Monthly Archives: January 2013

Honoring AHS Football & Academic All-State Honorable Mention Aaron Wickstrom

APS, Aaron Wickstom, Allendale High School footballCoach Ben Burk couldn’t be more proud of his 2012 varsity football team. Their dedication on the field (finishing 8-2 this season), and their dedication to character, integrity, and hard work off the field has gained the attention of an audience much larger than any that could fit into Allendale High School Stadium on a Friday night.

The team has been honored with the top position on the list of  Division 4 teams awarded the MHSFCA Academic All-State Award (Michigan High School Football Coaches Association). This means that their team GPA, averaged from Allendale’s eleven highest academic-achieving players, was 3.9!

As if this one award wasn’t exciting enough, senior Aaron Wickstrom (pictured left) added to the celebration with his Academic All-State Honorable Mention award.

Aaron, who plans to attend Grand Valley State University next fall to study Business & Finance, currently has a whopping 4.02 GPA thanks in part to his pursuit of AP class credits.  He shared that many of his teammates are also taking AP classes, adding that the entire group of young men under Coach Burk have a healthy respect for classroom achievement.

“Coach Burk always tells us to be leaders in the classroom and on the field. He says, ‘Do your work; school comes first because you’re student-athletes.’ I think it’s cool to be mentioned for an award that combines football and work in the classroom.”

Coach Burk returned the kind words when he was asked to describe what makes Aaron a stand out young man:

“His intelligence, personal high standards, work ethic, kind heart, team focus, the quality parenting that he received, intrinsic motivation, desire to do more, willingness to push himself, character, understanding that preparation is important, are just some of the things makes Aaron a stand-out.”

When asked about his 2012 varsity team as a whole, Coach Burk beamed:

“I am extremely impressed with the young men here at Allendale High School.  Our student-athletes are among the top in the state of Michigan for sure.  We make academics important here as a coaching staff, as a teaching staff, and as a district from k – 12th grades, and most all our students and athletes respond.  It is a pleasure to have the opportunity to work in a community like this.  GO FALCONS!!”

Congratulations to Aaron and the entire Falcon football team! We applaud your dedication to excellence!

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Categories: Allendale High School, Athletics, Student Award Winners | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Savannah Coone Makes Music at the 2013 BCS Championship Game

Allendale High School, Allendale Public Schools, Savannah Coone, BCS Championship GameEarlier this month as students returned to school and teachers to their classrooms, Savannah Coone got on a plane bound for Miami. And while football fans everywhere sat eagerly watching the BCS Championship match-up between Alabama and Notre Dame, Savannah stood garbed in Falcon red, one of hundreds of other musicians chosen to represent their schools in the marching band.

With flute in hand, this Allendale senior stood soaking in the moment that was months in the making. In November 2012, Savannah’s teacher, Mr. Bush, nominated her for the All-Star Marching band and told her about the opportunity to apply for admission into the BCS Marching Band under Notre Dame director Dr. Dye.

After sending in recordings of both her marching skills and a solo music performance, Savannah waited nearly three weeks to hear whether Miami would welcome her to the 50-yard line of one of the biggest college games of the year.

When the happy news of her acceptance came, Savannah realized there remained yet another hurdle: money. She dove headlong into fundraising to cover the $1,500 expense of the trip — not including airfare. She babysat for teachers, worked extra hours at her part-time job, and thought outside-the-box to come up with creative ways to plump up her nest egg.

With money in hand and her supportive parents at her side, Savannah journeyed to Miami to do something that few others will ever have the chance to do. Upon arrival in Florida, BCS band members were up at 6 am, marched from 7 am – 12:30 pm, broke for lunch, and then hit the field again for an afternoon practice.

All her hard work paid off when the roar of the crowd swelled at the sound of the music she helped to produce. 

“Being on the field and seeing everybody in the stands was an amazing experience. Everything just clicked. One of my best memories was meeting and working with hundreds of other kids who enjoyed the same things as me — who all loved working hard musically. It was awesome.”

Congratulations to Savannah for representing Allendale High School during this terrific opportunity! We are so proud of you!

Categories: Allendale High School, Allendale Music Education | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

“Operation Save the Planet” Is Making a Difference at Oakwood and Beyond!

Allendale Public Schools, Operation Save the Planet, Oakwood Intermediate SchoolEach year, dozens of concerned students at Oakwood Intermediate School join Mrs. Schroeder, Mrs. Luban, Mrs. Wallace, Karen Wit, and Dawn Fields to help save the planet, one Cheetos bag at a time!

The students involved in Operation Save the Planet focus their energies on helping their school think green by organizing recycling efforts and educating their classmates. Some of the projects that the group works on include:

  • Oakwood works in partnership with Potluck Pick-Up, who provides full recycling bin service. This allows Oakwood to recycle plastics, glass, cardboard, cans, and paper. Bins located around the school and in the staff lounge are emptied by Save the Planet kids and consolidated for pick-up.
  • Oakwood has joined the Terracycle movement that encourages people to “outsmart waste”! Terracycle uses recycled items to create new products such as bags and purses; an entire list of Terracycle products can be seen here. The items that Operation Save the Planet collects and recycles are: Capri Sun drink pouches, all Mars candy bar wrappers, all Frito Lay brand chip bags, zip lock baggies, scotch tape dispensers, used cell phones.  The school receives about 2 cents per item collected, too!
  • Students in the club have collaborated to create earth-awareness videos which are played throughout the school at various times of the year, and have also sold re-usable grocery bags in previous years.
  • On Earth Day the club sponsors a “Zero Waste Lunch” to encourage kids to more closely monitor all that is thrown away.

Allendale Public Schools, Operation Save the Planet, Oakwood Intermediate

This year, the group meets twice a month before school to better keep up with the sorting of recyclables, and despite being a smaller group than in years past, Mrs. Schroeder praises her students for their passion and dedication.

The most rewarding part of working with the students of Operation Save the Planet is to see the members become passionate about recycling and living a more green life.  They start sharing ways they have encouraged their class to recycle more and ways they have helped their families make changes around their house to be more green.

Allendale Public Schools, Oakwood Intermediate School, Operation Save the Planet

Mrs. Schroeder helps her students organize recyclables collected at Oakwood.

Mrs. Schroeder went on to share a special story that highlights the zeal with which these students pursue their work with Operation Save the Planet:

…One year, Family Fare gave our club hundreds of brown grocery bags before Earth Day.  Our members decorated the bags with Earth Day messages, reminding customers to recycle.  We gave the decorated bags back to Family Fare to use at the store on Earth Day. 

One of the girls in the club decorated several bags throughout the time we had for the project.  Each day she would take a pile home, and bring them back beautifully decorated.  After several days of this,  I asked her if she was sure she wanted to take more home.  She was insistent that every bag counted because even if it helped one person become more aware about recycling, it was worth it. 

Moments like this remind me that even small things our club can do is worth it.

Thank you to all of the teachers who guide and mentor our earth-loving 4th and 5th graders, and thank you to the students who are making a difference!

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Spotlight: Student Services Coordinator, Deb DeLooff

Deb DeLooff, Allendale Public Schools, Student Services CoordinatorIf you ask Student Services Coordinator Deb DeLooff why she does what she does each day, she’ll smile, give a little shrug and say simply,

“I do it for the kids.”

And anyone who spends a spare moment with her knows it’s true.

Allendale Public Schools, Deb DeLooff, Student ServicesDeb DeLooff has been serving the students of Allendale for seven years, making sure that no one goes without and no one gets cold. Her job is a collection of efforts ranging from partnering with community support groups such as Love Inc. to maintaining a closet with snow pants and sweatshirts.

She knows that in this difficult economic climate, too many families are finding cupboards bare and closets sparse. No parent wants to send their child to school without essentials like hats and mittens, but the truth is, some do not have a choice.

That’s when Deb, with discreet assistance from classroom teachers and her own watchful eyes, identifies students in grades DK – 12 who could benefit from a hand up. 

Shopping sales and accepting donations year-around enables Mrs. DeLooff to keep a stocked closet with clothes for emergencies (like a bloody nose) or a coat for borrowing when a zipper breaks on the playground.

In the fall, Deb tries her best to keep a nice variety of Halloween costumes available for DK – 3rd graders. She also applies for and secures book grants so that free books can be purchased and gifted to families during January’s Literacy night.

Mrs. DeLooff is also happy to act as a “Holiday Helper,” sending home letters with every student offering help for families over the Christmas break. This year, with the help of Allendale teachers and staff members and the partnership of Love Inc. and several local churches, nearly ninety Allendale families received some sort of assistance! That translates into 250 APS kids!

As Student Services Coordinator, Deb additionally acts as one of the supervisors at the Oakwood Homework Center. Designed to offer students extra time to use a computer or just receive extra help with concepts. She admits that some come for other reasons:

“We have students who just love the interaction time we give them in the Homework Center. We know all their names and are happy to sit and talk with them. Sometimes that’s all they want.”

If you’ve been given a reason to smile because of the efforts of our Student Services Coordinator, drop her a note or give her a high-five next time you see her. After all, you’re the reason she loves her job!

If you would like to contribute items to Deb’s giving closets, please contact her directly at: delooffdeb@allendale.k12.mi.us. 

Allendale Public Schools, Deb DeLooff, Student Services

Categories: Allendale High School | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Regional Infant Program Offers Services to Young Special Needs Children

Allendale Public Schools, Regional Infant Program, OAISD

Stryder works on his fine motor skills.

Would you know where to turn if your two-year old was failing to meet developmental benchmarks? Or if he struggled through tasks in ways that his older brother or sister never did?

We want you to know there is a place right in your own backyard equipped to help!

Housed in Allendale’s Oakwood Intermediate School, the Regional Infant Program serves children with special needs from birth to age 3, and is run through the Ottawa Area Intermediate School District (OAISD) with funding from the state and federal governments.

Allendale Public Schools, Regional Infant Program, OAISD

Carter plays with purpose.

Students are admitted to the program after a referral is submitted and needs are revealed. Parents can visit the “Early On” website  to begin the process and request assistance. Web prompts ask a series of questions which are designed to help professionals ascertain the presence and extent of a child’s needs.

If this process reveals a 20% developmental delay or greater, or if there is a diagnosis in place (such as autism), students are invited into the Regional Infant Program and an educational plan is designed with their parents. These plans are generally language enriched with a special focus on literacy.

Sondra Stegenga, director of the program, says that as with any difficulty or health issue, early intervention is key. “These are optional projects and services, but they’re free and we come right to your home!”

The OAISD, in collaboration with Michigan’s “Early On” program, offers a litany of support services to eligible children, including:

  • home visits
  • family training
  • speech & language therapists
  • autism support
  • comprehensive testing
  • physical & occupational therapy
  • transition groups to prepare kids for pre-school
  • …and others which can be found HERE.

If you’re wondering whether your child is on track for his or her age, please click HERE to see a list of important indicators (or this compilation from the CDC).

Parents, if you have been worried wondering about your child, start the New Year with a step toward answers and encouragement. START HERE for help.

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