Monthly Archives: December 2012

3rd Graders “Paws” to Help the Kent Humane Society

Allendale Elementary, Kent Humane Society, Allendale Public Schools

This Christmas, third grade students in Springview and Evergreen Elementary Schools are returning the unconditional love their pets give to them each day by offering love to the animals at Kent County’s Humane Society. 

Mrs. Marla Chapin of Springview Elementary introduced the idea to her students before Thanksgiving with the hopes of creating excitement and raising awareness around the needs of animals without families. Instead of spending $3 on a traditional in-class gift exchange, students were invited to buy a gift for an orphaned animal in Kent County. Soon, all third grade classes in Allendale were on board and the project was underway!

“You should have seen the excitement on the children’s faces when we began discussing the idea! It’s a wonderful opportunity to underscore the importance of giving over receiving,” she said.

As items such as food, blankets, towels, and chew toys were collected, students were also able to look forward to a December 13 visit from the Kent Humane Society to learn more about their work as a non-profit organization.

Allendale Elementary, Kent Humane Society, Allendale Public SchoolsDuring the assembly, student educators from the Humane Society presented APS third graders with information about how they are organized and how they care for the animals entrusted to them.

Did you know that:

  • The Kent County Humane Society cares for 3,000 – 7,000 homeless animals each year
  • Over 250 animals were placed in homes last year alone
  • Volunteers contribute over 1,200 hours a month to the care of animals at KCHS
  • The “Kibble Connection” helps low income pet owners better care for their animals
  • The KCHS offers camps for children and teens to come and experience work in the shelter; over 500 West Michigan kids went to a humane society camp in 2012
  • The Kent Humane Society never turns away pets that are stray, neglected, abused, or unwanted, nor do they impose time limits on an animal’s stay.
  • Roughly 6-8 million animals enter shelters across the United States each year, and only 25-35% ever find homes.

Third graders wrapped up their visit with the opportunity to ask questions and pet a bearded gecko and a bunny.

Thank you to those of you who were able to contribute to this project! The animals of Kent County are grateful!

Allendale Elementary, Kent Humane Society, Allendale Public Schools

Categories: Allendale Elementary Schools, Special Projects at APS | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dress for Success Brings “Class” to Class

Dress for Success, APS, Allendale High SchoolRenowned motivational speaker and urban educator Baruti Kafele first sparked the idea within Principal Dan Remenap at a Lansing School Improvement meeting. Now, his suggestion to “Dress like education did something for you,” has swept through Allendale High school with the induction of Dress for Success days.

On December 3, the first day of the new trimester, Mr. Remenap encouraged kids to dress more business-like. Doing so, he said, would set the tone that when students are at school, they’re here to work. Dressing up has other benefits as well: looking nice on a scheduled day raises morale, instills a sense of unity, and ignites school spirit in kids while making it easier to avoid cliques centered around clothing.

“We want our appearance to reflect confidence and capability. Dressing up has a way of changing your mindset so that you want to perform up to your appearance. It really makes a difference,” said Mr. Remenap.

APS, Dress for Success, Allendale High School

One student, senior Aaron Koetje (pictured above, far left) would love to have Dress for Success days every week!

“Dressing up today gives me a good feeling about myself and about Monday. It makes me think that this will make the week nicer. I’m even thinking about doing this every week! Even if others aren’t going to do it, I’m going to be dressing up!”

APS, Dress for Success, Allendale High SchoolThese young women felt the same way, even noting that many students were kinder to each other! They shared that:

“Getting dressed up helped wake me up in the morning and made me more presentable. If you look better, you feel better,” remarked Meghan Lauritzen

“I’m finding that it’s easier to focus and that it’s actually cool to see people out of their flannel pants and yoga gear,” said Tiffani Eisen and Michelle Austin.

“Dressing up shows that we students have self-respect and that we care,” agreed Macie Visser.

Allendale High School’s first Dress for Success experience garnered a 65-70% participation rate. Mr. Remenap plans to offer more days like this throughout the year with the hopes that numbers will grow steadily and positive feedback will continue.

He also wishes to remind students that his number one goal is to be inclusive in this venture; if you do not have a dressy wardrobe at home, help is available in the office and will be kept confidential.

If you’re an AHS student who participated in Dress for Success day, what were your thoughts on the experience?

Categories: Allendale High School, Students in the Spotlight! | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Allendale’s ESL Program Builds Bridges

ESL, Allendale Public School, Didier CouvelaireIf you’ve lived in Allendale for any length of time, chances are you’ve spent an afternoon at the library and perhaps even checked out a book for two. And chances are you never thought twice about it.

But five years ago, Didier Couvelaire, Allendale’s English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher, realized that some of his students weren’t reading at home in part because they had never spent an afternoon at the library.

For students in our ESL program, barriers to academic achievement abound: they may not have reliable transportation or the ability to read street signs. These along with a host of other scenarios mean that caring families are often not equipped to assist their student as he or she strives to master English.

In Allendale Public Schools, it is our privilege to partner with those families and their children to remove barriers and put supports in place to help maximize learning.

When Mr. Couvelaire made the library connection a half-decade ago, he began to look at other correlations that gave insight about ways he could support his students. Reading test data showed that students who did not have access to books throughout the summer lost the equivalent of five months of instruction by the time school began again in September.

He realized that books held the key to success.

Allendale Public Schools, ESL Program

And so, with a group of dedicated teachers he began to couple his in-school instruction with use of the reading bus, offering access to the bus a couple days a week. He also spearheaded “ESL After School” and the after-school reading program at the middle school. Mr. Couvelaire coordinates with Allendale’s homework program, as well, to provide additional academic support in all content areas.

“The after school programs are open to kids of all ages. They prepare older students to be good role models. If kids see older brothers reading, younger brothers take note. Teaching them to be good role models helps stimulate a cultural shift: now, instead of moving away from books, we’re seeing our kids loving books,” said Mr. Couvelaire.

Allendale Public Schools, ESL

While traditional literature continues to provide the basis of Allendale’s ESL instruction, technology has proven to be an invaluable player on the field of fluency. Using an online literacy program called “RazKids” with laptops and earphones, students are able to listen to stories being read and answer questions that are spoken to them at their pace and reading level.

ESL, Allendale Public Schools

Mr. Couvelaire and his team of support staff also encourages students to create presentations and push themselves to apply their new knowledge. While the class dedicates its efforts on those, he pulls a few students back to his conference table for one-on-one assistance.

Teaching and learning in an ESL classroom is an on-going process of trying new things, assessing effectiveness, communicating with parents, and encouraging kids to keep going, even when barriers seem high. Yet for all the struggle, Mr. Couvelaire says his students don’t seem to want to leave. They’ve enjoyed their years of pushing boundaries together and often return to visit.

“When you have kids who have graduated from the ESL program coming back, you know you’re doing something right.”

Categories: Support Services at APS | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

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