Monthly Archives: October 2012

You’re Invited to the Next Allendale Elementary PTO Meeting

Allendale Public Schools, Allendale Elementary PTOHave you ever tried to play on a teeter-totters alone? It’s not much fun, is it? Without a partner to balance your weight on the other side, you’re grounded. Even with the energy that comes from well-timed jumps, the fun doesn’t last long without the presence of another.

The same could be said of young children on swings. Until they learn how to pump their legs, they are left waiting for someone to push them. They are left waiting for the momentum that comes from someone standing nearby to help.

The same can be said of our schools. Yes, our buildings can operate without the momentum that comes from community support, but they probably won’t reach the heights that are possible when a team of people are invested.

Yes, our teachers can do their jobs and make a difference in the lives of children on their own, but just like a one-sided teeter-totter, things are just more difficult.

That’s why we’re invited you to get involved in your child’s school this year.

The Allendale Elementary PTO exists to increase communication between school and home while raising money to support our schools. With attention focused at K-5th grades, the PTO is responsible for planning activities such as mother/son and father/daughter outings, the annual Fitness Frenzy, and organizing the spirit wear sale. A full list of PTO events and other information can be found here.

This Thursday evening the PTO has planned a “Parent Café.” This is not a typical meeting, but is described by President Aaron Haight as being “an educational program that will offer parents education on healthy and wellness, child safety, school success and much more.”

If you’ve thought about getting involved in the PTO but have been uncertain about doing so, Aaron offers some encouragement.

“I was hesitant about the PTO… as a working mom I was worried about being “judged” by the other moms, but I was welcomed right away. This is a chance for you to have a positive influence on your children’s school – you can be involved as much or as little as you like… some parents count labels. Some parents plan events. Some parents support our events. We’ll find a place for you!”

If you’d like to give PTO a try this year, why not start by attending a meeting? We’d love to have you!

  • WHEN? Thursday, November 1
  • WHAT TIME? 6:30 pm
  • WHERE? Oakwood Cafeteria
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“Good Time Friends” Offers Flexibility & Fun

When Janis Lutz enters the cafeteria at Allendale Elementary, she knows her morning will be filled with familiar smiles and tight hugs from the kids who join her each day at Good Time Friends. Her welcoming face has been a part of Good Time Friends for over 17 years and reminds each child that they are safe, cared for, and loved well.

Good Time Friends, Allendale Public Schools, after-school childcare program

Good Time Friends is a before and after-school program designed to support working parents who need childcare help during the early morning and late afternoon hours. Started in 1987, Good Time Friends has seen hundreds of students enjoy crafts, computer time, read-alouds, and playtime together.

Good Time Friends, Allendale Public Schools, after-school childcare program

Janis works with a student after school.

After just one conversation with Janis, you’ll hear her heart for the kids who seem to be loved as her own. “I just love the kids — being with them is where my heart is at. What I like is that we (the staff) get to grow with the kids. We get them when they’re little and get to see them get older. We have so much fun!”

Good Time Friends, Allendale Public Schools, after-school childcare programThe students of Good Time Friends love racing around the gym and playing games such as “lights on/lights off”, “spider in the web”, and “sharks in the water.” Parents appreciate that students have the opportunity to complete homework together and use the computer labs as needed. They also applaud the ratio of staff members to students, which at the moment stands around 1:12!

Janis shared that she’s never had a child who didn’t like coming to the program, adding, “Some parents worry that their child will be in tears or that they won’t enjoy their time with us, but that never happens. In fact, the kids often don’t want to leave!”

Good Time Friends, Allendale Public Schools, after-school childcare program

Students are welcome to attend the program on an as-needed basis after registering, whether that is daily, weekly, or sporadically based on the parents’ schedules. Drop-off begins at 6 a.m and care continues until school begins; afternoon care is provided if the school has a scheduled half-day, but otherwise supervision runs from the end of school until 6 p.m.

For more information or to register your child(ren), please contact Janis Lutz at 616-892-5579 or call Evergreen Elementary at 616-892-3465. Please scroll down to see more great photos of Good Time Friends!

Good Time Friends, Allendale Public Schools, after-school childcare program

Good Time Friends, Allendale Public Schools, after-school childcare program

Good Time Friends, Allendale Public Schools, after-school childcare program

Good Time Friends, Allendale Public Schools, after-school childcare program

Good Time Friends, Allendale Public Schools, after-school childcare program

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Allendale Students Win Big at “I Challenge U”

Over the summer, forty-five students from fourteen schools in the Ottawa County area were invited to participate in the Ottawa Area Intermediate School District’s (OAISD) first ever “I Challenge U” competition.

“I Challenge U” partnered area businesses with student groups and mentor teachers, inviting them to tackle real-life problems faced by business owners and suggest creative solutions that could actually be implemented.

After weeks of hard work, Justice Jones’ and Chance Storm’s work for the Ottawa County United Way garnered them (and their team) first place in the competition! Each team member was awarded $750 in scholarship money as well as $250 for their high school!Justice Jones, Chance Storm, Allendale Public Schools, Allendale High School, I Challenge U, OAISD

Justice Jones and Chance Storm discuss their winning idea.

Justice and Chance’s group began by examining the challenge of getting food to those in need in Ottawa County. Justice noted that working in a group with new voices had its hurdles. “It was definitely challenging to learn how to work with others on a team. Many people had very strong opinions.”

The group visited food pantries, soup kitchens, and the Holland Rescue Mission to gather ideas and information about what was already being done to help those in need of food. Interacting with community members opened their eyes to the realities many face. Yet despite hardships, Justice commented, “It’s amazing to see how people with very little still found a way to stay happy.” 

The team decided that perhaps it was time for a new approach, but …“Finding data that could be helpful was difficult. It’s hard for people to open up about their needs. They don’t want to ask for help or admit that they need help feeding their families,” Chance explained.

Their creative thinking produced an award-winning idea for centralized “depots” or “superstores” like Meijer that would sell discounted food. Bridge card holders would receive a monetary allotment to shop at the depots based on income. The notion of shopping for food and making choices rather than merely accepting what was put before them, they reasoned, would create ownership and renew pride in the shopper. Their suggestion to the United Way included first opening a depot in Holland, where needs are greatest, and then following with a second store in Muskegon.

Passata explained the benefits of I Challenge U this way: “Project-based learning like I Challenge U gives kids exposure to real world, real business problems. Working this way helps students develop 21st century skills and spurs them to think critically about problem solving.”

This year six local businesses were involved in I Challenge U, but OAISD project coordinator Jason Pasatta is hoping to expand to twelve businesses and 100 students next year to give more incoming juniors and seniors a glimpse into real-world problems.

If you are a local business owner open to the idea of inviting students to participate in real-world problem solving with your business, please contact Mr. Pasatta at for details of how you might get involved next year.

Congratulations again to Justice and Chance for your success in I Challenge U! We are Falcon proud!

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Fall Sports Focus: Sideline Cheer

Coach Kyla Stern is having a wonderful fall coaching the largest group of young women that she’s seen in her time at Allendale High School. With dedicated athletes working hard to learn and achieve new techniques together, Coach Stern is seeing growth and teamwork push boundaries and reach new heights as the girls work to have cheer perceived as a sport.

“One of my favorite things about this team is their love for the sport. They are all so dedicated to being great and making the team the best it can be. It makes it so easy to coach when the girls share the same love for the sport as I do,” gushed Coach Stern.

The leadership of the seniors has played and continues to play a big role on the team when it comes to teaching and encouraging their teammates. She notes that Justice Jones is a young women who models kindness and integrity, adding that Justice, “…works great with everyone on the team.”

Sydni Bennett is another senior who leads by example, helping to teach the younger girls and sharing in their successes. These two young women are supported by sophomore Heather LeBrecque who is already rising to the top as an up-and-coming leader. Each member of the team, however, has a special role to play and is valued deeply for her unique contribution.

As all of our coaches would attest, the team could not be the group they are without the committed support of its parents. Tina Jones and Jodi Hankis-Jensen serve as booster reps, with Tina additionally assisting with fundraisers, shirt ordering, and other miscellaneous items. Parents involved with sideline cheer also willingly serve at the concession stands and help to prepare snacks for the girls to enjoy during halftime.

“I have great parent support! I am so fortunate to have so many parents involved. They make my life so much easier and it’s great for the girls when their parents are there to support them! … It’s great knowing that if I ever need help with anything, so many of the parents are right there willing to help!” said Coach Stern.

Kyla feels blessed to have gotten to know each of these girls over the years, and marks this season as her first with a group of young women that have been with her throughout their entire high school career. Working alongside one another for four years has given them a special bond and commitment to the whole.

“We all are on the same page as far as goals and what we want to accomplish. They are always asking me for new challenges and for me to push them harder. I am so lucky to have each and everyone of these girls!”

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Fall Sports Focus: Cross Country

Allendale Cross Country Team pounds out mile after mile during practice.

The Allendale High School Cross Country team knows a thing or two about perseverance and tenacity. After slogging through one of the hottest summers in recent history, the team has emerged dedicated and passionate about running the best race they can. Immersed in a tough conference, OK Blue runners know that every step counts and every mile is a victory.

Coach Grant Lofdahl shepherds his team with great care and a tender heart. “The kids on my team mean the world to me. It is absolutely the highlight of my day to come to practice and be a part of their lives.” He pointed out that while experience levels on his team range from rookie running to experienced long distance runners, each of the students wearing an Allendale uniform brings something valuable that adds to the spirit of the whole.

With no senior boys running this year, Coach Lofdahl is grateful to rely on the natural leadership skills brought to the field by juniors Micah Maness and Brad Hoekstra. Micah has been a CC runner for three years at AHS and is now maturing into a young man who brings leadership to the team by the kind of integrity and character he displays. Brad, also in his third year with the team, has grown to become one of the fastest runners in the Grand Rapids area. Both are serving as captains this year for the boys.

For their part, the girls boast their own leaders who fill the role of captains as well. Senior Katherine Ginn and junior  Layne Corner bring the work ethic, experience, and dedication the younger runners can look up to. Katherine shines as a young woman of integrity and admirable character, while Layne demonstrates success on the course that paves the way for both team and individual recognition.

Coach Lofdahl knows that success in any form would be hard-faught without the help of parents. “We absolutely would not be half the team we are without our amazing Cross Country Parents. From hosting team dinners, to chaperoning at camp, to volunteering their time at home meets and in so many other ways, the parents really make the season fun. Their support at meets has been tremendous over the years — cross is unique in that every parent supports their own athlete AND all the other athletes.”

“…The last finishers on our team get nearly as many cheers and congratulations as the all-conference performers, because parents and teammates alike understand that every one of them is competing to the best of their ability. We’ve also been blessed this season to have three excellent assistant coaches in Alex MacDonald, Nicole Hammer and Steve Fuelling, who have brought a wealth of experience and enthusiasm to the team.”

Group warm ups

The team operates on a priority code that teaches Family First, School Second, Cross Country Third. Working off this mantra keeps goals in focus and priorities in balance. Students study hard and know that their primary “job” during this season of life is to be a student. The team bands together to offer academic support to one another if the opportunity arises, while celebrating those whose classroom efforts garner academic all-state honors, such as last year’s Ali Wiersma.

These student-athletes are intent on achieving their personal best with the help of coaches who think the world of them. “We have a very neat blend of personalities and experiences that make this team fun and entertaining, and it doesn’t hurt that they’re quite talented and are learning to take running seriously. We’ve set some high goals and we’re working hard every day to achieve those.”

Best Wishes to the Allendale Cross Country team as they continue to blaze new paths together. May the road rise up to meet you!

If you would like to cheer on our runners, please join us:

Tuesday, October 16: AHS

OK Blue Individual Conference Championships


Saturday, October 27: AHS

Regional Meet

Categories: Athletics, Athletics/Fitness | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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