Allendale Music Education

Allendale Helps Ottawa County Rank Tops for Growth in Michigan

Despite a recession that reshaped Michigan, Ottawa County continues to grow—and Allendale Township is driving part of that success.

In March of this year, the U.S. Census Bureau released population data that offers a picture of growth and decline in Michigan.   Despite losing ground to a battered economy, Michigan managed a net growth of more than 6,000 residents between 2014 and 2015. Comparing towns in Allegan, Barry, Ionia, Kent, Montcalm, Muskegon and Newaygo counties, Allendale Township had the highest population growth in the area between 2014 and 2015, adding more than 1200 residents for a 5.8 percent increase in one year.Allendale water tower and flag

In Michigan, percentage growth in Allendale Township and Algoma Township were second only to Macomb Township near Detroit.

Other census facts include:

  • Ottawa ranks eighth for population among Michigan counties.
  • For growth in Michigan, Ottawa County ranks first, followed by Kent, Grand Traverse, and Livingston Counties.
  • Ranked 122 among large cities in the United States, Grand Rapids has a population of 195,097.
  • In the eastern part of the state, Wayne County posted a population loss of slightly under 11,000, the largest numeric decline of people in a county between 2013 and 2014 in the United States.
  • Growing at a rate of over 4.5 percent, the population of Ottawa County increased from 263,801 to 276,292 between 2010 and 2014.

Quoted in the Holland Sentinel, Ottawa County Administrator Al Vanderberg, notes, “It is great to pick up speed as we pull away from the Great Recession and hopefully back to the major economic growth that we enjoyed prior to that devastating event.  Innovative Ottawa County employers have increased job opportunities in large numbers in recent times and of course our outstanding schools, unmatched natural resources, and low crime rate makes Ottawa County a top choice location for folks to gravitate to.

Continued growth is anticipated for Allendale and its schools.  Enrollment at Allendale Public Schools has grown steadily from 2,176 students in 2006-2007, to more than 2,600 students in the 2015-2016 academic year.  In the 2014-2015 school year, more than 50 percent of the graduating class enrolled in college or four-year university.

Located between the lakeshore and the Grand Rapids metropolitan area, Allendale has something for everyone, including outstanding educational and vocational opportunities through Allendale Public Schools.

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Allendale Middle School Band Heads to State Competition

When asked for his reflections on his 7th and 8th grade band classes, teacher Kevin Langejans glowed, saying, “It’s been a really special year.” That’s because this group has pleasantly surprised their teacher and even themselves, landing a spot at the upcoming Michigan State Band and Orchestra Association (MSBOA) competition.

allendale middle school band

With competition slated for April 24, students have been practicing all year long, giving special focus to their songs since the end of the holiday season. GVSU student teacher Richard Grooters explained that band directors must choose to perform at least one song from a list provided by the MSBOA. While a cursory glance may deem this an easy task, Mr. Grooters outlined the delicate balance demanded of Mr. Langejans in choosing just the right song.

“You really have to understand the ability level of the kids and choose something that’s going to challenge them.  If the teacher chooses a song that’s too easy, students get bored. Yet, if it’s too hard, you go into Festival and you don’t score very well.”


At the state competition, students will perform a total of three songs and face stiff competition from other West Michigan schools in their band district. But Mr. Grooters has high hopes based on a successful year with an extraordinary group of young musicians.

“These two groups have exceeded my expectations coming in. I did not expect to hear this level of musicality or to work on the kind of music that these middle school students are playing. I didn’t expect it at all. The 8th graders are preparing right now for their Spring Concert and are performing a piece that [Mr. Langejans] did previously with high school students. They really are a notch or two above what you’d expect from a middle school band.”

allendale middle school band

Mr. Langejans says the growth he’s seeing in the Allendale music program may have many factors, but the fact that students have to choose either choir or band as a 6th grader has helped give them a strong musical foundation and aid in retention. “Every year there is momentum and the excitement factor goes up,” he said.

allendale middle school band

7th grade students Celeste Lopez-Keranen and Claire Emmert are enthusiastic and optimistic about their prospects:

“I think it’s really cool that we get to go to this competition.  I think Allendale’s music program is really growing and the talent is getting better and better and I think Mr Langejans will lead us in the right direction to become successful,” said Celeste.

Claire added, “We have some difficult music but I think we can definitely accomplish it.”

Mr. Langejans smiled, keeping everything in perspective. “No matter what they’re going to be great. The fact that they’re going to state is what I’m happy about, no matter what happens.  I know they’re going to do well. If they don’t get perfect scores, that’s ok too. The work that they do throughout the year is WHY they’re going to State, it’s not just their preparation on those specific pieces of music, it’s half of the year–all the boring stuff–the scales, all the work that they’ve done the first half of the year that’s why they’re having success. That’s more important to me than getting good scores at state.”

allendale middle school band

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AMS Students Hit All The Right Notes

The Michigan School Vocal Music Association has been inspiring young musicians and helping to strengthen music education since 1937. Aside from the important work of providing a baseline for music philosophy and a standard of excellence for music educators in Michigan, this group also presents singers in grades 6 through 12 with the unique opportunity to perform at the state level with the best of the best.

We are pleased to share that Allendale Middle School, under the coaching guidance of Mr. Adam Wurst, prepared twelve choir students for this exciting challenge which took place in Owosso, Michigan, on Saturday, October 19.

Allendale Middle School, State Honors Choir

We’re so proud of our twelve auditioning students!

Much like athletes striving for a title, students who wish to compete for the honor of a state title must first audition by singing a piece that is “thoroughly prepared in advance of the audition day. The audition piece is to be memorized.” (source). But the audition doesn’t stop there — because not just one, but two pieces of music must be prepared, and they must be pitch perfect. Mr. Adam Wurst, AMS choir teacher, worked independently with each student for three weeks to them prepare for this unique opportunity.

Mr. Wurst explained the structure of this audition:

“Students sang in a trio of 3 singers, each performing their own part. They were then given a score based on their level of preparation and other musical factors, such as accuracy of rhythm, pitch, dynamics, and memorization.”

It is our pleasure to announce that nine Allendale Middle School students were given the nod and will be performing in the SSA and TTB State Honors Choirs for middle school on Thursday, January 16! These performances will take place in DeVos Place in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Allendale Middle School, State Honors Choir

We offer our sincere congratulations to ALL of our students who auditioned — for tireless practice and dedication to excellence. And we applaud the achievements of those who will be lifting the rafters in Grand Rapids in January:

SSA (Soprano 1, Soprano 2, Alto) Honors Choir:
Kate Mahaffy, 7th grade
Kelsey Inman-Carter, 8th grade
Alaina White, 8th grade
TTB (Tenor 1, Tenor 2, Bass) Honors Choir:
Jonah DeZwaan, 7th grade
Sean Schmidt, 7th grade
Howard Barnes, 8th grade
Isaac Cameron, 8th grade
Jacob Doornbos, 8th grade
Jeff Secord, 8th grade
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Savannah Coone Makes Music at the 2013 BCS Championship Game

Allendale High School, Allendale Public Schools, Savannah Coone, BCS Championship GameEarlier this month as students returned to school and teachers to their classrooms, Savannah Coone got on a plane bound for Miami. And while football fans everywhere sat eagerly watching the BCS Championship match-up between Alabama and Notre Dame, Savannah stood garbed in Falcon red, one of hundreds of other musicians chosen to represent their schools in the marching band.

With flute in hand, this Allendale senior stood soaking in the moment that was months in the making. In November 2012, Savannah’s teacher, Mr. Bush, nominated her for the All-Star Marching band and told her about the opportunity to apply for admission into the BCS Marching Band under Notre Dame director Dr. Dye.

After sending in recordings of both her marching skills and a solo music performance, Savannah waited nearly three weeks to hear whether Miami would welcome her to the 50-yard line of one of the biggest college games of the year.

When the happy news of her acceptance came, Savannah realized there remained yet another hurdle: money. She dove headlong into fundraising to cover the $1,500 expense of the trip — not including airfare. She babysat for teachers, worked extra hours at her part-time job, and thought outside-the-box to come up with creative ways to plump up her nest egg.

With money in hand and her supportive parents at her side, Savannah journeyed to Miami to do something that few others will ever have the chance to do. Upon arrival in Florida, BCS band members were up at 6 am, marched from 7 am – 12:30 pm, broke for lunch, and then hit the field again for an afternoon practice.

All her hard work paid off when the roar of the crowd swelled at the sound of the music she helped to produce. 

“Being on the field and seeing everybody in the stands was an amazing experience. Everything just clicked. One of my best memories was meeting and working with hundreds of other kids who enjoyed the same things as me — who all loved working hard musically. It was awesome.”

Congratulations to Savannah for representing Allendale High School during this terrific opportunity! We are so proud of you!

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