Monthly Archives: July 2013

Thank you Allendale, From the Rader Family

Allendale Public SchoolsWe are very blessed to live in the community of Allendale where we can be actively involved in the lives of our children.  We are thankful for the commitment of the Allendale Public Schools in helping our children achieve personal excellence and providing them with so many extended learning opportunities.  We are grateful to be able to be involved in our children’s classrooms, their school buildings, and their extra curricular activities.

This year, we had Tarek at Oakwood in Mrs. Winkler’s 5th grade class, where I had the opportunity to volunteer weekly.   I was able to be involved in the PALs reading program, where students read aloud in partners following a system of checking and questioning each other.  I was impressed with the advancements I saw in the students’ reading skills.  Tarek was focused on improving his reading this year and with Mrs. Winkler’s goal setting, help from Oakwood’s reading interventionists, and the PALs program. He also saw an increase in his Scholastic Reading Inventory (SRI) score of 350 points!
Allendale Public Schools, Summer series, Rader FamilyTarek also had the opportunity to spend time every day with Mrs. Beck for 6th grade math, and we are very pleased that Allendale provides opportunities for advanced placement coursework. Tarek and I also got to go to 5th grade camp at Camp Pinewood for three days this spring.  The camp had never had such a large number of students and parents; it was a testament to our school and our community that we all want to be involved in the lives of our students and their classmates.  Not only was the camp designed to teach the students about survival, nature and testing their limits, it was focused on encouraging the students to see themselves as a community and supporting each other.   I’m looking forward to seeing this class move into the middle school next year with all of these involved parents looking after them.
Our daughter, Holt, was in 2nd grade this year at Evergreen with Mrs. Knauf. This was our second time having a child in her class, and her classroom management skills are excellent; she keeps the kids focused and on task in a very quiet, no-nonsense way.  I was very happy to be able to volunteer in her classroom every week reading plays, playing math games and getting to know my daughter’s classmates.  This year, Holt was excited to be a part of Mr. DeZwaan’s zero hour Falcon Kids Choir.  He gives up his own time to come in early to support and encourage those students who love music.  The Singing Falcons and the Falcon Kids Choir capped off their year singing the National Anthem at a White Caps game. What a thrilling opportunity!
I appreciate that Allendale Public Schools are focused on pursuing personal excellence,  offering advanced placement courses, addressing student’s needs as they arise, developing new strategies, providing extended learning opportunities, and encouraging parent involvement.  I am proud that our community supports our students and their school district.  We as a family thank you for another wonderful year at APS.
The Raders
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Thank you Allendale, From Annie DeSmith

Allendale Public SchoolsDear Allendale Public Schools,

Although I have only been attending a school in the Allendale Public system for four years now (I attended Allendale Christian School from kindergarten to eighth grade), I have truly been blessed by my experience at Allendale High School.

Words cannot hope to express the full extent of my thanks and gratitude toward all who have influenced me and encouraged me at Allendale High, both in my studies and in my personal life. Those on staff at the high school are so talented and have taught me so much; I am forever in debt to the countless teachers who have shown me who I am and what I stand for. There are some teachers in particular who I would love to give special thanks to.

I have had a strong passion for writing since I was a child, and writing has been a hobby and a solace for me, especially in my high school years. However, I never would have continued to write past middle school if I had not been encouraged and complimented by Mr. Mike Sispera, my freshman English teacher. Up until my first year of high school, I had never been told that I was a talented writer, or that I could go far in the writing world. Writing wasn’t something I really thought about. But Mr. Sispera raved about the pieces that I wrote and told me that I was phenomenal, that I had a natural gift that was worth something. I have been writing ever since and will continue to do so for the rest of my life; I could never imagine stopping. Thank you, Mr. Sispera, for fueling the creativity within me.

Because of my love for English, it could be said that I have a natural tendency to grow attached to my English teachers. But even apart from their professions, Mrs. Jenna Chisholm and Mrs. Rebecca Karnes are two of the most genuine, caring, and truly talented people I have ever met. Mrs. Chisholm helped to encourage me when my perfectionism and homework-obsessed habits kept me up all night, and Mrs. Karnes was always there to address life’s deepest matters with me: God, faith, and the sheer beauty of life. Thanks so much to both of you; I may not have made it through high school without you.

Being a part of the music department during my high school years was perhaps one of the most positive decisions that I made because I was constantly able to expose myself to one of the activities that I adore – singing. While singing in the high school choir, I learned many valuable lessons about music, self-expression, and the performing arts. However, the grueling hours of drilling notes, phrasing, and pronunciation would have been torture without Mr. Tony Bush. Mr. Bush always made me laugh and showed me how fun and enjoyable creating music could be. I easily grew attached to Mr. Bush because of how much he cared for all of his students, and I dreaded my last concert with him. The final Collage performance of my senior year was a particularly emotional night because it meant leaving him behind; seeing tears in his eyes and giving him one last hug reminded me of all of the love he had shown me and the rest of the music department. Mr. Bush, thanks for making all of the hard work and practice worth it.

If ever I came to school without a smile on my face, I was sure to acquire one by the time I arrived to Mrs. Denise Heyblom’s French class. Mrs. Heyblom is one of the happiest people I have ever met, and she was almost like a mother to me. When something went wrong or when I was upset, she was always there; I could walk into her room at any time and feel better, no matter the situation. Thank you, Mrs. Heyblom, for being a rayon de soleil on my darkest days.

In all four years of high school at Allendale, I never learned, thought, or applied myself more than when I took two trimesters of required Biology taught by Mr. Duane Watson. Because of Mr. Watson, I became endlessly facinated with how body systems function, with how perfectly all living things work together, and with how intricately God created the universe. To this day, I believe Mr. Watson to be one of the smartest people I have ever met, and his wisdom has never failed me. Even in my senior year, I sometimes found myself stopping outside the door to his classroom and sitting down just to listen to his lectures. Mr. Watson, thank you for stirring a passion inside me for the world and all of its wonders, from the tiniest cell to the infinite boundaries of the cosmos.

My favorite place inside the high school has always been and will always be the library. The smell of books, the full shelves, and the endless reading possibilities were enough to draw me in for hours. But I loved the person who kept the library in check just as much as the paper inhabitants of the shelves. Mrs. Arva Sommers became the school librarian during my senior year, and in that short amount of time, she showed me nothing but kindness. Whether it was helping me find what I needed or informing me about all of the best reads, Mrs. Sommers never ceased to be friendly, devoted to her job, and full of bright smiles. It is clear to me that she had and still has a passion for students and their intellectual hunger; she was very fond of the library’s “regulars” and was always willing to help and to serve. I plan on pursuing the field of library science, and Mrs. Sommers has encouraged me to carry on the librarian’s legacy and to always be helpful and affectionate towards those who have taken it upon themselves to become readers and dreamers. Thank you, Mrs. Sommers, for showing me what being a librarian is all about.

In general, I want to thank Allendale High School and the Allendale Public School system as a whole for molding me into the person I’ve become. All of the staff and teachers are quality people and genius educators; I believe Allendale High School to be full of the wisest and most gifted teachers in the area and the hardest working staff around. Because of Allendale High School, I will never forget the comfort of true friendship, the encouragement of caring teachers, and the value of a solid education. Thank you so much for all that you’ve done for me.


Annie DeSmith

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Thank you Allendale, From the Haisma Family

Allendale Public SchoolsAs a parent, there are many different decisions to make when raising your children. For us, there was a lot of apprehension when deciding what school our children would attend. As our oldest prepared to enter school, we asked many friends and neighbors what they thought about Allendale Public Schools. The sentiments were the same from each person we asked – you can’t go wrong with APS.

Once our daughter, Molly, was in kindergarten, we were glad we listened to our friends. Molly came home from school each day with a smile and full of fun stories about why her teacher, Mrs. Lee, is “so silly” and how they were building “stamina” for learning in her class. It is a blessing to hear a child so excited not just about school, but also about learning.

Beyond Molly’s classroom, the entire school atmosphere at Allendale Elementary is amazingly positive. Students are encouraged to be “Respectful, Responsible, and Ready to Learn” by earning Falcon Tickets throughout the school year. Molly practically flew off the bus beaming with pride the day she earned her first Falcon Ticket. That kind of positive environment is just where I want my child to attend school.

Haisma Family, Allendale Public Schools, Allendale High SchoolAcademics are definitely still the focus at Allendale.  It isn’t uncommon to have a discussion with our six year old about how Robert Munsch and Jan Brett books are different, or how they learned to use their “eagle eyes” or find “word chunks” while reading at school.  Molly doesn’t even realize how much she has learned this year.  She just knows she has a wonderful time at school; the knowledge gained is an afterthought to her.  School is not a chore to be endured – it is an experience to be enjoyed. 

Allendale Public Schools is more than just a wonderful place to learn. It is also a place where teachers care.  They don’t just care about the curriculum in Allendale; they also care about the students. Molly isn’t just another child in her class, she’s an individual who is understood and valued. It isn’t uncommon to receive a quick update from Mrs. Lee if a morning has been rough or even if she just wants to share an accomplishment Molly had in the classroom. It is a blessing to have a child in an environment where you know everyone from the crossing guard to the principal, and everyone in between, will have a smile and a kind word for your child.

We are very thankful we listened to the advice and chose Allendale Public Schools for our family. It is definitely not a decision we regret.


Jorden and Jennifer Haisma

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Thank You Allendale, from Alexis Jimenez

Allendale Public Schools

What do you think of an alternative school? Well, don’t have the wrong impressions of them. All the people that go to them have different stories, so I, Alexis Jimenez, am going to tell you my story.

I’ve been that “new kid” quite a few times at schools since I’ve moved a few times, even out of the country. I’ve been to three different high schools since my freshman year. The previous schools I’ve been to are Kenowa Hills, which I attended from 5th – 9th grade. Then it was Jenison. I was there for all of 10th grade and only a few weeks when I was in 11th grade. That’s when I decided to make my choice to go to New Options.

It’s hard making new friends when you transfer schools, especially in high school where people in high school have friends since elementary school and know everybody. When I transferred to Jenison I didn’t fit in that well. I did try my best to make friends and even played sports to make friends. Day by day people would make fun of me or give me looks, so I changed myself. Who I was, my clothes, everything about me was different. It wasn’t who I was.

Alexis Jimenez, Allendale Public Schools, APS, New Options High SchoolAfter all that change it still didn’t cut it. I gave up and had enough of it by my junior year, and that’s when my brother had a talk with me and told me that I should go to New Options, so I took his advice. And honestly, going to New Options has been the best experience of my high school years.

Alternatives schools aren’t as bad as you think they are. Everybody has a story of why they go to them. My story was because of the lack of friends. I tried making them for so long I gave up, but at New Options, you make friends on the first day. The people are so nice and welcoming, here you can be considered family.

So don’t let a wrong impression of alternative schools fool you.

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Thank you Allendale, From Katherine Sauter

Allendale Public SchoolsAs I graduate this May and look back on my years at APS, I realize I have much to be thankful for.  The old saying goes “It takes a village to raise a child” and this is very true in my academic career.

First, elementary school.  Thank you, elementary teachers, for all you did to give me a great foundation to build on, for making learning fun, for caring about me, for being excited for every lost tooth, every show and tell, and everything else that made me feel so special.

Then came middle school. Thank you, middle school teachers, for building higher on our foundation, for challenging us for the tough classes you knew were ahead, for engaging us in fun and creative ways, for dealing with us as middle-schoolers.  The fact you willingly work with middle-schoolers every day with smiles on your faces and care and concern in your hearts speaks volumes about you as teachers and as people.

Katherine Sauter, Allendale Public Schools, Allendale High School, Summer SeriesFinally, high school.  Thank you, high school teachers, for continuing to challenge us, for showing us what the world has to offer, for teaching us that language is more than words, that math is more than numbers, that music is more than individual notes.  Thank you for helping us discover ourselves and providing many outlets for us to do so.

Every year, thank you, secretaries, lunch moms, playground helpers, cleaning staff, bus drivers, crossing guards, for doing all the things we fail to notice and acknowledge that keep our schools running safely and smoothly.  Thank you for all the bandaids given, messages taken, yogurts opened, spills cleaned, wastebaskets emptied, routes carefully driven, and everything else you do daily that helps us in more ways than we know.

Thank you superintendent, principals, and Board of Education for seeking out the best teachers and making Allendale the best place to learn.   Your guidance and support helps Allendale to always strive for excellence.

Thank you, Allendale Public Schools, for giving me the skills and confidence to grow as a person and as a student.  I look forward to my next step/chapter/adventure at Michigan State University, knowing that APS has prepared me for success.


Katherine Sauter

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