Allendale Elementary Schools

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!




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START Program Equips Students for Success

Have you ever considered where you would turn if your young child, not yet ready for school, exhibited signs of delayed development? If questions mounted and answers seemed missing?

Allendale Public Schools wants you to know, we’re here.

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START stands for Statewide Autism Resource and Training, and is available to children whose testing reveals they may lie on the Autism Spectrum (ASD). While this post is not intended to provide medical information, early indicators of concern may include:

  • failing to hit key social, cognitive and emotional developmental milestones
  • learning to babble, gesture, speak and/or interact, but then regressing and losing those abilities
  • struggling to relate to others and/or the world around them

Bill Patteuw, an APS social social worker, notes that teachers working with the START program commit to on-going training, meeting 1-2 times per month from October to April. These individuals work to learn research-based techniques and teaching strategies that, while certainly beneficial to all students, are specifically aimed at helping children with autism clear the path to reach their individual potentials.

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Funded by the State of Michigan through grant monies, the program draws on the expertise of a multi-disciplinary team comprised of the school social worker, special education teachers, a general education teacher, speech pathologist, occupational therapist, autism consultant and parents. Mr. Patteuw commented that although ” parent involvement is critical and … strongly suggested by the facilitators of this series, parent involvement seems to be unique to our district.  The parents involved on our team have been present and have been active participants.”

Some of the cognitive and behavior teaching strategies this team is currently employing (or will be learning) include:

  • Foundations of Effective Practice for Young Students with ASD
  • Stucturing the Environment to Promote Learning Opportunities and Engagement
  • Intensive Teaching for Young Children with ASD
  • Structuring Play
  • Behavior Support
  • Transition Planning/Implementation

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Of the program, Mr. Patteuw says:

“Having this START training opportunity for our students, parents, and staff is amazing!  We are extremely blessed to have GVSU in our backyard, which is where the statewide START program originated!  These local resources are invaluable in assisting, teaching and developing staff that are working with students on the Autism Spectrum to promote successful learning opportunities.  Our staff will be working hard to implement these strategies and continue to serve all students to the best of our ability.”

Thanks to Mr. Patteuw and the team of dedicated APS staff who work tirelessly to provide excellence in education to all our students!

If you have a question or concern about your child, please contact Bill Patteuw at:

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Jill Wilson Named Principal of the Year!

Some of us spend a lifetime chasing after the next career move that will land us one step closer to our “dream job.”  We set goals and strive for excellence, but even with diligent effort, few of us will ever be regarded as the best.

But for Jill Wilson, Principal of Allendale Elementary School, she has achieved just that. This November, Mrs. Wilson received news from MEMSPA (Michigan Elementary and Middle School Principal’s Association) that she had been named Elementary Principal of the Year!

Jill Wilson, Allendale Public SchoolsEach year, MEMSPA selects one principal from each of its twelve regions for this recognition, with the board of directors and regional representatives making the final selections from a pool of nominations. Mrs. Wilson was nominated by Allendale Public Schools, as well as by several staff members individually, for being compassionate, caring, acting as a mentor and setting high expectations, among numerous others. Yet Mrs. Wilson knew nothing of these nominations until one day in November.

Mrs. Wilson recalls running into Tom DeGraaf, MEMSPA’s Region 12 Director, at a principal’s meeting in Ottawa County last month. Tom wasted no time in prompting her to attend the conference where the awards would be handed out. She remembers bursting into laughter at the thought, feeling that the talent and dedication of the other principals was so honorable that she would never be singled out among such a crowd. Yet Tom’s encouragement was the push she needed to reserve her spot at the annual MEMSPA conference at Traverse City’s Grand Traverse Resort.

Of course that decision proved to be a game changer because at the conference, Mrs. Wilson was awarded Region 12 Michigan Elementary School Principal of the Year! When hearing her name, Mrs. Wilson said she felt a “shot of adrenaline to continue to do as much as I can to impact staff, students and parents in a positive way!”

Reflecting on the evening and the weeks since, she tells us:

“I am very humbled by this honor.  I know that there are many other professionals in the field of education that are passionate about what they are doing and why they are doing it and are far more deserving than I may be.  I have spent 30 years in public education (29 at APS) and I can’t think of a place I’d rather be.  I hope that this award brings awareness of the need for continued support for our teachers, students, support staff and school community as a whole. Allendale Public School District is a place to highlight. An award such as this could not be possible without the love and support of my husband, three daughters and extended family.  They have been there to help whenever they could! I was thrilled to have my husband be able to join me at the event!” 

Our sincere congratulations to Mrs. Wilson for this tremendous honor! We’re blessed to have you serving students in Allendale!

Jill Wilson, Allendale Public Schools, MEMSPA

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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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Meet Your Principal: Jill Wilson

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


This is my 30th year with APS! My undergraduate degree from Hope College is in elementary education with a major in special education and a minor in psychology. My master’s degree from WMU is in reading, I also have additional training in educational administration and Reading Recovery. I started at Allendale teaching special education in a resource room for students in kindergarten – third grade. I have also taught first grade and worked as a reading specialist with our district.


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


I enjoy watching the students respond to their instruction.  There is nothing better than witnessing a love for learning.  Our staff is so caring and talented! The school community is supportive and appreciated.  There is something new and exciting every day!


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


I usually walk about 11,000 steps a day, checking on students, teachers and building needs.


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


The excitement of a new year with our youngest learners!


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


I would lower the class size in every classroom and provide additional instructional support for every classroom.  I would purchase more resources for each classroom and update our technology including purchasing some IPADs.  Our current building is very close to capacity too!


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


My husband and I took an enjoyable trip to Maine.  We had a cottage overlooking Acadia National Park and seals swimming in the waters there!


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


My favorite children’s book is Charlotte’s Web.  I had the chance to visit the Blue Hill Fairground where Wilbur won his ribbon. I think the book is a fine example of how we can all encourage each other in positive ways!


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


Learning does not take place without practice.  We need to experience new information many times before a connection is made in our brain.  Do not give up, it is worth the effort!
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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}

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Allendale Fifth Graders Enjoy “Fine Arts Day” in Grand Rapids

Fine Arts Day, Allendale Public Schools

Fifth graders Rory MacGeorge, Dakota Riemersma, and Kaylyn Whitten share their experience on Fine Arts Day.

With fresh snow as a backdrop to their adventures, Allendale fifth graders struck out to explore Grand Rapids on their February Fine Arts Day.  Elementary art, music, Spanish, and physical education teachers partnered with classroom educators to create a well-rounded field trip that tied multiple curriculum strands together into a cohesive experience. Departing first thing in the morning, the day was packed with learning opportunities ranging from music to Mexican food!

The group made stops at:

  • The Grand Rapids Symphony
  • The Grand Rapids Art Museum
  • Cinco de Mayo (Mexican Restaurant)
  • Rosa Parks Circle for ice skating

Students were visibly happy upon returning, chattering eagerly about their trip with the wheels still spinning wildly under mops of hair and swinging pony tails.

Allendale Public Schools, Fine Arts Day

Kaylyn shared her favorite memories of Fine Arts Day

Kaylyn Whitten beamed when she described the symphony concert, “The musicians were playing Harry Potter music! I’m a huge Harry Potter fan and I couldn’t believe they were playing it the day we were there. We had learned about a lot of composers at school, but I hadn’t learned about that one!”

Dakota Riemersma agreed, “I was surprised by the enthusiasm of the people playing the music. They even stopped for a slideshow discussion and read poetry to us!”

“We had just studied Beethoven in school and it was cool to hear that music being played,” commented Rory MacGeorge.

The kids bubbled over with excitement, sharing highlights from the art museum, connecting existing projects to ones debuted at ArtPrize, and discussing new exhibits. They also shared how they were instructed to order their lunch in Spanish to native speakers!

Ice skating at Rosa Parks provided a unique opportunity for the fifth graders to accomplish something difficult. Some students, like Dakota, have been skating for years, while others had never been in ice skates at all. Regardless of skill level, spinning and circling the rink incorporated physical education, strength building, and fresh air into the day.

Teacher Gwen Luban shared her own highlight, “At our last stop for the day, one of my students said, “I am so tired.” I asked him why he was so tired. He said, “I’m just trying to take it all in.” What a great experience for many of our students. Families are busy and sometimes we forget about the arts and the impact they have in our lives.”

She went on to sum up the day perfectly:

“There is no substitution for hands-on learning such as this. Students get to touch, see, hear, smell, and feel the experience. It is unlike any understanding that might happen if they were to watch a video or listen to someone retell an experience. Many of our students have never ice skated or seen a live symphony. Some have never eaten in an authentic Mexican restaurant or ever been to an art museum. The West Michigan area has so much to offer. We are blessed to have our students be able to experience such a great trip.”

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Allendale Elementary Students Rewarded for Great Citizenship

Allendale Public Schools, The NED Show, Falcon Tickets

All photos this week provided by Principal Ryan Coghill.

Have you ever been “caught” doing something good? Something that came so naturally to you that you didn’t even think twice about it?

Now imagine this: the students at Springview and Evergreen Elementary Schools have been caught being exemplary citizens 4,000 times in the month of January alone!

Our elementary schools operate around the “3R’s: Responsibility, Respect, and Ready to Learn.”  As students model these three traits, staff members from bus drivers to recess supervisors have the privilege of “catching” them and rewarding them with a “Falcon Ticket.”

To motivate the kids and provide some sunshine during these snowy winter months, the elementary principals put forth a goal to “Fly to 4,000.”  If the student body (K-3) could collectively accumulate 4,000  Falcon Tickets during the month of January, the school would be awarded an assembly by The NED Show!

Students easily achieved this goal and enjoyed an action-packed afternoon full of comedy and magic that encouraged students to Never give up, Encourage others, and Do your best! Students were challenged to ponder a few questions as they dream of the future:

  • “What’s something you’d like to be a champion at?”
  • “What are your goals?”
  • “How will you reach your goals?”

Below is a video of some of the show’s highlights from over the years:

“The NED Show’s positive message fits in well with our 3 R’s message — they really compliment each other perfectly, so that while the kids are learning what NED stands for, they can tie it back to the expectations we already have of them at Allendale,” said Assistant Principal Ryan Coghill.

Amazingly, the NED Show is a “Pay It Forward” assembly that came free of charge to our school because of the efforts of a previous host school. To participate in NED’s free assembly program, each school is asked to commit to a 5 day sale of their famous yo-yos. All sales “pay” for the next school to enjoy a free “Pay It Forward” assembly!

This week we’ll be joining the long line of schools doing just this. Yo-yo’s are for sale for $7, $10, and $15. If you’re interested in helping Allendale Pay it Forward, contact either elementary office to place your order.

Allendale Public Schools, The NED Show

Thank you to Mr. Coghill for our assembly photos!

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“Operation Save the Planet” Is Making a Difference at Oakwood and Beyond!

Allendale Public Schools, Operation Save the Planet, Oakwood Intermediate SchoolEach year, dozens of concerned students at Oakwood Intermediate School join Mrs. Schroeder, Mrs. Luban, Mrs. Wallace, Karen Wit, and Dawn Fields to help save the planet, one Cheetos bag at a time!

The students involved in Operation Save the Planet focus their energies on helping their school think green by organizing recycling efforts and educating their classmates. Some of the projects that the group works on include:

  • Oakwood works in partnership with Potluck Pick-Up, who provides full recycling bin service. This allows Oakwood to recycle plastics, glass, cardboard, cans, and paper. Bins located around the school and in the staff lounge are emptied by Save the Planet kids and consolidated for pick-up.
  • Oakwood has joined the Terracycle movement that encourages people to “outsmart waste”! Terracycle uses recycled items to create new products such as bags and purses; an entire list of Terracycle products can be seen here. The items that Operation Save the Planet collects and recycles are: Capri Sun drink pouches, all Mars candy bar wrappers, all Frito Lay brand chip bags, zip lock baggies, scotch tape dispensers, used cell phones.  The school receives about 2 cents per item collected, too!
  • Students in the club have collaborated to create earth-awareness videos which are played throughout the school at various times of the year, and have also sold re-usable grocery bags in previous years.
  • On Earth Day the club sponsors a “Zero Waste Lunch” to encourage kids to more closely monitor all that is thrown away.

Allendale Public Schools, Operation Save the Planet, Oakwood Intermediate

This year, the group meets twice a month before school to better keep up with the sorting of recyclables, and despite being a smaller group than in years past, Mrs. Schroeder praises her students for their passion and dedication.

The most rewarding part of working with the students of Operation Save the Planet is to see the members become passionate about recycling and living a more green life.  They start sharing ways they have encouraged their class to recycle more and ways they have helped their families make changes around their house to be more green.

Allendale Public Schools, Oakwood Intermediate School, Operation Save the Planet

Mrs. Schroeder helps her students organize recyclables collected at Oakwood.

Mrs. Schroeder went on to share a special story that highlights the zeal with which these students pursue their work with Operation Save the Planet:

…One year, Family Fare gave our club hundreds of brown grocery bags before Earth Day.  Our members decorated the bags with Earth Day messages, reminding customers to recycle.  We gave the decorated bags back to Family Fare to use at the store on Earth Day. 

One of the girls in the club decorated several bags throughout the time we had for the project.  Each day she would take a pile home, and bring them back beautifully decorated.  After several days of this,  I asked her if she was sure she wanted to take more home.  She was insistent that every bag counted because even if it helped one person become more aware about recycling, it was worth it. 

Moments like this remind me that even small things our club can do is worth it.

Thank you to all of the teachers who guide and mentor our earth-loving 4th and 5th graders, and thank you to the students who are making a difference!

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3rd Graders “Paws” to Help the Kent Humane Society

Allendale Elementary, Kent Humane Society, Allendale Public Schools

This Christmas, third grade students in Springview and Evergreen Elementary Schools are returning the unconditional love their pets give to them each day by offering love to the animals at Kent County’s Humane Society. 

Mrs. Marla Chapin of Springview Elementary introduced the idea to her students before Thanksgiving with the hopes of creating excitement and raising awareness around the needs of animals without families. Instead of spending $3 on a traditional in-class gift exchange, students were invited to buy a gift for an orphaned animal in Kent County. Soon, all third grade classes in Allendale were on board and the project was underway!

“You should have seen the excitement on the children’s faces when we began discussing the idea! It’s a wonderful opportunity to underscore the importance of giving over receiving,” she said.

As items such as food, blankets, towels, and chew toys were collected, students were also able to look forward to a December 13 visit from the Kent Humane Society to learn more about their work as a non-profit organization.

Allendale Elementary, Kent Humane Society, Allendale Public SchoolsDuring the assembly, student educators from the Humane Society presented APS third graders with information about how they are organized and how they care for the animals entrusted to them.

Did you know that:

  • The Kent County Humane Society cares for 3,000 – 7,000 homeless animals each year
  • Over 250 animals were placed in homes last year alone
  • Volunteers contribute over 1,200 hours a month to the care of animals at KCHS
  • The “Kibble Connection” helps low income pet owners better care for their animals
  • The KCHS offers camps for children and teens to come and experience work in the shelter; over 500 West Michigan kids went to a humane society camp in 2012
  • The Kent Humane Society never turns away pets that are stray, neglected, abused, or unwanted, nor do they impose time limits on an animal’s stay.
  • Roughly 6-8 million animals enter shelters across the United States each year, and only 25-35% ever find homes.

Third graders wrapped up their visit with the opportunity to ask questions and pet a bearded gecko and a bunny.

Thank you to those of you who were able to contribute to this project! The animals of Kent County are grateful!

Allendale Elementary, Kent Humane Society, Allendale Public Schools

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