Holiday Spirit in Song

Once the snow begins to fly and we officially flip the calendar to December, the clock seems to run faster by the day. I thoroughly enjoy taking the time to slow down and take in this season of sounds. Teachers, students and musicians begin working on their holiday performances not long after school resumes in the fall and I hope families have created wonderful memories watching their children of all ages shine.

The elementary music program season actually kicked off in late November in order to accommodate all of the performances to be held at our state of the art, Jenison Center for the Arts. Last week, Jenison Conductors Grant Carmichael, Dan Scott, Josh Zallar, Dave Zamborsky along with accompanist Justin Colwell led nearly 250 student performers for a Christmas Collage concert that I would consider the highlight of the holiday season.

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Mr. Dan Scott welcomes the audience and invites them to join the choirs in singing  “Deck the Halls” arranged by Carmen Dragon. This piece was written for the Hollywood Bowl orchestra back in the 40’s and represents an era of classic symphonic Christmas sounds we don’t hear very often anymore, one of Mr. Scott’s favorites of the evening.

 

The high school performers of the Advanced Women’s Chorus, Chamber Singers, Chorale, Chamber Orchestra, Symphony Orchestra and Wind Symphony performed an absolutely spectacular performance that wowed 1,300 guests. Allowing the band, orchestra and choir to collaborate gives them and their families the opportunity to hear ensembles they’re not involved with. It was such a treat to hear the stage come alive with all aspects of our award winning music program.

Performing traditional holiday favorites as well as new pieces, the sheer talent present on stage – from students and staff was unbelievable. As many of our students participate in multiple groups, the stage was buzzing with set changes throughout the evening. Performers moving locations, picking up their instrument, or joining their choir group depending on the song.

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The song Hine Ma Tov performed by the Choirs, Wind Symphony and Symphony Orchestra was a song that was originally written as a choral piece. The directors knew they wanted to perform this piece with more than just the choir so Mr. Dave Zamborsky was tasked with tapping into another one of his amazing talents. He would arrange the orchestration piece for the students to learn.

In the few weeks following the Band of America Nationals competition, Mr. Zamborsky poured himself into the new arrangement; taking the song from his head, to the page, to the classroom. The students had a few weeks to learn their individual parts and just two full rehearsals together prior to the performance.

The theme of the song is, Yea, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers and sisters to dwell together in unity! It was an incredibly moving experience to watch these groups represent unity in music. 

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Mr. Dave Zamborsky conducting Hine Ma Tov

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The final number of the evening is always exciting and breathtaking. Family and community members of all ages are invited on stage to join the students in singing the Hallelujah chorus.

Every year, the talented musicians and our amazing directors give our community an incredible Christmas gift with these performances. We are very blessed by the passion and commitment of these teachers. Jenison is an incredible place to be home for the holidays!

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Performance Honors ‘Band Mom’

This past weekend, McKenzie Stadium came alive with the annual Jenison Marching Band Invitational. The Jenison Band community is something special. Hosting 42 guest marching bands requires an enormous amount of planning and organizing. Much of the effort comes from parent volunteers! I’m always so proud when I see our leadership, parents and students working together to make magic happen.

The Jenison Marching Band, led by Dave Zamborsky, performed their show titled “Urban Canvas” and it was easily one of the best I’ve seen them perform. This year’s invitational was also special as we were able to honor, Sue Jonker. Sue is a loyal and dedicated JPS employee, whose behind the scenes work with the Marching Band over the years has been the glue that’s held everything together!

Sue signed up for a volunteer role with the Jenison bands in 1991 when her daughter, Carie, was a freshman. She began organizing and maintaining uniforms and chaperoning. When she started, Sue had no idea how suited she was for the ‘band parent’ life. She eventually stayed through her daughter Katie’s graduation in 2000, and by that time she was hooked.

IMG_9789Band parents are special people, they become a community together; looking out for each other and each and every kid. Sue is a rare gem, she loves our teens and embraces them fully as her own – her smile, great sense of humor, compassionate ear and helpful attitude quickly earned her the title ‘Band Mom’ who would do anything for her ‘kids’. For the past 20 years, Sue worked in the band office as the administrative assistant in addition to her many hours of volunteering each year.

Throughout her time, Sue helped organize band camp, was head chaperone for many years and trip chair. She was trustworthy and allowed the staff to focus on their jobs, and was trusting when it came to leading other volunteers as well. Sue played an integral role in helping to create rules and regulations for chaperones and equipment people, and worked with band director, Ted Bazany, to review and develop forms for scoring Scholastic band competitions (that are still used today). IMG_9791As the band traveled, Sue was responsible for the planning and coordination of out-of-state trips, including to Arizona and Indianapolis. Behind the scenes, Sue held up her title of ‘Band Mom’ by helping in anyway that she could.

I join the band staff and members in expressing immense gratitude for Sue and for the dedication and love that she has shown to all for so many years. She is a beloved member of the Jenison family!

Unfortunately, Sue has been unable to continue in her role this past year due to her fight with cancer, but she fondly reflects on the ‘too many great memories to list’. Some of her highlights include: being able to be there for the kids and staff, making long lasting friendships, working with a great program with some amazing students, having the privilege to travel with the band, and helping make sure they had what they needed.

After the invitational performance, the kids had the chance to say hello and give an impromptu performance of the band’s anthem “Lob Den Herren” as a token of gratitude. This song is a special tradition for the band and one of her favorites!

Thank you Sue, you have impacted so many with your relentless commitment to the Jenison family! 

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Front row: Anne Gembis (JJHS Band Director), Sue Jonker, Dave Zamborsky (JHS Band Director),  and Mary Uzarski. Second row: Bill Waalkes, Mary Bennink and Dara Westhouse

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Anne Gembis, Sue Jonker and Dave Zamborsky joined by Ted Bazany, former JHS Band Director. Mr. Bazany was also recognized for his many years of service to JPS.

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The Jenison Band members are proud to honor Sue Jonker with a ribbon tastefully incorporated into the design of their show shirt and performance uniforms.  

Check out the full photo gallery of the 2019 Jenison Marching Band Invitational

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.

Jenison Marching Band Flight II Scores, 2012

For those of you following the success of the Jenison Marching Band this fall, you may know that the MCBA (Michigan Competing Band Association) is divided into four “flights” based on school size. Jenison is in Flight II.

Michigan Competing Band Association, Jenison High School, Jenison Public Schools

photo courtesy of Cindy Boss

Here are the Flight II results from the November 4, 2012 State Competition:

1. Jenison 89.3 (Best Music, Best Visual Performance, Best General Effect)
2. L’Anse Creuse 84.4
3. Southgate Anderson 79.3
4. Farmington Harrison 78.15
5. Farmington 78.0
6. Flushing 77.35
7. Hudsonville 74.4
7. South Lyon 74.4
9. Woodhaven 73.85
10. Wyandotte Roosevelt 73.2
11. Milford 69.9
12. Crestwood 69.4