Merry Musical Christmas 2020

The amazing Jenison student musician holiday programs is one of the things I really look forward to at this time of year. While we are definitely disappointed that our traditional festive concerts were unable to take place in person, the hard work of our students and teachers can still be appreciated. The Junior High and High School groups recorded their virtual holiday concerts from over 150 locations throughout the area. Stringing all these performances together is an amazing feat and a gift for us to enjoy from the comfort of our own homes. This year, we are also blessed with an extra special performance from our Music Department staff.

Merry Christmas to you all! I hope today is filled with much joy, happiness, and hope! There is so much to celebrate this season!

Jenison JH Prelude, Cadence, & Encore Orchestras wish you GOOD TIDINGS!

Jenison High School Concert, Sinfonia, Symphony & Chamber Orchestras

Don’t miss this gift of music from the Jenison Music Department!

Music Soothes the Soul

These days, I am continually amazed (not surprised) at the lengths our teachers have gone in order to uphold the integrity and tradition of an education from Jenison Public Schools. I, along with the school board, am proud to support them however possible and today I’m happy to highlight the extreme excitement and importance of continuing our music education programs during this time.

As a result of Covid-19 and all the challenges that come along with in-person instruction and hosting public events, some districts – even those in our own local area have decided to defer music education this year. I am truly grateful that we have the dedication and capacity to continue our remarkable music program.

Since the beginning of the school year, our band and orchestra directors have continued to work with and teach their students throughout some unusual circumstances. Over the last few weeks, families were given the opportunity to enjoy concerts live and in person.

Impeccable logistical planning allowed the High School Orchestras to perform 4 individual concerts on the evening of October 29. With more than enough appropriate spacing on the stage and in the auditorium seats, the strings filled the JCA with beautiful, soothing music. Dan Scott and Josh Zallar led their musicians in an amazing evening that seems to have touched hearts just a little more than during a ‘normal’ year. It felt so great to be in our beautiful Jenison Center for the Arts and hear it come alive with music again!

The Jenison Junior High Bands also performed an outdoor concert on October 21. Anne Gembis and Marc Palma led students as they took their turn playing underneath the lights at the football field. No specific uniform was required but as the weather was starting to turn, it was encouraged for all to bring hats and gloves. Both evenings went very smoothly with family guests observing safety measures and making it possible for all to enjoy. Watching our Wildcat Musicians perform is a highlight and offered a blissful momentary escape, for the players and attendees alike. We are all hoping this isn’t our last set of concerts for this year.

Jenison Junior High Band Concert, October 21

If you are a parent of a Jenison Musician, you have so much to be proud of. I am very pleased with the staff and students for pushing through these unprecedented times, and I’m thankful to you for choosing to involve your child in the program. Our district is so very blessed to have a brilliant, hardworking staff of directors cultivating their life long musical talent.

Elementary Orchestra Sign-ups Strike a Chord

For 5th graders dreaming of playing the cello like Yo-Yo Ma or the violin like a Juilliard graduate, the annual fall orchestra sign-ups are the first step down a path that is limited only by their will to succeed.


While Jenison 6th graders are eligible for band and have their own fitting and instrument pairing evening, the opportunity to play in the Wildcat orchestra begins in 5th grade with an instrument rental and fitting in the junior high.

aaron's instruments, JPS, orchestraBut orchestra teacher Carol Johnson explains that the journey to a music career actually begins at the end of 4th grade when she travels to each school with a selection of stringed instruments for the kids to hear and touch. Because this occurs right before summer vacation, students are given time to consider which instrument — if any — they’d like to play.

By the time September rolls around, those same students have begun 5th grade and have reached a decision with the help of their parents. They enter the cafeteria on a mission to find the best fit — and perhaps the best price — for their rental.

This year, three area rental companies were on-site for families to get acquainted with: Aaron’s Instruments, Baroque Violin Shop and Marshall Music Co. Having rental companies come to the school is just one way that the Jenison Music Program strives to support busy families and make it easier to consider trying something new.

Aaron Reiley, of Aaron’s Instruments, says that they started participating in this event five years ago.

“We originally came to JPS because they have a great orchestra program. I’ve known Dan (Scott) for a long time and it was a big factor in our decision to get on board. In fact, our family decided to move to Jenison for that reason! Once we saw the music program we wanted to work with JPS.”

Jenison Orchestra, Jenison Public Schools

Families and students present for the event were helped by volunteers directing traffic and answering questions. They were also excited for the chance to take home their very own instrument. Ella Uganski, a 5th grader picking up her own violin had this to say:

“I chose the violin because it sounds the best and it looks the most fun to do. I thought about the viola for a couple of minutes, but then I changed my mind. I’m really excited,” Ella said, beaming ear to ear.

Jenison Public Schools, Orchestra

Students like Ella will benefit from the early and consistent teaching that Jenison offers. She and her orchestra classmates will receive one afternoon of instruction in her own elementary building (45 minute class) and will also make a personal commitment to travel to the junior high two additional times per week before school. This kind of approach means that kids will play their first song on the first day of class — and be ready to perform a holiday concert by December!

Mrs. Johnson is looking forward to a new group of musicians, as well as the prospect of concerts in Jenison’s new Fine Arts Center.

How about you? Is your student in the orchestra? What do they love most about it? Leave a comment and tell us your story!

Reflections on Christmas

With Jenison students now on vacation and Christmas Day drawing closer, I’ve had some quiet moments to ponder how fortunate we were to have had the carpet rolled out, if you will, in preparation for this holiday.

The past two weeks have been packed with wonderful concerts at every level, starting at our elementary schools and being topped off at the high school. Each time I have the privilege of hearing our vocalists, choirs, bands, and orchestras, I am reminded of the high standards of our programs and the quality and dedication of our fine instructors.

These concerts also fill me with gratitude. We are entirely thankful to you, the community, for passing a bond that will one day allow our young musicians to perform at home rather than at an off-campus venue. While we have been blessed to have held our Christmas concerts at Fair Haven Ministries over the years, we look forward to a day when we will have a Performing Arts Center of our own.

…And that truly deserves an “Hallelujah”!