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! 


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




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.



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

Jenison High School Marching Band Wins Back-to-Back State Titles!

This past weekend the Jenison High Marching Band marched into history when they seized the State Championship Title for the second time in as many years.

Performing the acclaimed, “Joan: Visionary, Warrior, Martyr, Saint,” based on the life of Joan of Arc, Jenison Band members out-scored the competition in all four areas of adjudication: Best Music, Best Visual Performance, and Best General Effect.

The show includes music from “King Arthur” and “The Prince of Egypt” by Hans Zimmer, “The Messenger” by Eric Serra, “The Kings Go Forth” by Edward Gregson, “March to the Scaffold” from Berlioz’s “Symphonie Fantastique,” and Ravel’s “Pavane for a Dead Princess,” explained JHS Band teacher Dave Zamborsky.

Mr. Zamborsky and Mr. York will take their band to the Bands of America Grand National Championships in Indianapolis, IN today, where they will prepare to perform in the preliminary competition on Friday afternoon. If their performance qualifies them to move on to the Semifinals, they will play again on Saturday. The Semifinals pits the top 30 bands in the nation against each other for the coveted National Title.

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All photos this week courtesy of Cindy Boss

Mr. Mike York shared his thoughts about some of his favorite memories from this fall.

“There are so many highlights throughout the season that it’s hard to pick just one, but I think that when I look back on this show, the first thing that will pop in to my mind is the dramatic performance by Sara Gehan as “Joan” during the burning at the stake scene. If there were Oscar Awards to hand out at marching band competitions, she would, hands down, be taking ALL of those home. This moment in the show has really become “the talk of the town” in the Michigan marching band world!”

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Mr. Zamborsky explained why this year’s production is different:

“I think the show this year is very unique and special. It’s definitely the most emotionally appealing show we’ve done here at Jenison, and the response has been very positive. That emotional component has given us the opportunity to really emphasize to the students that a significant part of their role as great performers is creating a connection with their audience – making the audience feel completely engaged in their performance.

… Our students have a lot to be proud of – and we hope that the marching band program is a consistent source of pride for our school district and community members. But each season, we strive to raise our standards little by little, and it’s really great to see the kids work so hard to meet and even exceed those standards – and to set new standards for themselves personally and as a band.”

Jenison Public Schools, Jenison Band, Jenison High School, Band Championships, Mr. Zamborsky, Mr. York

“One of the things that we emphasize with the band throughout the season is to be positive and healthy competitors. Our goal, first and foremost, is to push our practice and performance intensity to the threshold of our abilities – that’s how we judge our success. The awards and recognition are certainly nice, but reaching our full potential as performers is the only thing that we have total control over. When we  walk away from a performance saying that we gave absolutely everything we could, then and only then can we say we’ve been successful,” said Mr. York.

Congratulations to Mr. York, Mr. Zamborsky, and all the students and parents who give so much to make the Jenison Band program successful! We wish them the best of luck at Nationals and assure them that in our hearts, they’re already winners!

For a complete list of Flight II scores, click HERE.