TREK Club Builds More Than Muscles at Bursley

When Bursley 3rd -5th grade boys gather together after school twice a week for TREK, their focus is not merely to work on flexibility or speed — they’re working to develop their individuality and strengths, both mental and physical.

TREK, which is short for Total Trek Quest, is organized by coaches who are dedicated to helping boys understand the benefits of healthy living and the risks of substance abuse. One of the coaches’ main goal is to develop strong social and relational skills, and for boys to exit the program feeling valued for who they are.

TREK, Bursley Elementary School

For nine weeks, TREK uses high energy, structured practices to instill these values into a group of 10-15 young men. With a shared goal of running a 5K, students learn to trust one another, work together, encourage their team mates and soar to new heights. To reach those goals, Principal Garcia says that TREK kids spend their 90 minute practices…

  • eating a healthy snack (donations appreciated)
  • working together on at least one learning activity
  • playing games
  • completing strength and stretching exercises
  • building stamina through running
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In this series of photos, students work to build a pyramid without moving cups with their hands. Instead, they had to work together to stack the cups with rubber bands and paper clips!

TREK, Bursley Elementary School

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With volunteer coaches stepping in to make a difference in the lives of students, Principal Garcia said,

“As a principal (and mom) I appreciate that the program helps kids set their eyes on a large goal and shows them that long term commitment, practice and dedication will help them reach their goal.  The physical challenge and sense of team is great for developing strength of character.  For kids who participate in multiple seasons, it helps them to see the long term benefits.  For example, all of our elementary school 4th, 5th and 6th graders complete a timed mile run in the fall and spring of each year for their physical education class.  The kids that are in the TREK program (who have been running after school) are amazed at how much time they can cut off their time.  A few have even cut their time by 50% because of this program.”

TREK, Bursley Elementary School

Last spring, WOTV and Miranda did a spotlight on this program from a county-wide standpoint. While not focused on Jenison in particular, this video clip does an outstanding job of calling special attention to the unique nature of TREK.

GVSU Partners With Bursley Elementary For Family Science Night

How long would it take you to make a bridge out of straws? And, upon finishing, could your product sustain the weight of a blackboard eraser? Or two?

Those were the questions filling the hallways of Bursley Elementary during their pre-Spring Break Family Science Night. Planned by Grand Valley State University students training to become teachers, each activity found its roots in or was adapted from Science Olympiad events.

Jenison Public Schools, Bursley Elementary, GVSU, teacher education, Science Night

Eliana Nichols, mom to 2nd grader Mackenzie (pictured above), enjoyed the evening and appreciated the learning that her daughter was able to do after school.

My daughter has been talking about this for two weeks! She loves experiments and watching Myth Busters on TV — she’s a science nut!”

Jenison Public Schools, Bursley Elementary, GVSU, Science Night,

The Sanchez family stayed busy at the Cat-a-Pult station.

Activities included a sink or float experiment, reflection relay, barge building, working with magnets, creating paper rockets, and firing “Cat-a-Pults” as pictured above. The Sanchez family enjoyed launching plastic cats at the Cat-a-Pult firing range. Mother Heather was thrilled to have a night out that incorporated learning.

“It’s great to have something interesting and educational to do. We don’t have a lot of science stuff at home, per se, so nights like this are fantastic.”

Jenison Public Schools, GVSU, Science Night, Bursley Elementary

Nights “like this” began in the mind of GVSU Associate Professor of Physics, Keith Oliver, in an effort to get his education students into real-world teaching situations sooner than they typically would in their program.

“Three years ago we were looking for an opportunity for our students to interact with elementary children before getting to the end of their program. Typically field placements come later on, but this gives our prospective teachers an opportunity early on. So now we plan roughly two Family Science Nights per semester!”

Jenison Public Schools, GVSU, Science Night, Bursley Elementary

Principal Rané Garcia couldn’t have been more pleased with the effort put forth by Grand Valley’s team of students or the turnout of Bursley families who came to participate in the fun.

“I appreciate the opportunity to work with future teachers — its a win for the GVSU students, a win for the community, and a win for our students!”

Jenison Public Schools, GVSU, Science Night, Bursley Elementary

How many pennies does it take to sink a tin foil boat?

Jenison Public Schools, GVSU, Science Night, Bursley Elementary

Rachel Eriks and daughter Erin see how far they can blow a paper airplane from a straw launcher.