‘Santa’ is Everywhere!


While the ‘man in the red suit’ certainly adds to the excitement of the Christmas season, our community knows that bringing joy and being Santa to others can’t be left to him at this, or any time of the year. The reason for this season gives me hope, direction and purpose! I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas with loved ones this week.

Jenison High School students participated in some pretty outstanding events this month.  Keep reading to learn more about how the students have been busy spreading good cheer!

Thespian Santa Breakfast, November 24

What began 8 years ago as a way to offer a more intimate and affordable Santa experience, has turned into tradition for many local families. For about the price of a mall photo (without the fun of the usual long, boring line); a whole family is able to enjoy being served a pancake breakfast and a variety of other fun activities sponsored by Mr. Todd Avery and the Jenison High School Thespian Troupe.

The Thespian students do a great job taking their roles very seriously and maximizing the authenticity of the experience for their guests. They don their North Pole best, help serve breakfast and do face painting and crafts with the kids. This year, they added a fun story time; and last but not least, kids got a magical experience as they lingered during a relaxing visit with Santa (where he knew their names before they even approached him!) Photos courtesy of Larry Treece Photography.



Santa’s Woodshop, December 18 

When teacher, Dave Albert joined the Jenison Industrial Arts program this year, he brought with him a wonderful holiday tradition. As a class project, his woodshop students built wood rocking chair airplanes for selected families. It was a lovely evening with the talent of the Jenison National Art Honor Society students on display as well. They teamed up to with the woodshop students to paint details on the airplanes and helped transform Mr. Albert’s workshop into a winter wonderland! 


Santa’s Secret Shoppers, December 20

Long before the snow begins to fly, the elves known as the Jenison National Honors Society, get to work organizing a toy drive and arranging sponsors for families in the community. Often, teachers involve their students to become sponsors to adopt-a-family and complete gift wishlists. The high school students do the bulk of organizing for the event which includes facilitating the collection, organizing toys and shopping should there be cash donations. They arrange a pick up night for the families which also includes gift wrapping materials so they can proudly wrap the gifts! No matter the task, these students are committed to making sure these families have a very merry Christmas! This is the 15th year for this event and we’re so proud that over 90 kids were served by the generosity of our JPS community this year.



High School NHS Students Give to the Jenison Community

Jenison High School, NHS, Community GivingJenison High School National Honor Society students know that despite the tinsel and blinking lights, the holidays aren’t jolly for everyone in our community. Because of tough economic conditions and joblessness, many Jenison families are feeling a squeeze that has moved beyond “tight” to “painful.”

To help ease that discomfort and relieve the anxiety that comes from struggling to provide, our NHS students are working to fulfill the Christmas dreams of 288 children in our community.

One of the groups’ advisors, Mrs. Angood, has helped to organize the giving project for years and said recently that 2012 tops past years in terms of applications to receive help.

“This will be our largest year ever. Our community has a lot of needs,” she stated.

Families anticipating a tough Christmas season are invited to apply for consideration based on the family’s income and size.  When accepted, each family is assigned a number to maintain confidentiality. High School shoppers then receive a gender, age, and gift request without a name attached. They budget approximately $20-$25 per recipient, using monies collected during coin drives at school.

Tiffany Ray, a senior at JHS, beamed just thinking of her experience with last year’s Christmas Giving Project.

“It’s incredible to see the reactions of family members who came to pick up gifts. Many were crying, saying that they wouldn’t have been able to provide a single gift without our help. It’s very moving.”

Desiréa Kennedy, also a senior, echoed those sentiments, but added that empathy for parents is a huge motivator for her.

“The most fun part for me is doing the shopping — but at the same time, it’s very emotional. While I’m going up and down those aisles I realize that I’m doing something that these kids’ parents would love to be doing themselves, but can’t. It feels like I’m taking their place in a way, so I take it seriously. It’s a privilege.”

Michael Bessey, another senior, summed it up best with a timely reminder:

“Working on this project reminds me that changing your world begins in small ways — and it begins with each of us individually. The gesture doesn’t have to be grand to change someone’s day — or make their Christmas.”

We are so proud of the work that our National Honor Society is doing under the guidance of Mrs. Lynette Angood and Mr. Steve Versluis! Thank you for reminding us that it is, indeed, better to give than to receive.

May you know this joy yourself this holiday season! On behalf of Jenison Public Schools we wish you warm homes, happy hearts, great peace, and safe keeping.

See you again in the New Year!

Our next blog post will be January 3, 2013.

Celebrating MHSAA and NHS Students at Jenison

JHS National Honor Society Students (not all present)

This week I’m excited to highlight some of the phenomenal young people we’re privileged to have walking the halls of Jenison High School: members of our National Honor Society and two MHSAA Scholar Athlete Award winners!

I’ll turn my attention first to our NHS students. I sometimes forget the rigorous requirements in place for students wishing to becoming a member of the National Honor Society. First, only students earning a 3.65 GPA or better are invited to apply for membership. Then, NHS advisors consider each application (hundreds, actually) blindly, narrowing down the field to an elite group possessing outstanding qualifications in the areas of academics, character, service, and leadership.

With annual projects ranging from Thanksgiving baskets to Toys for Tots to a winter blood drive, principal Brandon Graham couldn’t be more proud of this special group of kids.

“They’re characters who have character,” he joked in his office. “Honestly, these students are some of Jenison’s finest.”

We join him in saluting NHS!

We also want to salute the winners of Michigan’s highly coveted MHSAA Scholar-Athlete Award. In our entire state, just 32 of these awards are handed out and Jenison is lucky enough to have two recipients!

Mr. Josh Hoogendoorn

Miss Alexis Stanton

Josh Hoogendoorn is a senior at JHS with aspirations to go on to MSU for accounting.

In the meantime, however, Josh is an All-State powerlifter who dead lifted 385 pounds as a JV lifter.

Did I mention that he only weighed 132 pounds when he accomplished that?

Powerlifting competitions are made up of three lifts: the bench press, the squat, and the dead lift. Josh’s specialty is the latter.

And while he’s not ready to publicly share his goals for his next meet, he quietly shared that he was able to deadlift 460 pounds in the gym during practice.

When he’s not practicing in the weight room, you can find Josh leading the Wildcats as captain of the football team, playing varsity baseball, and working year-round to maintain the high academic standards that got him this recognition.

Congratulations, Josh!

Alexis Stanton is also a senior athlete who divides her time between basketball, cross country, and track.

With dreams of becoming a pediatrician, she is currently weighing her college options between UCLA, Columbia, UNC, and U of M.

She notes, humbly, that she is in a bit of disbelief over her latest accolades. “I’m not the best player on the team,” she says. “I’m a good team player—I’m balanced. I think they like to choose students who are involved both in and out of school.”

Alexis is a member of the National Honor Society and, like Josh, consistently strives for excellence in the classroom.

Congrats, Alexis!

All of these students demonstrate leadership, integrity, and the pursuit of their personal best in all scholastic and extra-curricular arenas.

We are so proud of their effort and the way they represent Jenison Public Schools! Bravo!