Monthly Archives: May 2013

The Future is Bright for 2013 AHS Top Ten Grads

As is our tradition, we’d like to take a moment to highlight the accomplishments of 2013’s Allendale High School Top Ten graduates. Their unstoppable effort and determination deserves our applause and admiration!

Kali Smolen, Allendale High School, Top Ten Grads 2013Kali Smolen, daughter of Colleen and Earl Smolen, is this year’s Valedictorian with an unbelievable 4.143 GPA. Kali has been on the Science Olympiad team for the past two years, competing on designer genes, forestry, and “write-it-do-it.” Kali served as vice president on our National Honor Society while also participating in student congress. She spent her entire high school career involved in 4-H, marching band, and concert band, and has also ridden for AHS’s equestrian team throughout high school.

Kali plans to pursue biomedical sciences and Spanish at GVSU’s Frederik Meijer Honor’s College in the fall.

We wish her the best as she continues to move toward her goals with diligence!

Katherine Sauter, Allendale Public Schools, Allendale High School***

Congratulations are also due to our Salutatorian, Katherine Sauter, daughter of Karl and Cristy Sauter. Katherine grabbed this lofty spot with an amazing 4.142 GPA. Her high school activities included student congress, National Honor Society, Quizbowl, Rotary Interact Club, drama club, concert, marching, and pep band, wind ensemble, volleyball, and softball (are you tired just reading this?)

Katherine plans to major in comparative cultures and politics at MSU’s James Madison College, with the hopes of one day practicing environmental law. Katherine has also offered to contribute to our summer series here on the blog; be sure to check back and read her moving letter on July 2!

Congrats, Katherine!

***

Rachel LaBrecque,  Allendale Public Schools, Allendale High SchoolRachel LeBrecque, daughter of Steve and Betty, snags our #3 position with a 4.109 GPA. Rachel was president of student congress during her senior year, capping off four years of heavy involvement in student government. She was also a member of NHS, marching and concert bands, and wind ensemble throughout her career.

An artist at heart, Rachel also participated in Kendall College of Art and Design’s dual enrollment program during her junior and senior years.

Rachel is interested in graphic design, advertising, and journalism, and plans to pursue her passions at Ferris State University in the fall.

We cheer her on as she continues to achieve great things!

***

Andrea BeitelAndrea Beitel comes in next with a stunning 4.089 GPA. Daughter of Bob and Colette, Andrea was involved in drama club, pursued music in both marching band and pep band, and was on the Quiz Bowl team. This past year she also volunteered her time on National Honor Society where she served as president.

Andrea is eager to serve others by working for human rights with organizations such as Amnesty International or in refugee centers. She will be attending Kalamazoo College in the fall with plans to study anthropology and Spanish. Congratulations, Andrea!

We wish you all the best in your future endeavors!

***

Smith, SamanthaSamantha Smith rounds out the top five with a 4.075 GPA. This daughter of Terry Smith and Theresa and Jeff Van Eck was a student-athlete who pole-vaulted for the Falcon’s track and field team while at Allendale High School. She also participated in band and performed at the District and State Solo Ensemble.

Samantha dreams of doing something in the medical field when she begins her career. Her plans include attending the University of Notre Dame in the fall where she would study pre-med.

We’re cheering for you, Samantha!

***

Michelle Austin, Allendale public Schools, Allendale High SchoolIn sixth place with a 4.069 GPA is the daughter of Robert and Hattie Austin, Michelle.  Michelle was involved in many activities during her time at Allendale High School, including four years of softball and volleyball. She additionally served on National Honor Society, the Rotary Interact Club, and the Spirit Club.

Next year, Michelle plans to serve either with Youth.With.A.Mission (YWAM), a Christian organization that impacts lives around the globe, or with 24/7 Academy Mission School on the west side of Grand Rapids. While she is still considering her long-term plans, her dreams include nursing, social work, or speech pathology with American Sign Language.

Go change the world, Michelle!

***

Paige Wells, Allendale Public Schools, Allendale High SchoolPaige Wells is our #7 graduate with a 4.062 GPA. Daughter of Troy and Allison Wells, Paige was involved in numerous on- and off-campus activities including Chamber Choir, National Honor Society, Rotary Interact Club, varsity track & field, volleyball, and Spirit Club. She served as captain of her volleyball team in 9th and 12th grades, and captain of her track & field team from her sophomore through senior years.

Paige is looking forward to beginning her college career at GVSU in the fall where she will study health and social sciences. While she is not certain of her vocational plans, Paige knows she wants to “work daily with people, making a difference in their lives in some way.”

We wish you the best, Paige!

***

Allendale Public Schools, Allendale High School, Brianna BoschComing in at #8 is Brianna Bosch, daughter of Dave and Pam Bosch.  Brianna is a member of National Honor Society and marched in the drumline for Allendale’s Marching Band. She also served on the yearbook committee this past year and is dual enrolled in two classes with Kendall College of Art and Design.

While undecided in her career plans, Brianna intends to study Spanish and hopes to be able to use the language in her future pursuits. She will attend Grand Valley State University in the fall.

Congratulations, Brianna! –Buena suerte!

***

Vereeke, TylerThis year’s #9 spot belongs to Tyler Vereeke, son of Douglas and Patricia Vereeke. Tyler earned a 4.052 GPA and participated in Science Olympiad, student congress, and National Honor Society while at Allendale High School.

Tyler hopes to eventually going into Neurology, and will attend Grand Valley State University next fall with a biomedical major. Upon completion, Tyler hopes of being accepted to medical school.

May all your dreams come true, Tyler!

***

Hoekstra, DanielDaniel Hoekstra, son of Todd and Wendy Hoekstra, rounds out our Top Ten graduates with a 4.047 GPA. Dan was the captain of the varsity hockey team and starting catcher for the Allendale High School varsity baseball team. Dan also served on National Honor Society.

This fall Dan will head to Hope College to play baseball and study pre-med. He hopes to one day become a pharmacist and live somewhere in sunny Florida.

Dan has also volunteered to join our Allendale Outlook summer blog series! Please check back on August 6 to read what Dan has to say about his time at Allendale High School.

Where ever you land, Dan, we know you’ll shine!

Please join me in applauding the hard work and tenacity of these special students and all of our graduates!

Categories: Allendale Grads/Graduation, Allendale High School, Allendale Public Schools | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Allendale Robotics Team Members Reflect on a Winning Year

Robotics Competition, Trisonic, Allendale High School, Zach Holmes, Zach Jones

(L to R): Zach Jones and Zach Holmes are sad to see their season end.

For Allendale High School Robotics Team members, success in their spring competition was gravy on top of a season of friendship and intense bonding. Senior Zach Jones and Junior Zach Holmes were teammates who say that working closely together for hundreds of hours did more than create a winning robot: it created family.

This was Zach Holmes’ first year of robotics, getting involved only because he convinced his best friend to join him. He soon realized that there were new friends to be made over a table of math problems and engineering dilemmas.

“We worked in small groups during the season — we had a “design” group, a “build” group, and a “programming” group. But even though we were clustered with specific classmates, by the end of the season we were locking arms because we had gotten so close,” said Mr. Holmes who plans to join the Marines after his 2014 graduation. He intends to study mechanical engineering.

Unique to this team is the fact that it operates in partnership with other local high schools. This year students from Jenison High School joined, forming a team of fourteen young men: 9 from APS and 5 from Jenison.

Their goal, aside from crafting a winning robot, was to branch out into the community to garner support. By including local businesses, these students were able to make solid real-world connections to their work. For instance, this year’s robot frame was built by Laser Dynamics in Allendale. They also received sponsorships from numerous others.

In no less than six weeks, the team had their robot designed, assembled, and programmed to win. They spent over seventy hours of their mid-winter break perfecting the device, and said those long days solidified their personal connections.

“We really are one big family,” said Zach Jones, who also intends to study engineering after graduation. “We try to include everyone. At all times when we were working on something, we had at least five sets of hands inside the robot … it can be chaotic, but we all held it together.”

After an initial competition in Traverse City, the 2013 Allendale Jenison TriSonics team played “Ultimate Ascent” at the fieldhouse on Grand Valley State University’s campus in late March. In “Ultimate Ascent,” robots were challenged with collecting discs resembling frisbees, and then scoring goals with them. During the first 15 seconds of the game robots functioned in autonomous mode, relying on the students’ expert programming completed over weeks of preparation time.

Allendale Public Schools, TriSonics, Allendale Robotics Team

The next 15 seconds allowed for the robot to be driven by teleoperators. Finally, in the final 30 seconds of the game, robots actually had to climb a pyramid! Points were allotted based on how high the robot climbed.

We are proud of this group for being named a Finalist and receiving the Team Spirit Award at the West Michigan District Event. But more than anything, we celebrate with them that academics and extra-curricular passions have led to wonderful friendships and a determination to pursue excellence far beyond the TriSonics competitions of high school.

Categories: Allendale High School, Allendale Public Schools, APS Celebrations, Student Award Winners | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

You’re Invited to the 2nd Annual Allendale Community Field Day!

Allendale Community Field Day, Allendale Public SchoolsBirds and bats and butterflies — oh my!

The Second Annual Allendale Community Field Day is preparing to take flight, inviting community members to join in creating a diverse and healthy ecosystem on the Allendale Public School campus.

Grand Valley State University professor Peter Riemersma and Allendale Middle School Science teacher Keith Piccard have focused this year’s work on “Things That Fly,” and will spend this Saturday, May 18 doing three things:

  • constructing bird feeders
  • building bat houses
  • planting butterfly gardens

The two men have worked tirelessly to get a small team of community members to volunteer in ways that strengthen the program. They wish to thank:

  • Allendale Boy Scout Troop 39 for their help with bat house preparations; special thanks to Eagle Scout Alex Silas
  • GVSU Engineering Students for their work on new bird feeder designs
  • Dr. Amy Russell, GVSU Biology Bat Consultant
  • GVSU Illustration Student Kayla Traina for her lovely Flyer Design
  • Holli Ward, Butterfly Consultant
  • The Vruggink Family Garden and their help with plant germination intended to attract butterflies

Mr. Piccard and Professor Riemersma are passionate about getting students outside to better connect the science they learn in class and the real-life application of that knowledge. 

“My curriculum hasn’t changed,” said Mr. Piccard. “I’m still actively involved in stream ecology, and these projects will only help to further those interests as well. We just want to get more people involved in doing science and data collection outside. Everyone’s welcome! Students from other schools and even homeschooled kids are invited to take part in this community field day.”

Professor Riemersma agreed, noting that he has spent this entire school year on sabbatical to promote the goals of expanding science and connecting it to the world around us:

“We’re not just putting up a bat house or a bird house because it’s nice to look at — we want this to impact education. We’re working hard to create an infrastructure that will support those goals.”

Funding for this year’s Allendale Community Field Day come from Professor Riemersma’s personal grant monies, a $1,700 Allendale Community Foundation Grant, and PTA dollars.

If you would like to join the fun and build a bird house, bat house, or help to plan butterfly-attracting flowers, you’re invited to attend for FREE! For all the latest news, be sure to “like” them on Facebook!  Click HERE to do so.

Saturday, May 18: 10 am – 4 pm 

Lunch provided at the event

(rain date: May 25)

Categories: Community News, The Sciences at APS | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Butterflies and Bats Invade Allendale Public Schools

Nothing heralds spring quite like the flutter of butterfly wings in the daytime and the rhythmic beating of bats’ wings at dusk. They remind us that buds and blossoms and new life are parading back into our landscapes and bringing warmer weather with them.

backyard butterflies, Allendale Public Schools, Allendale Community Field Day

But aside from the beauty of butterflies and the oddity of bats, each of these creatures serves an important purpose in our ecosystem, and we are excited to share those roles with our students in a series of learning experiences planned for this upcoming week.

In preparation for next week Saturday’s Second Annual Allendale Community Field Day, we are honored to welcome Ms. Holli Ward of Michigan Butterflies LLC to Allendale on Thursday, May 9 from 11:30 until the end of the school day. Ms. Ward will be visiting our Springview and Evergreen Elementary Schools to teach students about butterfly larvae, eggs, general life cycle details, migration patterns of Monarchs, food requirements, and more.

Ms. Ward’s visit will take place in the school’s gymnasium and will allow her time to interact with all of our elementary students — that’s over 800 kids! Stations will be set up to offer an interactive and hands-on experience for everyone.

Mr. Peter Riemersma, co-founder of the Allendale Community Field Day with Mr. Piccard of Allendale Middle School, is overseeing much of the planning for the event and was able to secure grant monies to cover the cost of Ms. Ward’s visit. He hopes to inspire APS students to join our field day after working with butterflies and learning about the important role they play in our ecosystem. (Further details about the 2nd Annual Field Day will be published next week Tuesday).

Bat Conservation, Allendale Public Schools

Allendale Intermediate students will also have the opportunity to learn about winged creatures on May 13 during two assemblies put on by Bats of the World.  During these assemblies, fourth and fifth graders will explore the importance of bats, their habitats, thoughts on conservation, and will investigate some of the adaptations bats possess to help them navigate their nocturnal lifestyle. Students will additionally enjoy meeting an African fruit bat, a Jamaican leaf-nosed bat, and a local insect-eating bat.

Mr. Riemersma and Mr. Piccard express their gratitude to the Allendale Elementary School PTO whose support covered the majority of the expense of this visit. They hope that students will be eager to help install bat houses during the community field day on May 18!

Please check back next week for details about our Community Field Day!

[click here for this week’s photo credit}

Categories: Allendale Elementary Schools, Community News | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

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