Allendale High School

We Welcome Mrs. Huistra!

maria huistra, allendale public schoolsWe’d like to officially welcome a new staff member to the Allendale Public Schools family: Mrs. Maria Huistra!

With an official start time this fall, Mrs. Huistra joined the athletic department as Allendale Middle School Athletic Coordinator — a position created to help bridge the gap between athletics at the middle school and those at the high school.

With a district goal of creating a more cohesive program from 7th – 12th grades, Maria and high school athletic director Scott Daling work together to deliver a more seamless experience for young athletes and their parents alike. Serving as point person for 7th and 8th grades offers additional support to coaches while streamlining paperwork, meetings and other details for families.

But aside from all this, Mrs. Huistra brings with her new ways to challenge students involved in Falcon sports. In 2013, Maria founded “Giving Back,” a program designed to get AMS athletes involved in their community. Partnering with organizations like LOVE, inc., athletes have the opportunity to “pay it forward” by sorting donations, hanging clothing, pricing items to sell and even shoveling their sidewalk,

“Kids need to be appreciated beyond things they do in school or on the field or court. They need to be known as more than a jock or musician or someone who attains things. Serving their community is one way to earn that appreciation.”

Maria said providing ways for athletes to get involved in middle school is particularly critical, as so many kids (whether they know it or not) could be playing team sports for the last time.

“We don’t like to think about it, but the fact is that we roster two boys basketball teams in 8th grade, but 9th grade has only one. So the reality is that 24 kids leave middle school wanting to play ball, and only 13-14 will make the team as freshmen. Despite making that sad adjustment, if they can bring positive memories with them to high school, that’s an important piece for them as they grow.”

Mrs. Huistra has helped make scores of memories in her time as an involved parent and community member prior to joining the staff. Along with another parent, Maria conceptualized Fitness Frenzy and instituted the middle school athletic boosters (of which she still serves as president). She served as volunteer coordinator for the elementary PTO and worked on PE for Life, which is a program structured to help students at risk.

But of all she’s accomplished and continues to do, Mrs. Huistra says it doesn’t compare to the response she gets in the hallways:

“When someone passes me in the hall and says, “Hey — I got my grade up and I can play!”…I know I’m making a difference.”

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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.”

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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

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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.

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School Kicks off By Offering Early College Program

Early College Program, MCC, Muskegon Community College, Allendale Public SchoolsFor many Allendale students, high school means classes, sports, lab reports, and even prom. For others, it may mean working after school, volunteering in the community, or starring in the spring musical.

But this year there will be another item to add to the list for a handful of students hoping to take advantage of additional learning opportunities offered through Muskegon Community College.

Allendale High School is proud to launch the Northwest Ottawa County Early College program this fall, which will allow juniors like Joe Secord and Jason Marshall (pictured left) to spend just one more year in high school in exchange for a free associate’s degree upon graduation.

“The program was designed for anyone, but particularly for the student who may not desire a four-year experience or for the student who can’t afford a traditional college degree. This will offer the opportunity for high school students to earn a two-year degree with all tuition costs covered,” said Allendale High School guidance counselor, Mr. Jason Fogel.

Mr. Fogel began laying the groundwork for this program a year ago after a meeting with Jason Pasatta at the Ottawa County Intermediate School District. At that time, the idea was just a skeleton with piles of paperwork looming, but with more and more schools inching toward this destination, they knew that offering college coursework to Allendale students was an achievable objective.

Allendale is now part of the first 60 student “cohort” to join Muskegon Community College’s program. With Grand Haven, Spring Lake, and Coopersville rounding out the cohort participants, the number of students allotted per school is determined proportionate to the school size.

To fill those slots, interested students must first take the MCC Compass Placement Test which determines whether the applicant is ready for the academic rigors of college-level classes while yet in high school. Accepted students will be bused to the Tech Center, where MCC professors will be waiting to provide instruction. At this writing, both Joe and Jason (pictured) are candidates for the program.

“I think it’s always good to get a jumpstart on your education,” said Joe. “I wanted to have a plan so I can get moving more quickly, which will help save money. I’d like to study to be a math teacher because I love math and being around math, but I’d prefer to help others rather than just do my own thing. It just feels right.”

Jason’s motivation is different, but still reflects the drive to keep moving and seize this unique opportunity.

“I’m actually almost done with all my high school credits and I need good classes to fill in space,” Jason explained. “I’d like to go into the medical field, so I’ll be taking a lot of math and science classes–for free!”

Principal Dan Remenap explains, “This program helps students earn a degree. That’s what’s most appealing for the kids. Once they have that, it can’t be taken away. It also gets kids focused on their career sooner, which is a good thing. Even if they decide to not pursue this program, just considering it helps them move in the right direction.”

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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!

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Allendale Robotics Team Members Reflect on a Winning Year

Robotics Competition, Trisonic, Allendale High School, Zach Holmes, Zach Jones

(L to R): Zach Jones and Zach Holmes are sad to see their season end.

For Allendale High School Robotics Team members, success in their spring competition was gravy on top of a season of friendship and intense bonding. Senior Zach Jones and Junior Zach Holmes were teammates who say that working closely together for hundreds of hours did more than create a winning robot: it created family.

This was Zach Holmes’ first year of robotics, getting involved only because he convinced his best friend to join him. He soon realized that there were new friends to be made over a table of math problems and engineering dilemmas.

“We worked in small groups during the season — we had a “design” group, a “build” group, and a “programming” group. But even though we were clustered with specific classmates, by the end of the season we were locking arms because we had gotten so close,” said Mr. Holmes who plans to join the Marines after his 2014 graduation. He intends to study mechanical engineering.

Unique to this team is the fact that it operates in partnership with other local high schools. This year students from Jenison High School joined, forming a team of fourteen young men: 9 from APS and 5 from Jenison.

Their goal, aside from crafting a winning robot, was to branch out into the community to garner support. By including local businesses, these students were able to make solid real-world connections to their work. For instance, this year’s robot frame was built by Laser Dynamics in Allendale. They also received sponsorships from numerous others.

In no less than six weeks, the team had their robot designed, assembled, and programmed to win. They spent over seventy hours of their mid-winter break perfecting the device, and said those long days solidified their personal connections.

“We really are one big family,” said Zach Jones, who also intends to study engineering after graduation. “We try to include everyone. At all times when we were working on something, we had at least five sets of hands inside the robot … it can be chaotic, but we all held it together.”

After an initial competition in Traverse City, the 2013 Allendale Jenison TriSonics team played “Ultimate Ascent” at the fieldhouse on Grand Valley State University’s campus in late March. In “Ultimate Ascent,” robots were challenged with collecting discs resembling frisbees, and then scoring goals with them. During the first 15 seconds of the game robots functioned in autonomous mode, relying on the students’ expert programming completed over weeks of preparation time.

Allendale Public Schools, TriSonics, Allendale Robotics Team

The next 15 seconds allowed for the robot to be driven by teleoperators. Finally, in the final 30 seconds of the game, robots actually had to climb a pyramid! Points were allotted based on how high the robot climbed.

We are proud of this group for being named a Finalist and receiving the Team Spirit Award at the West Michigan District Event. But more than anything, we celebrate with them that academics and extra-curricular passions have led to wonderful friendships and a determination to pursue excellence far beyond the TriSonics competitions of high school.

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Allendale High School Band & Choir Students Bring Music to Disney

This past Spring Break, while you were cleaning your garage or road tripping with your family, a team of over one hundred Allendale High School musicians traveled to Florida to bring music to the streets of Disney World.

photo of a tour bus of studentsThe group left their familiar surroundings on Friday, March 29 and drove straight through to Orlando, arriving the next day. Mr. Bush noted what a joy it was for him to witness so many of his students taking pictures of Indianapolis and Louisville, cities much larger than some had ever seen. Mr. Bush kept his bus engaged by turning the intercom system into a Science trivia show about the plate tectonics of Kentucky.

“It was fun to see them notice there is much more to this world than life in Allendale — the Earth is big and it’s awesome!” said Mr. Bush.

Allendale High School Choir performing in Disney World

In the planning stages for years, this trip occurs once every four years, a cycle that has been long-established in Allendale with the hopes that each student would have the opportunity to go once in their high school career. Band Director, Mr. Tony Bush, proud to continue the tradition, notes that Allendale boasts Disney trophies dating back to the 1980’s.

But getting to Orlando is not as easy as stepping on a bus: Mr. Bush and Ms. Verdonk first began the application process one year ago!

Disney officials require a daunting list of information for bands. Aside from requesting a list of all local parades the applicant has played in, theme park planners ask for a list of honors received, photos of uniforms, and videos of the band marching.

After receiving this packet of information, Disney coordinators convene to choose a parade best suited to the visiting band’s skill level. The best groups are assigned to evening parades in the Magic Kingdom which are the most high-profile. Mr. Bush was thrilled to hear this response from Florida:

“You’re the biggest and the best, that’s why you get to play in Magic Kingdom’s Electric Light Parade right before evening fireworks!”

photo of Allendale High School performing in Disney World

Allendale High School band performing in Disney WorldWith the help of fundraisers and the generosity of Allendale High School Band Boosters’ scholarships, students worked tirelessly to earn the $900 needed to make the journey. And while that may have been their biggest challenge, the concern weighing on the teachers’ minds was coordinating a safe trip.

“Anytime I have over fifty students taking a trip, I get a little anxious about making sure that everyone is getting my communications, understands the information, and stays safe. When you’re moving across several states, you depend on kids to behave. Luckily, we have perfect kids — they were great the whole time!” said Mr. Bush.

Performing in the Florida climate, even at night, proved tedious work. Students were sweating, working diligently, and concentrating on perfectly performing Louie Louie, Hey Baby, and the fall marching band tune, Magical Mystery Tour.  Mr. Bush said that seeing the group backstage after the parade was his personal highlight:

“The kids were euphoric! They wanted to do it again — or at least return next year! They knew that all their hard work was worth it. Our kids truly shined!”

Congratulations to Mr. Bush, Ms. Verdonk, and all the students who made us proud in Orlando this spring! We applaud you!

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

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