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.

JINVITE (64 of 103)

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.

JINVITE (21 of 103)

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!”


“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!


Summer Band Camp at Hope College


Summer Band Camp at Hope College

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Ford Field – State Championship Competition


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

SPOTLIGHT: Jenison Bands, State Champs!

For those of us on the outside looking in, band might be reduced down to brass instruments, percussion, and woodwinds. Those of us on the outside may perceive that it’s centered around a new piece of music to master or a set of choreographed steps on the football field. We might assume that it’s “just a class” or “another extra-curricular activity.”

But trying to peg band solely as any one of those things would be an incomplete picture of something much richer and more meaningful going on behind the doors of Jenison Public Schools.

You see to those on the inside looking out, band is what you breathe. It’s the beat that sets your heart pumping. It’s in your blood.

And that means band is family.

This idea came alive when Mr. Zamborsky was asked to describe the best part of his job. He didn’t hesitate:

“Without a doubt, it’s the relationship with the kids.” He smiled and continued, “In high school bands particularly, but in band in general, there is a greater sense of community. It’s like a family; the kids who stick with the program and who have worked together — sometimes for seven years — are committed to each other and to the work that we’re doing. I really see mine as a special role, because other than parents or maybe a youth leader, I’m one of the main constants in their lives. We naturally become a family.”

Mr. Zamborsky directs Jenison High School students

The students at Jenison High School echo those sentiments resoundingly, explaining that while their teachers remain authority figures to them, they have become much more than that. They also were excited to share how the band program has shaped them as young people, building character traits that will follow them throughout their lives.

Junior Anthony Genovese explains, “I had the greatest experience in band! It helped me become a better person by teaching me hard work and determination.” Senior Shawn Nichols pointed out that the competitive nature of band helps them set goals and strive for excellence.

(L to R) Shawn Nichols, Kyle Fannon, Melissa Postema, Anthony Genovese

Mr. Zamborsky elaborates, “Marching band is the hardest thing many of them have ever done. The training — both physical and mental — is really tough, and the competitions are tough! It’s very rare to have to dedicate so much time to one thing at their age.”

But that dedication, tenacity, and hard work paid off in spades last November when the JPS Marching Band grabbed the title of State Champions, sending them on to Nationals where they advanced to the semi-finals. For the students, earning that distinction is still cherished as a favorite memory.

Shawn Nichols and Melissa Postema gushed over their experience at State, where they took first place for “Best General Effect” and “Best Visual,” winning for the first time since 2004.

Mr. York’s memory of the evening comes through the lens of a teacher letting the kids “pretty much run the show.” He likened the experience to letting a ball roll down a hill. “When the band hits the field during competitions, it’s all student-led, so it’s completely up to them. And likewise, they get to take it all in.”

Mr. Zamborsky is most proud of what the kids are able to do musically, and credits the collaboration within the band department for that success. He, Mr. York, and Mrs. Gembis are able to break kids up and give individual attention to those smaller groups because of thoughtful planning and teamwork. They’re flexible and cooperative, at times taking students to work in three separate rooms so they can receive specific training on small parts of the same piece.

It is this attention to detail that helps the band bloom and thrive.

Anthony and Melissa say there’s another ingredient to the band’s success, and that is the support and participation of the Jenision community. “We couldn’t do it without the people who believe in us!” they say.

Several students commented on how meaningful the small gestures are to them while they’re performing, like having parents pass out water bottles after football games and help run concessions or organize the boosters program. The community supports the hours of work that go into band camp, pre-band camppost-band camp, and everything in between.

In short, they support. They cheer. They encourage.


Because that’s what family does for each other.

And that’s what band is.

Teachers, Leaders, Friends: Mr. York and Mr. Zamborsky