Monthly Archives: October 2013

Stand Up! Speak Out!

Speak Up Stand Out, Allendale High School

Pictured L to R: Angelenia Schneider, Jamie Egan, Mrs. Harp, Elizabeth Golembiewski, Savanna Wells

When Allendale High School teacher Tiffany Harp was asked to chair a committee charged with assessing the bullying policies in their student handbook, she never imagined that a seemingly “simple task” would lead to the formation of an entirely new student support group.

Having met twice a month throughout the winter of 2013 with her team, the group successfully updated the definition of bullying, named some of the reasons that kids are bullied and provided procedures for reporting the activity. Those updates can be found here.  These were important steps not only for protecting students, but for providing consistency throughout all district handbooks. Additionally their work resulted in more accessible language, making Allendale policies easier to understand.

But their work didn’t stop there.

Because Mrs. Harp had also attended conferences on bullying and desired to have an active, on-campus group to model desired behavior, she met with some students and proposed the idea of an anti-bullying group. It was there that the idea for Stand Up Speak Out was born.

Senior Savanna Wells designed the logo.

Senior Savanna Wells designed the logo.

“What Speak Up Stand Out means, is that we’re trying to send the message to empower bystanders, because when people are in a uncomfortable situation they kind of freeze up and do nothing. We want to encourage them to do something that they feel safe and comfortable doing– whether it is just going online and reporting it or actually saying something to a group which takes a lot of courage,” said Mrs. Harp.

Savanna Wells, pictured left, was invited to design the logo for the group which has been used to promote Stand Up Speak Out at the Annual Back to School Fair, on the Miranda Show, and at a September all-school assembly featuring Paul McMullen from TruthLocker.

Perhaps the most exciting product of the group’s work has been the creation of a PSA video to Katy Perry’s Roar.  This video not only featured students from the Speak Up Stand Out group, but went on to be featured twice on Good Morning America!

One member, Elizabeth Golembiewski shared,  “I think [Speak Up Stand Out] makes the students care a lot more about bullying, because I don’t think a lot of people talked about it before. Now, because of Speak Up Stand Out, they’re like, “Wait a minute–why is this not being taken care of?” Now we have this whole new initiative.” Elizabeth went on to state that bullying seems to be mostly prevalent online.

All the students involved in the group are committed to the idea of making every student feel safe and accepted at school. Jamie Egan, a junior, said that he had been bullied in the past, but after going to Mr. Remenap he’s seen a change for the better. “I realize now, though,” he shared, “…that I should have come forward sooner.”

We hope that all students will gain courage and inspiration from the work that this group and many others are doing. And for the inspiration he provided the group, Mrs. Harp wishes to thank Dr. Jonker.  “He really “co-chaired” this committee and you can tell he is passionate about this and genuinely cares.  It was great working with him.”

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

Welcoming Foreign Exchange Students to AHS

AHS guidance counselor Jason Fogel says that Allendale has welcomed foreign exchange students into its hallways and classrooms for at least the past twelve years — and this year is no different. In fact, at the writing of this article there were three exchange students (who we’ll introduce below), but there are now four! In just the past few days, Allendale added Serbia to the list of nations represented by the Falcons flag.

Today we’ll get to know senior Greta Bianco from Italy, sophomore Marcus Saugmann from Denmark and sophomore Vanya Icayenko from Ukraine. Our hope is that you’ll take the time to welcome them if you see them at school or around town, and remind them why ours is a special community to be part of.

Allendale Public Schools, Allendale High School

[L to R] Marcus, Greta, Vanya

Greta Bianco, who loves traveling and meeting new people, will be staying in the States through January, at which time she’ll return home to Italy. She dreams of visiting both the West and East Coasts, and after a trip to Grand Haven, says that it “is more beautiful than Italy.” Despite missing home for the first week, Greta now says that her new friends has made the transition easy.

One difference that Greta has had to adjust to is our style of eating and the rituals surrounding our meals. She explains that at home, Sunday dinners are a big affair, with the entire family gathering over a large meal. Here in the US she has noticed that Sunday dinners are more laid back, often with family members fending for themselves. “It was a little bit weird for me because in Italy we eat as a family.”

Before leaving, Greta hopes to ski (although she’s used to skiing the Alps at home), and encourages others to take the risk of being a foreign exchange student.  She feels lucky, saying the “…USA is a very nice place. I like the culture and the people — everyone is really nice.”

Welcome, Greta!

Vanya Icayenko is thrilled to be on American soil, saying, It’s really awesome and I’m happy I am here.  My host family is really nice, they’re really cool people.  And actually in USA they’re really different people, they’re really lovely, friendly.  Everybody asked thousands of questions, it’s really awesome.”

Vanya is a big fan of hockey and is enjoying the fact that his host family goes to Georgetown Ice Arena each friday night. He even brought his own hockey equipment with him from Ukraine! Already gifted with attending the record-setting University of Michigan vs. Notre Dame game, Vanya said he would also like to visit Lansing, Detroit and New York City, his dream.

Also homesick at first, Vanya now says that keeping busy has helped him focus on his time here and really enjoy the unique opportunity to study abroad. “It’s a really perfect opportunity to exchange culture with my country to know something new about the USA and it’s my first time traveling abroad, my first flight.”

Welcome, Vanya!

Marcus Saugmann came to the U.S. largely on the recommendation of his cousin who spent time in Wisconsin last year. Ready for change and up for an adventure, Marcus decided to seize the day and take his sophomore year to travel abroad.

Marcus notes that although school is quite different in the United States, he doesn’t see dramatic differences between the Danish and American cultures. Interestingly, however, he has noted that the people he’s interacted with seem to stick closer to home. “It seems that people here don’t leave America — they go camping.  When I go on vacation I go to Egypt, Italy or Spain.”

A varsity soccer player, Marcus notes that sporting events are one of the places he really sees the community coming together. “Americans are very social with each other. They say ‘hi’ to each other in the grocery store, and for football games, the whole city comes out.”

Welcome, Marcus!

Allendale High School is proud to open wide its doors to the world. We hope these students will have fantastic experiences and leave with a new lens on life. Be sure to welcome these students to West Michigan!

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Homecoming in Review

Last Friday, with warm temps and brilliant sunshine spilling across our Allendale campuses, students and staff eagerly prepared for another Homecoming celebration. After gathering in the high school parking lot and assembling the parade line-up, the group was led by Batman and Robin (Mr. Remenap and Mr. Hadden) through nearby neighborhoods and down Learning Lane to visit the elementary, intermediate and middle school students. Local families also came out and lined the street to enjoy the fun.

High school student groups represented in the parade included the cheerleaders, football players, Speak Up! Stand Out! students, the marching band, general members of the student body, and of course, the Homecoming Court. The young spectators cheered excitedly, waving signs with the numbers of their favorite players, and yelling and chanting for their team.

The lovable Falcon mascot gave high-fives while Mr. Remenap encouraged everyone to cheer loudly enough “so they hear us in Sparta!” Whether his instruction worked or it was Homecoming magic is unknown, but Allendale High School went on to beat Sparta that night, 38-7.

We want to thank everyone who helped make the day a success! Check out the school spirit on display below in our gallery of Homecoming Parade photos!

Allendale Public Schools, Allendale High School, APS, Homecoming

Allendale Public Schools, Allendale High School, APS, Homecoming

Allendale Public Schools, Allendale High School, APS, Homecoming

falcon, Allendale Public Schools, Allendale High School, APS, Homecoming

Allendale Public Schools, Allendale High School, APS, Homecoming

Allendale Public Schools, Allendale High School, APS, Homecoming

Allendale Public Schools, Allendale High School, APS, Homecoming

batman, Allendale Public Schools, Allendale High School, APS, Homecoming

Allendale Public Schools, Allendale High School, APS, Homecoming

cheer, Allendale Public Schools, Allendale High School, APS, Homecoming

tuba, Allendale Public Schools, Allendale High School, APS, Homecoming

Allendale Public Schools, Allendale High School, APS, Homecoming

Allendale Public Schools, Allendale High School, APS, Homecoming

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

Meet Your Principal: Tamika Henry

For our final installment in this series, we speak with Mrs. Henry. Although Mrs. Henry is technically the Assistant Principal of New Options High School, she assumes much of the day-to-day leadership with her steady presence in the building. For this reason, we are happy to include her in this series

Allendale Public Schools, Tamika Henry1. Tell us about your career journey in education, including how long you’ve been in your current role at Allendale.

I originally went to school to be either an entertainment lawyer or a psychologist. I have always had the desire to assist people in having the best life they possibly could. However, after having a family and realizing just how much both of those careers would keep me from nurturing my own household, I decided to go down the path that my father had journeyed, education. As a child I watched my father nurture children that had very challenging situations into a life of productivity. I felt as though this would be a path that I would be able to help young people while at the same time being able to be the best mother possible. I started my educational career at the University of Michigan majoring in psychology and African American studies and completed my teaching certificate at Grand Valley State University. Upon graduating from GVSU I substituted quite a bit in my children’s school. A part-time position came open in Allendale High School and I applied. I taught at the High School for 3 years and then took a position at New Options HS. After teaching at New Options for 6 years an opportunity to move into administration presented itself, and the rest is history in the making.

2. What makes you love coming to work each day?

It is said that if you have the opportunity to do what you love you will never work a day in your life. I can honestly say that I have not worked a day in the last 12 years of my life! Education is my passion because I know that it is through education that the world opens up and offers her precious jewels. A high quality education is a human right that every person deserves because it is an inalienable right. The fact that I can offer something to young people that will last them a life time brings me back every day—no matter what the day before was like.

3. What is something you do each day that people probably don’t realize principals have to do?

I meditate each and every morning asking for divine guidance and assistance to do no harm; to bring light and not heat. I believe that every encounter is one that has the opportunity of being life changing.

4. Name something you personally look forward to each school year.

New challenges and seeing how my students have changed over the summer.

5. If you had an unlimited financial and/or volunteer reserve, what would you do to improve your educational environment?
 
I build the most phenomenal educational edifice that would make my students know and feel that they are the most special people in the world.

6. What was the best part of your summer vacation?

Preparing my last child (my only daughter) for college. We are now officially empty nesters!!!

7. What is your favorite book? (Can be a kid’s book or an adult book)

I Know Why the Cage Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou. I love books (memoirs) about overcoming adversity.

8. What is one piece of advice you’d like to pass along to the students in your school?

Education is the key to the world; get your copy and unlock a phenomenal future!
Categories: Allendale New Options High School | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Meet Your Principal: Dan Remenap

Dan Remenap, Allendale Public School, Allendale High SchoolTell us about your career journey in education, including how long you’ve been in your current role at Allendale.  

I am in my 18th year in education.  I started teaching at Grandville High School in 1996, and I taught English, math, and a Leadership class.  I then took a job as the assistant principal at Spring Lake High School and was there for two-and-a-half years.  I then came to AHS as the high school principal and am starting my 5th year here.

What makes you love coming to work each day? 

I love seeing the students daily.  I love their energy, enthusiasm, and positive spirit.  I really enjoy our staff, and I love the challenge as well.

What is something you do each day that people probably don’t realize principals have to do?  

I answer -sometimes literally- hundreds of emails, and I make decisions that will make one person or group of people very happy and another very unhappy.

Name something you personally look forward to each school year.  

I love football games because they involve so many aspects of the school community; the band, the players, the students having a ball in the stands, everything, I just love it.  I love Collage because I am consistently blown away by the caliber of our students’ talent.  I love meeting the freshman class, I love Honors Convocation, and I kind of love graduation, but I hate saying good-bye.

If you had an unlimited financial and/or volunteer reserve, what would you do to improve your educational environment?  

I don’t think funds have anything to do with environment, I believe it is the attitude of the staff, and I wouldn’t change a thing in that area.  I would love to have a program, though, that would mentor those students who just do not seem to have a connection to the school.

What was the best part of your summer vacation?  

The best part of my summer was all of the time I was able to spend with my family.  During the school year there are days I do not see my kids and it stinks, so we do a TON together during the summer.

What is your favorite book? (Can be a children’s book or an adult book)  

It is very difficult for me to choose my favorite book because there are so many good ones.  I LOVE The Catcher in the Rye and feel like it should be read by all teenagers, especially those who feel at odds or confused with life and/or adults.  Raising Fences is outstanding; I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Fahrenhiet 451, The Scarlet Letter, The Prophet, The Bible … the list goes on and on!  As far as professional reading, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People is a life changer of a book…I could go on!  If I started on kids’ books, this list would not end because we have read to our kids every night for years and that list of books is really long!

What is one piece of advice you’d like to pass along to the students in your school?  

There is so much to learn that ONE piece of advice is tough.  That said, I would say, just be a good person, don’t sweat the small stuff, and enjoy your life.

Categories: Allendale High School, Allendale Public Schools | Tags: , , | Leave a comment
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