Allendale Grads/Graduation

Allendale High School Graduation 2013


The word conjures many ideas about school and the future. It means that kids have grown up and are preparing to strike out on their own. It evokes strong feelings of hope and possibilities. But most of all, it signifies the end of end of one chapter and the beginning of another.

Allendale Graduation, Allendale Public Schools, Allendale High SchoolAllendale’s 2013 graduates were sent off with heartfelt words from Principal Remenap, who began his journey four years ago with this same group of students.

“We started this trip together — your first day was my first day. Tonight we have one final time to celebrate your accomplishments and say goodbye.”

Allendale Graduation, Allendale Public Schools, Allendale High School

Mr. Remenap highlighted attitude, honor, and scholarship as being his guiding principles for students, reminding them that while their GPA matters, it’s their attitude that will open or close far more doors than grades will. Loyalty, he said, will matter far more than an ACT score. He continued:

“…Your ability to love and appreciate people and beauty around you will determine your joy far more than any amount of scholarship. … Your education matters, but let’s place it in its right order.’

Allendale Graduation, Allendale Public Schools, Allendale High School

With Memorial Day on the horizon, Superintendent Dr. Dan Jonker brought the sentiments of love and honor full circle when he asked the crowd to join him in paying tribute to our veterans and those currently serve in the military.

“Our nation has been at war for most of your school years,” he started. “This Memorial Day, we salute those who have served, are serving, or will be serving our country in the Armed Forces.”

Allendale High School, Allendale Public School

Allendale High School band performing “The Lion of Lucerne” one final time.

These graduating seniors, Dr. Jonker pointed out, have seen much already in their short lives. They were newborns when Yahoo launched. Wikipedia was born when they were in kindergarten. iPhones changed the world during their middle school years, and the internet surpassed newspaper readership their freshman year.

And while it’s true that these students have seen technology revolutionize our nation, we come back to the simple truth that nothing is quite as revolutionary as love and kindness.

Salutatorian Katherine Sauter summed it up with a quote from Minor Myers Jr:

“Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.”

Allendale High School graduates of 2013, may you do just that! Embrace the past that has prepared you for this moment in history, but open your arms wide to the future and purpose to do good.

Ambition like that will change the world, and we’ll be here cheering you on as you go!

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The Future is Bright for 2013 AHS Top Ten Grads

As is our tradition, we’d like to take a moment to highlight the accomplishments of 2013’s Allendale High School Top Ten graduates. Their unstoppable effort and determination deserves our applause and admiration!

Kali Smolen, Allendale High School, Top Ten Grads 2013Kali Smolen, daughter of Colleen and Earl Smolen, is this year’s Valedictorian with an unbelievable 4.143 GPA. Kali has been on the Science Olympiad team for the past two years, competing on designer genes, forestry, and “write-it-do-it.” Kali served as vice president on our National Honor Society while also participating in student congress. She spent her entire high school career involved in 4-H, marching band, and concert band, and has also ridden for AHS’s equestrian team throughout high school.

Kali plans to pursue biomedical sciences and Spanish at GVSU’s Frederik Meijer Honor’s College in the fall.

We wish her the best as she continues to move toward her goals with diligence!

Katherine Sauter, Allendale Public Schools, Allendale High School***

Congratulations are also due to our Salutatorian, Katherine Sauter, daughter of Karl and Cristy Sauter. Katherine grabbed this lofty spot with an amazing 4.142 GPA. Her high school activities included student congress, National Honor Society, Quizbowl, Rotary Interact Club, drama club, concert, marching, and pep band, wind ensemble, volleyball, and softball (are you tired just reading this?)

Katherine plans to major in comparative cultures and politics at MSU’s James Madison College, with the hopes of one day practicing environmental law. Katherine has also offered to contribute to our summer series here on the blog; be sure to check back and read her moving letter on July 2!

Congrats, Katherine!


Rachel LaBrecque,  Allendale Public Schools, Allendale High SchoolRachel LeBrecque, daughter of Steve and Betty, snags our #3 position with a 4.109 GPA. Rachel was president of student congress during her senior year, capping off four years of heavy involvement in student government. She was also a member of NHS, marching and concert bands, and wind ensemble throughout her career.

An artist at heart, Rachel also participated in Kendall College of Art and Design’s dual enrollment program during her junior and senior years.

Rachel is interested in graphic design, advertising, and journalism, and plans to pursue her passions at Ferris State University in the fall.

We cheer her on as she continues to achieve great things!


Andrea BeitelAndrea Beitel comes in next with a stunning 4.089 GPA. Daughter of Bob and Colette, Andrea was involved in drama club, pursued music in both marching band and pep band, and was on the Quiz Bowl team. This past year she also volunteered her time on National Honor Society where she served as president.

Andrea is eager to serve others by working for human rights with organizations such as Amnesty International or in refugee centers. She will be attending Kalamazoo College in the fall with plans to study anthropology and Spanish. Congratulations, Andrea!

We wish you all the best in your future endeavors!


Smith, SamanthaSamantha Smith rounds out the top five with a 4.075 GPA. This daughter of Terry Smith and Theresa and Jeff Van Eck was a student-athlete who pole-vaulted for the Falcon’s track and field team while at Allendale High School. She also participated in band and performed at the District and State Solo Ensemble.

Samantha dreams of doing something in the medical field when she begins her career. Her plans include attending the University of Notre Dame in the fall where she would study pre-med.

We’re cheering for you, Samantha!


Michelle Austin, Allendale public Schools, Allendale High SchoolIn sixth place with a 4.069 GPA is the daughter of Robert and Hattie Austin, Michelle.  Michelle was involved in many activities during her time at Allendale High School, including four years of softball and volleyball. She additionally served on National Honor Society, the Rotary Interact Club, and the Spirit Club.

Next year, Michelle plans to serve either with Youth.With.A.Mission (YWAM), a Christian organization that impacts lives around the globe, or with 24/7 Academy Mission School on the west side of Grand Rapids. While she is still considering her long-term plans, her dreams include nursing, social work, or speech pathology with American Sign Language.

Go change the world, Michelle!


Paige Wells, Allendale Public Schools, Allendale High SchoolPaige Wells is our #7 graduate with a 4.062 GPA. Daughter of Troy and Allison Wells, Paige was involved in numerous on- and off-campus activities including Chamber Choir, National Honor Society, Rotary Interact Club, varsity track & field, volleyball, and Spirit Club. She served as captain of her volleyball team in 9th and 12th grades, and captain of her track & field team from her sophomore through senior years.

Paige is looking forward to beginning her college career at GVSU in the fall where she will study health and social sciences. While she is not certain of her vocational plans, Paige knows she wants to “work daily with people, making a difference in their lives in some way.”

We wish you the best, Paige!


Allendale Public Schools, Allendale High School, Brianna BoschComing in at #8 is Brianna Bosch, daughter of Dave and Pam Bosch.  Brianna is a member of National Honor Society and marched in the drumline for Allendale’s Marching Band. She also served on the yearbook committee this past year and is dual enrolled in two classes with Kendall College of Art and Design.

While undecided in her career plans, Brianna intends to study Spanish and hopes to be able to use the language in her future pursuits. She will attend Grand Valley State University in the fall.

Congratulations, Brianna! –Buena suerte!


Vereeke, TylerThis year’s #9 spot belongs to Tyler Vereeke, son of Douglas and Patricia Vereeke. Tyler earned a 4.052 GPA and participated in Science Olympiad, student congress, and National Honor Society while at Allendale High School.

Tyler hopes to eventually going into Neurology, and will attend Grand Valley State University next fall with a biomedical major. Upon completion, Tyler hopes of being accepted to medical school.

May all your dreams come true, Tyler!


Hoekstra, DanielDaniel Hoekstra, son of Todd and Wendy Hoekstra, rounds out our Top Ten graduates with a 4.047 GPA. Dan was the captain of the varsity hockey team and starting catcher for the Allendale High School varsity baseball team. Dan also served on National Honor Society.

This fall Dan will head to Hope College to play baseball and study pre-med. He hopes to one day become a pharmacist and live somewhere in sunny Florida.

Dan has also volunteered to join our Allendale Outlook summer blog series! Please check back on August 6 to read what Dan has to say about his time at Allendale High School.

Where ever you land, Dan, we know you’ll shine!

Please join me in applauding the hard work and tenacity of these special students and all of our graduates!

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

Summer Essay Series: Mitchell Visser, 2012 APS Graduate

photo provided by Mitchell Visser

The greatest thing that Allendale Public Schools has taught me is to just be myself. I have learned to accept who I am, to embrace my passions and interests, and to just go out there and pursue my dreams. Allendale has given me the work ethic and the drive I need to go far in life, and I feel that because of it, I am destined to do something big.

Over the years, I have learned to simply stop caring about what others think. If I’m interested in something that others aren’t, that is okay. If I want to do something, I am going to go and do it, and I am confident that I have the ability to do it successfully.

My ultimate goal is to go into Film and Video Production. My passion is for movies; editing, filming, directing, acting, screenwriting, any position I can get in the field will make me happy. Allendale Public Schools has actually helped me a lot in improving film-making skills. Our annual Allendale Regional Film Festival has allowed me to submit many short films over the years, and with each movie I make, I can tell that I am improving.

I have also had the privilege of completing many videography projects for our school concerts and other school events. Like any craft, practice makes perfect, and through my constant exposure to film, I believe that Allendale is helping me on my way to perfection.

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Allendale High School Top Ten Students

This time of year has our hopes bursting at the seams: trees and flowers are blooming, the weather’s warming, and summer vacation is just around the corner. Our hopes run especially high when we turn our attention to the young people graduating from Allendale High School to begin a new chapter of life. 

It’s amazing to consider that the Class of 2012 has collectively earned $1.8 million dollars in scholarships!  This group of kids have plans that range from entering the work force to serving in foreign countries. Today we applaud them for their efforts both in the classroom and outside of it. We cheer them on as they begin a new kind of race: one of their own choosing and one that points to their own kind of finish line.

Though each of our students deserve a moment in the spotlight, we offer special congratulations to those students who landed on the esteemed “Top Ten” list. They have consistently gone above and beyond, have pursued excellence, and have demonstrated tenacity over their four-years at Allendale High.

Camryn DeLooff

Ms. Camryn DeLooff is our 2012 Valedictorian. Camryn was an all-conference varsity volleyball player, an all-conference honorable mention varsity bowler, a regional champion and state qualifier on the AHS track team, and a basketball player.

Camryn additionally served on Student Congress, was a member of National Honor Society, and worked as a volunteer at Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids to name just a few. Aside from all of these things, Camryn found time to maintain a 4.184 GPA! We wish her the best as she pursues medicine at either U of M or Oakland University this fall!

Kali LaHaie

Kali LaHaie is this year’s Co-Salutatorian with a 4.148 GPA. Kali was involved in National Honor Society and Rotary Interact Club during her time at Allendale High School.  She also impacted AHS athletics by participating in 3 different sports: basketball and volleyball and running track.

Kali plans to pursue a future in graphic design at Grand Valley State University Honor’s College. Congratulations, Kali! You’re designed to shine!

Victoria Westrick

Victoria Westrick joins the Top Ten as Co-Salutatorian with a 4.143 GPA. She played JV soccer and was a member of the National Honor Society beginning her sophomore year.

Victoria dreams of working for an international company or Christian ministry in a third-world country. To prepare for those roles, she plans to study business anthropology and Spanish, with a minor in French at GVSU’s Honor’s College. Best of luck, Victoria, with these wonderful aspirations!

Emily Gottschalk

Emily Gottschalk has secured our #4 spot with an impressive 4.124 GPA. 

Emily played soccer for 3 years and was active on the ski and snowboard club as well. She additionally worked on the yearbook for 3 years, acting as Editor-In-Chief her senior year. She was a National Honor Society Member, was active with Student Congress, and runs her own  book blog!

Emily plans to attend the University of Michigan to study English and economics, and hopes to one day be involved in the publishing industry as a book editor. Best wishes, Emily!

Alexis Wiersma

Alexis Wiersma takes our #5 spot with her solid 4.020 GPA.  She was a 3-time All-State and 2010 D3 State Champion in Cross Country, and holds multiple records in Track and Indoor Track, as well.

Alexis also served on Student Congress as class representative her sophomore and junior years, and plans to attend MSU on a cross-country and track scholarship in the fall. Congratulations, Alexis!

Rebekah Newman

Rebekah Newman occupies the #6 ranking this year with a 4.004 GPA. Rebekah played in the marching band for 4 years, filling the role of color guard captain for 2. She additionally played flute in the concert band for 4 years. In her spare time, Rebekah enjoys horseback riding and volunteers to help kids learn to ride during the summer.

Rebekah plans to attend Grand Valley State University to study biology. Best wishes, Rebekah!

Brandon Oswald

Brandon Oswald is a three-sport varsity athlete who comes in at #7 with a 3.997 GPA. Brandon ran cross-country, participated in track, and played basketball during his time at Allendale, and was also active in his church youth group, “Life Stream.”

Brandon plans to go to Michigan State University next year as a pre-med/ROTC student. We applaud his decision to serve our country!

John Betts

John Betts grabbed our #8 position this year with a 3.987 GPA. John participated in cross country and track during his freshmen year before making the move to soccer for his final 3 years of high school.

John also found time to contribute to Student Congress, National Honor Society, and the Awareness Committee. He additionally competed with the AHS Science Olympiad team and even earned his Eagle Scout award!

John plans to serve a 2-year mission for his church before attending Brigham young University where he intends to major in biology and pre-med. All the best, John!

Dustan Luban

Dustan Luban comes in at #9 this year with an incredible 3.977 GPA. Dustin played both basketball and golf all 4 years at APS, and football for 2 years. He was involved in the Hope College P.A.T.H. program his freshmen year and continued to challenge himself with several AP classes and dual enrollment at GVSU.

Dustan also enjoyed serving on two mission trips sponsored by his church for hurricane relief, and did so while maintaining numerous jobs on top of his schooling! He plans to attend GVSU in the fall, but is open to transferring once he firms up his career plans. At the moment Dustan sees a future in investing. Good luck, Dustan!

Mitchell Visser

Mitchell Visser rounds out our top ten with a fantastic 3.96 GPA. Mitchell was involved in numerous clubs and activities: soccer, drama club, Film Festival Coordinator, National Honor Society, school plays, and jazz band, to name just a few.

Additionally, Mitchell is nearing the end of his pursuit of an Eagle Scout Award and is also active in his church youth group. He would like to go into the film business and learn how to make movies; to that end, Mitchell plans to attend GVSU’s film program this fall. Break a leg, Mitchell!

Please join me in applauding the extraordinary efforts of these seniors!

Categories: Allendale Grads/Graduation, APS Celebrations, Student Award Winners | Tags: , | 3 Comments

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