Monthly Archives: April 2013

AMS Students Celebrate Reading with Posters and Publications

Fact: according to estimates, some 81% of Americans say they would like to write a book, but few of them ever will.

With mounting costs associated with traditional publishing, competition between paper books and digital formats heating up, and the need for high-profile authors to garner sales, the publishing industry has hurdles at every turn.

Unless, of course, you’re a sixth-grader at Allendale Middle School.

Allendale Middle School, book publications, Allendale Public Schools

This semester, in honor of March is Reading Month, Mrs. Norine Fox made a way for each of her 170 students to write, illustrate, and publish their own book.

The process began in February, on a calendar dotted with snow days and late starts. Students read and listened to adventure stories to learn the components of successful storytelling. From zombie tales to kidnapping mysteries, Mrs. Fox’s readers paid attention to sensory images and the use of hooks to engage readers from the beginning.

Allendale Middle School, book publications, Allendale Public Schools

Drawing from this fresh well of examples, students let their imaginations loose by penning their own adventure stories. Working diligently on the craft of incorporating quality, realistic dialog, sixth graders brainstormed, wrote and re-wrote their stories with the help of peer editors and the collaboration that happens in writer’s workshop.

After their stories were solid, students moved to their school computers to type, format, and print them. They added illustrations, came up with cover designs, and handed their newly completed masterpieces to their teacher.

Using the services provided by “Student Treasures” (.com), Mrs. Fox sent each completed manuscript to be professionally published in a bound, hardcover book. Student Treasures offers one book per student for free, with the option to purchase additional copies if desired. The Allendale PTO graciously covered the cost of shipping and handling for the project.

Students like Mason Felicioni held their books with reverence and awe:

“I learned how the process of making a book works. We had to go through all the steps. I had three different beginning and I kept re-working them. I made them all a part of the story. It was very fun and very rewarding. Now I have a book! We learned a bunch!”

Allendale Middle School, book publications, Allendale Public Schools

Sixth grader Mason Felioni dives in to his shark attack tale.

In addition to all the publishing excitement in sixth grade, Mrs. Fox and Mrs. Bagley also sponsored the annual March is Reading Month poster contest for all students in grades 6-8. The goal of each poster must be to celebrate reading or to encourage others to read.

Mrs. Fox and Mrs. Bagley display all submitted posters in the library windows without names so that the entire student body could vote impartially. The first place artist’s work is framed and displayed in the school library for one year, and all three top finishers also receive a $5 gift certificate for use at the spring book fair.

Congratulations to this year’s winners, Jessica Chojnaki: 1st place, Taylor Adams: 2nd place, and Jarrad Guerrero: 3rd place!

Allendale Middle School, book publications, Allendale Public Schools

Pictured from L to R: Taylor Adams (6th grade), Jessica Chojnaki (8th grade), Jarrad Guerrero (6th grade).

We applaud the way these young readers have passionately embraced the power of the written word. To borrow Jessica’s winning poster title, life is magical “when books come to life!”

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AMS Marathon Club Racks Up Miles and Good Health

Most of us look forward to our lunch break as being a relaxing mid-point in our day: an opportunity to step away from work at hand, turn off our phones, and breathe a little deeper.

Ironically, this group of determined Allendale Middle School kids have found a way to breathe a little deeper, too, but it’s not because they’re sitting down and relaxing. Instead, they’re spending their lunch hours running laps in the hallway the minute they’ve finished their lunches.

photo of the Allendale Middle School Marathon Club

Pictured above: the entire group of marathon hopefuls. The pack has now slimmed to 27 dedicated runners.

The Allendale Marathon Club is currently open only to sixth-graders who are willing to sacrifice a portion of their lunchtime in order to meet a lofty goal: running enough laps over the course of several weeks to complete those elusive 26.2 miles.

Started by Mrs. Shelley Jourden in 2008, she said what motivated her to get kids running was the fact that she began competing in 5Ks herself. She notes that oftentimes her students begin with ambitious goals and then soon thereafter, fall away when the work becomes too difficult.

But this year has been different.

“I currently have 27 students running.  This is a first to have that many stick with it!  I truly enjoy seeing the students set a goal and achieve it.  Many think it is impossible to run a total of 26.2 miles, but it’s not!  It also brings joy to see them encourage others to finish,” she said.

Allendale Middle School, Marathon Club, Allendale Public Schools

(pictured L to R) Sixth graders Chloe Williams and Heather Koenig

Mrs. Jourden spends her lunch hour standing in the hallway with popcicle sticks used to keep track of laps completed. Each time students run past her, they collect another stick and then turn in their pile before heading off to afternoon classes. Mrs. Jourden keeps track of how many times they run the loop.

While some students are intrigued by the 26.2 mile goal, just as many are encouraged by the idea of getting healthy and feeling better. Chloe Williams and Heather Koenig both note that since most of the winter is spent indoors, the opportunity to get moving was appealing. Though they haven’t been runners in the past, they say that Mrs. Jourden’s Marathon Club has given them the push they’ve needed to begin.

The club will keep running all spring, finally wrapping up the same week as the 6th grade award ceremony. At that time, students will be recognized with a certificate of completion, a gift, and will see their names added to the AMS Marathon Club plaque that hangs proudly in the hallway by Mrs. Jourden’s classroom.

We applaud the efforts of these young athletes! They inspire us all!

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Allendale High School Band & Choir Students Bring Music to Disney

This past Spring Break, while you were cleaning your garage or road tripping with your family, a team of over one hundred Allendale High School musicians traveled to Florida to bring music to the streets of Disney World.

photo of a tour bus of studentsThe group left their familiar surroundings on Friday, March 29 and drove straight through to Orlando, arriving the next day. Mr. Bush noted what a joy it was for him to witness so many of his students taking pictures of Indianapolis and Louisville, cities much larger than some had ever seen. Mr. Bush kept his bus engaged by turning the intercom system into a Science trivia show about the plate tectonics of Kentucky.

“It was fun to see them notice there is much more to this world than life in Allendale — the Earth is big and it’s awesome!” said Mr. Bush.

Allendale High School Choir performing in Disney World

In the planning stages for years, this trip occurs once every four years, a cycle that has been long-established in Allendale with the hopes that each student would have the opportunity to go once in their high school career. Band Director, Mr. Tony Bush, proud to continue the tradition, notes that Allendale boasts Disney trophies dating back to the 1980’s.

But getting to Orlando is not as easy as stepping on a bus: Mr. Bush and Ms. Verdonk first began the application process one year ago!

Disney officials require a daunting list of information for bands. Aside from requesting a list of all local parades the applicant has played in, theme park planners ask for a list of honors received, photos of uniforms, and videos of the band marching.

After receiving this packet of information, Disney coordinators convene to choose a parade best suited to the visiting band’s skill level. The best groups are assigned to evening parades in the Magic Kingdom which are the most high-profile. Mr. Bush was thrilled to hear this response from Florida:

“You’re the biggest and the best, that’s why you get to play in Magic Kingdom’s Electric Light Parade right before evening fireworks!”

photo of Allendale High School performing in Disney World

Allendale High School band performing in Disney WorldWith the help of fundraisers and the generosity of Allendale High School Band Boosters’ scholarships, students worked tirelessly to earn the $900 needed to make the journey. And while that may have been their biggest challenge, the concern weighing on the teachers’ minds was coordinating a safe trip.

“Anytime I have over fifty students taking a trip, I get a little anxious about making sure that everyone is getting my communications, understands the information, and stays safe. When you’re moving across several states, you depend on kids to behave. Luckily, we have perfect kids — they were great the whole time!” said Mr. Bush.

Performing in the Florida climate, even at night, proved tedious work. Students were sweating, working diligently, and concentrating on perfectly performing Louie Louie, Hey Baby, and the fall marching band tune, Magical Mystery Tour.  Mr. Bush said that seeing the group backstage after the parade was his personal highlight:

“The kids were euphoric! They wanted to do it again — or at least return next year! They knew that all their hard work was worth it. Our kids truly shined!”

Congratulations to Mr. Bush, Ms. Verdonk, and all the students who made us proud in Orlando this spring! We applaud you!

Categories: Allendale High School, Fine Arts | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

AMS Encourages Kindness Through Anti-Bullying Week

For students at Allendale Middle School, bullying is more than an eight-letter word: it’s a problem to be taken seriously and an issue that demands education.

According to research conducted by the Allendale Middle School Leadership Team, 160,000 U.S. kids are bullied every day. However, middle school students on our campus say that while statistics may be grim across the nation, they insist that bullying in Allendale is improving thanks to initiatives like this one run under the guidance of school counselor, Mrs. Rhonda Wilson.

Middle school students work together to end bullying

Eighth graders Brock Bardwell and John Huistra encourage their classmates to sign the bullying pledge.

8th grader Brock Bardwell shared that, “Bullying has gotten better since we’ve started the anti-bullying campaign,” and Leadership Team member Lexy Wilson agreed, saying, “…kids in our school have really hit on this as something to change, and we’re already seeing a difference.”

Brook Modderman and Lexy Wilson helped coordinate Anti-Bullying Week activities at AMS.

Brook Modderman and Lexy Wilson helped coordinate Anti-Bullying Week activities at AMS.

The team members first met several weeks ago to begin planning for Anti-Bullying Week, voting on this year’s motto, “Be the Change.” To kick things off, a poster contest around the theme was promoted, with Samantha Brovant winning 1st place, Lydia Terpstra coming in 2nd, and Lindzi Gritters snagging 3rd place. Winners were voted on by teachers and were announced on Wednesday, March 27.

Students design posters to encourage classmates to stop bullying

Other activities included sharing bullying statistics during school announcements, organizing a “sit by someone new at lunch” day, encouraging students to sign a “Bullying Pledge”, and participating in a “Post-it Poster” which gave students the opportunity to use Post-it notes to add positive thoughts to a large school-sized poster.

how to stop bullying

Students reported that “sitting by someone new at lunch” was a great experience. To help everyone strike out of their comfort zones and encourage true mixing, each student was given a colored card upon entering the cafeteria. They were then instructed to find the table where other students were seated with the same color cards. Doing so meant that lunch tables were random, fresh, and full of new friends to meet!

8th grader John Huistra revealed that, “1 in 7 students has witnessed bullying or has been bullied.” But then came the words that define the week: “Our school wants to change that.”

And changing they are: through education and activities and raising awareness. What begins as a tiny seed planted, a small kindness shown, a grace given when undeserved, hearts and minds are softened, and slowly, transformation occurs.

Margaret Mead said it best long ago: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

Thank you to Mrs. Wilson and the entire AMS Leadership Team for your diligent work to change the world, one student at a time!

Categories: Allendale Middle School | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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