Monthly Archives: November 2013

Allendale Elementary Students bring Thanksgiving to Local Families

Allendale Public School, Love Inc., Springview Elementary School, Evergreen Elementary School, Thanksgiving Food Drive

With Thanksgiving approaching, many of us take a quiet moment to count our blessings and consider the glass “half full” around tables stacked high with turkey and mashed potatoes.

But we all know that far too many families approach the holiday season with a twinge of worry — or worse. That’s why, for the last ten years, the Allendale Elementary PTO has sponsored and coordinated a season of giving with the students at Springview and Evergreen Elementaries.

Allendale Public School, Love Inc., Springview Elementary School, Evergreen Elementary School, Thanksgiving Food Drive

From October 28 – November 8, students were asked to donate pudding cups, which provide a full serving of dairy and 100% juice boxes, which provide a full serving of fruit. These were given to Manna Meals, a ministry of Allendale parent Diane Westrick. Manna Meals, which is based out of Lighthouse Church, provides healthy meals to a group of over 160 Allendale students on a regular basis.

Allendale Public School, Love Inc., Springview Elementary School, Evergreen Elementary School, Thanksgiving Food Drive

The remainder of the non-perishable food collected, along with personal care and paper products, was offered to Love, Inc., where it will stock the shelves of their food pantry. Love, Inc is well known locally for their outreach in various communities. Of themselves they say:

“We are the link between churches, service agencies and local individuals or families to assist with meeting financial, physical, emotional or spiritual needs. We continue to work with local churches, schools and local service organizations to address needs, fill gaps and help people who are struggling financially, emotionally or spiritually.”

On the day of collection, Springview and Evergreen “3 R Superstar” students (nominated by teachers based on leadership qualities, respectfulness and citizenship) had the opportunity to sort the food and help load the truck. It was in that moment that the impact of their school-wide effort was most felt. Amidst the buzz of busy hands, they remarked:

“It’s important to help people not starve,” and “It’s nice to help people who don’t have as much food. If they don’t get that food, they could die of starvation, so we try to give as much food as we can.”

Allendale Public School, Love Inc., Springview Elementary School, Evergreen Elementary School, Thanksgiving Food Drive

Allendale Public School, Love Inc., Springview Elementary School, Evergreen Elementary School, Thanksgiving Food Drive

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Allendale Public School, Love Inc., Springview Elementary School, Evergreen Elementary School, Thanksgiving Food Drive

Allendale Public School, Love Inc., Springview Elementary School, Evergreen Elementary School, Thanksgiving Food Drive

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Kudos to Springview and Evergreen students for giving more families a reason to be thankful this holiday season!

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AMS Students Rally to Keep Their School Bully-Free

Just like their Falcon counterparts in the high school, these middle schoolers are learning to Speak Up and Stand Out in their building, too. With the help of guidance counselor Rhonda Wilson, students spent a week learning to celebrate the characteristics that make them unique — and learning how to accept and celebrate the unique qualities in others, too.

Allendale Middle School, Anti-Bully

Students were invited to add a post-it note of things they like about themselves during the middle school’s anti-bully week.

With statistics indicating that bullying peaks in middle school and that relational aggression among girls is at its highest in 8th grade, Allendale believes that attacking the issue of bullying is critical. To do so, Mrs. Wilson explained that one of the first steps they take is defining it clearly and explaining the difference between “an intentional, repeated imbalance of power” and mean behavior or normal conflict.

Another anti-bullying technique that Allendale Middle School continues to use gives students an anonymous way to report problems. It is called the “bully box.” The bully box offers students a way to submit reports of bullying to school administrators by merely dropping a note into the box — no name required.

Echoing the spirit of Elie Wiesel who once famously said, “What hurts the victim most is not the cruelty of the oppressor but the silence of the bystander,” one AMS student commented, “The bully box gives bystanders an outlet to say something.”

The school has also instituted an open invitation for students to put notes in their teachers’ mailboxes if they prefer. This, combined with other anti-bullying training that each grade receives, is helping to continue a safe learning environment at school.

“All students in the middle school were trained in anti-bullying techniques last year, and the 6th grade was trained and will continue to be trained each year.  It allows for common language and skills for sticking up for yourself and others,” said Mrs. Wilson.

The “Sit by Someone New” initiative at lunch is yet a third way students can build bridges and foster understanding with classmates. On this day, students were given color-coded cards that they matched up with another person holding the same color card. Once they found a partner, they had the opportunity to sit by someone they didn’t know or usually sit with.  The hope here is that walls will be broken down when students talk with those who seem “different” or are unfamiliar to them.

Finally, one of the new things Allendale Middle School will be trying this year is an online mediation forum between a school counselor and students struggling with relationships at school.  Mrs. Wilson shared that the school is working with the technology department to pursue options for this new platform.

For all the students who have made the commitment to be kind and be a friend, thank you! Our hallways are safer because you’ve pledged to work against bullying!

Allendale Middle School, Anti-Bully

Mrs. Wilson joins a group of students for a lunchtime discussion.

Allendale Middle School, Anti-Bully

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Allendale Alumni Hall of Fame Adds to its Ranks

With the lower level of Main Street Pub buzzing with anticipation, Saturday evening’s Allendale Alumni Hall of Fame dinner kicked off with drinks, hors d’oeuvres and an estimated one hundred people dressed in their Sunday best.

Allendale Public Schools

Allendale Public Schools

Designed primarily to honor the contributions of Allendale Public School Alumni, Dr. Jonker explained that the awards have been extended to include the service of APS-associated individuals, such as parents and staff. Having learned from other nearby school systems like Rockford and Ypsilanti, he explained that some of the magic of this recognition comes “…when students see what’s out there. They better understand what they can achieve when they have role models that came from Allendale who can inspire them.”

Allendale Public Schools

This year, five people were inducted into the Allendale Alumni Hall of Fame, three of whom were alumni and two of whom were honored for their service. Dr. Jonker noted that, “Our Allendale Public Schools Foundation committee really wanted to have a way to honor alumni who have made contributions, not only to the community but beyond.”

Today we extend our congratulations to Robert “Gene” Elkins, Betty LaBrecque, Robert Jackson, Nicholas Ceglarek and George Suchecki.

Allendale Public Schools

Robert “Gene” Elkins, who was honored posthumously, was a WWII vet instrumental in the establishment of Allendale High School. After serving as a principal from 1961-1964, Gene went on to serve as APS Superintendent from 1965-1985. His widow, Dorothy, expressed gratitude for the honor, saying that without the efforts of her husband, “there would be no Allendale High School.”

Betty LaBrecque, a 1988 grad, has worked tirelessly on dozens of parent-led committees, coordinating the work and donations of other parents, most recently as AHS Music Booster treasurer, vice president and president. She shared that she had a great high school experience herself, so her goal was to make high school a positive experience for her kids, too. Over time, Betty got more and more involved, doing things for her own children and the kids she “adopted.”

“The thing I like most is walking through the hallways and hearing the kids yell, “Hi Mrs. LeBrecque” and run up and give you a hug. It makes it all worthwhile — it is an honor.”

Robert Jackson, a 1977 grad, is perhaps better known as the 1987 “Cincinatti Man of the Year” after nine years of playing professional football for the Cincinatti Bengals. Now a motivational speaker, Robert said it felt nice “coming home,” though he wished his team members could have joined him.

“I didn’t make the holes or make all the passes myself — it was always a team. That’s the way we grew up, it wasn’t just one person”. Robert is also a 2009 inductee into the Grand Rapids Sports Hall of Fame.

Nicholas Ceglarek, a 1991 grad, began teaching and working as an administrator in Rockford in 2002-2003. In 2003, Nick was awarded the GVSU Outstanding Administrator Award, after which time he worked as a superintendent in Baldwin, Fruitport and then Hudsonville, where he serves presently.

“It’s  hard to describe what this means to me. It’s an honor and it’s humbling to be recognized when you realize that there are so many worthy, unbelievable people that graduated from Allendale Schools who have gone on to do great things. Allendale has been such a treasure for me and has really shaped who I am. I’ll always have a heart here.”

George Sucheki was appointed as the first principal of then-newly-formed Allendale High School in 1969. He went on to continue in that role until 1990! Following his time as principal, George worked as the Computer and Tech Director from 1994-2001. During his career, he has also served as middle school basketball coach, golf coach (after being instrumental in starting the program) and State Champion softball coach.

When asked about the honor, George became emotional, saying, “It means a lot. My heart was always in Allendale. It never really left.”

Congrats to all of these 2013 inductees!

Allendale Public Schools

Categories: Allendale Public Schools, APS Celebrations, Community News | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Options Elects New Student Council President

Shianne Frantz, Allendale New OptionsLife hasn’t always been easy for New Options High School’s new student council president. While it’s true that she makes leadership look easy and compassion appear second nature, those qualities have taken root after very real personal heartache and hardship. Still, Shianne Frantz is showing the world that each day holds new hope for those willing to risk.

After growing up and attending school in White Cloud, Michigan, Shianne was abandoned by her mother. With nowhere else to turn, she left to find a new home with her aunt in Allendale, who currently has power of attorney, but not legal custody, of Shianne. Caught in a messy legal web, Shianne — a young mother herself — is left to hope for speedy resolution and safekeeping for the longterm in our community.

“Going to school and being a mom isn’t easy,” she said. “But I think it’s easier going here than somewhere else. People here don’t judge you because they know that everyone has a different reason for coming here. It’s not just because they’re bad. We’re just a big family here and the teachers help a lot.”

Undeterred by personal issues, Shianne still hears the voice of those calling out for help. In fact, her desire to help led her to run for student council.

When Shianne saw that her friend was being bullied, she immediately wanted  to do something about it. Knowing that her friend was not interested in taking a leadership position within the school, Shianne acted on her behalf, running for and winning a position on student council.

Shianne has dreams for her school that demonstrate extending compassion and empathy to others.  For example, she would like to:

  • …create a Roar video to the new Katy Perry song, similar to the one that AHS did. She feels that New Options needs their own, with a unique slant on being courageous.
  • …make a presentation to her school emphasizing that bullying is “not okay”
  • …get New Options students involved in a community project to decorate the brown lunch bags in which kids living in homeless shelters receive their meals.

Student council advisor and science teacher Liz Lillibridge said, “I’m really excited for Shianne to be the president this year. She’s already come to me with quite a few ideas of things that we can do for the community. She’s also an excellent student. Her attendance is great, she’s always here, she’s always doing well. I don’t think she hardly ever has missing work or late assignments — she’s always on task.”

Ms. Lillibridge shared a list of ideas that student council is considering for fundraising, increasing school spirit and reaching out to others. She is excited for what this year may bring.

“I feel like sometimes people have a wrong perception of New Options kids, so we’re trying to get out into the community so they can fix that. I want others to see that our kids are good kids.”

Categories: Allendale New Options High School, Star Teachers, Students in the Spotlight! | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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