support and reinforcement at home. As adults, we cannot afford to lack understanding regarding this trend or be flippant about these dangerous choices.

While Dave addressed our students today, he had this to share with parents: if you discover your child is vaping or addicted to vaping, it’s not time for discipline and disappointment, it’s time for connection and support. Help them navigate a life change within a positive environment. While these devices are fairly new, their reach is far and wide and hitting our young people harder than the temptation of the traditional cigarette. Also, far less research has been done on the full affects on the body and the challenge of quitting may be greater. More advice on quitting can be found here.

It really is scary to think of the health issues our students might have to deal with and the path this sort of possible addiction could lead them. I sincerely hope the result of these sessions is less use and a more informed community. Young adults who are able to make healthier choices while encouraging friends with positive influence. As well as a more aware and better informed parent community about the unintended health and addiction consequences that can result from vaping.

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HELPFUL INFORMATION ABOUT VAPING:

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Graphic Source: The Real Cost, US Department of Health and Human Services

 

Language Arts and Life Skills

Jenison Junior High students are combining key components of Language Arts studies with a journalism focus to sharpen powerful life skills. The 8th grade students invited community members to help them hone their listening, speaking and writing proficiency.

Packed with students and friendly interviewees, the JJHS media center was abuzz with conversation. Students were prepared to practice natural speaking and active listening but it also required them to do some quick thinking on their feet. Taking quick, succinct notes was also a challenge.

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Dawn Dykstra shares her perspectives on Jenison as a former student, a current parent, and a current teacher.

Mr. Dustin Morley, 8th grade Language Arts teacher, is excited for this new kind of learning experience, citing that this is pushing kids into an area they may not be overly comfortable with, but gives them valuable practice for these crucial skills. Students rotated stations in the media center conducting multiple interviews. After the class hour concluded, the students worked to complete the project with a feature story about one of their special guests.

I was honored to be among the group sharing my experiences through natural conversation. The students asked some really great questions, taking the discussion in interesting directions. I’m glad our teachers are always looking for creative ways to provide authentic learning experiences. And I’m very encouraged to see the next generation embracing face to face interaction and learning to be active listeners, critical thinkers and contributing citizens of the future.

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Matt Kroon graduated from JHS in 2000; he shares about how the area has changed, including the addition of Rivertown Mall.

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Jamie Scholten discusses how the cost of things such as gas has changed drastically. 

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Doug Smith, a retired JJHS social studies teacher, uses sports props to engage students and talk about his experiences. 

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Kara VandenBerg shares about her work with dogs, including Bernie the golden retriever. 

 

 

JJHS presents Seussical the Musical, Jr.

A few weeks ago, the Jenison Junior High Thespians traveled to our elementary schools to give students a sneak peek of what was to come in their show, Seussical the Musical, Jr. While they used limited props and were unable to travel with their amazing set, this is always a fun experience for the actors and audience alike and sparked great excitement.

Since then, the finishing touches have been finalized and the JJHS production officially opens the curtain tonight! Led by Director – Holly Florian, Music Director – Sarah Hazel and Choreography Director – Carol Johnson; this group of dedicated and passionate students (on stage and many hidden behind stage) have demonstrated amazing team work and put their talents to work creating something very special.

The story on stage begins with a small boy, with a big imagination. With assistance from the Cat in the Hat, an inspiring and peculiar story will unfold; transporting viewers into an imaginative, colorful, and playful world. At first glance, Horton is just a jolly and friendly elephant, but soon he exhibits a dedication to his beliefs with inspiring determination. Director, Holly Florian embraces this theme and says: “In a year where young people have committed to making their voices and beliefs heard on a National and International level, Horton’s story has been a reminder of the power of listening carefully, and not being afraid to speak up in the face of injustice.”

136804905aecb19948c2b14793d449147828c32a13680527681ae838fca1bfffc5d630c0f4652fd8This show will be a hit for all ages, as many of us grew up reading Dr. Seuss and his stories remain a classic for students today. Ms. Florian captures the essence of the joy behind this show for her and the students saying, “His stories allow the reader to be transported to a magical world where anything is possible and even the “smallest of smalls” can have a role in making a positive change in the world.”

Treat yourself this weekend and make time to witness this spectacular show! I promise, you will leave your seat inspired to follow in Horton’s footsteps and make the world a better place! Show times are January 24 and 25 at 7:00pm and January 26 and 27 at 2:30pm. Tickets are available here!

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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

 

 

Summer Series: Teachers Choose Jenison [JJHS]

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!

English & Language Arts teacher, Jeanna Watson

I choose Jenison because of the positive environment and the amazing reputation the school has created for itself. I truly love my job! The staff, students, and administration are amazing people to be around every day. I think Jenison is a different school district because it doesn’t only feel like a school, it feels like a family. The staff, students, administration, and community truly care for one another and work together to make Jenison a welcoming, fun-filled learning environment. My building exemplifies this by always remembering we are here for the kids first. We are dedicated to supporting our students in anyway possible. Also, we know how to have fun. Jenison Junior High is a high-energy place where every day is a new adventure.

I look forward to summer because I love to travel and visit friends and family. It’s a great season to spend time with family and re-energize for the new school year. I am also looking forward to chaperoning the East Coast trip with Jenison Junior High.

I am looking forward to next year because it will be my second year teaching at Jenison. I can’t believe my first year is already here and gone. I’m also excited to build new relationships with upcoming students and get to know my current students even better.

If I wasn’t a teacher, I would want to be a geologist so I could travel the world and see amazing landmarks. I also think it would be fun to own a bookshop with a cafe because then I could be around my two favorite things: books and coffee.

Something my students would love to know about me is I once went skydiving to try to conquer my fear of heights. I’m still afraid of heights.”

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

Ms Watson was chosen for this story by Junior High School Vice Principal, Heather Breen

Summer Series: Teachers Choose Jenison [JJHS]

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!

7th Grade Social Studies teacher, Joe Roper

“I choose Jenison because it is a student-focused school district and a supportive community. I also really appreciate Jenison’s focus on fine arts as well as athletics.

I think Jenison is a different school district because it provides all of the opportunities of larger school districts but is still small enough that students have opportunities to take part in sports, clubs, theater, and musical performances.

I also value the combination of rigorous academics with a fun and inviting learning environment. My building exemplifies this by placing focus on the well-being of students and positive relationships alongside high academic expectations.”

As you read this, Mr Roper is enjoying a productive summer! “I look forward to summer because I love to write and am able to spend lots of time writing [and reading] during the summer. I also love spending time with my family and getting outside.”

And not unlike some of our other teachers, Mr Roper would be serving the community in a different way if he wasn’t teaching. “If I wasn’t a teacher I would probably be a police officer because I have always wanted to serve the public and help people.”  [Did you know that Mr Roper is already a published author?! Check out his books here for your summer reading!]

“Something my students would love to know about me is that I love Harry Potter, coffee, and dark chocolate and secretly, Sour Patch Kids.” [It’s not a secret anymore, Mr Roper!]

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

Mr Roper was chosen for this story by Junior High School Vice Principal, Heather Breen

Summer Series: Teachers Choose Jenison [JJHS]

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, Jason Gort:

“I choose Jenison because I believe we have a great community of teachers, administrators, students, and community members!  We also have great programs in place for the fine arts, athletics, and many extracurricular activities.

I think Jenison is a different school district because we do a great job promoting and presenting all the efforts of our students within our hallways, gymnasiums, and our Fine Arts Center.  Jenison is a large school district that offers an exceptional education, along with a rigorous courses to ensure our students are ready for the next step.  

My building exemplifies this by being a tight knit community of educators that support all students that walk through our hallways!”

Of course, like all of us, Mr Gort is enjoying the break from school. “I look forward to summer because I love to…go camping, visit the beach, spend time working on house projects, hanging out with my kids, and doing electrical work!”

He is also looking forward to starting his 15th year of teaching and getting to know the new 7th graders! But, if he wasn’t teaching, he’d be your “go to guy” because of his love of the outdoors and working with power tools and trucks.  “If I wasn’t a teacher I would probably be… in the construction field, a walking mailman, or a garbage man!”

When asked what his students would be surprised to learn about him, shared some truly shocking information! “Something my students would love to know about me is that I have been shocked by electricity over 100 times in my lifetime!”

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

Mr Gort was chosen for this story by Junior High School Vice Principal, Heather Breen

 

Junior High Honors Night!

Last week students from the Junior High were honored for their academic achievements! Their teachers, administrators, and parents stood by proudly as students accepted their awards.

Some awards are given based on the student meeting particular academic benchmarks, but others, like the Principal’s Outstanding Educational Improvement Award, is given to students who are nominated by their teachers for making strides in areas that includes areas outside of academics such as marked improvement in behavior. And while some awards mark one-time victories, the Exemplary Achievement Award has a two year requirement period.  In order to be chosen for this prestigious award students volunteer through community service, be on the honor roll every marking period and be involved in a club or team.  The student athletes award winners are required to participate in four seasons of a sport, maintain at least a 3.0 GPA, have zero Level Two disciplinary issues and have all ones and twos work and class conduct marks on their report cards. Phew! That’s a lot of hard work!

Honors were given to students for achievement in the following areas:

  • M-STEP Award
  • Principal’s Outstanding Educational Improvement Award
  • Perfect Attendance
  • Honor Roll
  • Presidential Academic Awards
  • Science Olympiad Team
  • Student Council
  • Reading Award
  • Spelling Bee Room Finalists
  • Above and Beyond [awards for Art, Life Skills, Tech, Music + Student Athletics]

All of the students awarded at Honors Night should be excited about their accomplishments, not only during their junior high years, but for the years that prepared them as well. Throughout their elementary and junior high years they have displayed strong character, strength, and perseverance. They’ve demonstrated time management skills and the ability to problem solve. And they’ve made the decision over and over again to never give up. All of them have worked hard, possibly working through a subject or project that wasn’t their strong suit to succeed and be recognized by the teachers that care about them so deeply.

Thank you to our creative teachers who continuously go above and beyond to make sure our Jenison students are learning in a way that works for them but is also challenging. These stellar students may not be done with their educational journeys, but they have certainly set the bar high for themselves that those around them.

We’re proud of you, Junior High Honorees! These are the life skills that will take you into high school and beyond showing the world the value of a JPS education!

 

 

Star Students: Taya Jenison, Hannah Paddock, + Christine Duch

Christine Duch, Taya Jenison, Hannah Paddock

Jenison Junior High Vice Principal couldn’t select just one star student this year. There were too many to choose from so she skirted the “rules” and nominated three: Taya Jenison, Hannah Paddock, and Christine Duch.

They are all eighth graders this year and are involved in so many activities it’s hard to image they also go to class, but of course they do!

All three of these hard-working ladies are involved in student congress, be nice, choir, they give the morning announcements every day, and all served as ambassadors for the Chinese Winter Exchange Program. Additionally, Hannah pays volleyball and participates in 4H. Christine plays basketball, softball, and is planning on joining 4H.  Taya also plays softball and basketball, plays the tuba in the band, participates in 4H, and is in theatre [most recently she played Skipper the Penguin in Madagascar!].

While they each have different connections to each other outside of school [Taya & Hannah attend the same church, Taya & Christine played basketball together], the three of them became friends last year in seventh grade.

Hannah admits to being “very, very unsure” about going into Junior High two years ago. But, with encouragement from her parents and teachers, and a helpful orientation process she felt more comfortable. Christine adds that junior high “isn’t as bad as you think it will be. You get to choose your electives which gives you more responsibility.” All three are excited about next year and heading across to the High School. “There’s more classes you can take like business and working in The Green Bean which sounds really fun”, says Taya. Christine is looking forward to the opportunities at the high school, and being prepared for college.  Taya hopes her future after high school includes a degree in Agriculture from MSU so she can own her own farm one day. She would also like to exercise her love of being social by working as a receptionist, she says, giving a nod to the amazing people who manage the Junior High office. Hannah sees a future as an athletic trainer and Christine hopes to be a teacher or coach. “I like kids and I feel like I have the personality to be a teacher who can handle the kids who need extra help.”

Mrs Breen nominated the girls because of their leadership qualities but how do the girls perceive leadership? Christine says that a leader is someone who “takes someone else under their wing and takes the lead when no one else wants to.” Taya adds that being a leader means you “be yourself and stand up for others.” Echoing that idea, Hannah says that she sees leadership as “doing what is right and standing up for what is right.” These ideas are clearly informed by their participation in the anti-bullying program, be nice. Hannah says that being part of be nice means that she seeks out someone who might be alone [especially at lunch] and invite them to join her, and Taya says that be nice is about kids helping others.

They all know their teachers have worked hard to prepare them for high school and beyond. Taya would like to acknowledge that Mr McCarty is an amazing teacher. He teaches social studies and she admits this is not her “strong suit” but Mr McCarty makes it fun and interesting. Hannah would like Mr Ohman to know that he makes math easier and clear, even though she “absolutely dislikes math”. Christine adds that Ms Gerber also makes math fun even though it’s the last hour of the day!

During their time with the Chinese Winter Exchange Program, all three girls helped individual students visiting from China for two weeks. They were together during the entire school day, introducing them to their friends and trying to get to know them. They were able to learn about the differences in Chinese and American schools, the impact of China’s One Child Law, and what it’s like to live with heavy pollution in China’s major cities. They all learned about Chinese culture and different ways to communicate when there was no common language.

It’s clear that these students are leading the way as they head into their freshman year! They are looking toward their futures, learning to value differences in others, and working hard to take advantage of all JPS has to offer.

Congratulations Taya, Christine, and Hannah! You are definitely all superstars with bright futures! Your hard work and commitment to learning all you can is inspiring! We’re proud to call you Wildcats!

Bee I-M-P-R-E-S-S-I-V-E!

Champion Emily Price and Runner-Up Owen Ballor

Last week, 33 Jenison Junior High students participated in the school wide spelling bee!

Students who took to the stage at the Jenison Center for the Arts, were the winners of their in-class spelling bees in each of the Language Arts classes. Teacher, Deb VanDuinen says, “We encourage all our students to participate and we try to keep it a fun, non-threatening atmosphere. We recognize that students do feel some anxiety, so we talk about that and the fact that it’s a “national competition” and we’re proud of them for being a part of it.”

But the anxiety and spelling does stop in Jenison! “The winner and the runner-up are invited to the next competition at the regional level in February. There are other levels—Greater Grand Rapids and State, with the national competition that most people are familiar with in Washington DC at the end of the year.”

Words are chosen by the Scripps National Spelling Bee organization and students prepare by participating in word studies and vocabulary lessons in class. They also have access to study websites and printed lists to study on their own.

Standing in front of your peers and teachers can be nerve-wracking and elimination is inevitable for most. However, Ms VanDuinen sees the support and encouragement offered by Jenison students as an important factor for participation. “Students generally take elimination quite well—I’d say they are resilient and encourage each other.  In fact, if you walk the halls on the day of the spelling bee, whether it’s the classroom level or school wide competition, you will overhear students talking about the words and sometime laughing together at their mistakes. We do take the competition seriously, but everyone knows that spelling—especially in the English language, can be challenging! We work hard to make sure all students feel encouraged and comfortable, even when they make mistakes.”

In a modern world where we all rely on the benefits of spellcheck, Ms VanDuinen knows that valuing the spelling bee continues to be an essential aspect to education. “[The spelling bee] allows an opportunity for some students to shine when they might not otherwise get a chance, it demonstrates the fact that we value academics as much as any other competition and it celebrates language.” The longstanding tradition of the Scripps Spelling Bee is also an important part of this event; “something that can easily get lost in the technology of today’s society.”

Congratulations to all of our participants and especially Champion Emily Price and Runner-Up Owen Ballor! We think you are F-A-N-T-A-S-T-I-C!

PS If you think you have what it takes to compete on the national level, you can take the test here! Good luck!