Monthly Archives: March 2012

Family Fitness Frenzy

Four leaf clovers weren’t the only things springing green this St. Patrick’s Day — hundreds of Allendale students in green t-shirts filled the high school gym on March 17 for our fourth annual Family Fitness Frenzy!

Jumping their way to better health at the Allendale Eye Care Obstacle Course

Jennifer Kraai and Renee Malkowski were just two of the dozens of parent volunteers representing the Allendale PTO whose dedication made the day a huge success. Jennifer was pleased to share that the one-day fundraising event brought in roughly $15,000 to benefit Allendale schools and support special initiatives that don’t receive state funding.

The PTO is quick to share the credit, reminding us that ‘Frenzy day is truly a team effort! They thank principals Jill Wilson and Ryan Coghill and the elementary teachers for their encouragement and “awesome” support, insisting they couldn’t do it without them.

Students interact with GVSU football players at the 2012 Family Fitness Frenzy

The larger focus of helping families stay healthy was something new that captured the interest of many attending. Parents and children alike were encouraged to walk the track and explore zumba and karate together.

“It’s cool to see more families come out this year!” Jennifer beamed. “Kids had the opportunity to not only earn a t-shirt for themselves, but for every $25 raised they could earn a shirt for someone else, too. Many students took the cue to outfit their entire family for the event!”

Students receive instruction in karate

Students were tasked with completing all 6 stations which are loosely based on the Presidential Fitness Goals. We are grateful for the amazing support of our Allendale Community who made the stations possible:

Ready, set, GO!

Free jump ropes courtesy of Helen DeVos Children's Hospital!

I’m always humbled by the support of our community on days like this. It is so evident that we live in a place where parents want to see their children succeed, and in turn, they want to support the schools who help them on their way.

To all who came out, who sponsored a child’s fitness goals, who helped plan the event, who sponsored a station, who cheered behind the scenes, we thank you!

Autographs from GVSU players made his day!

Categories: Athletics/Fitness, Community News | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Beauty and the Beast This Week at AHS

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Beauty and the Beast?

Perhaps it’s little Chip or the magical rose; the lonely, disgruntled beast or the well-known songs you’ve loved for years?

(Bonjour! Bonjour! Bonjour!)

Whatever comes to mind, I’m confident you’ll be inspired when Allendale’s high school theater program offers their rendition of this beloved musical later this week.

Cherry Peterson, the show’s director, is in her 16th year of coaching our young thespians and is excited to see so many components of theater production coming together. With 31 high school students either on stage or in the orchestra, 2 middle school boys, and 11 elementary girls taking part, there is never a dull moment in the Fine Arts Center!

Practice for Beauty and the Beast began in mid-January and has continued through this week in preparation for three upcoming performances.

Justine Olson as Belle

Justine Olson, cast this spring as Belle, is a senior who dreams of one day acting in Los Angeles. With at least eight plays to her credit, she’ll start down the path toward that dream by moving to Chicago next year to attend either Columbia College Chicago or Roosevelt University. She gushed that her “really supportive parents” are cheering her on, wanting to see her fly.

When asked what makes APS theater so special, Justine didn’t hesitate: “The best part of being involved in theater here is working with amazing directors in an amazing building. It’s also led to some great friendships! It’s special.”

Her co-star, senior Jake Lenkiewicz, has more than 17 productions to his credit and is playing Luminaire in this musical.  Jake will be just one of fifty students attending Compass College for Cinematic Arts in Grand Rapids next year. He, too, has his sights set on Hollywood and aspires to one day return to Allendale to help others pursue their own acting dreams.

Jake Lenkiewicz as Luminaire

“If I make it, I’d like to come back and help as many kids as I can that are living in a small town but have BIG dreams. They deserve to be able to do something! I’d love to build an Allendale Civic Theater so they could have their own space as nice as the Ceglarek FAC. I started in the civic theater and I’d like to give back.”

These are just two of the terrific students helping to make our spring musical really wonderful. I hope you’ll consider coming out to see the magic unfold!


Thursday, Friday, and Saturday

(March 22, 23, 24 )


Click HERE for ticket prices

Categories: Fine Arts, High School Musicals/Plays | Tags: , , , , | 7 Comments

Oakwood Intermediate’s Fine Arts Fair

Parents enjoy the displays adorning the halls at Oakwood.

Last Monday evening the hallways of Oakwood Intermediate were brimming with families eager to support their young artists. Students grabbed their parents and led them through hallways freshly wallpapered with the work of small hands; musicians played recorders and choir members, led by Mr. Dan DeZwaan, sang for a packed gymnasium.

The "Singing Falcons" perform in the gymnasium.

Proud 4th and 5th graders share their artwork.

4th grader Abby Talcott

Mr. Bol, principal of Oakwood, was excited by the crowds at this annual event and was busy greeting young and old alike.

“It’s great to be able to have parents come in and experience some of what their kids are doing during the day!” he said.

Kids like Abby Talcott agree. Her creativity bloomed the moment Ms. Falkowski, her art teacher, asked the class to use watercolor and crayon to draw koi fish during their fall “Art of Japan” unit.

With face smiling and imagination activated, Abby caught the eyes of Mr. Bol and Ms. Falkowski, who both describe her as a kid who captures the essence of Allendale’s Three R’s: respectful, responsible, and ready to learn.

In her four years at APS, Ms. Falkowski is continually amazed at how engaged and dedicated APS families are in supporting their children. She realizes that not all schools are fortunate enough to run out of 1,000 cookies at an art event!

“Allendale’s art program stands out from the crowd because it sets a high standard,” Ms. Falkowski. “This is obviously a community that’s dedicated to the arts!”

Art teacher Amy Falkowski

I can only echo her sentiments–the support given by our parents and community truly is what makes our work in education meaningful and possible. Thank you!

Categories: Fine Arts | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

GR Ford Top 3 Have Work Published!

Thank you to all of you who have diligently asked to read the winning essays in the Gerald R. Ford Foundation 2012 Student Essay Challenge! The Foundation has published the top 3 essays HERE for you to read. Congrats again to both Samantha and Melissa for representing Allendale High School well, and to Samantha for her second place finish!

Categories: APS Celebrations, Student Award Winners, Students in the Spotlight! | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment


Today we celebrate with four young women whose art has been heralded by the Holland Area Arts Council Juried High School Exhibit, “Debut!”

Rebekah Newman and Savannah Wells were selected for their art entitled Still Life with Doily and Sea Woman, respectively. Additionally, Kali LaHaie’s black and white film photography piece Captured will be showing along with Morgan Dodde’s digital art.  Morgan’s piece is also currently competing for a National award at Scholastic!

If you’re interested in supporting these Allendale High School students, please consider viewing their work at the Holland Area Arts Council March 15th -April 28th, with a reception Thursday, March 15th from 6:30pm to 8pm.


Categories: Student Award Winners, Students in the Spotlight! | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

New Options Star Student: Katy Key

Star Student Katy Key, senior at New Options High School

When I asked New Options Assistant Principal Tamika Henry the first word that came to mind when thinking of senior Katy Key, she didn’t hesitate in answering.

Perseverance,” she said. “Katy has overcome a lot of difficulties to be able to graduate, but she has absolutely persevered.”

The joy was evident in Katy while we sat talking; her eyes positively sparkled. It’s obvious that she has worked hard and has made the choice to lean into a bright future that she can be proud of — a bright future that she’s built with the help of New Options.

Tamika continued, “Katy has a lot of character — a lot of integrity. She’s very honest and forthright. If she sees something that’s “not right,” she comes and talks to me. She still has fun…she’s still a teenager, but she makes the right choices. Katy really is a model student.”

For students like Katy, New Options is not their first high school home, but for many of them it becomes the one for which they’ve longed. It’s a place of smaller class-sizes, flexible learning atmospheres, and best of all, second chances.

New Options: A place for new stories to begin.

“My favorite thing about being a student at New Options,” Katy explained, “Is that it’s more laid back. There are smaller classes which makes it easier to speak to teachers. I needed that when I came here. This is a great fit for me.”

But of all the staff members who have reached out to Katy, it’s Tamika whose love has left the ripple effects of a changed life.  Katy looked over to Tamika, whose eyes blurred with emotion. Breathing deeply, Tamika shared how so many students over the years have returned to New Options, have sought her out, and have said, “Tamika, if it wasn’t for you guys, I wouldn’t have made it.”

Katy Key dreams of studying social work at Baker College next year.

Katy nodded in agreement. With just ninety kids enrolled, teachers are able to give the special attention that New Options students desperately need, whether that be in the form of new learning strategies or extra emotional support to those struggling through very difficult circumstances.

I asked Katy what she’s learned about herself while at New Options. She gave it some thought and then looked at me with hope glowing.

“I’ve learned that I’m able to achieve any goal as long as I put my mind to it.”

We believe she will!

We applaud Katy Key and wish her success as she presses on toward graduation and life beyond New Options.

Categories: Students in the Spotlight! | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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