Monthly Archives: March 2014

High Fives to Another Successful Family Fitness Frenzy!

What do cup stacking, Gaga ball and obstacle courses have in common? They were all part of Allendale Public School’s 6th Annual Family Fitness Frenzy!

Allendale Fitness Frenzy

The event, organized to raise support for Allendale Parent Teacher Organizations, had a financial goal of raising $15,000 which would sponsor things like additional science learning opportunities, mother/son events and daddy/daughter dances, 4th & 5th grade “Fun Day” and buses for field trips to name a few. Wendy Williams, co-director of Fitness Frenzy, noted that they had already brought in over $13,000 from students prior to opening the morning’s silent auction.

“We’d love to reach $20,000 this year!” she said. “We want to give kids experiences at school that maybe they wouldn’t be able to have without this fundraising, whether it’s assemblies that are coming in, field trips they are going on or material purchases that they need within their classrooms.”

Melissa Fennell co-directs the event with Wendy and says that this event is unique from other fundraisers:

“We’re trying to teach from an early age the importance of being physically active. The event is multi-pronged: it’s to bring the community together with our sponsors, provide a venue for families to interact with teachers outside of school, and to get the families out and about. We try to do this one big event so we’re not bombarding busy parents with multiple fundraisers during the year. Plus, with other fundraisers, you end up writing a check for your student but don’t really get to do anything with your family. This is so different in that sense.”

Allendale Fitness Frenzy

This year hosted events like Kick it! Kickboxing, gymnastics, Michigan Blood Drive, free massages from Brusveen Chiropractic Clinic & Therapy, Grand Valley Dentistry play doh station, indoor track, AHS cheerleading, fan favorites GVSU football and volleyball, and many more.

The group based much of their planning, which began in September 2013, on results they received from various surveys distributed by the PTO. They found that parents were looking for new ways to engage 4th & 5th graders, so the committee brought in the True Value Climbing Wall. They additionally conducted another survey with the hopes of bringing in additional parent volunteers, however the results were disappointing, forcing the committee to look at other possible options for future years. If you’re interested in helping plan for Family Fitness Frenzy 2015 or have ideas to spur fundraising in the future, contact members of your PTO to get involved.

Thanks to Wendy, Melissa and the entire planning committee for their months of dedicated and careful planning! Our community reaped the benefits of your hard work!

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Allendale Fitness Frenzy

Categories: District Updates | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

West Michigan Robotics FIRST District Competition

Mark your calendars: Allendale robotics students will be competing at GVSU, March 21 (8 am – 8 pm) and March 22 (8 am – 6:30 pm). Admission is free!  Join us to cheer on our young engineers!

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Follow the Yellow Brick Road to the APS Spring Musical

If the first notes of Somewhere Over the Rainbow take you instantly to a little farm in Kansas, you’re not alone. The L. Frank Baum’s classic The Wizard of Oz hit the big screen seventy-five years ago, creating an American staple that ranks consistently among the Top 10 Movies of All Time in the fantasy category.

This spring, Allendale High School is grabbing some of that magic in its own rendition of this timeless musical. With a script nearly identical to that of the big screen (with the exception of one extra song), the students promise that lovers of this timeless story will be equally spellbound by their fresh take on an old performance.

wizard of ozThose playing the lead roles, Allison Taylor as Dorothy, Aubri Carrell as the Cowardly Lion, Jamie Mashue as the Tinman, and Jacob VanNeuren as the Scarecrow (pictured above during dress rehearsal) say they are looking forward to the challenge of singing and dancing later this week.

For Allison, this opportunity represents a full-circle moment. She explains, “I love this story — I was Dorothy four years in a row when I was little and was a munchkin in this same production the last time Allendale performed it. So for me, playing Dorothy and getting to sing these songs is truly a dream come true.” Allison is a sophomore planning to study musical theater this summer at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp.

Aubri noted that all four of the leads are also in Chamber Choir together and enjoy many of the same things. However, all of them agree that the dancing component of this story has been a bit of a hurdle.

“Dancing is something that’s not in any of our backgrounds — we just didn’t know anything about it, so learning to dance while we sing has been a challenge. We’re starting to get the hang of it, though,” said both Jamie and Jacob.

Aubri, a junior playing the Cowardly Lion, bubbled over when discussing her involvement. “I’ve done lots of plays in my life, but this is different — this is having a lead role in a musical! And what makes it more fun is that we’re all really good friends outside of this, so it’s a fun way to make more memories together.”

If you would like to come out and support these young thespians, mark your calendars for one of these performances:

Thursday, March 27 – 7:00 pm

Friday, March 28 – 7:00 pm

Saturday, March 29 – 7:00 pm

 Tickets – $7 Adults  ::  $6 Student  ::  $3 children 5 and under




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

AHS Students Carve Out New Skills in Woodshop Class

For many of us, hearing the word “woodshop” reminds us of Bob Vila or a Saturday afternoon episode of This Old House. Unless we grew up with band saws and lathes, the idea of operating power tools is outside of our comfort zones, and the thought of passing a slab of Walnut across a table saw is downright disconcerting.

But for the students in Allendale’s woodshop class, these tools are merely the means to an end — and a beautiful one at that.

Allendale Public Schools, Falcons, Woodshop Class

Mark Vizithum, known by his students simply as “Mr. V,” has been teaching at AHS for six years. Mr. Vizithum loves teaching word working not only for the practical applications is has now but for the possibilities it opens up in the future.

“The whole goal of this class is to help kids make money or save money by being able to make their own furniture. If our students want to get into wood working as a profession, they can. And if they want to get into another hands-on trade, this provides a good foundation for many of those skills, too.”

Mr. Vizithum, Allendale Public Schools, Woodworking

Mr. Vizithum, Allendale Public Schools, Woodworking

Students work on a variety of projects in class ranging from cabinets, bed frames, gun cabinets, bookshelves, desks and even a futon! Mr. Vizithum reasons that “They’re all going to become homeowners some day and they’ll have to fix things. This class will help them save money down the road.”

The woodshop classes offered at Allendale High School are two trimesters long and are available at beginning and advanced levels. With 20-25 students in each class on average, only about 5-10% are girls. Ironically, however, Mr. Vizithum said that girls generally do excellent work because they pay attention to small details. “Boys are typically all about quantity and the girls are more about quality.”

Woodshop students also learn the value of a dollar by paying for all the materials they use. This is a great tradeoff, however, as students are able to keep what they make and do whatever they wish with their creations once they finish. Some students even consider selling their work as a way to earn extra income and recoup their expenses.

Mr. Vizithum, Allendale Public Schools, Woodworking

Sebastian Domin is an Allendale senior who was staining a TV cabinet during our visit. Sebastian chose to take woodshop because he enjoys building things and has already learned a lot, including the proper way to measure, use CAD and how to make plans on the computer. He plans to go into heating and cooling after graduation, saying “all the skills I’m learning here will help me in the future.”

Sophomore Colten Niergarth chose woodshop for a different reason: he wanted a hands-on class and this was a great fit. He proudly shared that he has learned the basics of woodworking, like cutting on the band saw and tackling the technical aspects of a project. But more importantly, Colten said that Mr. V has taught him “to work hard and be committed to getting projects done.”

This idea of hard work and tenacity is a tenet of this class and something Mr. V clearly champions. The idea that it is admirable to stick to your word and finish what you start is taught regardless of whether a student is building a bed frame or kitchen table.

“These kids are learning work ethic. Everybody’s staying busy — I don’t have to tell them to get on task because they’re learning how to work. That’s a valuable asset to have.”

Mr. Vizithum, Allendale Public Schools, Woodworking

Mr. Vizithum, Allendale Public Schools, Woodworking

Mr. Vizithum, Allendale Public Schools, Woodworking


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

Math Night Adds Up to Family Fun

Math partners.



If your eyes have ever glazed over upon seeing these words on your child’s homework, you’re not alone. That’s why last week’s elementary math night was designed: to equip parents to work confidently with their students at home, help them make strides in math and better understand the ways manipulatives are used to teach new concepts in the classroom.

“It’s a night for kids to get excited about math in some new, different and fun ways.  Math can be a very frustrating and intimidating subject for some kids, so the idea is to have them look at math with fresh eyes,” said Mr. Coghill.

Kindergarten teacher Andrea Lee underscored the importance of the evening: “I think it’s important for parents to know the basics of what their kids are learning. When their kids go home and say “I know partners of 3” and parents are thinking, “what does that mean?” … nights like this gives  parents an opportunity to show them what number partners are and how can identify what a number partner is. They can leave knowing what goes on throughout they day so they feel ready to jump in and help.”


L to R: Margo Esquivel (Kindergarten teacher, Evergreen) & Andrea Lee (Kindergarten teacher, Springview)

“It gives the opportunity to both parents and students to see the types of manipulatives and math games that we use. There is a component to the Allendale website where we have access to our curriculum and handouts for parents. We want them to know what to expect because Math Expressions is new to the district this year,” Lee continued.

Each grade level was represented by teachers with materials from the curriculum on tables in the gym. In addition to teachers at each station, GVSU students manned games in the cafeteria, allowing students to move freely between activities.


Cassidy Wright, an AHS junior, and Chris Hughes, a returning student (both pictured above), were asked to provide students with a game to teach spatial relations and measurement using bugs and containers of different sizes. Despite the lighthearted nature of their approach, the two worked together to base their objectives on Michigan K-6th grade content standards.

Noel Hayden, Math Interventionist at Springview and Evergreen Elementaries said this event once was a math and science night, but with the new curriculum in place, it was decided to make this year strictly math focused. Math Expressions is a curriculum packed with resources to help pinpoint areas of struggle for students, providing multiple ways for teachers to help kids overcome challenges.

“This is really an opportunity for parents to ask questions of the teachers, get a feel for what’s going on in the classroom and learn how they can incorporate math into activities at home. My hope is that the kids who come to my classroom and say, “I don’t like math, oh, math’s not fun” can have a different experience. If they can have fun and learn math at the same time, that they can internalize that it’s not always the case that math has to be about numbers — it’s also about solving real world issues,” Mr. Hayden said.

He continued, “We view this as a great way to show students that math can be fun and we also hope that parents take that sentiment home.  Over the summer most families read books, but few do any math. We’d like to encourage parents to incorporate math at home.”

David Wolffis, and Allendale Senior who joined the evening as a helper, has positive connections to math, saying, “I think the reason I did so well in high school is because I had really, really, really good elementary teachers.”

Knowing the foundation to higher learning begins with kids are young, Allendale is working overtime to provide opportunities for growth and positive interactions around problem solving and mathematics. Our thanks to GVSU, our AHS student volunteers, and all the staff, parents and community members who made the evening a success!




Categories: Allendale Elementary Schools | Tags: , | Leave a comment

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